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Heroism Now and Then

Reclaiming Mt. Suribachi. Also: CNN no more. GOP's winning final lap. Pelosi's doozy. Plus much more.

10.26.06

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FLAGS OF IWO JIMA
Re: Yale Kramer's The View From Mt. Suribachi:

I became a Marine in 1969. I will always be a Marine.

I think it was too bad that the most costly and illustrative battle waged by my beloved Corps was portrayed in the revisionist historical sense of Spielberg and Eastwood. It is more than unfortunate.

I think Mr. Kramer's appraisal is exactly right.
-- Tom Masles
Alamo, California

Thanks to Yale Kramer for thoroughly exposing the flaws of Clint Eastwood's politically correct movie of Flags of Our Fathers. I half expected Mr. Kramer to point to the irony of Eastwood's hubris compared to the words of his character, Dirty Harry: "A man's got to know his limitations."
-- David Bruneau

How Incredible.

Something Mr. Kramer says near the end of his piece about Eastwood's deconstruction of heroism puts me in mind of a few quotes from a great movie:

Helen: Everyone's special, Dash.
Dash: Which is another way of saying no one is...
Syndrome: Everyone can be Super! And when everyone's Super... no one will be.

Sure, everyone has the ability to be a hero, but only a few get the chance; of those few who get the chance only a few take it. Whether or not "we are all heroes in our own very special way" some people prove it.

Many of the men who died there on Iwo Jima were heroes as were the ones who are remembered for raising the flag, but a living person can explain why they did what they did.
-- Troy Harmon
(Quotes from The Incredibles taken from IMDb.com)

Thank you Mr. Kramer for your review and insights. I have enjoyed many of Mr. Eastwood's movies in the past. After your comments, I think I'll sit this one out and spend my hard-earned dollars in buying the book and reading the more valuable insights and lessons on heroism from Mr. Bradley directly.
-- Phil
Fargo, North Dakota

Clint Eastwood showed his cards, without making us pay first, eons ago, as early as everyone's favorite war movie that they were ashamed to admit that they "enjoyed", i.e., Kelly's Heroes. Eastwood is on the record saying that Kelly's Heroes could have been the greatest anti-war movie of all time but the Hollywood moguls just wouldn't let them do what needed to be done. Yeah, right.

It would appear that Clint is willfully ignorant of George Orwell's life experience dictum "to abjure violence, it is necessary to have never experienced it." Maybe Clint's only exposure to violence was a Sandra Locke bad hair day.

Yale Kramer suggests that James Bradley was done wrong by Clint Eastwood, but I doubt it. Bradley is a classic leftist revisionist, dragging tons of irrelevant "history" into his own texts, the sections in Flyboys covering 19th-century American Indians and turn of the century Filipino guerrillas being cases in point. Bradley's presumed respect for the man who gave him life probably doesn't extend to exempting him and his individual heroism from the liberal commandments that Eastwood so capably renders (and Kramer documents).

Thanks to the Internet and TAS, conservatives are forewarned that an unforgivable corruption of perhaps the greatest single memory of American men in action should be avoided. Also thankfully, the same Internet says checking out The Departed and/or The Prestige is a better use of time and money.
-- Frank Natoli
Newton, New Jersey

I read Bradley's book and saw the movie. The movie is an insult to Bradley's father and the whole story of Iwo Jima. Several parts of the movie particularly got to me. Though the movie did a good job showing battle scenes, I believe only one instance of an American soldier mutilated by the Japanese is mentioned, but no body shown onscreen. Multiple instances of American eviscerations of the enemy are not only mentioned, but shown.

Also, when will these Hollywood people grow up? Hasn't anyone heard of you gotta do what you gotta do anymore? We were trying to win a war and were running out of money. Running the soldiers around the country to drum up bond money to keep the war going was a small price to pay when put up against the costs of losing the war. After all, the country was fighting (yes all out fighting) to win a war against an enemy that had proved time and time again that humane treatment wasn't in their playbook. Ask those who made it out of the Philippines.

Unholywood. PollyAnnawood.

