Friday, November 11, 2011


(an annual post)

Have you forgotten yet ?
Look down, and swear by the slain of the War that you’ll never forget.
Do you remember the dark months you held the sector at Mametz – The nights you watched and wired and dug...?
Do you ever stop and ask, ‘Is it all going to happen again ?’ . . .
Have you forgotten yet ?...
Look up, and swear by the green of the spring that you’ll never forget.

Siegfried Sassoon “Aftermath, March 1919.”

Today is Veterans Day in the United States. In part because the calendar is crowded with holidays, Veterans Day replaced an older holiday, known as Armistice Day, which commemorated the end of the First World War, surely the most needless, tragic, but consequential war of modern times. Canada, Australia and the other British Commonwealth nations, very appropriately, call today “Remembrance Day.” World War I is ancient history to most of us, yet this conflict, the war that in many ways brought down Armageddon, is with us, always. Pause, friend, for a moment, wherever you are, and remember.

At ten minutes past 5 a.m., on the morning of 11 November, the German armistice delegation, meeting with their allied counterparts in a railway car near the French city of Compiegné, accepted the Allied terms for an armistice. The Germans found the terms harsh (although they were no harder than those they had forced on the Russians in 1917) and they signed under protest.

Although the Germans had agreed to quit, the fighting did not stop until 11 a.m.: the dying that went on the rest of that long morning as pointless and futile as the whole war. In the Argonne, future President Harry Truman's artillery battery was in action, firing until it had no more ammunition at 10:45 a.m. Just east of Mons, Belgium, a Canadian soldier, Private George Lawrence Price, was fatally shot by a sniper at 10:58 a.m., two minutes before the cease-fire, the last of over 60,000 Canadians to perish.

The cease-fire came, but the dying did not stop. The Allied naval blockade of the defeated Central Powers remained in place -- and it was rendered more effective by Allied access to the Baltic Sea. With agriculture and transport disrupted by the war and the political chaos in Central Europe, thousands died of malnutrition, mostly the aged and children. Meanwhile, bankrupted and bereaved survivors, particularly in the defeated countries, now demanded an accounting from their leaders, and tried to understand what it had all been for, and why this had happened.

When historians look back upon our times, they will probably agree that the 21st Century really began on 11 September 2001. Similarly, Gavrilo Princip, a 19-year old Bosnian-Serb revolutionary bandit, member of a terrorist organization familarly called the Black Hand, the al Qaeda of its time, effectively began the 20th Century about 11:15 a.m. on 28 June 1914 when he murdered Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary, and his wife, Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg by a bridge in Sarajevo, in what is now Bosnia-Herzegovina. Despite their exalted titles, the dead prince, his wife and their three now orphaned children were, in some ways, quite ordinary; and their ruined family was only the first of millions to come. A month and a week from the murders, after multiple diplomatic fiascos no novelist could invent, that seem impossible to believe today, all Europe was at war.

Ninety years later, Sarajevo was the scene of more violence, this time between Serbs, Croats, and Muslims, quarreling over the make-up of the post-Cold War Balkans. The 20th Century thus ended where and as it begin, in Sarajevo, in blood, with another war that nobody would win.

The 1990’s violence in the former Yugoslavia, like almost everything else in modern diplomacy, stemmed from the war that Princip helped begin, and which people tried to begin ending today in 1918. Over 10 million dead bodies later, the war he and a baker’s dozen of incompetents started ended today, in 1918.

Officially ended, anyway. How can an atrocity like the First World War ever truly end?  Fought over nothing, ending in no victory for anyone, except political cranks, left wing and right wing radicals, demagogic ideologues and other fanatics. The road to Auschwitz, Hitler and Stalin runs straight from the murder scene in Sarajevo, through the railroad siding in Compiegné where the armistice was signed. The Second World War killed more, in raw numbers, than the First – but the later war was only a continuation made possible by the poisons unleashed in the first war.

Satan had a good day of it in Sarajevo in June 1914. If not for the murderer Princip, and the clumsy diplomats and generals who blundered Europe and the world into a war everyone but the crazies lost, whoever would have heard of Lenin, Stalin, Hitler or Mussolini ? Lenin would have rotted away in exile with his books and scribblings; Hitler no doubt would have died in deserved obscurity in some Vienna doss-house. Stalin would have met the inevitable fate of a bank robber; and Mussolini perhaps never left journalism. No collapse of the British Empire forcing America onto the world stage to redress the great-power balance. No Great Depression, no Nazis, no World War II or Holocaust, no Cold War. Maybe no collapse of the Ottoman Empire giving us, ultimately, Bin-Laden, Zarqawi, Hamas and suicide bombers.

