War Is Unhealthy; So Is Chemotherapy

I have now had two Liberal friends of mine who don’t know each other in totally unrelated communications comment that they “resent” having their tax dollars spent on wars.   This is as a result of discussions about taxes.  In what I’m sure one friend thought was the final, incontrovertible point , she stated, “Wars are unhealthy.”

As far as the “unhealthy” comment goes, I don’t think anyone other than a Muslim extremist would disagree with this observation.  Although unhealthy is a gross understatement, let’s go with that analogy.

Chemotherapy is likewise unhealthy.  It does horrible things to your body and compromises your mental and physical health.  Unfortunately, chemotherapy cannot attack just cancer cells, so there is a lot of collateral damage.  A friend of mine who went through chemotherapy was told by her doctor that her body was aged 10 years by the process.  She also had her lymph nodes on one side removed (thankfully, that was all that was necessary), and she will daily suffer serious side effects for the rest of her life from this surgery.

However, chemotherapy was the best choice given that or premature death.  Unfortunately, we live in a world where we sometimes have choices that are all bad.  We have to be adults and make the hard choices without bemoaning the bad side effects that come with a choice which is actually a choice of lesser evils.

So, I don’t disagree with my friend who makes the statement that wars are unhealthy; they are.  That doesn’t mean that it is not a choice to be considered given certain circumstances.  I suspect that my Liberal friends would say that war is never the lesser of two evils.  I don’t know how they would justify choosing the continuation of slavery in this country over fighting the Civil War.  I don’t know how they would justify being conquered by the Nazis over fighting World War II.  If they lived in one of the Eastern Bloc countries during the Cold War (or even talked at length with those who did), they might understand that some things are worse than war.

As far as their resentment about paying taxes for war goes, I understand and agree with that also, to a limited extent.  Our government has a Constitutional responsibility to protect us, not to play nice with the enemy.  I resent spending tax dollars on wars which we do not fight to win because of political correctness, thereby extending the wars and ballooning the costs.  If, when we entered a war, we entered it with a firm resolution to win, war costs could be dramatically reduced.  I’m not saying that we should fight wars like the Nazis or the Stalinists, but we shouldn’t pretend like the enemies are our friends.

War is hell.  Nothing that you can do to make it “nice” will make it nicer than hell.  The only option is to limit the war by shortening it as much as possible by giving it all you’ve got to try to win it.

Does that mean we should resort to the use of nuclear weapons?  We should examine all of our options, including the cost in lives as well as dollars, when we are fighting a war.  I will not quibble with the use of nuclear weapons to end WWII; neither will I quibble with the decision to refrain from use of nuclear weapons since then.

What I will quibble with is not fighting a war to win it.  I am incensed that we are currently fighting a war with rules of engagement which make it difficult if not impossible to kill the enemy, and make it easier for the enemy to kill our troops.  Requiring our troops to refrain from shooting an enemy unless they have a gun IN their hands (even if they see them throw it down) makes war longer and more of a hell.  This inflates the cost of war in dollars and in human life.

For all of the talk about Vietnam and the still unhealed wounds inflicted on our country, we didn’t learn the major lesson to be learned from losing that war.  (Yeah, I know, we didn’t officially lose, we just “honorably” withdrew.  Politispeak.)  It was the first war that we tried to win not by fighting to win, but by fighting to tie.

McNamara’s (Secretary of Defense) concept of limited and “proportional” response was so appealing on its face.  It was what prolonged the war and caused us to lose; even he admitted it much later in life.  When I first heard of this war strategy, I was a young, inexperienced adult, but I remember it well because it seemed so novel and so “compassionate.”  The idea was that you responded to your enemy with a force proportional, rather than in excess of (if possible), to what your enemy attacked you with.  The modern day analogy of this philosophy might be, if your opponent brings a knife to a fight, you bring a knife.  If your opponent brings a gun, you bring a gun.   Don’t ever go at it stronger than your opponent.

