America

I still say we’re in trouble

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It’s been a while since I commented on America’s road to serfdom. So here’s one for the lovers of doom.

An article in the Atlantic says that it takes kids 90 seconds longer to run one mile than it used to in the 80s.  80% of young people are too dumb, criminal or fat to enter the military.

And here we find that the generation of the participation trophy just doesn’t care about winning. WSJ: 

They’re just not very fast. “There’s not as many super-competitive athletes today as when the baby boomers were in their 20s and 30s,” said Ryan Lamppa, spokesman for Running USA, an industry-funded research group. While noting the health benefits that endurance racing confers regardless of pace, Lamppa—a 54-year-old competitive runner—said, “Many new runners come from a mind-set where everyone gets a medal and it’s good enough just to finish.”

Now, a generational battle is raging in endurance athletics. Old-timers are suggesting that performance-related apathy among young amateur athletes helps explain why America hasn’t won an Olympic marathon medal since 2004

It’s easy to see why so many in America are clamoring for enforced equality: They’re bad at so many things. Meanwhile China’s blowing us out of the water and Putins making 10 year olds across Russia do knuckle pushups and assemble an AN94 assault rifle before every meal. Our kids are good at Angry Birds.

I’ll see you in the howling wilderness that will be America is two decades or so. For now, ride the tiger.

 

Some have it, some don’t

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In his seminal book, “Good Calories, Bad Calories”, science journalist Gary Taubes recounts several studies which showed that starvation dieting did not work very well in helping people to lose weight, and that exercise, in his opinion, is unlikely the main factor in people losing pounds. One aspect of weight control that these studies doesn’t delve into is the roll that human will plays in diet. One area that I am at odds with Taubes is that people are relatively helpless victims in the obesity epidemic, swept away by a river of fate and bad science. I am also at odds with him on the role the exercise plays in weight loss.

Taubes recounts studies in which obese people were placed on diet of between 1500 and 1800 calories, and lost a paltry 8 pounds or so in 6 months or more. Yet the soldier I trained in Afghanistan lost 47 lbs. We did not count calories. He trained every other day, for about an hour. How was this possible? One of the faults I see in the studies that Taubes sites is an obvious one, at least to someone familiar with physical fitness. These studies, at least from what Taubes says, only monitored the weight of the subjects, and apparently not the body composition of the client. Muscle could have been increasing and fat decreasing, which is what most people want. He cites several studies which showed some people gaining weight while exercising, and some losing weight. This is actually consistent with what I saw in army basic training. Some people lost weight, one fellow gained over 20 lbs of good muscle. My weight stayed exactly the same throughout. I believe the body has a weight it desires to be at when exercise and diet are mostly correct. Thus the Russian studies involving kettlebell training that show some people lost weight and some people gained weight after training with kettlebells for some time. Some people needed more muscles, while others needed to lose fat. Kettlebell training set them right. Taubes believes that exercise increases appetite, thus causing people to eat more and gain weight. He quotes one scientists observation that a person has to climb 20 flights of stairs to burn off one piece of bread. Here, Taubes is again arguing against his own hypothesis, that obesity is primarily a hormonal problem in which excess insulin forces energy into fat cells for storage. Instead, he is making an excess energy argument in which he believes that exercise is insufficient in burning off consumed calories in most people. The problem is, Taubes’ insulin hypothesis could be right, and exercise could still help people lose weight, because exercise impacts blood glucose, insulin and the impact of insulin very significantly. Moreover, secondary hormones, which Taubes admits impact weight gain and loss (such as Human Growth Hormone and testosterone) though they play subordinate rolls to insulin, are greatly increased during and after exercise, even more so during intense exercise. I am not sure what kinds of exercise the people in the studies were doing, but not all exercises are created equal. Modern exercise science is pointing in a different direction from the decades of long and slow movements.

I see Taubes’ view that exercise is ineffective as fatalistic and also as part of a society that wishes to avoid any hint of personal responsibility or control. Taubes repeatedly points out that in the past, obesity was considered a moral failure, when it may only be an endocrine problem. However, humans, as intelligent moral creatures have the ability to seek better ways. When Adam and Eve ate of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, they they became burdened with their sins. And so it is with obesity. While I do not judge overweight people, I do find it reprehensible when people want to blame everything but themselves for their weight condition. After all, it may be true that they do not know the current science of diet and exercise, and it may be true that what they have been eating is making it nearly impossible to lose weight. But the overriding and glaring truth that should be evident is that what they have been doing is not working. I am particularly unsympathetic to people in the US Army whom are chronically overweight. I see and hear the differences in these people when compared to the fit soldiers. Gary Taubes seems to say that willpower has little or no part in weight control. I beg to differ. Certainly, cutting out refined carbohydrates will drastically reduce appetite and thus reduce the need for will in controlling weight, but it takes willpower to make the first step, and it takes willpower, and force of habit forged through the daily application of willpower, to eat and exercise in a beneficial way. After a while, habit trumps willpower. Doing things the right way, over and over, we find ourselves unsaddled with the pain we felt in the past. As we get more fit, exercise is no longer painful, as we reach our weight goal, defending that weight is much easier than having to send our bodies into deficit in order to lose weight.

I’m not a big fan of most reality shows, but I do appreciate The Biggest Loser. The trainers don’t allow the participants to wallow in self-serving whimper parties and excuses, tactics which have served them well in an enabling society. I see this behavior in the chronically overweight and under-fit people in my office. When we do Army physical training in the morning, one fellow in particular will almost invariably start whimpering about this or that hurting. He gained about 20 pounds of fat while I was deployed (he stayed at Ft. Drum), mostly by drinking liquid sucrose multiple times per day (that health drink known as Gatorade) and because he simply can’t push himself hard in physical training unless someone else is there to make him push himself. My experience with soldiers such as this helped me to notice two common characteristics: 1) They have very low pain thresholds, 2) They are relatively immune to shame.

