A Few Good Men

Although I am ideologically conservative, I am demographically liberal. In terms of my education, income, profession, where I live & my NPR membership, I should be an Obama supporter. I realized only recently that I also shared an important, unconscious, cultural prejudice against the military and I was really wrong.

I have two sons and I never really thought about either of them joining the military. I didn’t think about it and reject it; it just never seriously entered my consideration. My kids would just go straight to college. In my generation in my neighborhood and among my colleagues, military service just is not common. In my father’s time in the blue collar neighborhood where I grew up, military service was almost universal. We thought it was normal, but those times are past. I tried to enlist in the military as a young man, but they would not let me in for a silly health technicality, so I went to college and acquired a different attitude.

Now I have been serving with the USMC (in a USG civilian capacity) and am just finishing my eigth month in Iraq. It has been an eye opener that has made me confront my own unthinking assumptions and made me ashamed I had not thought this through earlier.

If you do not respect the Marines, you just do not know them. They are great guys, patriotic, intelligent and honorable. I always knew that, but I never really felt it deeply. Many Marine officers are true intellectuals. They read deeply in history and apply the lessons to their work. I can get into the same sorts of discussions I had at Fletcher or Harvard, although I doubt many of my Marine friends would be flattered by that comparison. For Marines, their work is leading Marines. It is not a purely academic exercise. Their decisions matter. If they make mistakes, men die. There are few comparable management challenges in civilian life.

It is hard to believe many of the enlisted men are so young. They take such responsibility. They talk about the strategic corporal, the ordinary man who makes a good or bad decision that can change the whole course of events. I remember an 18-year old commanding me in "polite" but firm terms. “Sir, we think it is only celebratory fire too, but just get in the ** Humvee.” To the point, I like that. Young Marines compare very favorably with the kids their ages working at their first full-time jobs or freshmen & sophomores in universities. They chose to serve their country and take on the challenge of being Marines. It shows in their characters.

When I came home on R&R I told my boys that maybe a tour in the Marines would be good for them. They should consider joining up when the time came. Not everybody should make this sort of thing a career. Some get out in a few years; other stay a full career, but it seems like a good experience for all involved. They grow up and become men. I took the boys to the Marine museum in Quantico, VA. Those who live nearby should go. You learn a lot. The decision will be theirs, but I want to open up the possibility.

So I was a little surprised by the reaction I got from some of my colleagues and coworkers when I told them about this. “You did what?” was a common response. You would think it was a form of child abuse. I thought about this, as I mentioned above, and I realized that the environment I lived in was not anti-military. It was in many ways pro-miltiary – for others. In fact the “other” definition fit very well. Often our perceptions are way out of date or come as the result of watching old shows like M*A*S*H and too often our perceptions are shaped by people who know little or nothing about the military. Our image too often is the caricatures performed by people like Sean Penn, Tom Cruise or Jack Nicholson. I even hesitated to use this title (A Few Good Men) because of the Cruise/Nicholson movie, but we should not let fiction be the last word.

Some of my colleagues seemed to think that the military was a sort of last stop, or a place where only southerners applied, or a place for poor kids etc. This is a bad attitude. It is not only wrong; it is pernicious. My time with the Marines has made that very clear to me and I don’t think we should tolerate that unspoken prejudice that service is for someone else or for some else’s kids. Those clowns who keep recruiters off campuses or won’t let them talk to HS students are just wrong in all senses of that word.

I am not saying the military service is for everyone and I don't advocate a draft. We should keep an all volunteer force. Some people just don’t adapt well to that sort of situation. (They can become a danger to themselves and others.) Even fewer will make it a career. Frankly we don’t need everybody involved. Not everybody can make it. But it should be an option everybody thinks about when he/she turns 18. I think it is a great growing experience for young men. I don’t want to be sexist here. There are many young women doing outstanding work in the services. I know of many who could kick my ass. But I think young men need it more. When they are 18-20 many are lost, with a little too much energy and not enough discipline. This is the time when they can make the transition to manhood. They need the experience of getting out of the old surroundings and doing something new and meaningful. Almost everybody in my father's generation had the opportunity and I believe it made them and our whole country better. My generation and those that have followed have largely missed out.

I hope that one or both of my sons choose to serve. They certainly have my encouragement both because of the service they will perform and the service they will receive. Cities such as SF that discourage USMC recruiting or universities such as Harvard that have driven ROTC off campus, are not only making decisions based on narrow minded ignorance, but are also doing a great disservice to the young people of their communities. They would be ashamed of themselves if they weren't so isolated.

Posted by Jack at May 21, 2008 8:11 AM
Comments
Comment #253284

Jack:

I humbly thank you.

And do not feel bad about using the title of “A Few Good Men”. It was a recruiting poster slogan that we were proud of long before it became the title of that movie with a severely flawed premise.

Posted by: Beirut Vet at May 21, 2008 9:01 AM
Comment #253286

Jack:

Although you get there in a backhanded way, it’s good to see the change in attitude. As for recruiting on campus or in SF, the folks there have many opportunities to find out about the military if they are so inclined.

Beirut Vet:

Thanks for your service, I tend to disagree that the premise of the movie was flawed. It would be interesting to discuss that with you. I suspect our difference of opinion is based on our personal experiences.

BTW: don’t be humble with Jack, he certainly isn’t.

Posted by: womanmarine at May 21, 2008 9:25 AM
Comment #253287

Jack,
Good Article except you left out the other three branches of the Military. For why I will take a brating for being Army, I do believe that both sides of the Political Spectrum in America has lost touch on why Our Elders built America into a Super Power. For why War may be the Business of the Warrior, no Man loves Peace more.

And why no one can say why as Humans we gruad that Unalienable Right, I am glad to hear at least one Conservative Citizen realize that Freedom does come at a High Price.

Posted by: Henry Schlatman at May 21, 2008 9:27 AM
Comment #253293

Beirut

Yes, you should be proud, not humble.

