Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Balancing The Scales

There’s a saying in the military, slightly scatological, that one “aw shit” wipes out a hundred “atta-boys.” Yesterday, an American hero was on display after totally discrediting himself and his office. He wiped out a lot of atta-boys. Maybe it is the syndrome of absolute power corrupting absolutely. Maybe it simply demonstrates that one can no longer serve in Washington without falling victim to the power hunger that warps morality and convinces you that what you know is fundamentally wrong might be acceptable for you.

Randy “Duke” Cunningham became a legend in the Vietnam War when he became the first ace of the conflict—a fighter pilot with five confirmed kills of enemy aircraft. It was hard to become an ace in that war principally because the opportunities for air-to-air combat against the North Vietnamese were rare. Most pilots could fly an entire tour against the North and only see MiGs on a couple of missions. The MiGs didn’t like to enter prolonged engagements and we weren’t tasked to fight them—we were going against ground targets and the MiGs were only an incidental inconvenience.

Then, along came Duke. He’d been an instructor at the Navy’s “Top Gun” school and really knew how to handle his airplane, his weapons and his tactics. He came on cruise when the war against the North resumed in 1972 and in one remarkable day—the 10th of May—he got three kills on one mission. With his two prior victories, he became an ace.

Instant fame leads to opportunity and as the years passed, Duke left the Navy and entered politics. With his name recognition, a hero and patriot had a chance to run for Congress and he took it. Over eight terms, he was one I pointed to when asked if it was possible for a noble man to serve in politics. Yesterday, he proved me wrong.

Duke disgraced himself and in the process has inevitably spattered the slime of his disgrace on his service and his peers in the profession of arms. He didn’t mean to give the military or fighter pilots a bad name. He only meant, apparently, to take his share of the big pie. He didn’t mean to make us look bad. He only needed a Rolls and a 42-foot yacht and a $2.7 million dollar crash pad.

There’s no apology for Duke. He must live with his mistakes and I can still believe that it will dawn on him quickly that he squandered his legacy. It’s too bad.

But, almost at the same time, there’s this piece about another Vietnam era Fighter Pilot (the capital letters are intentional.) This guy served his country in World War II as a Marine. Then he went to college on the GI Bill and became a Fighter Pilot in the Korean War. He returned to combat during Vietnam and helped found the “Misty” FAC program, using F-100 Super Sabre aircraft as forward air controllers in high threat areas. He was shot down and spent a lot of years with the North Vietnamese. Bud Day is the real deal and he balances the scales of honor after the disgrace of Duke Cunningham: Balancing the Scales

I’m fortunate to know Colonel Day. I see him almost every spring when I attend the annual Red River Valley Fighter Pilot Association (River Rats) reunion. He attends with his beautiful wife and is always accessible to talk with old friends and new young fighter pilots about the meanings of our very special profession. He works hard for the things he believes in—like the promised healthcare for life that military retirees were told we would receive. Bud spearheaded the class-action suit that brought the Congressional reneging to the forefront and got reinstatement of benefits for a lot of us.

He also was a prominent spokesman during the Swift Boat Veteran’s for Truth ad campaign in the last election. He had no reason to stand up and speak beyond his personal experience during that long ago war in Southeast Asia and his belief in honor among warriors. He had much to lose and predictably the media weren’t reluctant to disregard his comments.

Still, one Bud Day can outweigh a hundred Duke Cunningham’s on the scales of honor for Fighter Pilots.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Now It Makes More Sense

I’ve often wondered at the seemingly increasing level of ignorance that surrounds me. I’ve mentioned it before—how we seem to delight in over-simplification of complex issues and readily embrace the most revisionist of histories simply because we can sloganeer the answers. Even more stunning is how folks with education, experience and the unbelievable responsibility of governing our nation can continually spout the stuff that they do. I mean, can we really believe that folks like Howard Dean, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid think that what they say is reasonable? And, don’t point all the fingers at the left side of the aisle. The right side often doesn’t show much more intellectual prowess.

Well Holman Jenkins, an email editorialist for the Wall Street Journal, explains it very clearly for me. It’s called “rational herding” and depends on something called an “availability cascade”. Don’t let that put you off—take a moment to chase this link and read what he says: Herd Behavior

It’s downright scary. We’ve got the leaders of the nation doing what they think is required to fulfill the erroneous notions of the electorate. If there were ever a recipe for the failure of a democracy, this has got to be it. They know better (supposedly) but rather than attempt to enlighten the unwashed, they cater to their ignorance. Rather than fulfill democracy’s mandate to do what is best for the nation, they respond by reinforcing the propaganda that the poorly educated mainstream seem to suck up.