The longer I am an NCO in the Army, the less patience I have for these types. I’m not talking about the person whom is merely slow or fat, but the person whom makes drama out of his discomfort in hopes of gaining an advantage over the people that are suffering right along with him, the person who expects the world to do all the work for him. Some of these people are irredeemable. They lack introspection and dignity. Some people have it, some don’t elite military units figure out if you have “it” before they hire you. They don’t train you to have it. Last week while leading physical training with two of my troops, the overweight NCO I spoke of above said he had a headache after we got done doing sprints. It was the usual drivel fro this guy, and the more he does it, the more I want to run him until he vomits (which he did, three times, several days prior). I’m 13 years older than he is, and wouldn’t dream of crying in front of my troops after a hard workout. The more he cries, the more I will run him, and make him swing kettlebells until his eyes bleed. When he began complaining, I exercised my right as an NCO is the US Army: I used shame and salty language to motivate. I said:

I have no fucking sympathy. None. Unless you have an arterial bleed I have no sympathy.

For those not in the military, this attitude seems brutal. But this is the problem with Taubes’ thesis: He tries to remove willpower from the equation. Just as the creators of counterinsurgency doctrine have tried to remove willpower from warfare and assume that we just need to tweek our “inputs” a little more and the enemy will fall in line, Taubes thinks that people just aren’t eating the exactly correct proportions of macro-nutrients (proportions which no one can agree on). Willpower is one thing that sets us apart from other animals. We can see our wrongs and make adjustments. The idea that things are supposed to be easy every time, all the time is killing our nation. From the Occupy Wall Street proto-Marxists, to the softies recruited by our military, we think we should start at the top, and never suffer a moment of discomfort. To modern Americans, something is wrong when there is discomfort. We could be climbing Mt. Everest and wonder why we’re uncomfortable and what politician we can appeal to for help.

Part of the problem begins with the femininization of America. We are increasingly matriarchal. This partly due to the fact that people simply cannot stay married for long anymore. They can’t tolerate each other. Lower class couple abandon each other at an alarming rate; when you have no job skills and neither does your partner, and no faith in God, you find your husband or wife as intolerable as any other person. Fathers are abandoning the family, and are generally not respected the way they used to be. Studies show that men and women have different parenting styles. Neither is better than the other, but both are required in order to make children into fully functioning adults. Women tend to be more nurturing and protective, while fathers tend to encourage reasonable risk taking. Two days ago I was at the bus stop waiting for my 6 year old’s school bus. One mother scolded her 7 (?) year old boy for jogging on the grass around the bus stop, warning him that the grass was wet from dew and she didn’t want him to fall and hurt himself. I wanted to vomit, and probably would have had I eaten breakfast. This boy will probably grow to be an Army general officer of the current strain, claiming that fighting is dangerous and doesn’t win wars. The obsession with safety in the Army is indicative of the military’s feminization.

We are dying from the inside, growing softer. We, the whining child who wants dessert before supper. And this is how I see most civilizations dying, not a concrete edifice demolished by the enemy’s cannon fire, but a rotting decomposition, the infinitesimal linkages between our cells that the wise of the world could never completely grasp, slowly disintegrating, becoming a liquefied gelatinous mass which no longer resembles a living entity.

Carbohydrates matter–a lot. Will matters even more. Almost every person at FOB Warrior in Afghanistan where I was deployed, lost weight. Why? Not because they were watching their carbs, but because they ate less because there was less food available. Sure, as a result they ate fewer carbohydrates. But we can control our destiny. We can make adjustments. Willpower needs to be exercised like any other human aspect, in order to strengthen it. Sometimes we need to really push ourselves through painful workouts, just to build our will. Allowing ourselves to be hungrier than normal is an ancient way of exercising the will. I’ve always promoted intermittent fasting, not only for its health benefits, but because it changes our essence.

Seize your destiny. You are not a victim of fate, whatever that fate it. Understand that pain is momentary, it is a threshold through which all strong people must pass. The only way to be strong is to pass through the portal of discomfort, which it transitory. On the other side of that door is strength and freedom.

Democrats appeal to God

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They’ll laugh, they’ll snicker. And I’ll keep trudging through the streets carrying my sign: “The End is Near!” We are a dying society. As faith in God has disintegrated, so has knowledge of good and evil. The agnostic and atheist elites will analyze, but will not find the cold, mathematical formula they seek to explain our disintegration, except to say in the form of a new social program. Here, uber-liberal Democrats find in their hearts to call out to God–and thank him for access to abortion. Nietzsche’s Transvaluation of Values is nearly complete, but not quite. As in Sodom and Gomorrah, God was willing to save a city from destruction should there be a very small percent of people whom remained righteous. America remains the most faithful Western nation in existence, which isn’t saying mush at this point in time.

America’s time is coming. We are walking on slippery rocks. Just as the great sermoneer, Jonathan Edwards quoted:

Their foot shall slide in due time,  Deuteronomy 32:35.

If we continue, and we probably will, one day we will look around and wonder how our great cities became smoldering ash, whether in metaphor or in reality. In due time, when God has had enough.

50 million abortions a year. The great shift toward matriarchal society has wrought annihilation of which Mao, Hitler and Stalin would be proud. Men have made war against armed men. The modern feminist has picked up the sword against a dreaming child. Disintegrating family structures. Voting trends are already showing the results of massive demographic changes. Fact: Immigrants and Blacks vote for more government. They will not stop. They’re world view tells them that government makes and enables life. And just as the prophets of old heard from the people they warned: “We’ve heard the warnings before, shut up and go away”, many will ignore the obvious, that America cannot continue down the road it’s on. Spending is a moral issue. Those whom chronically take more than they earn have a moral problem. We as a people have a moral problem. A nation of consumerism, hedonism, nihilism, socialism. We better find more theism.