Woman

What I found interesting was that the attitude was almost completely unconscious. Intellectually I knew better, but it didn’t translate into behavioral attitude.

I think you will soon see other comments that will reinforce that incorrect attitude. Soon somebody will be talking about military as victims, poor etc - all those same things - and they won’t realize they are doing it.

Re being humble, you know that I am almost always outnumbered on this blog by people who dislike what I write even if they don’t always actually read it. I have had to develop an aggressive stance on some issues. Humble doesn’t work. I remember a thread on that went on for a long time discussing whether I was evil or just stupid. That is the kind of attitude I face. I cannot afford to be humble. Fortunately, I can usually dispatch any ten liberals and sometimes they don’t even know they have been zapped until ten minutes after they are done reading. It’s hard to be humble.

Henry

I live with the Marines. The Army Rangers and Navy SEALs seem plenty tough too. I don’t want to leave the others out, but I want to keep it closer to my own eyes-on experience. I did say that military, not only Marines, should be an option.

Posted by: Jack at May 21, 2008 9:53 AM
Comment #253294

“Although I am ideologically conservative, I am demographically liberal.”

JAck Im just about the opposite of you in this respect but I agree with your fine post. Just like the military not being for all people the quaker approach to life is also not for all people. I aspire to this higher level but just dont have the resolve required to be of quaker mentality. I appreciate those brave enough to serve in the military and put their life on the line for this country as much as I appreciate those brave enough to not pick up a weapon.

“Young Marines compare very favorably with the kids their ages working at their first full-time jobs or freshmen & sophomores in universities.”

Of course they do Jack why would you ever think any different? People in general in all walks of life are essentially good. Its desperate times that make people desperate. This tenet of conservatism that all people are bad is one reason I dont adhere to the conservative mentality. To think that those in the military are of a lower class than others is ridiculous. Im not sure this is a typical liberal attitude judging from the way those in our current administration treat the returning vets Im sure these vets have to wonder who their friends really are. You seem to stereotype those in the military much like those you deem liberal and conservative.

“So I was a little surprised by the reaction I got from some of my colleagues and coworkers when I told them about this. “You did what?” was a common response. You would think it was a form of child abuse.”
Consider for a moment the plight of a parent having family in the military, you must be able to see the daily anguish they have to go thru. While the long term benefits of the strengthened character is good the short term worry and fear on the part of the parents isnt so good for them at least. It may be the parents you spoke to are more worried about the short term than the long term.

“Some of my colleagues seemed to think that the military was a sort of last stop, or a place where only southerners applied, or a place for poor kids etc. This is a bad attitude. It is not only wrong; it is pernicious.”

Jack yes there are bad people in the south just as there are bad people in the north. Fortunately there are many more good people in the south and north as well as poor people who are good and do good. Have you considered this preconceived minset you and your neighbors seem to display has less to do with political persuasion and more to do with privelege and a higher level of income and education that is shared by liberal and conservative alike?

Most people I know disagree with the reasons we are in Iraq not those over there doing the fighting and dieing. I also disagree with the way this administration treats those in the military and those that have served previously in the military. Of course Im also in favor of a mandatory service for all Americans and at a minimum a draft. I also thought that the times when judges would give youthful offenders the choice between the military and going to jail was a good thing and should be revived.

Posted by: j2t2 at May 21, 2008 9:59 AM
Comment #253295

“Fortunately, I can usually dispatch any ten liberals and sometimes they don’t even know they have been zapped until ten minutes after they are done reading. It’s hard to be humble.”

Jack isnt it always easier to dispatch us liberals when you dont have to let facts get in the way of ideology. When truth is an option and when misinformation is the goal you do have a way of zapping. When clarity of thought is the enemy, when party and cause uber alles is the goal I can see why its so hard for you to be humble. Truely a legend in your own mind. :) Oops was I supposed to say something to disparage the troops ? Sorry.


“I remember a thread on that went on for a long time discussing whether I was evil or just stupid.”

Jack I’m not touching that one, but doesnt stupid and evil go together, sorta like conservative and neoconservative, or Bush and Cheney. :)

Thanks for encouraging these off topic cheap shots, you have brightened up my day.

Posted by: j2t2 at May 21, 2008 11:02 AM
Comment #253303

Jack, you’re not the only one. I include ‘Contrarian’ in place of my last name because like you, I belong to a demographic group that does not match my political leanings.

I am a white male, retired Navy, from the very deepest of the deep South - and as such I should be squarely on the conservative side.

But please pay particular attention to the ‘retired Navy’ part. My service enabled me to go to many places that most of those I grew up with never dreamed of…and I began to notice that things weren’t quite what I’d been raised to believe.

I began to see that people not of my own color are every bit as human as myself…and that women were every bit as capable as men.

I began to see that America wasn’t the most modern country under the sun, and that every other country, every other culture has certain ideas and ways of doing things that would help make America a better place.

I began to see that (as in many other countries), our leaders seem to think that they are above the law. Our current administration, for example, continues to flatly ignore the Constitution. I’m currently reading the “Decline and Fall of Rome” by Edward Gibbon…and I’m finding many disturbing similarities between the later Roman Empire (after it was no longer a Republic (“A dictatorship would be a lot easier, as long as I’m the dictator” - George W. Bush)), and present-day America; most of all is the power of the military and the military-industrial complex that (Republican) President Eisenhower warned us against.

I began to see that my own country is not the happiest place on earth…and that there is such a thing as having too much freedom (I can hear the cons began to howl just about now).

Don’t get me wrong - I would still give my life for America. That was - and is - my sworn duty. Remember a quote by Commodore Stephen Decatur:
“Our Country! In her intercourse with foreign nations may she always be in the right; but right or wrong, our country!”

America, for all her faults, is still my country. I can only hope that we return to the rule of law before we continue down the path that Rome trod over a thousand years ago….

Posted by: Glenn Contrarian at May 21, 2008 12:18 PM
Comment #253304

I had a marine buddy of mine over with a couple other friends recently (recall I’m a Ph.D. candidate), and realized I really needed to start reading some philosophy in order to keep up with him in conversation. So my summer reading list now has Kant, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche and a few others whom I’ve never touched.

