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Foreign Service Slackers

Who will fire the sissies at State? Also: Keith: It gets worse. Plus: Randian selflessness. And much more.

11.5.07

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WUSSES FROM STATE
Re: George H. Wittman's A Revolting Development:

So, 50 slots currently filled by State Dept. career professionals need rotational filling. But the dedicated pros nesting in Washington do not wish to take the places of their veteran colleagues, citing "dangerousness." Well....OK.

In 1990 I knew a Circuit Court judge who was presiding over a session of felony court when he received word that he was involuntarily activated, assigned to a unit that needed legal help and two days later reported for duty in southwest Asia. He left a wife and three young kids. His thinking was: if I don't go, and the person who goes in my stead is killed, how do I look myself in the mirror?. He went....won a Bronze Star for his efforts.

So I say to these wusses from State: "You take the king's shilling, you go where the king sends you." Go....or get out. End of story.
-- J.C. Eaton
Wisconsin

No long drawn out examination of the reasons for State Department personnel not wishing to serve in Iraq is needed. Everyone knows what their reasons are. The fact is that they knew what the rules were when they signed up and if they don't like it, they are free to resign.

The answer, to this problem, is simple. Assign 50 State Department employees to the embassy slots in Iraq. Those that refuse to go, or who fail to perform once there, should be fired for cause. Then pick another group to fill the vacant slots. Follow the same course with them. Eventually, you will fill all the slots and clear out employees who are actively working against the Government of the United States of America in direct violation of their oath of office.

Law enforcement officers are routinely assigned to shifts that they do not want to work, assignments that they do not want to work, areas that they do not want to work and days that they do not want to work. But, they do it without "public" complaint, because that has always been part of the job that they signed up for and they know it. That is known as dedication. If you don't have it, then you should leave and go where you would be happier.

There are a lot of Democratic campaigns going on at the moment, maybe these Whiners at Foggy Bottom should apply to one of them for employment.
-- Michael Tobias
Ft. Lauderdale, Florida

I witnessed Croddy's disgraceful performance on Fox News. This coward needs to realize that in life one must take the bad with the good. Not everyone can spend all of their tours in Paris or Rome, any more than a Marine can spend his or her entire career in San Diego or at Camp Pendleton. As it has been said, Foreign Service Officers take an oath to serve where State decides to send them. If these popinjays have no intention of honoring that oath, then they should be cashiered from the Foreign Service forthwith to allow the more deserving to move up. I have seen FSO's at work during overseas and travel time, and some are good and others are fools who "go native," seemingly representing and advocating the interests of their host country rather than the one which signs their paycheck. If Bush and his State Dept. have any kind of cojones (which I have long come to doubt, but there IS always hope at times), then they should weed these poor performers out and hire people who will do the job.
-- D. Moroco
Colonel, USMCR (Ret.)
Quantico, Virginia

I cursed out loud at those State Department cowards when some of this spectacle of self-induced shame was on the news last week! Those poor, privileged, over-paid, under-worked government bureaucrats! Worried about what might happen to their orphans or widows, IF the worst MIGHT happen to them! Young soldiers and Marines, who have not even had the chance to start a family, have been dying daily for over 4 years! And the poor Iraqis are slaughtered in even higher numbers! These State Department weasels need a reality check! Doctor Condoleezza Rice must give them a choice: (1) grow up, shut up, and perform their sworn duty or (2) wear paper bags on their heads as they drop off their resignation letters before close of business today!
-- WO1 David Shoup
Fort Gordon, Georgia
Operation Iraqi Freedom Veteran

Please stop spreading the perception that Colombia is a hellhole. I just got back from Colombia and visited the U.S. embassy. Nobody's scared and nobody considers it a bad assignment. It used to be bad, but is no longer. In fact, Colombia's cities are the safest in South America. Believe me, I know.

Venezuela is the crappy diplomatic assignment, not Colombia. In Caracas, armed motorcycle thugs and Cuban agents harass American embassy personnel. In Colombia, U.S. diplomats are welcomed warmly. Why do I write you about this? Because Colombia is trying to get a free trade pact passed and morons on the right still think that Colombia is dangerous, a drug free for all and not worthy of free trade. It's not, and that detestable lie harms our dear ally and makes Hugo Chavez happy. Hugo Chavez is more opposed to Colombia's free trade than anyone. Please don't badmouth Colombia anymore. Badmouth Hugo Chavez. But don't badmouth Colombia. Thanks.
-- Vivita Mora

Like myself (DoD), and these so-called FSOs, every federal government employee takes the oath of office. Part of that oath is to support the Constitution of the United States of America.

