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I am a 1967 graduate of The Citadel (Distinguished Military Student, member of the Economic Honor Society, Dean's List), a 1975 graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (M.Div., magna cum laude, member of the Phi Alpha Chi academic honor society); I attended the Free University of Amsterdam and completed my History of Dogma there and then received a full scholarship from the Dutch government to transfer to the sister school in Kampen, Holland. In 1979 I graduated from the Theological Seminary of the Reformed Churches of Holland (Drs. with honors in Ethics). My New Testament minor was completed with Herman Ridderbos. I am also a 2001 Ph.D. graduate of Westminster Theological Seminary (Systematic Theology) in Philly with a dissertation on the "unio mystica" in the theology of Dr. Herman Bavinck (1854-1921). I am a former tank commander, and instructor in the US Army Armor School at Ft. Knox, KY. I have been happily married to my childhood sweetheart and best friend, Sally, for 43 years. We have 6 children, one of whom is with the Lord, and 14 wonderful grandchildren.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Time to Reflect

What Happened to My Country?
Being on vacation—which I was last week—gives you a lot of time to think and read. Life is substantially more “numbing” when you’re busy and lunging from one crisis and/or deadline to the next; from one item on your agenda to the subsequent one.
Here’s a point that I’ve been rediscovering over the week that I was on vacation: The older I get, the more I find myself asking—either audibly or to myself—What has happened, is happening to my country? This question has several applications.
First, it applies to the entire movement that has come to be known as PC or politically correct. These words come to us directly from Marxism, but we are all too willing to accept them, incorporate them into the fabric of our American life and way of living, and to be bullied by those who want to promote the PC agenda. After all, who wants to be a bigot or homophobe? Just ask Marine General Peter Pace.
Second, there is the application to the U.S. military. The incorporation of women into combat or into potential combat situations has greatly impaired our military’s ability to fight effectively. Moreover, a number of our Congressmen and women have “bought in” to the PC approach and are mandating withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan (read: cut and run) by next year. In addition, these same Congressmen and women are micro-managing what our military’s ROEs (Rules of Engagement) are and actually putting our men more in harm’s way by their ridiculous mandates. If the term “quagmire” can be applied to the Iraqi War in a manner that is analogous to Vietnam, then it is precisely this congressional micro-management that is at the root of the problem. Just as LBJ (Lyndon Baines Johnson) and Robert McNamara micro-(mis)managed Vietnam—in a manner unprecedented in the annals of U.S. military history—and Jimmy Carter micro-(mis)managed the Iran hostage debacle, so people like Nancy Pelosi, John Murtha, John Edwards, John Kerry, and other Democrats and some Republicans are micro-(mis)managing this war. This politicized war—like Vietnam—is the result of not having men like “Black Jack” Pershing, George Patton, and Norman Schwarzkopf in command of a military that is trained for and quite capable of “breaking things” and “killing bad guys” and a Congress that is willing to leave them alone and let them do their job.
Third, my musings cause me to wonder how—in such a relatively short expanse of time—we have become a nation of irresponsible, unpatriotic, dope-smoking, and whining “victo-crats.” It’s never our fault; we’re all just victims. Why is it, as Victor Davis Hanson has so aptly pointed out, that a large number of our able-bodied youth would rather hang out at the mall, play video games, and talk on their cell phones than to get out, get dirty, and learn the value of working (hard) for a dollar?[1] Now, especially with California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger more than will to precipitously raise one of the government’s “darlings”: the minium wage, he can aid in ruining our otherwise good and robust economy.
Allow me also to suggest that a portion of our current dilemma is firmly ensconced in certain segments of academia. A few clear examples of what I mean will suffice—for reasonable people. Clayton Cramer has written a book entitled Armed America.[2] After the usual “thank yous” and “I couldn’t have written this without…” he appends a kind of raison d’être to his work. It seems that a certain Michael Bellesiles, a history professor at Emory University published a paper in the Journal of American History claiming that after extensive research he concluded that guns had actually played a minor role in the history of this country. If true, this was groundbreaking research because previous findings pointed in the opposite direction. At the time of the publication of the article, Cramer was working on his master’s degree and thesis in history at Sonoma State University in California. He read Bellesile’s article and was struck how the articles that Cramer had been reading for his research seemed to be one-hundred-and-eighty degrees out of phase with Bellesile’s findings. It is understandable that Cramer questioned his own findings as well as his scholarship since he was merely working on his master’s degree and Bellesiles is a professor with an earned doctorate at a prestigious university.
Four years after the appearance of Bellesiles’ article, the equally prestigious Alfred A. Knopf published Bellesiles’ book based on his article. The book was entitled Arming America, The Origin of a National Gun Culture. Now watch this for additional psychological pressure: In 2001, Columbia University (have I used the word “prestigious” in this article yet?) conferred on Bellesiles the coveted “Bancroft Prize”[3] for his book Arming America. So a professor at a noted U.S. university—Emory—writes a historical work and is awarded a prestigious honor by yet another prestigious university—Columbia. As you might image, a number of academicians—especially those opposed to U.S. citizens bearing or having arms—jumped on the proverbial bandwagon as a kind of reverse “piling on.” Bellesiles was lionized and his work was heralded as both accurate and academically highly respected and, therefore, worthy of the respect and homage of the “children of a lesser god”—like, for example, the rantings of Michael Moore and the ridiculous “documentary” by Mr. Internet: Al Gore.
