Defending the virtues of liberty, free markets, and civilization... plus some commentary on the passing scene.
Tuesday, May 30, 2006
Memorial Post - Bridging History Redux
As of yesterday morning, I hadn't been in front of a computer in nearly a week. With no plans to end that streak, I grabbed my Chicago Tribune and decided that sitting in our freshly planted garden on a beautiful Memorial Day morning sounded about right. As I opened the paper, I recalled these sentiments from Wretchard, written last year:
One of the hardest things to read over the past few days have been the Memorial Day blog posts. Some quoted the last letters of soldiers and marines recently dead in Iraq; others cast memory back further. But the events recalled in each case stood the same distance away from everyday life. It's a gulf which no words can bridge. They'v left us behind; and we are irremediably alone with a tale begun long ago and whose ending is now in our care. Memory is a burden; and the memory of love the heaviest of all.
And don't these guys know it.....
After racing 170 miles across France as bitter cold sent tears down his cheeks, Sgt. Johnny Holmes reached Reims and the sound of German guns. For the next 183 days, the fighting continued nonstop as his Army tank unit, made up of black soldiers, hastened the end of a war they were barely invited to join.
By the time it was over, Holmes had battled all the way across Germany in one of two units whose determination in World War II put to rest the myth that black troops wouldn't fight as well as their white counterparts. Thirty-four of his fellow soldiers had lost their lives.
Today, the men still standing from those units--the first and last all-black armor battalions in the U.S. Army--are close to the end, proud but fading. When they are gone, time will have done what the Nazis couldn't, and it might take something more: memories of honor earned despite the racial prejudice of their generation.
Read the rest of these heroes story.
Then there is this story of love between polar opposite brothers:
The tree is a memorial to his younger brother, Army Sgt. 1st Class Jonathan Tessar, killed last fall in a roadside bombing while leading a convoy on patrol in Iraq.
The tree also is a reminder of his brother's devotion to a cause that was beyond Bill Tessar's ken. Until now.
"I'm embarrassed to say it, but honestly I didn't pay a lot of attention to the people out there serving our country," he said. "I never really looked at it as an act of patriotism or bravery, until my brother lost his life."
...Bill always struggled to understand his brother's choice. "I would never, never have signed up" for the military, he said.
"My brother had a passion for it. And I never really understood what that meant until now. ...
"He really believed he was doing something to make the world a better place. Now, I look at his sacrifice and ask myself, 'Would I die for my job? Would you die for this story, for your job?' My brother was willing to die. And he did."
Again, read the whole thing.
Not bad for an MSM paper, I certainly was pleasantly surprised.
And finally, as usual, Victor Davis Hanson provides another must read column for the occasion.
Friday, May 19, 2006
I'm still catching up on all I've missed in the blogosphere over the last few weeks. At times this feels like an exercise in futility - the blogosphere moves at incredible velocity. So, in one post, here are some highlights, read the whole thing applies to each one.
One wonders why this has gotten so little play in the American media, but a captured Al Qaeda correspondence says (and I'm paraphrasing) that they are getting their asses handed to them in every way in Iraq, 'every year is worse than the last' the captured document laments.
Reading further, it becomes clear why so little attention has been paid. Al-Qaeda counts exactly one success in Iraq: their ability to manipulate the American Media into believing that the Iraq situation is out of control! No wonder the MSM have their senses turned to ignore, thankfully, Ed Morrissey is paying close attention.
More cognitive dissonance:
Little Green Footballs has video of that hero of the left, Noam Chomsky visiting with, and tipping his cap to those who defend with violence such progressive causes as treating women as second class citizens and imposing Islamic theocracy. But hey, at least he's against stupid Bush, seemingly the sole necessary quality to achieve leftist hero status.
Mark Steyn on Hollywood's sudden realization of the horrors of Darfur, and another devastating indictment of the UN. I'll quote at length:
I SEE George Clooney and Angelina Jolie have discovered Darfur and are now demanding "action". Good for them. Hollywood hasn't shown this much interest in indigenous groups of the Sudan since John Payne and Jerry Colonna sang The Girlfriend of the Whirling Dervish in Garden of the Moon (1938).
I wish the celebs well. Those of us who wanted action on Darfur years ago will hope their advocacy produces more results than ours did. Clooney's concern for the people of the region appears to be genuine and serious. But unless he's also serious about backing the only forces in the world with the capability and will to act in Sudan, he's just another showboating pretty boy of no use to anyone.
Here's the lesson of the past three years: The UN kills.