But Gavrilo Princip fired his fatal bullets, and the whole edifice of civilization crumpled before them. The shots of Sarajevo echo still. Gentle reader, think today of his crime, and of all whom, unknowing, ultimately paid. Because of the shots in Sarajevo, men who had no reason to hate each other fought and murdered each other all over the world in job lots -- in the fields of Champagne, on the roads of Poland and in the snows of Russia, in Iraq and in China. Children died in the cold Atlantic and starved by the million in Russia, the mountains of Armenia, and the Balkans. Sleepy eastern Europe, so long a quiet agricultural backwater, twice in fifty years was turned into an abattoir.

Beyond the seas, America lost its isolation. Americans died in the Argonne and, thirty years later, in the Pacific and in the deserts of Africa; later in the jungles of Vietnam. Today US Marines are dying in the hills of Afghanistan, all in some way because of, or related to the acres of warehouses of cans of worms opened by Princip.

Besides the legions of killed, maimed and wounded, the war had other, more insidious effects. Along with butchering millions, the First World War killed the faith of the western peoples in their civilization -- in progress, parliamentary institutions, science and religion, and left us instead the poison fruits of Communism, Nazism, and Socialism. The west, outside of America (for a time) lost confidence in itself -- at some level even in its right to exist as a culture. Germany and Russia, gravely wounded in both body and spirit, led the turn away from God, progress, law and civilization, and burned books and millions of their own citizens. Britain, mother of Parliaments, the law and of the United States, withered -- crippled and bankrupted both by the war and its 1939 continuation; and its political class today quivers in fear of criticism by modernity's ascendant barbarians.

But today, in 1918, on the eleventh hour, of the eleventh month, of the eleventh day – war, for the moment, ended. Think of all war dead today, dear reader. But, almost 100 years on, spare a thought for a moment or two for all the dead of the Great War, so pointless, so long ago, but so horribly, tragically important.

Veterans Day, 2011

When you go home,
Tell them of us and say,
For your tomorrow,
We gave our today.

Inscription, British War Memorial, Kohima, India.(attributed to John Maxwell Edmonds, Times Literary Supplement [London], 4 July 1918).

As our soldiers, sailors and aviators struggle and stand on guard for us throughout the world, particularly today in Iraq and Afghanistan, pause in your business for a moment, and think of them, and of our veterans who have already served. Remember those who are not with us today, because they made the ultimate sacrifice. Think, also of their families at home, who bear their own scars incurred in coping with the absence and perils of their often far away loved ones.

In particular, I am remembering in my own prayers today (and every year on this day) five US Navy casualties of the Battle of Midway (4 June 1942). Samuel Adams, Lieutenant (j.g.) USN (Scouting Squadron 5, USS Yorktown), holder of three Navy Crosses, who did as much as anybody -- more actually -- to win the battle; Wesley Frank Osmus, Ensign USNR, (Torpedo Squadron 3, USS Yorktown), Frank Woodrow O’Flaherty, Ensign USNR (Scouting Squadron 6, USS Enterprise), and Bruno P. Gaido (Aviation Machinist's Mate (1st Class)) -- O'Flaherty's gunner. Lieutenant Adams and his radioman/gunner, Joseph Karrol (Aviation Radioman (2nd Class)) were presumed killed in action near the battle's end. Osmus, O'Flaherty and Gaido were all US aviators shot down and captured during the attacks on the Japanese fleet, and subsequently murdered by their captors. They each faced their fates alone, but they are never forgotten.

Went the day well ?
We died and never knew.
But, well or ill, Freedom, we died for you.

John Maxwell Edmonds, Times [London], 6 February 1918.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Happy 236th Birthday, Marine Corps!

On 10 November 1775, before the United States was yet a country, the Continental Congress created what became the United States Marine Corps, the resolution of that date providing for the raising of two battalions of Marines. Legend has it that the first Marine recruiting post was in a bar (most say Tun Tavern in Philadelphia, although the precise identity of the hostelry is in dispute).

