Thursday, September 30, 2004
Psychological Analysis of Bush Hatred
35th Anniversary of Apollo 11
Psychiatry 101 : Psychological Defense Mechanisms
Optimism versus Pessimism
The Wonderful World of Denial
Histrionics As A Determinant of National Policy
For Our Children's Children
Defenders of Truth
The Doctor is Somewhat Confused About These Memos...
It's So Unfair
Enabling Behavior For Terrorism
The "Girlie Women" of Today's Feminist Movement
A Lesson in Narcissistic Rage
Everyone in the world is descended from a single person who lived around 3,500 years ago, according to a new study. Scientists have worked out the most recent common ancestor of all six billion people alive today probably dwelt in eastern Asia around 1,415BC. ...
Using a computer model, researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology attempted to trace back the most recent common ancestor using estimated patterns of migration throughout history.
They calculated that the ancestor's location in eastern Asia allowed his or her descendants to spread to Europe, Asia, remote Pacific Islands and the Americas. Going back a few thousand years more, the researchers found a time when a large fraction of people in the world were the common ancestors of everybody alive today - while the rest were ancestors of no one alive. That date was 5,353BC, the team reports in Nature.
The Captain speculates on the Biblical implications of this, which are interesting enough; but the overall implications are staggering! That we could be related to EVERYONE currently on Earth by only 200 generations just boggles the mind!
Wednesday, September 29, 2004
So everything checks out just as the New York Times article reported it. All the facts are individually true, but Prime Minister Allawie's assertion that most provinces are "completely safe" and that security prospects are bright are also supported by those same facts. Such is the fog of war. (Emphasis mine)
This is a classic example of "the glass is half empty/half full" scenario. Depending on how you look at the data, it is one way or the opposite. It seems to me that it is primarily a psychological argument since those who are hopeful/optimistic see it one way (half full); those who are defeatist/pessimistic see it the other (half empty). You can never prove the other side wrong, because the data can support either view.
But there are other data that support optimism and hope as having positive impact on individuals as well as situations. Optimism is positively and highly correlated with mastery and self-esteem. It is negatively correlated with anxiety and neuroticism. The correlations appear to be higher for women than for men. The test that measures optimism is strongly correlated with reported use of particular coping strategies such as emotional regulation strategies (sublimation, humor, and anticipation) and strongly negatively correlated with avoidant coping strategies (such as fantasy, acting-out, repression, projection, hypochondriasis and passive-aggression). Optimism was also found in some studies to improve health and lead to substantially better illness outcomes and longevity; while pessimism was found to predispose to illness and to increase mortality.
As one researcher commented, "It confirmed our common-sense belief. It tells us that mind and body are linked and that attitude has an impact on the final outcome — death."
There is likely a strong biological component to both optimism and pessimism. There are pros and cons to both styles Extreme optimism can be a denial of reality and pain. Extreme pessimism can be depressing because it seems to only focus on the negative and catastrophizes events.
Genuine optimists are not in denial. They see the situation for what it is, yet are also able to mobilize the energy and effort necessary to be able to push through, persevere and complete a task despite setbacks. A healthy dose of optimism can be uplifting and hopeful. Achieving a balance of being realistic and hopeful can be a challenge. A perfect example of unhealthy optimism is the gambler who always believes that his risks will result in winning. It is easy to see that this is more than optimistic, it is delusional, because the individual denies the reality of statistics and chance inherent in gambling and can grossly overestimate his/her odds of winning.
The huge advantage of the optimist appears when reality in all its unpleasant aspects is faced unflinchingly and taken on. The optimist will work to identify strategies that have a potential for success and be much more likely to implement them. The optimist, because they are focused on success, will be quicker to abandon a failing strategy and substitute one with a greater chance of working. While their psychological state does not guarantee success, if success is possible, the optimist will have a great chance of finding it.
Pessimists on the other hand, are very good at looking at reality and acknowledging the unpleasantness; but the problem is that it makes them flinch, and they give up searching for solutions much earlier than the optimist would. Failure becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy for the pessimist, who at heart believes that is the only possible outcome anyway. They can accuse the optimist of living in a "fantasyland", but that accusation can just as easily be applied to them, since "failure" can become a fantasy as readily as "success" can.
In the end, the determination of failure or success in Iraq will have to wait for events to unfold. The pessimists would have us pack up and go home, thus guaranteeing failure. The way of the optimist is to persevere and keep the eyes on the prize (an Iraqi Democracy in the Middle East). Failure may also result, but it is not a given.
So, although the data may be neutral and can be interpreted as either positve or negative; the psychological underpinnings of data analysis have significant implications in the real world. Most people understand this fact intuitively, and will tend toward the political candidate who is a healthy optimist and who is likely --particularly in a war--to lead the country to victory.
All in all, I tend to see the glass as half full, knowing that optimism will improve my own health and sense of mastery over the world; and may very likely also have a positive impact on what is going on in Iraq at the same time.
...sung to the tune of "The Ballad of Jed Clampett" from the Beverly Hillbillies:
Come and listen to my story 'bout a man named Dan,
The documents were fake and he didn't give a damn;
He put 'em on the air, an' he thought he'd done the job,
But up from the web come a howlin' mob.
Blogs, that is. Web logs. Checkin' facts.
Well, the first thing you know ol' Dan's a-runnin' fast;
Made a false report an' it bit him in the ass;
He said "dog-gonnit, I done thought I'd get away!"
But it turned out to be his a-reckonin' day.
Busted, that is. Red-faced. Mud in the eye.
Well, now it's time to say goodbye to Dan and all his men;
And they would like to shoot you folks for turnin'them in;
You're all invited back next week to watch the Evening News,
And see which correspondent's picked to fill Dan's empty shoes.
Y'all come back, now, hear?
UPDATE: I am behind the times, it seems. This ballad was posted on Free Republic on 9/23/04 with no author noted. It was sent to me in an email by a friend, so it is definitely making the rounds on the internet!
Tuesday, September 28, 2004
(2004-09-28) -- John Forbes Kerry said today that he will not "go it alone" during Thursday night's presidential debate, which will focus on foreign policy and national security."At the debate I'm not just going to do one thing differently that George W. Bush," said Mr. Kerry, "I'm going to do everything differently. Not only will I build a real international coalition to confront the leader of the current regime, but I also have an exit strategy."Asked to react to Mr. Kerry's plans to bring the leaders of France and Germany to the debate, President Bush said, "Bring 'em on. Next question."
Actually, if Kerry himself appears at the debates, he will have "mustered" a coalition (if you count his multiple positions on every issue, that is! )
Cox and Forkum
FSB investigators have established that three months before the terror attack on Dubrovka, Ganiyev persuaded his sisters Fatima and Milana to adopt the Wahabbi doctrine, and a month before the attack took them from their home by force, saying that they were going to visit relatives. Investigators said that they have established that Basayev paid Rustam Ganiyev $3,000 for offering his sisters as suicide bombers. After that he decided that his third sister must follow the same fate as Fatima and Milana. Perhaps, he hoped to receive another $1,500 for hiring Raisa, FSB officials said. The girl then approached the police for protection.
