Wednesday, December 31, 2008

How the President Undermined Civil Liberties

Just look at how the president has destroyed our civil rights. A few examples, below, should suffice to make you understand we no longer live in a free and democratic country.

Bypassing congress, the president issued an Executive Order to try eight individuals, two of them citizens and the rest former residents of the country, as “enemy combatants” by military tribunals. The same “executive order” prohibited the courts, with their broader protections for the rights of the accused, from hearing habeas corpus petitions from the defendants, denying them a basic constitutional right—especially as the administration brought political pressure on the Supreme Court not to take the case. The eight were found guilty and sentenced to death.

In a blatant case of racial profiling, the president ordered the incarceration of American citizens who were of the same ethnic heritage as the “enemy,” without trial or recourse to the courts. The incarceration was indefinite, and they were not accused of a crime. Many also lost their property as well.

In a clear attempt to undermine the first amendment, the president urged Congress to pass, and signed into law, a bill that made illegal “disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language" about the government, flag or armed forces during war.

The president suspended the constitutional protection of habeas corpus for anyone deemed to be undermining the war effort, and ordered American citizens reported to be “enemy combatants” to be held, without trial, by the military, and to be tried by military tribunals for violations of the “laws of war,” without recourse to the protections of the civilian courts.

If you are wondering how even a dastard like George Bush got away with all of this without you knowing, it’s because you slept through history class. The first two examples were from the presidency of liberal icon Franklin Roosevelt, who ordered Nazi saboteurs tried by tribunals, and who also ordered the incarceration of Japanese Americans during the war.

The third example was from liberal icon Woodrow Wilson, during WWI. And the last was, of course, from Abraham Lincoln, who famously declared, “The Constitution is not a suicide pact.” The Civil War was a near-run thing, and without these measures the nation might have been lost and slavery extended for decades. Imaging the chaos of trying tens of thousands of confederate prisoners in federal court, with their captors required to leave the front to testify and under criminal rules of evidence!

Despite these abuses, we muddled through their administrations with our liberties intact. Despite the hand-wring in the press for the last eight years, it appears we have survived George Bush as well. Let us hope we can say the same after four years of President Obama.

Happy New Year from Gov. Rod

Just when Republicans were depressed, along comes "the Magic Governor" to lift our spirits. Here are two interesting, fun, must-read articles about Governor Rod Blagojevich (D-Blagobamaville).,0,1367315.column

All this story needs is David Duke endorsing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for "keeping the senate white."

Stay-tuned sports fans, that could be next.

Prediction: they cave and seat Burris.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Is Honor Dead

In mid-June, 1862, the 2nd Kentucky Cavalry, commanded by the famous Confederate raider, John Hunt Morgan, had an unusual visitor. Union Army Major W. A. Coffey arrived in a carriage to place himself in captivity. Seldom had a man gone to such lengths to surrender.
Coffey had been originally captured in May, when Morgan's men took a train behind Union lines. He emerged from the train with pistols blazing, but was forced to surrender when his ammunition ran out. Morgan had written him a special parole and freed him. Coffey could be released from his parole if the Union would agree to exchange him for one of Morgan's men, Lt. Colonel Robert Wood.

To redeem his parole, so he could return to service with the Union cause, Coffey first journeyed to Nashville, where Wood was a prisoner. The general there refused to release Wood, so Coffey traveled on to Washington, DC, to present his case to the Secretary of War. When the exchange was still refused, he stopped in Kentucky to visit his sick wife, then returned to Nashville, where he received a pass to cross through the lines.

Entering the Confederate area, he traveled first to Huntsville, then to Chattanooga and finally to Knoxville before he located Morgan, and redeemed his word of honor by turning himself in. He spent a long time as a captive in Richmond before he was exchanged. No one at the time thought this episode was particularly strange.

In our cynical age, we may find Coffey's voluntary return to captivity amazing--or at least quaint. One can imagine Illinois Governor Blagojevich and other officer holders in both parties sniggering at this story. But Coffey was a man of honor. He could be killed, but no one could take away his honor.

This is not to say there were not cads and scoundrels on both sides in that age. But there were also many men and women to whom honor was a living and vital concept.
When the Founding Fathers signed the declaration of independence, they pledged their lives and fortunes to the cause. They also pledged their "sacred honor." We would laugh at a politician who pledged his sacred honor to a modern cause. When's the last time someone mentioned honor in a conversation with you?

Today, the scouts, the military academies and the armed forces still teach the concept of honor--but who else? A few years ago a joke went around: a school with an honor system was a place where the teachers had the honor and the students had the system. Even the service academies have had their share of honor violations in recent years. The Marines developed their “core values of Honor, Courage and Commitment to teach in boot camp, because recruits from our society need values-education as well as military training.

When no one can be taken at his word, when self interest totally rules, when "buyer beware" is the general philosophy, will America be a place worth living in? Or a place worth defending?
Retired politicians are properly addressed, "The Honorable John Doe," even when they have traded their public office for a lucrative job lobbying their former legislative colleagues, often for special interests, perhaps even for foreign interests (contributing to Presidential Libraries).
The first definition of honor in my dictionary is "high public esteem, fame, glory." It's the second definition, "honesty or integrity in one's beliefs and actions," that we seem to have lost.

Try asking some teenagers to define "honor." Chances are they'll know about fame and glory; the high school "honor roll" and so on. Will they be able to articulate the second definition? ask your kids. Will they say they have personal honor? Or will they look at you like you're from Mars?

Restoring the concept of honor to a special place in American life will be very difficult. Honor requires sacrifice, because it means doing the right thing, rather than the easy thing, the profitable thing or the pleasurable thing. Those individuals who still care about honor must not only live it, but teach it. Even more difficult, they must demand it of the people they interact with.

Just as no one is perfect in any other area, there is no perfectly honorable person. But even if we don't always succeed, we must strive for honor. That is our duty. If honor dies in America, our nation is lost as surely as if it had been conquered by a foreign power.

The good news is that millions of Americans still lead honorable lives, even if they don't think about their honor. We must preserve this essential American trait, because like courage and duty, it is one of the foundations of human character without which this will cease to be the America we love. This threat to the American culture is more dangerous than any foreign foe we have faced--and you and I are the front-line soldiers. Honor demands we do our duty.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Leaders of the Democrat Party

They say a picture is worth 1,000 words. Those who innocently believe that someone can walk successfully across the top of the cesspool of Chicago Politics, without even getting a tad stinky around the toes, are in for an interesting four years.

Who helps the poor?

Who would you suppose gives more to help the poor, liberals or conservatives?

Turns out liberals are only generous when giving away other people's money!


Thursday, December 25, 2008

A Sowell Christmas

I hope you are having as good a Christmas as I am, having received three books by the brilliant economist Dr. Thomas Sowell:

Applied Economics, A Conflict of Visions & Knowledge and Decisions.

I've been happily buried in the last one all afternoon.

While Sowell's writing skills, cognitive powers and mental discipline are far beyond mine, a Sowell book is great exercise for the mind. Reading one is better than a 3-credit college course for learning new things, new ways to look at and understand the world.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Great News-Obama Team Cleared!

Headline: Obama Report Finds No ‘Inappropriate’ Contacts with Blagojevich

This is wonderful news. Barack Obama conducted an investigation of his transition team and found no wrong-doing in the alleged efforts by Governor Blagojevich, whom Obama strongly endorsed for Governor in 2006, to sell Obama's barely-used senate seat. It would have been terrible for the country if the politicians from Illinois that Obama picked for his team had turned out to be, well, Illinois Politicians. Thankfully the news media can now move on to these other breaking stories:

Dick Chaney clears Scooter Libby of Wrongdoing

Nixon’s Ghost clears Nixon in Watergate Case

Pontius Pilate clears Roman Army in Crucifixion Case

What? You say the non-partial guardians of our rights in the press would never let political figures get away with investigating and clearing themselves?

Exactly: once upon a time, in a country far, far away. But times change. That was the old rule. Before some politicians sent shivers up the legs of "journalists."

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Turning the Economy Around

As the economy grows worse, everyone, right down to President-elect Obama, seems to have a plan to turn the economy around. So, why not me?

Sure, I don’t have a lot of training in economics, but neither does Obama or most members of Congress. And there are economists supporting and opposing every idea that’s floating around.

So here goes:

My plan is built on some basic assumptions:

1. Investment drives job creation. Large companies or small businesses, all need money to operate, expand and create jobs.

2. People take the risk of investing money because they hope for a Return on Investment (ROI). Why put your money in a CD, instead of your safe deposit box? You want to get paid interest. Why take the risk of buying stocks or starting a business, when your money would be safer under the mattress? You want to make more money. No return—no investment. It’s promises of great returns (and low risk) that suck people into Ponzi schemes, like the Madoff Hedge Fund or Social Security.

3. Investors like the security of knowing what the rules are, of stability, and of a level playing field, reasonably free of corruption. One of the reasons many third world countries are so poor is that individuals and companies won’t invest there. There’s no guarantee your profits won’t be siphoned off by corrupt officials, or your factory “nationalized” or taxed out of existence.

Companies want to invest in new facilities in areas that have stable rules, with the opportunity to make good profits.

4. There’s a lot of scared money hiding out, not currently invested in the economy, because the market and everything else seems too risky. To turn the economy around, we need to get that money invested in job-creating enterprises again. And most experts think stocks are now under-valued.

