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May 19, 2008

We Are America

What a cruel thing is war: to separate and destroy families and friends, and mar the purest joys and happiness God has granted us in this world; to fill our hearts with hatred instead of love for our neighbors, and to devastate the fair face of this beautiful world.

...It is well that war is so terrible -- lest we should grow too fond of it.

As odd as it may seem, these apparently contradictory quotations were written by the same man. But then Robert E. Lee, who led the Army of Northern Virginia, was far more subtle than the legend which survived him. His memory has oft been associated with a cause he would have found repugnant: that of slavery. And though he was not free of some of the attitudes common to men of his generation, one has only to read his writings to divine his thoughts on the subject:

So far from engaging in a war to perpetuate slavery, I am rejoiced that Slavery is abolished. I believe it will be greatly for the interest of the South. So fully am I satisfied of this that I would have cheerfully lost all that I have lost by the war, and have suffered all that I have suffered to have this object attained.

General Robert E. Lee, May 1, 1870

Lee was a fascinating and complex man. His accomplishments were not limited to the battlefield. After the war he became president of Washington College, later to become Washington and Lee University. Under his leadership the small school flourished. Not content with overseeing Washington College, Lee also fostered the development of several schools for young black men and expelled many of his white students for attacks on freed blacks. Lee also urged reconciliation with the North: a course of action not always popular in the post-war South and one that only someone revered as highly as he could have pushed forward. Until his death, Lee remained as energetic at making peace as he had been at waging war.

Funny; these hardly seem the actions of a man who has a "hard time thinking beyond the military":

Republican presidential candidate John McCain’s family background as the son and grandson of admirals has given him a worldview shaped by the military, “and he has a hard time thinking beyond that,” Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Ia., said Friday.

“I think he’s trapped in that,” Harkin said in a conference call with Iowa reporters. “Everything is looked at from his life experiences, from always having been in the military, and I think that can be pretty dangerous.”

Harkin said that “it’s one thing to have been drafted and served, but another thing when you come from generations of military people and that’s just how you’re steeped, how you’ve learned, how you’ve grown up."

As Grim remarks (and I commented some weeks ago) it seems strange how quickly the some of our leaders turned from voicing support for the military to thinly veiled expressions of suspicion and contempt:

It is interesting how he views the families that have sent generations of their sons -- and, now, daughters -- to fight for America as particularly dishonorable and dangerous. It is one thing if you were drafted, and had no choice, but to choose to fight for America... and generation after generation...

What's even more interesting is the manner in which military service is prostituted by these politicians. On the one hand as Senator Harkin is quick to note, there is nothing inherently wrong with military service:

He said that "I just want to be very clear there's nothing wrong with a career in the military" and that he has friends who are generals and admirals who have served the country well.

"But now McCain is running for a higher office. He's running for commander in chief, and our Constitution says that should be a civilian," Harkin said. "And in some ways, I think it would be nice if that commander in chief had some military background, but I don't know if they need a whole lot."

In the world according to Harkin, donning a uniform to defend your country is a bit of a mixed bag: avoid it entirely and one risks being called a coward (well, at least if one belongs to the wrong political party). Follow in your parents' footsteps, though, and you render yourself unfit to represent your fellow citizens. It is a puzzlement.

Thankfully, We the Little People can look to the good Senator's own record for helpful guidelines on adroitly navigating the Scylla and Charybdis of "too little" or "too much" military service:

1. First of all, always observe Harkin's Law: If you must serve, for God's sake don't volunteer:

“it’s one thing to have been drafted and served, but another thing when you come from generations of military people and that’s just how you’re steeped, how you’ve learned, how you’ve grown up.”

2. While you're at it, don't forget Arkin's Law:

Military, former military, and their families who support the war clearly do so for partisan motives, from ignorance, or because they have been pressured or duped by the administration.

Military, former military, and their families who oppose the war are motivated by courage, a deep sense of personal honor, and a desire to educate the American people.

3. It's easy to tell candidates with "acceptable" military service from those with "unacceptable" military service: war is so horrifying that real, authentic war heroes all have some form of PTSD-induced memory loss:

In 1979, Mr. Harkin, then a congressman, participated in a round-table discussion arranged by the Congressional Vietnam Veterans' Caucus. "I spent five years as a Navy pilot, starting in November of 1962," Mr. Harkin said at that meeting, in words that were later quoted in a book, Changing of the Guard, by Washington Post political writer David Broder. "One year was in Vietnam. I was flying F-4s and F-8s on combat air patrols and photo-reconnaissance support missions. I did no bombing."