Poor old Clint Eastwood is just paying penance to the lefties for all those years he was a gun toting, manly man with a slight tilt to the right view. Oh, my God it's all so pitiful.
-- JPH

Yale Kramer points out an interesting instinct of those that want "us" to change our behavior:

"The utopian notion that man can be taught to live peacefully with his fellow man inexorably drives those who are drunk with great wealth and power to believe that they can eliminate differences between men by giving everyone the same equal share."

Call me naive, unwashed, or perhaps I simply don't get "it." But the powerbrokers of entertainment and the wealthy achievers of other industries (ex: Buffett & Gates) whom were once fighting tooth and nail for their position in life can now simply command their horizons to behave peaceably. If once accepts that they can bankroll their immediate reality to resemble their version of utopia, after assessing that their talents got them where they are. It would then stand to reason that they assume their talents can tell us… the proletariat, to grow enough food and silence the guns of Darfur or Golan Heights.

Some refer to this behavior as learned, visionary, or compassionate. I think I know arrogance when I see it.
-- P. Aaron Jones
Huntington Woods, Michigan

Kramer's analysis was good and possibly even accurate since I haven't seen the movie, but he left out an important point about Iwo Jima. Namely, how war and war heroes are viewed is specific to the culture of the combatants. Iwo Jima wasn't unique by any means in the Pacific theatre during WWII, but does illustrate the vast cultural difference between Japan and America. Because America values the individual over the state, the sacrifices of the individual Marine, Navy and Army personnel involved in the battle are highly honored in our culture and remain a source of inspiration; such sacrifices take on almost a mystical sense of wonder. When the sons of the most individualistic society on earth freely give their lives for the state, we, Americans, place inordinate value on such sacrifice.

Contrast that with the Japanese view of combat. Fighting and dying to the last man had already played out on Tarawa, Saipan, New Guinea and Peleliu among previous campaigns and would be reenacted subsequently on Okinawa. Kramer was wrong however, the Japanese garrison on Iwo weren't crack troops, some were experienced combat troops, but others were just garrison troops or construction workers. The 22,000 Japanese soldiers were a tiny fraction of Japan's vast army and Japan wrote off the entire garrison before the start of the battle, no attempt at reinforcement or rescue was made. Japan sincerely acknowledged the sacrifice of her soldiers, but felt no compulsion to save them as Americans would have.

Japanese army instruction manuals never addressed surrender procedures; a captured soldier was a useless thing, deserving only a shameful execution. Even the valiant Marine garrison on Wake Island had surrendered when the situation became hopeless and the Army's surrender in 1942 in the Philippines and the subsequent Bataan death march fueled America's desire for revenge. Yet, the Japanese weren't inhuman aliens. General Kuribayashi wrote letters to his wife and children before the start of battle filled with love, encouragement, jokes and the kind of parental advice any American parent would understand. He knew he was going to die, accepted it and wanted his wife and children to let him go.

The Japanese did recognize degrees of valor as Kramer suggests, but dying for the greater glory of Japan, rather than surrendering when the battle was lost, was considered the minimal duty of the Japanese soldier. The Japanese soldier understood that his life meant nothing in comparison to the honor of Japan. Japanese ways weren't our ways and the flag raising on Suribachi may have symbolized the triumph of the individual American fighting man over the vast, impersonal forces of war. If so, let's hope we never lose this deep respect for an individual's sacrifice.
-- Patrick Skurka
San Ramon, California

This is another outstanding article by Yale Kramer. I look forward to every article he writes.
-- Elaine Helberg
Boca Raton, Florida

CNN NO MORE
Re: The Washington Prowler's CNN Terrorist Outreach:

What CNN did is despicable but, sadly, not surprising given their track record. I would like to see Fox News begin each of its shows for the next week with something like this:

STATEMENT FROM MANAGEMENT: Recently, one of our competitors chose to give aid to America's enemies by airing a blatant propaganda film showing the murder of American soldiers. Fox News wishes its viewers to know that we are firmly on America's side in the War in Iraq and the larger Global War on Terror. We will document flaws in U.S. policy or actions when we discover them but always in the context of striving for improvement that leads to victory. Fox News fervently and unambiguously hopes that the United States and its allies prevail in the current conflict. Thank you for watching.