Fortunately, not everyone drank the Kool-Aid and there were still a few heuristic, sentient souls left in academia. In 2002 the William and Mary Quarterly carried a withering critique of “Mr. Bancroft Award.” The findings of the symposium that contributed the lion’s share of the articles in that particular periodical for that time were that Dr. Bellesiles’ claims and statements in his book were unsupportable and, at times, even contrary to his own sources.[4] That same year, the Yale Law Journal published an article demonstrating “that Bellesiles’ probate record data was mathematically impossible, and his cited sources contradicted him in ways that seemed hard to blame on simple error or carelessness.”[5] That could qualify as the understatement of the year. Dr. Bellesiles cited probate records that were not only fraudulent, but had actually been lost in the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco.[6] Moreover, Bellesiles, when questioned by the Boston Globe about these discrepancies, which certainly carries no brief for conservatism, “acknowledged that he had repeatedly misread descriptions of guns in Vermont records as ‘old’ or ‘rusty’ when those words did not appear.”[7] Oh well, what’s a little academic license and fudging the descriptions when you’re a brilliant professor?
Another possibility exists in this whole sordid case: rather than “misreading” the documents—how do you misread and add words that are not in the text?—Dr. Bellesiles had an agenda and was opposed to guns to America—which is precisely the case—and to make his point, he was willing to be substantially less than truthful, if you get my drift. He intentionally skewed the evidence to fit his predisposition and this not only passes for “research,” it is also lauded by a majority of the academic population. Those of us who live among the “uninitiated” call this “lying,” but that sounds so unprofessional and non-academic. This is not merely my opinion. Within a few months after the appearance of these rejoinders, Columbia took the heretofore unprecedented step of revoking Bellesiles’ Bancroft Prize and asked him to return the prize money, which he had spent on tailgate parties where he drank sangria with an illegal alien named Rosa—I made the part up about the parties, sangria, and Rosa, but the rest is true.
Cramer comments, “Not surprisingly, nearly every historian who reviewed Arming America felt no need to check the accuracy of Bellesiles’ more controversial claims. It is a rare person indeed who checks the accuracy of books with which he agrees—and this is quite unfortunate. It does not say much for the quality of the American academic community that a book so grossly and obviously wrong received such glowing praise. Something went terribly wrong with Arming America. That so many prominent historians defended such an obviously flawed work suggests that there is something terribly flawed in academia today as well.”[8]
Next, the PC movement has done more to hamstring normal conversation than almost anything we’ve experienced in the annals of our country. As I pointed out above, this kind of speech, with the attendant ubiquitous “thought police” normal parlance has left the building. Americans are constantly walking on eggshells never knowing when Big Brother will condemn you of “hate speech,” of being a “bigot,” or a “homophobe.” (Is there such a thing as a “heterophobe”? I suppose not.) People who are principled (ethically) have a rough go of it these days if they refuse to walk in “lock step.” I use this phrase because it is so reminiscent of Gestapo-like tactics.
The clear and obvious double standard goes something like this: Michael Moore gives a speech at one of our “prominent” universities and he is given a polite hearing. If Ann Coulter, Michelle Malkin, or Tom Tancredo try to give a speech or lecture, the jack-booted activists do everything within their power to shout the speaker down and the campus police are oh so slow to arrive at the scene. After all, the cameras are rolling. Sounds fair and balanced, doesn’t it? The step-sister to the PC movement is multiculturalism, which every reasonable person knows is a lie. All cultures and values are simply not the same. If they were, why would anyone want to leave their country of origin and come to the United States?
We have become a country where lying in politics is considered “situation normal;” where for certain people having sex in the Oval Office falls under “bimbo control” or parsing what the meanings of “sex” and “is” are; where illegal aliens smuggle drugs across the boarder—obviously doing a job that many Americans don’t want to do—and we want to grant them amnesty and call them “undocumented workers;”[9] where gangs are tolerated; public schools are a cesspool of social engineering and students of parents in the country illegally; where the celebrity of Anna Nicole Smith, Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, and Snoop Dog is celebrated; and where our President goes to Mexico and embraces the leader of a thoroughly corrupt country like he’s the poster boy for
The media would also have us believe that Gonzalez needs to step down because he and President Bush were cohorts in crime in the recent firing of eight federal court judges. What the media won’t tell you—and doesn’t want you to know—is that it is a standard practice for an incoming president to “clean house” with respect to these judges that we appointed by the previous administration. The media also doesn’t want you to remember that when Bill Clinton took office Madeline Albright fired all ninety-plus judges in one day, which was unprecedented in U.S. history. Remember that? I didn’t think so. Neither does the media. Bush is into his sixth year and he’s just now getting around to firing these eight judges, but according to the media his actions require a federal hearing.In 2008, if the Lord tarries, this nation will elect a new president. That man or woman will face difficult issues at home and abroad. I want you to start praying now that God would raise up a principled man who will really lead this country; not one that will squander our hard-earned tax dollars on welfare programs that have been and continue to be dismal failures, who will secure our boarders, who will stop the flow of drugs into this country from South America and other places, who will be strong pro-life and pro-family, who will be a man of faith, a commander-in-chief that our military personnel can respect, and one who wants to win in Iraq and Afghanistan. This country needs a president that will stand up to the thugs abroad as well as here at home. Anything less will take us further down the slippery slope of political correctness and multiculturalism.

