Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Thought for the Day

Have you ever had a boss who didn't know the difference between being a mentor and being a dementor?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

They're TAKING the HOB-bits to EYE-sen-GARD.....

AFK. Recovering from a 2 day driving trip to/from our nation's capital.

In the mean time, and oldie but baddie....



(This has led to a running joke in our family. "Tell me, where's the car keys? For I much desired to drive with them....")

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Latest Tiresome Leftie 'Poster'

The following poster is making the rounds on Facebook:



I for one would like people to refrain from flying airplanes into buildings which happen to be occupied by large numbers of people. Refraining from flying on aircraft after filling their codpieces with plastique, from rioting after someone burns a book that they like, from killing young teenaged girls who want to date, and blowing up school buses and pizza parlors would help, too. Oh, and don't shoot soldiers in personnel offices doing paperwork, either. And don't put a fuze in your Nikes. Also, please don't send anthrax through the post office. Don't blow up car bombs. Don't set fire to Pugeots unless they belong to you, personally. Don't shoot Israeli olympic athletes. Or set major bombs in girl's schools. Or practice FGM. Or machine gun tourists visiting the tomb of Hatshepshut. Or take over cruise ships and shove old, paralyzed guys in wheelchairs into the drink. Or kidnap diplomats and parade them on national TV. Don't put the burned corpses of dead American military on national TV. Don't shoot ambassadors. Or... well... you get the idea.

To pretend that the terrorists are omniscient and allpowerful is stupid. Pretending that they do not present a threat is just as stupid.

PS It's even stupider to assume those who disagree with you politically MUST be racist by definition....

Friday, September 24, 2010

Guilty as hell, free as a bird... but not Professor Emeritus

Forgive me for engaging in unadulterated schadenfreude and gleeful loathing, but William Ayers, Marxist revolutionary, probable cop-killer, Pentagon bomber, and retiring professor, has just been denied Professor Emeritus status by the University of Illinois where he used to, er, teach.

It seems that one member of the University of Illinois board has a long memory... Chris Kennedy, son of the late Robert F., was apparently not amused that ol' Bill dedicated a book to Sirhan Sirhan.

It's a shame that it came down to personal resentment instead of a full press indictment of the man's manifestedly evil life, but hey, we'll take what we can get.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

...Through Heaven's Eyes

Another picker-upper if you're feeling low. Worth the watch. (And it's from an excellent movie.)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

September 22.....

....Happy Birthday, Bilbo and Frodo!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Adventures in TV Programming

New TV series is out: Detroit 187 (="Detroit Murder.")

The number 187 is based on the applicable section of the ... California Penal Code.

Last time I looked Detroit is not in California.

Of course the working title "Detroit MCLA Section 750.316 Subsection (b)" just doesn't have the same ring to it .... does it?

'...the world as we know it...."

This one is for everyone contemplating, with horror, a Sarah Palin Presidency:

Monday, September 20, 2010

Tattered Remnant #033: The Citizens of United Flight 93, 9/11/01


Todd Beamer, one of the heroes of United Flight 93

To read more of the Tattered Remnants series click -->here<-- .

Citizen Militia: The Crew and Passengers of United Flight 93, September 11, 2001

The following is a direct quote, page for page and line for line, from the 9/11 Commission Report: Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, pp 10-14. Nothing I can possibly write on the subject can improve on it: non sum dignis, domine.


The Battle for United 93

At 8:42, United Airlines Flight 93 took off from Newark (New Jersey) Liberty International Airport bound for San Francisco. The aircraft was piloted by Captain Jason Dahl and First Officer Leroy Homer, and there were five flight attendants. Thirty-seven passengers, including the hijackers, boarded the plane. Scheduled to depart the gate at 8:00, the Boeing 757's takeoff was delayed because of the airport's typically heavy morning traffic.

The hijackers had planned to take flights scheduled to depart at 7:45 (American 11), 8:00 (United 175 and United 93), and 8:10 (American 77). Three of the flights had actually taken off within 10 to 15 minutes of their planned departure times. United 93 would ordinarily have taken off about 15 minutes after pulling away from the gate. When it left the ground at 8:42, the flight was running more than 25 minutes late.

As United 93 left Newark, the flight's crew members were unaware of the hijacking of American 11.Around 9:00, the FAA, American, and United were facing the staggering realization of apparent multiple hijackings. At 9:03, they would see another aircraft strike the World Trade Center. Crisis managers at the FAA and the airlines did not yet act to warn other aircraft. At the same time, Boston Center realized that a message transmitted just before 8:25 by the hijacker pilot of American 11 included the phrase, "We have some planes."

No one at the FAA or the airlines that day had ever dealt with multiple hijackings. Such a plot had not been carried out anywhere in the world in more than 30 years, and never in the United States. As news of the hijackings filtered through the FAA and the airlines, it does not seem to have occurred to their leadership that they needed to alert other aircraft in the air that they too might be at risk.

United 175 was hijacked between 8:42 and 8:46, and awareness of that hijacking began to spread after 8:51. American 77 was hijacked between 8:51 and 8:54. By 9:00, FAA and airline officials began to comprehend that attackers were going after multiple aircraft. American Airlines' nationwide ground stop between 9:05 and 9:10 was followed by a United Airlines ground stop. FAA controllers at Boston Center, which had tracked the first two hijackings, requested at 9:07 that Herndon Command Center "get messages to airborne aircraft to increase security for the cockpit." There is no evidence that Herndon took such action. Boston Center immediately began speculating about other aircraft that might be in danger, leading them to worry about a transcontinental flight-Delta 1989-that in fact was not hijacked. At 9:19, the FAA's New England regional office called Herndon and asked that Cleveland Center advise Delta 1989 to use extra cockpit security.

Several FAA air traffic control officials told us it was the air carriers' responsibility to notify their planes of security problems. One senior FAA air traffic control manager said that it was simply not the FAA's place to order the airlines what to tell their pilots.68 We believe such statements do not reflect an adequate appreciation of the FAA's responsibility for the safety and security of civil aviation.

The airlines bore responsibility, too. They were facing an escalating number of conflicting and, for the most part, erroneous reports about other flights, as well as a continuing lack of vital information from the FAA about the hijacked flights. We found no evidence, however, that American Airlines sent any cockpit warnings to its aircraft on 9/11. United's first decisive action to notify its airborne aircraft to take defensive action did not come until 9:19, when a United flight dispatcher, Ed Ballinger, took the initiative to begin transmitting warnings to his 16 transcontinental flights: "Beware any cockpit intrusion- Two a/c [aircraft] hit World Trade Center." One of the flights that received the warning was United 93. Because Ballinger was still responsible for his other flights as well as Flight 175, his warning message was not transmitted to Flight 93 until 9:23.