5. Free trade increases wealth. After NAFTA passed, the number of jobs increased in both Mexico and the US-economics is not a zero-sum game. Unfortunate, the lost jobs were localized in specific industries, which howled, especially if they were unionized. The larger job gain was spread across the economy; people in those new jobs had no clue they were working thanks to NAFTA. Some of them doubtless joined the chorus against NAFTA for “sending US jobs overseas.”

Unfortunately, in a downturn, the political pressure is to put up trade barriers to “protect jobs!” Most economists believe the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Bill made the great depression longer and deeper. But even countries that recently promised at the economic summit to not do this are caving and putting up barriers. That will make things worse world wide.

To turn the economy around, President-elect Obama and the leaders of both parties in Congress should pledge the following:

1. To reduce the Capital Gains Tax to 5%, and to keep it there for at least five years. Job-creating money would flood back into the stock market, as savvy investors scooped up the bargains. With the market rising, more money would flood in, as other investors fearful of missing the market recovery jumped on board. Recapitalized companies could expand in good markets, creating jobs, which would increase economic demand. And those of us with 401Ks/IRAs would develop confidence in the future, thus be willing to spend more money now, driving demand—perhaps even in housing. (Bonus: government revenue from CG taxes goes up when the rate is reduced, due to increased economic activity—look it up.)

2. To tear down all tariff and trade barriers with all countries which are willing to establish free trade with the US. No exceptions. Call it the WWFTA. Investment would flow to where it was most efficiently used. And, BTW, the liberals have always been very concerned about the poor in the third world. Wouldn’t giving them jobs be a lot better than taxing Americans to pay for foreign aid, most of which goes into the pockets of the corrupt oligarchs? When the world’s economy booms, our economy booms.

3. Make America very business-friendly. That means killing card check, so the UAW, having built Ford, Chrysler and GM into the economic powers they are today, can’t go into pro-business states and drive the Toyota and BMW plants out of the country. Make the entire country a right-to-work state. Reduce the paperwork and regulation businesses have to jump through. Maybe George McGovern, who discovered how hard it is to run a small business in a highly-regulated environment—in his case a country inn after he retired from the senate—could head a task force for meaningful regulatory reform.

4. Stop welfare for corporations, from the Detroit bailout to farm subsidies. Let Detroit reorganize under bankruptcy protect to be able to compete—without bailouts, with Honda and Toyota. Let the market set the price for food, and more starving people could afford food around the world—or don’t liberals want to feed the hungry? The government would have more money to spend on infrastructure needed for the economy, like roads and bridges. (Obama’s plan there was good, right up until he picked a Republican member of the Illinois’ Political Combine to run it. Watch this closely for the touch of “The Chicago Way.”)

5. Limit lawsuits against business. Nothing would encourage small businesses like meaningful tort reform. Of course, with the League of Leftwing Lawyers in full charge of Congress this is unlikely to happen.

And the other parts of my economic stimulus plan fly in the face of everything the Democrats ran on. So we are as likely to see an economic recovery based on this as I am likely to see a personal economic recovery based on Governor Blago awarding me Obama’s vacant seat in the US Senate.

But that doesn’t mean that isn’t a great idea too.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Obama Feeds the Illinois Political Combine

Chicago Tribune Columnist John Kass reports:

"Obama selected outgoing Illinois U.S. Rep. Ray LaHood (R-Combine) for the post of secretary of transportation, putting LaHood in charge of Obama's planned trillion-dollar public works bonanza being sold as a jobs bill.

'Every dollar that we spend, we want it spent on projects that are there, not because of politics, but because they're good for the American people,' Obama said. 'If we're building a road, it better not be a road to nowhere.' Not because of politics?

What does the great reformer take us for, a bunch of chumbolones?

What Obama forgot to mention is that with LaHood in charge of the roads, they'll lead to one place: Bill Cellini.

Cellini, the Republican boss of Springfield who has been indicted in the Blagojevich scandal for allegedly shaking down the producer of the movie "Million Dollar Baby," is a strong LaHood ally. Cellini runs Sangamon County, and LaHood has enjoyed Cellini's political support.

They also joined to help oust the last true reformer in Illinois politics, former Sen. Peter Fitzgerald, the Republican who was denied an endorsement from his own state party after he brought federal prosecutors to Illinois with no connection to the bipartisan Combine that runs things here.Republican money man Cellini is not only the Chicago political connection to machine Democrats and Mayor Richard Daley's City Hall—and a Blagojevich fundraiser—he's also the boss of the Illinois Asphalt Pavement Association.

They're the guys behind the guys who pour that hot sticky stuff on the roads, but don't get their cashmere sweaters dirty and drive black Escalades to the job site, before wheeling off for some osso bucco at Volare or other fine restaurants. They're interested in federal highways, aren't they?"

Read the entire column here:,0,2882820.column

John Kass is worth the subscription price for the Trib.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Christmas Poems for Vets

The Christmas Gift

There is a gift that comes
From those out on the lines,
It is not wrapped in bows,
But, oh, how bright it shines.

There is a Christmas gift,
A pearl beyond all price,
From those who ask for naught,
But make the sacrifice.

They risk their blood and bone
On endless weary tours,
For that is all that keeps
The evil from our shores.

You worship as you will,
You freely have your say,
And all that is a gift
From sentries far away.

There is a gift that comes
From troops who guard the line,
That lets us live in peace
And joy at Christmastime.

We say “Support the troops,”
But hardly pause to think
What honor really means,
Or how near looms the brink.

There is a Christmas gift
From those who hold the line,
And you and I, my friend,
Get nothing more sublime.

Copyright © 2007
Robert A. Hall
Former SSgt, USMC

A Veteran’s Christmas Wish

Each year when Christmas comes around again,
I pause on Christmas Eve to take a dram
Of whisky, and I think of absent friends,
And Christmas in a place called Vietnam.

I think of boys who never had the chance
To see their kids on Christmas Eve at play,
Their lives were spent that freedom might advance,
From Valley Forge right up through yesterday.

They fell at Belleau Wood and Normandy,
At Gettysburg, at Iwo and at Hue,
They gave their lives to keep our people free,
And never saw another Christmas Day.

So take a moment from your festive joys,
To think of soldiers who were young and true,
And say a prayer on Christmas Eve for boys
Who gave up all their Christmases for you.

Copyright © 2000
Former SSgt Robert A. Hall, USMC

Spell check notes: Scotch whisky has no “e.”
Hue (Vietnam) is pronounced “way.”

Friday, December 19, 2008

Response to my "War on Terror Reading List" post

Dear Robert,

Here are a couple of books you might like to review. Since 9/11 I have been speaking around the country on Saudi Arabian Wahhabi-Salafism and the origins of the ideology of al Qaeda, having spent much of my professional life living and working in the Middle East. I have also been actively supporting various civic organizations with a variety of speaking assignments. Below is some information on two books I co-authored over the past two years. I’m currently working work on a third book and film regarding the significance of the Iranian-Saudi standoff since the downfall of the Shah of Iran in 1979 and what the Saudis are currently doing in Pakistan, Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa to destabilize the region through Wahhabi-Salafist proselytization with money and missionaries. Our books address the origins of the ideology of al Qaeda and Saudi Arabian Wahhabi-Salafism and are an amplification of my series of lectures that culminated during my lecture at the Nobel Peace Prize Forum in 2004. The webpage for our books is at I am also on the board of The Center for Democracy and Human Rights in Saudi Arabia, located in Washington, DC ( with a goal to bring significant reform to the Kingdom before it is destroyed from within by arch-conservative Wahhabi clerics.


B. Wayne Quist
Colonel, USAF, (Ret)

P.S. It is well documented that he Saudi government and wealthy Saudis have spent over $70-billion over the last thirty years to spread Wahhabi-Salafist Islam and the effort continues today, especially in Pakistan and the Horn of Africa, but even in Europe and here in the U.S. It can safely be said -- wherever there is a trouble spot in the Muslim world, you will find Saudi Wahhabi-Salafist money spreading hate-filled literature and building madrassas and mosques with strings attached. The largest destination for this money has been Pakistan. Saudi money financed the Pakistani nuclear weapons program launched by Benazir Bhutto's father, former Prime Minister Zulfikar Bhutto, and Wahhabi-Inspired Jihadists killed Benazir Bhutto last year because she was a woman.

New books by Colonel by B. Wayne Quist, USAF (Ret) and Dr. David F. Drake, Ph.D., University of Chicago.

“The Triumph of Democracy Over Militant Islamism,” PublishAmerica, 2006

“Winning the War on Terror: A Triumph of American Values, iUniverse, 2005

These books address the origins of the ideology of al Qaeda and Saudi Arabian Wahhabi-Salafism and are an amplification of Colonel Quist’s series of lectures that culminated at the Nobel Peace Prize Forum, when he was featured as a counterpoint to former president Jimmy Carter. The books may be purchased through major bookstores or online through

Book Webpage:

The Triumph of Democracy Over Militant Islamism traces the origins of al Qaeda through the founding of the Saudi Arabian monarchy and the establishment of Wahhabism as its state religion. Vast amounts of oil in the Arabian desert converted an obscure, ultra-reactionary Muslim religious sect into a dangerous threat to Western civilization. Al Qaeda is a Saudi phenomenon, and America’s tangled relationships with Saudi Arabia are why al Qaeda attacked the United States on 9/11. Untangling those Saudi relationships was a central feature of American strategy for finding the right antidote to radical, Islamist terrorism. This required keeping bin Laden on the defensive by rapid deployment of American and Allied forces into al Qaeda’s safe haven in Afghanistan. Continuing the offensive by toppling Saddam Hussein made the Saudis understand the president’s enduring resolve to plant the seeds of freedom and democracy in the Middle East as the antidote to militant Islamism.