Thank God, we as Americans can never win at a war like that, which means that we should never attempt to fight that way.  The one who wins at war under those rules is the one who has the stomach for continuous war and a lack of respect for the lives continually lost in continuous war.  This does not describe America.

There is no way to make war compassionate—not trying to win makes it more of a hell than it already is.  If we had gone in with a will to win the war in Vietnam, it would probably have ended differently.  We would have another South Korea or Japan rather than a country struggling towards becoming a developed nation almost 40 years later.

We should have learned this lesson from Vietnam: fight to win.  It could not heal the wounds our country experienced, but at least we would have something to show for it.

What did we do in the first major conflict after Vietnam?  That would be the first Gulf War, under President Bush 42.  Did we fight to win that one?  No.  I was much older then, but still clueless and under the spell of McNamara’s novel ideas, just as most America remains today.  I remember having a discussion with my father, who maintained that we should have marched into Baghdad and taken Saddam down.  In other words, we should have fought to win.  I maintained that we needed to stay within the guidelines laid down by the UN, and the goal was only to drive Saddam out of Kuwait.  I was blissfully ignorant of the Kurds and the plight that we left them in by withdrawing when we did.  (And the corruption in the UN.)  It wouldn’t have been “honorable” to continue on the Baghdad.  I was still under the influence of youthful stupidity and denial:  Play really, really nice.  Don’t defeat your opponent, just outlast his patience.

If we had taken Saddam out in the first Gulf War, consider the cost that would have been avoided of the subsequent war as well as the cost to those Iraqis who were attacked by Saddam with chemical and biological weapons after we abandoned those who helped us in that first war.   Consider the deterrent that might have been created by the message that we only fought wars to win them.  Imagine the possibilities, as the saying goes.

War is unhealthy.  Sometimes we just don’t have a “healthy” option.  If we do go to war, let’s make the hell cost as little as possible.  I hate for my liberal friends to be more resentful than necessary about spending money for the government to fulfill their Constitutional obligations.

Published in: on November 5, 2012 at 4:57 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Spoiled Toddlers and Muslim Extremists

When a spoiled toddler doesn’t get his own way, he throws a fit.  You don’t correct this bad behavior by sympathizing with the toddler and telling him that you understand how mean life is and how it hurts if someone does something he doesn’t like, but (at the end of a lot of sympathy) it’s really not acceptable to throw yourself on the ground and scream at the top of your lungs in public.  Unless you unequivocally make it clear that pitching a fit is not an acceptable reaction no matter what the provocation, then the toddler will continue to throw fits, the fits will generally get worse, and the toddler will become accustomed to using his behavior to get his own way.

What happens when spoiled children are adults?  The extremist Muslims who attacked us on September 11 a couple of days ago, burning our flag and replacing our flag with an extremist Muslim flag in Egypt, and using rocket-launched grenades and assault weapons before torching our diplomatic post in Libya, are like spoiled toddlers.  A movie was made which displeased them, so they pitched a fit.  Unfortunately, this fit involved dangerous weapons, torching buildings, and explosions, which ultimately caused the death of 4 Americans.

Just as you don’t stop toddlers from throwing fits by reasoning with them, you don’t stop extremist Muslims from rioting and murdering by telling them that you understand their feelings are hurt because someone made fun of Mohammed.  When the restlessness started, our Embassy in Cairo issued a statement which actually contained the words “hurt the religious feelings of Muslims.”  This probably fueled the flames of resentment because it reinforced their sense of being wronged.

I am frankly sick about hearing about the “hurt feelings” of Muslims, as if they were children who need to be coddled for bad behavior.  If they want to riot because of what happens half a world away from them, I suppose that’s their business, but they need to learn to stop taking it out on the rest of the world, especially us.  This isn’t the first time that riots have ensued after someone insulted Mohammed or Islam.  I’m sick of our government expressing more concern about the “hurt feelings” of Muslim extremists than vocalizing a defense of the right of Americans to express an opinion.

