A Voice of Reason: Sane Views for a Crazy World

May 4, 2007

Survey USA Poll: Giuliani Beats Opponents in Debate

A poll of 317 viewers watching the debate were asked to rate the performance of the candidates:

Rudy Giuliani 30%
Mitt Romney 12%
John McCain 11%
Jim Gilmore 8%
Duncan Hunter 7%
Sam Brownback 4%
Mike Huckabee 4%
Tom Tancredo 4%
Ron Paul 2%
Tommy Thompson 2%

UPDATE: Drudge report is having an interactive poll, but it does allow for multiple voting, so pretty worthless.


May 3, 2007

Where You Stand Politically

So, you want to  know where you stand and how you can get that cool little icon like I have on my blog?

Well, just go to this site and take the quiz.  I would put no opinion if you are not sure about something.

Please post your results, and you get BIG TIME BONUS POINTS for reasonableness if you score Moderate, Conservative or Liberal!  I “hope” I have constructed a place where divergent views are allowed and where we gain from seeing each other’s perspective.  I also hope that sometimes someone will say, I see your point, or something like that.

So often politics are too personal, so maybe this would at least bring back agreeable discussion and dissent to the forefront.

I’m posting this on all topics to hopefully get maximum participation.

IF you wish to take the quiz it is here.


April 17, 2007

Come Home With Your Shield Or On It

A thought provoking post by Little Miss Green based on an article in The Christian Scientist Monitor.

In a previous post I had satirically commented about Where are 300 Spartans When you Need Them. That post has stuck around in my mind, even though it was made somewhat tongue in cheek. I am coming to believe that a nation needs a group of people who have the mind frame that we will come home with our shields, or lying upon them. In essence that failure of the mission is not an option that we can accept. I believe that our soldiers have this mindset, and it is at the same time humbling and saddening that we ask so much of so few for so many.

In the article in the TCSM, quotes by Generals Bradley and MacArthur are used.

“In war there is no second prize for the runner-up.” In a similar vein, the legendary Gen. Douglas MacArthur cautioned his fellow Americans: “It is fatal to enter any war without the will to win it.”

Despite such warnings, America’s political leaders today – in both the White House and Congress – have waged the war in Iraq as if defeat were acceptable. One wonders why.

Although the United States has sustained more than 3,000 battle deaths and has spent billions of dollars in Iraq, the nation’s overall fight against Saddam Hussein and his successors has been marked by hesitation and half-steps.
That’s how wars are lost.

The Allies won WWII against Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan with an all-out effort and resolute orders from the top. President Franklin Roosevelt called for “total war” on the Axis powers. He demanded “unconditional surrender.”

Are America’s current leaders that tough?

Talk about hitting the nail on the head. While it can be argued effectively that the legitimacy of the Iraq war is not on a par to that of WW2, then the leaders who gave the President authority to go, must be held as accountable as those who urged the country towards war. Saying that they were misled is tantamount to saying they were incompetent in the trust given them as legislators. From all accounts it seems that the same information that lead the Pentagon and Administration to push for war was made available to Congress, so the Buck stops with Congress and the Administration if this was a bad policy. And America’s leaders, and possibly many Americans are not that tough.

Roosevelt’s reference to “total war” was not mere rhetoric. Total war means everything belonging to the enemy is a potential target – their factories, their cities, even their civilians. With clear orders from Roosevelt, generals such as Dwight Eisenhower and George Patton knew what to do. They obliterated Germany’s and Japan’s will to fight. The cost was high, including hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths in the Axis homelands.

In 1945, total war led to the firebombing of Dresden, Germany, by some 3,000 British and US planes. An estimated 135,000 Germans, mostly civilians, were killed. Within days, other US bombers launched similar raids that created a firestorm in Tokyo that killed nearly 84,000 Japanese and wounded 40,000 more. A few months later, US planes dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Another good point is made by the author, but I feel they miss the main issue, and that the commitment to total war was shared between the leadership of the country and the population. It would seem to even the most casual viewer that the war is a daily, albeit, heartwrenching interruption to life going on pretty much the same for the OVERWHELMING majority of the public, and has become a burden which is shared by the smallest amount of the population at large ever in the history of this Republic. Consider my own personal family history with WW2, that of five family members serving in the Armed Forces with four in combat zones. This was not aytpical of the American experience. Also, the burdens of the war were shared by the population at the home front, where real inconveniences were experienced. Now, this is not to advocate the celebration of “the bad life”, but shared sacrifices, which are shared by all members of a society tend to bring a sense of community and determination towards a shared goal. However, this war, and its burden is even less felt on the general population than VietNam, which ended up suffering from the same lack of political and national will, has never been made to cost all Americans something.