Winning the War on Terror: A Triumph of American Values
By Colonel B. Wayne Quist and Dr. David F. Drake
Published by iUniverse, Inc.

SYNOPSIS: Winning the War on Terror: A Triumph of American Values stresses why American success is vital to the Middle East and the future of Western civilization. Today we live in a rapidly changing and interconnected world, a truly remarkable historical era, with inter-dependent globalized economies and rapidly changing technological innovation. We are also engaged in a protracted and violent war against radical, militant Islam, a truly global struggle, but as George Will remarked in the Washington Post, there is no guarantee that civilization as we know it will survive, for in the long history of the human race, democracy and human freedom are relatively recent and short-lived concepts. While the West faces uncertainties in the struggle against militant Islam's armies of darkness, and while we do not yet know precisely how it will end, the West's flexible, democratic institutions and all-encompassing ideology of freedom can ultimately defeat radical, militant Islam.

Winning the War on Terror: A Triumph of American Values traces the origins of al Qaeda through Islamic history to the founding of the Saudi Arabian monarchy and the establishment of Wahhabism as its state religion. Billions in oil wealth converted this obscure ultra-reactionary Muslim sect into a dangerous threat to Western civilization. Al Qaeda is a Saudi phenomenon, and America's tangled relationships with Saudi Arabia are the reason for the al Qaeda attack on the United States on 9/11 and a primary but unstated reason that the United States reciprocated by invading Iraq in 2003. Untangling the American-Saudi relationship was the central feature of developing U.S. strategy for fighting the war on terror and formulating the Bush doctrine in the twelve months after 9/11. After invading Afghanistan, routing the Taliban, and chasing Osama bin Laden into remote areas of Pakistan, the U.S. entered into very tough negotiations to safeguard nuclear weapons from al Qaeda. Invading Iraq was undertaken to pursue al Qaeda, get the Saudis to cut off financing of al Qaeda, and obtain information about that terrorist organization. The invasion sought to keep the Islamist terrorists on the defensive, create a haven for democracy in the middle of Muslim world, and stop further attacks on America.

The authors believe that American success in Iraq is vital to the Middle East and the future of Western civilization and that American commitment to its values represents the only viable strategy. Although they recognize that we are engaged in a protracted, generational, and violent war against militant Islamist, Quist and Drake remain optimistic of where America stands in its global war on terror. They identify the principal importance to the moderates in the Muslim community of challenging the authority of Wahhabists and mainstream Muslim clerics, as Christianity did earlier in the Reformation. Only in an environment of political freedom can the West's actions combat the militant Islamists. Muslims must then take the next steps themselves. The West's greatest sin during the Cold War was ignoring Middle Eastern totalitarianism in exchange for free flowing oil to fuel its growing economies. The authors believe that victory in fighting the war on terror will be achieved through confidence in American values, knowing that political freedom is the antidote to al Qaeda's hate-filled ideology.


A riveting account of the history of Saudi Arabia and the source of al Qaeda's hate-filled ideology

Why most of the 9/11 hijackers came from Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabian Wahhabi-Salafism and its threats to Western civilization

Globalization and the "disconnected one third" of the world's people

How the Bush administration developed its post 9/11 strategy to counter "Bin Ladenism" and radical, militant Islamism

Why freedom and democracy are the only long-term antidotes to hate-filled "Bin Ladenism"
The Bush Doctrine and American strategy

Prospects for the future - seeds of hope, roots of change

Dr. James Forest, Terrorism Center, U.S. Military Academy at West Point: "The authors have assembled a useful synthesis of the history behind the threat posed by al Qaeda. Their analysis of the religious ideology that fuels radical Islamists, rooted in the socio-political history of Saudi Arabia, adds a useful dimension to our understanding of the current global security environment. This is also one of the first pieces of scholarship to draw solid connections between the struggle in Iraq and global Islamic jihad led by al Qaeda. The authors provide a balanced view of our successes, failures and challenges in Iraq, and how these impact our ability to successfully prosecute the global war on terrorism. In doing so, they add some new insights to the national debate about the Iraq campaign, and offer some hope that our struggle for global peace and security does have an end in sight.....I would recommend that West Point's library purchase this book."

Peter J. Bergerson, Ph.D., Professor of Public Affairs, Florida Gulf Coast University: "Readers will find this book a valuable resource to understand the origins of radical militant Islamic philosophy and how it became a jihad to threaten western society. Quist and Drake have provided a sober picture of an international deadly disease yet an optimistic picture of the future of U. S. national security interest as we enter the 21st century."

Reverend Ralph A. Baumgartner, Bishop's Associate, Saint Paul Area Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America: "The novel argument...that [the authors] make is that the invasion of Iraq does serve the war against terrorism because it puts pressure on Saudi Arabia to change its behavior and to make reforms that lead to democracy."

Peter Huessy, Member of the Committee on the Present Danger and President, GeoStrategic Analysis, Washington, DC: "A key insight of this book reveals the network of killers motivated by a fanatical and twisted Wahhabist faith, sponsored by vast oil wealth and given sanctuary by rogue states. Another is that free institutions and due process will destroy these terrorists, an effort begun in Afghanistan and Iraq."

Political Science / General / Trade Paperback / Price: $19.95 / Size: 6 x 9
Publication Date: Aug-2005
Authors: Colonel B. Wayne Quist and Dr. David F. Drake
ISBN: 0-595-35776-8
252 Pages

Colonel B. Wayne Quist is a graduate of The National War College in Washington DC, published author and popular speaker on Saudi Arabian Wahhabi-Salafism and the ideology of al Qaeda, lectured at the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize Forum. He can be reached at

Dr. David F. Drake is a published author, former Senior Vice President and Secretary-Treasurer of the American Hospital Association, taught at the University of Chicago where he received his Ph.D., lectured at Northwestern University School of Medicine. He can be reached at

Monday, December 15, 2008

Piper for President

When Sarah Palin was nominated for VP on the McCain ticket, my wife and I were much taken with 5-year-old Piper, watching her taking care of her baby brother Trig, and as she smiled and waved to the crowd on stage. Probably because we have an 8-year-old granddaughter.

(Yes, liberal friends, I know you hate Piper too. Along with the photo-shopped pictures of Gov. Sarah in a bikini, or nude, and the faked list of books she was supposed to want to ban, or the forged high school transcript showing she was only an average student, I saw the photo-shopped picture of Piper flipping off another kid that was circulated on the net by the left-wing haters. But shouldn’t five-year-olds be off limits for lies and venom?)

So I used my button making kit to make up buttons that say, “Piper Palin President 2048.” I mailed three of them to Gov. Palin.

Just received the following hand-written reply:

“Robert – Just received the buttons “Piper for President.” Wow, what a great gift. I’ll get them to Sarah and Piper tomorrow. I’m helping Sarah with her mail now as she’s 87 boxes behind! She get’s hundreds and hundreds of letters weekly. Again, Thanks. Chuck Heath, Sarah’s dad.”

I think it's cool--so you can hate Chuck & me too.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Hopefully not needed soon...

A Marine’s Last Will and Testament
Former SSgt Robert A. Hall

I, Robert, an old Mud Marine, being of sound mind, do hereby create this Marine Codicil to my Last Will and Testament, through which I bequeathed all my worldly goods and possessions to those beloved of me in life. This Marine Codicil is to pass on the intangible gifts I received as a Marine, which were beyond the price men put upon worldly possessions.

I have attested to being of “Sound Mind.” That may be challenged by those who think that all Marines are crazy. We have enjoyed and magnified that reputation, of course, to bemuse our friends and intimidate our enemies. As a Navy Psychologist once told me, “The trouble with treating Marines is that if you cure them, they can’t be Marines!” But ours are really the soundest of minds, for the life of our free society depends on warriors. If you do away with us, our civilization commits suicide, surely the ultimate mark of insanity. If there comes a day when is no longer a Marine Corps, the American Idea will die soon after.

To all my Marine brothers and sisters, now and in generations to come, I leave the legacy of our Corps, stretching back to November 10, 1775. It was bequeathed to me by generations of Marines who served before me, who “grew gray in war,” and who gave me those priceless traditions “such as regiments hand down forever.” I have tried in my small way to add to its strength and burnish its luster. Go you and do the same.

To those Marines I served with, I leave my rich stock of Sea Stories, a few of which are even true, that you may embellish them and pass them on to other Marines, to awed members of our sister services and, sanitized for language, to civilians. I also leave you the gratitude of a brother, for you stood by me, cared for my in trouble, and inspired me with your deeds. The poet Alan Seegar, who was KIA in France on July 4, 1916, said it best, “Comrades, you cannot think how thin and blue, look the leftovers of mankind that rest, now that the cream has been skimmed off in you.”