That clearly is not an accurate picture of his Navy service. Though Mr. Harkin stresses he is proud of his Navy record--"I put my ass on the line day after day"--he concedes now he never flew combat air patrols in Vietnam.

He was stationed at the U.S. Naval Air Station at Atsugi, Japan. Damaged aircraft were flown into Atsugi for repairs or sometimes flown out of Atsugi to the Philippines for more substantial work. Mr. Harkin says he and three other Navy pilots flew these ferry flights. And, when the planes had been repaired, he and his fellow pilots took them up on test flights. "I had always wanted to be a test pilot," he says. "It was damned demanding work."

Clearly, war can cause extreme mental confusion that persists for decades:

Now a new official statement from the campaign undercuts Brinkley. It offers a minimal (thus harder to impeach) claim: that Kerry "on one occasion crossed into Cambodia," on an unspecified date. But at least two of the shipmates who are supporting Kerry's campaign (and one who is not) deny their boat ever crossed the border, and their testimony on this score is corroborated by Kerry's own journal, kept while on duty. One passage reproduced in Brinkley's book says: "The banks of the [Rach Giang Thanh River] whistled by as we churned out mile after mile at full speed. On my left were occasional open fields that allowed us a clear view into Cambodia. At some points, the border was only fifty yards away and it then would meander out to several hundred or even as much as a thousand yards away, always making one wonder what lay on the other side." His curiosity was never satisfied, because this entry was from Kerry's final mission.

If you ever see people pretending to be so-called "decorated war heroes" and their "claims" actually check out, you can be sure they are big phonies. If they had ever really suffered the so-called "tortures" in their inflated tales, they'd all be incurably insane like the detainees in Guantanamo Bay:

When Denton recalls his trials in Vietnam, his eyes are often closed. For two and a half years, he spent 17 to 18 hours a day in irons. Alone, in a coffin-sized cell, he had to remain on a 47-inch-by-47-inch square during the day. It was just long enough to walk two paces. At night, he slept on a stone slab. "It wasn't the Hilton," Denton said. There were no windows. Just a 10-watt bulb, roaches and spiders the size of tarantulas. "Jesus was with me all the time," said Denton, who is a devout Catholic. His proudest moment was conquering his claustrophobia. Denton said during that time, he was in an "extremely intellectual and spiritual state." He said it is amazing what the mind can accomplish, if given the opportunity.

He once derived the formula for centrifugal force in his head, something he couldn’t do with pencil and paper at the U.S. Naval Academy. Although the other captives had designated Denton "president of the optimist club," there were times he prayed to die. He didn't want to -- couldn't -- endure another minute of despair. Once, when Denton refused to tell guards how the Americans communicated with each other, he was tortured for 10 days and nights. By the 10th night, he couldn't think anymore. He couldn’t pray anymore.

Denton surrendered. Not to the guards, but to God. "It was a total surrender," he said. "If there was anymore to do, you will do it," he told God. "That instant, I felt zero pain," he said. "I felt the greatest comfort and reassurance in life that I haven’t felt since."

When Denton talks to groups around the country, he tells them that patriotism can motivate men to perform for their country, but only prayer can provide the strength for the kind of performance required in prison camps. Denton also found strength in his fellow captives. The Americans were forbidden to communicate with each other. But that didn’t stop them. They communicated in Morse code and other number-based codes they devised and transmitted through blinks, coughs, sneezes, taps on the wall and even sweeps of a broom.

"I experienced what I couldn't imagine human nature was capable of," Denton said. "I witnessed what my comrades could rise to. Self-discipline, compassion, a realization there is a God."

4. Public servants who aren't "trapped by the dangerous legacy of their military life experiences" are open to alternative interpretations of modern historical events (Ed Driscoll, via Glenn Reynolds). This is how we know they can be trusted to tell us the truthiness:

Yesterday was an interesting day. I spent it in a park in northern Virginia.