Recruiting had produced five weak companies 300 strong by December 1775, and in March of 1776 the Marines found themselves on ships headed for the Caribbean for the first of their many amphibious expeditions (raiding the Bahamas). The Corps has been carrying our flags around the globe ever since, participating with distinction in every American war (even in the Civil War, on both sides -- there was once a Confederate States Marine Corps). US Marines chased pirates and fought Seminoles in Florida, took a tour of Mexico (the Halls of Montezuma in the song), and once even patrolled rivers in China.

It is altogether typical that on their Corps’ 236th birthday, America’s Marines are carrying the fight to the enemy in Afghanistan, just as their fathers, cousins and brothers did before them in Iraq, Kuwait, Grenada, at Hue City, the Chosun Reservoir, Iwo Jima, Peleliu, Tarawa, Guadalcanal, Corregidor, Wake Island, Belleau Wood, the Argonne, Peking, Nicaragua, Mexico City, Tripoli and a million other places. Happy Birthday Marines! Thanks to all of you for your service, and may God be with you and your families, today and every day.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Next President. . .

. . .officially got into the race today. At last we have a candidate! For a lot of reasons, I think Rick Perry will win the nomination, and go on to defeat Obama in November 2012. More on that later. For now, Governor Perry's splendid timing totally upstages the (rather silly) Iowa straw poll, and makes it a two-and-a-half man race: Perry vs. Romney plus the survivor of all the others.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Support Boehner's Bill

House Speaker John Boehner's debt limit bill is grossly inadequate and completely insufficent in terms of spending cuts, but it's the best conservatives can reasonbly expect to obtain today. Moreover, it's certainly more than we're likely to get at the end -- because the Democratic controlled Senate is going to have to put its imprimitur on whatever becomes law. Nevertheless, Republicans should hold their noses and support the Speaker tonight.

The Republican Party has insufficient leverage to impose its legislative priorities: it controls one House of Congress only and is divided between more traditional conservatives and the Tea Party movement. To accomplish what is necessary, in terms of cutting spending, and making some effort to reduce the US debt; and to prevent the govenrment from eating the whole economy, Republicans must put their case to the people in 2012, recapture the White House, and whittle-down liberal power in the Senate. But that's all for another time. We cannot have what we would like, yet, so we must accept something that will do.  

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

OY! Deleted My Blog List!

Was trying to edit my blog list, and deleted it. I am going to have to re-create the whole thing. So sorry!

I believe that I have reconstructed it more or less accurately. Hope so anyway!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Osama Bin Laden (10 March 1957-2 May 2011)

Nothing in his life became him like the leaving it. . .

William Shakespeare, Macbeth Act 1, Scene 4.

At last, at last, the Devil himself is dead. Osama bin Mohammed bin Awad bin Laden, author, instigator and organizer of the murder of almost 3,000 of our fellow citizens, was run to earth this week by US special forces in Abbottabad, Pakistan, and promptly sent to Hell. May his soul rot and burn there forever, and may the stench of his foul earthly remains not choke the fishes.

Predictably, the carping has started. The SEALs were wrong to enter Pakistan, they shot an unarmed man, they should have brought him back for trial, etc., etc. Let the unctuous whine to their hearts content, Bin Laden is stone-cold dead, thanks be to God.

“We love death. The US loves life. That is the big difference between us,” Al Qaeda's leader proclaimed. I wonder just when it was that he discovered his error? Bin Laden achieved consummation with what he claimed to love, on an upper floor of his refuge, in the forty-minute raid’s last ten minutes. While the great Emir, the Lion, the Sheikh al-Mujahid cowered with his wife and daughter in the dark, listening to the SEALs finishing off his guards and coming closer, how much did he love death then?

When it was time to pay the piper, and death, finally, arrived at his door, the great Islamic Holy Warrior was nowhere to be found. Bin Laden had an assault rifle and pistol within reach, but the new Saladin left his last battle to others -- his son shot on the stairway below, his 24 year old wife shot in the leg defending him. Bin Laden at the last died banking on the mercy he denied to the children and babies his minions killed flying them into buildings.

Did Bin Laden really think he would be taken alive, so that he could preen before the cameras, to hide behind the law and mock us; miraculously gifted with a second life to make public sport of the dead? Like all villains, the jackal Bin Laden counted on the law, but he was blinded to the existence of another Law, and is left to beg forgiveness at another place.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Flag of the New Orleans Greys

Texas State Representative John Zerwas (R., Richmond) wants an Alamo flag back. Representative Zerwas has filed HB 2824 in the Texas Legislature, seeking the return of a flag captured by the Mexican Army at the Alamo, when it fell on 6 March 1836.