To my Marine DIs, I leave a debt unpaid. The discipline and pride you instilled in me guided me long after I had to shed the uniform for the last time. Thanks to what you did in a few short months, I have had a great life. I’ve tried to make you proud of me every day, and to pay a bit on that debt through my service to my country and my fellow Marines, both in the Corps and in civilian life afterwards.

To my family I leave a few old photos, a few mementos and a service to country in which I hope you take pride as I have. However they serve, I hope future generations of our family find something larger than self to serve, worthy of their time and commitment. There is no happiness in serving the ever-greedy god of self, the root of our world’s troubles.

To our nation’s elected leaders, I leave the Core Values of our Corps: Honor, Courage, Commitment. Imagine if candidates for public office adopted our values as a campaign platform. Imagine candidates with the Honor to tell people the truth and to not trade their support on issues for campaign contributions or personal perks. Imagine elected officials with the Courage to do what was right for the next generation, rather than what was popular to win cheap votes for the next election? Imagine office holders with the Commitment to serve selflessly, live austerely, and do the right regardless of personal cost?

And to the Republic, the country I love, I leave my service. It was little enough payment on the debt every American owes her for the freedoms we have, for the life we live, and for the opportunities we and our loved ones have received in this land. When people thank me for my service, I say, “It was a privilege to wear the uniform of the Republic, and to earn the title Marine.”

I must go now, but I leave my country a new generation of Marines, standing watch out on the lines, putting their bone and blood between the barbarians and our free people, the few guarding the many with their lives. God grant it may ever be so.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Senate Candidate #5: Change we can believe in!

The Chicago Tribune today identified "Senate Candidate #5" as Congressman Jessie Jackson, Jr. Think I've heard the name. Wasn't he just involved as National Co-Chair of a major campaign to bring Change We Can Believe In to government? Can we buy a seat in the US Senate? Yes, We Can!

Here's the section on "Senate Candidate #5" from the Trib's original story about the arrest of the Governor Blagojevich:

.... Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. has been the most aggressive in promoting himself as a contender for the Senate seat. As recently as Monday, Jackson met with Blagojevich to discuss the Senate post. Last week, Jackson told the Tribune that he had recently reached out to Blagojevich confidant John Wyma as well as the governor's patronage chief, Victor Roberson, to discuss the Senate job. The Tribune reported last week that Wyma has been cooperating with the federal corruption probe of Blagojevich.

Jackson did not respond to requests for an interview Tuesday, and his spokesman did not directly address questions about whether the congressman offered to raise campaign money for Blagojevich in exchange for appointment to the Senate seat. His office, however, did release a statement in which he denied any wrongdoing and vowed to aid the federal probe.The government affidavit refers to a "Senate Candidate 5" whose identity could not be confirmed. The candidate is described as someone who publicly is known to be seeking appointment to the Senate.

On Oct. 31, according to the affidavit, Blagojevich described an approach by an associate of Senate Candidate 5. "We were approached 'pay to play.' That, you know, he'd raise me 500 grand. An emissary came. Then the other guy would raise a million, if I made [Senate Candidate 5] a senator," Blagojevich allegedly said.Last week, according to the affidavit, Blagojevich told an adviser that he was giving greater consideration to Senate Candidate 5 because that person could raise money for Blagojevich if he ran for re-election and perhaps kick in "some [money] upfront" as well. And Blagojevich was recorded as saying that he was going to meet with Senate Candidate 5 in the next few days, the affidavit said.

Blagojevich allegedly told one of his fundraisers to pass a message to someone identified in the affidavit only as Individual D whom Blagojevich believed to be close to Senate Candidate 5: If Candidate 5 was to land the Senate seat, "some of this stuff's gotta start happening now . . . right now . . . and we gotta see it. You understand?"

Emanuel, the confidant of both Blagojevich and Obama, is not mentioned by name in the government complaint. But the document refers to a "president-elect adviser" concerned about the conduct of a special election for a new congressman in his 5th District .....

Soon the whole country will have Change the Illinois Way!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Illinois Gov Goes Down

The latest from the Land of Lincoln, Illinois, and Crook County, home of the next president and the Daley Machine.

“I have one US Senate Seat for sale. Only one. Don’t be left out. Place your bids, ladies and gentlemen. Sorry, no Republicans need apply. This is a special opportunity for loyal Democrats.”

Thursday, December 4, 2008

My Inaugural Ball Tickets

By disadvantaged and “others down on their luck” I’m assuming he means Republicans. I’ll be watching for my tickets.

Seriously, nice gesture, but I’d think people down on their luck could use say interview cloths, resume and interview help, or maybe a week’s supply of chow more than a ball.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Quiz on politics, history and the economy

Out of 2,500 American quiz-takers, including college students, elected officials and other randomly selected citizens, nearly 1,800 flunked a 33-question test on basic civics. In fact, elected officials scored slightly lower than the general public with an average score of 44 percent compared to 49 percent.

Only 0.8 percent of all test-takers scored an "A."

It's scary that elected officials scored only 44% on this quiz. I missed two, but I didn’t like how they were worded. Most of the questions are very basic civic & history literacy. A few are about economic theory, and as I said, the wording can be confusing.

Anyone who can't get 50% shouldn't be allowed to vote, let alone graduate from college! I was embarrassed to miss two.

Can you pass the quiz?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Nuclear, bio terror attack now "likely"

A bi-partisan commission, Chaired by former Senator Bob Graham, D-FL & Former Congressman Jim Talent R-MO, has concluded that a terrorist attack with bio or nuclear weapons before 2013 is more likely than not.

This was the main issue for me in the recent election. I thought John McCain was more likely than Barack Obama to prevent such an attack. Already, the Democrats in Congress are calling for defense cuts to free up money for social programs. But if an A-bomb goes off in DC, the economy will go to 19th century levels (can you grow potatoes?). Civil liberties will be gone, as 98% of the public demands security over liberties. And the West will become so weak that efforts to resist the tyranny of Shari’a law, including subjugated status for women & non-Muslims, child marriages, the stoning of rape victims and honor killings, will make great advances around the world.

Which, of course, the terrorists know.

Ten terrorists armed with conventional weapons have just cost the Indian economy billions of dollars, while killing 200 people. Imaging five teams of four terrorists, easily brought in over our porous border, hitting a mall, a casino, an elementary school, a parade, the Super Bowl or a presidential inauguration. Five targets, all at once, spread around the country.

Now imagine what they can do to us with WMDs

In 1998, three years before 9/11, I published a column about what I called “The War on Terror.” It’s reproduced below. Note the highlighted areas. If I could see this in 1998, ten years ago, how come our elected officials couldn’t? Hint: They are more worried about the next election than the future welfare of the country. Both parties.

America’s War on Terror will be long, slow and cruel
Courier Post, August 28, 1998

Early in World War Two, a bitter joke went around Britain. Two Scottish soldiers, rescued from Dunkerque, are in a pub. “It’s going tae be a lang, lang war,” one Jock sighs.
“Aye,” says his mate, “especially if England capitulates and Scotland has to fight on alone.”
Our war against terrorism is going to be a “lang, lang war,” especially if our allies capitulate and America has to fight on alone.
The war is not new. It has escalated for years, as terrorists targeted Americans around the globe to serve their purposes. It grew out of the American defeat in Vietnam and the French defeat in Algeria. The third world learned that western powers with modern armies and advanced technology could be defeated, not on the battlefield, but by a long, slow, intensely cruel bloodletting that would break the political will of the people, without which a democracy cannot prevail.
That we are envied and hated in the world is no surprise. It has ever been the fate of rich republics. All terror needs is the conviction there is no atrocity that cannot be committed for the cause, no innocent blood, no act that is evil if it strikes at the enemy.
A man with a wild look in his eye, a pipeline to his god, and a weapon in his hand has ever been a danger. But the weapons now are explosives powerful enough to destroy buildings, snuffing out hundreds of lives.
Soon they will be gasses that can slaughter thousands, diseases that can kill millions. Perhaps even atomic bombs. And men like Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein will use them without compunction.
They believe they can humble America by breaking our will to resist. It doesn’t matter if it’s Vietnam, or the Clinton scandal or the troubles with Iraq, Americans always want to “get it over with.” Can we prevail in a struggle that may last decades? Can we cope with the frustration, the horror, the cost? Or will we surrender when the terror has stretched out long enough, as our enemies believe?
They may be right. Saddam has apparently backed Clinton and the UN down, faster than even I predicted, by playing brinkmanship perfectly. He’s now free to develop diseases that can wipe out entire cities. Coming soon to a location near you.
How will we prevail when the alternative is to be killed and do nothing or be killed and strike back, escalating the killing? How can we defend ourselves? What must we do to survive?
First, we need a new president. Clinton reacted strongly and appropriately to the embassy bombings. I do not believe he took action to divert attention from his scandals. But that people think so points up the importance of the much-maligned “character issue.” Could the embassy bombings have been timed to take advantage of his perceived weakness under self-inflicted wounds? We cannot have a president who creates that opportunity for our enemies.
If we are to rally in this war, we need a president—probably a series of presidents—who have served in the military, who understand the nature of war, and who have the moral authority to lead us in desperate times. Democratic Senator Bob Kerrey, who earned the Medal of Honor in Vietnam, and Republican Senator John McCain, a heroic POW in Hanoi, come to mind, but there are other Americans we can respect instead of snicker at.
Second, we must be willing to go after the leaders, to repeal the executive order against assassination. Somehow, the “Blame America” crowd convinced us it’s okay to drop bombs on his followers, but to put a bullet between bin Laden’s running lights would be immoral. What rubbish.
Third, we must be prepared to go after terrorists in countries we are not at war with, as Clinton has just done. TV news called the attack “unprecedented,” but it’s not. Nixon ordered the bombing of North Vietnamese soldiers in Cambodia to protect American troops, though we were not at war with Cambodia. Many believed this was immoral, that it was better to let American soldiers die than to kill their enemies when they were hiding over a line in the jungle.
Everyone who would rather have your family murdered than kill enemies hiding in a neutral country, raise your hand. Thank you.
Fourth, we must be willing to accept what’s called “collateral damage.” That is, innocent civilians will be killed, including children, when we go after terrorists. That’s the nasty price of war, created by those who attack us. And it will be on the evening news, with moralists condemning America.
Fifth, we must beef up the military, especially on equipment and special training for small groups of Marines and Army Rangers who can fight sharp, dirty actions against terrorists. Bombs and cruise missiles will not do all the bloody work. And we will have casualties, both military and civilian.
Sixth, we must increase our intelligence capabilities. The CIA must have the human assets—spies and assassins—to combat this plague for us. It will be war in the shadows, nasty and brutal.
Lastly, we must let it be known that any country that launches an attack with weapons of mass destruction, chemical, biological or nuclear, or any country who harbors a group who launches such an attack, can expect us to use nuclear weapons to destroy them.
And we must mean it.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Why Canada loves Nancy Pelosi