By all accounts, the first 46 minutes of Flight 93's cross-country trip proceeded routinely. Radio communications from the plane were normal. Heading, speed, and altitude ran according to plan. At 9:24, Ballinger's warning to United 93 was received in the cockpit. Within two minutes, at 9:26, the pilot, Jason Dahl, responded with a note of puzzlement: "Ed, confirm latest mssg plz-Jason."

The hijackers attacked at 9:28. While traveling 35,000 feet above eastern Ohio, United 93 suddenly dropped 700 feet. Eleven seconds into the descent, the FAA's air traffic control center in Cleveland received the first of two radio transmissions from the aircraft. During the first broadcast, the captain or first officer could be heard declaring "Mayday" amid the sounds of a physical struggle in the cockpit. The second radio transmission, 35 seconds later, indicated that the fight was continuing. The captain or first officer could be heard shouting:" Hey get out of here-get out of here-get out of here."

On the morning of 9/11, there were only 37 passengers on United 93-33 in addition to the 4 hijackers. This was below the norm for Tuesday mornings during the summer of 2001. But there is no evidence that the hijackers manipulated passenger levels or purchased additional seats to facilitate their operation.

The terrorists who hijacked three other commercial flights on 9/11 operated in five-man teams. They initiated their cockpit takeover within 30 minutes of takeoff. On Flight 93, however, the takeover took place 46 minutes after takeoff and there were only four hijackers. The operative likely intended to round out the team for this flight, Mohamed al Kahtani, had been refused entry by a suspicious immigration inspector at Florida's Orlando International Airport in August.

Because several passengers on United 93 described three hijackers on the plane, not four, some have wondered whether one of the hijackers had been able to use the cockpit jump seat from the outset of the flight. FAA rules allow use of this seat by documented and approved individuals, usually air carrier or FAA personnel. We have found no evidence indicating that one of the hijackers, or anyone else, sat there on this flight. All the hijackers had assigned seats in first class, and they seem to have used them. We believe it is more likely that Jarrah, the crucial pilot-trained member of their team, remained seated and inconspicuous until after the cockpit was seized; and once inside, he would not have been visible to the passengers.

At 9:32, a hijacker, probably Jarrah, made or attempted to make the following announcement to the passengers of Flight 93:"Ladies and Gentlemen: Here the captain, please sit down keep remaining sitting. We have a bomb on board. So, sit." The flight data recorder (also recovered) indicates that Jarrah then instructed the plane's autopilot to turn the aircraft around and head east.

The cockpit voice recorder data indicate that a woman, most likely a flight attendant, was being held captive in the cockpit. She struggled with one of the hijackers who killed or otherwise silenced her.

Shortly thereafter, the passengers and flight crew began a series of calls from GTE airphones and cellular phones. These calls between family, friends, and colleagues took place until the end of the flight and provided those on the ground with firsthand accounts. They enabled the passengers to gain critical information, including the news that two aircraft had slammed into the World Trade Center.

At 9:39, the FAA's Cleveland Air Route Traffic Control Center overheard a second announcement indicating that there was a bomb on board, that the plane was returning to the airport, and that they should remain seated. While it apparently was not heard by the passengers, this announcement, like those on Flight 11 and Flight 77, was intended to deceive them. Jarrah, like Atta earlier, may have inadvertently broadcast the message because he did not know how to operate the radio and the intercom. To our knowledge none of them had ever flown an actual airliner before.

At least two callers from the flight reported that the hijackers knew that passengers were making calls but did not seem to care. It is quite possible Jarrah knew of the success of the assault on the World Trade Center. He could have learned of this from messages being sent by United Airlines to the cockpits of its transcontinental flights, including Flight 93, warning of cockpit intrusion and telling of the New York attacks. But even without them, he would certainly have understood that the attacks on the World Trade Center would already have unfolded, given Flight 93's tardy departure from Newark. If Jarrah did know that the passengers were making calls, it might not have occurred to him that they were certain to learn what had happened in New York, thereby defeating his attempts at deception.

At least ten passengers and two crew members shared vital information with family, friends, colleagues, or others on the ground. All understood the plane had been hijacked. They said the hijackers wielded knives and claimed to have a bomb. The hijackers were wearing red bandanas, and they forced the passengers to the back of the aircraft.

Callers reported that a passenger had been stabbed and that two people were lying on the floor of the cabin, injured or dead-possibly the captain and first officer. One caller reported that a flight attendant had been killed.

One of the callers from United 93 also reported that he thought the hijackers might possess a gun. But none of the other callers reported the presence of a firearm. One recipient of a call from the aircraft recounted specifically asking her caller whether the hijackers had guns. The passenger replied that he did not see one. No evidence of firearms or of their identifiable remains was found at the aircraft's crash site, and the cockpit voice recorder gives no indication of a gun being fired or mentioned at any time. We believe that if the hijackers had possessed a gun, they would have used it in the flight's last minutes as the passengers fought back.

Passengers on three flights reported the hijackers' claim of having a bomb. The FBI told us they found no trace of explosives at the crash sites. One of the passengers who mentioned a bomb expressed his belief that it was not real. Lacking any evidence that the hijackers attempted to smuggle such illegal items past the security screening checkpoints, we believe the bombs were probably fake.

During at least five of the passengers' phone calls, information was shared about the attacks that had occurred earlier that morning at the World Trade Center. Five calls described the intent of passengers and surviving crew members to revolt against the hijackers. According to one call, they voted on whether to rush the terrorists in an attempt to retake the plane. They decided, and acted.


The Wikipedia Account of the Revolt

Passengers and crew began making phone calls to officials and family members starting at 09:30 using GTE airphones and mobile phones. Altogether, the passengers and crew made 35 airphone calls and two cell phone calls from the flight. Ten passengers and two crew members were able to successfully connect, providing information to family, friends, and others on the ground. Tom Burnett made several phone calls to his wife beginning at 09:30:32 from rows 24 and 25, though he was assigned a seat in row four. Burnett explained that the plane had been hijacked by men claiming to have a bomb. He also said that a passenger had been knifed and that he believed the bomb threat was a ruse to control the passengers. During one of Tom Burnett's calls, his wife informed him of the attacks on the World Trade Center and he replied that the hijackers were "talking about crashing this plane ... Oh my God. It's a suicide mission." He ended his last call by saying, "Don't worry, we're going to do something."

An unknown flight attendant attempted to contact the United Airlines maintenance facility at 09:32:29. The call lasted 95 seconds, but was not received as it may have been in queue. Flight attendant Sandra Bradshaw called the maintenance facility at 09:35:40 from row 33. She reported the flight had been hijacked by men with knives who were in the cabin and flight deck and had stabbed another flight attendant.

"Jack, pick up sweetie, can you hear me? Okay. I just want to tell you, there's a little problem with the plane. I'm fine. I'm totally fine. I just want to tell you how much I love you." - Message left by passenger Lauren Grandcolas at 09:39:21.