The banner in question is that of the "New Orleans Greys" 1st Company. Volunteers for the cause of Texas independence, the two companies of Greys were, according to the Handbook of Texas Online, organized at a mass meeting in a New Orleans coffee house in October 1835. The flag of the 1st Company was presented to the unit by ladies from east Texas shortly after the company arrived in Texas. According to the Handbook the flag was of blue silk, with an Eagle and Sunburst, and the inscription "FIRST COMPANY OF TEXAN VOLUNTEERS! FROM NEW-ORLEANS." The Eagle carries, in his beak, a placard with the motto "GOD & LIBERTY."

The two companies arrived in Texas early in the Revolution, both units participating in the capture of San Antonio from General Cos, but shortly thereafter meeting their ends as organized units -- the 2nd Company going down at Goliad, the 1st Company trapped at the Alamo. Seven survivors of the two companies, however, were present at San Jacinto.

On the morning that the Alamo was stormed, the banner of the 1st Company was captured by the Mexican Army, and the flag (sent to Mexico City with an accompanying cover letter by President-General Santa Anna to Mexican Secretary of War and Marine José María Tornel)  is now in the possession of the National Historical Museum in Mexico City.

Various attempts have been made to reclaim the flag, all unsuccessful. Now we have Representative Zerwas's bill, which, boiled down, amounts to a request to Mexico that it be nice and give us the flag back. The text of the bill directs the Governor to "negotiate" the flag's return from Mexico,  via "purchase or lease."

I'm as proud a Texan as anyone, and I can sympathize with the desire to secure the return of a historical artifact associated with one of the most significant events in Texas history. But this is a matter that should be let alone. The Alamo's sequel was San Jacinto, where Texas won its war, and got  independence. Another war followed, in which the US occupied Mexico City, and negotiated at gunpoint the transfer of a huge chunk of Mexican territory for a piddling sum. In 1854, President-General Santa Anna, victor of the Alamo, loser of San Jacinto and Mexico's curse, completed his country's humiliation by agreeing to the Gadsden Purchase, which sold another chunk of Mexico, this one the size of Scotland, to the USA.

However, that was all in the future. On 6 March 1836, the Mexicans won the Battle of the Alamo, capturing the old mission, and the flag of the 1st Company of the New Orleans Greys. The Greys died, but their souls are with God, and may rest easily, because their cause ultimately prevailed. Texas won everything worth winning and the blessed place we live in today is a sufficient monument to their sacrifice. Coveting is a bad business, and we don't need that banner back, not this way. The Mexicans paid for that flag, and we should not insult the memory of the Mexican dead by offering to pay their descendants for a prize won in a fair fight and bought with blood.

It would be pleasing for the flag of the New Orleans Greys to, someday, come home. But it is for the Mexicans, on their own, to come to that decision. Meanwhile, let the dead rest.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Blog Layout

The demise of Blogrolling has forced El Jefe into the somewhat undesired adoption of a new template. Among other things, the switch has disrupted paragraphing and formatting in old posts.

Still experimenting with it, so patience is respectfully requested and appreciated.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Obama Impeachment? Naaah.

Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House of Representatives, and would-be candidate for President, has created a chattering-class kerfluffle: accusing President Obama of sparking a "constitutional crisis" by refusing to support the Defense of Marriage Act (110 Stat. 2419, 1 U.S.C. § 7, 28 U.S.C. § 1738C) ("DOMA")  in court against various legal challenges questioning its constitutionality.
The pots are well and truly stirring now. The US News and World Report blog, appears to believe that the Justice Department will no longer enforce the DOMA. I don't believe enforcement of the Act is at issue -- any federal official who knowingly declined to enforce or obey a Federal statute, without some cover by a court decision, would be putting himself in legal jeopardy. What the President has done is to tell the Attorney General not to defend the Act before the courts. The courts will decide whether the law is constitutional, or not.
Mr. Gingrich is astonishingly bright. He is a superb speaker (a scarce talent indeed on the Republican side of our politics) a brilliant writer, a sometimes interesting novelist (check out his and William S. Forstchen's Civil War alternative history series) and in his day, quite a political fixer. Mr. Gingrich, however, wants more -- he wants to be President of the United States; and (quite aside from the curse of having the moniker "Newt") Mr. Gingrich's essential problem is that the road to glory cannot be followed with too much baggage. Mr. Gingrich's pronouncement on DOMA today should be viewed in light of his need to curry favor with the evangelical wing of the Republican Party.
Now I'm not by any means a supporter of President Obama. But, even with considerable anti-Obama bias, it should be obvious that the President is not going to be impeached for a matter which is well within his, and within his Attorney General's, discretion. The Republican Party is not going to commit political suicide -- there's no need for that -- everything is breaking in a Republican way already. Skeptics of this view might ask themselves why Obama took this step, now, with DOMA, and why he announced such an interesting appointment today. We are well into the 2012 election cycle now, and the gay constituency and their large political contributions should be well and truly in the President's corner already.