Hint: she’s helped their trade position.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Terrorists will win-again! (Updated)

We are watching the Terror in Mumbai, India with more concern than most this Thanksgiving. My wife Bonnie works for a health care foundation, which had scheduled an international conference in India. It’s dedicated to relieving the suffering of millions afflicted with a series of painful conditions. (I’m being vague, as I don’t know if they’d want to be identified.)

Her boss and his wife, and the Foundation’s president and his wife went to the conference, going first to Mumbai for some sightseeing. They are staying in the Taj Hotel. They managed to call out and report that they were in a “safe room,” which we heard about 1 pm CST on Wednesday. There have been no reports from them since, at least that have filtered to us. Her boss holds a Canadian passport, but the president is American.

So like many, we wait and hope and pray.

This was a cleverly-designed attack. It targets westerners for terror, and only the west has stood against the jihadist values, based on their Qur’an, of slavery, subjugation of women and non-Muslims, and establishment of a worldwide Caliphate under the tyranny of Shar’ia law. And it targets the economy of the world’s largest democracy, an American ally, an enemy of Pakistan, at a time of great economic trouble.

And what will be the reaction of political leaders in the Western political parties to the action of the murdering Jihadist scum? (Pardon my redundancies.) Doubtless, they will accelerate the slow suicide of appeasement. We must make concessions to Muslims, so they won’t become radical and kill us. Then they kill us again, prompting more concessions.

Say, I know. Maybe if we give them the Sudetenland, we will have Peace in Our Time!

Update: 3:00 pm CST. Bonnie had sent an e-mail to her boss. She has received a response. He, his wife, and the Foundation president and his wife are safe. They were having dinner by the pool, when they heard explosions. They were told it was fireworks at a wedding, though there was nothing in the sky. Then there were gun shots and they “bolted.” The hotel got them into the basement, then into a safe room. Later they were taken out in groups of ten. There was firing behind them, they understand from terrorists who were in the next room, undetected. They bolted again, scattered into the street and were taken to safe locations. All their belongings, including his Blackberry & phone, are in the hotel. They are at a safe location. He said the hotel staff was great. They expect to begin applying for papers to leave tomorrow.

So one of the lesser causalities of the Jihadists’ twisted faith was the cancellation of a conference that was designed to work to alleviate human suffering. Not that alleviating human suffering seems to be one of the tenants of millions of fanatics who are believers in what apologists call a “Religion of Peace.”

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


A time to be thankful
Robert A. Hall

For many, this is a tough Thanksgiving, with a tough Christmas to follow. But most of us have much more to be thankful for, than to regret.

I’m thankful to have been born in the United States, during the days of the American Republic, when economic freedom gave me the opportunity to make a comfortable living, and political freedom the chance to enjoy it, unmolested by the heavy hand of government. History teaches us the American Republic won’t last forever, that freedom isn’t eternal, but she was wonderful while she was here, and gave tens of millions a great life.

I’m thankful to live in a country that just had a revolution, replacing one party with another, and the streets aren’t full of tanks, the jails aren’t full of the losers, and them morgues aren’t full of the innocent caught in the crossfire.

I thank God I live in a country where we can worship, or not, as we choose, and I pray to preserve her from those who believe an evil deity commands them to bring all humanity under their religion, by the sword if necessary.

I’m thankful to have been born into a family that taught me both the value of work and to love my country. That didn’t take with everyone, but those lessons still guide my life.

I’m thankful that my wife and I have jobs in this troubled economy, and that we work for some of the best, most giving professionals you could find anywhere, orthopaedic surgeons. I’m thankful that, at 62, I’ve been constantly employed since I was 18, except for one six-month period between jobs, and one semester in college.

I’m thankful for the associations that employed me as their executive over the past 26 years. By luck or skill, all were stronger when I left than when I arrived, and I learned much at every one.

I’m thankful that I learned to live within my means, and am not in debt at a time when the credit crunch from over-extended people and feckless businesses is bring great trouble to our country.

I’m thankful that the people of the Third Worcester District, albeit by a slim 9-vote margin, gave me the privilege at age 26 to serve as their state senator. That was a great ten years, and a priceless education.

I’m thankful I had the opportunity to get a decent education, little as I valued it before I got to college.

I’m thankful that I learned to love reading and to love history and poetry. I think my biggest regret at death will be all the unread history books. (Gimmie another shot doc, I’ve only got two chapters to go!)

I’m thankful I’ve had the chance to travel, to see other countries I loved, like Scotland, and those as well where the people didn’t enjoy the blessings of economic and political Freedom, so I’d know how good we have it.

I’m thankful for a wonderful family, the usual spats aside, for my beautiful, loving wife, Bonnie, and for the most special granddaughter, Britnye, a guy could have. I married late in life, but I married well.

And every day I give thanks that, at age 18, the United States Marine Corps gave me the opportunity to earn the title Marine, to wear the uniform of this great Republic, to serve with the finest men of my generation in Vietnam, to try every day to live up to the Corps’ core values of honor, courage and commitment. I’m grateful my DIs, Sergeants Harris, Martin and Owens, didn’t give up on this un-athletic, un-coordinated wiseass. If the Corps every goes down, it will surely signal the end of the American experiment in liberty.

I’m very thankful that I can still claim the title Marine with honor. I wouldn’t trade that for the largest lotto prize in the world.

Biden Needs Lesson in Chicago Politics

A placeholder has been appointed to his seat, to keep it warm until his son returns from being a lawyer in Iraq to run for it in two years. That’s not how it’s done—that means the people actually get to vote, however stacked the election deck.

Former Aide to take Biden Seat

Now in The Chicago Way, Illinois Senate President & Obama Mentor Emil Jones resigned after the primary. Then the local Democrat committee appointed his son to fill the vacancy, to run unopposed in the November election. That way, he wills his seat to his son without the pesky voters getting to vote on the choice.
Too bad Obama’s girls aren’t old enough to get his seat in the US Senate. After all, he’s held it for 2/3rds of a full term, and possession is nine tenths of the law, right. Maybe Michelle needs something to do while the kids are in their expensive private school.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Economic Freedom

Sonnet: Defending Economic Freedom

Freedom from want is built on liberty,
When folk can sell their labor or their goods
As they will chose, a free economy
Creates all wealth, though that’s misunderstood,
By bureaucrats, who think that they know best
How you should live and work and buy and trade.
Central control has always failed the test—
Of those who seek such power, be afraid.

They do not care who lives in poverty,
If they control your markets and your votes.
They do not care about the misery
The heavy hand of government promotes.
Power corrupts, and blinds them to the flaw,
For tyrants hide in economic law.

-- © Robert A. Hall

Monday, November 24, 2008


The Obamas want to chose the school their daughters go to. Fair enough. But they want to deny school choice to poor black folks. Okay, they owe the teachers unions big time for the dollars and votes they put in. Tough for blacks wanting better educations for their kids, but that's politics.

Can we send our kids to better schools? "Yes we can."

Will we get the choice? Not under Barack the Unready.

Worth Reading

By Canadian Mark Steyn

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Muslims in Kosovo harvested Serb Christian organs

The stories don't mention the religion of the harvesters and harvestees. Want to bet if it was the other way around, there would be anti-Christian riots in a dozen countries?

