Thursday, May 10, 2018

Fight Evil, not the Evil Fighters

"The Left almost always opposes fighting evil, and almost always wants to disarm those who want to fight."

Dennis Prager has offered that insight, in minor variations, many times over the years that I've read and listened to Prager's radio show - as examples of that insight come up often.

This week's example of that insight is found in the Senate confirmation hearing for Trump's nominee to be CIA Director - Gina Haspel. Trump has nominated her, the first woman to be nominated for that position, because she has an accomplished career at CIA on the front lines of the Cold War and the War on Terror. Democrats, and near-Democrats like John McCain, oppose the confirmation of Haspel because her work fighting al-Qaeda in the Work on Terror included supervising a CIA black site where rendition and enhanced interogation took place - and they consider her a "torturer".

I got a glimpse of Prager's insight on this story when I read a Tweet from the ACLU yesterday,  which read:

"Haspel won’t answer whether she oversaw the torture of Nashiri. She did. It involved:
• Locking him, naked, in coffin-like boxes
• Slamming him into walls
• Waterboarding him"

Who is "Nashiri"? You can find that answer in an article inProPublica that is linked in the ACLU tweet:
"Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, a 37-year-old Saudi, did not deny having been a terrorist operative for Osama bin Laden. He admitted his role in the bombing of the USS Cole in 2000, an attack that killed 17 Navy sailors. Captured two years later in Dubai, he talked openly about planning more attacks."

Wait. Stop there. Why did ACLU westernize Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri's name down to simply Nashiri in their tweet? And why did they leave out his al-Qaeda resume which includes killing Americans and planning to kill more? Because they want Westerners to be sympathetic to this high-ranking terrorist, and his murderous resume doesn't help in casting him as the good guy and Haspel and the CIA as the bad guy to defeat Haspel.

Did the interrogation techiniques work on Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri?

"Nashiri did not do much resisting. After he was locked into the smaller box for the first time, early in his stay at the black site, he began to talk about two of the main operations to which he would be linked in U.S. intelligence summaries: an aborted plan to attack oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz, and a plot — for which he was trying to raise funds when he was captured — to crash a small airplane into a ship in the Emirati harbor of Port Rashid."

So, he was an al-Qaeda planner, like Khalid Sheik Muhammed (KSM) was. He was the "ticking time bomb" that we talk about when we talk about justified interrogation.

Did the CIA injure the terrorist in their custody

"Various psychological evaluations of Nashiri have found lasting scars. In addition to a phobia of water, he has been diagnosed with anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. A psychiatric expert, Sondra Crosby, called him “one of the most damaged victims of torture” she had ever examined."

The 17 Navy sailors that Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri murdered on the USS Cole were unavailable for comment on whether it bothered them that the terrorist who killed them was depressed and has PTSD...

Me, I'm wondering why we haven't shot him yet....

You know who wants to testify to help Democrats defeat the nomination of Gina Haspel to be CIA Director? Khalid Sheikh Muhammad in Gitmo, who we also should have shot by now. KSM and the Democrats are aligned against Haspel. Boo.
Sometimes I believe that those on the Left forgets not only the devastation of the 9/11 attack, but the uncertainty in the months following over whether there would be further attacks, including the anthrax attacks in the US. That would explain their opposition to Gina Haspel, who was on the front line overseas tasked with discovering whether al-Qaeda was planning further attacks.

The broader explanation is Prager's insight: The Left doesn't fight evil, it fights those who fight evil.

The GOP should confirm Trump's CIA Director, Gina Haspel, immediately - Democrats and John McCain notwithstanding. Do it.  

Me, a Russian Bot?

I got dismissed as a Russian bot on Twitter this week, so there's that...

Because, hey, why would an American citizen support Trump on social media? Must be the Russians...


Monday, May 7, 2018

I'm back, with more to say...

It's been a while since my last post at the holidays of 2015. A little thing called the presidential election happened in the meantime.

I was right about the election. I picked Donald Trump in October of 2015. I supported him in the primary season, and took a ton of heat for it from my NeverTrump friends. I was right about his chances in the general election, when I took a ton of heat from my liberal friends. But, I was right. So, there's that.

Which means that I wake up every day since the election with Donald J Trump as our president - and not Crooked Hillary - working to erase the terrible legacy of that last guy - what's his name.