The weather was not ideal. When I showed up at half past ten it was cold and blustery. The wind was coming in off the water briskly and the rain was just starting up. Underneath the shaded pavilion in the woods, volunteers were setting out mounds of food on blue and white tablecloths. In the center of each table were red, white and blue centerpieces: a labor of love.

I wondered: who is going to show up in this kind of weather? I wasn't alone. My friend was worried too, with good reason. She had poured her heart and soul into this gathering. Behind her, good hearted people bustled about like worker bees, putting out tables and chairs, making everything just so, putting music on to brighten the scene. The staff at Leesylvania State Park helpfully fetched coffee and hot water for cocoa. It was chilly, but the mood was warm.

And then the bus showed up. And as we stood watching or ran over to greet it, they slowly disembarked. Most looked perfectly unremarkable, no different than you or I. Families showing up for a day in the park.

One was in a wheelchair. One - a lovely young woman - appeared to be sporting Cheetahs on both legs. What followed for the next four or five hours was little different than scores of other picnics I've attended over the years. I think even Tom Harkin would have been comfortable there. None of us knew each other beforehand. It didn't matter.

Some of us no doubt had seen things that changed their view of the world, perhaps forever. But those things are a part of this world. They did not bring them into being: violence, the capacity for human cruelty and the desire of some men to control the destiny of others did not originate with the armed forces, nor would these things suddenly come to an end if men like Tom Harkin were successful in purging his pristine Congress of such untoward influences. I am not a terribly outgoing person, but I had fun yesterday. For the most part, I felt comfortable; at home. Children were running and laughing as they do everywhere, an older gentleman celebrated his 81st birthday, and the only shadow fell unnoticed and unremarked by many when a few balloon animals fell to the ground and popped with a loud, "BANG!"

A soldier wryly joked, "I need to get out of here" as he exited the pavilion for a few moments. Even in the presence of war, such grace. A few faces grew suddenly quiet. But the mood passed quickly. I hope the incident passed as quickly from his mind as the waves that were skipping over the surface of the water.

I don't understand Harkin's remarks; what he hopes to gain by them. Or perhaps I am afraid that I do. What I do understand is that we in the military are no different in most respects than the rest of America. We are your sons and daughters, your wives, husbands, cousins, uncles, aunts, brothers, sisters.

We are your family.

There is, perhaps, one respect in which the military are different, and it is an important one. It is not a difference which need divide us, though these days when it seems to. Or perhaps it is made to for reasons that serve political ends.

The military are sheepdogs. They stand ready to defend something we Americans have come to consider our birthright: freedom.

The truth is that many Americans - too many - trust those who keep us safe far less than those who prey on us. After all, we can always ignore the ones who prey on us. They remain in the shadows most of the time, hidden from our sight.

The sheepdogs live among us.

They are different from us, and this makes us profoundly nervous.

We don't like the fact that they follow a stricter set of rules than we do. That they starch and iron their uniforms. That they carry guns. That they follow commands, have ranks, and stand at attention, salute, and call each other 'sir'. It's all so un-egalitarian. We don't really understand how they can submit to this. They must be mindless dupes, brainwashed automatons who can only follow orders and never had an original or rebellious thought in their lives.

We don't like the fact that they cut their hair a certain way, and keep their weight down, and PT once a day. All this regimentation seems somehow unnatural to us. We can't help suspecting that, given half a chance, they'd like to impose this lifestyle by force on the rest of America.

What the watchers, the suspicious ones, the media and Hollywood elite who glutinously feast on the benefits of freedom but are mysteriously nowhere to be found when the bill comes due, fail to realize is that the pony-tailed guy next door, the one with the slight beer belly, who doesn't talk much but seems like a regular guy, was once one of the sheepdogs and would be again if his country needed him. What foolish sheep don't realize is that those rules, that hidebound code of conduct that irks them so much is the best guarantee they have that the sheepdogs won't turn suddenly and savage them. That is why they submit to it, gladly, though at times it galls them too. They understand the reason it exists.

It exists to protect things worth defending. And in the end, the defining difference between the sheepdog and the sheep he protects is that the sheepdog is willing to defend those things, with his life if need be, so that they do not pass away.

So the next time you hear a lot of overheated pontification about how our precious freedoms are being eroded by the Bush administration, the Patriot Act, or the war in Iraq, ask yourself this question: precisely what is the speaker willing to give up to guarantee those freedoms for future generations? Which of his precious rights will he give up in service to a greater good? Which of his luxuries?