Kosovo Holds Two over ‘Organ Transplants’

Serb prisoners 'were stripped of their organs in Kosovo war''were-stripped-of-their-organs-in-Kosovo-war'.html

Some good news

Pakistan: US missile strike kills al-Qaeda connected "terror-mastermind"

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Cub Scout

The Cub Scout
by Robert A. Hall

A few years ago, Milt "Pappy" Gore dragooned me into a VFW rifle squad for the annual Memorial Day service in Westmont, NJ. Pappy is a retired Marine tanker who served on Peleliu and Okinawa in World War II, and in Korea. I had my doubts, but he's a hard guy to turn down.
It was a typical Remembrance Day. While the majority of residents were enjoying a long weekend at the shore, perhaps a hundred gathered to listen to speeches by local politicians and watch aging veterans honor fallen comrades. The master-of-ceremonies was "Sarge" Ulsh, a "Chosin-few" Marine Korean vet, who also serves as the VFW's caustic-tongued bartender.
The squad sweltered in the sun while the speeches dragged on and wreaths were laid. There were six of us: Pappy and two other World War II vets in khaki, two present day soldiers in Army green who happened to be husband and wife, and myself in dark trousers, white shirt and an old Marine utility cap. All we needed was Norman Rockwell to paint the scene.
The squad commander was an Army vet, who crisply snapped out orders. Of course, World War II was awhile ago, so he was winging it on some commands (ordering "Turn-ABOUT" instead of "About-FACE"), which hurt our parade-ground precision a bit. As such small-town ceremonies often go, it managed to be both comic and touching.
I'm a sharp critic of rifle squads, but our three volleys weren't bad, considering we had never practiced. While kids scrambled to pick up the empty shells, we turned in the old M-1 Garands and thought about getting a cold beer at the post before heading home for the obligatory barbecue.
Drinking my beer, I found the funny-sad ceremony had put a lump in my throat. It brought back sharp memories of the last time I served on a rifle squad honoring our dead, over 40 years and 40 pounds ago.
I was a young Marine PFC, full of "hot sand and ginger" in Kipling's phrase, working my way through a year-long electronics school at Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego. This was the Spring of 1965, and Vietnam was heating up. My best buddy, Ron "Count" Pittenger and I had already gone to our commander and volunteered for the infantry in Vietnam.
We didn't know we were volunteering for a war the politicians would have neither the will to win nor the will to end. Television pictures the sixties generation as flower-power, long-haired hippies, smoking pot and protesting a terrible war. Rarely do you hear that tens of thousands of kids from that generation believed in America, believed communism was a great evil and volunteered to fight in that war.
Lucky for us, in those days the Marine Corps sent you where it wanted to, and it thought we should be studying electronics rather than carrying a rifle through a rice paddy. The skipper thanked us and sent us back to our duties. Vietnam would wait. I think we were equal parts disappointed and relieved.
A few weeks later, we had another chance to volunteer. We were between schools, and while waiting for classes to form, were assigned various unpleasant duties. One morning the company Gunnery Sergeant asked for volunteers for burial duty. I grabbed Count's arm and dragged him forward. We reported an hour later to the sergeant in charge.
I'd like to tell you we were motivated by a deep desire to honor the dead. The truth is, I was desperate to avoid another round of long hours walloping pots in the chow hall, where my most memorable accomplishment was cracking 120 dozen eggs for the cooks one morning. And I'd heard that burial detail was "skating" duty.
That's how the Count and I participated in over a hundred funerals in the next month. It was easy duty, especially for the rifle squad. The big guys were assigned to be body bearers, carrying heavy coffins. All we had to do was stand straight, look sharp, and fire three tight volleys from our seven rifles.
We worked at the national cemetery at Point Loma, CA, sharing the chore with a Navy squad. The Navy preferred to sleep late, so we'd take the early funerals, and get early liberty. For some reason there were no Friday funerals, usually giving us a three-day weekend.
Most of the funerals were for old veterans, guys who had served in the first or second world wars. Often there was no one to see them off but the funeral director, the minister and us, rendering last honors on behalf of the nation.
When you're in ten or fifteen funerals a day, it quickly becomes routine. We took it seriously-we were Marines-giving every vet our sharpest effort. But we quickly stopped feeling sad. You can't grieve endlessly for strangers.
Then we buried the cub scout's dad.
We were told to look sharp, because the next funeral was for a Marine who'd been killed in Vietnam. With the family was a Marine staff sergeant, perhaps a buddy, assigned to help. The large crowd of mourners included the young widow and the son of the dead Marine, a cub scout in full uniform. He was perhaps eight years old.
When we fired our volleys, the seven rifles making a single crack, people in the crowd began to weep. The rifle fire always seemed to signal how final death was. Then we stood at present arms while our bugler played taps.
He was a lance corporal permanently assigned to Point Loma, and had blown taps at several hundred funerals. No one has ever made it sound sadder.
While the bugle notes rolled down the hillside and the family wept, the staff sergeant and the cub scout stood at the foot of the casket at rigid attention, saluting the tautly-stretched flag. The contrast between the tall Marine in dress greens and the small boy in blue giving his dad the cub salute tore at our hearts.
And then the boy turned his head slightly, looked up at the Marine, and changed from the cub scout salute to the open-handed Marine salute, honoring his dead father as best he could. And if there is a God, somewhere his dad saw him.
We held our position, but I wasn't the only Marine weeping openly. Finally taps ended, the notes dying out over the sobbing of relatives. The body bearers folded the flag into the traditional triangle and passed it to the staff sergeant.
He presented it to the cub scout and saluted. The cub accepted the American flag from his dad's grave, and sharply returned the salute-Marine style.
Slowly the family and friends drifted away, and we marched off. Another funeral was waiting.
But I've carried that moment burned in my heart for over thirty years.
Former Marine Staff Sergeant Robert A. Hall is a Vietnam veteran who later served five terms in the Massachusetts State Senate. Currently he manages associations. This column was published in the Camdon County NJ Courier Post and in Chicken Soup for the Veterans Soul. (c) Robert A. Hall.

US automakers can survive--outside the US!

Check out this video of Ford's most efficient plant. Where is it? Hint: where the UAW can't make it unprofitable! < >

Friday, November 21, 2008

Thank heavens Democrats respect privacy laws, unlike Bush!

Ohio IG Report: Joe the Plumber's Records Were Improperly Searched

Update: Verizon employees who violated Obama's privacy were fired:

But this violation of Joe's privacy drew a one month suspension:

Things like this feed the racists, because the the black person who violated the white person's privacy still has her job, but the people who violated the black candidate's privacy lost theirs. It makes some people think there is different treatment based on race!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Growth of Government Spending

This column reports that according to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), in 1930 the federal government spent 3.4 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) and federal taxes took in 4.2 percent of GDP (there was a .8% surplus!)

In 1940 federal spending was 9.8 percent of GDP, federal taxes were 6.8 percent and we borrowed the 3% difference.

In 2009, it is estimated that the federal government will spend 20.7 percent of GDP while taking in 18 percent of GDP in taxes, and we’ll borrow the 2.7 percent difference.

Wonder what % it will be in four years? Or in 50?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Angry Liberals

Why are liberals so angry?
Robert A. Hall

Have you noticed that even though they have put Barack the Unready in the White House, and the League of Leftwing Lawyers in firm control of the Congress, a lot of liberals are still very angry? They can’t stop kicking Sarah Palin. They are still seething at Bush. And don’t you dare tell a mild joke about The One.

I sent my family leftie a version of the joke about not tipping waiters to “spread the wealth around” by giving the tip to the poor. He snarled about what a “sore loser” I was. I responded that I would be as gracious and cooperative with President Obama as he had been with President Bush. Maybe even a tad more.

Sure, there are lighthearted liberals. But many respond to any conservative joke or comment the way rioting Muslims responded to a few cartoons about the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be Upon Him—and Especially upon his Followers). Why fury and outrage instead of laughter, debate and discussion?

We often hear how the “Religious Right” has joined politics and religion at the hip, to force us to accept the tenets of their faith as, well, gospel. The Westboro Baptist Church being an extreme and disgusting example. As a conservative centrist with a libertarian bent, who doesn’t believe in proselytizing my faith, I understand the concern. I have the same concern about black churches and ministers like Rev. Jessie Jackson, Rev. Al Sharpton and Rev. Jeremiah Wright, or about Catholic Bishops, who tell people how God wants them to vote.

Religion should be about faith; politics about opinion, facts, debate, discussion and outcomes. When politics becomes about faith, political apostates get stoned.

While some on the right have entwined religion and politics to the detriment of both, the Angry Left has replaced religion with politics. Thus, political questions are no longer open to discussion, to a review of what the policies results actually are for real people. I notice that the angriest liberals are the most secular. Political cant has replaced liturgy in their lives.

That’s why they become angry at mild jokes, the way millions of fanatical Muslims responded to the Danish cartoons. The Liberal Faith cannot be mocked!

If you point out that liberal policies have bad outcomes for the people they are supposed to help, you are a heretic.

The Liberal Faith was that the Vietnam War was evil. Mention that twice as many people were reportedly murdered by the Communists in SE Asia in the first two years after the war, as died in the eight years we were involved, and they become enraged.

The Liberal Faith was that the Shah was evil and we had to stop supporting him. Mention that replacing the Shah with the current theocrats in Iran resulted in a war that killed millions, or that Iran is hanging Gays, stoning women, and developing an atomic bomb to exterminate Israel, and they become enraged.

The Liberal Faith was that white rule in Zimbabwe was evil and everything must be done to bring about black rule. Mention that black life expectancy under black rule has dropped from 63 to 36, that millions have died, and millions more now starve in a country that used to export food, and they become enraged.