And read this, too.
Equal opportunity death. What a religion!
At a critical point in the novel, when it finally becomes clear to all that Malett--known as "Gabriel" because of his holiness-- was truly evil and not good, One character asks another, "but how could he [Crawford] guess, more than any of us could what Gabriel was?"
"Shall I tell you," said Nicholas de Nicolay, flinging out his elderly arms, "why Lymond first began to hate--to hate, mark you--your sacerdotal friend? He has told me. It was when, whatever haven he offered them overnight, Graham Malett allowed to return all the women and children of Gozo." [editorial note: these women and children were later slaughtered because of this action]
"He couldn't have prevented it," said Jerrott blindly. The Grand Master was in charge. The Spanish knights alone more than outnumbered us."
"Mr. Crawford does not dispute it," said Nicolay gently. "He says merely, that if Gabriel were all he appeared to be, he should have died on the landing stage."
This powerful scene keeps coming into my mind every time I read about the U.N. and Darfur. David Brooks observes:
And so we Americans mustered our outrage at the massacres in Darfur and went to the United Nations. And calls were issued and exhortations were made and platitudes spread like béarnaise. The great hum of diplomacy signaled that the global community was whirring into action.
Meanwhile helicopter gunships were strafing children in Darfur.
We did everything basically right. The president was involved, the secretary of state was bold and clearheaded, the U.N. ambassador was eloquent, and the Congress was united. And, following the strictures of international law, we had the debate that, of course, is going to be the top priority while planes are bombing villages.
We had a discussion over whether the extermination of human beings in this instance is sufficiently concentrated to meet the technical definition of genocide. For if it is, then the "competent organs of the United Nations" may be called in to take appropriate action, and you know how fearsome the competent organs may be when they may indeed be called.
The United States said the killing in Darfur was indeed genocide, the Europeans weren't so sure, and the Arab League said definitely not, and hairs were split and legalisms were parsed, and the debate over how many corpses you can fit on the head of a pin proceeded in stentorian tones while the mass extermination of human beings continued at a pace that may or may not rise to the level of genocide.
For people are still starving and perishing in Darfur.
Meanwhile the U.N. Secretary General is on record as saying recently that the U.S. -led war in Iraq was "illegal" and one can only conclude that he prefers a homicidal dictator torturing his people to the possibility of the horror of democracy. And, while the Secretary General tries to focus the limelight on U.S. actions as a diversion for the ever-expanding scandal of "Oil for Food" and "Oil for Terrorism" that all levels of U.N. personnel were involved in; the mullahs of Iran are mounting a campaign to have one of their number become a candidate for the next Secretary General (this is perfectly consistent with having Libya and other dictatorships control the "human rights" committee at the U.N.
If the U.N. were really what they advertise themselves to be, they should have already intervened in Darfur. They should have intervened years ago to save the Iraqi people, instead of ghoulishly profiting from their misery. They should have told the mullahs of Iran and dictators all over the world that their organization cannot be used to justify and succor totalitarian regimes. They should have been the driving force in the world for democracy, freedom and human dignity, above all else.
While Kofi Annan prances around intoning moral judgements about the U.S. and Israel, he remains curiously silent about Darfur; about oppression in Iran; about suicide bombers in Gaza. At the same time, the Security Council makes its empty threats about Iran's and North Korea's nuclear weapons.
Do you begin to get my drift? I am certainly not the first to say it, and hopefully I won't be the last. The United Nations has become a tool of evil--if not actually a source of evil itself. Like Dunnett's "Gabriel", who pretends to recite prayers and do good; their endless tolerance and infinite patience with regimes that oppress and kill; their enabling of despots and apologies for murder; all are designed to covers over a rotton core of malevolent ambition and greed. Like Gabriel, they are "a power for evil, effortlessly sustained, which could come only from a mind totally warped."
Instead of promoting world peace, the U.N. has become the greatest impediment to it. It is time for the U.S. to accept this reality and act accordingly.
Monday, September 27, 2004
UPDATE: Here is the new Bush Ad. It asks a very important question about John Kerry after playing a few Kerry soundbites. Ouch.
UPDATE II: Via Instapundit, here is a roundup of Iraqi Blogs: Carnival of the Liberated. As I have been saying all along, check out what the Iraqis have to say--they might have a different perspective about what Kerry has been saying, since they actually live in Iraq. Some are supportive of the U.S., some angry; but all appear to have hope that things can get better in their country. Some first-hand reporting and background.
UPDATE III: And, if this is true it is Big News.
UPDATE IV: Ah well, the Big News was a bust. Zawahiri is still at large.
Sunday, September 26, 2004
The media — by focusing only on Kerry's Vietnam service and Bush's lack of combat time — is blowing a smokescreen to cover a far more important issue than who served where and when. In the 2004 election, we're not choosing someone to pick up a gun and go at the enemy himself. We're choosing someone who can lead the nation in time of war.
Kerry is a puzzle: once a warrior, now distrustful of his nation's power and position in the world. He had a soda-straw-wide view of a war that Americans still don't agree should have been fought. He came back from it to condemn the war and those who fought it even though some were still being beaten and tortured in North Vietnamese prison camps. He abandoned them for the company of Hanoi Jane to propel himself into politics. Cong. Sam Johnson, who was held prisoner by the North Vietnamese for seven years, was asked about the picture of Kerry sitting near Jane Fonda at an antiwar demonstration. He told the Washington Times, "Seeing this picture of Kerry with her at antiwar demonstrations in the United States just makes me want to throw up." There is no such revulsion of George Bush among the best of judges: the Vietnam-era military, and those who now go in harm's way.
The distrust and doubt Kerry learned in Vietnam now colors everything he sees. When John Kerry looks at terrorism he sees a threat we can deal with without going to war. In the Middle East he sees only a Vietnam-like quagmire. Kerry doesn't believe America can win this war, and lacks the confidence in America to lead it through the conflict.
President Bush is no combat hero, but he served bravely and well in the Vietnam era. His service gave him confidence in his nation and its motives that John Kerry lacks. What Bush has and Kerry doesn't is the critical difference in character between a president who can lead a nation through a war, and one who cannot.
One of the things I especially enjoyed about the article was the quotes from former squadron-mates of Bush, who are clearly puzzled by the fact that the Democrats and the Media like to portray the President as "dumb". Their recollections are priceless and will give you a new perspective that doesn't get written up in today's press.