Posted by: Chops at May 21, 2008 12:21 PM
Comment #253307

womanmarine:

The flawed premise of the movie is that they were on trial for murder but their defense was they were just obeying an order from a superior officer.
As an officer, we were extensively schooled on the Uniform Code of Military Justice, or UCMJ. As a result of the Nuremburg trials, The Judge Advocate General wanted ensure the “just following orders” defense did not protect someone from obeying orders that were known to be unlawful. I do not remember the exact article number but it clearly stated that if you are given what you know to be an unlawful order, you are not only obligated to not obey it, but also report it to higher authority.
Since the Marine Corps, at the level of Commandant of the Marine Corps and the 2nd Marine Division specifically banned any “code red” conduct, any order to engage in this conduct was automatically defined as an unlawful order.
The two Marines knew full well that they were given an unlawful order, but obeyed it anyway. If I were the prosecutor in this case, those two Marines would still be in prison today.

j2t2:

“This tenet of conservatism that all people are bad is one reason I dont adhere to the conservative mentality.”

I do not know where you are finding this “tenet of conservatism”, but it certainly does not belong to anything even resembling conservatism. Perhaps your moniker is indicative of your robotic approach to all things you do not understand. So if you do not understand something, be careful of how you comment on it. Perhaps you would like to press your internal reset button and try that one again, because your first attempt does not compute.

Posted by: Beirut Vet at May 21, 2008 12:34 PM
Comment #253308

Beirut Vet
Thank you for serving our great country.

Jack
Good article.
Everyone should be proud of our youngins serving in the Military. Your with the Marines over there and are writing from your experience with them. But I’m sure that you’ll find the same calibre folks in every branch of service.
While I personally think that all 18 year-olds should required enlist in the military very shortly after their birthday, your right that not everyone will do very good in the Military. But in general most young folks would benefit from a tour of duty.
Some might find it hard to believe but not even the Military wants everyone that joins to become lifers. While it needs those that will make it a career, it also realizes that a military career isn’t for everyone. It only wants those with a sense of duty to the country and that are willing to make the sacrifices required to serve 20 or 30 years.
I applaud your change in attitude and in your encouraging your sons to at least consider a hitch in service.

Posted by: Ron Brown at May 21, 2008 12:51 PM
Comment #253309

Glen

Gibbon is great literature, but not great history. It is probably the most influential book on Rome, however. Lots of people who never heard to Gibbon are influenced by his analysis and prejudices, which are – BTW – those of an English remittance man.

Consider the title “decline and fall”. His history covers around 1300 years of history. It is a long decline before the fall. He completely disrespects the Byzantine Empire by implying that its entire history is nothing but a post script. He also loves the “manly virtue” of the pagans, which is why Julian the Apostate gets such good press. His section on Justinian is very good.

Re a Republic, Gibbon’s history starts more than a century after the fall of the Republic. He talks about the era of the good emperors. This was not a democratic time. The fatal flow of the Romans was that they never really developed a system for transferring power peacefully. George Bush will leave office in a couple of months. A new president will take over and Bush will just be history. It rarely went that way for the Romans.

The Republic was generally a time of violent power clashes and the masses welcomed the emperors. There is a good recent bio of Augustus. I just finished it, but I cannot recall the author’s name.

Re travelling the world, I don’t know why learning those things would make you more liberal. I took an opposite lesson. Since we are different, but all worthy of human liberty, the best thing we can do is have a less intrusive governmental system that allows for more plurality.

You might want to consider the difference between liberty, freedom and license. Freedom alone doesn’t make you happy. It allows you to pursue happiness, but it also requires a greater degree of self control. In a more controlled environment, someone else can be credited, blamed or tasked with your welfare. In the U.S. you are largely responsible for it.

Some people use their freedom more wisely than others and many would give it up for the easier life of having some one to tell them what to do and someone to “take care of them”. That is also a lesson from the ancient Romans. The mob was always willing to back a “strong” ruler who would provide the best bread and circus. The state appartus had created and it sustained a large group of people who did not do much work, but felt entitled. That also sounds familiar.

If you have not gotten there yet, you will soon be reading re the red/green Nika riots. Think about what is parallel to that in the U.S.

Posted by: Jack at May 21, 2008 12:56 PM
Comment #253311

j2t2

Stupid & evil are not mutually exclusive, but they tend to be somewhat inverse. If a person is very stupid and does evil things w/o knowing it, is he an evil person? We generally make forming an intent an important part of guilt.

Re the facts, I generally present them from the most unbiased source I can find and I almost never disparage the other side by calling them nasty names (besides things like Democrat of liberal). It is actually these parts of the posts that usually catch you guys.

I have an ideology, but I don’t hate people on the other side. You will never hear me call Hilary or Obama a chimp, evil, warmonger, crook etc. I do not lack conviction, but I think the left side has a little too full of that passionate intensity.

Posted by: Jack at May 21, 2008 1:14 PM
Comment #253313

Jack:

Marines are interesting folks. I very much enjoyed meeting my son’s DI. He is now a navy officer through OCS in Florida heading for Kuwait soon.

We started this small ministry at our church. The basic “rules” are no politics, we support the troops. We send boxes of home made cookies etc around the world.

Here is the thing about Marines. We received a special request from a Marine in Iraq that asked if he could personally thank our church for supporting him and his family. I will be introducing him in our church service Sunday while he will be in full uniform.

I need to tell you it’s a bit strange. As a man of faith, there is nothing more special to me that my religious liberty. To be able to worship each sunday without fear stirs some incredible deep emotions inside of me.

I can never be thankful enough to the men and women of our armed forces for protecting that freedom.

So what do I say as I introduce him? I know what I need to say, that really isn’t my concern. My concern is getting through it. It is we who owe these men and women everything, and yet this crazy marine is so humble he wants to thank us.