Nobody held a gun to the heads of these FSOs when they freely signed up for duty in the State Department. I find it totally reprehensible, unacceptable, and yes, unpatriotic, for these losers to be whining and crying when they are handed an assignment that may not be politically tenable to their "higher morals." Suck it up and do your jobs -- the taxpayers demand no less.

I take the actions of these FSOs (especially on national TV) as an insult. If Sec Rice wants to call on me to serve in SWA, I'll salute and serve immediately.

As for these "professional" FSOs, fire every damn last one of them.
-- Owen H. Carneal, Jr.
Yorktown, Virginia

Mr. Wittman has opined on a very important recent event. Once again, it is a clear example of the differences between Presidents. Pres. Reagan had a governmental employee revolt on his hands also. In his case, it was a job position that was critical to the safety of the flying public in the United States. The employees in this case went a step further and walked off the job. Pres. Reagan, quite simply, but eloquently, told them they had a specific time to be back on the job or be fired. The news media, elected Democrats, union officials, and the rank and file members all were convinced and said that Reagan wouldn't, indeed couldn't, fire them all. Ummm, wrong again. Reagan did fire them and then stood his ground until the courts confirmed his authority. The union, PATCO, died, never to be resurrected.

Now we have Pres. Bush and his hand picked Secretary of State, Condi Rice. Will either or both of them show the same determination, the same steely spine, will they say, "Make my day." Somehow I doubt it very much. Secretary Rice should step in and personally direct the assignment of each and every protesting weenie to the Baghdad embassy. They should be given the choice of either fulfilling their oath of office as an FSO, or resign, and they should be held to it. So 50 or 100 hard-core Democrat activists at the State Dept. seek employment elsewhere, so what? The Dept. will be better off for it. It would probably clean out a few of the leakers of national security secrets at the same time.

Will the elected Democrats howl? Sure! Will the mainstream media howl? Sure! Would the vast majority of Americans be very favorably impressed? You betcha! Will the Bush bunch do it? I seriously doubt it. Even if they threaten to do it, they will cave in to the bureaucrats and Capitol Hill Dems. As far as I know, State Department FSO is NOT one of those jobs that Americans won't do that we hear so much about. C'mon Bush, for once show the bureaucracy that you are in charge, not them. You didn't ask the military if they wanted to be sent to Baghdad.
-- Ken Shreve
In a deep hide in Socialist New England

The State Department: the fourth of our three branches of Government. And apparently the only one without any checks or balances at all.
-- Karl F. Auerbach
Eden, Utah

WORST OFF
Re: Philip Klein's Anatomy of a Correction:

Keith Olbermann is a buffoon. As a sportscaster, that was an asset. As a "journalist" he strikes me to be akin to the mischievous monkey in the '30s Laurel & Hardy and Three Stooges reels...without the charm or humor. Being able to avoid MSNBC on my cable is easy, but the boorish rascal shows up and drizzles his bilge on my afternoon sports radio in the car.
-- Reid Bogie
Waterbury, Connecticut

Keith Olbermann makes Jayson Blair look honest and professional. Not surprising when one understands he's just a younger version of the unreliable Walter Cronkite and mendacious Dan Rather.

Understandably, Philip Klein is reluctant to edit Olbermann's show since it would take an army of knowledgeable editors to correct the errors spewed forth by the bespectacled extremist, but Klein's work on this issue was greatly appreciated by Americans who believe in the First Amendment and journalism as a profession and not merely a Democrat propaganda tool.
-- Michael Tomlinson
Jacksonville, North Carolina

First, great picture; it almost says it all by way of a reply. The hardened vitriol Olbermann spews is caught most deliciously in that frame.

Second, this type of behavior from Keith is SOP. To expect him to backtrack unless overtly pressured to do so is sweeping against the wind. Mr. Klein's combined efforts with Mr. Kurtz are likely all that got that windbag to utter anything close to a retraction. The good news is, like Donny Deutsch, not a lot of people watch Keith and his barely moving lips. He's a tool.
-- Jesse Milligan

It is you who owe your readers an apology:-)

By writing about Keith Oldhat, you might encourage another two or three people to listen to him, thereby doubling his ratings.
-- Jonathan Morse
Sag Harbor, New York

Keith Olbermann makes his living from open deception, misrepresentation, and senseless jokes. He's the far left's Don Imus. Facts don't matter to his "brain concussion" audience. They've been KO'd.
-- Mike Showalter

Hardly worth all the effort to correct the record. Olbermann's initial claim and delayed retraction were only seen by the dozen or so hard-core liberals that actually watch this buffoon on a regular basis.
-- James Kinsella
Loveland, Ohio

RAND NOTIONS
Re: Roger Scruton's Altruism and Selfishness and the letters under "Bigger Than the Self" in Reader Mail's To Know Him:

In his article "Altruism and Selfishness," Roger Scruton challenges Ayn Rand's concept of selfishness -- by committing the very fallacy that Rand identified as the cause of all the confusion on this issue.