Mr. Gingrich surely knows all these things. Unfortunately, what he doesn't seem to know is that he is not going to be President in this lifetime.  

Friday, January 21, 2011

Changing Sides

Today, over at Belmont Club, Richard Fernandez (a/k/a Wretchard) discusses the political evolution of Lebanon in directions that the United States and, more immediately, Israel, are going to find increasingly uncomfortable. On Wednesday of last week, the Lebanese government coalition collapsed, when Hezbollah withdrew its support, and directed its ministers to resign from the cabinet. Now, Walid Jumblatt, the most prominent Druze leader and a part of the political opposition -- has changed sides. throwing his political weight behind Hezbollah.  Like those of his father before him (assassinated at Syrian instigation), Mr. Jumblatt's changes of faction have long been a reliable indicator of which way the Lebanese wind is blowing:
When Walid Jumblatt’s father was assassinated by the Syrians, the leader of the Druze threw his political support behind the murderers of his father for reasons of state. Then following the 2005 car-bomb killing of Rafik Hariri, he switched. The reason was simple. The tide had turned against the Syrians and, with US troops poised on the Iraqi border across from Damascus, it seem as if the Assads would not survive. After flirting with the Syrians again, Jumblatt until recently said he would support the Saudi plan that would avert a direct confrontation over the indictments expected from the special tribunal, indictments which are expected to implicate Hezbollah in the murder of Rafik Hariri. Now, he has switched again.
Wretchard condemns Mr. Jumblatt's move as "cynical," which it is of course, and writes that his move is "setting the the stage for. . . [Hezbollah's] political domination of Lebanon." 
I normally agree with Wretchard, but characterizing this move as "cynical" is perhaps a little hard on Walid Jumblatt and the Druze. The stage is long past set -- the play is, in fact, over. Hezbollah's (and by extension Iran's and Syria) domination of Lebanon was virtually assured following the July-August 2006 Israel-Hezbollah War, and certain following Obama's election as US president and his wish to try a more conciliatory tone towards both the Iranians and Palestinians. Paradoxically, the Stuxnet-produced delay in the Iranian nuclear program has made Hezbollah even more secure: unilateral Israeli military action against Hezbollah's Iranian masters is for the moment less likely, and the chances of a general Middle Eastern war thus somewhat lessened.
In this context, Mr. Jumblatt's latest change of side is quite rational and a matter of survival, because life in Lebanon is going to get harder for enemies of Hezbollah. Tergiversators such as Mr. Jumblatt reflect the realty that already exists -- they are lagging indicators, not leading ones. Peace breaking-out means that Hezbollah rules Lebanon for the foreseeable future.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Confederate Heroes Day

. . . I feel no hostility to you, Senators from the North. I am sure there is not one of you, whatever sharp discussion there may have been between us, to whom I cannot now say, in the presence of my God, I wish you well: and such, I am sure, is the feeling of the people whom I represent towards those whom you represent. I therefore feel that I but express their desire when I say I hope, and they hope, for peaceful relations with you, though we must part...The reverse may bring disaster on every portion of the country; and if you will have it thus, we will invoke the God of our fathers, who delivered them from the power of the lion, to protect us from the ravages of the bear; and thus, putting our trust in God and in our own firm hearts and strong arms, we will vindicate the right as best we may.