If your son’s become Marines, they truly are jugheads. When we honor our military in our church they always get a standing ovation. They look like they don’t understand why they are being praised. In their mind they are just doing their job.

By the way if you want to watch one of these, here is our website. www.home-spokane.org. Click on “Photo Gallary” then “Movie Clips”.

You will see that we used a trial software. We have since bought the software but haven’t updated the website yet.

We believe that every church in the United States should have a ministry that actively expresses in a non political way our deep appreciation to the US armed forces for protecting our freedom to worship without fear.

You will notice if you are reading this that our website is www.home-spokane.org. We are building to expand.

One more thing. We have found keeping the politics out of our ministry to be huge. Currently when people think about supporting the military because of the nature of our world, they think they need to have an opinion about George Bush, or whether or not we should have gone to Iraq. When we tell people that those topics are “off limits” in what we do, it creates a ground swell of support. When we ask for something, we always get more than we asked. We end up giving excess contributions to the food bank.

Posted by: Craig Holmes at May 21, 2008 2:14 PM
Comment #253315
If your son’s become Marines, they truly are jugheads.

Did you perhaps mean jarheads? If not, shame on you :)

Thank you for your efforts to keep politics out of church. The reverse would also be welcomed.

Posted by: womanmarine at May 21, 2008 2:25 PM
Comment #253318

Jack:

Marines are interesting folks. I very much enjoyed meeting my son’s DI. He is now a navy officer through OCS in Florida heading for Kuwait soon.

We started this small ministry at our church. The basic “rules” are no politics, we support the troops. We send boxes of home made cookies etc around the world.

Here is the thing about Marines. We received a special request from a Marine in Iraq that asked if he could personally thank our church for supporting him and his family. I will be introducing him in our church service Sunday while he will be in full uniform.

I need to tell you it’s a bit strange. As a man of faith, there is nothing more special to me that my religious liberty. To be able to worship each sunday without fear stirs some incredible deep emotions inside of me.

I can never be thankful enough to the men and women of our armed forces for protecting that freedom.

So what do I say as I introduce him? I know what I need to say, that really isn’t my concern. My concern is getting through it. It is we who owe these men and women everything, and yet this crazy marine is so humble he wants to thank us.

If your son’s become Marines, they truly are jugheads. When we honor our military in our church they always get a standing ovation. They look like they don’t understand why they are being praised. In their mind they are just doing their job.

By the way if you want to watch one of these, here is our website. www.home-spokane.org. Click on “Photo Gallary” then “Movie Clips”.

You will see that we used a trial software. We have since bought the software but haven’t updated the website yet.

We believe that every church in the United States should have a ministry that actively expresses in a non political way our deep appreciation to the US armed forces for protecting our freedom to worship without fear.

You will notice if you are reading this that our website is www.home-spokane.org. We are building to expand.

One more thing. We have found keeping the politics out of our ministry to be huge. Currently when people think about supporting the military because of the nature of our world, they think they need to have an opinion about George Bush, or whether or not we should have gone to Iraq. When we tell people that those topics are “off limits” in what we do, it creates a ground swell of support. When we ask for something, we always get more than we asked. We end up giving excess contributions to the food bank.

Posted by: Craig Holmes at May 21, 2008 2:36 PM
Comment #253324

Jack-

My soon to be a HS graduate stepson just made the decision to enter into the Coast Guard. He’ll ship the first week of August and I think it’s a great choice for him. Although his grades are excellent you can tell he just isn’t ready for college. After his 4 year commitment is up he can head back to school or continue a career as a Coastie. Either way I’m very proud of him and his decision to serve.

Posted by: George in SC at May 21, 2008 4:06 PM
Comment #253326

womanmarine:

Jughead and jarhead applies to this particular marine.

I was on the school board when he graduated from high school. He graduated “sigma cum lucky”. It took all of us to drag him across the stage almost. He was a loveable kid, but “stepped in it” from time to time. I think I actually handed him his diploma.

Now here he comes home from Iraq. Chest full of medals. It’s his second tour. It’s going to be tough to introduce him. I’m going to write it out.

After his talk, my son will play taps on his trumpet as we honor those who did not make it home.


Posted by: Craig Holmes at May 21, 2008 4:46 PM
Comment #253327

George

I think that is exactly right. It is not for everybody, but for many it is a good choice. Many kids are not ready for college at 18. They can use the discipline the military can provide. It sure beats most of the other alternatives.

And military recruiter should be welcomed on HS and college campuses. I think a whole segment of our society is missing out on this opportunity because some of their elders as still upset re the Vietnam war.

Posted by: Jack at May 21, 2008 4:53 PM
Comment #253333

Jack -

Good post…but perhaps you should look a little closer just how close we came (and may yet come) to a form of dictatorship. Put all of these together, please:

- Executive Order 51, which effectively criminalized the war movement, even if it is not rigidly enforced, and gave the president the ability to basically ignore Congress and the Judiciary if he saw fit.

- Rove’s drive to create a ‘permanent Republican majority’. Remember all the times the Democrats were completely shut out of the decision-making sessions in Congress before 2006?

- The firing of attorneys general who would not indict Democratic candidates due to lack of evidence (and the firing of one who prosecuted a Republican candidate against whom there was evidence)?

- The censorship of scientists in the EPA and NASA, wherein they were not allowed to report research that went against the administration’s policy? Sixty-one percent of scientists in the EPA reported such interference.

- “It would be a lot easier in a dictatorship, so long as I’m the dictator.” Do you really, truly think Bush II was joking? Much truth is said in jest….

Jack, you’re right that the Romans emperors did not have a peaceful system of transition from administration to administration…but I think you missed the point that when they were a Republic, they pretty much did have a peaceful system of transition as compared to the other forms of government of those days.

Laws have a purpose, Jack. Less government is not necessarily better government. Why? Because many people are greedy, and the less regulation these people face, the more innocent people will be hurt. Witness the current housing crisis - the crisis that Bush was warned of and refused to take action on.