They would eat CNN's lunch even more than they already are.
-- Paul Schlick
Maple Grove, Minnesota

The real story here is Murtha, and his brothers lobby firm -- KSM.

The scam is that companies that want DoD business are steered to KSM where they are sold that they can get access to Murtha; they pay retainer fees to KSM; they submit a project "initiative"; KSM shops it to Murtha; he "earmarks" it; the company gets the business; the company pays a percentage fee back to KSM.

The question is how much goes to Murtha's brother and how much find its way back to Murtha.
-- John Moore

THE CRYSTAL BALL
Re: Quin Hillyer's Coming Home to the GOP?:

It might be nice, it might even be better, if you could vote out all the Republicans already in, and replace them with a brand-new bunch of Republicans. But that isn't going to happen this time…
-- Robert Nowall
Cape Coral, Florida

I voted yesterday and after holding my nose, voted for all Republicans but one, my county commissioner, who has bragged that he hires illegals for his crews. This article is right on target, you read my mind.
-- Elaine Kyle
Cut & Shoot, Texas

Quin Hillyer asks, "So how about you. What do YOU think?" Well, I don't think much like his hypothetical voter.

The Republicans, and especially the President, have failed miserably (not to mention arrogantly) given the chance to implement the alleged principles that tie conservative voters to them. Any expectation or hope that they will do anything differently given another two years at the helm is forlorn. Through how many election cycles can Mr. Hillyer's imaginary voter be led down the garden path to the voting booth to give these charlatans "just one more chance"?

We must remember that a simple majority of Democrats doesn't ensure that all of their agenda will be implemented. After all, it's not as if they'll be able to bind, gag and lock in the basement the remaining Republicans. The Republicans, if they lose their majorities, will still have the White House and can take a page from the Democrat's minority status playbook to block any sweeping changes. Mr. Bush will have a chance to dust off his veto pen.

What I think is that the Republicans have richly earned the chance to show their mettle by stepping up and relying on their announced principles to prevent a Democratic tide of change. Having proved that they can't lead, they must prove to me that they are unwilling to follow like so many sheep, and earn back the right to have a majority. Mr. Bush must be made to recognize that the party's base is not among illegal aliens and the NEA, and that the party's conservative base dwarfs its neo-conservative base.

The Republicans need to have their feet held to the fire. I'm confident that the nation can survive a few years of remedial work by the alleged party of conservative values. After all, the Democrats have been out of power now for some years, but somehow they manage to control the public debates. Let us see if the Republicans can do the same, or whether they will turn turtle and let the Democrats run amok.

We voters should not be stampeded into supporting those who have abandoned us by means of shrill prophecies of disaster. We should not act like abused spouses who hang on, whimpering and whining but compliant, in a one-way relationship for fear that we shall be left with nothing if we demand some shaping up. Neither should we allow ourselves to be cast as enablers to this crowd of power abusers. It's time to stand up and demand that promises and principles be delivered upon, and that our "love," respect and votes be earned.
-- Mark Fallert
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

The MSM folks are already celebrating. I see virtual champagne bottles popping corks lighting in their eyes and Democrats seem to be gleefully rubbing their hands together in anticipation of impeachment hearings, robbing taxpayers, and all other ways they will be in charge of desecrating our country. You'd think Santa Claus had arrived early and gifts were under the tree already. Hmm, reminds me of a few other times they have anticipated victory only to awake to failure.

This seems characteristic of folks who are governed by feelings rather than those with a clear internal compass who operate with fixed principles. As children on a playground who whine when they don't get their turn at the ball and threaten to tell the teacher, they are motivated by schemes and driven by thoughts of being the one in control. Fortunately, their numbers aren't great. And few are the times they are able to convince others to give them power. They are reduced by the fact they are afraid to really fight for what they believe in on the field of battle, preferring whining and moaning instead. And watching them is entertaining. The most tools in their employ are contained to speech, most of which winds down to the lowest common denominator, and is vulgar and crass. Unable to summon real courage and enlist to fight the war they devolve into anarchist tactics, that being the most they are capable of.