As the US fights its one-handed campaign, the insurgents are waging their own version of “total war”: It’s not just US and British forces being targeted in Iraq, but mosques, churches, open-air markets, restaurants, shops, government buildings, street corners – anywhere people gather. The carnage is spreading.

This is the difference between nations that have relatively little invested in the fight, and those few, and I don’t for a moment believe it is an overwhelming number of Iraqis as compared to the population at large, and those who are fully invested in the fight. The relatively number of casualties, when compared to historic conflicts in our nation’s history may also bring about this feeling. It was hard to not see the clear and present danger when 100,000 US servicemen died, were wounded, or captured in a two month span in the Ardennes Campaign, but when the number is 3,000 men over four years, the personal qualities of each death, and please understand this is in no way slighting the families which have made so costly an offering on the altar of their nation, and I would add my prayers that God would comfort you through your loss, tend to magnify each death, and in effect give it a pseudo feel of a death in the family, when in previous wars, that feeling was not a mere sentiment, but very often a harsh reality.

Perhaps the message to Mr. Bush, Congress, and the American people should be: If this fight is worth doing, if America truly has an unquestionable moral imperative to win, then wage it with everything you’ve got. Otherwise, why is America there?

Here here! However, this is a case of the national will, where all Americans, are partially invested in this war, even if by a sharing of economic hardships so that filling SUV’s or taking that family vacation is a hardship and not a considered extension of the pursuit of happiness. Perhaps a reconsideration of conscription is a reality that Congress needs to consider for the good of the nation. The Spartan women understood that concept.

When the Spartan soldiers of old left the city, the mothers and sisters of the city would go out and accompany them. However, it was not to give them a last kiss goodbye, it was a prayer of sorts, but one that I’m not sure America is ready to say over her sons and now daughters, “Come home with your shield or on it”, the meaning being that the soldier was to return home either victorious (with his shield) or dead – i.e., carried away from the battlefield (on his shield), rather than fleeing the battle and dropping his shield (as it was too heavy to carry while running).

These women knew what would befall them should their husbands, sons, and brothers fail them in war, and again, the difficulty is not at all the fault of the soldiers, but in many ways failures of policy, and a failure of the national will. These women knew that the infants of the city would be pitched from the walls of the city by their enemy. They also knew that they would be raped and forced to marry or be enslaved by those who had conquered them. Hence, the prayer to those who carried the life of the city away with them, hence the ability of the Spartans to man for man be among the greatest formations in the history of combat. The culture understood the stakes. Americans either don’t believe in the danger, or fail to see the threat that radical Islam may wish to bring forth upon this nation, and until such a time, this war will be nothing more than something that is supported in deed by the placing of a yellow ribbon on an SUV and defined by a luke warm commitment to a concept that folds its tents and buries a collective head in the sand.

This war’s failure at this point is a failure of policy. It’s also a failure of the American people to truly understand the consequences, or to believe in the reality of them. If they were believed, more sacrifice would be welcome, as it stands, get the hell out not now but yesterday remains the cry of many in the nation.

If this latter assessment is true, America may someday wish to the gods that they had 300 Spartans, but by that time the same public will have what they deserve, which is a culture of let someone else do the dirty work.

March 5, 2007

Was McCain “Snubbing” Conservatives With CPAC No Show?

Ronald Kessler reports in Newsmax that aides to Sen. McCain’s opponents were “stunned” by his decision not to show at CPAC this past week.  According to CPAC officials the Senator had rejected invitations to speak,  but tried to set up private receptions.  Kessler goes on to report that CPAC’s higher officials were not overly impressed.  “It was a classic McCain move, dissing us by going behind our backs,” said William J. Lauderback, executive vice president of the American Conservative Union, which sponsors the three-day conference.”  Echoing this discontent was CPAC Chairman, David Keene saying, If you diss the girl before the dance, you’re not going to be dancing with the girl when the music starts.”

While the other candidates, notably Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney indicated what their campaigns may offer as the primaries unfolds, McCain’s absence from CPAC has seemed to fuel more fire between himself and many that make up the base of the GOP.  However, Giuliani spoke effectively, talking about security issues – Iraq, The Patriot Act,  and the power of free markets.  He noticeably stayed away from areas that often put him at odds with some Conservatives.  Mitt Romney seems to have treated CPAC as if it were a Pep rally for his campaign.  Romney operatives were visible throughout, and many were trying to make connections to some of the Conservative base, which has been lukewarm to the former MA Governor. 