I’m also upset at being told that we just need to reach out and understand Islam by people who make statements that clearly display their ignorance of the religion.  Our embassy in Cairo included this in their statement of appeasement when things started to get heated about a film made in the US by a US citizen: “We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others.”

This statement displays such a gross misunderstanding of Islam (and the world in general) that it is embarrassing.  There is no “universal right of free speech,” especially in the Muslim world.  Shariah law dictates that where Islam and Mohammed are concerned, free speech does not only take a back seat on the bus, it’s not allowed on the bus at all.  In our system, free speech rights trump; in the Muslim system, free speech is often criminal behavior (and they are trying to have this imposed in the world at large through a UN resolution criminalizing “defamation of religion”).  Our right to free speech was unique in the world when we codified it, it remains a rarity in the world as a whole, and the strong enforcement of this right within our borders is part of what constitutes American exceptionalism even today.  It is not a “universal right” recognized in most parts of the world.

A senior public affairs officer is being made the fall guy for the statement that was issued on the embassy website.  There is a plausible story of how he was told NOT to do what he did anyway.  Of course, being made the fall guy doesn’t mean that he’s being demoted or discharged.  It’s just that now that the misguided PR guy has been identified, no one can attribute responsibility to anyone in charge.  Obama and Hillary can be critical of the statement since it has proved unpopular without being accused of talking out of both sides of their mouths.  If it was really such an objectionable move and he disobeyed orders to refrain from posting his statement on the website, why is the guy not joining the ranks of the unemployed in this country?  I would be willing to bet that among the ranks of the long-time unemployed, there are many qualified candidates who would jump at the job, even though it is in a chaotic hot spot.

I am also disturbed by the attitude that concerns about Muslim extremism are overblown.  After all, this riot was “over there” and not here, right?  It’s not going to happen in America—they can’t get a foothold here.  The American Revolution came about because of a few extremists, and their dream was even more far-fetched because what they had in mind had never been done before.  Muslim theocracies abound in this world, so the Muslim dream of of a widespread, even worldwide, caliphate is not nearly as far-fetched.  I know that there are millions of decent, law-abiding, non extremist Muslims in the world.  I have had Muslim friends, and I know they are not all saints or all devils, just like in any group that exists in the world.  However, the non-extremists are not currently determining the direction of Islam in this world; the minority is setting the path.

It is important to realize that these riots and murders in Egypt and Libya are the result not of Americans committing any kind of illegal act on any Muslim soil.  They resulted from the exercise of free speech on our own soil, under our own laws.  The violence is not intended to control the behavior of citizens in their own country, but to control the behavior of citizens in the United States of America.  Having our government sympathize with the extremists and internationally trash Americans who are simply exercising their Constitutional rights is not the way to reduce the number of incidents.  Anyone who doesn’t understand that doesn’t understand where things are headed.

The real irony in the situation is that the movie which purportedly stirred up all of the spoiled adult children appears (from the video clips) to be a juvenile, unprofessional spoof, not worthy of the three and a half minutes that it took to watch the two trailers, much less the fourteen minutes that it would take to watch the whole thing.  How any adult could get their feelings hurt over it is a mystery.

Voltaire famously said:

“I disagree strongly with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

There is now a twisted version of this as demonstrated by radical Muslims:

“I  strongly disagree with and/or find distasteful what you say, and expect you to pay the penalty of death if you exercise your right to say it.”

These two approaches are mutually exclusive.  We need to take a much stronger stand for our approach, or we will surely lose it.

Published in: on September 13, 2012 at 9:47 pm  Leave a Comment  

Strike Three and We’re Out

We elected an inexperienced man with no qualms about abusing power to be President of the United States.

I won’t get into the reasons why everyone voted for him. Some knew what he stood for, and agreed with his politics. Some voted for him because he was the one with the D next to his name. The press did its highly effective best to hide or minimize anything, large (from his socialist past) or small (like his smoking), that might have created a doubt in the minds of those who were the lemmings following the soaring rhetoric of “Hope and Change.” So he rode to victory with a majority created by the believers and the clueless.