Hobbes, violence and gun control

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Although not a pleasant topic so near to Christmas, I feel it necessary to touch on the issue of guns, violence, and the limits of what the law can do to protect us.

First, I will hit upon utility of the law.  When I was a police officer, it was common for me to deal with “violations of protection orders”. A protection order is simply a legal piece of paper that ordered one person to stay away from another.  It does nearly nothing to stop a person from actually having contact with another; the hope is that the possibility of getting in trouble will deter most people from violating the law. But as I would counsel some of the people who believed in the extraordinary power of the protection order, it is not a force field. It will not make bullets bounce off you.  Moreover, people can violate a protection order without the rest of the world knowing they did so. They can stalk their victims, they can make anonymous phone calls, and they can murder their victims and get away with it, just as did O.J. Simpson.

Recently after the shooting at Sandy Hook, I began watching a documentary on the Beslan school shooting in Russia. In the first part of the documentary, a small boy, who was at the school during the massacre, makes a stunningly insightful comment at the 3:06 minute mark:

There is no God, only force. Military force.

I’m not sure whether to be more dismayed by the child’s nihilism, or the fact that he is more philosophically insightful than 99% of the adult liberals whom propose additional laws to control those breaking already existing laws. The laws against homicide did not prevent the children of Sandy Hook from being murdered.  Now of course I am not for the removal of laws against murder. They certainly make some people think twice, and they provide us a legal path to imprison those who refuse to play by society’s rule, but they do not guarantee anyone’s safety. Nothing does.

Let’s talk about the usefulness of restricting gun rights. Later, I’ll touch on justice and what our Founding Fathers believed. I’ve already talked about the limits of written law and Blaise Pascal agreed:

Without force, the law is impotent.

Does anyone believe that by restricting access to AR-15s, violent crime will drop? If so, can you support your belief in fact? I can provide support to show the opposite is true.

Two countries, very close to America in cultural climate (and culture is important when considering crime and individual rights), Australia and Britain, experienced astounding increases in violent crime aftter implementing increasingly restrictive gun laws. In 1997, Australia enacted its gun ban. Some believe that Australia has some of the most restrictive gun laws in the world.  Five years after the ban, violent crime increased by 42.2%.  Rapes jumped by nearly 30%. Shockingly enough, criminals didn’t obey the law.

We love the English accent. It summons thoughts of  a refined and stoic people, steadfastly enduring Nazi air raids and fighting evil to the bloody end. Too bad England’s violent crime is even worse than America’s, despite heavy-handed restrictions on guns. In one decade, gun crimes in Britain nearly doubled.  And while England has relatively low gun-crime, it is still the violent crime capital of Europe. One of my fundamental problems with modern liberals is not that they want a more peaceful and safe world, but that the laws they propose in order to make such a world rarely do what liberals say they will do. From the Kyoto Protocol to guns laws, the liberal argument is that of Piers Morgan: “We have to do something!” Consider this: Australia and Great Britain are both big islands, making the importation of illegal firearms more difficult than in countries like America. Yet this fact and the strict laws are not nearly enough.

How about trying something that works, doesn’t infringe on the Bill of Rights, and isn’t the child of a dreamy, politically correct world?

Then there’s our friendly neighbor to the south, Mexico. Here’s what the US Consulate in Tijuana web page has to say to Americans travelling to Mexico:

Don’t bring firearms or ammunition across the border into Mexico.

Don’t carry a knife, even a small pocketknife, on your person in Mexico.

You may become one of dozens of U.S. Citizens who are arrested each month for unintentionally violating Mexico’s strict weapons laws.

If you are caught with firearms or ammunition in Mexico…

  • You will go to jail and your vehicle will be seized;
  • You will be separated from your family, friends, and your job, and likely suffer substantial financial hardship;
  • You will pay court costs and other fees ranging into the tens of thousands of dollars defending yourself;
  • You may get up to a 30-year sentence in a Mexican prison if found guilty.

If you carry a knife on your person in Mexico, even a pocketknife . . .

  • You may be arrested and charged with possession of a deadly weapon;
  • You may spend weeks in jail waiting for trial, and tens of thousands of dollars in attorney’s fees, court costs, and fines;
  • If convicted, you may be sentenced to up to five years in a Mexican prison.

Claiming not to know about the law will not get you leniency from a police officer or the judicial system. Leave your firearms, ammunition, and knives at home. Don’t bring them into Mexico.

Yet the drug cartels, not the Mexican government have the monopoly on violence in Mexico.  Draconian gun laws do not prevent drug lords from fielding their own militias.  I’ll find somewhere else to vacation, thanks.

I posted the following on my Facebook page earlier today:

Question to Liberals: If you were at Sandy Hook on the day of the shooting, and you had a gun, would you have shot the killer, Adam Lanza? If so, how do you square that with the prevalent argument from the Left that there should be gun-free zones and no armed teachers or guards? If you would not have shot him, how would you live with yourself?

If a person answers that they would shoot the murderer, they admit that having a gun at that time is preferable to not having one. And yet many liberals argue against gun rights. Of course, their argument is only that of Rosie O’Donnell. Guns are for me, not for you. Only me and my bodyguards can be trusted with them. I agree that some people prove they cannot be trusted with guns, but the average American can and should be trusted.

The police cannot protect you. Take it from a former cop. The police protect you only in so far as the criminal fears being caught, after the fact, or to the extant that you can slow the criminal down until the police arrive.   If someone breaks into a person’s house, intent on injuring another person, the police will not stop him if the victim has not taken proper precautions in protecting themselves.  That’s why I’m for both passive and active defenses in schools. If we make our banks difficult to attack, why not our schools? The disingenuous argument that our school houses would become free-fire zones doesn’t ring true when we consider the less important institutions in America that have far more security than schools, yet don’t resemble the Wild West.