The herding concept now explains how folks who recall the run-up to the invasion of Iraq can grab onto the “Bush lied” mantra even though they lived through the reports of the various national intelligence estimates from not only the U.S. but from the Brits, Germans, French, Russians and others. They heard the speeches and saw the UN Security Council votes. They may even have lived through the Israeli raid on the Iraqi nuclear facility at Osirak back in the early ‘80s. They probably caught the news reports of Saddam’s yellow rain chemical weapons attacks on the Kurds in the North and the Iranians on the Southern front. But, despite the history they viewed with their own eyes and the Congressional record of the votes cast, they now cling tenaciously to the idea of some sort of presidential vendetta that brought us to war.

The herd mentality explains how otherwise rational individuals can see the elections and the development of a constitutional democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan while still spouting that the war effort is doomed and not winnable. They can ignore the often depressing numbers of casualties among the native peoples in these liberated areas while fixating on the remarkably small casualty figures of our own military. They can make the mathematical leap from single-digit death tolls to massive losses in Vietnam and consider it as equivalence in support for their defeatism.

The herd principle explains much about what is wrong with America’s political process, but is there any way to correct it?

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Misguided Marketing

I’m trying to understand the concept of the rebate. The basic idea of selling something is for a willing buyer and a willing seller to agree on a price. That’s not quite the more liberal philosophy of “reasonable profit” which assumes someone exists with Solomon’s wisdom to determine what a seller is authorized. No, I like the idea of free market forces. If a seller can get more for a product because it is highly valued or in short supply, then more power to them. If they price too high, then I don’t buy. (Apologies to Johnny “the Glove-man” Cochran.)

But, that ignores the rebate. Here the situation is that the price is too high for me to buy, so the seller says he’ll give me some money back. Ahhh, but it isn’t just a price reduction. That would be a “sale” price. No, here I’ve got to jump through some hoops first. If I get a receipt and I get the UPC bar code off the box, and I fill out the application and I mail it within the allotted time, I might get some money back in six to eight weeks. If I’m lucky.

Recently you’ve probably received these yard-long cash register receipts at big-box stores. They include a copy of the receipt so you don’t have to scout up a copy machine. They’ve got the address so you don’t lose it. They’ve got the form so you don’t need a separate piece of paper. How much corporate money do you suppose is spent preparing the software for all of that? Why not simply lower the price and charge that? Lots less overhead if you ask me. And, the seller is ostensibly willing to sell for the price after rebate, aren’t they?

We know, however, that a lot of us never bother with the red tape. We buy the product, throw out the paperwork, and skip the rebate. Who needs to spend a 37-cent stamp to get a $2.00 rebate check that you then have to deposit at the bank? They want you to “skip it” and we do.

Occasionally, however, the rebate issue becomes money worth fighting for. That’s the case with me. I’m wrapping up construction of my new home and needed a full suite of appliances. I did my Internet shopping homework and knew what products I wanted and what they should cost me. I was armed and ready.

I wound up at Sears. I’ll confess that I’ve been a major cause of Sears financial woes over the last couple of decades. No good reason for animosity. It just worked out that way. I don’t shop regularly at Sears. But, I stopped in while at the mall and looked around. They had a lot of the stuff I wanted. So, I ordered four major appliances. The icing on the sales cake was a Sears/GE rebate offer of $300 back if you bought four appliances. Great deal.

Problems arose immediately. The form listed models from the GE Profile series that qualified. All of my products were GE Profile, but two were not listed. Further, since my home would not be ready for delivery for a couple of months, I wouldn’t take immediate delivery. The form required serial numbers, which weren’t available. They wouldn’t be available until after delivery. I called “Customer Service” at the rebate center. No problem, said the representative. Send in the form and the receipts.

Naturally, the rebate didn’t get paid. Question arises, with a paid receipt in hand, how can they deny that you made a qualifying purchase?

Delivery occurred yesterday. I find now that GE is reluctant to clearly identify which of the half dozen or so long and random numbers on the box are the “serial” number. Regardless, I copied them all down and sent them off today. We’ll see if I get paid.