I can almost guarantee you the answer will be: not one damn thing.

Ask yourself a second question: what has the speaker risked by saying what he or she just said? Again, the answer is clear: despite all the blather, absolutely nothing.

For the past eight years, we have been told over and over by various Democrats that the Bush administration is engaging in "fear mongering". We have been told that they are using "divisive rhetoric" to mislead voters with the "politics of fear".

Well what exactly have Tom Harkin and his ilk been doing, if not precisely that? And if their allegations are true: if we're living in a police state where dissent is actively being crushed, where is the evidence of this harsh repression? What has their brave truth-telling cost the dissenters? Where did the real danger lie - if (in truth) as Keith Olbermann and his cohort are not selling America a bill of goods? If in truth the "real danger" is not al Qaeda but the Bush administration, where are the walking wounded of the dissenting Left?

I looked around yesterday and I saw men and women who willingly stood up to fanatics - men who choose to strap bombs to innocent women and the retarded and send them into marketplaces to kill civilians. I saw the price they have paid for their determination to oppose these ruthless killers. This tells me that these people - al Qaeda - do represent a danger to the democratic way of life. They represent a danger to innocent civilians. And we have their own word for their intentions regarding us. They have repeatedly stated their intentions to continue attacking us until we are destroyed. And yet the critics of this administration inexplicably seem to believe that opposing their stated intent to attack us is the problem?

Does this make sense? Several of them have stated that our own government is more of a danger to freedom than the terrorists. Have they presented evidence to back up this claim?

Who has John McCain killed lately? Is he dangerous? It seems to me that men who publicly deny (as both John Kerry and Tom Harkin have done) that millions of people were brutally murdered after the fall of Saigon are dangerous, for they are denying what is indisputably a historical fact. And now Tom Harkin tells us that John McCain is "dangerous"? John McCain was tortured for years in a North Vietnamese prison. Far from warping his mind, the experience seems to have served as an aid to his memory, as it has for these gentlemen. No doubt Senator Harkin feels they, too, have "too much" military service to be entirely reliable. Our so-called investigative media call them "Swift Boaters". So much for the facts, which are both out there and independently verifiable (if all but impossible to find in the popular media).

The truth about war, as the Army CID investigation of John Kerry's by-now famous Winter Soldier allegations showed, is easy to demagogue but hard to correct once a really big lie has become firmly entrenched in the public consciousness. Will America ever learn to trust the men and women who defend our freedoms? Or will we continue to fall for the demonstrably untrue statements of hucksters like Tom Harkin and John Kerry? Whom will you trust, if push comes to shove?

I wonder. But then my world view has undoubtedly been warped by too many ancestors who believed this country worth defending. May it ever be so.

Posted by Cassandra at May 19, 2008 06:19 AM

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May it ever be so...

Walkin' Boss called me from her class this morning. Her students were discussing Memorial Day and it led into a question about the red poppies. The children did not know the significance of the red poppy and Walkin' Boss asked me if I could find something suitable to share with the kids and email it to her. So it was my pleasure to send them this link.

We work to save young minds from the fever that possesses so many like Harkin, one young mind at a time.

As Lewis Grizzard would offer to so many of Harkin, Arkin, Kerry, Ward, Rall, Koz and all those of that ilk, Delta is ready when you are baby. DLTSDHYWTGLSY.

Posted by: bthun at May 19, 2008 10:14 AM

Oh yeah... Bonus points Milady for your shout-out of the beloved Robert E. Lee.

Posted by: bthun at May 19, 2008 10:18 AM

Delta is ready, aye. Robert E. Lee, aye. Bthun speaks for the Georgia contingent today.

Posted by: Grim at May 19, 2008 10:35 AM

Can one imagine how difficult life is for these folks who claim the advantages of freedom without accepting the cost of being free? Talk about self-esteem problems for the perpetually dillusional Harkin or Kerry!

They can never sit at the table Shakespeare wrote about in St. Crispin's Day. It is safer for them to dwell in the dreamy land of expediency, revisionism, and moral equivalency.

Pity them and cut them no slack!