No one pretends that South Vietnam, Iran under the Shah or Rhodesia were slices of democratic heaven. But did tens of millions have to die so liberals could feel good about instituting the Liberal Faith?

The Liberal Faith was that DDT had to be banned to save the birds and prevent a “Silent Spring.” Mention that this resulted in the deaths of tens of millions of black, brown and yellow children from Malaria, and they become enraged.

The Liberal Faith is that black illegitimacy and thus poverty is a result of slavery and discrimination. Mention that a generation after the Civil War, blacks had slightly higher rates of marriage than whites, that the trend of black fathers abandoning their children exploded after the cultural change of the 1960s and the expansion of welfare, and they become enraged.

The Liberal Faith is only responsible for good intentions; they take no responsibility for bad outcomes.

Mention any fact that might conflict with the Liberal Faith’s fervent belief in anthropomorphic global warming, and they become enraged. Facts, free debate and open discussion are the stuff of science, not religion. The Faith cannot be questioned.

I was an early supporter of Gay rights in my senate career (when a lot of liberals ran for cover), though I was single and representing a 4-1 Democrat district in 1973. That libertarian departure from conservative orthodoxy buys me nothing with liberals. With religion, you must avow the entire catechism, or you are an evil sinner, outside the circle of love and respect.

For the Angry Left like MoveOn, as opposed to pragmatic left-center politicians like the Clintons, policy is not politics, but piety. It can’t be that you simply have a different worldview, and thus believe that different policies have preferred outcomes for the polity and the public. They are the wise and faithful. If you do not believe all they believe, you must be stupid, evil or both. And your impiety makes them angry.

Robert A. Hall is a Marine Vietnam veteran who served five terms in the Massachusetts state senate.

Hottest October Ever?

Hottest October Ever?

James Hansen, head of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, and Al Gore’s favorite scientist, claimed that October, 2008, was the “hottest October ever.” Turns out the highly-regarded scientific institute was using bogus numbers carried over from September.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration registered 63 local snowfall records and 115 lowest-ever temperatures for the month, and ranked it as only the 70th warmest October in 114 years.

But remember, the “debate is over.” Anyone who questions anthropomorphic global warming is “on the take from the oil companies.” (I’m still waiting. Make mine small, unmarked bills, please.)

In science, questions are debated. In religion, heretics are stoned.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Dealing with Pirates

In today's news, the ever-bolder pirates of Somalia have seized a Saudi-owned oil tanker as large as an aircraft carrier, worth a reported $120,000,000, with a cargo that may be worth $100M more. (It would have been worth twice as much a month ago.) If these guys keep it up, GM will ask them for a bail out--so they can build more gas-guzzling SUVs nobody wants, while paying union guys $73 an hour. The story I read didn’t mention the pirates’ religion, but since the ship belonged to Muslims, I’m guessing crazed Presbyterians, or out-of-control Unitarians. Something like that, doubtless.

Solution: Create an international navel force, under US, not UN command. Establish convoys protected by frigates and destroyers, with air cover from a carrier on call. Create armed merchantmen. Use Q-ships. Shoot to kill on suspicion. Launch surgical air strikes on pirate nests (sorry about the collateral damage). Captured pirates should be tried by navel court, at sea, executed immediately, and buried at sea. Any ship taken by pirates should be sunk, killing the pirates (sorry about the crew, but more crewmen would be saved, long term, by stopping the pirates now). End of problem, six months, tops. If the pirates knew they were going to die, instead of get large ransoms, they would stop being pirates. Probably run for Congress or something.

Alternatively, for those who believe “violence solves nothing,” President-elect Obama could meet with pirate leaders, in Somalia, one on one, without pre-conditions, to build consensus, respect and understanding. This would make the UN, Europe and, especially, Joe Biden VERY happy.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Why are health care costs so high?

The Massachusetts Medical Society has found in a study that “Defensive Medicine,” that is procedures and tests ordered not because the doctor thinks they are needed, but to reduce the risk of a lawsuit, costs $1.4 Billion in Massachusetts, just for the specialties surveyed. And we wonder why health care is so expensive, and why so many people can’t afford coverage, and why Medicare is breaking the Federal Government, and Medicaid the state governments?

Will anything be done about it? Not with the League of Leftwing Lawyers firmly in charge of the Government. (Barack & Michelle Obama, Joe Biden, Bill & Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi & Steny Hoyer running the house, Harry Reid, Dick Durbin and Harry Byrd running the senate. And there are a lot of Democrat Lawyers throughout the Congress & the new administration--bet on it.) Tort reform is dead, so the rest of us will pay & pay.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Wisdom from the Old Book

Ecclesiastes 10.2 The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of the fool to the left.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

I'm going to be rich

At last I’m going to be rich
Robert A. Hall

I’ve always thought I wouldn’t be spoiled by big money. Finally, I’m going to find out. And I’m not going to do those rich-people things. I don’t plan to buy a huge mansion, run for the US Senate, or get a super model for a trophy wife.

I’m not even going to quit my job. I like the people I work with and it’s important work. My wife and I will travel more, get that sailboat, and maybe a Jeep for me.

I’ll help out family members, support our church and contribute to some charities.
You’re probably thinking I’ve won the lottery. Not so. I buy the occasional ticket, but that woman who pulls the numbers has been a sore disappointment to me.

Nope, my wealth is coming from my new friend Mr. Boniface Obaseki, Chief Auditor of the African Development Bank in South Africa. See, Mr. Obaseki has a little problem. He’s discovered an inactive account at the bank with $126 million dollars in it. And if he doesn’t “remit this money out urgently it will be forfeited for nothing.” That would be a shame.
According to my e-mail from Boniface (partners should be on a first-name basis) the account belonged to a Mr. Smith B. Andreas, a minor/geologist at the Kruger Gold Company, who “died since 1990.” If I’d known geologists did that well, I’ve have changed my major in college.
But never mind. Boniface needs my help, because the money has to be remitted to a foreign bank. And his secretary, who operates the computer and “believes in God” that I’ll “never let him down,” found me, “a reliable and honest person.” He wants to transfer this amount to my local bank, which may be a tad surprised at the influx of cash.

Good thing he picked me. I mean, a dishonest person might have kept the whole bundle, rather then the 35% I get for helping him, plus expenses. Since my share comes to $44 million and change, I’m his man.

Oh, I was suspicious, but Boniface assured me we would sign a binding agreement, as this was “real and genuine” business. He asked me to keep this strictly confidential, because I’m the only person he’s told about the money, so don’t you tell anyone.

Since there’s so much money floating around Africa that doesn’t seem to have an owner, why shouldn’t I get a chunk? In the past, I’ve received several letters from Nigeria, from various important folks needing my bank account number and contact information to get big money out of the country. About ten years ago, they started to come by e-mail.

All are urgent. All involve several million dollars. All come from someone highly placed. Lately, various relatives and attorneys of the late head of state, General Sani Abacha, are desperately trying to get many millions out of Nigeria, offering me from 15% to 25% if I’ll help.

I’m glad I held out, though. Getting 35% of $126 million is the best offer yet. Maybe it’s because this money is in South Africa—most of the offers come from Nigeria. Some are now coming from Iraq, Afghanistan and the Philippians.

These are known as Nigerian scams or “419” scams, after a seldom-enforced section of the Nigerian Penal Code.

Their plan is not to get your account number, (you could open a new account), but to get you hooked on the idea of great, though shady, wealth. Then it turns out—so sorry—that an up front payment is needed for a bribe, or advance fee for the lawyer, or export fees, or whatever.
Once you are on the hook, you will be sent demands for more payments, official looking documents and even invited to visit Nigeria or another area country. Then the scam may become kidnapping. There are reports of people missing and murdered.

Think people aren’t that dumb? As of 1995, an estimated $5 billion had been duped from the feckless and greedy. Some claim this is Nigeria’s third largest industry.

If you get a scam letter, fax or e-mail, you can fax it to the US Secret Service at 202/406-6930. Mark it “no financial loss—for database.”

You can learn more about these scams at the 419 coalition website: This and other scams are also detailed at

Con artists say, “You can’t cheat an honest person.” If you’ve got doubts, the rule is, if it sounds too good to be true, it ain’t true.

But I still feel bad for old Boniface. He put his faith in me, and I let him down. So did everyone else in my office—we all received his “exclusive” e-mail.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The economy

Interesting and scary article about the economy from the Washington Post. All Bush’s fault, of course. His failure to regulate European and Asian banks, which were more over-leveraged than even ours, really did us in! Seriously, everyone is to blame, Democrats & Republicans, Wall Street and banks worldwide, GM for not building cars people want, unions for making GM much less competitive, and consumers, especially those who financed debt for homes, cars, etc. that were more than five or ten times their annual income. Those of us who didn’t pile up debt now have to bail them out, so they can—sob—“stay in their homes,” even if the home cost $1M. Wonder if the new administration will repeal the Community Reinvestment Act, so banks won’t continue to be forced to give loans to people who can’t pay?

To understand why politicians of both parties do things short term that feel good, but screw the economy long term, I again recommend the excellent books Basic Economics and Economic Facts and Fallacies by Dr. Thomas Sowell. Many of the short term solutions to relieve the pain will make things worse long term, but both parties have their eye on the 2010 midterm elections, not the long term.