Chapter Two:

Returned to Sears. (How dumb is that?) Found a nice washer and drier set. Salesman says that there is a 15% rebate if you open a Sears credit card account. I don’t want or need a Sears card, but 15% is about $400, so I sign up. Naturally there is a form to send in.

I note on reading the fine print that Sears credit charges 24% interest. This is a bit beyond outrageous, but I intend to pay in full and cancel the card immediately.

Next, I receive a nice letter from the Sears credit card folks thanking me for enrolling in the AccountCare insurance program—which I had specifically declined! In the cutthroat world of long-distance phone service that used to be called “slamming.” I called and cancelled.

Now, I’m waiting for my second significant check.

I don’t know whether I’ll ever receive either of these payments. I know I’ll dun them until they wake up at night screaming. I also know that they’ve done little to convince this customer that they are worth doing business with again. So, what’s the point of a rebate? Did I buy? Yes, but I would have bought at the basic price anyway. Could they have had a satisfied customer if I were not exercised with mail-in forms, serial number hunts, credit card usery and insurance slamming? Yes. Did they miss a chance? You bet.

Sears? Never again.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Who Will Guard?

A very basic and fundamental role of national government is defense. Maintaining a nation’s security from external threat is critical if the citizens are to be free to pursue their lives, raise their families and build a prosperous future. I’m at a loss to build a strong opposition argument to that basic postulate.

I can most assuredly build an argument against war. It would depend upon some assumptions that I’m not too comfortable with. I would have to assume rational threats as a starting point. Or, maybe no serious threats at all. Evidence in the current world, even if we insert some media-driven skepticism regarding the accuracy of our intelligence, leads me to conclude that there are serious threats against our nation and when I see the video replaying in my head of the airliners being driven into the side of the World Trade Center towers I can harbor no assumption of rationality.

But, if I surrender entirely to emotion and eschew harsh reality, I can say that war is bad. Peace is better. Killing is part of war and we shouldn’t kill. We should negotiate, appease, love and nurture rather than destroy, hunt and kill. Going to war is unpleasant and some percentage of those who go to war will be hurt. That will not be nice. Families (stand up back there in the corner, Ms Sheehan…) will be torn asunder and suffer loss of loved ones. This is not good. Better not to go to war, not get people killed, not be separated from loved ones and live happily ever after. Can I note that as being extremely unlikely?

That’s why I was appalled the other night when I saw the video of the protests in Seattle against military recruiters in schools. Take a look at: Seattle Hates the Military and, be sure to watch the linked video. Pay particular attention to the vapid expression of the young man who thinks it wouldn’t be good “like, doing war stuff,” as a profession. You will be given a short break after watching to rush to the bathroom and attempt to avoid regurgitation. This punk makes me sick.

What is wrong with these people? Who will defend them? Why should anyone sacrifice for these pitifully self-centered pacifists who not only won’t take responsibility for their own safety but are also unwilling to even listen to the offerings of their ideological opposition?

It is tolerable, if not intellectually honest, to embrace pacifism. It is not tolerable in a free nation to attempt to muzzle those with whom you disagree. Allowing military recruiters access to high school campuses is not going to lead to unwilling students being dragged kicking and screaming off into service of their country. These aren’t British impressment crews seeking to Shanghai teen-agers into a life of military servitude. How can a school system determine what is best in terms of career opportunity for all of their students based on a narrow world view of an elitist few? Is the predominant pacifist view of the Seattle schools’ faculty and student body so fragile that it cannot stand before an NCO in a pressed uniform who wishes to describe an opportunity for graduates to serve their country?

And, how can a school system which has this perspective be expected to teach history and government and philosophy to prepare their students for real life in a harsh world?

Friday, November 11, 2005

Knowing the Day

A couple of years ago on this calendar day I started my political science class by asking the assembled students if anyone knew the significance of the day. This was a college American Government class in the decidedly military-oriented community of Colorado Springs. Two Air Force bases, a division sized Army Fort and one of the nation’s three service academies gives COS a bit of a conservative tilt. What’s significant about November 11?

Thirty students scratched their heads and wondered. One from the back of the room (characteristically when students choose their own seats, the “light” gets dimmer toward the rear,) suggested that it was “Tuesday”. Correct, but not the answer I was looking for.