Posted by: vet66 at May 19, 2008 10:57 AM

I used to get disgusted with some of these people now I just laugh like mad. Actually Senator Harkin, I thought George Washington made a pretty good President, even though he was steeped in military culture. What a fool this man is.

Posted by: Allen at May 19, 2008 11:03 AM

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the - Web Reconnaissance for 05/19/2008 A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day...so check back often.

Posted by: David M at May 19, 2008 11:17 AM

Apologies up front about the tangent in the bandwidth here, but since I mentioned Memorial Day, I'd like to point out this page.

No comment on this is necessary, just something to read and think about in your spare time.

My apologies for the distraction Milady. I'll hush now.

Posted by: bthun at May 19, 2008 11:45 AM

Don't you dare :)

It's nice, actually. My husband has to write a speech for Memorial Day this week, so I appreciate the links. They may come in handy!

Posted by: Cassandra at May 19, 2008 11:53 AM

Having served for 4 years in a flight test enviornment, and worked 4 more as a defense contractor, if Tom Harkin is a graduate of any military test pilot school, I'm Elmer Fudd. Test pilots are taught strict discipline with regards to the things they write, especially reports on flight testing.

Posted by: JusCruzn at May 19, 2008 12:25 PM

To add to the radio interview on Youtube, I am best friends with a woman who was in Bien Hoa when the south fell. She is of Chinese ancestry, born and raised in Vietnam. Her father owned a jewelry store. He was imprisoned for a long time and it unbalanced him. The new government confiscated everything from the store and they lost it. They closed their chinese school and made them go to the government school. They went through their house and took anything they had more than one of. They made her mother go to the government office while very pregnant every day for interrogation. They felt she was still hiding things. They have many friends who left on the boats. Some of them died. She was almost 16 years old on Apr 30 1975 and when her and her brothers and sisters were allowed out of the house after the shooting stopped there were bodies all over the place. When she talks about this, it brings tears to my eyes because I know our country had the power to stop it from happening. We could have used air power and resupplied the ARVN and threatened to bring back ground troops. Congress simply cut off any and all aid to them and Pres. Ford watched helplessly as they fell. For Sen Harkin to even imply that when the war ended everything returned to normal is crazy. Her cousin and his family walked across Vietnam and Cambodia to Thailand in fear for their lives the whole way. Without water, they even drank their own urine. I am simply amazed that people who represent us are that ignorant. Or do they conveniently forget for a political agenda? I could go on but I think everyone gets the gist of what I'm saying. Sen Harkins is either one of the dumbist men in America or he is a bald faced liar!

Posted by: Bill R. at May 19, 2008 02:02 PM

Make that one of the dumbest men in America or a liar!

Posted by: Bill R. at May 19, 2008 02:07 PM

"The banks of the [Rach Giang Thanh River] whistled by as we churned out mile after mile at full speed..."

Ummmm -- good luck with that. The Giang Thanh is more of a creek than a river, and you'd be more likely to run a Swift Boat aground in it than watch the banks go whistling by.

* * * * * * * * * *

Public servants who aren't "trapped by the dangerous legacy of their military life experiences" are open to alternative interpretations of modern historical events.

Like that "Fire can't melt steel" bit...

Posted by: BillT at May 19, 2008 02:58 PM

The Giang Thanh is more of a creek than a river, and you'd be more likely to run a Swift Boat aground in it than watch the banks go whistling by.

Bill darlin'...

[shaking head]

There you go again, letting reality ruin a perfectly good narrative. Shame on you.

Posted by: Princess Leia, Trapped by an Orange Danish Bikini at May 19, 2008 03:41 PM

Bill R.

How dare you question Tom Harkin! He risked his tuckus daily flying combat missions over [mumble, mumble, mumble].

Posted by: Princess Leia, Trapped by an Orange Danish Bikini at May 19, 2008 03:46 PM

He risked his tuckus daily flying combat missions over [mumble, mumble, mumble]

ALCON: The VC StyleBook now lists "[mumble, mumble, mumble]" as one of the acceptable euphemisms for -- Cuba.

I'd give-a-pretty to see Harkin's flight records...

Posted by: BillT at May 19, 2008 03:55 PM

There you go again, letting reality ruin a perfectly good narrative.

Sorry 'bout that. I'm trapped by the dangerous legacy of my military life experiences.