Jefferson Davis, Farewell Address to the U.S. Senate, 21 January 1861. (From The Papers of Jefferson Davis, Vol. 7: 1861, pp. 18-22, LSU Press, 1992).
With all my devotion to the Union, and the feeling of loyalty and duty of an American citizen, I have not been able to make up my mind to raise my hand against my relatives, my children, my home. I have, therefore, resigned my commission in the Army, and save in defense of my native State. . .I hope I may never be called upon to draw my sword. I know you will blame me, but you must think as kindly as you can, and believe that I have endeavored to do what I thought right. . .May God guard and protect your and yours and shower upon you everlasting blessings . . .
Robert E. Lee, to his Unionist sister, Anne Marshall, 20 April 1861. (From The Wartime Papers of Robert E. Lee, pp 9-10, Clifford Dowdey, Ed., Da Capo, 1987).
2011 is the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the American Civil War. There are alternate names, possibly more accurate, but the fact that the generally accepted term for that conflict is "the Civil War" tells us all we need to know about how the South's experiment in secession and self-government worked out.
Today is the 204th anniversary of the birth of Robert E. Lee, General-in-Chief of the Armies of the Confederate States, and the 19th day of January is still recognized here in Texas as “Confederate Heroes Day,” a State holiday. Things being what they are, it is unlikely that the Texas statute book will honor Confederate heroes for very much longer, and like “un-persons” whom the Soviet Communist Party wished to banish from public view, Lee, Jefferson Davis and everything else to do with the Confederate States of America will soon vanish down the memory-hole. Our children, if they are wise, will learn to in public at least, mouth the proper politically correct platitudes and to recite on command the carefully packaged, all-inclusive happy pabulum that passes now for history in our schools.
We are told this is all for the best, but it doesn’t mean some of us have to like it. The names of Lee, Davis and legions of others who gave all they had for Southern independence, whose names would be household words, the Washingtons, Hamiltons and Decaturs of a new country -- had they but won -- are becoming obscure to non-historians, except inasmuch as they serve the purposes of modern politicians and shills for various causes who promote their agendas by damning the memory of the dead. Such excisions from the historial record do nobody any good; as Mark Steyn has truly written: "[w]hen a society loses its memory, it descends inevitably into dementia."
Yes, the war was partly about slavery, and the end of that beastly institution was an unmitigated blessing. Yes, scum have stolen the Southerners' flag for their own purposes and cloaked their racist fantasies in its folds. But that’s not the whole truth about the War for Southern Independence (proper name of the Civil War), any more than the War for American Independence (proper name of the American Revolution) was all about a tax on tea.
The 258,000 southerners who died for the independence of the Confederate States, and their comrades who survived the war to rebuild their broken civilization, are, of course, long beyond caring. Their souls, and those of the people who loved them and daily prayed for their safety and success now rest with God; and our approval or disapproval of the choices life gave them, is ultimately meaningless. As so many said at the time, they believed they were taking up arms for the most worthy cause imaginable -- protection of their homes and firesides, and those of their neighbors, from hostile invasion, and to vindicate the same principle Americans died for in 1776: the idea that government should rest on the consent of the governed.
Americans not connected with the military in some way have largely experienced war a tragedy that happens in other places. Not so the Civil War, which was fought mostly in – and devastated – the American south. Despite the efforts and sacrifices of so many, Confederate soldiers were unable to successfully defend their country. American cities and fields became battlegrounds, and armies moved and camped in what are sometimes literally our backyards. American cities -- mostly in the South -- were sacked and burned, and homes were plundered by soldiers speaking the same language, and often the same dialect, and American women, children and elderly people driven from their homes and turned into penniless refugees by truly unnatural disaster.
When all was over, the dust settled, and the pain and shouting but a memory; America was the better for the end of slavery, but when the Federal Government forced its yoke at gunpoint on those who did not want it, America lost something precious also. Thankfully those days are past, but they are not totally forgotten. We of course remember the victors: Mr. Lincoln has a memorial in Washington, but his real monument is the country and world we now inhabit. But some of us remember others too…Lee, Davis, Micah Jenkins, Johnston Pettigrew, Cleburne, Jackson, the Semmes brothers, Maxcy Gregg, Thomas R.R. Cobb, thousands of others long dead. To borrow Mr. Khrushchev’s memorable phrase, these will not be forgotten, by some of us, until shrimp learn to sing.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Gee Thanks, Nancy. . .

