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THURSDAY, November 30, 2006
The other big news this week is the trip by Pope Benedict XVI to Turkey, 99% of whose population is Muslim. A challenge under any circumstance, it was made more so by the Pope's academic lecture presented in his old school, the University of Regensberg two months ago. There he seemed to accept the premise that Islam is a "viiolent Religion". Most analysts have stated that the message he wanted to send is that this great and moderate Religion must address the lunatic fringe in its midst. A fine analysis of this Pope's background and approach to life was published this weekend in the WSJ ("A Tumultuous World Tests a Rigid Pope", by Gabriel Kahn and Stacy Meichtry, pA1). The Pope is evidently drawing a line in the sand between The Church and its followers...and the "secular-progressive" world described by Bill O'Reilly in his latest book, "Culture Warrior". That approach is welcome by most Catholics...who have to live in this world...as long as the line is bright only where it has to be - and not just because "that's the way it has been". For more on these issues, offered by two strong and practising Roman Catholics, see the series of articles entitled "Point and Counterpoint", filed on this web site under "The Involved Citizen", in "Abortion, Morality and Ethics".
MONDAY through WEDNESDAY, November 27 through 29, 2006
Could there be any other commentary these days than about Iraq and the Middle East quagmire?
The Bush administration is spinning like a top, trying not to fall over. "This is not a civil war". "The major antagonists are not the Sunni "insurgents" and the Shia targets, but al Qaida"...still and again. "Iran and Syria should be more helpful". The administration was "displeased" with the "leaking" of President Bush's National Security Advisor's report saying all the things about Iraq Prime Minister al Maliki that Mr. Bush would not be able say to him directly today in Jordan. And then there all the pundits, tripping over their own ambiguous proposals. Some of these are summarized in an article in the WSJ this weekend entitled "The U.S. In Iraq: What's Next?" (pA7). As is so often the case, Thomas Friedman is the most insightful and helpful of the bunch ("Ten Months or Ten Years", NYTimes today, pA27). But even he is too pessimistic. And nobody mentions my proposal: withdraw our troops from the shooting gallery and redeploy them (and maybe more) on all the borders between Iraq and the rest of that madhouse region, allowing no one in or out, thereby giving the 27 million Iraqi citizens the decision between civil war instigated by a small fraction of their total number...and government by negotiation. Give them a chance. And stop the diplomatic posturing and the CYA dance. With all the mistakes we have made since Saddam was toppled, we owe them at least that.GS
FRIDAY through SUNDAY, November 24 through 26, 2006
If you eliminate the "news" about Tom Cruise's affairs and the O.J.
Simpson disaster and all the hype about "Black Friday (please, please),
what you have left since my last offering in this section is both serious
discussion and bloviating about "what to do in Iraq now".
The NYTimes today offers a compilation of such positions in two articles
in the Week In Review (Sec. 4) offered by James Glanz and by Bill Marsh,
with a useful editorial summary ("Learning From Iraq", Wk p9).
But still no mention of the approach that I have recommended: to seal with adequate military forces all the borders between Iraq and its surrounding "neighbors", allowing no one to enter or to leave, and then to let the Iraqi people decide among themselves whether they want a civil war or political solutions to their ages-old problems. After all, America had to fight a revolution and a civil war before we had earned our liberty and democracy. Of course, American forces would stay on the ground in the region for the next five to ten years to monitor and guarantee the outcome, all in our mutual self-interest. Talk about "winning". That would be a "win". Why hasn't anyone with much more influence than I expressed this option. What am I missing here? I and the allied troops who are fighting and dying there would like to know.
MONDAY through THURSDAY, November 20 through 23, 2006
ALL ABOUT IRAQ AND WHAT WE SHOULD DO WITH THE MESS WE ARE IN.
Early on in the course of my persistent criticism of this administration's
conduct of the Iraq war aftermath, since the Spring of 2003, I was willing
to give President Bush, Sec. Rumsfeld and their advisors the benefit of
the doubt. "They must know more about what they are doing than I
know about what they are doing".
I have known for a long time that I was wrong about that. From a witches' brew of ignorance, negligence and wilfill arrogance, we have been led to the current sorry state of affairs in Iraq, all unnecessarily.