Of all the myths of the Left, none is more beloved than, “The pen is mightier than the sword.” Our most advanced writers–the Leftist intellectuals ensconced in the cocoon of academia, could only hope so. Thus their over-reliance on such entities as the State Department and United Nations.  Talking and making rules doesn’t mean jack to the people we’re worried about. Force does.

Finally, there is the philosophical and historical argument for gun rights in America.

Thomas Hobbes said it best:

A man cannot lay down the right of resisting them that assault him by force, to take away his life.

If the government takes away the right of a man to defend his life, it essentially takes away his life. Any effort by the government to take away the right to self-protection assumes the ability of the government to adequately protect the individual, which it cannot do. Were all citizens afforded a Secret Service protection detail, such regulation may be justifiable. But that’s an impossibility.

Not the average citizen’s level of protection.

Sometimes justice outpaces utility. For instance, in my mind, just as Edmund Burke argued, free trade is not so much about utility (how much in taxes the government can harvest) as it is about what’s right: It is right that people should keep what they work for. In the case of guns, it is right that I be able to protect my child and myself. It is not right that a man be able to break into my house and rape my wife without me being able to shoot him in the face…

The statements of America’s Founding Fathers and other respected historical figures are replete with support for individual gun ownership. While I’ll try to avoid appeal-to-authority fallacies, I submit that these figures deserve to be heard, and sufficient evidence is required to overturn the wisdom of these men. The proposed gun control laws have proven insufficient in the past in this country and in others. And they violate my inalienable right to protect myself.  A law that both doesn’t work and harms individual liberty is a bad law, something this country surely doesn’t need any more of.

I’ll leave you with a few gems from the brilliant men that left it in our hands to maintain that great thing we take for granted: Our own liberty.

Are we at last brought to such a humiliating and debasing degradation, that we cannot be trusted with arms for our own defence? Where is the difference between having our arms in our own possession and under our own direction, and having them under the management of Congress? If our defence be the *real* object of having those arms, in whose hands can they be trusted with more propriety, or equal safety to us, as in our own hands?

— Patrick Henry, speech of June 9 1788

“The great object is, that every man be armed. […] Every one who is able may have a gun.”

— Patrick Henry, speech of June 14 1788

“The very atmosphere of firearms anywhere and everywhere restrains evil interference – they deserve a place of honor with all that’s good”

— George Washington

“Among the many misdeeds of the British rule in India, history will look upon the act of depriving a whole nation of arms, as the blackest.”

— Mahatma Gandhi

Americans accept losing wars and mediocrity at the highest levels

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The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding, go out to meet it.~ Thucydides

Weakness provokes insult and injury, while a condition to punish, often prevents them.~Thomas Jefferson

I have complained often and loudly about the caustic culture inside the US Army. It is a witch’s brew of arrogance, ridiculous regulation, and inept leadership. There are good leaders to be sure–but there is a disturbing number of bad ones, marred by a lack of basic common sense in fighting wars, and an arrogance that would shock Commodus.

My favourite essayist, Ralph Peters wrote a scathing article in the New York Post about the ethical collapse in the Army’s officer corps. There are more frightening stories than Peters talks about in his piece.

And here’s the biggest problem with all of this: These generals could not even  advocate for the proper execution of our wars for the last 10 years.  If a Soldier gets shot while on guard duty and was found to have not worn his helmet–he’ll get in more trouble than the insurgent who did the shooting, because it’s likely no effort will be made to pursue the attacker. In every other era of American war, the command’s initial response to a Soldier being shot at the front gate would be :” The enemy is able to maneuver very closely to our base–we need to find him and kill him.” Now, the command goes for the easy target–the American trooper. I assure everyone, that insurgents move and gather quite closely to American bases in Afghanistan and never have a shot fired at them in anger. Never have terrorist had it so good.  A full-bird colonel may smile and shake the hand of a villager that is helping kill his troops, but ruthlessly belittle the American privates on his base for being out of uniform.

It’s easy to fight a foe that can’t fight back.

The US Army has loads of support troops who don’t know how to use radios properly, how to use weapons optics like the ACOG, and the US is getting its ass handed to it by a growing Afghan insurgency which actually knows how to shoot, move and communicate. But the new Army’s mantra is “Right time, right place, right uniform.”  What is this, a Wal-Mart corporate meeting? Left out of any messaging is the fact that the Army has one overriding mission: To kill dead the enemies of the United States. Period.

Meanwhile, our West Point educated generals and colonels, whom the illiterate Taliban are running circles around, are committing acts of sexual assault, bigamy, and outright theft of government finances.  Generals reduced to cutpurses.

Then there is the absolute tide of political correctness to which our generals are beholden. Every time I hear an interview with a general, I walk away not feeling inspired, but depressed. Wooden, and reading from a memorized slate approved for press release, these folks would make Patton vomit.  Make no mistake about it. Today, Patton would be arrested. He admitted Americans like a good fight. Why? Because to win a fight, you have to like it, at least a little. But our current military is so risk averse, that only a fool would look for the enemy on a regular basis.

It’s really too bad that these generals are being investigated for sexual indiscretion and petty thievery  but not for their performance in our wars.  Where is the vaunted moral courage and intellectual honesty in the officer’s corp? I should like to see many more canned for not doing their job: Stacking enemy bodies.  Sound harsh? It is. That’s war. The current counterinsurgency model is so “counter-intuitive” ( term often used to mask the insanity of a bad idea), that only an intellectual could believe it.

It’s time we take a long hard look at ourselves. Frankly, I’m embarrassed.  Back in the homeland, we now accept losing. We shouldn’t. A good loser is a loser.  The personalities that used to be our generals are now our college and professional football coaches. They went where the money is and where they can tell the truth.