Another good example is health care. Jack, we’re forty-fifth on the list when it comes to life expectancy. Only two countries above us also don’t have universal health care - they’re Jordan and Bosnia, 40th and 42nd respectively. Every other country on the list has Universal Health Care in one form or another…and Japan, which is close to the top of the list, spends less than half the U.S. does per capita on health care.

But the Conservatives don’t want to hear such facts. Why? (1) They call it ‘more government’ (even if it saves many more lives), (2) They call it ‘socialist’ (even though nearly every industrialized nation in the FREE world has it), and (3) It’s supported by the Liberals…and that automatically makes it a bad idea in their eyes.

Yes, too much government is bad - it’s just as bad as not enough government. After a country’s patriots have shed their blood to pay the price of freedom, there’s still a price: it’s called ‘taxes’. Funny how some are so eager to lay their life on the line in their country’s defense, but bitterly complain about the taxes they pay so that their government can keep their country working….

Posted by: Glenn Contrarian at May 21, 2008 5:37 PM
Comment #253334

In the previous post, “Every other country on the list has Universal Health Care” should have read “Every other country above us on the list has Universal Health Care”. Apologies….

Posted by: Glenn Contrarian at May 21, 2008 5:40 PM
Comment #253343

“Funny how some are so eager to lay their life on the line in their country’s defense, but bitterly complain about the taxes they pay so that their government can keep their country working….”
Posted by: Glenn Contrarian at May 21, 2008 05:37 PM

Glenn, how funny is it when congress passes a $300 billion farm bill that doesn’t do a thing to “keep the country working”? Read the pork report of the thousands of bills that waste taxpayer money and you will cry, not laugh. John McCain, unlike most of the congress voted against this God-awful bill and President Bush vetoed it.

Where is the much touted caring for the middle class by Clinton, Obama, Reid and Pelosi when they support such wasteful spending of our tax dollars? They, like many politicians are merely whores whose votes are for sale.

Posted by: Jim M at May 21, 2008 7:15 PM
Comment #253345

Jack:

Very nice article. I appreciate your thoughts, and how they evolved with your experience. In contrast to you, I pointed out the down side to service to my son and I have to admit that I tried really hard to talk him out of enlisting into the USAR. I signed the papers when he was 17. He has completed a tour in Rhamadi in the last several months and is debating volunteering for a second deployment.

j2t2:

I disagree with a couple of your statements, but overall, your post was respectful and supportive. Nice job. The two sentences that I disagree with are,” Its desperate times that make people desperate. This tenet of conservatism that all people are bad is one reason I dont adhere to the conservative mentality.”

IMHO for the first sentence should read,” It’s desperate times that make most/some people desperate.” Too many times have I seen people perpetuate their “desperate” situations by refusing to do things to improve their situation. Simple things, like getting and keeping a job.

As for the second sentence, I am very corservative and believe that if given the chance, most people will not only do the right things, but they will will also achieve to the limits of their opportunity and ability to the point that it profitable to them.

Craig Holmes:

May God Bless You, your ministry and your congregation.

You said,” So what do I say as I introduce him? I know what I need to say, that really isn’t my concern. My concern is getting through it. It is we who owe these men and women everything, and yet this crazy marine is so humble he wants to thank us.” You Sir, are a very insightful man. I hope this will not ruin the moment for you or that crazy marine, but you are about to honor, humble, embarass(in the very best way!!!) and confuse him. It will be a moment that may him take years to fully understand, but will move him deeply.

Everyone:

I know that many that have posted on this thread are against the war in Iraq. This thread was not started as a debate on the merits of this war, nor has it evolved into one. More to the point, everyone that has posted in this thread has been more than respectful to those that are serving and have served. For that I deeply thank you.

Posted by: submariner at May 21, 2008 7:29 PM
Comment #253351

The following are quotes from the Myspace page of a local kid who was killed in Iraq about a year and a half ago:

Graduated: 2005
Student status: Alumni
Degree: High School Diploma
Major: Dumbass

My name is W…, Im in the US Army infantry, stationed i Schweinfurt, Germany. I dont realy like it here as much as i thought i would, its too far away from home, but its not all that bad. But for right now im in Bagdhad, Iraq, doing PSD. Its pretty kool, i love what i do. My career goal is to work for Blackwater security consulting when im out of the army…
///
and the obit:
January 15, 2007 - A funeral mass will be held Monday for Army Private W… N…. The 20-year-old from Arlington Heights was killed in Iraq.
The governor has ordered all flags at state buildings to be lowered to half staff in N….’s honor. N…. had just returned to Iraq after visiting home and celebrating his birthday with family and friends. He died in action when his Humvee was hit by a bomb in Baghdad.
N….. visited Sanborn Elementary School in Palatine a couple of weeks ago to talk to several classes about what life was like in Iraq. But he also had another connection to the school, because his mother works there as the principal’s secretary. The principal told ABC7 that in one of his last conversations with N…., he had said his greatest fear was to get hit by an IED, and that is exactly how he died.
///

Some people have been enlisting in the army hoping to go to work for the private contractors, who pay much more than the government pays its soldiers. This one never got the chance.

Posted by: ohrealy at May 21, 2008 10:06 PM
Comment #253353

Glen

Things do sometimes really get better. The Roman Republic was good FOR the time. But it broke down horribly. There was not one generation of the later Republic without serious strife and usually outright civil war. We based our constitution to some extent on the Roman model, but fixed most of its flaws. Human systems are all imperfect - ours too, because they are run by and for humans. Ours works. Everybody thinks we come close to dictatorship, but we really do not. It is like that ride at the amusement park that seems to be coming off the tracks.

Remember the lesson of the Romans re dictatorship. The common people welcomed it as a way to screw the rich.

Re less government – all government is coercive. We need government for many things. It should be limited to where it is needed. There is a legitimate debate re how much is too much, but we cannot expect government to make us happy. People are indeed greedy, but not only for money. Lots of people like power. They tend to drift into government. They want to boss you around, usually for your own or the common good as they see it. The bad things come from ostensibly good intentions.

