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Rattled and Snaked

Lessons in big talk. Kuwait trauma. Escape to Kurdistan. Medals and pins. Plus more.

8.6.07

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SNAKES AND STICKS
Re: Shawn Macomber's Liberalism on a Ledge:

Shawn Macomber's delightful piece about liberalism and the Daily Kos made my practical rancher's heart smile. I remember years ago, as a little 7 or 8 year old trying to impress my father, a long-time rancher. Since rattlesnakes were a daily part of our life, as he came onto the porch one morning I declared, "Dad, the next rattlesnake I see I know just how I can kill him." Dad just gave me a small smile and told me that the wise person doesn't brag before he acts but, after he actually does what he thinks he can do, he can relate his experience.

Well, it wasn't 45 minutes later that, while walking with my Dad to round up cattle, I nearly stepped on that rattlesnake. I turned tail and went running the opposite way, huge walking stick in hand, forgetting my earlier brag about how I planned to kill the snake. Dad simply grabbed the closest implement and killed the snake. As I walk back to him, rather shame-faced about my former bragging, my Dad simply turned around slowly and said, "I thought you had planned to handle that."

That taught me more than I ever needed to know about what real bravery was and how real people aren't the ones who brag about what they will do in any given event, but they are the ones who quietly do the right thing when the event happens. Dad still reminds me of that time when he hears one of the liberal fools on television brag about how and what they'd do differently if they were in charge. At 88 he is still as sharp as a tack, mentally. He will simply look up and say, "Sounds like someone bragging about the rattlesnake they will kill before they actually have to step on him!"

Now, KOS folks bragged about how they "owned" Congress after the 2006 election. We conservatives just sat quietly. But when the falsely designed amnesty crap (yes, we Texans know what it is when we see it) came to light, not once but twice, we shut down the discussion with hundreds of thousands of quiet, but like-minded individuals, who called Congress and put the quietus on a horribly ugly bill.

Now, that is quiet determination. I will be willing to bet that in the 2008 election cycle we will see more of that behavior over KOS mentality anytime. You see, most folks I know recognize the seriousness of rattlesnakes and want someone who can quietly pick up a stick and take care of business! When placing someone in charge of a country we want serious minded folk with quiet proven abilities.
-- Bev Gunn
East Texas Rancher

Make sure not to talk about issues, just personally bash on progressive citizens trying to make a difference.

People are beginning to wise up. Welcome to the Internet age. Your brand of Victorian-era hate is going out of style like Britney Spears.
-- David West
Senior Software Engineer
Park City, Utah

GUERRILLA WRITING
Re: Jeff Emanuel's New Republic Tosses a Few Bones:

The thrust of Beauchamp's article is that war makes monsters of American soldiers. But it is revealed that the first episode of monstrous behavior by Beauchamp and his buddies, mocking the disfigured woman, happened in Kuwait, in a staging area well outside the combat zone. Wow! Those guys were monsters before the horrors of war turned them into monsters. I salute their combat readiness.
-- Jerry Schnell
San Pedro, California

ESCAPE TO KURDISTAN
Re: James G. Poulos's Making an Iraq of Kurdistan:

The solution to Iraq is not "redeployment" to the Kurdish north (as the author points out) any more than it is John Murtha's gutless "redeployment" to Okinawa. The solution is letting the military continue doing its job. In a war that has lost fewer lives than the peace time military of the 1980s and 1990s. The failed strategy of "tucking tail and running" as we did in Lebanon and Somalia is a recipe for disaster.

It would be nice if the American people, like President Bush, would put their trust in the US military to do its job â€" we're the professionals not Congress or the anti-military/pro-terrorist U.S. media. Quite frankly the active duty military knows a lot more about warfare than all the arm chair generals on the left and right combined (that includes the retired officers who are now media mouthpieces).

If the politicians and American people would leave us to our work we would not only win the war in Iraq, but we could in time put so much hurt on Islamic extremists that they would abandon terrorism. Sadly, in a country experiencing unprecedented prosperity and lifestyle improvements since the 1980s, boredom (called "war fatigue") with the tediousness of war is now the name of the game. One wonders if a nuke exploding in the middle of New York City would rouse the American public from its lethargic stupor and apathy for more than a couple of years?

It is expected that the Democrats will stab the military in the back (this includes pseudo-conservatives or "blue dog" Democrats), but it is disheartening when so many Americans are turning the knife for them.
-- Michael Tomlinson
Jacksonville, North Carolina

IF IT AIN'T BARACK
Re: W. James Antle III's Barack Bombs:

Ya know, as much as I hate Barack's politics (left, left, left wing), I've at least respected his core beliefs and stick to it principles. But, alas, poor old Barack seems to be struggling with the old political soft shoe dance. Lately, he has taken to the old, "urinating in the wind" approach and I'm afraid he is getting very, very wet. Given a choice between Barack and Hillary the ice lady, I'd take Barack any day. Having said that, I pray to God that none of the lefties get in office. They are all national suicide candidates. Every last Marxist one of them.
-- Jim L
East Sandwich, Massachusetts

PHAT CITY
Re: Lawrence Henry's Fat City:

Not addressed is what came first, the chicken or the egg -- because I seem to recall birds of a feather flock together. Maybe they were birds before they came together.