Les Miles would have won wars:

As Lombardi said, winning is a habit. I reached a turning point in my life when I no longer accepted defeat. When mediocre academic performance was not acceptable, when age was not an excuse for physical decline, when a bad childhood was not justification for failure in every endeavor. I don’t want a participation trophy–I want the trophy that labels me the winner. It is a sad thing to me, where we have come as a people. Looking back at my youth, I wish there were something that could have made me care, something that could have made me try. I didn’t see difficulty as a challenge, but something to be avoided, so I ran away from life.

This is where relativism, as it must, has led us. If all things are equal, winning is neither good nor bad. If all behavior is the same, then we can accept the same from a 4-star general as from a 15 year old.  The engine of our nation–its people–are in decline. I have no recipe to fix the problem. Perhaps it as Oswald Spengler believed, inevitable  like the seasons.

Our flaccid response to the humiliation in Benghazi is illustrative of the current American acceptance of defeat. I’m with Ralph Peters on this one (as usual). Our response should have been devastating. Instead, our government wrung its hands, and tweaked “talking points”. We haven’t made the world a safer place with our rhetoric. No one this side of Mother Theresa respects weakness, least of all Islamic extremists. Our collegiate theorems have not trumped the reality of war: You must kill the enemy until he stops fighting. Rest assured he’s trying to do the same thing.

Bread and Circuses

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Americans have cast their vote. And I won’t sit here and type out some cliche’ lines about the wisdom of the American people or how we all just need to get along for the next 4 years, come together, hold hands, and make it all better. Because I believe this was a stupid choice and that the last 4 years were the result of an administration that has no direction and has already weakened the American character.

Our nation is withering, but it is not because of Barack Obama, it is because of that sacred animal of democracy, “The People.” No longer is it the man that fights the good fight, that presses on despite the odds, the strong individualist who sharpens his knife, oils his rifle, and cuts his own firewood, that draws the media’s camera and the adoration of Americans. No, the greatest person in America today is “The Victim.” The man who can’t get things done is our hero. He is a victim of the system, of the weather, of his race, of his gender, of his sexual orientation, of bad genes, and of the evils of corporate empire. It is difficult not to find a victim in every man these days, and so every man is a hero of sorts, unless you run a successful business; a business man is obviously out to make victims of everyone else, and thus he is no hero.

It is not “anti-government” to say that a government can either do a few things well, or a lot of things poorly. We have chosen a government that is involved in every aspect of our lives, and we choose this both locally and nationally. We are well on our way to becoming another Greece. And what happens when a government runs out of money and tells its people that programs have to be cut? Do the people band together in unity and peace and carry on? Some maybe. But the ones that get the media attention riot and spew hatred because their bread and circuses have been taken away.

This is the perfect example of how empires die. They are rarely killed from the outside. With few exceptions, they kill themselves.

And so I do not believe in the sanctity of the people. Democracy works just fine when a democratic nation is composed of intelligent, unselfish, and strong people. We are no longer that. What was Obama’s biggest selling point to the American people? That he will give us more stuff. Is that not the tacit message? We certainly don’t want a president that will tell us we’re too fat, too stupid, and too infatuated with Kim Kardashian. Which we are. As Rush Limbaugh said, “In a nation of children, Santa Claus wins.”

Unlike others, I am not hopeful for America. I have witnessed our decline for the last 20 years, and it has been inexorable. We are teenagers with Daddy’s credit card. The values that held our society together for two centuries are all but gone. Some will say, “times change and we must change with them.” But we are exhibiting habits with which no culture has prospered for long.

As for myself, I’ll continue to cling to my guns and religion, just as did real men like Davey Crocket and Daniel Boone. The rest of America can worry about what underwear Pink is wearing this week and continue shambling toward irrelevancy.

Is supporting Israel bad for America?

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I recently had a conversation with a friend about America’s support for Israel.  He believes, as do many others, that the relationship between Israel and America is bad for America, because America can be drawn into wars that are not in its self-interest.

While I do agree that it is bad policy to form alliances which require America to go to war should an ally go to war, we in fact, have many such alliances already, yet no one seems to have a problem with France being a member of NATO, which means that if France finds itself in a existential crisis, all nations in NATO must come to her aid.  So many of the arguments against support for Israel seem to be rooted in three factors: 1) Israel, unlike France, is almost always on the verge of war, thus the consequences of our alliance is more evident. 2) Many people hate Jews. 3) The Arabs have lost several wars with Israel and have devolved, while Israel has prospered against the odds. Thus some consider the Arabs to be an underdog, picked on my a more powerful nation.

Religious beliefs aside (being a Christian, I think it’s a bad bet to take up the opposite side of the people of God), why should we not support Israel? Yes, it is true that an alliance with Israel could drag us into a war in the Middle East, but that is not a necessary condition for the alliance. For instance, Israel went to war with Hezbollah in 2006 and America did not deploy troops there.  Israel is a model of success in the Middle East. It is the only true democracy by Western standards.  Liberals should admire Israel as much as they seem to adore the Palestinians; in Israel, it’s not illegal to be gay, Muslim, Christian or even an atheist. Women stand on equal ground with men, in Israel. Israel has produced more Nobel Prizes than all the Arab nations combined, several times over. Indeed, Israel seems to be a model that the whole world could learn from.

Some argue that militant Islamists hate America because of its alliance with Israel. But is this true? This may make good propaganda for suicide bombers, but upon closer inspection,  it doesn’t hold much water. After all, China, Russia, Germany, France and many more all have problems with Muslim terrorists.

And even if it is true, that terrorists are motivated to attack the US because of its support for Israel, so what? Is America, the most powerful military force in the world, the kind of nation that backs its friends only in the good times? Do we want to abandon the alliance because Israel has enemies? What kind of friend is that? Did we abandon England in WWII because it was fighting Germany? How would are allies now view the United States if we stopped support when war seemed imminent? A friend like that will soon find himself without any friends at all. It reminds me of Afghan villagers, forced to stop cooperating with American forces because the Taliban put a gun to their heads. Not much of an image for a superpower to present.