Re health care – I have lived in socialized medicine countries. The level of care is about as good as you could get at the county hospital in Milwaukee. You can get that care free too. I agree that we have to reform health care. I actually liked the Norwegian health care system. But I am not sure most of my complaining fellow Americans would. In practice, universal health care will involve bringing most people down to or up to an average standard. It will not mean that everyone gets the highest U.S. standard of care, which is still the best in the world.

We spend most of our health care dollars to deal with nearly hopeless cases. Sometimes people get sick and we all die. We should just get used to that. Socialized medicine may get rid of some of the medical heroics. That is good.

Posted by: Jack at May 21, 2008 10:51 PM
Comment #253356

“I do not know where you are finding this “tenet of conservatism”, but it certainly does not belong to anything even resembling conservatism.

Seems others may disagree,

http://www.alternet.org/mediaculture/69710/

“Perhaps your moniker is indicative of your robotic approach to all things you do not understand.”
Perhaps, perhaps not.

“So if you do not understand something, be careful of how you comment on it.”

But I do understand it, so I will comment on it as I see fit BV, much like you are free to disagree with my opinion as you see fit.

“Perhaps you would like to press your internal reset button and try that one again, because your first attempt does not compute.”

Or perhaps you can read the link and push your own reset button BV, IMHO there is certainly nothing so sacred about conservatism that it would be on a pedestal above reproach.

http://www.thomhartmann.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=124&Itemid=38

“IMHO for the first sentence should read,” It’s desperate times that make most/some people desperate.” Too many times have I seen people perpetuate their “desperate” situations by refusing to do things to improve their situation. Simple things, like getting and keeping a job.”

Fair enough submariner. I would agree that people tend to create their own problems, some times intentionally some of the time unintentionally IMHO. Other times they are stuck with bad decisions made by politicians or corporations that impact their lives negatively.

“As for the second sentence, I am very corservative and believe that if given the chance, most people will not only do the right things, but they will will also achieve to the limits of their opportunity and ability to the point that it profitable to them.”

According to many Hobbes and Burke are the grandfathers of the conservative philosophy. If you look on wikipedia there are many different types of modern conservative thought but they all started from the works of these guys. I know that politically I lean to the left and find myself agreeing with liberals or populist most often.I find many people saying things about liberalism that I dont beleive to be consistant with liberal philosophy.


Posted by: j2t2 at May 22, 2008 12:30 AM
Comment #253358

submariner:

Thank you for your kind comments.

You know what we have found out in our little ministry is so huge. There are thousands of men and women in uniform overseas who get little or no mail. So what we have decided to do is to create an extremely simple “ministry”. We are challenging literally every church in the United States to start a program that actively thanks our men and woman in uniform for protecting our religious freedom.

It started out small with a few care packages with homemade cookies. It is amazing how strongly particularly the men respond to cookies from the gramma’s in our church.

What is funny is that then the men and women write back to us to thank us, and we read the notes in woman’s bible study. Now of course the women are all balling. Then the can’t wait to bake more cookies!! These Grammas are amazing when they get thanked!!

It’s just very simple. We put homemade cookies and drawings from children in boxes and mail them to the troops to say thank you. No hidden agendas. No politics. We hear that the troops put the children’s drawings up in their tent/room like wallpaper.

Posted by: Craig Holmes at May 22, 2008 12:59 AM
Comment #253364

ohrealy,
You bring a real good point to part of the problem America faces in the 21st Century. For as one who signed up in 1978 and had to deal with junk, the one thing that I do not hear from either Presidential Candidates is how they plan to arm the Troops if we are forced to become the Cops of the World.

For why Our Government may not be able to find anymore tax money to pay the Troops and rearm the Military, I wonder if Congress could be moved to given them Treasury Notes in leu of pay?

Posted by: Henry Schlatman at May 22, 2008 7:24 AM
Comment #253376

j2t2:

A left wing blog is hardly evidence to support the claim you made in your original post.

I did not say you could comment, just that you might want to be careful. Otherwise you come off as a close minded bigot who brands every conservative with a label that you could not possibly prove to be true……kind of like what just happened.

Posted by: Beirut Vet at May 22, 2008 10:51 AM
Comment #253377

Sorry, that should have read “I did not say you could NOT comment, just that you might want to be careful.”

Posted by: Beirut Vet at May 22, 2008 10:54 AM
Comment #253394

Craig

I have seen those sorts of drawings on many walls.

j2t2

Liberals define conservatives in different ways. We are not required to accept your labels.

If you want to know who hates more, go through the entries on the red and blue sides. Not the comments, where people may pretend to be something they are not, just look at the entries. Count how many times you find someone called a name or portrayed as stupid or evil. I know you might think it is “true” to call the president a chimp or Cheney evil, but I ask you to try to be neutral. Just count the negatives. Now also gage the postive statements.

Liberals always tell me that they are just reacting to conservative hate. Find that, if you can.

Posted by: Jack at May 22, 2008 1:29 PM
Comment #253405

The plot of the movie is that a rather lazy lawyer trying to coast his way through his commitment in the JAG, and gains integrity as he confronts a commander who thinks his great burden of duty puts him above the law.

Some people seem to believe that the defense of this country requires people to break the rules, to respond to the terrorist and/or enemy’s callous disregard for life, for freedom, for people’s opinions by engaging in a limited version of the same.

Trouble is, the terrorists and the tyrants have nothing to lose by being inordinately cruel. They have made their peace with callously disregarding lives and liberties, and in fact see it as essential to their way of doing things.

We, however, have not made our peace with that, and God help us, we should never make our peace with it. Any strategy that cannot be wholeheartedly employed that we cannot long tolerate, is not a long term strategy we can successfully employ.

Our strength IS that we’re civilized. It IS that when we have people up on that wall, they have the discipline to protect the weak, not take advantage of them or hurt them.