I have never suffered from the delusion that President Bush is intellectually challenged. I was a flight surgeon and know that the average IQ of jet pilots is in the 120''s. It is simply not possible to be a fighter pilot with a low IQ due to the multitasking and judgement that is required to fly that type of airplane. As one of his wingmen commented, "Dubya had the right stuff".
PS - For those of you who are new to my blog, my book CHOOSING THE RIGHT STUFF: The Psychological Selection of Astronauts and Cosmonauts discusses in detail the process of choosing individuals to fly and live in the space environment. It has a great deal of information on pilot selection and psychology, since many astronauts come from the pool of military pilots.
I'm trying to get all this political stuff straightened out in my head so I'll know how to vote come November. Right now, we have one guy saying one thing. Then the other guy says something else. Who to believe. Lemme see; have I got this straight?
Clinton awards Halliburton no-bid contract in Yugoslavia - good... Bush awards Halliburton no-bid contract in Iraq - bad...
Clinton spends 77 billion on war in Serbia - good... Bush spends 87 billion in Iraq - bad...
Clinton imposes regime change in Serbia - good... Bush imposes regime change in Iraq - bad... Clinton bombs Christian Serbs on behalf of Muslim Albanian terrorists -good... Bush liberates 25 million from a genocidal dictator - bad...
Clinton bombs Chinese embassy - good.... Bush bombs terrorist camps - bad....
Clinton commits felonies while in office - good... Bush lands on aircraft carrier in jumpsuit - bad... Stock market crashes in 2000 under Clinton - good... Recession under Bush - bad...
Clinton refuses to take custody of Bin Laden - good... World Trade Centers fall under Bush - Bad...
Clinton calls for regime change in Iraq - good...
Bush imposes regime change in Iraq - bad...
Terrorist training in Afghanistan under Clinton - good... Bush destroys training camps in Afghanistan - bad...
Clinton says mass graves in Serbia - good... Entire world says WMD in Iraq - bad...
No mass graves found in Serbia - good... No WMD found Iraq - bad...
Milosevic not yet convicted - good... Saddam in custody - bad...
Saturday, September 25, 2004
On Thursday, September 23, US forces resorted to targeted assassination to dispose of Abu Anas al-Shami, a senior aide of the Jordanian al Qaeda mastermind, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, in Baghdad.
His real identity, we reveal here, was Omar Yusef Juma’a, a Palestinian terrorist operations expert from the West Bank town of Tulkarm. DEBKAfile’s counter-terror sources report that al-Shami was killed by an American missile in Baghdad’s Shiite slum district, Sadr City.
The increased violence seen in Iraq recently is a direct result of increased American and Iraqi troop activity in targeting the insurgent terrorists and their desperate attempts to derail the US election. They are aided and abetted, I might add, by the US Media, which seems incapable of putting any story into perspective -- especially those that might be damning to Bush. I mean, come on!
The Media and the Kerry Campaign are even acting as if Prime Minister Allawi is just a "US puppet" and that anything he says about the situation in Iraq is open to question and should be ignored; hile John Kerry's perspective --someone who hasn't even ever been in Iraq--is supposed to be more "realistic". GIVE ME A BREAK.
It is definitely time to get serious with the terrorists in Iraq. Isolate them and kill them. Hopefully Abu Anas al-Shami is the first of many we send to paradise.
UPDATE: This seems like good news, too.
Maybe Kerry thought they were the "Botox" instead of the Bosox?
Friday, September 24, 2004
The tough, clever ad capitalizes on Kerry's foolish decision to let himself be photographed on a windsurfer during the Republican Convention.
Instead of hitting back with a comparable lightness of touch, the Kerry people went berserk. Mike McCurry, Kerry's spokesman, called it a "shameful advertisement that shows a disturbing disregard for those fighting and sacrificing in Iraq."
Then the Kerry campaign offered up a counter-ad with an American flag in the background making the same point: "In the face of the Iraq quagmire, George Bush runs a juvenile and tasteless attack ad."
So the Kerry camp is trying to argue with a straight face that because there is horrible news from Iraq, Bush has no right to tease or make fun of Kerry. In this vein, McCurry told reporters, "People do not want to see lighthearted advertising when families are very heavy-hearted about what's happening to their loved ones."
Such a complaint seems to draw a parallel between the campaign hardships of John Kerry and the personal hardships of military families, which is frankly a pretty stupid direction to go in for a struggling presidential campaign.
The above just gives me an excuse to show something my brother Paul forwarded me in an email, which I thought was pretty funny: The Official Seal of the Democratic Party:
(As someone once said very seriously, "Fuck 'em if they can't take a joke.")
In fact, World War II is a far more accurate comparison for the global war we are waging to defeat terrorism. Both wars began for the United States with a catastrophic sneak attack from an undeclared enemy. We had many faint and not-so-faint warnings of the impending Japanese assault on Pearl Harbor, not least the historical precedent of Port Arthur in 1904, when the Japanese launched a preemptive strike against Russia. We had similar ill-defined warnings and precedents about al Qaeda and Islamist terrorism (the East Africa embassy bombings in 1998; the USS Cole bombing in 2000), but in 2001 as in 1941, we lacked the "hard" intelligence requisite to convince a country at peace that it was about to pitched into war. ...
As Japan amassed victory after victory in the early days of the war, America and our allies could see that we had a long, hard slog ahead of us. Americans understood there was no recourse but to win, despite the fearful cost. This was the first and foremost lesson of World War II that applies today: Wars of national survival are not quick, not cheap, and not bloodless.
In one of our first counteroffensives against the Japanese, U.S. troops landed on the island of Guadalcanal in order to capture a key airfield. We surprised the Japanese with our speed and audacity, and with very little fighting seized the airfield. But the Japanese recovered from our initial success, and began a long, brutal campaign to force us off Guadalcanal and recapture it. The Japanese were very clever and absolutely committed to sacrificing everything for their beliefs. (Only three Japanese surrendered after six months of combat--a statistic that should put today's Islamic radicals to shame.) The United States suffered 6,000 casualties during the six-month Guadalcanal campaign; Japan, 24,000. It was a very expensive airfield.
I have been thinking about the argument that Iraq was a "distraction" in the Global War on Terror, and I think that perspective is bogus. In fact, Iraq has become the "lure" for the terrorists, and this seems to me to be a good thing. What Kerry and others who argue that we should abandon Iraq so we can concentrate on the GWOT don't realize is that by deposing Saddam Hussein, we have brought the shadowy terrorist groups to a central location where we can battle them. Iraq IS the battleground for the GWOT. And so is Afghanistan. This may have been an unintended consequence of toppling two of the world's biggest state sponsors of terrorism, but in retrospect it seems logical. They are two battles in a global war.
Kerry and others also forget that Afghanistan and the hunt for OBL has not been abandoned (in point of fact, they are terrified that Bush will capture OBL prior to November 2nd- see Teresa Heinz Kerry's remarks today). If Iraq is Guadalcanal, then Afghanistan is Midway and its elections in October will be a turning point in the favor of Freedom and Democracy.