The type of moral equivocation needed to sympathize with the Arab nations compared to Israel borders on the insane. So intent are some to “see the other side’s point”, that they cannot any longer tell good from evil. They will rant about the destruction of democracy on America, yet support totalitarian regimes in countries that hate America and everything it stands for. In those countries, unlike in Israel, the people live rather miserable lives. And guess what? It’s not Israel’s fault.

The West is fooling itself when it comes to Islam in the Middle East

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All of us here today understand this: We do not fight Islam, we fight against evil.” ~George W. Bush

We are not at war against Islam. We are at war against terrorist organizations that have distorted Islam or falsely used the banner of Islam,” ~Barack Obama

Surely we are not at war with Islam.  If we were, we’d kill everyone who professed the Muslim faith.  The problem with Obama’s and Bush’s statements is that they lead many to underestimate the level to which Muslims in the Middle East and Asia support the jihadists. Throwing out statistics that show only a small percentage of Muslims are responsible for the destruction wrought is a bit like saying that because less than 1% of Americans serve in the US Army, only 1% of Americans support the US military.   People fail to realize the power of both the “our team” mentality and religion, especially in parts of the world where the people have little hope in this world and nation states have been shamed in war by America and Israel.

Many people throughout the Muslim world gain satisfaction when the US suffers a setback at the hands of extreme Islam. Otherwise, the extremists could not exist to the extant that they do. Polls throughout the Muslim world show that Muslims in the Middle East support the actions of the jihadists.  Most Muslims, even those living is Western countries, support Sharia Law, which is fundamentally at odds with Western values.  In a poll of 9 countries, Turkey was the only nation in which a majority of the people said that Sharia should not comprise the law in entirety, or be a “source of legislation.”   Pakistanis, despite the billions of military and domestic aid poured into their country by the US, continue to despise Americans.  Most Pakistanis also wish that bin Laden was not dead.  

People shocked at the recent Egyptian election results should study some history.  I’ve long said that Egypt was the spiritual center of jihadism, not Saudi Arabia.  Saudi Arabia made good fodder for the Left because of oil.  Egypt, in the poll cited above, had the highest percentage of people that believed Sharia should be the sole root of law.

The Muslim countries that have in recent years received the most American aid are Pakistan and Egypt.  Approximately 25% of the money used to fund the Pakistani army comes from American aid.  The top recipients of US foreign aid in 2011 are  Afghanistan, Pakistan, Israel and Egypt in that order.  Egypt has routinely ranked among the top nations in the world in the number of dollars given to it by the American government.

There appears to be an inverse correlation between the positive views in a country when measured against the amount of US aid provided to it.  The argument of course is that America is trying to show these countries that the US is not the enemy.  This method of appeasement is failing.  In a poll published by the Washington Post shortly after Mubarak stepped down, 79 percent of Egyptians viewed the US negatively, with 20% saying they have a positive view of the US.  This is a sharp decline from the Bush years when 30 percent of Egyptians viewed the US positively.

The problems in giving countries like Pakistan and Egypt lots of money are macrocosmic of what I saw happening in local projects in Afghanistan.  The money will always find its way into the hands of America’s enemies because they are the most ruthless, devious and aggressive portions of those societies.  They also in many cases have a monopoly on violence, something the state usually lays claim to–if it is not a failed state.  In Afghanistan the people were not “all in” for the Americans.  They really didn’t care that much, at least in areas far from Kabul, if the insurgents blew up a few American Imperialists.  They’d take five bucks to plants a bombs and be on their way.  In one fell swoop they’d made a month’s wage, killed some infidels, impressed the locals with their “bravery”, and maintained a semblance of national pride.

Egypt’s Mubarak held the forces of Islamic jihad at bay with the only weapon that works against it: Decisive brutality.  As with Saudi Arabia, Egypt was a police state, as much because of the extremists as Mubarak.  Only with extreme vigilance could the Egyptian government survive.  Frankly, Mubarak may have been the West’s only hope in Egypt, but starry-eyed Westerners with a Democracy fetish ran him off, unleashing a hoard of militants, radicals and young men electrified with a rage whose dynamo was built in 1967 and 1973 during the humiliating defeats of the Egyptian Army at the hands of the Israelis.  The effect of these defeats upon the Arab psyche cannot be overstated.

The Arab Spring has generated nothing resembling Western democracy and displays brilliantly the weakness of Democracy itself:  People can vote for any horrific idea they choose.  Hitler was democratically elected.  Muslims have voted and acted exactly how we should have expected them to.  In Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists now hold power.  The Salafists in Egypt hold the same views as al-Qaeda and Hamas.  Christians are trying to leave the country, fearing for their safety.    

In Libya, fresh off a democratically generated war crime, insurgents fly al-Qaeda’s flag in Benghazi.  

The revolutions in Egypt and Libya were hardly induced by only few extremists.  In fact,it  seems the revolutions enjoyed the backing of millions upon millions of extremists.  It is the same sort of thing we saw in Nazi Germany.  Many Germans were not Nazis or did not take part in the actual fighting.  But most of them wanted to see the Nazis win.  And so it is with Muslims in Libya, Syria, Iran, Egypt, Gaza, the West Bank  and Lebanon.  The Muslims there overwhelmingly want to thrash Israel and the United States in any manner they can.  If the terror proxies can trounced by the hyperpower or the Jewish state, we can of course expect the “innocent” population of “moderate” muslims to melt back into the woodwork.

Islam unifies people against Israel and the West.  As Mark Steyn writes in his book, America Alone, the draw of Western “McWorld” to the average Arab male is vastly overstated.  Secularism is about as un-motivational as a Rosie O’donnell workout video.  It is meaninglessness and provides no promise of power or life after death, no cloak of righteousness; something that means far more to a poor 23 year old man in Cairo than does the promise of flipping burgers.