Asking the wrong question does not give birth to the right answer. Men willingly believe what they wish. It must be true that reason diminishes with intelligence. Glaringly.
-- James Wilson

MEDAL FATIGUE
Re: Jay Homnick's Be All You Can Be:

I noted with some sadness that yet another "wanna be" hero was unmasked in the past weeks. I appreciated Mr. Homnick's article on that subject!

First I would like to point attention to an excellent novel on this very topic written by Jim Lehrer. The book is titled The Phony Marine. The story concerns a man who buys a Silver Star medal on eBay. There is a little metal ribbon that comes with the medal that you can wear in your suit lapel. He puts it on his suit to see how it looks. The story goes from there to his actually wearing that little device on his suit in public and weaving an intricate story to go with it. As in the real life case with Mr. Buddle, the whole thing eventually comes unraveled.

I was talking to my wife recently about the way I see the whole veteran hierarchy. This is how I explained it to her: There are those men who have "faced the elephant"(a Civil War term combat veterans used to describe their marching in orderly rows into walls of Minie balls, grapeshot, and bayonets). These are the guys who have earned the right to wear the distinctive Combat Infantry Badge(Army) or a combat action ribbon(Marines). They belong to a brotherhood of arms that only they have a right to. There are those who served proudly in the military but perhaps served in Korea or Germany and did not see combat. There are those who served in the military but were stateside for their whole tour. And there were those men who never served but as they look back, wish they had.

I served with an Armored Cavalry unit up on the Fulda Gap for 2 1/2 years. We were a line unit, we were constantly out in the field training, and we faced off the Russian Eighth Guards Army on the other side of the zone. (Yes, there really was an Iron Curtain!) I volunteered for Vietnam, but as Mr. Homnick writes in his article, my lot in life was not to see combat.

My father fought in France and Germany in WWII with the 42nd Infantry Division. He was involved in some ferocious fighting in Strasbourg and his unit was involved in capturing Munich. He was a man who did his duty as a soldier, got out of the army, and did his best to provide for his family and try to "raise us right." I only recently found out via his units' excellent website that I could get access to some of his unit history. The unit historian sent me the citation for the Bronze star that Dad was awarded for combat action. My Dad never talked about it!

I think of a certain politician who reminded us frequently that he had been to Vietnam where in the course of just a few months somehow managed to earn Bronze and Silver Stars, and three purple hearts and was able to be whisked out of country.

I read about Mr. Buddle, who claimed a right to medals for valor he never earned. I think about men like my father, Roy Patterson, who was wounded by shrapnel during a barrage from the '88's the Germans used and how he never put in for a Purple heart (I found this out from one of the men who served in Dad's platoon) and did not talk about his earned award for valor.

Unlike Mr. Biddle, I would never dream of even holding Dads' CIB or his Bronze Star up against my old Army uniform to see how it would look! It would be unthinkable.

Maybe it comes down to being comfortable with who you are and doing the best in the role in which you may find yourself. Over the years I have run in 10-mile races, I have climbed the North face of Mt. Shasta several times (summited once), and I have bicycled a large part of the West Coast. I look at those accomplishments as my CIB and my Bronze Star. I am thankful for the health to have pulled it off!

Hindsight is wonderful. It is too easy to look back and wish that we had been in this or that situation. Perhaps I could have gone to Vietnam and perhaps I would have been killed or horribly maimed. It is simply too easy to claim credit for having been in harm's way and come out alive and a hero as well.

I never "saw the elephant" but I am proud to have served
-- Roy W. Patterson
B Troop 1st Squadron 14th Armored Cav
1966-1969 Fulda Gap
"Bravo 3"
San Jose, California

ANCHORED TO THE TREATY
Re: Doug Bandow's An Administration LOST at Sea:

I had a chance to read your "Special Report" on UNCLOS (or LOST, as you put it). Obviously, you are against the U.S. ratifying this treaty, but I think it was a bit unfair to your readers to leave them with the impression that, by not signing it, the U.S. is not bound by the treaty (or at least most of it).

As you know the U.S. is bound by large portions of UNCLOS via two mechanisms. The first is that a lot of the treaty is simply a recapitulation and consolidation of prior treaties that the U.S. has already signed. Thus, short of renouncing these prior treaties, the U.S. is bound.