Mark Bingham called his mother at 09:37:03 from row 25. He reported that the plane had been hijacked by three men who claimed to have a bomb. Jeremy Glick called his wife at 09:37:41 from row 27 and told her the flight was hijacked by three dark-skinned men that looked "Iranian", wearing red bandanas and wielding knives. Glick remained connected until the end of the flight. He reported that the passengers voted whether to "rush" the hijackers. .... Joseph DeLuca called his father at 09:43:03 from row 26 to inform him the flight had been hijacked. ....

After United Airlines Flight 93 was hijacked, Todd Beamer and other passengers communicated with people on the ground via in-plane and cell phones, and learned that the World Trade Center had been attacked using hijacked airplanes. Beamer tried to place a credit card call through a phone located on the back of a plane seat but was routed to a customer-service representative instead, who passed him on to GTE supervisor Lisa Jefferson. Beamer reported that one passenger was killed and, later, that a flight attendant had told him the pilot and co-pilot had been forced from the cockpit and may have been wounded. He was also on the phone when the plane made its turn in a southeasterly direction, a move that had him briefly panicking. Later, he told the operator that some of the plane's passengers were planning to "jump on" the hijackers and fly the plane into the ground before the hijackers' plan could be followed through. *

A United employee in San Francisco, California, sent an ACARS message to the flight at 09:46: "Heard report of incident. Plz confirm all is normal." Linda Gronlund called her sister, Elsa Strong, at 09:46:05 and left her a message saying there were "men with a bomb".

Flight attendant CeeCee Lyles called her husband at 09:47:57 and left him a message saying the plane had been hijacked. Marion Britton called her friend, Fred Fiumano, at 09:49:12. Fiumano recalled, "she said, 'We’re gonna. They’re gonna kill us, you know, We’re gonna die.’ And I told her, 'Don’t worry, they hijacked the plane, they’re gonna take you for a ride, you go to their country, and you come back. You stay there for vacation.' You don’t know what to say—what are you gonna say? I kept on saying the same things, ‘Be calm.’ And she was crying and—you know—more or less crying and screaming and yelling."

Flight attendant Sandra Bradshaw called her husband at 09:50:04 and told him she was preparing scalding water to throw at the hijackers. Passenger Lauren Grandcolas called her husband twice, once before take off and once during the hijacking. He missed both of her calls. She then passed her phone to Honor Elizabeth Wainio. Wainio called her stepmother at 09:53:43 and concluded, four and a half minutes later, by saying, "I have to go. They're breaking into the cockpit. I love you." Jarrah dialed in the VHF omnidirectional range (VOR) frequency for the VOR navigational aid at Reagan National Airport at 9:55:11 to direct the plane toward Washington, D.C. Bradshaw, on the phone with her husband, said "Everyone is running up to first class. I've got to go. Bye."

According to Jefferson, Beamer's last audible words were "Are you guys ready? Let's roll."*

*From the Wikipedia article on Todd Beamer


From the 9/11 Report:

At 9:57, the passenger assault began. Several passengers had terminated phone calls with loved ones in order to join the revolt. One of the callers ended her message as follows: "Everyone's running up to first class. I've got to go. Bye."

The cockpit voice recorder captured the sounds of the passenger assault muffled by the intervening cockpit door. Some family members who listened to the recording report that they can hear the voice of a loved one among the din. We cannot identify whose voices can be heard. But the assault was sustained.

In response, Jarrah immediately began to roll the airplane to the left and right, attempting to knock the passengers off balance. At 9:58:57, Jarrah told another hijacker in the cockpit to block the door. Jarrah continued to roll the airplane sharply left and right, but the assault continued. At 9:59:52, Jarrah changed tactics and pitched the nose of the airplane up and down to disrupt the assault. The recorder captured the sounds of loud thumps, crashes, shouts, and breaking glasses and plates. At 10:00:03, Jarrah stabilized the airplane.

Five seconds later, Jarrah asked, "Is that it? Shall we finish it off?" A hijacker responded, "No. Not yet. When they all come, we finish it off." The sounds of fighting continued outside the cockpit. Again, Jarrah pitched the nose of the aircraft up and down. At 10:00:26, a passenger in the background said, "In the cockpit. If we don't we'll die!" Sixteen seconds later, a passenger yelled, "Roll it!" Jarrah stopped the violent maneuvers at about 10:01:00 and said, "Allah is the greatest! Allah is the greatest!" He then asked another hijacker in the cock-pit, "Is that it? I mean, shall we put it down?" to which the other replied, "Yes, put it in it, and pull it down."

The passengers continued their assault and at 10:02:23, a hijacker said, "Pull it down! Pull it down!" The hijackers remained at the controls but must have judged that the passengers were only seconds from overcoming them. The airplane headed down; the control wheel was turned hard to the right. The airplane rolled onto its back, and one of the hijackers began shouting "Allah is the greatest. Allah is the greatest." With the sounds of the passenger counterattack continuing, the aircraft plowed into an empty field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, at 580 miles per hour, about 20 minutes' flying time from Washington, D.C.

Jarrah's objective was to crash his airliner into symbols of the American Republic, the Capitol or the White House.

He was defeated by the alerted, unarmed passengers of United 93.


IN REMEMBRANCE OF THE HEROES

Some called what happened on that flight "The American Unorganized Militia," and they hail the passengers as volunteer paramilitary heroes who lacking only uniforms.

They were that. But they were far more than that.

They saw that they were likely doomed themselves: but they acted in a thoughtful, wise and organized manner. They knew that other aircraft had been turned into horror weapons, but having a few minutes to compose themselves, they chose to resist evil. They acted in a manner most quintessentially in keeping with the spirit of the Tattered Remnant.

They thought. They voted. They chose. They acted.

In military terms, they went from reaction to intelligence gathering to planning to execution to success--on their own, in less than 20 minutes, with no training or even preparation for their mission. Not a single passenger is known to have had even the slightest military experience. But they acted with an alacrity and a decisiveness that would have done our special forces proud.

And they succeeded on that blackest of days and showed, in a decision taking but a few minutes, what can be accomplished by those who are willing to give their lives for the preservation of others.

And they inspired a nation, a world.

And finally, it is possible that they have given an example that at last puts the threat of air piracy to an end. Passengers now know that in order to live it may be their responsibility, personally, to immediately physically overcome any incipient attempt to hijack or destroy an aircraft--as both Richard Reid, the Shoe Bomber, and Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Underpants Bomber, both found out to, ironically, their relief. An alert populace of air passengers now know: if you want to live, attack without hesitation.

And we have the citizens of United 93 to thank for this.