Now Israel has a monstrous number of problems on its hand, all coming to bear at once.  Iran wants the bomb and is not far off from getting it.  Egyptians are muttering that they want the Camp David Peace Accord “adjusted.”  20,000 surface-to-air missiles are missing from Qaddafi’s stockpiles.  The current American president’s negative comments about Netanyahu were caught on an open mic.  

The vast majority of Muslims in the Middle East are not jihadists or terrorists.  But most of them support the actions of extremist Islam when those actions are directed against Westerners or Israelis.  Our money and McDonald’s cannot possibly fill the same void that is filled by Islam.  And Democracy, as with any form of government, is only as good as the people that comprise it.

So what is the answer?  Does America have to kill every last Muslim? Not any more than it had to kill every last German or Japanese.  America has only to decisively defeat the front-line troops of Jihad.  But decisive victory may no longer be something the West is capable of, despite its overwhelming superiority in almost every facet of military and economic might.

The Arab Spring has not created Arab states that are more stable or less violent.  It has provided kindling for another 100 years of Jihadist immolation.  Our children’s children will see The Long War continue.

The Age of Envy and Whining

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America and Europe are now reaping what has been sowed for the last 50 years in Western society.  Our psychiatrists, parents, teachers and even religious teachers inundated us with our “specialness”, carried on about the uniqueness of each person, and generally robbed us of any sense of bad and good, success and failure, better and best.

Liberals accuse conservatives of being slaves to corporate greed.  Greed is taking more than one deserves or needs at the expense of others. In the cases where greed has damaged America, such as the housing industry, our country paid the price.  But it was not only corporations and banks that were greedy.  The people who purchased homes with variable rate mortgages while working low wage jobs were also greedy.  It is not only the rich that are greedy.  Most people who are doing well are not being greedy.  They are receiving the just benefits of hard work, education, frugal and wise spending, and paying their dues.

Growing up, I didn’t have much.  I lived with my grandmother until I was 7 years old.  My grandfather died when I was 5, and my grandmother had a tough time supporting me, but she never complained.  A hard life was just the way the world was, to her.  She lived through the Depression and her family and my grandfather were all blue-collar: welders, mechanics.  They never asked for a handout, not once.  That’s not to say that if friends offered to help out with some work that needed to be done, or offered some extra food for the pantry, that my grandparents would not have accepted it.  Only that you never would have seen my grandfather carrying a sign protesting the well-to-do.  I do not make a mythical hero of my grandfather.  He was human and possessed a withering temper at times.   But he was never brutal, only steadfast when pushed.  He even held a streak of racism, common in his day.  He was from New York and didn’t like Jews, as I remember it.  But the man worked like a horse.  He was in the machine shop every day, coming in with grease-stained fingers.  Our sink held a good supply of Lava soap, but his fingers were never free of darkened creases.  He would sit up at night and carve, draw, or sharpen his knives at the kitchen table, or any other form of “tinkering” you can think of.  He never complained that he had to support his grandson.  I would sit on his lap during the sessions of tinkering, or perhaps be ordeed by my grandfather to stand on a stool behind him and scratch his head.  An avid outdoors-man, rifles adorned the walls, suspended on the antlers of trophy game.  Later, it was not uncommon at all for me to carry a rifle in the woods alone at the age of 10 or 12 years old.  I think this is why my favorite books growing up were Where the Red Fern Grows and  Summer of the Monkeys.

I never remember envy directed at the rich.  My grandparents had it much tougher than any of the Occupy Wallstreet crowd.   They grew vegetables in a garden, washed clothes by hand, and had no microwave.  They did not have a designer child at 40.  They had four sons.  They also had a girl, who passed away to God when she was less than two years old.  Life was this:  Grandfather goes out to the shop to work all day on machine parts that people brought to him to fix.  He also repaired firearms.  Grandmother cooked and cleaned and cared for the children.  Grandfather endured Maine’s blistering winters, working outdoors, wrapped in a wool jacket and hat.  The family car was an Oldsmobile Delta 88.

There was Hee-Haw and Lawrence Welk at night.  A TV boxing match maybe.  A trip to Pat’s Pizza, or maybe over to Dysart’s truckstop or the 95er.  This was life and it was accepted. There was no time to envy.  There was certainly no time to march up and down the street carrying declarative and mocking signs.  The idea of recruiting once’s children to take part in protests would have repulsed both of my grandparents.

You earned what you worked for.  If you did not work for it, you did not earn it.  If something was given to you without your labor, it was because of the good graces of the giver, not because the receiver deserved it.  I’m trying to imagine my grandfather having the time to protest economic injustice.

No one was special “just because”.  You were special because of what you did.  You did not search for yourself–you made yourself.  Pat Farnsworth, the owner of Pat’s Pizza, and good friend of my grandfather, worked for about 70 straight years at his restaurant.  He sold 250,000 pizzas a year.  He began his restaurant with $150.  He never thought of retiring, right up until he passed away at 93 years old in 2003.  He never felt the government owed him a thing but freedom.  Let him do his thing, and Pat would put his nose to a grindstone until he succeeded.  That was America.   Pat had a fighter’s heart.  In his 80s, he was mugged by two young men as he closed up shop and stepped outside his business holding a sack full of the day’s earnings.  the men pepper-sprayed him and thrashed him about.  But he fought back and they ran off empty handed.  Pat was a millionaire when he passed away.  No one who ate at Pat’s Pizza during my grandfather’s day hated or envied Pat for his success.  They wanted to learn his secrets, they wanted to be like Pat.

Now, the  Occupy Wall Street  types cry about “fascism” and “police state” when they get pepper-sprayed after refusing to comply with lawful police orders.  Pat and my grandfather would have fully endorsed the pepper-spraying of people camping outside their businesses and homes for months.  They would go on working and the Occupiers would go on whining.