Our strength is that we use more forensic, more logical methods to find out information, rather than relying on torture and other methods. Civilization yields the benefits of police forces and border patrols, security infrastruction and so on and so forth. We don’t have to become them to win, we just have to perform better than them as we adapt to the problems we face.

One last thing: to be a Democrat is not to be anti-military. I have never been anti-military. It was my pro-military mindset that led me to feel that the way the war was being run was intolerable. It was below my standards to see America underperform, to see us begin to lose. My original calls were for Bush to improve his strategy. Unfortunately, he waited until the critical damage had already been done to Iraq’s unity as a country, and then worked an at best temporary band-aid of a solution with the surge.

I’m not anti-war, I’m anti-stupid. I’m anti-BS. I wanted to win. The Bush administration failed to do what was necessary. They want to pretend like they haven’t done anything irreversible, when in fact the situation is a ruin of that which we had before, and it will be some time before things are anywhere near better. The refusal of the adminstration to face reality is making things worse, and leaving America’s military in harms way for no other purpose than to make sure the war doesn’t end. There is no progressively achieveable plan at hand, just assurances that further waiting, further delay of the final chop of the axe for this war will lead to the promise land of an honorable peace.

That’s the same thing said for five years now. If it was going to come true, it would have done so a long time ago. Interminable war to avoid catastrophic collapse is not a solution, it’s cowardice, it’s making the possibility of that collapse greater, making letting that country down easier much more difficult.

The longer this goes on, the greater the stress of the final pull-out. I sympathize with those who don’t like this outcome, but I will not accept the blame, as a liberal, for the consequences of lousy policy. I can only hope the policies of our next president can help manage the drawdown without a catastrophic breakout of violence, but if it does occur, we should reflect that we haven’t exactly kept Iraq peaceful to date, and that this is just the previous failures playing themselves out. The painless finish to this war went to the wayside a long time ago.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at May 22, 2008 2:45 PM
Comment #253499

Jack,
Not only do military folk make great people, they make great volunteers. I set up a One on One program in Jacksonville, NC. and the majority of the volunteers were from the marines and navy. They honestly cared about the kids they worked with, were terrific with the families, and actually turned in their reports on time!!!

I was honored to work with them and call them friends.

Posted by: Linda H. at May 23, 2008 12:54 PM
Comment #253627

Jack -

“In practice, universal health care will involve bringing most people down to or up to an average standard. It will not mean that everyone gets the highest U.S. standard of care, which is still the best in the world.”

Sorry, but the U.S. standard of care is NOT the best in the world. How can I say this? Because in the list of countries of the world by life expectancy, we are FORTY-FIFTH.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_life_expectancy

Of all the nations above us on the list, only Jordan and Bosnia do not have some form of Universal Health Care - and they rank 40th and 42nd, respectively. All other countries above Jordan have Universal Health Care.

Jack, we DO have the very best health care in the world, no doubt - but ONLY for those who can afford it. For the rest of us, it’s only what the profit-seeking HMO’s and health insurance agencies will allow - which is one of the two major reasons (along with obesity) why we are forty-fifth on the list and not first.

The hard proof of the matter lay in the amount of foreclosures due to medical expenses. Check this out:

A study of 1,771 bankrupt Americans conducted by Harvard University and released in February [2005] found that half were driven to bankruptcy court by medical bills and illness. Most of those, three-fourths, had health insurance, but could not afford high co-payments or had their employment terminated due to health problems. (boldface mine)
http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0JAS/is_3_34/ai_n13788003
http://www.housingchoice.org/news%20stories/2005/07172005-3.htm

The only other choice one has is ‘medical tourism’ (as I have done).

It’s good that you feel you might support UHC - I just took issue about your statement about the ‘standard’

Posted by: Glenn Contrarian at May 25, 2008 1:38 PM
Comment #253628

Jack said: “If you want to know who hates more,”

And then there is Limbaugh, Hannity, and Coulter.

Their counterpart is Bill Maher. Looks like 3 to 1 to me.

Neither your nor my samplings for statistical purposes are relevant or valid, Jack. And you know this.

Posted by: David R. Remer at May 25, 2008 1:43 PM
Comment #253682

Jack,

I understand that, with the position you are in, your very life may depend on the Marines you speak of. I have followed your postings on your personal blog and it was there that I read of your visit to “The National Museum of The Marine Corps”.
I was a member of the tech team that installed the A/V systems at the Quantico museum you are speaking of.
I mean no disrespect to anybody, but at the end of the six weeks I was at Quantico, I was pretty much oo-rah’d out.
The Marines I worked with (and there were a few former Marines on the crew as well) apparently come from a different culture than I do.
That is not to say I don’t appreciate their sacrifices the Marines have made, and continue to make for our country, but the mind set of “being” a Marine is something that is foreign to me, and I truly don’t think I could do it.
I got along with the folks there just fine, but being a Marine isn’t for everybody, and even if I was young enough to join, it wouldn’t be for me.

You state that you wish that your sons would become Marines. While this is a noble sentiment, only you know your sons well enough to determine if it would truly do them the type of good you think it will.
My hope would be that if they do choose to join, it would be for the right reasons, and not just to please dad.

Posted by: Rocky at May 26, 2008 7:40 PM
Comment #253693

Jim M said: “Where is the much touted caring for the middle class by Clinton, Obama, Reid and Pelosi when they support such wasteful spending of our tax dollars?”

You will have to include a number of Republicans in this group, as this was a veto proof passage: not possible without Republican support.

Posted by: David R. Remer at May 26, 2008 9:51 PM
Comment #253699

Jack:

These Marines!! I introduced the Marine who asked to come to thank our church for the care packages.

WOW!! He is a 2000 grad from our local High School. He talked about how important it is to get support. He mentioned the major media outlets that they receive in Iraq, and how it feels like they have no support back home. It sounds like being a Marine can be very lonely. Even so, he is planning on making a career of it.


Posted by: Craig Holmes at May 26, 2008 10:28 PM
Comment #253779

Jack:

How did Obama give a long speech on service to country on Memorial Day weekend and not mention Military service?