May their names be ever remembered and may light perpetual shine upon them:

Crew:
CAPTAIN JASON DAHL
FIRST OFFICER LEROY HOMER
FLIGHT ATTENDANT WANDA A. GREEN
FLIGHT ATTENDANT LORRAINE G. BAY
FLIGHT ATTENDANT CEECEE LYLES
FLIGHT ATTENDANT SANDRA W. BRADSHAW
FLIGHT ATTENDANT DEBORAH A. WELSH

Passengers:
CHRISTIAN ADAMS
TODD BEAMER
ALAN BEAVEN
MARK BINGHAM
DEORA BODLEY
MARION BRITTON
THOMAS BURNETT
WILLIAM CASHMAN
GEORGINE CORRIGAN
PATRICIA CUSHING
JOSEPH DELUCA
PATRICK DRISCOLL
EDWARD FELT
JANE C. FOLGER
COLLEEN FRASER
ANDREW GARCIA
JEREMY GLICK
KRISTIN GOULD
LAUREN GRANDCOLAS
DONALD GREENE
LINDA GRONLUND
RICHARD GUADAGNO
TOSHIYA KUGE
HILDA MARCIN
WALESKA MARTINEZ
NICOLE MILLER
LOUIS J. NACKE
DONALD PETERSON
JEAN PETERSON
MARK ROTHENBERG
CHRISTINE SNYDER
JOHN TALIGNANI
HONOR E. WAINIO


ADDENDUM:

We should note also those who acted on the spirit of the citizens of United 93:

In 2001, when Shoe Bomber Reid attempted to blow up his flight, two flight attendants, Hermis Moutardier and Cristina Jones, fought with Reid as he attempted to light the fuse on his shoe-bomb; both were small women but were able to prevent the 6'4'' Reid from acting; thereupon, other passengers, identities, unknown, then tackled him, secured him with duct tape, and a tranquilizer administered by a physician.

Again, in 2009, when Abdulmullab tried essentially the same thing, passenger Jasper Schuringa, a Dutch film director, jumped on Abdulmutallab and subdued him as flight attendants used fire extinguishers to douse the flames.

These brave men and women deserve salutes as well. And let it be a warning to Qaida that the days of aircraft hijackings have perhaps at last come to an end.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

"She Turned Me Into Newt Gingrich!"

The invaluable Fox News is reporting that Christine O'Donnell, the GOP candidate for Senator in Delaware, somehow is disqualified from the Senate because she "once dabbled in witchcraft."

Well, I for one don't care if she used to dabble in witchcraft; I would simply disqualify anybody presently practicing witchcraft from public office. (That should include about 10% of Obama's appointees and most of his economic advisors.)

To view her most recent press conference, click below:

'....self evident: That all men are Endowed ..... errrr....'



22:30. The President of the United States omits the most important reference to God Almighty in any of our goverment founding documents.

"That all men are endowed BY THEIR CREATOR with certain unalienable rights...."

If they are not endowed by an Endower, they are not endowed at all, Mr. President.

This may be a mere glitch. But I don't think so: I think this the most frightening 30 seconds of the Obama presidency. A man with the power and authority to burn cities at his command, who does not in any way acknowledge that there is a God under whom he serves, is capable of anything.

The past century is littered with regimes who forgot this at their citizens' peril.

ADDENDUM: ON "GUARDING THE CHANGE"

Rooters, via Drudge, reports that President Obama has started his preelection tour to electrify his most hard core supporters and make sure they get out and vote in this mid term election.

I'll only say: Great idea, Mr. President. Won't do you much good, though. Insofar as they're already concentrated in Democratic safe districts, carefully gerrymandered by their fellow Democrats, it is unlikely they're make any difference in the competitive swing districts where the Democrats are going to take the most damage in November....

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Galileo on Facebook?

He Can't Play (But Can Program Pretty Good)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Barack Obama and the Girl On The Swing



I wrote the following last October. As we approach an election in a few weeks wherein the people will pass judgment on Barack Obama, I thought it would be relevant to rerun it.

When I was in junior high school I fell in love with a painting. It's official title is Reveries; but my private title for it has always been The Girl on the Swing.

You can imagine what things were like for an adolescent geek in the days before being a geek was cool. Aside from the usual travails, there was a certain difficulty that arose that I found particularly hard to bear: my (in)ability to impress girls.

Now, this is probably a very good thing. Adolescent geekiness is the most effective form of pregnancy prevention known to man; it is both salutary to the long-term success of the geek as well as being one form of birth control fully approved by God, The Blessed Mother Mary and the Roman Catholic Church.

Be that as it may, I was miserable at that age, as it seemed that She - the mysterious She whom I would spend my life with, the Woman of My Dreams - would never appear, and that I would spend my life like I spent it at fourteen, standing at the wall during the school dance, doomed to walk the world alone.

So I fell in love with The Girl On The Swing.

Maxfield Parrish was the artist: a contemporary of Norman Rockwell, Rockwell Kent, Frederick Remington, his specialty was creating beautiful, sensual, sweet, kind-appearing, chastely lovely and (ahem) fully clothed young women in poses that would not have offended Mrs. Grundy, yet carried an electric sexuality that was detectable seventy years after they were painted.

She's almost shapeless. Her female form is barely hinted at. She appears to be wearing a semi-toga, semi-bedsheet that covers her entire body from neck to toes. All you see is face, hair, arms, and a wistful and sad look downward that makes you want to approach her and make her look at you - and fall as much in love with you as you with her.

I carried this picture in my notebook throughout my junior high school days. In days where there were no girls in my life, she was my Secret Love. Any time I wanted, I could gaze on The Girl On The Swing, and she was always there, like a flower about to open.

One day, some philistine swiped the three-ring binder with her picture glued inside the front cover and artistically amended certain deficiencies, such as a hitherto unnoticed moustache, goatee, and Groucho Marx glasses. I ripped my picture out of the binder and threw it away in a rage: how DARE they spoil this timeless beauty?

Now, my rage and grief were of course absurd, for the girl was not a girl. The Girl On The Swing was truly an Unperson: she did not exist, she had never existed. She was all those things that I saw in her because of (a) the technical skill of an artist long dead and (b) my own wants, dreams and desires. This girl in the picture represented everything about Woman that I wanted to know... and yet she was not a girl at all. It was an image, a painting, a swath of dried chemicals cunningly rendered.

Nothing more.

I eventually grew up and left the Girl on the Swing behind. I came to know, and (sometimes, rarely) even fell in love with, real women--three dimensional, living, breathing reality. Some were as prosaic as pumpkins; some were as sweet as apples on Christmas day, some were delicate as roses; but none of them were remotely like The Girl On The Swing.

In particular, the wonderful woman I met and married and who bore my children bears absolutely no resemblance to her. And I mean this in the best possible way: for The Girl On The Swing is just a representation of wants; she cannot possibly love back.

She is.... a lie.

A beautiful lie, but a lie.

For the picture was not a person, just a focal point of my desires.