Scruton attributes to Rand the notion that being selfish consists in taking whatever action one wants to take or in taking whatever action one has a motive to take. Scruton writes that according to Rand:

When a father works to provide for his children; when a woman spends her money on a person she loves; even when a man lays down his life for his friend -- all this is selfishness, doing what one wants to do, because one has the motive to do it, because that is what the I requires.

Not only did Rand not accept the idea that a motivated action is thereby a selfish action; she explicitly rejected it. Rand held that whether an action is selfish or unselfish depends on two things: the standard by reference to which the action is motivated, and whether or not the action is rational. If a person is motivated by the idea that the standard of morality is self-sacrifice -- if he holds that being good consists in selflessly serving others -- and if he therefore quits his cherished career, say, making music, in order to serve others by doing something he loathes, say, changing bedpans, then, if words have meaning, he is not being selfish; he is being unselfish.

Although Scruton somehow missed this, Rand demonstrated in several books and essays that the objective standard of moral value is man's life -- meaning, all that which is required for man to live and flourish materially and spiritually. She further demonstrated that the objective purpose of morality is to guide the individual in choosing and pursuing the values that will fill his days and years with meaning and joy. Correspondingly, on her view, for a person to be genuinely selfish, he must do more than take action "directed at the self"; he must also be guided exclusively by reason, because only reason can account for the long-range and wide-range requirements of his life and happiness.

Acting on the principle that one should selflessly serve others is not the same thing as acting on the principle that one should rationally pursue one's own life-serving values. To treat these essentially different things as though they are essentially the same is to commit the fallacy that Rand called "package-dealing."

Scruton commits the fallacy again here:

Learning to love your neighbor as yourself is learning to take pleasure in the things that please him, as a mother takes pleasure in the pleasures of her child. To call this "selfishness" is to abuse the language. A selfish act is one directed at the self; an unselfish act is one directed at others. And the truly unselfish person is the one who wants to perform unselfish acts, who takes pleasure in giving, and who enjoys the prospect of another's success. This is not, as Rand would have us believe, just another form of selfishness. It is an altogether higher motive, one in which the other has replaced the self as the object of concern.

Who is abusing language?

The characteristic that makes an action selfish or unselfish is not whether it is directed at the self or whether one wants to take it or whether one takes pleasure in it or whether one enjoys it. If it were any of these, then junkies, rapists, welfare bums, and bank robbers would have to be considered "selfish" along with people who, on principle, take care of themselves, enjoy exclusively consensual sex, produce goods or services, and respect property rights. To say that it is illogical to treat these two radically different kinds of people as though they are essentially the same would be to understate the case.

For a person to be genuinely selfish, he must not only hold his own life as his ultimate value; he must also recognize and accept the principle that his only means of knowledge and his basic means of living is his faculty of reason; he must commit himself to being guided only by his rational judgment -- because only it can account for the long-range and wide-range requirements of his life and happiness.

If one loves one's neighbor because one judges him to be rational, honest, just, and of great importance to one's life and happiness, then appreciating or taking pleasure in the things that please him can be selfish. If, however, one loves one's neighbor not because one judges him to be rational and valuable to one's life, but because one has accepted the religious dogma that one should "love one's neighbor," then doing so is unselfish. What could be more selfless than forgoing one's own rational judgment and obeying religious dogma?

The only thing Scruton gets right in this regard is his recognition of the fact that a person who wants to forgo his own rational judgment -- a person who wants to obey dogma in service to some "higher motive" -- and therefore does so, is wholly unselfish.
-- Craig Biddle, Editor
Editor, The Objective Standard

Apart from dictionary definitions, anything that anyone does is a selfish act. Even Mother Teresa or those who dedicate their lives to others are acting from a self-appointed view. A person who dedicates himself to the service of others does so because he thinks that is best. It is impossible to be self-less. That one may act in an altruistic manner is still acting from self. Re-read Ayn Rand till you get it.

By the by -- there is nothing inherently wrong morally or otherwise acting selfishly. To serve God means to do His will. Is that selfless? We choose not to understand what is truly meant by being selfish because we choose not to look at our motivations. To be motivated by an altruistic principle does not negate the fact that acting to serve others is still a selfish act.

If (generic) you think there is inherent evil in acting selfishly, to what do you ascribe acts of philanthropy? A random act of insanity? John D. Rockefeller who built Standard Oil gave throughout his life yet we could say he was a selfish man who helped a giant industry be born and provided jobs for many and raised the standard of living for humanity.