The New York Times talks about standards and "journalistic integrity," but given its recent public record no one was surprised by the existence of a Jayson Blair, or by the fact that under Howell Raines a once-grand paper became a caricature of 19th-century yellow journalism, with possibly fewer daily readers than Matt Drudge. Elites may lament that someone who did not go to the Columbia School of Journalism can affect more readers than the Times, but instead of the usual aristocratic snarls they should ask themselves how and why that came about — and why, for example, watching a PBS documentary by Bill Moyers or listening to Garrison Keillor on NPR is now to endure a publicly subsidized extension of their silly rants at lectures and in op-eds. (Italics mine)
I used to love Garrison Keillor. In the late 70's and 80's it was a family ritual to tune into Prairie Home Companion on the local NPR affiliate. Not anymore. I used to enjoy Bill Moyers. Both of these linchpins of Public Radio have gone off the deep end, with their relentless and high-pitched anti-Bush diatribes. I have talked about Keillor elsewhere. His smug superiority in all matters political has become more than annoying and something I could overlook for the sake of his genuine talent. It has become pathological and indicative of a severe disconnect with the real world. It is painful to listen to.
I don't listen to Prairie Home Companion anymore at all. I can barely stand NPR and hope that my tax dollars will soon stop funding it. I don't think in a competitive market it would survive.
Read VDH's entire piece. It will be worth your time.
Like Wormtongue in the Lord of the Rings, whispering his doom and gloom to the American public, Kerry is using the Iraq war to further his own ambition of power. He cares nothing for the soldiers who are sacrificing their lives for freedom and democracy. With every word he speaks on the issue, you can see that he truly believes that evil should win and that there is nothing we can do against Saruman--let alone Sauron. His conclusion is that, since soldiers are dying, we should just give up.
Noone is saying that the Iraq War situation is "rosy"--on the contrary, all along, President Bush has said the battle is a prolonged and expensive one but that it is worth fighting. President Bush was correct that our 1st Mission in Iraq was accomplished after Saddam was overthrown; but only a person with their eyes clouded by the masterful propaganda of a Wormtongue, could fail to see that now in Iraq we are fighting against the Terrorists directly--and not against the state that used to sponsor them.
Noone knows the outcome of this secondary--and even more important--Iraqi battle that has become the forefront in the global war on terror, but there is always hope when we keep our eyes open and persevere, even in the face of the barbaric acts of inhumanity practiced by our enemy. Let us remember that hope is not the same thing as denial and that fighting this evil is a goal worthy of our nation and our values. Kerry would have us deny even the possibility of hope and victory. He's such a loser.
UPDATE: Charles Krauthammer notes in his latest op-ed piece (via Instapundit):
The terrorists' objective is to intimidate all countries allied with America. Make them bleed and tell them this is the price they pay for being a U.S. ally. The implication is obvious: Abandon America and buy your safety.
That is what the terrorists are saying. Why is the Kerry campaign saying the same thing?
Keep scrolling down for even more instances of Kerry-Wormtongue's unpatriotic speech.
Check it out.
Thursday, September 23, 2004
IMAGINE if, in the presiden tial election of 1944, the can didate opposing FDR had in sisted that we were losing the Second World War and that, if elected, he would begin to withdraw American troops from Europe and the Pacific.
We would have called it treason. And we would have been right.
In WWII, broadcasts from Tokyo Rose in Japan and from Axis Sally in Germany warned our troops that their lives were being squandered in vain, that they were dying for big business and "the Jew" Roosevelt.
Today, we have a presidential candidate, the conscienceless Sen. John Kerry, doing the work of the enemy propagandists of yesteryear.
Is there nothing Kerry won't say to win the election? Is there no position he won't change? Doesn't he care anything for the sacrifices of our troops in Iraq?
And if he does care about our soldiers and Marines, why is he broadcasting remarks that insist — against all hard evidence — that the terrorists are winning?
Remember, that the one thing we can count on that John Kerry cares about is... John Kerry. The sad truth is that this fact is probably the only consistency of Kerry's public life.
According to DEBKAfile’s intelligence sources, Zarqawi has been tipped off that one of the two Iraqi scientists is on the point of breaking under questioning and spilling the beans on Saddam’s WMD to her American interrogators. He therefore interceded by seizing the three Western hostages, either to gain her release or scare her into holding silent.
Our sources also believe that Zarqawi has personal acquaintance going back five years with one or both the Iraqi women scientists. A poisons expert himself, the Jordanian terror master frequently passed through Baghdad in the years 1998 and 2002 on his way to the biological and chemical weapons laboratories made available to al Qaeda in the northern Iraqi town of Biyara. He may even have been supplied with equipment, materials and instruction manuals by those very women. The facility was located in an area controlled by Ansar al-Islam which it later transpired was an operational wing of al Qaeda. Zarqawi may be seeking their release so that they can be hired by al Qaeda to continue the biological weapons researches they performed for the deposed Iraqi dictator.
This theory is clearly plausible, but I suspect that the underlying psychological reason Zarqawi cuts off people's heads on a regular basis these days is because he truly enjoys it like most serial killers. And there is probably also a sexual thrill in it for him, too. You know, playing with that big, bad sword and waving it around in front of a videocamera probably compensates a lot for having a miniscule penis and no balls at all.
He may even be under the delusion that he is a male of the species. The question is, of course, what species?
UPDATE: And here's yet another example of what it means to be a masculine and superior Arab Jihadist. Pathetic. Is it possible for cockroaches to have a satisfying sex life, I wonder?
UPDATE II: Here is a link describing what some Arab women think of their cockroaches..er, men.
Wednesday, September 22, 2004
From a member of the The Dan Rather Fan Club:
"Everything they said about Bush is true; they just haven't found the evidence yet. "
- Dale Channer, 34, florist, the Bronx, quoted in the New York Daily News
Today we’re going to visit the Wonderful World of Denial. It has become clear to me that a discussion about this particular psychological mechanism would be a crucial stepping stone to understanding some of the obvious insanity prevalent in the REAL world today.
Denial can be thought of as a complex process where there may be some conscious knowledge or awareness of events in the world, but somehow one fails to feel their emotional impact or see their logical consequences. Denial is an attempt to reject unacceptable feelings, needs, thoughts, wishes, or even a painful external reality that alters the perception of ourselves. We use this psychological defense to protect ourselves from:
-Knowledge (things we don’t want to know)
-Insight or awareness that threatens our self-esteem; or our mental or physical health; or our security (things we don't want to think about)
-Unacceptable feelings (things we don’t want to feel)
Think of it this way. Every one of us has at one point or another in our lives had to face an unpleasant reality or painful truth and at the very least probably desperately wished it would go away. The first words out of the mouth of someone notified of the sudden death of a friend or loved one is usually a painful exclamation of, “NO!” And this initial and almost universal angry refusal to accept the pain we would feel if the death were real is perfectly natural. This negative reaction gives us some time to readjust our thinking and our feelings and prepare mentally and physically for the horrible reality of death. If you were still saying, “No, it can’t be true!” days and weeks after the death, then you probably are in denial.