In 2003, you'll recall, the US was reviled as a unilateralist cowboy because it and its coalition of the poodles waged an illegal war unauthorised by the UN against a sovereign state run by a thug regime that was no threat to anyone apart from selected ethnocultural groups within its borders, which it killed in large numbers (Kurds and Shia).
Well, Washington learned its lesson. Faced with another thug regime that's no threat to anyone apart from selected ethnocultural groups within its borders which it kills in large numbers (African Muslims and southern Christians), the unilateralist cowboy decided to go by the book. No unlawful actions here. Instead, meetings at the UN. Consultations with allies. Possible referral to the Security Council.
...If you think the case for intervention in Darfur depends on whether or not the Chinese guy raises his hand, sorry, you're not being serious. The good people of Darfur have been entrusted to the legitimacy of the UN for more than two years and it's killing them. In 2004, after months of expressing deep concern, grave concern, deep concern over the graves and deep grave concern over whether the graves were deep enough, Kofi Annan took decisive action and appointed a UN committee to look into what's going on. Eventually, they reported back that it's not genocide.
Thank goodness for that. Because, as yet another Kofi-appointed UN committee boldly declared, "genocide anywhere is a threat to the security of all and should never be tolerated". So fortunately what's going on in the Sudan isn't genocide. Instead, it's just hundreds of thousands of corpses who happen to be from the same ethnic group, which means the UN can go on tolerating it until everyone's dead, at which point the so-called "decent left" can support a "multinational" force under the auspices of the Arab League going in to ensure the corpses don't pollute the water supply.
...Those of us on the Free Iraq-Free Darfur side are consistent: There are no bad reasons to clobber thug regimes, and the postmodern sovereignty beloved by the UN is strictly conditional. At some point, the Left has to decide whether it stands for anything other than self-congratulatory passivity and the fetishisation of a failed and corrupt transnationalism. As Alexander Downer put it: "Outcomes are more important than blind faith in the principles of non-intervention, sovereignty and multilateralism."
I'll reiterate: Read the whole thing.
George Will says it is our civic duty to see 'United 93'
To the long list of Britain's contributions to American cinema -- Charles Chaplin, Bob Hope, Cary Grant, Stan Laurel, Deborah Kerr, Vivien Leigh, Maureen O'Hara, Ronald Colman, David Niven, Boris Karloff, Alfred Hitchcock and others -- add Paul Greengrass, writer and director of "United 93." He imported into Hollywood the commodity most foreign to it: good taste. This is especially shown in the ensemble of unknown character actors and non-actors who play roles they know -- a real pilot plays the pilot, a former flight attendant plays the head flight attendant -- and several persons who play on screen the roles they played on Sept. 11.
Greengrass's scrupulosity is evident in the movie's conscientious, minimal and minimally speculative departures from the facts about the flight painstakingly assembled for the Sept. 11 commission report. This is emphatically not a "docudrama" like Oliver Stone's execrable "JFK," which was "history" as a form of literary looting in which the filmmaker used just enough facts to lend a patina of specious authenticity to tendentious political ax-grinding.
...The message of the movie is: We are all potential soldiers. And we all may be, at any moment, at the war's front, because in this war the front can be anywhere.
The hinge on which the movie turns are 13 words that a passenger speaks, without histrionics, as he and others prepare to rush the cockpit, shortly before the plane plunges into a Pennsylvania field. The words are: "No one is going to help us. We've got to do it ourselves." Those words not only summarize this nation's situation in today's war but also express a citizen's general responsibilities in a free society.
In economic news it was good to see that the federal income tax cuts of several years ago have been renewed. It was stunning to look at this chart illustrating how incredibly progressive the tax system really is. Anyone who claims that Bush's tax cuts are for the rich could only charitably be called a complete ass.
And Wretchard is on an exceptional roll with this follow up to his post that I linked below.
A small, still voice argued that we 21st century bloggers too no longer know what it is all about; and least of all those who formerly had an answer to everything. The really perilous thing about September 11 was that it opened the door into the wide world; raised our eyes from the orderly spectacle of New Year's Day TV football to the sights of Somalia, Iraq and Pakistan. September 11 not only took away lives, it took away innocence: no longer was it possible to repose confidence in the rationality and goodness of man. Not after seeing Zarqawi; not after watching people kill each other for no apparent reason; not after witnessing the madness that passes, in certain circles, for piety. Stat rosa pristina nomine, nomina nuda tenemus.
....The imaginary William of Baskerville, Eco tells us, died in the Great Plague. But while he lived, he lived. And may live still in some meaningful sense, at least to those interested in solving murders. Those passing familiar with Jesus' teachings know He taught that the path to the Father led through the ordinary. Those who prefer other metaphors may wish to think of a heterogenous universe, where meaning and love imperishable exist side by side with cruelty, horror and absurdity. And we must choose whether to try and understand it all or create and defend a bubble in which love and meaning truly do exist.
