Friday, October 31, 2003

Quagmire, Quagmire: North Kosan All Over Again

LtC Allen West (via Trying to Grok) is being talked about on television, radio and internet right now. I hear some criticism but not much in the way of heartfelt condemnation of his actions. This may be because all of us would want a commanding officer who puts his men’s welfare ahead of his own. We understand that what he did was illegal, but was it wrong?

Last night I watched a former JAG member talk about it on O’Reilly (yeah I watch that show) and he was right about much of the justification for prosecuting LtC West. Over at Intel Dump, Phil Carter expands upon this. I understand it, but I hate that we have to do it.

Then the JAG guy pulls crap from his hat in the form of that old false claim that we can’t be bad because it endangers our own soldiers. Excuse me? When has following (or even attempting to follow) the Geneva Conventions and Western rules of war helped our own soldiers? North Korea? Nope. Vietnam? Hell no. Somalia, Kosovo, Bosnia, Iraq (the first time and the second)? Has it ever made a difference? Maybe somebody else knows of a time when it has, because I can't think of any. The last time our enemy behaved in accordance with Western rules of war towards our own people was Germany in WWII. As it turns out that wasn’t because we played nice; rather it was because our cowboy, gangster reputation caused them to believe we would brutalize German POWs if ours weren’t treated well.

During WWII it wasn’t the thought that we’d play nice so they would that made the difference, it was the threat that if they didn’t play nice we wouldn’t. Since then the one thing we know for sure is that by playing nicely no matter what all we do is ensure that our enemies don’t have to worry about whether or not to play nice. It doesn’t have to be a consideration for them since they know that even if they flay ever POW and parade their skinless bodies over satellite TV we’ll play nice.

In 1987 a PBS show called Ethics in America did a show on military conundrums such as the one that faced LtC Allen West. James Fallow wrote an article about it and today that’s the only reference that google seems to be able to find. A couple of years ago there were more on the net. I recall reading more about it via Alta Vista.

Update: I accidentally omitted a very important part of the torture question. I've added it to the beginning of the quote where it belongs. Also, I seem to remember that it wasn't just about finding his men, but about saving their lives. Then again I could be misremembering and other than the Fallows article the episode and longer pieces of it have dropped off the face of the net.
Ogletree asked Downs to imagine that he was a young lieutenant again. He and his platoon were in the nation of "South Kosan," advising South Kosanese troops in their struggle against invaders from "North Kosan." (This scenario was apparently a hybrid of the U.S. roles in the Korean and Vietnam wars.) A North Kosanese unit had captured several of Downs's men alive--but Downs had also captured several of the North Kosanese. Downs did not know where his men were being held, but he thought his prisoners did.

And so Ogletree put the question: How far would Downs go to make a prisoner talk? Would he order him tortured? Would he torture the prisoner himself? Downs himself speculated on what he would do if he had a big knife in his hand. Would he start cutting the prisoner? When would he make himself stop, if the prisoner just wouldn't talk?

Downs did not shrink from the questions or the implications of his answers. He wouldn't enjoy doing it, he told Ogletree. He would have to live with the consequences for the rest of his life. But yes, he would torture the captive.

A Marine Corps officer juggled a related question: What would he do if he came across an American soldier who was about to torture or execute a bound and unarmed prisoner, who might be a civilian?

The Fallows writing available on the net fails to quote the answer I remember. Bear with me, since I’m old and having to pull this part from memory. Either the USMC officer (probably George M. Connell) or William Westmoreland had answered the question. Though Fallows doesn’t quote it I remember it going something like this: I’d arrest and prosecute him. I’d hate myself for having to do it, but I’d do it.

One thing Fallows notes that other writers have noted was that all the military personnel on the panel had given far more thought to ethical questions concerning their jobs than either Mike Wallace or Peter Jennings had.

Oh and one other thing, where the hell did all the references to this show go? Why does Google only return seven entries on “North Kosan?” There were a great deal more several years ago when I first read up and wrote on the journalists responses.