Now, a similar point is made in the Harry Potter series. In Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Harry, on Christmas day, encounters a very special magical item: the Mirror of Erised. And yes, this is relevant. From the endlessly plagiarizable Wikipedia:

On it is inscribed, erised stra ehru oyt ube cafru oyt on wohsi — which, when reversed and correctly spaced, reads I show not your face but your heart's desire. Harry, upon encountering the Mirror, can see his parents, as well as what appears to be a crowd of relatives; Ron sees himself as Head Boy and Quidditch Captain holding the Quidditch Cup (thus revealing his wish to be acknowledged out of the shadow of his highly successful older brothers, as well as his more popular friend, Harry). Dumbledore cautions Harry that the mirror gives neither knowledge nor truth and that men have wasted away before it, entranced by what they see.
Yes. And try to imagine, if you will, the reaction a man, addicted to sitting in front of the Mirror of Erised, when some prankster casts a stone through its glass: rage and vengeance would be left him, with his illusions taken away.

And this is why Barack Obama is so dangerous. He is like the Girl On The Swing, like The Mirror of Erised.

My good friend Jim, a university teacher in the DC area, pointed this out to me back in May [of last year]. The front page of the Washington Post that Sunday morning featured a young college aged woman reacting to Obama as if she were a thirteen year old girl at a Beatles concert.

In spite of his manifest lack of ability as President, he has, somehow, become a natural focal point of millions, or even billions, of people's desires. People see in him not what is, but what they dearly want him to be and themselves to become.

One remembers the one good scene from the otherwise execrable movie Nixon: a drunken Tricky Dick, played by Anthony Hopkins, looks at a portrait of John F. Kennedy in the White House, and says, "When men looked at you they saw what they wanted to be. When they look at me they see what they are." And it is in this way, and this way only, that President Obama resembles his predecessor of fifty years past.

Barack Obama, age 48, former community organizer and elected nobody, is, in fact, nothing in his own right, except that he is but a mirror. He is manifestedly a great nobody - clothes which contain no Emperor, not a Being of Light, but a Being of Emptiness, filled only with our desires.

And this makes him the most profoundly dangerous kind of politician of all. Combine that level of ability to cause obsession with ambition and power, he becomes a profound threat to the Republic. For to oppose him is not merely to oppose a political figure, it is to oppose the desires and needs of his millions of followers.

Let me be perfectly oblique: it is when someone casts a stone through our Mirror of Amabo, shattering the reflection, that things become most volatile. People will not give up their illusions easily.

Those who would mock and criticize him should beware: they should remember the story of The Emperor's New Clothes, particularly the last part that they don't tell children.

To wit: "And the King's Guards arrested the little boy and he was never heard from again."

And it could be dangerous for him as well. Christ help him (and us) when--not if, when--the illusion is shattered: for in the end Obama is only a man. Not a god. A man.

Nothing more.

And God help us if anyone treats him in the way the image of my Girl was.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Tattered Remnant #032: Hans Fallada and Otto and Elise Hampel

Postcards With An Edge: Hans Fallada and Otto and Elise Hampel
To read more of the Tattered Remnants series click -->here<-- .

At least you resisted evil. You did not become evil. You and I and the many people here in this building and many, many more in other prisons and the institutions and the thousands in concentration camps—they are all still resisting, today, tomorrow. - Hans Fallada, Every Man Dies Alone


OTTO AND ELISE HAMPEL


I began this account of the Tattered Remnants with a description of the White Rose movement in Munich--Sophie and Hans Scholl and their many friends who were beheaded by the Gestapo for propagandizing against the Reich.

Just as brave, and in their own ways just as remarkable, were Otto and Elise Hampel, who were also captured and executed by the Gestapo in 1943, this time in Berlin.

Otto and Elise were not university students. They were an early-middle-aged childless couple with very limited educations. Otto, a machinist, was barely literate; Elise, a maid, was even less so.

They lost their faith in the Reich in 1940 when Elise's brother was killed while serving in the Wehrmacht during the invasion of France. Knowing the odds against them, they decided to work against the Nazis in the only way they could: by writing notes urging people to abandon the Party and to end the war.

They, too, spread leaflets, but in a much more modest manner: they hand wrote post cards denouncing Hitler, the Nazi Party, the Gestapo, and the "Winterhilf" (Winter Relief) organization, a fraud that gathered charitable contributions that were diverted to the Nazi leadership.

Except they did so one post card at a time.

As things developed, almost 100% of their postcards were found and turned into the Gestapo. On the other hand, the modesty of their operation worked in their behalf; the German police worked frantically for three years before the Hempels were discovered.

Otto and Elise Hampel were inevitably captured, interrogated, and beheaded, like the White Rose. Yet unlike the Scholl siblings, they acted blindly, with no rooting in any great moral vision or philosophical training. They simply acted because they felt the need to resist.

No universities or schools are named for them. But they and their sacrifice are not forgotten.

HANS FALLADA (Rudolf Wilhelm Friedrich Ditzen) (1893-1947)



The lives of Otto and Elise Hampel are now closely interwoven with that of the German novelist Hans Fallada, birth name Rudolf Wilhelm Friedrich Ditzen, who died in 1947 after writing his final novel about the Hampels.

Fallada, like another Tattered Remnant named Whittaker Chambers, began his adulthood in an act of horror. Trapped in his self-identification as a homosexual, he and his then-best-friend formed a suicide pact. The friend died; Hans survived, to be confined for a period in an asylum.

Fallada in his early days was a successful novelist, having published almost a dozen books before the Nazis came to power. One of his books, What Now, Little Man?, was even made into a Hollywood movie in 1934. As the Nazis rose, he fell out of favor because of his refusal to denounce the Jews; his books were removed from libraries and no longer either sold in Germany nor could they be licensed elsewhere. He spent the majority of the Nazi years writing obscurely harmless childrens' books.

He continued to struggle against alcoholism and, later, a morphine addiction. After assaulting his first wife with a pistol, he was again confined to an asylum; his out of control drinking was seen as the cause of the outburst. Ironically, it probably saved his life from miliary service, which he likely would not have survived.

Over the course of his imprisonment, he feigned near insanity and pretended to his keepers at the asylum that he was writing a paean to the Reich. He was, in fact, writing, in secret, one of the most brilliant fictional analyses of alcoholism ever written, entitled The Drinker.

After the end of the war, an old friend, who had risen to a position in the occupational government in Eastern Germany, discovered the Hampels' files and turned them over to him. He then devoted the last two months of his life to writing a novel on their experience, Jeder stirbt für sich allein, published in the United States as Every Man Dies Alone. That novel was not published in the United States until 2008. Today it is hailed as "the most brilliant novel ever written about resistance to the Nazis." (I will discuss Mr. Fallada's novel at greater length in Part II of this work.)

Fallada died three weeks after he completed it. He never saw it published. However, after a long period of neglect, his collected works were published in the first decade of the 21st Century and he is now recognized as one of Germany's greatest novelists.



