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Saturday, November 25, 2006

Rangel's Tangled Angle

Who Bears the Burden? Demographic Characteristics of U.S. Military Recruits Before and After 9/11
by Tim Kane, Ph.D. - November 7, 2005
Although Representative Rangel's bill to reinstate the draft failed by a decisive vote of 402–2 in the House of Representatives in 2004, the issue will likely be considered again, especially if there are more terrorist attacks on the U.S.

Some motivations for the draft are entirely patriotic in the sense that they aim to protect America from aggressors. Others see the draft as an instrument of equality, as well as an instrument of pacifism.
Well deja vu all over again. I get it already. Charlie Rangel isn't so much in favor of the draft as he is against war.

I remember he didn't like Gulf War I either and back then he was demagoging race, whining that the over-representation of minorities in the military meant they would necessarily shoulder an unfair burden in casualties. It turned out the predominantly non-minority airmen and special forces were the ones who actually absorbed the disproportionate casualties. Not counting Saddam's military. The way our military cuts through theirs you have to wonder why we stomach any tinpot very long.

At any rate Rangel hasn't changed. These days he's still requesting reports to support his race-based worldview. And as usual they reveal a truth that just the opposite of his expectations.

Unfortunately being wrong hasn't stopped him. His latest angle: We need a draft to ensure that every race class shares the burden of military service equally. Once this is accomplished we will never again see war because no leader will dare face the wrath of a public so united against it.

This is the same old demagoguery with but a subtle change in grievance group. What's remarkable about his thinking is that it is so obviously false in several ways. False in presuming that the draft's random selection is more fair than self selection. False in presuming any deviation of the military population from societal norms is by its very nature unfair. That the balance of support for war would be different with or without the draft. And the ultimate falsity - that all this talk of draft and fairness is nothing but an indirect attack on the President's ability to wage war.

Consensus within the military is against the draft and I'm inclined to agree, but I could be convinced otherwise through reasonable debate with the goal of making them stronger. I cannot be convinced to argue about it with someone whose purpose is to undermine them or our society's ability to defend itself. Not much of what Charlie Rangel says makes sense because fairness is not his true goal. If you didn't already you should watch this to understand my argument why.

His party's rhetoric is obsessed with the fact that the richest 1% own 99% of everything, so he should understand that no matter how biased its sampling of society the military will always have more soldiers from poor families and less from rich. There just aren't very many sons of senators and tycoons. By the way, who decides which biases are bad?

None of the military folk I know are in it for the money. They know the pay is crap and the work dangerous but they volunteer anyway. They like serving their country. They like the way of life. To my eyes they overly represent the cream of our nation.

Charlie doesn't like that the military offers re-up bonuses. Democrats ordinarily champion increases in civil servant compensation but in this case Rangel chooses to decry money going to the military rank and file. Besides actually working the bonuses are mutually beneficial. All of which doesn't appear to matter to Rangel.

Why? Because like John Kerry, Representative-for-life Rangel's view of the military was formed during Vietnam. And it seems stuck there. They and the many that think like them act as though the military is a huge heartless machine, good for nothing but gobbling up young lives, and whose every attempt to grow must be thwarted. In their eyes the military's rightful place is at home where it is safely forbidden by the Constitution from doing anything.

Many of us don't see it that way. There are indeed huge heartless machines in the world, the real world, the world where virtually every strongman who comes to power at some point adopts an anti-corporate anti-American stand. Every day such tinpots squelch liberty, democracy, and the rule of law. Which is why we need a strong military. But every day our media mostly ignores all that and focuses instead on the most nitpickety inane non-stories it can find, especially if they feed the storyline of America as villain.

The mainstream media is divided between scaring their addicts witless about bird flu, the environment, meteors, albino Gypsy-Irish terrorists, and spinning great gobs of slick sweet nothings. All of which we are urged to believe is something the government must urgently do something about. While on the other hand the fight against militant Islam, or "Iraq" as they like to pigeonhole it, should never have been started (as if we started it) and should simply be declared stopped (as if that will stop it). This is the conventional wisdom now.

Most of us see the world beyond our small travels only through this distorted and schizophrenic media lens. In the US we're presented a constant drip of frightful stories about the misdeeds of our military, but until recently we heard next to nothing about what Islam and its Jihad are really about. Many people haven't watched what little has been shown. Hands up how many tuned in for The Path to 9/11?