Friday, October 24, 2003


As it turns out Evangelical Outpost weighs in on NASCAR Dads too. One of the things that really caught my eye was what he had to say about Bush's tax cut. Look, I'm not a rich person by any American standard (friggin' millionaire by Zaire standards) but I can say I got to help the economy out with $800 that went straight back into the economy. Do I care that someone like Bill Gates gets one heck of a lot more back? Not really; I got my cookie and he makes more so he gets a bigger piece back. Big deal, I got something back and I have friends who didn't see a dime out of the tax cut.

Granted, they didn't make enough this last year to actually pay any taxes to begin with, but none of them are bitter because I got some back. Heck I paid bank taxes while working at JI because of the way taxes are figured.

Like I said before, however, it's not a simple question of the Republicans simply appealling to blue-collared Americans, it's also the Democrats beginning to disgust them.

Evangelical Outpost has an entry on how bad facilities are for the Army compared to the Air Force. A fact made worse because apparantly the Grunts aren't allowed to eat at the Wing-Nut facilities.

Now, Grunts have a history of sneaking over to the Wing-Nut chow halls. My dad did it, some of my closest friends used to do it. Me, I went wingnut to start with so I never had to worry about it.

Okay, here's what I think the case is with the Air Force and Army facilties. Mind you, this is all a guess based on what little I know about the military (nine years AD AF, three years Army JROTC, bunches of relatives in or formerly in different branches).

The Air Force tends to have more permanent structures because it's oriented that way. They're expected to be near the rear and as such all their equipment and facilities are designed with that in mind. The Army tends to require more mobility and facilities that are closer to the front or ARE the front. As such their equipment and facilities tend to be designed that way.

Because of this temporary facilities tend towards tents and other light structures for the Army and pre-fabs and semi-permanent structures for the Air Force. When you go to

It's all in how each service defines temporary, mobile, semi-permanent and permanent. I'm of the opinion that when the Army says it needs a quickly depolyed, mobile temporary structure that they're looking at a tent, whereas the Air Force is looking at a double-wide it can transport on a low-boy.

Though none of that has ever applied to chow halls, O-clubs or NCO-clubs. I have no idea why that is.

Now this could be entirely wrong, I'm no expert on building policy for any branch of the armed forces. Now if the topic were early 14th century coat of plates...


Saturday, October 18, 2003

NASCAR Democrats

Over at instapundit I found this link to an article in Mother Jones News. It's a topic I've heard a couple of times. It boils down to members of the Democrats wondering how they woo "NASCAR Democrats." It's funny, considering condescending impression they give off towards "NASCAR Democrats."

I got hot and jotted off an e-mail to the author. It goes as follows.

Arlie Hochscild,

I thinks you've missed a big chunk of who is responsible for working-class anger. Loggers watch their jobs go to Canada and Indonesia thanks to environmentalist extremists (democrats). Journeymen in production watch their jobs go to Mexico and China, thanks again to Bill Clinton's administration. We watch the world look at us with disdain, thinking (falsely) that Americans are paper tigers with no courage and no strength of conviction, thanks again to Democrat policy.

Recent veterans and GIs (such as myself and friends) watched the hatchet job done on the military by the Democratic party. We watched what were once low-paying secure jobs disappear, and saw the administration's un-official policy kick people out for missing appointments all in the name of a "Peace dividend."

We see the majority of things we once machined and fabricated with the "made in china" or "made in Mexico" label on them and wonder how it is that our country let our very livelihoods go to people who weren't American.

Their workplace puts lie to the myth that illegal immigrants ONLY take jobs no one wants. This is because blue-collared people WANT that $15/hour welding job. Some would love to have that $8/hour janitorial job. Not only in production and maintenance (where I've seen it with my own eyes) but in construction work.