*tossing sympathy card on the table*

Drat. %$#@! thing landed face-down again,,,,

Posted by: BillT at May 19, 2008 04:00 PM

*flips card over*

I knew it! It's a One-Eyed Joker....

Posted by: DL Sly at May 19, 2008 06:33 PM

I am but a civilian and I fear that will always remain the case for someone with my health problems, but not a day goes by when I don't thank god for those who can and do serve. Thank you, all of you.

Posted by: Janus at May 19, 2008 07:09 PM


Moving and fact-filled, darlin'. Thank you for mentioning Master Robert and his higher ideals. Thank you for reminding us what the sheepdogs live for. Thank you for remembering those of us who served whether the guns blazed or were stacked in bivouac. And thank you for showing us what wonderful family, wives, children, and ancestors supported those of us who served and may have forgotten where we came from. You're a gem, dear.

Press on, milady.


Posted by: Subsunk at May 19, 2008 07:10 PM

Cassandra, All I can say is "Wow!" What an astounding tour de force of devastating logic by you against the most recent manifestation of the left's insane hatred of America for its preeminence in the world.

Posted by: Brian at May 19, 2008 08:06 PM

Y'all are way too nice.

And Subsunk, back at ya :)

Thank you for remembering those of us who served whether the guns blazed or were stacked in bivouac.

This is a point that can't be made too often.

Posted by: Cass at May 19, 2008 08:40 PM

A wonderful post. I am a civilian who is proud and grateful for our troops and I thank men and women in uniform whenever I see one - although sometimes I've felt slightly silly afterwards, since they inevitably seem startled and somewhat embarrassed and at a loss for words when I thank them (I don't gush or anything, I just say "I appreciate your service to our country.")

Posted by: Donna at May 19, 2008 09:42 PM

Dang. That's pretty profound Lady. Well done. I am in awe.

Posted by: lutonmoore at May 19, 2008 09:49 PM

BillR: During the 2004 campaign I recall coming across an article by Andrew Lam, an American writer of Vietnamese descent, which stated that Vietnamese-Americans voted overwhelmingly Republican and were strong supporters of the WoT. No prizes for figuring out why - although it might puzzle Harkin's mighty intellect.

Maybe that's one reason why one doesn't read or hear too much about that particular minority - like Cuban-Americans, those particular non-whites pose certain awkward problems for liberals who thought Uncle Ho was a sweet old guy (just like his ideological brother Uncle Joe Stalin) and told us everything would be rosy in SE Asia once we got out of there.

Posted by: Donna at May 19, 2008 09:56 PM

Most excellent work, as usual, Cassandra...

For those thinking on the upcoming Memorial Day, I'll offer up this post I did last year on the picture book America's White Table, which is very appropriate to the day.

And, in regard to the left being in denial of the evil done by socialism/communism, I found a most excellent picture book from a man who grew up behind the Iron Curtain, and decided I could not pass it up. I will be posting a "review" of it as soon as I can devote sufficient time to it (although I did get a little start tonight).

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at May 19, 2008 10:58 PM

Superlative post. Thank you!

Harkin's alleged experience at NAS Atsugi bears a bit more study, though. He claimed that part of the test-flight procedures included flights over North Vietnam. Then he backed away after someone pointed out that to actually TEST a plane in a combat zone, you'd need to fly at Mach-1 or faster, just to avoid the SAMs and other ground-based fire. This in turn means they'd be out of fuel for the return flight alllllllll the way back to Japan.

Harkin's not as funny as David Bonior claiming war-hero status and then was proved to be a mere cook in the Air Force in Alaska. Not as funny, but certainly just as telling.

To a liberal it's the FEELINGS they were a hero that matters. Until you feel like supporting America. Then you're a baby-killing SOB with veins in your teeth and murder in your heart.

Posted by: quiller at May 20, 2008 12:36 AM

The reason, of course, that the lefties can't point out people who are "victims of the right-wing police state" is that there aren't any. Olbermann is free to spew his hatred on a network watched by few, Holly-weird continues unfettered to churn out its anti-military box office bombs, and unrepentant terrorists like William Arkin trample Old Glory without the slightest fear of a midnight visit from the Gestapo or NKVD. And yes, lying politicians (sorry for the redundancy) like Tom Harkin can insult the military without fear of official sanction. With any luck at all, Iowa voters will register their displeasure with him at the next election, but that poses no danger to his physical well-being. On the other hand, many of our military members risk death daily (in war zones or in hazardous places like carrier decks), often for salaries around 1/8 that of a U.S. Senator. And Tom Harkin has the unmitigated gall to say those experiences render the military member unfit for political office? If I didn't know better, I'd say Sen. Harkin has embarked on a new career: stand-up comedian.