So, what do we do now? The Democrats and their liberal media are engaged in a full-court press for cutting and running, expressed in as many variations as there are spokesmen. The administration is engaged in the time-honored exercise of "studying" the matter through commissions. The only politician with a productive idea...namely, re-establishing a fair draft...presents it as a cynical Trojian Horse to carry the standard Democratic baggage of race and class warfare. And the NYTimes predictably chimes in with today's editorial entitled "Rejecting The Draft". It is full of conclusory statements like: "Yet military leaders nevertheless oppose a draft. They believe you don't get a highly skilled Army by forcing people to serve against their will, and they are right". Pretty dismissive of the people who served in WW ll, Korea and Viet Nam, until - of course - the politicians screwed it up.
Here I can only repeat what I proposed in the Rapid Response offering of 10/26,27 and 10/21,22 of this year. I have heard absolutely no better pro-active plan to date. Why not? More ignorance, negligence and wilfull arrogance?
One more point. President Theodore Roosevelt offered valuable advice for international relations: "Speak softly, and carry a big stick". Our stick has become badly splintered...and we are not speaking at all to the other important players: Syria, Iran, and the other Middle East stake-holders. Why not, and all the while making very clear that our national self-interest requires America to maintain a military position in that region for decades to come...unless the Muslim world achieves a long delayed social and political Renaissance.
FRIDAY through SUNDAY, November 17 through 19, 2006
Before the recent national elections, we stated that: “Our duty will be to decide which of the candidates is the most consistently pro-life.” That duty does not end with the election results…and certainly not with those of this election. For, behind the easy “throw all the bums out” explanation there lies the real lesson provided by all Americans, as witnessed by their votes on candidates and by their votes on the many referenda that were offered.GS
Why were good pro-life people like Rick Santorum, Mike DeWine and Jim Talent defeated? Why were strong pro-life (anti-abortion and anti-embryonic stem cell) referenda defeated in conservative States like South Dakota and Missouri? The reason is an over-riding demand for moderation, not radicalism. The non-negotiable issues were lost amidst a clamor for less foundational but no less divisive issues.
Will the victorious Democrats learn that lesson…or will their leadership continue their hell-bent charge toward radical liberalism and “secular progressivism”. If the latter, they will lose the 2008 Presidential elections. If the Republicans’ “base” continues in its early analysis that they were not reactionary enough, they will return to another “40 years in the desert”, as they experienced after WW II.
Now come the pronouncements from the recent U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. By a majority vote, with a significant number of minority votes, they continue to equate the abomination of abortion with the use of non-abortive contraception methods even by married couples. They express an intent to embrace and offer support to homosexuals, whose sexual inclination is being found in medical research to be very much a biologic issue largely determined in the womb…but they require an asexual lifestyle. They rightly defend the foundational institution of Marriage as the union of one man and one woman…but they are ambivalent about the fairness of “civil unions” and oppose adoption of parent-less children by personally committed and loving homosexual couples.
Reference to the “Compendium Of The Social Doctrine Of The Church” is instructive here (English translation published in 2004 by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, ISBN 1-57455-692-4). See Sec. 144, on “Equality, irrespective of sex”. See Sec. 155, on “Children and the responsible exercise of sexuality”. See Sec. 223, “Love and its sexual expression”. See Sec. 224, “Gender identity and sexual identity”. Surely there is room for discussion and moderation here, entirely consistent with God’s gift of free will and with the demands of a right conscience. The Catholic Church has always had difficulty with this, beginning in the Second Century, extending through the Reformation and the Thirty Years’ War, and continuing even currently through differences about the meaning and implementation of Vatican ll in the 1960’s. This is certainly better than the situation in the amorphous Religion of Islam, which has the liability of no central Islamic theological authority. But there must be room for discussion and dialogue…or the Catholic Church will continue to lose the election of the pews. And that is not the way to influence and lead over one billion Roman Catholic people of good will, free will and right conscience.
THURSDAY, November 16, 2006
Yesterday's offering was entitled: "What To Do In Iraq".
Today's is entitled: "What To Do In America". GS
The embers glowed softly, and in their dim light,SUNDAY through WEDNESDAY, November 12 through 15, 2006
I gazed round the room and I cherished the sight.
My wife was asleep, her head on my chest,
My daughter beside me, angelic in rest.