Posted by: Craig Holmes at May 27, 2008 11:22 PM
Comment #253780

Jack,

“Liberals always tell me that they are just reacting to conservative hate. Find that, if you can.”

I have been here reading just as you have for just about as long as you have and the insults run both ways.

To claim otherwise would be disingenuous.

Posted by: Rocky at May 28, 2008 1:14 AM
Comment #253919

“A left wing blog is hardly evidence to support the claim you made in your original post.I did not say you could comment, just that you might want to be careful. Otherwise you come off as a close minded bigot who brands every conservative with a label that you could not possibly prove to be true……kind of like what just happened.
Posted by: Beirut Vet at May 22, 2008 10:51 AM”

Sorry BV no access to internet over memorial weekend trip. I must take exception to your refusal to accept the link backing up what I had stated. Do you also choose to disavow Hobbes and Burkes? Seems closed minded does apply to conservatives who think the whole thing started with Reagan. Hobbes was a great man for his times pathing the way for the liberal thinkers that followed as well as other conservative thinkers like Adams as well. To think that a individual like Thom Hartmann should not be worthy of study because it is found on a liberal blog is the sign of a closed mind though.

Posted by: j2t2 at May 29, 2008 9:11 PM
Comment #253922

j2t2 -

Thom Hartmann is a quality source IMO. The man always, always backs up his research with credible references. I would call him the liberal answer to George Will…except I think Thom has a better grasp of economics and history.

And you’re right - to refuse to check out what’s on a blog simply because it’s liberal is a sign of a closed mind. That’s sorta like refusing to talk to other countries simply because they hate one’s own countries…also know as ‘diplomacy’.

Posted by: Glenn Contrarian at May 29, 2008 9:35 PM
Comment #253957

j2t2 and Glenn:

I did not say that I did not look at your site, but merely do not put much stock in it.

“To think that a individual like Thom Hartmann should not be worthy of study because it is found on a liberal blog is the sign of a closed mind though.”

I doubt you would say the same about Rush Limbaugh who Thom “competes” against in radio. You hold him up on a virtuous stage but will ridicule anything that does not parrot his liberal ideology. I do not use RL as a source because he is a partisan commentator. For you to use an equally partisan person on the other side as “proof” is lazy and shows a tendency towards a sheep herd mentality on your part.

“Do you also choose to disavow Hobbes and Burkes? Seems closed minded does apply to conservatives who think the whole thing started with Reagan. “

I would hardly call the works of a man who wrote during the English civil war (1642) as having much to do with the MODERN conservative movement and thought. And it did not start with Reagan, more to Goldwater and Bill Buckley, Reagan was just a champion of conservatism who helped bring it to new heights.

And I notice, through several attempts to change the focus of the debate, you still have not supported with any proof your original close minded assertion that conservatives believe all people are evil. Here is your original quote.

“This tenet of conservatism that all people are bad is one reason I dont adhere to the conservative mentality”

I am still waiting for proof, but I am not holding my breath.

Posted by: Beirut Vet at May 30, 2008 10:37 AM
Comment #253960

Glenn, I agree with you, Hopefully BV will be able to overcome his aversion to all things liberal long enough to do a little reading and realize that my original comment wasnt a slur on conservatives, but instead a statement of fact.

BTW “pathing” should be “paving” in my previous post.

Posted by: j2t2 at May 30, 2008 10:51 AM
Comment #253971

“I would hardly call the works of a man who wrote during the English civil war (1642) as having much to do with the MODERN conservative movement and thought. And it did not start with Reagan, more to Goldwater and Bill Buckley, Reagan was just a champion of conservatism who helped bring it to new heights.”

So BV do you think that Goldwater and Buckley invented the whole thing? They just carried on from those that came before them. While you may not see the roots of conservatism in the writings of wise men such as Hobbes and Burke doesnt mean its not there. Do you also discount the writings of the founding fathers of this nation that relied upon the works of Hobbes and Burke as well as Locke and others?
However Im glad to see you agree that what Reagan and his followers to the present day have done is actually “new heights” for conservatism. Most conservatives, it seems, try to blame this borrow and spend, expand government, NAFTA as free trade philosophy on others. I applaud you for your honesty.

“And I notice, through several attempts to change the focus of the debate, you still have not supported with any proof your original close minded assertion that conservatives believe all people are evil. Here is your original quote.

“This tenet of conservatism that all people are bad is one reason I dont adhere to the conservative mentality”

I am still waiting for proof, but I am not holding my breath.”

Oh BV really. Here is your first quote. Notice the word proof? Me neither. Notice “where you are finding this”? Me to.

“I do not know where you are finding this “tenet of conservatism”, but it certainly does not belong to anything even resembling conservatism.

Notice my response? the link to one of Thom Hartmann works on the subject. Of course you denied this link and Mr. Hartmanns work as it was a direct response to your query. Fine and well but then you accuse me of changing the focus of the debate? How?
Because you didnt like my response and decided to up the burden you placed on me to the level of proof. Yet I changed the focus of the debate on an issue not really related to the topic of Jacks post? Enlighten me oh wise conservative one as to how I did this.
As far as proof exactly what would satisfy you? Hopefully you are not expecting a signed statement from Limbaugh or Hannity? Perhaps you should look around at your fellow conservatives and see if the statement I made has a spec of truth in it. Certainly that fine group of consevatives like the Falwells, Haggee, Robertsons of the world would say all of us are bad(or evil). Or perhaps we can elaborate on Hartmann point. Lets try this link:
http://hotnewsandinformation.blogspot.com/2007/12/thom-hartmann-how-liberals-can-speak.html

BTW Limbaugh is not close to being in the same league as Hartmann my friend. Long before he was on Air America Hartmann was writing on many subjects including politics. Its like comparing a Mercedes with a Kia. Yes both are automobiles but… . If you wish maybe Randi Rhodes and Rush can be compared.

Posted by: j2t2 at May 30, 2008 2:12 PM
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