I've still been having long pointless threads on Facebook. There is agreement from my Trump-voter friends, grudging okay-maybe's from my NeverTrump friends, and the same tired old rehashes with my liberal friends who didn't learn a damn thing from the election and are lost in their Resist! fantasies of the Russia-ate-my-homework collusion conspiracy and the coup to take down a duly elected president.

I'm still on Twitter where I'm at just short of 40k tweets, but I seem to be "shadow-banned" by the leftists that run that place. I opine into the void there now.

Instagram is where my self-actualization takes place, as I find my joy daily in capturing an image that's interesting but no one else saw or got. Fun!

Having said all of that, I'd like to rekindle this blog and express my thoughts here instead of the other venues. I hope someone reads it, but that's not required for me to get something out of posting here.

So, we're caught up - and the Master's Class on Life is back in session...

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Election Year is Coming!

I've been away a while, toiling in political debate via Facebook and Twitter.

I think this blog will be a good venue for discussing the 2016 election from the primary season on through a winner in November.

First, the holiday season.

Then, it's on...

Saturday, July 12, 2014

My Review: Dinesh D'Souza - "America: Imagine the World Without Her"

Are you patriotic? Asked another way, if you are an American, are you proud to be an American? It's a relevant question coming out of our Independence Day holiday on the 4th of July, and your answer in 2014 is not a given.

Myself, I am a 24/7 patriot. That's not to say that I blindly support all of our politicians or their sometimes foolish policy. It is to say that I am proud of the American Experiment, of the "idea of America" as an experiment in liberty as a departure from the history of human governance. As a Pew poll found last week, my view is held by some 75 percent of conservatives. Conversely, the same poll found that only 40% of "committed liberals" indicated that they were proud to be an American. I am reminded of my YouTube debate with a friend, a self-described socialist, who eschewed patriotism as a "long prayer to a false god". To each our own.

Into this relevant question steps Dinesh D'Souza, with his second feature documentary in two years. His first film, "Obama 2012", came out in a presidential re-election cycle and examined President Barack Obama against the themes of a not-proud American mentored by his own "founding fathers" in an anti-colonial mindset - with America as the colonial power to be "anti". D'Souza's new documentary "America: Imagine the World Without Her" expands his scope to examine the radicalism of the American political left as they pursue an agenda through politics, journalism, and academics. You might view the film either as an attack on the left or as a response to them, depending on your own starting political experience and framework.

"America" has a viewpoint agenda, as in my experience all documentaries do, and that agenda is to unabashedly contend for the greatness-of-America worldview, which is rare in the documentary space. The film opens with a question, ends with a question, and makes its case over two hours using standard documentary techniques such as historical re-enactments, charts and graphs, interviews with key players pro and con, and catchy songs in the background evoking appropriate emotions as the story builds. Academy Award winner Gerald Molen ("Schindler's List") produced the film with reasonably high production values that kept my interest throughout. The film's opening question "Is America great, a net contributor to the world, and can you imagine a world without her?" is answered in roughly four main acts.

Act One introduces us to the not-proud-crowd who hold a "shame" view of America's founding and history on the world stage. This set of prominent historians, journalists, academics, and politicians believe that America was uniquely founded in great sins, and has gone on to act reprehensibly on the world stage since the founding. D'Souza gives voice to this shame view through interviews with key players: a Native American activist, chicano activists, college professors, etc. He features the work of Howard Zinn, whose textbook "A People's History of the United States" holds considerable influence in high school and university curriculum's nationwide.

Act Two recounts, in a fair manner, the indictments that the not-proud-crowd level against America, again in their words. Those indictments include that America stole the land from Native Americans and from Mexico. That we stole labor uniquely in the institution of slavery. That we have acted imperialistically and oppressively in aggression against other nations. If these indictments are true, D'Souza notes somberly, they must be remedied.

Act Three is a point-by-point refutation of the left's indictments, contending for American Exceptionalism. Here D'Souza advances a theory of world history not often heard in discussion: that most of world history has been governed by the "Conquest Ethic", and that America's founding was a purposeful and beneficial deviation from that world norm. The conquest ethic governed in North America before European arrival, for example, with tribes constantly displacing other tribes through conquest. Offering treaties, as the Europeans did during westward expansion, was a deviation from the conquest ethic. The universal sin of slavery is deeply embedded in the conquest ethic throughout world history, still existing in the world today, and not a unique sin of America's founding. America's founding was, by contrast, a "promissory note" on ending the institution in western civilization, a note which was redeemed later at enormous cost. And so on, in answer to the indictments.