Nothing more came out for several seconds. When it became apparent that I was still waiting for some brain-storming to take place, a young woman near the middle of the class volunteered that it was “Veteran’s Day”. Ahhh, yes. A day set aside for Americans to remember those who have sacrificed for the preservation of the Republic. But, what’s significant about November 11?

Had anyone in the class ever heard it called something else? Blank faces looked at me expectantly waiting for wisdom to be offered. Anyone ever heard of Armistice Day? Some had. Did they know what an armistice might be? Some head-scratching, then a query whether it might be something like a peace treaty? Yep, a cessation of hostilities; a treaty if you will. A treaty to end a long and very bloody war; the “war to end all wars.”

What was this “war to end all wars”? Does anyone know? C’mon now, this is a college class in American Government, not a fourth grade class, not a collection of computer science students. This is about the world and the things that have taken place that make it what it is today. This about the lessons that George Santayana says we must learn or risk repeating. What war?

Now it’s pure guessing time. No knowledge on display here. One wag suggests maybe the Korean War. No cigar for that one. Another, pulling up the knowledge that the chubby guy teaching the class in front of the room was a vet of another conflict wonders if it might have been the Vietnam War. Wrong again. None of these young adults knew that it was the termination of World War I. None of them!

The history of our nation is filled with wars and yet we have been neither a colonial nor expansionist power. We’ve studiously tried to avoid wars and in general have only gone to battle reluctantly and when offered few other choices. World War I had raged in the trenches for almost three full years before we entered. World War II was a result of the punitive treaty of Versailles and a studied commitment to ignoring the growth of imperialism in both Asia and Europe. Again we joined the war late and only after being viciously attacked.

Korea, Vietnam, the Cold War, Desert Storm, Iraqi Freedom; all proving that the War to End All Wars was nothing of the sort. Yet, we have young men and increasingly young women who value freedom and are willing to make sacrifices well beyond what most Americans would consider to preserve America. We are very fortunate as a nation to have such people.

Take a moment today to think about the veterans of America. If you’ve got friends, family, co-workers or neighbors who have served or are serving, take a second to thank them. And, if you’ve got a son or daughter, cousin or nephew, ask them what the meaning of this day is and be sure they understand. The eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month was the moment when hostilities ended in Europe, but not for long and vigilance, commitment and courage are always going to be necessary if we are to survive.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Reality Sinks In

Those who have consistently argued that drowning the puppies of terrorism only causes the dogs to breed more will have to explain what is going on these past two weeks around the world. Not drowning the puppies has not done a thing to reduce the problems. When the U.S. went to war against those who demonstrated undeniably that they wished to bring our nation down, there were those former allies who hemmed and hawed and then respectfully declined to join us in the endeavor. Among the most duplicitous was the French ambassador to the UN, Dominique de Villepin, who now is Prime Minister of France. Along with his president, Jacques Chirac, they undermined the US and loudly pointed out that the attacks against us were a result of our failed foreign policy and that the real way to succeed was through increased understanding of the Arab nations and the Muslim culture.

Now the dirty little secret is out for all of the world to see. France didn’t “get it” and now they are paying a price that may result in the collapse of the government and possibly even the downfall of the Republic. Glee at their misfortune isn’t appropriate. But, a reorientation of thinking with regard to what is going on most definitely might be in order. With Arabs taking to the streets throughout Europe, not to picket, vote, debate, petition, influence policy or even market their positions, but simply to destroy civilization you might really want to ask the pacifist left-wing spokes-creatures in the US what they have learned so far.

Israel, which has long been on the frontlines of the widening intifada, certainly can tell us a lot about the situation. With tongue decidedly planted firmly in cheek, Steven Plaut offers a “modest proposal” for the French: Ooo La La, Intifada?

Complex political and societal questions don’t get solved in blog opinion pieces. They are only a starting point for grasping the issues and revolving them in search of new perspectives. Turn them this way and that to find how they work and where to apply the tools to dismantle them. They offer a first step in determining our options.

Let’s ask some questions. And, let’s take the current French situation for the source of the queries.

Who is burning, looting and destroying France? The answer appears to be second and third generation immigrants from former French colonies in North Africa. Predominantly Arab and predominantly Muslim. We’ve known for a long time that the aftermath of colonialism would be a lot of problems.

Why are they doing it? The newspapers tell me it is to express their dissatisfaction with France’s attitude toward them. Racism and discrimination are mentioned. But, they’ve been in France for a long time. They’ve soaked up the handouts of the welfare state. They’ve chosen not to be assimilated into French culture. Who’s fault is that? I’d suspect it isn’t a one-sided cause.