Secondly, a lot of UNCLOS is a codification of customary international law, which also binds the U.S. and every other country. So, while admittedly there are parts of the treaty that the U.S. is not bound by (I'm not 100% sure why, for those, you didn't just file a reservation) the U.S. is covered by most of this treaty. I think it would have been fairer to your readers to point that out.

Incidentally, the foregoing is a point I often make to defend the United States in my classes. I am not from the US and I work in Latin America. A lot of times students complain that the U.S. is trying to remain outside the system of International law, and they use the U.S. position towards UNCLOS as an example. I love to be able to point out to them that the U.S. DOES participate in the international system and point out that large portions of the treaty bind the U.S.
-- Blaise MacLean

IN THE ABSENCE OF HEROES
Re: Brendan Dougherty's Barry Ball:

An inventive reporter gave us the story of the kid poignantly begging the guilty Shoeless Joe Jackson: "Say it isn't so, Joe."

Parents helping their kids cope with today's disillusioning heroes, might have the advantage that with the Potter book series exhausted, the Bible might have some kid appeal. Its features from the Patriarchal, Prophetic, Wisdom, and Apocalyptic literature, as well as the New Testament, might provide insight into today's sports news:

Adam grabbed for the symbolic Big Apple, tempted by his trainer serpent who says: "Show me the money!"

Don't try for innocence by association by sacrificing your children to the glare of the cameras, even if the kid's name is an echo of "Santa Claus" or "Saint Nicholas." The kids are too young to wash away your sins. God doesn't want Isaac's blood.

This time it was Aaron who rejected idolatry of a golden calf. The Giants would be better off if they went for Moses Alou to play left field.
Samson (Son of Sam) drank of a cup that made him
bloated, bald, and blinded -- a choice like Herod's. Like Sammy's.

Barry, Mark, and Sammy show that all races will sin.

Giant Goliath got a swollen head and was struck out.

It's a mistake to go after profits alone, as the prophets warned. Amos said: Don't cheat on the measurements and statistics.

Hebrew Testament that was influenced by the Greeks teaches wisdom such as "Pride goes before a fall." And the Greek plays dramatize how hubris leads to tragedy, then and now.

Apocalyptic literature underlines the foolishness of uncutting your religion and altering your body for the sake of pagan athletic laurels (I Machabees 1:15).

Reject Satan's temptations of power, wealth, and pleasure the way Jesus did and as religious vows of obedience, poverty, and obedience pledge to do.

Reject the Way of the Gloss.

Parents might also mine The Divine Comedy (maybe it should be issued as a Classics Comic):

"Bonds" is a reminder of Paul Ricoeur's analysis: To sin is to voluntarily tie oneself up. It's voluntary self-imprisonment. It's self-destruction. It's Hell, which begins on Earth, according to Karl Rahner.

Mark McGuire forsook the Mark of the Gospel for the Mark of the Beast. One of the strongest players in baseball history cried before Congress, when supposedly "There ain't no cryin' in baseball." It was the start of his Purgatory.

Sammy Sosa suddenly had trouble with English before Congress, making him a voiceless human, who was in Limbo for a year outside baseball, and now is trying to find redemption on the field. If "S" is like "6" and zero means nothing and "a" is a backwards "6," then his name is 666. If he ends up with 616 homers, recall that some say that 616 is the accurate, original code number for the Anti-Christ. Kids might like the codes and name games.

Another exercise could be to identify parallels in Pilgrim's Progress. I leave that to your ingenuity.

Buddha's lessons might include: All life is suffering and all suffering comes from desire.

Hindu insight might include the suggestion that the basic truth of reincarnation is that even though bad karma, earned from our choices, works its way, redemption is eventually possible.

Jesus agrees.
-- Richard L.A. Schaefer
Dubuque, Iowa

WHEN I WAS YOUNG
Re: Reader Mail's Children Into Beasts:

Reading these letters was funny, especially the one by incredibly wise Ira M. Kessel.

While in a university back in the early 60s, I became a far left liberal, as did many of my then, peers. So extreme was I that I hated to even socialize with my old high school chums, or their obviously ignorant and stupid white and blue collar parents. There was not a single national or global issue for which I and my college peers didn't have a solution. We knew it all.

After growing up, I got married, my first mortgage, four kids, and started a business. I forgot to mention that "while" growing up after college I also became a conservative. As Ira M. Kessel said, "When I was a child..."

I see that college students' arrogance has not changed in those 40 odd years. Ditto for their professors.

Thank you, Mr. Kessel.
-- Xenophon (Sonny) G. Lykos
Naples, Florida

INCONTROVERTIBLE
Re: R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.'s Lousy Days Are Here Again:

An excellent point

"Liberals will get a free pass as the major media outlets will refuse to spend any significant time on anything constructive. Any facts that refute their views are ignored or when impossible to ignore, are attacked as unreliable."

Perhaps Winston Churchill put it best when he said:

"The truth is incontrovertible, malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end; there it is."
-- Jim Crum

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