Act Four makes the case that the "shame" view of America has a purposeful goal: political power - through which sinful America will be re-made in different model. Whose model? If you are looking at the current administration, then you have to look to Chicago from whence it came, and the main influencer of Chicago leftist politics: Saul Alinsky. Alinsky invented the community organizer model that Barack Obama was trained in. Alinsky mentored Jerry Kellman and others, and Kellman mentored Barack Obama. Alinsky also mentored Hillary Rodham Clinton, who wrote her college senior thesis on his plan for power. If you are looking at the agenda of our current president, and our likely next president, then you have to consider the influence of the radical mentor Saul Alinksy and his "Rules for Radicals" agenda for obtaining the power to remake America.

D'Souza concludes by returning to his opening questions. Is America great? Have we been a net contributor to the world by influencing the replacement of the Conquest Ethic that has governed world history with a liberty / capitalism model that much of the world is embracing? Can you imagine the world without that contribution? Can you imagine if the not-proud-crowd remakes America back toward the Conquest Ethic?

I mentioned that D'Souza ends the movie with a question. He does that by noting that America has the only national anthem that ends with a question: Oh, say, does that star-spangled banner still wave over the land of the free and the home of the brave? Will it much longer, if the not-proud-crowd remakes us? Each must contend for the greatness of America, as if it depends on you to do so. As D'Souza contends for our greatness. I was inspired by that message. Go see it, and judge his contention for yourself.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

My "Privilege" Got Checked!

"Do you really believe that you didn't benefit from the privilege of being a white male?"

This question came at me near the end of an engaging dinner conversation with a Facebook friend at a Panera this week. I inadvertently prompted the question by showing her a Townhall Column by Kurt Schlichter to illustrate what a no-holds-barred conservative op-ed of the kind that I read daily looks like.

Schlichter's column "I Checked My Privilege, and It's Doing Just Fine" is a hard-edged, less apologetic, take on a topic that Princeton student Tal Fortang addressed in his masterful article "Checking My Privilege: Character as the Basis of Privilege". That topic is the current trend of progressives on campuses to intimidate white males into shutting up in discussions, because - you know - their privileged births disqualifies them from being valid. Is this really a college trend? American Thinker reports on an orientation course at Harvard on "Check Your Privilege". Trendy.

Take a few minutes and read all three articles in this order, and you will learn something. Read Fortang's ground-breaking piece first. Read Schlichter's fearless op-ed second. Tie it up with American Thinker.

Back to her question. Frankly, it's laughable to me that I had a privilege-greased slide through life so far, not even counting the white male part.

My parents were not even remotely wealthy, four kids on a teacher's pay. Dad worked three jobs at once, always and for years to make it happen. Mom worked 3rd shift data entry at the hospital. They stayed married to each other for 50 years. They raised 4 responsible boys. Sure, privilege.

They helped me get to college. Before that, though, I was engaged in my own future. I held two jobs in high school. I worked during college working every other semester at an aerospace company in a co-op program. I enlisted in the military. I turned my military experience and a hard-earned degree into a manager's job at a manufacturer. I turned results in that role into my next job and so on.

"So, your parents gave you your privilege. Imagine not having those parents. Imagine being born black in a crack house, and tell me you would have had those opportunities."

Yes, my parents gave me opportunity. But, that has nothing to do with being a white male. It's not wealth privilege, or race privilege, or the patriarchy or whatever.

My parents gave me a "functional" privilege. I grow up in a functional household where my parents worked extremely hard and made good lifestyle choices. They stayed in school. They were married for 50 years. They were churchgoing moral people. Not rich. Functional.

I learned from that, and have tried to live a responsible functional life. I stayed in school. I stayed off of drugs, when I could have chosen to use them in the 70's. I worked jobs from early on, and have been employed every day since 1979. I put in 50 hours of work a week at my job, often on the road away from my family. I served my country for 11 years. I made mistakes in the journey, and worked hard to recover from the mistakes. I've been married

It's laughable to me that that either my parent's life or my life would be described as privileged. For some reason, liberals are prone to denigrating hard work, responsible living, and accomplishment. I'm not buying it.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

I Miss the Old NASA

Here's why we can't have nice things - actually, why we can't have reasonable discussions about government and media: because there are always two sets of facts out there muddying things up as each side links it's favorite perspective.