The Hans Fallada Prize, a literary prize awarded by the city of Neumünster, was named after the author. He was also honored on a West German postage stamp.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Tattered Remnants #031: John Rabe, Minnie Vautrin, And The "Nanking Safety Zone"



Tattered Remnants #031: John Rabe, Minnie Vautrin, And The "Nanking Safety Zone"

To read more of the Tattered Remnants series click -->here<-- .

In writing yesterday's discussion of 9/11, while researching the section on Japanese aggression prior to Pearl Harbor, I stumbled across two individuals who are fully worthy of honor as Tattered Remnants: who stood in the face of possibly the most dangerous event known to humankind, the sacking of a city by a victorious army.

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

In the late 1920s and early 1930s, what passed for parliamentary democracy in the Empire of Japan collapsed. Militarist extremists assassinated or drove from power all those opposing the use of military force to achieve Japan's national ambitions; civic organizations built around militarization of the people took control of schools and universities.

Japan had, at the time, a quickly growing population thanks to advances in medicine and agriculture. Japan's leaders also knew that she was a purely maritime power that depended on sea power to feed her growing millions; they also knew, by watching what happened to Britain in WWI, how close to starvation a submarine campaign can bring an island state.

And Japan, even in the 1930s was not capable of feeding her own population through domestically grown agriculture alone; her population outstripped her food production by about 40%.

Japanese militarists saw themselves surrounded by enemies: by Western imperial powers France and England, by the United States which held the Philippines and certain islands in the Pacific, by Stalinist Russia and by a weak and vulnerable China which was had collapsed into warlordism. Furthermore, the Japanese militarists saw a world that was 90% owned and controlled by Western colonial powers, and perceived (as many thoughtful Westerners did) that the hold of the West on those colonies were weakening.

This led Japan on a campaign of naked conquest of her neighbors. First came the fall of Manchuria in 1931, followed in 1937 by an invasion of China proper, which led soon to the Nanking Massacre, better remembered in the United States as The Rape of Nanking, in December 1937.

THE CITY FALLS

After the end of the Battle of Shanghai in August 1937, it was clear that the Kuomintang (Chinese Nationalist) forces would be unable to defend the then-capital of China at Nanking. They withdrew, leaving only a small part of the army behind to fight for the city, while the rest of the army pulled back to the south to fight another day. The Japanese 10th Army advanced slowly from nearby Shanghai, as the army commanders made it clear to their troops that looting and ravishment would not be punished. As a result, thousands of rapes and robberies occurred as the army slowly advanced on the now-abandoned southern capital of China.

The city was surrounded by Japanese forces by the end of November and, by December 13, had fallen to the soldiers of the 10th Army, who overwhelmed the city in a primitive rampage of pillage and rape.

As the Chinese army abandoned the city, the government had left and all trace of civil government had ceased–except for one. An international committee of 19 businessmen, professors, missionaries and one physician was formed to maintain some sort of civil order in the city: the "International Committee of the Nanking Safety Zone." These foreign figures–British, German, American, and Japanese–selected from their number a German businessman, John Rabe, as their leader, as he was a known member of the Nazi Party and thus could negotiate on behalf of the Nazi Reich for moderated behavior on the part of the Japanese.

Over the period from November 22 to the end of the attacks in January, the western quarter of the city–an area approximately the size of Central Park in New York City–was designated the "Safety Zone" and some 250,000 civilians took refuge there. The dozen or so committee members left behind spent the next few weeks trying to moderate the behavior of the Japanese army in Nanking and to prevent their penetration of the Safety Zone.

Rabe and his fellow committee members tried to restrain the Japanese through bluff and determination, by confronting Japanese soldiers engaging in rapine and in contacting Japanese diplomatic personnel at the embassy in the city, trying to get these diplomats to contact the Army to curb the abuses. One diary entry by Rabe gives a flavor of the work the committee did:
Two Japanese soldiers have climbed over the garden all and are about to break into our house. When I appear they give the excuse that they saw two Chinese soldiers climb over the wall. When I show them my party badge, they return the same way. In one of the houses in the narrow street behind my garden wall, a woman was raped, and then wounded in the neck with a bayonet. I managed to get an ambulance so we can take her to Kulou Hospital. (...) Last night up to 1,000 women and girls are said to have been raped, about 100 girls at Ginling Girls' College alone. You hear nothing but rape. If husbands or brothers intervene, they're shot. What you hear and see on all sides is the brutality and bestiality of the Japanese soldiers....
At the Ginling Girls' College, the lead American professor, Minnie Vautrin, an American missionary and a professor of education, worked tirelessly in a parallel effort to preserve the young women of her school from rape. Although not a formal member of the Safety Zone Committee, her efforts to protect her young women from degradation were ceaseless. Her experience was similar to Rabe's:
There probably is no crime that has not been committed in this city today. Thirty girls were taken from language school last night, and today I have heard scores of heartbreaking stories of girls who were taken from their homes last night—one of the girls was but 12 years old. Food, bedding and money have been taken from people. … I suspect every house in the city has been opened, again and yet again, and robbed. Tonight a truck passed in which there were eight or ten girls, and as it passed they called out "Jiu ming! Jiu ming!"—save our lives. The occasional shots that we hear out on the hills, or on the street, make us realize the sad fate of some man—very probably not a soldier.... In my wrath, I wished I had the power to smite them for their dastardly work. How ashamed women of Japan would be if they knew these tales of horror.
"The Rape of Nanking" continued until February. On the 13th of February 1938, the Safety Zone was dissolved and the committee renamed itself the Relief Committee for Nanking. By this time, however, normal military discipline was restored and Nanking was now treated, for better or worse, as an occupied city rather than as a lawless free-for-all.

By the efforts of the Committee, it is estimated that some 250,000 people were saved from murder or rape. The Committee itself was, in essence, a great bluff. Members of the Committee continuously transmitted letters to the Japanese leadership, held up badges of office to lower level officers, confronted and deterred raping private soldiers through intimidation and personal confrontation. Miraculously, none of the Committee died, but they witnessed horrors beyond imagination.

JOHN RABE

Mr. Rabe was a businessman, an executive for the Siemens engineering company; his task in China was to organize factories to produce simple electrical components. During the course of the work of the Committee, he was tireless in his humanitarian work to secure the safety of the people in the Zone. All who knew him testified to his basic decency and his humanity when it came to his efforts to save lives.

And yet, Mr. Rabe was a committed National Socialist, a supporter of Germany's goals before and during the war. One source, , makes the following observations, comparing him to the charmingly deceptive Nazi Oskar Schindler:
He was ... a far more dour figure than the charismatic Schindler, and far more sincere in his commitment to Nazi ideals. Speaking at one the lectures he delivered in 1938, Rabe is reported to have said, "Although I feel tremendous sympathy for the suffering of China, I am still, above all, pro-German and I believe not only in the correctness of our political system but, as an organizer of the party, I am behind the system 100 percent." It is likely that he meant it....