We remember they are the same people that came forth, after Sept 11th, to blame the U.S. for the attack. Mindless folks, neutered and unable to defend our country, they would have us believe they love this country. Yet, they would not leave comfortable homes, from Hollywood to the New York elites, and they want to use the military for personal tools of their own machinations. We whose loved ones serve are unswerving and know who the real enemies to our country are. We will not elect them to office. Wait and see. Forget those who call our soldiers Nazi's and denigrate real heroes. We vote and we are motivated to reach others to go vote and our motivations do not involve sending in voters whose names come from the ranks of the dead in cemeteries or illegals or felons.

We will see what happens Election Day. As for me, this Pilot's mother knows who I choose to trust with my son's life. And I pray daily that there are many more like me voting. And I pray that those that be for us be more than those against us.
-- Beverly Gunn
East Texas Rancher

Honestly, it is not that I disagree with your concept, but I am an attorney in a 600+ Manhattan law firm, and I don't hear ANYONE discussing the election. I just don't think that many people spend the kind of time -- and thought process -- that your article suggests.

If they usually vote -- they will vote again, and most likely party line. If they don't usually vote, they probably won't.

End of story, really -- most people just aren't giving this election that much thought.

Frankly, if the GOP turns them out, I think we keep both houses.
-- Paula

PELOSILAND
Re: Jay D. Homnick's Grandma Muses:

Jay D. Homnick is on the money in his very funny evaluation of the grandma and self-anointed and hopeful Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. For all the political savvy this woman is supposed to have and the leadership skills she is reported by the media to possess, she comes across as a self-centered, self-motivated egotistical elitist who can't string a coherent thought together with climbing rope! But intelligence never matters to Democrats, it's the killer instinct and nepotism which they revere most and Pelosi's arrogance shines through. Let's not forget her political pedigree from Maryland, the daughter of Thomas D'Alesandro, Jr. who also served in Congress, then later mayor of Baltimore. Her brother was also mayor of Baltimore some years ago.

It seems to me, that in the insulated world of politics, having been raised by career politicians and surrounded by them, the narrowest view of life emerges into an ideology devoid of reality. I suppose this explains the unusual sentence fragmentations and disjointed thoughts when discussing issues, but an incredibly focused drive when discussing other politicians. So, when Pelosi discusses Iraq, it's an abstract because in the uber-lib world it doesn't exist except as a campaign issue she hasn't yet managed to grasp well enough to explain her party's position or what Democrats would do differently than Republicans.

You have to love her "blonde moments."
-- Valdis Gailitis
Newbury Park, California

"…if we were to pull our troops out of Iraq the terrorists would leave too -- they'll stay there as long as we're there." -- Nancy Pelosi

There it is, proof that Nancy Pelosi has no clue; proof that Nancy Pelosi does not live in the same world the rest of us do; proof that if Nancy Pelosi becomes the Speaker of the House we will all learn the hard way that allowing these uber-liberals to take control that we will be set adrift, taking us further away from anything resembling our traditional American way of life.
-- John Nelson
Hebron, Connecticut

I believe what Ford actually said was that Poland was not under Soviet domination.
-- Robin Corkery

Do more to expose Pelosi! God forbid the likes of her take over America!!! God forbid. God forbid.
-- Carol A. Milanese

OUTFOXED
Re: Jeffrey's Lord Chris Lilik Is Being Heard:

Lilik is disappointed in pro-life Democrat Casey not drawing the Democrats towards the middle. Notice that in actual fact the Democrats are moving Missouri and the nation towards a more radical position by getting a constitutional amendment passed that legalizes embryonic stem cell research by pretending to ban cloning. Casey's father would have opposed the amendment; his son wouldn't. What we have in the deceptive amendment is the argument that it is wrong to clone a human being and allow it to develop into a born human being, but it is OK to clone a human being and kill it so that its cells can be used in a utilitarian way for research and medicinal purposes for another human being. By coincidence, a report appeared this week that indicated that the injection of embryonic stem cells into the brain of someone with Parkinson's disease produces cancer tumors. So Michael J. Fox could end up with both Parkinson's disease AND cancerous brain tumors!
-- Richard L.A. Schaefer
Dubuque, Iowa