Nancy Pelosi says that her Democrats, now a minority in the House of Representatives, want to work with the majority Republicans.
Trust Madame Pelosi to put things ass-end first. They’ve saddled us with Obama care, looted the Treasury, put us, and our great-grandchildren’s grandkids in debt up to their unborn eyeballs and NOW Nancy and Friends want to work with Republicans? Yeah, I’ll bet they do. If the Republicans take her seriously, more fools they – far from “working” with Pelosi, they’ll find themselves worked.

Jonathan Pollard

The Israeli Prime Minister, Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu, has asked President Obama to release Jonathan Pollard, a former US naval intelligence analyst now serving a life sentence for spying on behalf of Israel.
Mr. Pollard, a civilian, was formerly employed by the Naval Investigative Service. The CIA had declined to hire him (too many red flags in his background check). He wound up at the Navy; and, sometime during his employment, came in contact with an Israeli Air Force colonel studying in the United States. In 1984, Mr. Pollard began passing classified information to the colonel for cash and diamonds. Mr. Pollard’s spying was discovered in 1985, and upon apprehension Mr. Pollard cooperated to some degree with investigators, entering into a plea agreement in exchange for leniency for his wife. In subsequent public statements, Mr. Pollard and wife were both unrepentant.
Mr. Pollard ultimately pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to deliver national defense information to a foreign government, and was sentenced to life in prison. Due to the lunacy of US sentencing practices, the “life in prison” sentence means that Mr. Pollard will probably be eligible for parole in November of 2015.
Pollard’s initial Israeli controller got out of the country before apprehension, and the Israelis naturally declined to extradite him. Now the Israeli Prime Minister wants to drag the status of Mr. Pollard into restarting Israeli/Palestinian peace talks. This would win him points politically in Israel. Since the Obama administration has been offering to give Israeli virtually everything in the arsenal that’s not nailed down over some miserable huts on the West Bank, perhaps Mr. Netanyahu’s rather public request is not as unreasonable as it appears.
I don’t blame the Israelis for recruiting Mr. Pollard. Spying is a routine matter for governments, even among mostly friendly ones. I don’t even blame his recruiter – the Israeli colonel was a serving officer, who saw an opportunity for his country, and took it. He was doing his duty. Finally, it speaks well of the Israeli Prime Minister, as a man, that he would seek to ameliorate the personal circumstances of a spy who has done his country significant service. However, Mr. Netanyahu demeans his position and the honor of his state by making this request in public.
But Mr. Pollard? He’s another matter – an American citizen born in Galveston, Texas, who sold American secrets to a foreign government for money. Oh, he’s got Israeli citizenship now, but Israel gave him that after he was in the slammer, and if he’d wanted to be an Israeli, he could have emigrated rather than spied.
Maybe it’s just that I don’t like spies much. A personal failing of mine. They’re about on a level with child-rapists with me. This applies to our spies too. No, I don't mean CIA employees working (sometimes at great personal risk) to ferret-out things we need to know; or Russian Sluzhba Vneshney Razvedki (SVR) guys, or British MI6 people, or Israeli Mossad or whoever, doing the same things for their countries. Those people are patriots. Sometimes they are enemies of ours, but that doesn't necessarily make them evil. I’m talking about the other end of the food-chain -- the inside operators, the turncoats, the people stealing the documents -- people inside our camp, or inside somebody else's who are selling out their own country for money, ideology or whatever.
I know spies are a necessary evil and often useful, but to me they’re not quite cricket. Two days before the Battle of Ligny, on 14 June 1815, a French general named Bourmont, a royalist, defected from the French army to the Prussian Field Marshal Gebhard Leberecht von Blucher’s Prussian army, betraying Napoleon’s plans to the enemy. The old Prussian general turned the pestiferous traitor over to his staff, who learned what they needed to know, but Blucher refused to be in the same room with the traitor, acknowledge him, or shake his hand: saying something to the effect of “A dog is always a dog, no matter whose damn flag he waves.” Blucher hated Napoleon’s guts, but he knew a scumbag traitor for what he was when he saw one.
I find it outrageous that Jonathan Pollard could actually see daylight again. At the least, “life” ought to bloody well mean life, at least in this case and it will be criminal if Obama trades him in exchange for some striped-pants diplomat deigning to shake hands with another one. As for me, if I had my druthers, Mr. Pollard would dance on the end of a rope, or get the cigarette and blindfold.