What would public opinion be, on any topic, if the public actually knew what the jihadis want and just how large the "tiny minority" of extremists was before Iraq, Afghanistan, 9/11, Bush, their oil riches or colonialization? Well what the public understands is one thing. What is almost criminal is that to this day Charlie Rangel and many other politicians are still ignorant of the threat.

During Vietnam those who didn't want to fight went to Canada and didn't fight. The argument then was without the draft the military would wither away because nobody would be stupid enough to volunteer. Thus war would be ended and the flower power orgies could begin. Today we still have war. Of course. But nobody has to run to Canada. They just don't join. Those who do volunteer for military service, especially after 9/11, know full well they are putting their asses on the line for the rest of us. Including, they well know, those against war.

One last point. We don't draft garbage, fire, or policemen just because the job is dangerous or attracts the wrong proportions of people. We expect garbage to be picked up, fires fought, and criminals apprehended without having to join the neighborhood brigade. Different people are either happier or more productive doing different things. If the goal is fairness then nothing is more fair than leaving people free to choose, with special glory and appreciation reserved for those who choose to promote and defend the freedom from which the possibility of fairness, among other things, springs.

UPDATE 28 Nov: Rangel Adopts the Logic of Kerry's ‘Joke'.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Same as the Old Boss

Fourth time's the charm for the media cheerleaders. Their side is finally back in power. It doesn't matter to them that the senior leadership - Pelosi, Reid, Schumer, Rangel, Murtha, Conyers, Kennedy, Kerry - all reek of scandal strongly enough to have driven any Republican from office. These guys stir up macaca-like goofs once a year just for giggles.

The Alice in Washington wackiness has already begun. Kids in a candy store. Drunk with power. Will they practice what they preach? Listen to what the generals say? End earmarks and the culture of corruption? Protect us from the jihadis and the Norks? Riiiiight. In this Age of Treason we can only count on the Democrats for ever higher levels of partisanship and ever lower standards of conduct. If they follow their principles we can expect things like this:
  • Tax rates will go up, revenues will go down.
  • Judicial nominees right of Ruth Ginsburg will be rejected.
  • The Nuclear Option will be renamed the Getting The People's Work Accomplished Option. It will be used repeatedly.
  • The war in Iraq will be defunded. The work and sacrifices of many people will be discarded. But for good reason. Because any part of the Bush Doctrine succeeding would just be too painful for those who truly detest Bush.
A signal has been sent. The reaction of our adversaries was predictable. They are happy. Emboldened by the feebleness of a divided America. To win they see now they don't have to kill US soldiers, they just have to kill each other. The media guilt-trip eventually does the rest. For 30 years this has been the template. It doesn't always work, but that doesn't stop them from trying. In Iraq today as with Vietnam, Lebanon, and Somalia before the media has convinced nearly everyone the cause is lost. The majority is now officially "unhappy with how things are going in Iraq". They've done a splendid job glossing over the differences between the polar opposite mindsets they've choosen to lump together: Peaceniks who never would have invaded Iraq and hawks who want to redeploy to Iran and NK. Good luck pleasing that "majority".

Friday, November 17, 2006

In Defense of Donald Rumsfeld

Alot of people hate Donald Rumsfeld. I don't understand why.

He knows we're at war and acts accordingly. He's frank, arrogant, bossy, mean. He's not a politician. He was one of the early few who realized we faced a new kind of threat. He championed a transformation of the military out of its Cold War sumo posture into a lighter, faster, smarter force more suited for global anti-terrorist whack-a-mole. Swift takedowns of the Taliban and Saddam followed. And since then the US military has done an outstanding job policing and rebuilding, helping locals who have known nothing but war and oppression for decades.

Of course the fighting and dying continues. Why? There are many reasons but the jihadis and their bigoted totalitarian ideology surely eclipse the other factors. If you're going to blame Rumsfeld and not acknowledge the history of Iraq, the goals or actions of the jihadis, or others who are just as much or more to blame, then you'll get an argument from me.

Rumsfeld asserted strong civilian control over the military, challenging entrenched interests of both the military and the defense industry. It surely made him lots of enemies. In spite of his abrupt departure it's hard to imagine him ever betraying his president or his country like so many others have.

What motivates a man in his twilight years to endure the kind of stress it takes to serve at such a level? Imagine your job 24/7 is to outthink the Islamofacists, the Norks, the Chicoms, and a zillion lesser threats, given crappy intel, constantly hounded by a host of pacifists and backseat quarterbacks who harp on costs then decry shortages, and who think we should listen to retired Generals but not the current leadership. Most of us would be curled in a fetal position sucking our thumb within a week.