DAFFY BUNNY
Re: Ivan Osorio's Rules of Ridicule:

I have a VCR tape of old World War II cartoons starting Daffy Duck, Bugs Bunny, and assorted gremlins, that we enjoyed on television as kids and that have now been banned by the ponytail liberals, the same ones that forced our university glee club to alter the words to Alexander's Ragtime Band for their nancy-boy sensibilities, lest they faint dead away at "so that you know that you wanna go to war." My nephews adored those cartoons in their turn. The only difficulty was that at inopportune moments and without context, one of them would shout "Hitler is a stinker? That's no military secret!" and then they would chorus "Ya! Everybody knows that!" and laugh like little hyenas while everyone looked on in total mystification and asked me, "What did they just say????"

I was very sorry when Team America came out reeking with filthy language, because I would have loved to see it; however, since I ride public transportation during the hours when little boys are heading to high school, I have already heard enough filthy language by the time I reach my office every morning to last me 'til the Escalon. Perhaps one of these days a version stripped of all the poo, fart, and barf will be produced so the rest of us can see what's so funny.

On the other hand, it might be a great idea to send the current reeking version over to the Muslim Mullahs; if they thought those Danish cartoons were bad, Team America ought to make their turbans explode. Which leads me to the one problem extant in making fun of our current enemies: because they will murder us if we do.
-- Kate Shaw
Kanukistan

JUST WONDERING
Re: George H. Wittman's Israel, Iran, and the Bomb:

I enjoyed the article by George H. Wittman. End of first paragraph -- when the Iranian leader also threatened once more that Israel "no longer needs to exist." I am wondering what his answer would be if anyone asked him why he thinks Israel no longer needs to exist.
-- Nancy B. Eckardt
Sheboygan, Wisconsin

GOTTA HAVE FAITH
Re: Faith McDonnell's Blaming Bush for Darfur:

I was shocked to read Faith McDonnell's article on the Evangelicals for Darfur add. What's ironic, is that most liberals do blame Bush for everything, and as for the conservatives, on the other hand, the generally get really fired up with the liberals do that. The Evangelicals for Darfur campaign is made up both liberal and conservative religious figures.

Just in case Ms. Faith McDonnell is unaware of the political dynamic in a global sense, the United States actually has an immense amount of power, more than any other country in the world. I traveled to Egypt for a month this past spring. Most Egyptians knew more about American politics than the average American. Why? Because American politics affect them, while Americans are apathetic- because as long as the economy is good, they're comfortable, and their checks aren't bouncing, they don't care about much else. The Sudanese government is extremely corrupt. And if McDonnell has forgotten already, one of Bush's favorite sayings about going to the war in Iraq had to do with helping the Iraqi people. Don't misunderstand me. I voted for Bush. And my fiancé served in the Middle East twice, and he and I both support the President's intentions. But if the President is going to verbally proclaim that the situation in Darfur is genocide, which he did, then the American people, have every reason to ask him to do something about it, especially the Evangelicals, since they are a big reason he was elected, and re-elected, into office.

I am baffled as to why asking President Bush to act is the same as blaming him. Maybe Ms. Faith McDonnell doesn't see any point in campaigning and acting on global issues... but if that be the case, perhaps she ought to stop writing about them. And also, I would urge her to not write so offensively, to not write as the apathetic American who doesn't care about the death and suffering of those around the world. As she wrote "have been killed" in quotations and "misplaced" in quotations, as if this was rhetoric being used by the writers of the campaign to mislead or persuade. I'm curious... how else to you put it? How else do you say that 400,000 people have been killed and over 2 million displaced? Is that politically incorrect to say? Or does it just make people uncomfortable... so we're not supposed to talk about it?
-- Kelly Cleaver
Washington, D.C.