For these somewhat fanciful reasons I hope that the blogosphere will become less a cockpit of argument and ideas -- though it will always be that -- and more a forum for action: a place to facilitate meetings between real people, develop actual applications and accomplish physical tasks. There never was a flower, a glass of beer or a child's laugh that was ever truly futile. Et in saecula saeculorum. Amen.
Maybe I can get caught up next week. Or maybe I will just look to enjoying Memorial Day, friends, and a glass of beer.
Monday, May 15, 2006
Wow. Some pretty stunning insights here.
Perhaps Wretchard has hit on why I have not felt compelled to finish any of my half baked posts lately.
As a commenter notes, all concepts and ideas are on the table and arguing through them again and again gets rather boring.
Indeed, we now watch - and hope.
Friday, May 05, 2006
Almost forgot about this one. My girlfriend pointed it out to me, from last Saturday's Chicago Tribune. It's a scene right out of The Office except for it isn't.
FRESNO, CALIFORNIA -- A jury awarded $500,000 Friday to a woman who was spanked in front of her colleagues in what her employer called a camaraderie-building exercise.
The jury of six men and six women found that Janet Orlando was subjected to sexual harassment and sexual battery when she was paddled two years ago at Alarm One Inc., a home security company in Fresno.
The jury, however, said that Orlando did not suffer from sexual assault as she alleged. Orlando had asked for at least $1.2 million.
Orlando quit in 2004, saying she was humiliated during camaraderie-building exercises.
Losers in the competition were required to wear diapers and spanked with a rival alarm company's yard signs, according to court documents.
I don't know if I am more amused by the absurd creativity of the act - a spanking, in diapers, with a rival companies yard sign! - or by the casual manner in which the employer seriously considered this a 'camaraderie-building exercise.' As though companies all across America engage in similar team building events.
Almost as absurd as a terrorist mastermind caught on video, decked out in his New Balance shoes, bumbling around with a machine gun he can't fire.
Thursday, May 04, 2006
I am damn proud to share citizenship with a man of this stature.
Burghardt, 36, of Fountain Valley, Calif., is probably one of the best-known and most well-respected improvised bomb experts in Iraq, where his skills are in constant demand.
Last September, an embedded journalist snapped a photo of Burghardt moments after a roadside bomb exploded on him in a notoriously troubled corner of western Ramadi — a city that Burghardt describes as "the scariest place on Earth." The image shows Burghardt with bloodied legs and shredded uniform, flipping the bird to an unseen insurgent who triggered the bomb.
...Medics cut away his bloody pants to reveal that the backs of his legs had been studded with shrapnel and bruised from the top of his boots to his waist. As they prepared to place him in a stretcher, Burghardt shouted, "No." He didn't want his teammates or the insurgents to see him carried from the scene. He was going to walk.
As he was helped to his feet, Burghardt said, he felt a wave of anger and adrenaline flow through his system. He had just extended his Iraq tour that morning and he was livid that he had been bested by the bomber.
"I was really pissed off that they got me, that after all this time, they got me," Burghardt said. "I figured the triggerman was still watching, so I flipped him off. I yelled, '[Expletive] you! I’ll be out here next week!'"
Monday, May 01, 2006
United 93 - The Movie
That's about all I can say after seeing 'United 93.' The director, Paul Greengrass, certainly deserves the acclaim he is getting. Obviously this was not an easy film to put together, but he did it masterfully. It was riveting, my reactions were incredibly visceral, I had feelings from places I didn't know I had as all of those raw emotions of September 11th came rushing back. The rage, the sadness, the hope, the confusion, the realization that the world had indelibly changed - that our vacation from history had come to a fiery crashing end.
At times I felt vulnerable, sharing this memory and experience with a room full of strangers, wondering what they were thinking. But at the end I knew, the emotions in the room were palpable - it could have been any one of us on that plane.
There was not a single empty seat in the theatre (we tried to go to an earlier show, but it was also sold out) and when the film came to its end, not one person moved, all of us sat in dead silence staring up at the empty screen. At some point it became ok to begin our exit. No one spoke, as we all walked out in somber silence in the manner one would exit a funeral. I have never, in my life had an experience even remotely close to that, and at a movie theatre no less.
Amazing. Do not miss this film on the big screen, do not miss the chance to sit and reflect on this with a room full of Americans that you do not know.
Some other, worthwhile thoughts here. And be sure and read this review from Todd Beamer's father if you have not already done so.