An illustration:

As I was traveling this week I saw a story at a "NASA-funded study" that dealt with collapse of civilizations. The study finds that civilizations like the Roman Empire (and us in the future) collapse when the "Elites" overconsume resources that the "Commoners" need resulting in strife and collapse.

Now, granted, I'm old. I'm so old that I remember when the National Aeronautics and Space Administration funded things related to aeronautics and space, and not "studies" that echo Marx and play into the Democrats' partisan campaign themes on "inequality". But, hey, if you're going to defund the shuttle program and all space exploration I guess you have to do something to justify your existence. So Marxist prognostication it is. Boo.

Predictably, NASA ducked - and issued a statement that it did not fund this university study. And, predictably, statist-friendly left media sources will carry water for that denial. You can find all of the links that you want to pooh-pooh this story as a right-wing media fantasy. Knock yourself out.

The problem is that the study itself acknowledges its funding source:

"This work was partially funded through NASA/GSFC [Goddard Space Flight Center] grant NNX12AD03A."

Show of hands, please: is a study on income/resource inequality and the collapse of civilization what you would expect for NASA to fund in 2014? Wouldn't you rather see a shuttle blast off instead?

We get what we get when you elect a president who spent his formative college years attending Socialist Scholars Conferences.

I miss the old NASA.

Go read this article about the journalistic dust up...

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Peggy Noonan is Waking Up!

I have long liked Peggy Noonan's writing. A former Reagan speechwriter, she has a skill with the written word that reaches me despite her Manhattan sensibilities. She lost me for a while as she was drawn into Barack Obama's hope-and-change orbit. But, she's back - offering a withering analysis of Obama's delusional State of the Union speech and of the disconnected progressive masterminds in Washington DC.

A few tidbits:

On Washington: "In the country, the president's popularity is underwater. In the District of Columbia itself, as Gallup notes, it's at 81%. The Washington area is now the wealthiest in the nation. No matter how bad the hinterlands do, it's good for government and those who live off it."

On the Obama administration making religious organizations comply with mandates: "It also is a violation of traditional civic courtesy, sympathy and spaciousness. The state doesn't tell serious religious groups to do it their way or they'll be ruined. You don't make the Little Sisters bow down to you."

On the increasing militancy of the Progressives as they take us further down the road of the fundamental transformation of our nation: "This is the great political failure of progressivism: They always go too far. They always try to rub your face in it."

It is indeed. But, Peggy, where were you six years ago when some of us knew this already?

Take some time and read her column. She's waking up. Wake up, people.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

The Flag at Notre Dame

I got to fold the flag after it was lowered on the Quad of the University of Notre Dame at dusk on Friday. It was an unexpected part of my Walter Mitty-ish adventure weekend.

I travelled to South Bend to attend my friend's CD release party, and arrived early. Of course, I had to take some pictures on the beautiful campus of Notre Dame. While I am not Catholic, I admire Catholic architecture a great deal - and was not disappointed. Awe inspiring.

As I was walking along the Quad, I saw a man lowering the flag. I immediately stopped in my tracks, and observed the act with respect, as I had each evening in my Air Force days. I could hear Taps playing in my head, and had a meaningful moment. I was the only one who did, as the few students out on the Quad went about their travels seemingly oblivious. The man was struggling to keep the flag from touching the ground in the deep snow. I struck up a conversation with him, and thanked him for his service at the flagpole. He said that he had called a supervisor to come help him fold it. I said "You have a veteran standing right here who will help you fold it", and he took me up on my offer. One student did stop to help at that point - mentioning that he had been an Eagle Scout. We got the job done, and went on our way.

I never paid attention to a flag lowering ceremony when I was a student on a college campus either. I didn't until I left school and entered the Air Force. It always stops me in my tracks now. It reminded me of a story that I read in Robert Gates' memoir "Duty" last week:

After Gates left government service, he served as President of Texas A&M university for 6 years. He loved that job, and loved the student body. He didn't want to leave that job and go back to government. But, we had two wars in progress and President Bush asked him to, so he did his duty. He often visited with the troops in the war zones and on their bases. Now and then he would see a soldier in the war zones that he had handed a diploma to at A&M.