The problem isn't , as you suggest, that blue-collared workers are ignorant. It's that they aren't as ignorant as they once were in the realm of politics. They do a google search and find out that the president never said "imminent," and as such they realize the Democrats are lying to them. They worked in the military during the Clinton Administration and realize that the fact isn't that Clinton and the Democrats left the US with a military able to fight the war on terrorism; but rather that the American GI continues to fight the good fight DESPITE the damage done to them by Clinton and the Democrats. They remember who was in charge when the policies that begun throwing jobs overseas finally hit their job.

They're smart enough to know that the Democratic party stands for and endorses some core positions that are anti-thetical to their own moral beliefs. They've heard their own moral and spiritual beliefs attacked by Democrats (not centrist Democrats, to be sure) who are not marginalized by the Democratic party, thereby giving de facto endorsement of such views by the party.

And finally the Democrats have long given the impression that they know better than "Joe six-pack", that Joe's morals are sick and wrong, that Joe is ignorant (even your own article is condescending in that respect) and that they are better than those of us who sweat for a living.

A term like "NASCAR Democrats" would be one they liked had they not heard they way it was said (too much TV, I guess). The condescending tone we get from very liberal groups who now control the party we once walked with. The memory of our parents being called baby-killer, and the elitist looks GIs would get before Bush took over all contribute to America's blue-collared worker rebelling against a party that no longer represents them. A party that has come to regard them as scummy-bottom dwellers while idolizing the likes of Frieda Kahlo and Kofi Annan without every realizing that blue-collar workers see people with Kahlo and Annan's anti-American beliefs to be the enemy.

Incidentally mispelling NASCAR is not going to win you points with the blue-collared worker, but I understand that was not your intended audience (or your word processor freaks at all cap words, or your editor popped it,).

The sweathogs of America are pissed, but rather than trying to play the blame game and pin conservative success on sneaky Republicans, I suggest the Democrats take a serious self-assessment. If you really want to know why the blue-collar worker shows more support for the Republican today, I suggest you look at the Democrats. The Democratic party has managed to piss-off, insult, anger and alienate the blue-collar worker in America. They don't particularly like Bush. Hell I can't think of any that love him, we just would rather have him than someone whose goal in politics is to drive our jobs away, take our guns away, spit on our sports, sneer at our drink, geld our military, and generally look at us as something to be scraped off their shoes until they need our vote.

Believe it or not, with sincerity,
unemployed, journeyman welder, journeyman machinist

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

I'm not a happy camper today (I was last night). My Ducks got trounced by Dallas tonight. Hell and Damnation.

I voted yes on Prop. 54 yesterday. I almost voted no, not because I planned to, but because the wording on the ballot made it seem as if voting no meant that I didn't want racial information. Now I'm not a rocket scientist, but I'm hardly an idiot or a rube, and yet I had a problem with that part of the ballot for almost a full two seconds.

Here's the thing, if I had a problem with it then what about the people who didn't bother to re-read the question? What about the people who haven't had to take poorly worded tests for decades?

I'm finding it difficult to believe that a state that has voted to make a more color-blind society would suddenly reverse course while voting to fire Gray Davis and electing 'Ah-Nold.'

Then again, I could be in denial.


Tuesday, October 07, 2003


Voted today. Looks like I'm being trendy in my vote. Yes on recall, and fill in the oval for Arnold.

By the way, who the hell is getting computerized voting booths? I live in a poor destitute desert town and got high school flashbacks when I voted. No chads, no LCD screen, I got a sheet of paper with a bunch of ovals on it and instructions on how to fill the ovals in properly.

It must be because I live in a poor town that is predominately white. Poor whites, working-class whites, and some GIs who get to live off base. It's not all white. I'm certainly not white and my oldest son has the same problem with people walking up to him and rattling on spanish like he's not an American or something, and there are enough black folk that it's certainly NOT like Paxton Illinois.

After all the bruha about poor people and minorities not being able to deal with chads.......