What is the meaning of “unemployment”? The reports note that unemployment nationwide runs around 10% (relate that to the US economy which we are continually told by the left is a disaster at four or five percent), but within the Arab regions is variously reported as 20, 30 or even 40%. I ask what the term means because it makes a difference whether someone is without a job because of discrimination, the lagging economy, or simply a choice not to work. Clearly the parents of these criminals and thugs who are rampaging nightly throughout France must have had some means of support when they arrived years ago that allowed them to procreate, sustain themselves and nourish their families. If conditions were so oppressive, why did they stay so long?

How do they think their actions will improve their situation? Oh, you’ve burned my car, looted my store and trashed my neighborhood? Thank you very much. What can I now do to express my gratitude and correct your situation? Un-bloody-likely outcome.

What might come of this? Who knows? I suspect, there will be a crack-down by the French government and a lot more violence. I hope that there will be recognition by a lot of nations that terrorism, whether an international jihad or a local rampage, should not be tolerated. I fear that the repression necessary to quell the violence will simply spawn a wave of copy-cats around the world.

The Chinese curse was laid upon us with a vengeance. We do indeed live in interesting times.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Good Questions to Ask

A little while ago I mentioned the gang that couldn’t indict straight and discussed the investigation of the “outing” of Valerie Plame. This is an issue from which wiser heads in the opposition should be distancing themselves. They are going to look increasingly petty and ridiculous as more intellectual news sources start repeatedly pointing out that obstruction of justice isn’t possible if there is no crime that has been committed. The Wall Street Journal has an opinion piece that really highlights the questions that folks should be asking: Can I Say "I Told You So?"

I’m more than willing to establish an attitude of intolerance for perjury and I don’t like politicians who lie to me, the people they represent or the courts. But, there is room for “misremembering” in life, particularly when one works in the high intensity environment at the top of government. The bothersome aspect, however, is the entrapment that seems to be on the way to becoming standard operating procedure. We find an inflammatory incident. We demand an “independent” counsel to investigate it. The counsel spends millions, compiles masses of testimony, creates months of headlines and eventually is hoist on the petard of demands for indictments. If there’s going to be no indictment at the end, how can he possibly justify all the money, subpoenas, news coverage and expectations of bringing down the mighty?

The first and most essential aspect of the whole Plame business doesn’t revolve around Vice-President Cheney, Karl Rove and “Scooter.” The first and really the only relevant question should be whether or not Valerie Plame was, at the time of the Robert Novak editorial, a covert CIA operative. If she wasn’t, and I don’t think working an analyst desk at Langley qualifies as actual cloak and dagger stuff, then the whole mess is a wheelbarrow full of barn muck.

The muck, however, should be useful for plastering all over the next braying politico who demands immediate resignations of all of those at the White House who endangered the covertness of the Vanity Fair cover couple.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Who Dare Speak Truth?

It would be only a Rip Van Winkle in America who has never seen or heard of al-Jazeera. That’s the Arab TV network that somehow manages to get regular and frequent access to homemade videos from Osama, al-Zarqawi, al-Zahiri and the cast of psychotic jihadists that seem to populate the Middle East. When one of these nut cases seeks to get the latest word out on how evil the great American Satan is, they simply fire off a DVD to the producers at al-Jazeera and within minutes it’s on the air. Need to show a recent beheading? That’s the network of record for the task. When the Arab street seeks the news, it’s al-Jazeera that they go to.

And, not surprisingly, when al-Jazeera speaks, the American mass media seem to listen more than a little intently as well. It isn’t more than seconds after an al-Jazeera airing that the defeatists of ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, etc. are editing the video down to the most grizzly, anti-American details. Then they shake their heads piously and intone the latest slogans from the anti-war left. Put a potato sack on a terrorist’s head and you’ll get fifty hours of outraged editorializing for the five o’clock news.

Last April, Wall Street Journal contributor Dorrance Smith had the temerity to notice this linkage and opine regarding the connections and the results of those emphases on American policy. Hardly a demand for subversion of the freedom of the press guaranteed by the First Amendment, Smith simply noted that there seemed an unnatural eagerness to cast the U.S. in a bad light and an aggressive policy of publicizing whatever al-Qaeda and the jihadists want distributed. It’s almost romantic to see the beleaguered Osama trudging stoically through the Afghan hillside, beset by the enemy yet still advancing the cause of Islam—reducing the technological progress of the modern world to that of the third century. When a whimpering French journalist is surrounded by strutting kidnappers and about to be shortened by about a head, it’s all America’s fault.