While McCain’s absence is noteable, and at the present has to be viewed as a tactical error, perhaps if this was “indeed a snub” it could have been to distance himself from some of the harder elements of the GOP and position himself as a moderate. 

March 3, 2007

America: The Melting Pot? America The Chef Salad?

You will perhaps note that the topic line is unusually full, but this issue cuts across all of the major lines in our society, and may be of interest to many of the stakeholders of our nation.

This starts as an education thread, because this was a question I asked of my students today in our social studies class.  This is obviously a political issue, and will likely be a major point of emphasis in the ’08 campaign.  This is also a religious issue, because one of the factors involved is how we view mankind, and that is certainly impacted about how we view or do not view a relationship with God.

Traditionally America has been called “The Melting Pot”.  Now, when I think of that analogy, I am reminded of my mother’s beef stew.  She would put everything in there, from onions to carrots, of course the meat and gravy, with some potatoes, peas and corn thrown in for good measure.  No tomatoes, please.  They just don’t fit in mom’s recipe.  Then let it simmer for about….oh…..ten hours ought to do it.  The result is a wonderful dish, where all of the flavors have blended together, and may retain some of their original flavoring, but somehow they also taste very much the same.  It’s a good dish, and for many I’m sure it may fill you with memories of a good hot meal on a cold winter’s day.  I wax melodramatic.

 On the other hand, at its polar opposite is a chef salad.  You know the type with the various lettuces, sliced peppers, radishes, cukes, roast beef slices, ham slices, turkey slices wrapped around slices of American, cheddar, and Swiss cheeze, with a devilled egg thrown in on the sides.  With this meal,  you can enjoy the separate tastes of each, and they ingredients retain their individual identifications, which make them unique.  You can also enjoy combinations of the ingredients and debate endlessly, does it taste better as individual bites of ingredients, each enjoyed for their own characteristic, or does the combined taste of these individual characteristics which makes a totally different taste experience satisfy the taste buds more satisfactorily. 

In our nation, not so long ago, well, okay when I was in school, which was a long while ago,  we expected those who came to give up much of their individual identity, and to take on the flavors of the other ingredients – the meat – or in the case, the “American” cultural identity, and while they may retain their own flavor, it is subdued, and more or less overcome by the dominant ingredient, or by American culture.

Currently, the trend is for people to keep much of their cultural heritage, but to accompany it with Americanism.  This method allows for the individual differences to be highlights in our society, and it also states as good as these things are individually, the real experience of tasting the chef’s salad is to have all the ingredients, with their individual qualities still at the forefront, but combined with all the other wonderful tastes simultaneously.  Sounds refreshing, crisp and delicious.

 So, what’s for dinner?  A chef’s salad or a hearty bowl of potted stew?  Both are good for you. Both are in their own way delicious, and there is no categorical better food.  Perhaps one of my students summed it up best.  The best dinner would be to have both, and enjoy a full range of what America has to offer. 

I see hope in the future at times when I hear kids talking like that.

February 28, 2007

Does 2007 War Debate Sound a Lot Like 1993’s

Filed under: Congress,Draft,Iraq,National Guard,Politics,War Protest — avoiceofreason @ 10:51 pm

Oak Leaf posted two interesting pieces at Polipundit.com

 Oak Leaf is understandably concerned about the increasing pressures put upon the National Guard.

Probably the dissent of GOP lawmakers was 90% making life difficult for then President Clinton and 10% other factors.

Probably the dissent of Democrats today is 99% making life difficult for the President and appealing to their own base.

The comment about Oak being upset about the NG being overtaxed is relevant, and does show a glaring weakness in the laudable goal of an all volunteer military – spoken from one who gladly volunteered. These numbers are startling:
WWII 12% of the population involved in the military
Korea Information not available
Vietnam 2% of the population involved in the military
Iraq/Afghanistan 0.5% of the population involved.

Population growth aside, these numbers are noteworthy.

To replies that the regular military forces need to be enlarged, the question is “How”. At the current time re-enlistment bonuses and other benefits are high, but obviously many are not viewing – understandably – as being worth the risk.

Is a renewal of conscription the only viable option to the cries of increasing the size of the military?

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