One situation where the concept of Denial is used quite frequently, is in the Chemical Dependency field (drug and alcohol abuse). Anyone who has dealt with an addict has probably heard one of the following phrases or something like it:
“I could quit anytime I wanted.”
“I’d quit if people would leave me alone.”
“I can handle it on my own.”
“I’m under stress and it helps me to relax”
I could go on, but you have all head the excuses that alcoholics and drug addicts make to pretend to themselves that they don’t have a problem. When confronted, they become angry and usually contend that it is their confronter who has the REAL problem, not them. Adolescents are particularly good at this latter strategy.
Denial is also regularly used by people with chronic illnesses such as diabetes (“I can eat anything I want”); heart problems (“I’m not really having chest pain”); cancer (“It’s just a small cough”) and AIDS (“I’m not Gay so I couldn’t get it”). All of this just goes to show that it is very difficult to confront one’s mortality; or to give up one’s fantasies of control or invincibility. Yet, facing reality—even painful reality-- is also one of the many important challenges of life that each of us needs to accomplish every day.
I watched my mother, who was an alcoholic, pretend until the day she died that she didn’t drink very much. When confronted with hidden bottles of liquor in her home and a worsening medical condition with terminal consequences, she would become enraged and turn on those who loved her and wanted her to get help. But she would never admit that she needed it.
Denial need not be absolute and completely cut off from reality. Even among alcoholics and drug users there is a varying level of awareness of their problem. Some accept that they are in jail or sick because of their substance use, but yet are still not willing to do anything about it. Some may recognize some facts about their drinking (like that they get put in jail), but completely deny the impact of those facts on themselves or their families; or the future implications of continued drinking or drug use (e.g., that they are killing themselves and will die).
So, what does all this have to do with the current situation in the world? Well, I submit that denial can be a strategy not only of individuals, but of groups; organizations; and entire nations.
The Wonderful World of Denial allows someone to believe something is true, when it is obvious to everyone else it is false. Iit permits someone to pretend they are feeling "love" or other altruistic emotions when they are actually behaving in a hateful manner; it hides the truth by using big words and grand concepts to prevent yourself from feeling unacceptable feelings (some have called "intellectualizion"--which is a defense mechanism related to denial--"denial gone to college"). I would be engaging in "intellectualization" in this blog, if I tried to pretend that I was neutral and did not have feelings about the incidents I see every day in the news. I try to be objective (but I don't have any particular obligation to be objective, since I am not claiming to be either a journalist or a saint); and I am committed to an objective Truth and Reality that exists beyond what I may want or feel it to be.
Denial can make otherwise intelligent individuals/groups/nations behave in a stupid or clueless manner, because they are too threatened by the Truth and are unable to process what is perfectly apparent to everyone. People who live in this Wonderful World go through their daily lives secure in the knowledge that their self-image is protected against any information, feelings, or awareness that might make them have to change their view of the world. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING--not facts, not observable behavior; not the use of reason or logic; or their own senses will make an individual in denial reevaluate that world view. All events will simply be reinterpreted to fit into the mold of that world--no matter how ridiculous, how distorted, or how psychotic that reinterpretation appears to others. Consistency, common sense, reality, and objective truth are unimportant and are easily discarded--as long as the world view remains intact.
This is the Wonderful World that we are often amused to see young children playing in. It is amusing to us because we understand that they are just beginning to develop their intellectual and emotional faculties and denial and the subsequent use of fantasy is an important developmental phase, and is also rather cute when practiced by a toddler. There are many children's stories where this theme plays out--Where the Wild Things Are; The Secret Garden; The Neverending Story, etc. etc. Fantasy books help the child (and sometimes the adult!) to reconcile himself/herself to the harsher aspects of Reality. But a childlike response to Reality is not so cute or sweet when it is a behavioral strategy engaged in by a full grown man or woman, who , when they suffer a shock--such as the loss of a loved one; or the insight that their beloved belief system is responsible for death and destruction-- deny the facts and substitute an agreeable fantasy or delusion and then behave as if their fantasy/delusion were true. In extreme cases, this is called severe mental illness.
Now, these examples do not preclude the fact that Christians or Republicans or other News Networks or Bush can also use denial--they certainly can. But let me clarify before the Bush haters use their latest meme: that Bush and his administration are "denying the reality" in Iraq.
"Optimism" is NOT denial. It certainly can become denial, if it prevents you from doing what needs to be done. But in fact, optimism is usually an important personality trait that tends to make people who possess it successful in the world of reality. People who have healthy optimism are those who face the Truth about a situation and make adjustments to make their vision of how things should be come into reality. Bush has faced the fact that if we do nothing, we allow ourselves to live with a false sense of security. I think that the situation now in Iraq is complex and violent, but if you access other avenues of information--including what people on the ground in Iraq and Iraqis themselves are saying, it is hard to understand why a policy of "doom and gloom" ought to replace optimism. There is certainly a rough road ahead in helping Iraq to become a stable and Democratic nation, but if the Iraqi people want that to happen, then it will happen if they take the steps to make it happen; and there is considerable evidence that we are isolating and cutting off that violence and limiting it to specific areas like Fallujah.
The intellectual "Vietnamizing" of every event in Iraq and failing to see the unique aspects and opportunities of this war and its real importance in the War on Terror and consequently for the long-term security of America denies the facts of the Islamofascist threat to civilization that has become apparent over the last 3 years. Putting Iraq in this context makes one understand the power of freedom and democracy to transform the world.
Failure to appreciate the liberation of millions of men, women and children, who for the first time in generations have the potential to live their lives in freedom is an incredible denial of what the Left has always claimed to stand for (is "liberation of the oppressed" one of their memes?). Well, Bush has faced reality, and is doing what needs to be done. Kerry is still in Vietnam and in denial about the reality of today. Remember the 1985 Terry Gilliam movie Brazil? Just think of the ending where Jonathan Pryce is being tortured by the evil thugs in an incredibly malignant world, while his mind escapes to his fantasy world where all is wonderful - that is what awaits us if we don't wake up and face what is going on in our world today.
It is our choice. So what will it be, the World of Reality-where we can work to make our vision of a free and democratic Middle East the cornerstone of a long-term policy to short-circuit Islamofascism and terror-- or The World of Denial?
Tuesday, September 21, 2004
Mr. Kalb readily admited that the way CBS reported it was wrong wrong wrong. But he hastily returned to his theme that the REAL questions about Bush's Guard Service STILL NEEDS TO BE ANSWERED! What nefarious behavior was George Bush engaging in when he should have been at Guard meetings and was he shirking his ANG duties?