[1] Victor Davis Hanson, Mexifornia, (San Francisco: Encounter Books, 2003), p. 72.
[2] Clayton Cramer, Armed America, The Story of How and Why Guns Became as American as Apple Pie, (Nashville: Nelson Current, 2006).
[3] The Bancroft Prize is awarded for the best American history book.
[4] Cramer, AA, xv.
[5] Ibid.
[6] Ibid.
[7] Ibid.
[8] Ibid., xvi-xvii. Emphases mine.
[9] This nonsensical term is also being coined by a number of PCA administrators. It would not surprise me that very soon we will find PCA churches offering safety in their buildings to illegals just like the Roman Catholic Church is doing now. “Principles that one generation accepts provisionally, in the context of other cultural commitments, soon harden into icy dogmas for a generation brought up on nothing else.” (Michael Novak, Will It Liberate? Questions About Liberation Theology, [Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 1986], p. 27.)


Blogger RoseCovered Glasses said...

I enjoy your perspective. Your background in theology and tanks is facinating.

Your post has some excellent points. I am a 2 tour Vietnam Veteran who recently retired after 36 years of working in the Defense Industrial Complex on many of the weapons systems being used by our forces as we speak. Here's some additional data:

The U.S. Department of Defense, headquartered in the Pentagon, is one of the most massive organizations on the planet, with net annual operating costs of $635 billion, assets worth $1.3 trillion, liabilities of $1.9 trillion and more that 2.9 million military and civilian personnel as of fiscal year 2005.

It is difficult to convey the complexity of the way DOD works to someone who has not experienced it. This is a massive machine with so many departments and so much beaurocracy that no president, including Bush totally understands it.

Presidents, Congressmen, Cabinet Members and Appointees project a knowledgeable demeanor but they are spouting what they are told by career people who never go away and who train their replacements carefully. These are military and civil servants with enormous collective power, armed with the Federal Acquisition Regulation, Defense Industrial Security Manuals, compartmentalized classification structures and "Rice Bowls" which are never mixed.

Our society has slowly given this power structure its momentum which is constant and extraordinarily tough to bend. The cost to the average American is exhorbitant in terms of real dollars and bad decisions. Every major power structure member in the Pentagon's many Washington Offices and Field locations in the US and Overseas has a counterpart in Defense Industry Corporate America. That collective body has undergone major consolidation in the last 10 years.

What used to be a broad base of competitive firms is now a few huge monoliths, such as Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and Boeing and SAIC. If you would like to read how they control our government, please see:

Government oversight committees are carefully stroked. Sam Nunn and others who were around for years in military and policy oversight roles have been cajoled, given into on occasion but kept in the dark about the real status of things until it is too late to do anything but what the establishment wants. This still continues - with increasing high technology and potential for abuse.

Please examine the following link to testimony given by Franklin C. Spinney before Congress in 2002. It provides very specific information from a whistle blower who is still blowing his whistle (Look him up in your browser and you get lots of feedback) Frank spent the same amount of time as I did in the Military Industrial Complex (MIC) but in government quarters. His job in government was a similar role to mine in defense companies. Frank's emphasis in this testimony is on the money the machine costs us. It is compelling and it is noteworthy that he was still a staff analyst at the Pentagon when he gave this speech. I still can't figure out how he got his superior's permission to say such blunt things. He was extremely highly respected and is now retired.

The brick wall I often refer to is the Pentagon's own arrogance. It will implode by it's own volition, go broke, or so drastically let down the American people that it will fall in shambles. Rest assured the day of the implosion is coming. The machine is out of control.

If you are interested in a view of the inside of the Pentagon procurement process from Vietnam to Iraq please check the posting on this blog entitled, "Odyssey of Armaments"

On the same subject, you may also be interested in the following sites from the "Project On Government Oversight", observing it's 25th Anniversary and from "Defense In the National Interest", inspired by Franklin Spinney and contributed to by active/reserve, former, or retired military personnel.

4:45 PM  
Blogger Rattlesnake6 said...

Hey thanks for dropping by and for your service. Thank you for defending our country and its unique freedoms. Also thanks for the links. I'd like to keep in touch with you.
Rattlesnake 6

5:07 PM  

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