Published in: on July 3, 2012 at 4:21 am  Leave a Comment  
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Values.ad Campaign

There are a series of ads on TV that disturb me greatly. They are aimed mostly at younger people. What disturbs me is that they are not preparing our children for tomorrow’s America if we continue on in the same direction that we are going. (more…)

Published in: on March 18, 2012 at 8:43 pm  Comments (2)  
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Deoccupy DC

In my list of top three positive consequences of the 2010 elections is the fact that Nancy Pelosi was no longer Speaker of the House.  As a result of that, she does not infest my television as often as she used to.

I remember when she was lashing out at the Tea Party in 2009, coining the famous “Astroturf” comparison.  Then there was her heartfelt speech in September 2009, “I have concerns about some of the language that is being used, because I saw . . .” (sniffle, eye roll, attempt to hold back the tears) “. . .I saw this myself . . .” (greater effort to hold back more tears and great emotional distress throughout the rest of this) “ . . .in the late ’70s in San Francisco.  This kind of rhetoric was very frightening and it gave, it created a climate in which we, in which violence took place.” (more…)

Published in: on November 12, 2011 at 6:22 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Comments from a Tea Partier

I took a peek at my friend’s Facebook last week.  I have known this person for decades. He is one of my dearest friends, although we are separated by several moves, many years, and—most importantly—politics. That alone currently limits our relationship.  He wrote:

“It has becoming increasingly clear that the Tea Party is just the ultra-conservative Christian Right Wing of the Rep. Party. Nothing wrong with holding those views, but I for one still prefer to have a separation of church and state. They have caused enormous harm economically over the past couple of months. Perhaps they should keep their religion in their churches, and not force it into our government.” (more…)

Published in: on October 26, 2011 at 11:28 pm  Leave a Comment  
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A question for today’s America: Who is John Galt?

I’m reading Atlas Shrugged once again.  The last time I read it was sometime early in the 90s.  The first time I read it was sometime in the 80s.  I don’t agree with everything that the book concludes, but I have very strong feelings about everything it concludes.  Agree or disagree, it’s a powerful book.   You can’t read it without exposing something raw in yourself.

Reading this book is causing me some problems this time around.  My nights are either sleepless or filled with bad dreams.  Before, the realism of the situations in the book was striking, but the scenario seemed somehow distant, almost like science fiction.  Now, the abominations visited upon the people by the government in the book aren’t in some distant “it could be this way . . .” The abominations are NOW. (more…)

Published in: on May 7, 2011 at 10:22 pm  Leave a Comment  
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New York State Plays Fool’s Tag

Ah, the New York State political process!  Activity for the entire country to view with awe.  When I say “awe,” what I mean is in the same light as we look at the havoc visited by the twisters in our Midwestern states.  It is awesome to think of what damage a little bit of wind can do. (more…)

de Vattelist . . . er . . . de Vatteler

-gate     Noun suffix denoting a scandal of tremendous proportions.

First, there was Watergate.  I don’t even have to go into the details because everyone knows them.  The Watergate complex was the scene of a national scandal that took down a president.  With the beauty of a living language, -gate became a suffix that rendered any word a name for a scandal. (more…)

Published in: on April 16, 2011 at 1:05 pm  Leave a Comment  
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PA in Maryland is not Pennsylvania

A bill passed by the Maryland House and sent to the Maryland Senate was released to the full Senate yesterday by the Senate Rules Committee.  This bill is known as HB235.

Maryland’s HB235 is a discrimination bill dealing with gender identity.  It defines gender identity as “a gender-related identity or appearance of an individual, regardless of the individual’s assigned sex at birth.”  It would protect transgender individuals from discrimination in the areas of employment, housing, and lending.

The italics in the bill’s definition, indicating my astonishment, are mine.  (more…)

Published in: on April 8, 2011 at 2:47 am  Leave a Comment  
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