Leaving aside the fact that apparently NO AMOUNT OF INFORMATION, NO FACTS, NOT EVEN REASON OR LOGIC WILL BE ABLE TO CONVINCE THESE NINCOMPOOPS IN THE MEDIA THAT THE AIR NATIONAL GUARD, LIKE ALL NATIONAL GUARD UNITS WAS NOT, IS NOT AND WON'T EVER BE --A FULL-TIME OCCUPATION FOR MOST OF ITS VOLUNTEERS. They are not called the "weekend warriors" for nothing. None of these "journalists" are willing to actually do their homework before they spout off their conclusions. Apparently it is just too much effort for them to try to understand how the Guard works (this is actually a special example of a more general problem related to their unwillingness to bother to understand how any of the military services work --and this includes journalists whose main function is to report on the military). Why bother? They ALREADY KNOW that Bush must have shirked his duty--why should they need evidence to proclaim it?
For those whose brains are capable of processing it: there is a minimum number of hours to meet each year (50); and because the guard wants to continue to recruit people it tends to make their obligations flexible--meaning that anyone can and does get permission to "make-up" hours if their real-time lives require it. In real life, people move to other states; get special dispensation to go to school. There are many reasons why such requests are made. Everyone in the Guard has an outside life/job.
And anyone can go here to see how many hours the President put in each and every year of his service between 1968 - 1973. In most of his years he earned more than double and up to 9-times the requirement. Any questions? HE MET HIS OBLIGATION PERIOD, END OF SENTENCE.
There is only one story, Mr. Kalb. But I do have a second question to be answered: how can a person of your credentials be so clueless--or is it simple intellectual laziness? Like Dan, you should have done your homework.
The foreign brain — including al Qaeda's Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian, the Iranian intelligence, and others — can see November 2 on the calendar as ominously as John Kerry does. They want the equivalent of a Tet Offensive — lots of American blood — a shock like that given Madrid — before November 2. But, above all, they turn the calendar to the end of January. They have to stop the Iraqi election. They have to do something dramatic in Iraq before then.
Don't think we Americans cannot read a calendar too. Don't think we are remaining passively in our bases in our Iraq, wearing little signs saying "Hit me!" Our guys are out on multiple offensives just now, and will be out on the attack in a gathering crescendo all during the next 45 days. Watch the towns to the East of the Sunni Triangle, the towns guarding the routes fresh supplies of foreign terrorists must traverse on their way to Fallujah and Ramadi. Three of them have either fallen into American hands in the last couple weeks or will soon.
And that's not all Novack has to say:
It is odd how American journalists are not reporting this war from the side of American strategic officers and American frontline units, whose officers and men are now enjoying their own professional capacities and daily successes.
Reading the blogs of our own military guys in the field is infinitely more satisfying to intellectual curiosity than reading (or hearing) the ordinary empty droning of journalists. Compared to bloggers in America, American journalists seem like amateurs; compared to military professionals on the battlefield, journalists (whatever their age) seem like undisciplined college kids. When one compares these professions as professions, the military profession to journalism, journalism really is dropping fast — and not only because of Dan Rather.
This is why I got into blogging in the first place. It started by my trying to find out everything I could about what was going on aft 9/11 and during the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. I felt increasingly unsatisfied with what I read in the paper and what I saw on TV. A friend suggested I check out the Command Post and Instapundit and I did (at the time, I didn't even know what a blog was). I started linking to other blogs and other sources of information. I could read all the newspapers I wanted; and all the opinion I wanted and judge for myself what was going on. Then I started reading the Iraqi bloggers and the Military bloggers (guys who were right there on the front lines--someplace most of the journalists avoided) who knew what was happening and WHY. I'm telling you, it was a complete eye-opener for me.
I stopped depending on the NY Times, the Detroit News and the Ann Arbor News (all of which I subscribed to at the time). I started checking what they were saying and found them very frequently lacking in knowledge about what was going on and --even more importantly--WHY things are going on. It seemed to me they had NO PERSPECTIVE in their stories, only an agenda that was all too familiar to someone who had grown up during the Vietnam War.
I will never go back now. Information and the individual knowledge of millions of people are an intoxicating brew; and noone tells me how to evaluate it all or what to think--I get to do that for myself.
Monday, September 20, 2004
When Kerry returned home to voice his dissent in 1971, his message was clear: "We should be out of Vietnam now." Kerry speaks of today as an analogous moment. This confirms what is in any case evident from the bulk of his speech: Beneath all the phony talk of international summits and making Iraq "the world's responsibility," Kerry's policy would be to get us out of Iraq. That's why Kerry never says we need to win the war in Iraq, or that we can. Instead, he now explicitly says we would be better off with Saddam still in power.
With John Kerry, it is always about Vietnam and "quagmires". It is never about a strategic policy consistently enforced (I doubt that Kerry knows the meaning of the word "consistent").
Kerry spoke today at some campaign location, and he said that if Bush stayed in power, then Bush would "pursue the same failed policy" and would start more wars and "continue to mislead the American people". Frankly, this statement says more about what John Kerry would do than it does what George Bush would do. Because, what he said, I think, is that there is no circumstance under which he can possibly, conceivably, ever, ever imagine that he, John Kerry, would go to war. If 9/11 was not a justification for a war on terror, then even I can't imagine what circumstances would move Mr. Kerry to use force, except if it would advance his personal agenda. He certainly wouldn't use it to advance our national interest and security.
Well, I imagine that relieves the minds of Al Qaeda, the mullahs of Iran, North Korea, and any other group of international thugs. It is no wonder that they all have voiced their support of Kerry for President! He is on their side!
But please. Don't question his patriotism.
UPDATE: Here's an interesting bit of knowledge: Israel is winning its war against terrorism, and the U.S. could learn from its example.
Sorry, but that statement is OBSCENE. THE DOCUMENTS ARE COMPLETELY FALSE. CBS has maintained the "essential" truth of those documents for over 10 days. They should never again receive the trust of the American public. Their "deep regret" is too little, too late. If this were any other business concern, they would now go bankrupt and it would be richly deserved. Hopefully everyone who has stock in the company will dump it.
I predict the next thing they do will be to try to blame their "victimhood" on the Bush Campaign (in fact I just heard a Democratic congressman say that CBS couldn't do anything more because it was probably a Bush operative who gave them the documents).
God, I hate the way these guys operate. I am so sick of the distortion of truth, the outright lying; the pandering; the attempts to denigrate a President during war; the aggressive promotion that EVERYTHING in Iraq is going wrong (no matter what the Iraqis say); the attempt to make this war on terror somehow like the Vietnam war, where the strength of America was sapped by the constant leeches of doom on the Left (and yes, I include CBS and the mainstream media in general in the membership of the Left) .