Rabe's colleagues appear to have been impressed by his character but puzzled by his political beliefs. Robert O. Wilson, a missionary and doctor who worked in China in the 1930s, wrote of Rabe: "He is well up in Nazi circles and after coming into such close contact as we have for the past few weeks and discover(ing) what a splendid man he is and what a tremendous heart he has, it is hard to reconcile his personality with his adulation of 'Der Fuhrer.'
It is possible that he may have engaged in a certain degree of mental compartmentalization in this matter. But withal, he loved humanity, so he worked to protect the Chinese of Shanghai; he loved his country, so he supported Nazism until its defeat and the revelation of its evils caused him to break at last with the system that encapsulated him.

Remember, too, that his membership in the Nazi Party and his connection to the German government was precisely what gave him the power to bamboozle the Japanese into respecting the Zone to the extent that they did.

And yet, even though he was a committed Nazi, he also kept meticulous records, including a diary, of the events in Nanking and he spoke out against the Japanese massacres in highly dangerous public speeches in Germany in 1938 and 1939. Finally, he made a public and direct appeal to Hitler (of all people!) to ask the Japanese to moderate their savagery. The Gestapo arrested him, and instructed him to cease speaking out on the subject; however, in an unusual move, they allowed him to keep his materials, which became key historical documents after the war.

He was closely examined by the British and the Russians in the days immediately following the war; his was declared blameless and officially de-Nazified on both occasions. In the days of privation that followed, he received a small stipend and food packets from a grateful Chinese government, which continued until the fall of the Nationalist Chinese government in 1949.

John Rabe died of a stroke in Berlin in 1950 at the age of 64. His headstone was eventually moved from Berlin to Nanking where it takes an honored place in the museum to the Rape of Nanking. A Nazi he may have been, but he was also a man of conscience by whose fruits we have come to know him.

WILHIMINA (MINNIE) VAUTRIN

Little is known of Minnie Vautrin. She was born in 1886, raised in Illinois, and worked as a high school teacher there before going to China as a missionary in 1912. She founded two schools and eventually founded the Ginling Girls College in Nanking, where she eventually took over as Master of Studies. Ginling became a refuge like (but separate from) the Safety Zone, and she limited rapine incursions into her college through sheer courage and judicious use of the American flag.

When the Japanese army invaded Nanking in December 1937, she and the other foreigners in the city, including John Rabe, worked to protect the civilians in the Nanking Safety Zone. Ginling Girls College became a haven of refuge, at times harboring up to 10,000 women in a college designed to support between 200 and 300. With only her wits and the use of an American flag, Vautrin was largely able to repel incursions into her college.

After the attacks, she was forced by what we would now call post-traumatic stress to leave her post as a teacher and return home. She attempted suicide on the passenger ship returning her to the United States; she was held for a time in an asylum, and returned home. She committed suicide in her home in Indianapolis through breathing in gas from her kitchen oven in May of 1940. Later that same year, her home county named her as one of the county's 10 greatest citizens in its hundred-year history.

As Wikipedia puts it: "After the war, Vautrin was posthumously awarded the Emblem of the Blue Jade by the Chinese government for her heroic sacrifices during the Nanjing Massacre. Her work saving the lives of Chinese civilians during the massacre is recounted in the biographical book, American Goddess at the Rape of Nanking, written by historian Hua-ling Hu. In the documentary film Nanking, Vautrin was portrayed by actress Mariel Hemingway, who recited excerpts from Vautrin's diary."

THE OTHER COMMITTEE MEMBERS

There were other members of the Committee; their names should be remembered as well:

Miner Searle Bates, American professor, University of Nanking
George Ashmore Fitch, American missionary, Nanking YMCA
Ernest Forster, American missionary, St. Paul Church
J.M. Hansen Danish businessman, Texas Oil Co.*
J. Lean, American businessman, Asiatic Petroleum Co.*
Iver Mackay , British businessman, Butterfield and Swire
John Magee, American missionary, American Church Mission*
Rev. W. Plumer Mills, American missionary, American Church Mission
James McCallum, American missionary, Ginling University Hospital*
P. H. Munro-Faure , British businessman, Asiatic Petroleum Co.*
J.V. Pickering, American businessman, Standard-Vacuum Co.*
Charles Riggs, American professor, University of Nanking*
P.R. Shields , British businessman, International Export Co.
G. Schultze-Pantin, German businessman, Shingming Trading Co.*
Lewis S. C. Smythe, American professor, University of Nanking
Eduard Sperling, German businessman, Shanghai Insurance Co.
Robert O. Wilson, American doctor, Nanking Hospital

Those indicated by asterisk (*) were withdrawn from Nanking by their employers after the city fell, the remaining dozen or so remained through the city's agony.

COUNTERPOINT - THE SREBRENICA "UNITED NATIONS SAFE AREA"

As the reader may know, I often offer counter-examples of my Tattered Remnants: For Solzhenitsyn, I describe Madelyn Murray O'Hair; for James Pouillon, John Brown; for the Titanic heroes, the thankfully fictional Rose DeWitt Bukater.

Here, if I could, I would describe in greater detail the opposite of the Nanking Committee: namely, the "United Nations Safe Area" of Srebrenica, formed in 1993 by decree by a French general who immediately fled its confines, the cowardly and worthless "DUTCHBAT" mercenaries brought in to protect its 25,000 inhabitants, who shamefully cut and ran when the Serbs attacked it; and the massacre of its male inhabitants after the city fell, some 6000 prisoners shot in the back of the head and an additional 2000 unarmed men attempting to flee.

It's all on Wikipedia, here, if you want to read about it.

Forgive me for not describing it myself.

But even now, a decade after spending more than two years as a Bosnia peacekeeper, I still cannot think about this event without wanting to vomit.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

We Do Not Need "Ruthless" War On A Billion People

Yesterday, Arnold Ahlert of the New York Post ran an article here concerning the 9/11 events. This article, because it seems to make sense, makes a moral equation between two superficially similar but historically utterly different historical events: September 11, 2001 and December 7, 1941.
Dec. 7 and Sept. 11 are iconic American anniversaries. Both days represent our greatest failures to understand the true nature of evil. And while each day will be treated with a similar veneration reserved for national tragedies, there is one aspect that truly divides them: resolution.

The Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in 1941. Four years later, they surrendered unconditionally. If one posits that the war against radical Islam began in 2001 (at least for us), we are in the midst of a nine-year-old conflict that shows no signs of resolution.

How is this possible? In terms of manpower and machinery, Japan was a far more formidable foe than the various umbrella groups that make up Islamic jihadism. Why are we having more trouble defeating them?