Our horrendous ideas on  parenting  are  partially responsible for the cretinous complainers, with their IPads and Powerbooks, sporting their Ralph Lauren glasses, protest signs (with poor spelling) exclaiming the injustice they face, and a lot of time spent not filling out applications.  This is the “A” for effort generation.  You tried (sort of). And you’re breathing. So the system owes you, but you owe the system nothing.  It’s like expecting a car to run without putting fuel in it.  Or maybe we just expect everyone else to buy the fuel for our car.

America was made, as Max Weber stated, on the Protestant Work Ethic.  That, more so even than Democracy was America’s secret.  Now, our secret is how much we can get from the system, not how much we can accomplish before we die.  We must game the system until the system cracks, and then blame the system.

To all you Occupying cry babies:  Until your calluses have calluses, until you’ve earned your Master’s degree in something other than Art History, until you’ve gone into the military as a well-paid officer, don’t complain.  Walk into the local recruiter’s office with your Bachelor’s degree, sign up as a 2nd Lieutenant, have the US government pay for your college loans and find out what real responsibility looks like.  Until then–shut up.

Is the West Doomed?

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Last night I caught a clip of Fareed Zakaria’s show on CNN.  I’d been watching much more important things–pro football–but I can’t stand the ads on AFN (American Forces Network) so I channel surf when I have to.  I’ve had mixed thoughts about Zakaria, primarily because i felt he pandered a bit to the Left when things were going badly in Iraq.   All in all though, I think I like him and appreciate his opinions.

Zakaria was talking about the current state of world economics.  He listed three factors that have complicated the problems America and Europe Face.

1)  An aging population.  As people in Western nations age and retire, they need ever increasing money from the retirement system.  The amount of young people in the work force whom pay taxes which support those retirement systems are dwindling.  The crisis in Greece resulted from primarily two factors:  The death spiral birth rates which cannot replenish the workforce and a lack of any economic growth.

2) Advancing technology.  Zakaria contends that technology improves efficiency to such a degree that employers no longer need to employ as many people.  I’m not convinced this is the issue that Zakaria believes.  First,  the unemployment rate in the US effectively doubled in about three years.  This had nothing to do with advancing technology.  Secondly,  while it may take fewer people to make a single pair shoes than it used to, manufacturers  make more pairs of shoes.  Then those shoes make their way to every corner of the world, something that could not happen before technology multiplied the power of the individual person.  Technology, in my opinion, has not lessened the need for workers, because more production and distribution is now required and expected of the individual–and that’s because of technology.   Corporations look not only for efficiency, but more production.  As I used to joke when I was a police officer:  The advanced technology available to police did not make their jobs easier, it only upped the expectation for productivity from the department and increased the amount of evidence required to get a conviction.

3) Globalization.  Globalization allows employers to outsource labor.

While all of these things have some impact, I think that Zakaria skips over the cultural shift occurring throughout America.  The cultural war inside the US is tearing it apart; the “have-nots” now expect success be handed to them.  Moreover, multiculturalism is instigating conflict.  The West is now like a man who walks around grinding his teeth all the time, but he can’t figure out why he does it.   He feels an internal stress that he finds inexplicable.  That stress is the breaking down of trust, the great binder of all societies.  Samuel Huntington said that culture is made up of two things:  Religion and language.  These two things breed trust.

The economists can see the technical reasons for the financial problems in the US and Europe.  But as our culture rips apart, the experts will find it more and more difficult to implement the changes necessary to prevent self-destruction.  Europe will disintegrate before America, but the weakening of America will accelerate Europe’s insolvency.  The Demographic numbers in Europe are undeniable–and they cannot be changed in our lifetimes, or in  the next.  Germany’s birthrate per woman is 1.42, [CIA World Fact Book, 2010] which is a world away from the 2.1 births per woman required merely to sustain a population.  But 1.42 doesn’t tell the whole story, because that number is significantly bolstered by immigrant birthrates, particularly Muslim birthrates on the order of 7 per female.  The Germans brought in many Turkish people in the 1970s because the workforce was significantly undermanned.  Such is the case throughout Europe, where Thatcher’s prediction of government running out of other people’s money have come true:  more old people on the retirement system and fewer young people to work and provide taxes.  Greece’s birthrate’s are even lower and the country imploded.  Italy is next:  Witness that country’s anemic 1.32 birthrate.  Bye bye bistro.

Democracy is a tool for change and in Democracy, anything can change.  Voters whom bring third or second world cultural views to Europe will change Europe.  They already have.

We are living the classic Chinese curse.  We are living in interesting times.  We can now see for ourselves how Rome fell, and recognize that it fell on its own sword.  The problems in America are evident in everything from America’s economic woes to it’s inability to defeat a band of toothless dirt farmers in Afghanistan.

The election of Barack Obama has hastened America’s demise, but it is not the cause.  His election was a symptom of the changes brought upon the country.  As Pat Buchanan will outline in his upcoming book:  The Suicide of a Superpower, America and Europe are fracturing upon racial lines.  Blacks in America voted for Barack Obama at a 24:1 ratio, primarily because of his African American heritage.  The more we have talked about race in America, the more racially divided we have become.  While laws do protect minorities more than they did in the past, the level of distrust along racial divides is as great as ever.

As the culture shift occurs,  the new demography continues to vote itself a bigger chunk of the welfare pie.  And it’s only just begun.  The birthrate issues in Europe are virtually irreversible.  There is simply no arguing the math.  The only argument is that people can change the way they think and vote.  But if we think that entire cultures suddenly change the way they think without a catastrophe as the motivator,  we should look over our history books again.  The decline of the West is inevitable at this point.  The question is, What does that mean for the rest of the world?  It is not the death of democracy we are witnessing, only it’s little talked about dark side.