There is nothing they would like better than to defeat America again. They won the battle in Vietnam and now they cling to that as their prototype victory for all time. But, in the end, they couldn't help the Communists to take over the world--Freedom won. Now they are attempting to hand it over on a silver platter again, but this time to the Islamofascists. Some of the members of the party of the Left are dupes; some are just plain stupid and dishonest about what they are doing; and others know precisely where it is they are leading this country. Back to the primordial muck; back to the caves. In their heart they know this truth, and they are glad.
My hatred of their tactics is open and honest. Theirs is disguised under the words "peace" and "justice". Their hatred of America and all it stands for is hidden in the shadow of their claims to be for "the little guy"; for the "poor" and for the "opressed". Yet, they are guilty of complicity in the death and misery of literally millions around the world, and will not be satisfied until we are all under the yoke of the oppressive ideologies they support.
Capitalism in concert with Freedom and Democracy has time and again been the hope of humanity. Those with talent and vision have pulled the rest of us up out of the primordial muck with their creativity and genius and by achieving their own dreams, have allowed us to see the world as it could be--where everyone is free to express the best within and achieve what his own talent and vision permit. Those with even an iota of integrity should not permit CBS and all the other organizations that are so thoroughly brainwashed by their own rhetoric (ANSWER, MOVEON, the DNC to name a few) to take control of this country.
I look to the Free Market now. They are the ultimate Justice for the likes of CBS.
Take. Them. Down. Bigtime.
UPDATE: Dan Rather has added his mealy-mouthed 2 cents to the above CBS statement. I don't care. I am sick of CBS and I am sick of Dan Rather. I am sick to death of the whole issue and wish it were November 1. I will leave the rational discussion to the folks at other blogs Check out the ones listed on my sidebar for updates.
Timmy is the 10 year old hero, who has a set of fairly incompetent fairy godparents (Cosmo and Wanda) who grant his every wish. In one recurring storyline, he is involved with the evil planet Yugopotamia, where the citizens are all warlike and nasty (they look like green blobs with brains); destroying planets and anything that gets in the way of their conquering the universe. The Yugopotamians do have one teensy little flaw: they perceive with horror anything that is cute, cuddly, and soft as unimaginably evil and dangeros- thus leading to sweet cerealbox toy animals being able to take over their home planet in one episode. Timmy is seen by them as one of the greatest warriors of the universe because he can (gasp!) walk on cotton, hug teddybears, and (most awsome of all!) eat a bar of chocolate! It all pretty hilarious if you like that kind of thing, and the Boo and I do.
I was reminded of the Fairly Odd Parents and Yugopotamia when I was reading Captain's Quarters today about John Howard's and Mark Latham's (Australia elections) differing proposals to deal with terrorism. Howard embraces a policy similar to President Bush (that's why Australia is working with us in Iraq). Latham of the Labor Party proposes a "373 million dollar defence policy including a review, more troops in northern Australia and a host of benefits for soldiers."
Captain Ed points out:
So Labor's idea of fighting terrorism is to put more troops on the northern shore, pay them better, and conduct a "review". Which of those actions are designed to stop terrorists from killing Australians at home or abroad? Perhaps the Islamofascists will prove deathly afraid of reviews, but I believe that Howard's policies will have more of a practical effect on terrorists.
It would be a sort of wierd TV version of life imitating art, but it struck me that those who argue for "negotiation" and "using the legal system" and "understanding" as methods of dealing with Terrorism think of the Terrorists as the aliens of Yugopotamia, where you can be murderously evil and ruthless, but also deathly afraid of "reviews" and "UN resolutions" and chocolate.
Wouldn't it be nice if that were true? Unfortunately, it is not. But that is why the policies for dealing with the War on Terror proposed by the Australian Labor Party and the U.S. Democratic Party are so hilarious, and why their leaders remind me of cartoon characters.
It is worth watching to remember how we all got through those days.
Sunday, September 19, 2004
Now John Kerry's sister, Diana, has said that Australia is more in danger of a terrorist attack because of its connections with the United States and the Bush Administration. Not only is this far more outrageous and more damaging than anything Cheney meant--Kerry's position borders on treason; and it has the added effect --as the Captain points out--of interfering with an important US alliance during wartime; as well as attempting to influence the Australian election.
You don't have to be paranoid to understand this is yet more evidence of John Kerry's complete disregard for the interests of his country in an attempt to garner power for himself. The Kerry campaign doesn't care if it destabilizes democratic governments like Australia- let alone the United States. OBL's most clever plans couldn't be any better than what Kerry and Friends are already doing.
Cheney was right, in that there is certainly a CLEAR choice between Bush and Kerry on the way they view the War on Terror.... One views it as a serious threat to freedom, peace and civilization; the other views it as a tool to be used to achieve the power he has craved his entire life. You decide which view we are safer embracing.
UPDATE: Reader Dismuke at Captain's Quarters says, "Gee - why bomb trains prior to an election when you have the Kerry campaign out there trying to accomplish the exact same thing?" Great point.
CBS reporter Dan Rather plans to reveal copies of documents on tonight's Evening News that demonstrate that John Forbes Kerry may have sought to evade service in the U.S. Senate due to his privileged position as a presidential candidate.
The documents, all dated within the past year, show a record of scores of missed votes and missed committee hearings. In addition, copies of payroll records appear to indicate that Mr. Kerry continued to draw his senate salary during the time of his absense, according to an unnamed CBS source.
These memos have the advantage of being both real AND accurate. As well as a helluva lot more relevant to who has the necessary leadership qualities to run this nation.
Even though it was meant to be funny....
Saturday, September 18, 2004
As the network put it last week, ''In accordance with longstanding journalistic ethics, CBS News is not prepared to reveal its confidential sources or the method by which '60 Minutes' Wednesday received the documents.'' But, once they admit the documents are fake, they can no longer claim ''journalistic ethics'' as an excuse to protect their source. There's no legal or First Amendment protection afforded to a man who peddles a fraud. You'd think CBS would be mad as hell to find whoever it was who stitched them up and made them look idiots.
So why aren't they? The only reasonable conclusion is that the source -- or trail of sources -- is even more incriminating than the fake documents. Why else would Heyward and Rather allow the CBS news division to commit slow, public suicide? (Emphasis mine).
This is what I have thought all along. And, in my more paranoid musings (see, I admit it!), I suspect that the trail leads directly to McAuliffe and the DNC--and possibly to Kerry himself. That is who they are trying to protect.
Mark my words, the truth about this will not be forthcoming until after November 2nd. CBS is hoping they can hang on for a bit and that it will all go away; or that they can hang on until after the election. Rather may even be prepared to resign to make it go away if the pressure gets too tough before November 2nd. What else could be worth destroying a major news network's credibility? They must think it will be only a short-term hit for them. In their fantasy world, if Kerry becomes President, CBS and Rather will believe they have been vindicated and will expect their public status and prestige to magically return.