Posted by: waltj at May 20, 2008 06:39 AM

I'm one of the ponytailed vets. Until last month, I was talking to an Army recruiter about going back in (at 43). Now, thanks to a left-turn cager & a bone graft, I'll probably remain a ponytailed "former", not "active again" type. The sheepdog instincts remain intact, though.
Thanks again.

Posted by: Tennessee Budd at May 20, 2008 06:53 AM

This in turn means they'd be out of fuel for the return flight alllllllll the way back to Japan.

Not to mention at least one mid-air refueling he'd need just to *get* there. Even if he'd had ChiCom permission to penetrate their airspace, my quick globe-scan indicates the Red River area's about 1,800-or-so nautical miles from Atsugi.

That, in addition to the fact that you *don't* do a test hop over Bad Guy Country, makes me wonder what *else* Harkin has lied about concerning his service. Not that it matters a whole lot at this point, since his credibility has long-since crossed into the minus realm of the z-axis...

Posted by: BillT at May 20, 2008 08:35 AM

As a second generation service member, thank you Cass.

Posted by: MikeD at May 20, 2008 10:31 AM

Great post.

I am grateful for a link from Grimm at Blackfive which led me to discover you are back in business. Good stuff like this gets you back on my bookmarks list.

Posted by: happyhill at May 20, 2008 11:03 AM

I've seen it said many times that we "sheepdogs" are just friends and family of the "sheep". But, looking around I'm wondering if that is not really the case. I am a retired sheepdog, and the father of two sheepdogs, and the 5th generation in a line of sheepdogs. My spouse is the daughter of a sheepdog in a line of sheepdogs. My best friends now are retired sheepdogs like me. I have a few other friends but they are not so close.
I have no feelings against the sheep, but I remember how unkempt, dirty and ill-mannered civillians seemed after I completed OTS. True story. A while back a friend of mine at work was severely injured. Several of us got together on weekends and pitched in over at his little 2X4 farm to keep things going while he recuperated. It got around the office what we were doing and at the next staff meeting the question was asked (by a sheep) if "Volunteering out at the farm" would be going onto the Employee Appraisal Ratings.
Sometimes I really think they are a different species.

Posted by: Barney at May 20, 2008 01:54 PM

I wore the uniform with PRIDE, yet when I see these young men and women serving today, I feel humbled.

Posted by: irongrampa at May 20, 2008 08:17 PM

WONDERFUL! Keep exposing Harkin & all like him. I can't say with eloquence like y'all, but this 'ol Nam Vet, is thankful to you for doing so! Semper Fi!

Posted by: Bernard A. Blank at May 21, 2008 08:32 AM

Excellent musing for Memorial Day, I'm sending it (credited of course) to family and friends.

Doug in Colorado
Retired, CEC, USN.

Posted by: doug in colorado at May 23, 2008 06:03 PM

Thank you. Because I write a foolish little blog off in my tiny corner of the internet and I loved what I read here so much, I linked to this post. Again, thank you.

Posted by: Ben Thompson at May 30, 2008 02:43 PM

Thank you, Ben :)

Actually, I've been told more times than I can count that VC is just a no-account blog, so I am honored that you chose to link the post.

People are funny about this stuff. I don't pay too much attention to traffic. I've seen some sites that I don't think very much of which get loads of traffic, and others which are consistently excellent and get next to none. And I can tell why some that do get lots of traffic attract so many readers, yet I don't find them interesting so I don't read them. The only real reason for reading or linking to a site is because you find it worthwhile, and I'm happy if someone enjoys something I write, whether they have 10 readers or 1000.

Thanks for the kind words :)

Posted by: Knut, The Adorable German Polar Bear at May 30, 2008 03:02 PM


Sorry. Sometimes I forget to change monikers :p

Posted by: Cass at May 30, 2008 03:03 PM