Outside the snow fell, a blanket of white,
Transforming the yard to a winter delight.
The sparkling lights in the tree I believe,
Completed the magic that was Christmas Eve.
My eyelids were heavy, my breathing was deep,
Secure and surrounded by love I would sleep.
In perfect contentment, or so it would seem,
So I slumbered, perhaps I started to dream.
The sound wasn't loud, and it wasn't too near,
But I opened my eyes when it tickled my ear.
Perhaps just a cough, I didn't quite know, Then the
sure sound of footsteps outside in the snow.
My soul gave a tremble, I struggled to hear,
And I crept to the door just to see who was near.
Standing out in the cold and the dark of the night,
A lone figure stood, his face weary and tight.
A soldier, I puzzled, some twenty years old,
Perhaps a Marine, huddled here in the cold.
Alone in the dark, he looked up and smiled,
Standing watch over me, and my wife and my child.
"What are you doing?" I asked without fear,
"Come in this moment, it's freezing out here!
Put down your pack, brush the snow from your sleeve,
You should be at home on a cold Christmas Eve!"
For barely a moment I saw his eyes shift,
Away from the cold and the snow blown in drifts..
To the window that danced with a warm fire's light
Then he sighed and he said "Its really all right,
I'm out here by choice. I'm here every night." "It's my duty to stand at the front of the line,
That separates you from the darkest of times.
No one had to ask or beg or implore me,
I'm proud to stand here like my fathers before me.
My Gramps died at 'Pearl on a day in December,"
Then he sighed, "That's a Christmas 'Gram always remembers."
My dad stood his watch in the jungles of 'Nam',
And now it is my turn and so, here I am.
I've not seen my own son in more than a while,
But my wife sends me pictures, he's sure got her smile.
Then he bent and he carefully pulled from his bag,
The red, white, and blue... an American flag.
I can live through the cold and the being alone,
Away from my family, my house and my home.
I can stand at my post through the rain and the sleet,
I can sleep in a foxhole with little to eat.
I can carry the weight of killing another,
Or lay down my life with my sister and brother..
Who stand at the front against any and all,
To ensure for all time that this flag will not fall."
"So go back inside," he said, "harbor no fright,
Your family is waiting and I'll be all right."
"But isn't there something I can do, at the least,
"Give you money," I asked, "or prepare you a feast?
It seems all too little for all that you've done,
For being away from your wife and your son."
Then his eye welled a tear that held no regret,
"Just tell us you love us, and never forget.
To fight for our rights back at home while we're gone,
To stand your own watch, no matter how long.
For when we come home, either standing or dead,
To know you remember we fought and we bled.
Is payment enough, and with that we will trust,
That we mattered to you as you mattered to us."
PLEASE, Would you do me the kind favor of sending this to as many people as you can? Christmas will be coming soon and some credit is due to our U.S. Service men and women for our being able to celebrate these festivities. Let's try in this small way to pay a tiny bit of what we owe. Make people stop and think of our heroes, living and dead, who sacrificed themselves for us.
LCDR Jeff Giles, SC, USN
30th Naval Constr uct ion Regiment
OIC, Logistics Cell One
SATURDAY, November 11, 2006
Veterans Day / Armistice Day. It was always an important day for my father, who fought in WW I. What can we say to those who gave their time, their limbs, their lives for those of us who served in lesser ways...or not at all. Thank You and God Bless You.
TUESDAY through FRIDAY, November 7 through 10, 2006
ELECTION RESULTS...AN ANALYSIS
TUESDAY, November 7, 2006
ELECTION DAY, but before any results are known. Since the problems will stay the same no matter who wins, the following remain relevant.
WEDNESDAY through MONDAY, November 1 through 6, 2006
Tomorrow's national elections present the citizens of this country with many challenges: a divided electorate; a war, always divisive for this country; the black pot and the kettle that are the Republican and Democratic Parties in their current iterations; the vitriol on both sides, especially toward those...like Senator Joseph Lieberman...who would be peace-makers.
But the worst result for this nation, in our own eyes and in the watchful eyes of the world, would be a poor turnout.
SO, MAKE SURE THAT YOU GET OUT AND VOTE. For reasons that I have already expressed at great length in this section since March, 2003, I am going to hold my nose...and vote Republican. The least worst.