Ayn Rand gave us much to think about. To reject her without understanding is an act of selflessness. To follow God's will for us is not an act of self-lessness. This is not a semantic game but an exercise in understanding what words mean.
-- Paula Carmen

Roger Scruton's article, and the letters in response, illustrate the difficulty many people have in understanding Ms. Rand's concept of selfishness as a virtue. The life of Bill Gates provides an excellent example of what she meant. If Mr. Gates had stayed at Harvard to complete his degree he would have selflessly postponed the pursuit of his creative dream to please his parents. Instead Mr. Gates did what his self urgently demanded. He developed his idea of software, started Microsoft, and thereby changed the world for the better. Mr. Gates, Mr. Jobs, and a few others have revolutionized life as we all know it.

Mr. Gates has amassed a vast fortune and certain people demand that, like other rich people, he give something back. Such people should understand that what Mr. Gates has given the world far exceeds the value of his personal fortune. Surely he owes nothing to anybody. Mr. Gates has famously become a philanthropist. I don't know his motive but I hope it is the selfish pleasure of using his wealth to improve the lives of people whose plight moves him.
-- David Roberts
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Who is John Galt? Whether it's Nietzsche supermen, as businessmen wafting in the Rocky Mountain breezes, or the sign of the dollar in lieu of the sign of the cross, Ms. Rand obviously could write a hell of a novel but is most likely a poor student of philosophy! Atlas Shrugged is really a historic novel as it describes the dominant social philosophy of the 20th century which was and is the production, acquisition and distribution of wealth! That's forthright philosophic materialism. And mankind does not live by the nostrums of the opportunist, St. Paul, as it were, "do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit." In fact what's full of conceit was Paul's cocksure ignorance and Little Bethel moral scheme, to paraphrase a sage! Men of right reason and virtue do not need 10 commandments or what ever arbitrary number you wish to know innately that murder, larceny, rape, and all those other biblical bloodlettings are proscribed!
-- Edward Del Colle

LAST WORD AND TESTAMENT
Re: Paul Chesser's Prejudiced for Eternity:

The theory that the election of Mitt Romney will increase the number of converts to Mormonism, and that this is a reason to oppose his nomination and election, is one of the stupidest things I have ever heard coming from an Evangelical Christian, most of whom believe that God selects people to be saved and damned and what they do doesn't have any effect on the outcome, let alone what anyone else does!

The worry that Romney being president would give Mormons "instant credibility" is revealing of the bigotry of professional anti-Mormons like the one quoted in a recent Spectator article. They make their living spreading lies about what Mormons believe and telling people that they cannot believe anything a Mormon tells them about his faith because all Mormons are liars or are ignorant of what their church actually teaches.

What will indeed happen if Romney is elected is that the people who make their living from telling lies about Mormons are going to be revealed for the liars they are. Americans will learn that Mormons like Romney are people who have high personal standards of integrity, but that they refuse to coerce or mislead anyone into believing the way they do. The professional anti-Mormon liars are going to find it a lot harder to find customers for their bilgewater. That is what they are really afraid of.

Mormons deserve to have "instant credibility". With our wide international experience and foreign language skills, we are a force for international understanding (I worked in Japan for five years). We serve our nation in the armed forces (I am a retired Air Force Lt. Colonel and my son and son-in-law also served). We have served in state and Federal government jobs all over the country. We provide volunteer aid when disasters strike, without regard to the recipients' religion. We fast one day a month to collect money to aid the poor. We obey the law and work hard and seek education. We vote and serve on juries. We don't get drunk, so we are safer drivers. We put our spouses and children ahead of material success. We have served in the Senate, the House, in governorships, and in presidential cabinets for a hundred years! We have actively supported both major political parties. So why shouldn't Mormons have some "credibility" with their fellow citizens?

Think about it. The anti-Mormons are saying that if Romney becomes president, Americans will learn the truth about what Mormons are really like, and therefore more will want to become Mormons. The anti-Mormons want to keep the truth about Mormons to be hidden. Why should an honest American voter support a plan to conceal the truth about 5 million of his fellow Americans, and continue to put money into the pockets of those who make their living from lying about good, decent Americans?
-- Raymond Takashi Swenson
Idaho Falls, Idaho

PER REQUEST
Re: Charles Campbell's letter (under "Rudy for Battle") in Reader Mail's To Know Him:

Tell Charles Campbell to read Fred Siegel's Prince of the City*. That will tell him all he needs to know about Rudy Giuliani's two terms as mayor. He'll see that his leadership on 9/11 was among the least of his accomplishments.
-- William Tucker
Nyack, New York

(*Reviewed two years ago in TAS by me.)

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