One thing that struck Gates was the disconnect between seeing students walking around campus with shorts, sandals, and backpacks, and then later seeing kids the same age in our war zones in full battle gear carrying assault rifles going through extreme sacrifice, injury, and death. That disconnect rattled him deeply.

I had a shadow of that disconnect as I stood at attention on the Quad of Notre Dame observing the flag lowering as students with their heads down and iPods in walked obliviously around me. Wake up, young people. Show some respect. That flag has costs.    

Saying a prayer this morning for our men and women in military service, wherever they are.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

"Lone Survivor" - a Thought-Provoking Film

I saw two films today at the cinema. Both had a lone survivor fighting through unimaginable adversity. The first, "Gravity", was fictional and gorgeous. The second, "Lone Survivor", was all too true, intense, moving, and thought provoking.

I had two thoughts coming out of Lone Survivor: one geopolitical, one about Rules of Engagement. Lone Survivor contains zero politics within the film. It is the true story, one you've heard by now, of a mission that goes badly and the firefights that followed. It is a fine testament to the brave men who survive Navy Seal training, and of the fact that we ask too much of them as the put their lives on the line in a war that we sent them to.

So, the geopolitical question is this: The events described in Lone Survivor happened in 2005, roughly 3 years after our CIA / military first arrived in Afghanistan to fight the "good war" against the Taliban who enabled al-Qaeda to strike us on 9/11? Other than ultimately getting Osama bin Laden, what have we gained in the war going now into its 13th year that is worth the sacrifice of so many killed and wounded? You can't watch this movie and see the hell that rained down on 4 brave men and not multiply it out to the two thousand that died and the many thousand injured - one intense battle or helicopter crash at a time. What makes it worth it? If we are truly at "war" with the Taliban, why don't we have the will to win it by now? We certainly have the capability to crush the Taliban, if they are a global threat. Why do we constrict the Rules of Engagement to the point of a stalemate 12 years into the fight? We owe it to those 4 men that we sent to that mountain to fight and die to win this thing - or stop sending people.

On that question, the timing of the release of the memoir of former Defense Secretary Robert Gates coinciding with the release of this movie is a twofer. The excerpts released so far show the SecDef as an eyewitness to an administration and Commander-in-Chief who do not believe in the war and do not believe that it was winnable, even as they ordered a surge of troops into the theater many years ago. Really? We're just playing a wind-down game with these men's lives? Unacceptable.

To rephrase that question: if Lone Survivor had been released shortly after these events happened - back when the Bush administration was fighting the war - would the American public had stayed behind the effort in Afghanistan? Would we allow the war to drag on for 13 years? Crush the Taliban, or get out. One of the two.

The second question goes to the Rules of Engagement that Luttrell's 4-man team found themselves in when their operation was compromised by goat herders on that mountain and they were cut off from communication with their leaders. Let them go, to warn the Taliban? Tie them up, to freeze and die? Or "terminate the compromise"? Lone Survivor is about their humane choice, and the hell that they paid for it - on our behalf.

Contrast that with the decision made 8 years later - as the war has dragged on unresolved - by Army First Lieutenant Clint Lorance as he lead a platoon in an Taliban area. An area where the previous platoon leader had been shot in the neck. His platoon was approached rapidly by men on motorcycles. Faced with a quick decision about the safety of his platoon in uncertainty of whether they were Taliban scouts, he ordered his men to fire on the 3 men on motorcycles - killing two of them. His men did not have a firefight in that Afghanistan province that day, and were not injured and killed. He, however, was court martialed for violating the Rules of Engagement and is headed for 20 years in Ft. Leavenworth.

Who made the right decision on behalf of his men? The humane commander who let the goatherders go and brought an army down on their head, or the platoon leader who gave the shoot order and had his foot patrol make it back to base that day? Can you say what you would do in the field, especially after watching Lone Survivor? Can we stomach sending brave men out to have to make these decisions in a never-ending war with Rules of Engagement that get our guys killed and maimed?
Why are we still there? Do we have the will to win a "war" that we send soldiers to? Should Lt. Clint Lorance be in jail?

Go see Lone Survivor. We owe it to those guys to squirm in our comfortable seat a bit and face those questions.