Now, Mr. Smith has been nominated by SecDef Rumsfeld for the position of Ass’t Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs. That seems to be a job for which he would be qualified. He’s opposed, however, by that guardian of the nation, Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) based on the observations of Mr. Smith regard the apparent collusion between the American major media outlets and al-Jazeera. Take a look here and be sure to follow the link to the original Smith editorial: Calling a Spade a Spade?

Can Mr. Levin argue with the opinion of Mr. Smith? Can he refute the allegations? Does he suggest that questioning al-Jazeera’s objectivity indicates some sort of subversive tendency? What is Sen. Levin suggesting? Does he suspect that America is better off with more jihadist propaganda on the nightly news? Is it essential to Sen. Levin’s re-election that America take a more Osama-friendly view of life?

Just one more example of how warped and convoluted the political process in America is today.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Rarely Written Book Review

Book reviews tend to not get published when the reviewer is really not impressed. Read a poorly written book and you will usually forgo the pleasure of trashing it publicly. The cliché about even bad publicity being good is in play. Tell the world that a book really stinks and people will be attracted to it as surely as they stop on the freeway to gape at a fender-bender. Even if you do write a scathing review, there’s a highly probable chance that the editor will dump it. People read book reviews for recommendations, that’s why good reviews predominate. Bad book reviews don’t go to press.

When the author is famous, the likelihood of a good review of a bad book is pretty high. When the author is a former president of the United States, the sales of the book are a virtual certainty. The advance is usually very big bucks and the editorial assistance to make the work readable is self-evident. One need only recall the incredible contract numbers for the weighty memoir of our most recent ex-president—the impeached one. That’s why it is so unusual to read what the Wall Street Journal wrote about Jimmy Carter’s recent scribbling. This is trashing of an incredible level. You don’t have to read between any lines or fill in any subtle connotations on your own. Take a look: Prez Jimmah Takes a WSJ Beating

Bret Stephens does a job on this one. He dismantles the title, takes issue with the premise, destroys the thesis and totally discredits Mr. Carter by clearly listing some historic facts. From Carter’s embrace of reprehensible dictators around the world to his misguided acceptance of Marxist economics, the review builds a pretty clear case for the foolishness and ineptitude of our arguably least successful 20th Century president.

I recall the tenure of Mr. Carter. I was in the military at the time and serving in Europe. The dollar was in serious decline against the local currency and each month as I exchanged dollars for Deutschmarks to pay my rent the cost was going up. The pain was multiplied by the fact that Mr. Carter chose simultaneously to either freeze our pay or offer only partial cost-of-living increases for three of his four years in office. If you were around then and of bill paying age, you might recall the inflation rate rising to over 20% and mortgage interest rates peaking at over 18%. All the while, Carter was lamenting a malaise in America. Yeah, it’s pretty hard to get enthusiastic when you can’t afford to maintain your standard of living while defending your country around the world.

However, it was his foreign policy that was the worst aspect. The partnerships with folks like Arafat, Kim Il Sung, Ceausescu and the admiration for their policies that WSJ editor Stephens describes are frightening, but indicative of the skewed world view that seems to permeate the idealists of the political left. The major international disaster of his administration, of course, was the collapse of the Shah of Iran and the seizing of the US Embassy in Teheran. The hostage-taking and the rise of the Islamic fundamentalist movement in the region might well be accepted as contributing to the Jihadist mentality that now fuels the terrorist campaign.

I’ve never read a book review that so thoroughly discredits a work by a major public figure. Yet, I think that the WSJ and Mr. Stephens have performed a valuable service for the nation by clearly delineating what Carter says in his book and why his thinking is so off track. Might be good to keep this around for a quick reread when the next presidential election comes around. It could help you decide whether to go with a one-world liberal or not.

Oh, and if you want to see what the Journal had to say about another book, take a look at: Combat and Courage: A Review by Dan Ford

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Your Tax Dollars at Work

Occasionally one must forego pedantic posturing for some good old fashioned heart-thumping hardware pictures: Edwards Air Force Base Airshow