Because we've "sanitized" warfare. The same nation that detonated two atomic bombs over Hiroshima and Nagasaki no longer believes in victory, if such victory requires too much "collateral damage," a k a civilian casualties.
This is so entirely wrong that only one who has a complete lack of grounding in basic military history could possibly hold such an utterly wrong headed view of the two events.

The history of the events leading up to the Pearl Harbor attack is so well known that it makes me weep to have to plod through it from the beginning. But I will, in a nutshell:

In the late 1920s and early 1930s, what passed for parliamentary democracy in the Empire of Japan collapsed. Militarist extremists assasinated or drove from power all those opposing the use of military force to achieve Japan's national ambitions; civic organizations built around militarization of the people took control of schools and universities.

Japan had, at the time, a quickly growing population thanks to advances in medicine and agriculture. Japan's leaders also knew that she was a purely maritime power that depended on sea power to feed her growing millions; they also knew, by watching what happened to Britain in WWI, how close to starvation a submarine campaign can bring an island state.

And Japan, even in the 1930s was not capable of feeding her own population through domestically grown agriculture alone; her population outstripped her food production by about 40%.

Japanese militarists saw themselves surrounded by enemies: by Western imperial powers France and England, by the United States which held the Philippines and certain islands in the Pacific, by Stalinist Russia and by a weak and vulnerable China which was had collapsed into warlordism. Furthermore, the Japanese militarists saw a world that was 90% owned and controlled by Western colonial powers, and perceived (as many thoughtful Westerners did) that the hold of the West on those colonies were weakening.

This led Japan on a campaign of naked conquest of her neighbors. First came the fall of Manchuria in 1931, followed in 1937 by an invasion of China proper. The Japanese Army in these two campaigns acted in a manner so barbarous that even the Germans and Italians of the time were appalled. Wiki the Rape of Nanking for just a tiny hint of how the Japanese behaved even before war started with the United States.

Between 1939 and 1941 the United States and Japan were on a head on, collision course toward war. We demanded that Japan withdraw from China and cease her aggression there. When the Japanese refused, we cut off all oil to Japan from American, British and Dutch sources in Indonesia. This put Japan in a position of either (A) humiliating themselves by withdrawing, (B) starving to death from lack of petroleum for their industry, or (C) starting a major war.

They of course chose Option C, and, climbed Mount Niitaka.

It should also be noted (since our author seems to have entirely missed this minor point) that by the time Pearl Harbor was struck, the Japanese Empire was in bed with Nazi Germany, which was carrying out in Europe the same program of military conquest, mass murder, genocide, exploitation, and racist evil.

Pearl Harbor was the end result of a decade of preparation and billions of dollars' in military expenditure. The task force with struck Pearl Harbor was made up of 400 aircraft on six aircraft carriers and 41 other ships, representing billions of dollars of expenditure and tens of thousands of sailors.

In short, the amount of effort represented in the attack could only have been presented by an entire nation of millions of people working in concert in preparation for the attack: as such the attack on Pearl Harbor by Japan represented an attack of the 88 million people of Japan on the 150 million people of the United States.

Furthermore, the 88 million of Japan were shortly joined by the 100 million of the Nazi coalition in Europe. The two forces together presented an existential threat to the United States and the Western World. Thus, the United States was forced to, and did, offer up 100% of her then-latent but eventually massive military strength, leading to the firebombing of Tokyo, the nuking of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the utter destruction of Japan's military power.

What of 9/11? In terms of military force, what did the attackers represent?

A strike team of 20, minus 1 already arrested, so 19 terrorists in four aircraft.

The four aircraft were built, owned and operated by the United States. They were not specially built aircraft of war, but they were, rather, our own passenger craft, specially selected by the enemy strike teams as being freshly filled with fuel for trans-continental flight.

The four strike teams were armed with only box cutters, lies, and absolute confidence in their own cause.

Oh, the devastation that they caused is undeniably horrific. The 9/11 attacks – with the exception of the fall of Flight 93, an American counter-triumph – were the end result of utter surprise, utter ruthlessness, and utter evil.

But the effort required does not and never did represent the will of the entire Islamic people around the world. It represented no more than ten or twenty thousand dollars, carefully kept secrecy, and the direct and indirect efforts of perhaps one or two hundred people. No more.

Al Qaida had one 'good' day in its history on 9/11. After that, they were essentially finished.

Oh, sure, they're still in business. They had terrorists blowing up school buses and churches in Iraq, and preachers yammering in Yemen. But rather than holding half of China and the Pacific, they're now reduced to convincing morons from west Africa to stuff their codpieces with plastique or convincing psychotic psychiatrists to shoot a few fellow soldiers.

But are they an existential threat to the Western World and to civilization as we know it? Is Al Qaida about to take over Rome, Paris, Berlin, London? Do they occupy even one nation?

NO.

They ARE a threat–but ONE threat of many. There are other threats to this nation to which we must remain on guard.

There is the threat presented by a resurgent China driven by nationalist socialism and a one-child policy that, in making a sexually unbalanced populace, screams that it is a danger for war. There is a danger of a collapsing Mexican state and the possibility of huge numbers of refugees rushing the Rio Grande. There is the threat presented by a less-than-organized Russia, whose nuclear arsenal remains insecure to this day. There is the quieter danger presented by our own, Japan's, and Europe's silent war on the unborn which is rotting out our cultures and peoples from within.

But do we need to go to war with all of Islam because of the acts of a few score thugs, criminals and goons?

No, no, and again no.

Finally, I note that there are a large number of Muslims who are in full sympathy with the terrorists and who cheerlead the massacres that they cause, like the Palestinians who whooped like orcs on the day of the attacks.

These individuals are stupid and malign. But there is no more need to wipe these people out than there is to wipe out the significant numbers of silent leftists who cheered when the Weathermen blew up the (selfsame) Pentagon in the 1960s. They simply need to be discredited by defeat of the force they're cheerleading.

What we need to do is beat Qaida (and its successors) on the ground where we can reach them and remain forever vigilant against another attack. And we need to do it in such a way as to inconvenience as few of the other Muslims as possible for the simple reason that they (unlike the people of Japan) didn't have a damn thing to do with the attacks of September 11.

What we do NOT need to do is start a mindless genocidal war against a billion people most of whom have done nothing to us.

Those who advocate the same, as here, are either ignorant or evil. In the case of Mr. Ahlert, I will be a gentleman and assume that it is ignorance.

The kind of war being called for by Mr. Ahlert is the equivalent of burning down the house to kill a few fleas.

I'm all for killing the fleas. I will forever oppose (as any righteous Christian should) setting fire to the house–because we all live in that same house.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

"Remember"



"When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love has always won. ... there may be tyrants and murderers and they may seem invincible but in the end, they always fall -- think of it, always......" - Mohandas K. Gandhi


Wednesday, September 1, 2010