ROAD FROM ROK
Re: Doug Bandow's One Way Out:

As a longtime advocate of getting U.S. out of Korea, I like the idea. We're a token force at best; ROK ground and air forces far outweigh our 30,000. But for that little flap between us and the Chicoms in early '01, we could've worked towards getting our folks outta there during Dubya's first term, 9/11 notwithstanding.

Now, the timing would make such a withdrawal purely a matter of face, an element not so unique to that part of the world. If OBL could use Somalia as a recruiting tool for his idiots, just imagine what "Mr. Ronrey" and his pals in Iran and Venezuela would do with a U.S. withdrawal from ROK. I can't help thinking that Dubya, Rice and Rumsfeld would like nothing more than to be done with the Korean peninsula, but only at a point where it doesn't appear to be so obvious a retreat, let alone surrender. Seems we'd owe it to Japan and Australia to see what they'd have to say, too.

Orders to Korea have always been the turning point for many military careers that would continue on otherwise (especially SNCOs following a promotion); we long for the day when the damn thing is over and those resources are pointed where they'll do much more good.
-- Jeff Kocur
Milford, Delaware

IRAQ RESOLVED
Re: Jed Babbin's Rethinking Iraq and Beverly Gunn's letter (under "How Do You Spell R-E-S-O-L-V-E?") in Reader Mail's Stay or Leave?:

The Iraq situation has turned into a lost cause because President Bush says the Generals decide how to fight the war when in reality the politicians are running the war. And when that happens you can count on loosing. And now it is more apparent than ever that the U.S. military is serving as a security force for self-serving but literate thugs. Am I the only one that was offended when he read that the Iraq Prime (more like expired choice) Minister was outraged about the sweep of Sadr City? His comments about the upcoming elections having an influence on the recent pressure for the Iraq Government to crack down on the violence only reinforces in my mind that the tail is wagging the dog there.

It is too late to bring the hammer down. It's time as Rancher Gunn put it to go to auction and get rid of the mess. Is this cut and run? No. It's more like unload a dog in your stock portfolio because the company's management is too busy dressing the window.

I am a supporter of President Bush. I voted for him and his father, but I am terribly disappointed with how this war was conducted after the sensational success of the invasion. The insurgents are not so emboldened by our squeamish Democrats but by the example of how an easy target such as Muqtada al-Sadr has been allowed to exist.
-- Diamon Sforza
Bartlett, Illinois

Beverly Gunn is so completely right, "Get R Done!" Anything else is beyond folly.
-- Susan Gluck
Weston, West Virginia

BIG BUKS
Re: Buks van Rensburg's letter (under "Buks Stops Here") in Reader Mail's Stay or Leave?:

"Perhaps Westerners should now internalize the advice they so freely gave 20 years ago: People (including Muslims) are all the same, and they want to live in peace in integrated multicultural societies. There can be no other socially just outcome in a world where so many peoples are migrating between so many countries, and Western countries could prevent much harm by adopting a kinder and more accepting attitude towards the strangers in their midst." -- Buks van Rensburg, Ontario, Canada

You damned fool, the Salafists don't want to live in peace in integrated multicultural societies. And they have told us that. They previously have stated they will stop attacking us when we give up our decadent Western lifestyle, convert to Islam, and submit to Islamic law. Where do you find peace and diversity in that?
-- Andy Fuller

So, Buks, what's up?
You're really in a snit,
With those of us who don't believe
Sharia's really it!

Perhaps you missed the latest news,
You know, how Muslims hate the Jews?
And Christians, too, they're all included.
Unless you worship Allah,
You're really quite deluded.

Of course, it's not THEIR attitude
That's got your panties in a wad.
It's only OUR "intolerance"
You seem to think is odd.

No, it's all the same to you,
All faith is just a myth.
It really doesn't matter,
One person's God of choice,
Is just another's chatter.

But tell that to our Muslim friends,
And some night soon when you're in bed,
A scimitar will brandish forth,
And SWISH, there goes your witless head.
-- Mike Showalter
Austin, Texas

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