They are fooling themselves on both counts.
UPDATE: Could this be a Freudian slip by Kerry? Going through my notes I happened to google "John Kerry" and "sugarcoat" and discovered that ONE DAY BEFORE 60 Minutes II did the Rathergate memo story, Kerry apparently used the word "sugarcoat" in his talk at a rally in Greensboro, N.C. This is PRETTY coincidental, folks.
UPDATE II: Maxima, a commenter over at LGF wonders about the SAME CONNECTION! Great Minds do think alike!
I would like to propose, however, that Rathergate is actually more similar to the Harry Potter Books, and here's why:
In book 4 of the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, we are introduced to Rita Skeeter, an unscrupulous reporter who twists the words of her interviewees; who knows what she wants to say in her stories BEFORE she gathers the "facts"; and who enjoys "sliming" people if it will get her readers. Skeeter is a bug-faced reporter who has a secret. She is an "animagus" who can transform into an animal. Supposedly all animagi are registered, but she has managed to keep her talent a secret. She can turn into a beetle and is small enough to be a "bug" on the wall and find out information that would otherwise be unavailable to her. Then she can twist it the way she wants to suit her own agenda. Rita is clever, but in the end she is outmaneuvered by the brilliant Hermione, who figures out her secret and is able to capture her in beetle form, and thus keep her from using her ill-gotten information to distort the truth.
I like to think that the blogsphere is Hermione and that we, too, have captured Mr. Rather in his beetle form and exposed him for what he is. Harry Potter, like the Lord of the Rings, is a fable about good and evil. But Rowling's world is not as dark or menacing as Tolkien's (at least not yet). All you have to do to realize this is to see the movies.
I think that the incredibly powerful and moving story in Tolkien's Lord of the Rings is far too dark, serious, and complex in its portrayal of evil to use as an analogy to Dan Rather and CBS. LOTR is the story of an incredible, pervasive evil that is so malignant and horrible that it murders and destroys everything for the pleasure of it, without remorse. Dan Rather is simply not important enough that he should be compared to an evil like Sauron--or even Saruman and Denethor. I would prefer to use the LOTR story as an anology for the evil of Islamofascist Terrorism.
Dan Rather is a petty. venal and dishonest man. His actions enable evil, but I think you credit him with too much power to compare him to Sauron, Saruman--or even to Denethor. In the food chain of evil, he is simply a lower level stooge, like Rita Skeeter.
Friday, September 17, 2004
Yet, I am deeply troubled by the press's attitude that our foreign policy as a nation should be held hostage to grief stricken mothers, fathers, family and miscellaneously bereaved individuals.
Anyone's death diminishes me, as the poem says, and death--while something we all must face in time--is always a tragedy when it occurs. The death of a loved one is particularly difficult to handle, and grief is a multilayered and deeply personal journey. Professionally I deal with the emotional after-effects of death and dying all the time. I work closely with people who must grapple with despair and lonliness after their son or daughter, mother or father, husband or wife has died. Some deal with it better than others; and every journey is unique.
I was the Crew Surgeon for the NASA Challenger space mission. It had a profound effect on me because I was personally acquainted with the crew and families of that mission. But, since it was a NASA Shuttle mission, there was third aspect of the disaster--separate from the personal grief ofthe families; and separate from the outpouring of grief and disbelief by the entire country--and that was the question of how national space policy should change based on what had occurred.
That third aspect is what we in medicine call the "morbidity and mortality" conference or others might call the "Fact-Finding Commission". After the grief; after all the emotion has died down, it is the dispassionate analysis of what went wrong and how do we fix it for the future. (I will not go into how this process actually played out at NASA, where there was tremendous denial that anything was broken and strong resistance to "fixing" anything--but that is another story/post).
I may be a Libertarian, but I am not an anarchist. There are reasons for people to come together into a nation for that common defense and to constuct a government in order to provide for that defense. Our national foreign policy must be made using the same dispassionate analysis of facts and data, combined with an assessment of the "common good". That combined focus must be grounded in a logical understanding of both short and long-term tactics within an overal strategy and an appreciation of the costs (whether in dollars or lives) as well as the potential benefits. Of course there must be debate and discussion of both tactics and strategy, as well as whatexactly and precisely is in our best interest as a group of people united in freedom and democracy.
What we do not need is a public flogging of our elected officials by the bereaved and mourning families of 9/11; by the histrionic mothers of soldiers who made their own choices to be in the military; by the angry fathers who are deeply distressed that their sons did not politically agree with them and chose to go into danger. Our national policies are far too important to be held hostage by the emotions of any individuals, let alone those who have an emotional axe to grind.
Important lessons can be learned from the 9/11 attacks, which I believe could not have been imagined, let alone predicted by any civilized mind. We can improve intelligence and mobilize resources that might significantly aid us in the event of another another attack; or possibly decrease the probability of another attack. But how does it help us as a nation to succumb to the belief that anyone else but the terrorists and their supporter were the ones responsible?
Crucial decisions and tactical adjustments can be made by a death or deaths in a war; sometimes even the overall strategy can be fine-tuned, or even abandoned if necessary when looked at in the spirit of determining what our nationaland security interests demand. But none of these actions can or should be made simply because of grief; or anger; or resentment; or fear. Let's face the truth: that the purpose of maintaining an army/navy/air force is to provide for the common defense. Those individuals who CHOOSE to join the military do so (one hopes) with a full awareness of what their job description entails in war, as well as in peacetime. Their death or injury while performing a dangerous, but crucial job on our behalf, should make all of us at home, safe, desperately grateful that they chose to serve their country in this manner. How does it help us to say that there is nothing worth sacrifice; nothing that is worth fighting for?
I feel a deep compassion for their mothers and fathers; and for their families and friends of those lost in war. The enormity of the sacrifice their loved ones made for us is reflected in the intense grief of those who mourn them. Perhaps for a while, they as individuals will bear a disproportionate amount of the sacrifice that comes with any war. I sincerely hope that all who grieve will come to peace with that reality and be able to go on with their lives. But I do not think their grief should hold us hostage. I do not believe that their grief gives them a better insight into what our country's policies should be (in truth, I think their grief can easily cloud their judgement). I do not believe that they should automatically be given a platform --either individually or as a group--by the media until they have resolved their grief and have constructive and rational proposals to bring to the national debate. Because of their emotional lability, it can be relatively easy for their suffering to become manipulated by unscrupulous individuals who want to use the raw emotion to further their own political or economic agendas.
By all means, let us have a discussion of the issues; the pros and cons; the costs as well as the benefits. But let us not determine our best common interests while watching the emotional and histrionic rantings of those who are in the grip of an unresolved grief reaction.
Their emotional suffering does not give them moral or intellectual superiority. And, we will not win this war without that superiority.