So for what is Rummy to blame? Every stupid thing subordinates many levels down and thousands of miles do? The failure of Iraqi politicians to rise above petty rivalries and appreciate the values of liberty and democracy more quickly? Implacable religious zealotry?

If any part of the US government has blown it over the last few decades it's intel. From the failure to forsee the Soviet collapse, to Jamie Gorelick's infamous wall, to George Tenet's WMD "slam dunk", to the habitual leaks aimed at undermining their boss. They're probably doing something right, they just can't tell us about it.

Then there's State. Vietnam taught Powell his Doctrine, the key to which is overwhelming force. This surely was a sore point between him and Rumsfeld, whose preference tends toward light and surgical, but Powell's job was State not Defense. It was Powell's job to convince Turkey to let the 4th Infantry enter Iraq from the north. He blew it. As swift and decisive as the invasion was it could have been swifter and more decisive. It was Powell's job to convince Iran and Syria and the Saudis to police their borders.

Powell's celebrated Pottery Barn wisdom - you break it you buy it - overlooks the fact that Iraq and the most of the Middle East has been broken for a very long time. The US and its allies have sent far too much money there for far too long. Mostly to the wrong people.

If Rumsfeld is accountable for the ongoing insurgency in Iraq then those who continue to hold out the juicy carrot of US capitulation redeployment are even more to blame. The jihadis know they can't beat Rumsfeld and his military, but they also know they have powerful allies inside the US who can win the war for them given enough time and a steady stream of violence.

Dynamic as he was Rumsfeld just couldn't transform a well-oiled death-dealing infrastructure-busting machine into a police-training school-building democracy-lifesupport system fast enough. How can any readymix democracy be expected to withstand such an influx of men and money from across the Islamic world intended not to help but to disrupt? Is this Rumsfeld's fault? Please. If George Tenet rates a Medal of Freedom, Rummy rates five.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Election Predictions

It's pretty clear by now that the Blue Wave was nothing but the leftist media's code name for this year's effort to boost Democrats. The pattern has become so predictable it's painful watching it unfold yet again.

It starts months before with the slow drumbeat of stories portending an inexorable D victory. The pre-election polls show Ds way ahead. The early election day exit polls show Ds way ahead. The networks call it for the Ds, pretty much everywhere, on average of one hour before the polls close. By evening it has, surprise, become too close to call. The next morning they briefly mention an R landslide and move quickly to video of a bombing in Iraq.

Then come the sour grapes. The Leftard blogs light up with conspiracy theories about the exit polls, Diebold, and any Republicans - especially relatives of powerful Rs - who might work in election-related media or government. For two years we'll hear how the election in <insert random flyover state> was stolen, the pissing and moaning getting more bitter and pathetic right up until the next election, when it's deja vu all over again.

Until John Kerry put his foot in his mouth the Ds were telling anyone who would listen that this election should be all about Iraq. Then Kerry's "botched joke" reminded everyone how they see the military. Oooops.

Kerry will forthwith be knifed in the back, thrown under the bus, and quickly forgotten by the media. Watch now for them to turn attention back in desperation to something the Ds were really scoring points on. Mark Foley.

UPDATE, 2 Nov: Seymour Hersh sums up the leftist opinion of the military and the deeply cynical mindset that produces such beliefs:
If Americans knew the full extent of U.S. criminal conduct, they would receive returning Iraqi veterans as they did Vietnam veterans, Hersh said. "In Vietnam, our soldiers came back and they were reviled as baby killers, in shame and humiliation," he said. "It isn't happening now, but I will tell you - there has never been an [American] army as violent and murderous as our army has been in Iraq."

Hersh came out hard against President Bush for his involvement in the Middle East.

"In Washington, you can't expect any rationality. I don't know if he's in Iraq because God told him to, because his father didn't do it, or because it's the next step in his 12-step Alcoholics Anonymous program," he said. Hersh hinted that the responsibility for the invasion of Iraq lies with eight or nine members of the administration who have a "neo-conservative agenda" and dictate the U.S.'s post-September 11 foreign policy. "You have a collapsed Congress, you have a collapsed press. The military is going to do what the President wants," Hersh said. "How fragile is democracy in America, if a president can come in with an agenda controlled by a few cultists?"
Hersh is apparently fishing for another Pulitzer prize. In front of a foreign audience of course.