Obama and Minorities

Can President Obama bring real change for minorities?
Robert A. Hall

If President Obama really wants to do something about black poverty, he needs to do something about the ghetto culture poor blacks adopted from poor whites in the south, which liberals think is sacrosanct as “authentic” black culture. (See Black Rednecks and White Liberals by Dr. Thomas Sowell.) He needs to have blacks understand that education is not “acting white,” but the road to a better standard of living. He needs to do something about casual black on black violence, which, among other pernicious things, drives job-creating businesses out of black areas. And something about black men abandoning children, a legacy of the Sixties and the welfare state, not of slavery. (A generation after the Civil War, blacks had slightly higher marriage rates than whites.)

If he wants to do something to help Hispanics, stop the multi-cultural nonsense and encourage them to learn English. Hispanics who speak English have significantly higher income levels than those who don’t.

But liberal “Poverty Pimps” prefer poor minorities dependent on liberal-sponsored government handouts, thus locked into voting for liberal candidates. Big government Democrats are the new Masters of the Plantation.

Blacks do worse educationally than whites who test at the same ability level. Is that culture or discrimination? Well, whites do worse educationally than Asians who test at the same intelligence level. And Jews do better than Christians who test at the same level. So does that prove Asians are discriminating against Whites, and Jews are discriminating against Christians? Or does it prove that Asians and Jews have cultures that are focused on education and success for their children? Black kids who were raised in an Asian or Jewish culture would outstrip whites in educational achievement. It’s neither discrimination nor lack of ability holding minorities back, it's culture. What will President Obama do to change that?

White politicians can’t speak to the real issues keeping minorities impoverished, because the media will join with liberals in trashing them as racists. One of the hopes for the Obama presidency is that, being half black, he will be able to speak to the real issues, thus really bringing positive change for minorities. If Jessie Jackson doesn’t do surgery on him for trying. If Obama has the courage. I wish blacks and Hispanic Americans every success. Can President Obama beat down his own party and the media to really help them? I hope so, but I’m not betting on it.

Robert A. Hall is a Marine Vietnam veteran who served five terms in the Massachusetts state senate

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

To the Old Breed on Veterans Day

To the Old Breed on Veterans Day

They’re dying out, you know.
They’re fewer every year.
We watch them homeward go,
And shed an errant tear.

They are the old, true breed
Who wore the uniform.
They served at every need,
For that was once the norm.

Their passing goes un-mourned,
They simply fade away,
But Freedom once was borne
By them through every day.

They suffered, toiled and died,
They sweated, bled and fought,
Through honor and through pride
Your liberty they bought.

So you may heroes jeer,
And you may comfort seek,
Oh, let the feckless sneer,
The cowards and the weak!

The day is coming near
When you will beg for men,
And they, no longer here,
Will not return again.

--Former SSgt Robert A. Hall, USMC

Veterans' Day

"A veteran is someone who, at one point in his or her life wrote a blank check made 'Payable to the United States of America' in the amount of 'up to and including my life.'"


Check out this great video clip about Veterans' Day

Sunday, November 9, 2008

What America Wanted

A liberal former legislative colleague pointed out to me that Vietnam has not produced a president, and with McCain's defeat, probably won't.

The reason is simple, I believe.

America didn't want a hero.

America wanted a handout.

Sending jobs overseas

Who sent American jobs overseas? We all did!
Robert A. Hall

The movement of some jobs overseas elicits loud complaints in election years. There are calls to rescind NAFTA, even though after it passed the number of jobs in both the US and Mexico increased. Economics is not a zero-sum game, as politicians would have you believe. The trick is to develop pro-growth policies, such as free trade, which increase the general wealth, even though some people get hurt, as jobs flow to where they can be most economically done.

But, who is really responsible for anti-growth policies that create the economics to make jobs move? George Bush? Guilty. Bill Clinton? Guilty. The Democrats in Congress? Guilty. The Republicans in Congress? Also guilty. Every president back to FDR? All Guilty. Me? Guilty.

Hey, hold on, pal! How can I be guilty? I don’t own a business, never moved a single job. I’ll explain my guilt, but first a simple lesson in economics. Every economically-rational business seeks to maximize revenue and minimize expenses. Even government agencies and non-profits, like the one I manage, try to increase revenue and reduce costs, though they are more subject to non-economic considerations. Businesses that don’t follow this iron law don’t ship jobs overseas. They simply go out of business, as consumers choose the products and services of businesses that act in accord with economic laws. Then the jobs don’t move, they disappear, meaning both the employees and the investors lose. And increasingly the investors who lose are not just rich folks, but you and I with our 401k plans. I seldom hear of unions demanding that their pension funds be invested in USA-only companies, regardless of income results.

Economically-rational consumers seek to obtain products and services of acceptable quality at the least cost. Which is why I have a Korean car and shirts from every third world country except Iraq.

Moving a company is expensive. But if costs have increased to the point where other companies are able to offer products at lower prices, a company has to choose between moving and closing. Bankruptcies seldom benefit workers or consumers.

These facts of economic life have always been true. Sen. John Edwards has lamented the pain caused by the closing of textile and furniture factories in North Caroline, to seek more favorable working conditions overseas. But no one in North Caroline cried for workers in Massachusetts when these same factories relocated in past decades from Lowell and Gardner in search of a more favorable economic environment in North Carolina.

What increases costs enough to cause a company to have to relocate? Wages and the cost of living are one factor, of course, though we can often compete with countries with lower wages, because we have higher productivity. Higher hourly wages can still mean lower labor costs per unit produced.

But, increasingly, well-intentioned government regulations also drive up costs—and drive out jobs. That’s where I’m guilty too.

As a Republican member of the Massachusetts state senate, I was known as a pro-business guy. But I also supported the state equal-rights amendment, and efforts to prohibit discrimination against gays in employment and housing. I’m proud of these stands. But I also recognize that their successful passage made the cost of doing business in Massachusetts a little bit higher.
Look at the wonderful things the government has done in the past few decades. The ADA was passed to help people with disabilities. The EPA was established to protect the environment. OSHA protects workers. The FMLA helps pregnant women and families. Title VII prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, religion, and gender. ADEA protects older works from discrimination. The Equal Pay Act protects women. USERRA protects veterans. And we could name a lot more at both the federal and state level.

These are all good things, intended to protect and help people. I’m not suggesting that we repeal any of them. They were passed with the best of intentions, and supported by presidents and legislators of both parties. None of these things alone drove jobs overseas. But each increased the cost of doing business and made a move overseas just that more necessary for some American companies. As Stanislaw Lem reportedly said, “No snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible.”

Protectionism doesn’t work in a global economy, as President Bush found out when he tried to pander to steel workers with import barriers on steel, and was forced to backtrack because of the economic damage it would have done. President Obama will discover the same thing when he tries to reward union contributions with higher trade barriers. The anti-globalization Luddites are having fun trashing cities and protesting trade, but in the end they will be as successful of those who fought the introduction of power machinery in 1811, because it destroyed jobs.

It would help, of course, if Americans were as interested in economic reality as in reality TV. Until then, we may expect candidates to continue to pander to their ignorance. And it would help if each time we asked government to do something good, which increased the cost of doing business, we realized we might be the snowflake that sent our job overseas.

In the meantime, I recommend everyone read "Basic Economics" by Dr. Thomas Sowell. You’ll know when politicians are pandering to you.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

When the Guardians Fail

When the Guardians Fail
Robert A. Hall

Robert Frost wrote, “Then leaf subsides to leaf/So Eden sank to grief/So dawn goes down to day/Nothing gold can stay.” As Eden sank to grief, so goeth all nations.

It’s never expected, of course. Christian citizens of the Byzantine Empire at the heights of its glory could not foresee the day in 1453 when Emperor Constantine XI, in a heroic last stand would die fighting the Muslim conquest of once-Christian Turkey. Yet today, it’s unthinkable that the city, now called Istanbul, could be anything but Muslim ruled.

And no citizen of Rome at its height expected the Pax Romana to bow to barbarians.

Americans may believe the United States will last forever. But history shows superpower status does not confer immortality on a nation. Someday, the guardians will fail.

Citizens are naturally suspicious of their guardians. After all, armed protectors, police or military, can be dangerous. It has been likened to the relationship of sheep to sheepdogs. The sheep do not particularly like the dogs. After all, dogs can bite, and the capacity for violence inherent in their job makes the sheep nervous. But without them, the wolves will soon be among the flock, rending and tearing. George Orwell said, “People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.” That does not make the rough men popular with those they guard.

That John Adams, defeated by Jefferson, packed and went home was perhaps the true American Revolution. That Richard Nixon could be forced from office without one tank in the streets was incomprehensible to much of the world. America’s guardians, with few aberrations, have been protectors of the people, because they have been of the people.

That is rapidly becoming not the case. In WWII, President Franklin Roosevelt’s son, Maj. Jimmy Roosevelt, served as a Marine in combat. It wasn’t thought remarkable, because our citizen military once drew its leaders from America’s elites. The Ivy League was then well represented in the officers’ corps. The guardians were of the people.

Who today expects to see Chelsea Clinton or the Bush twins in uniform? It would create a sensation if they served here, never mind in Iraq. Even if I had not had other reasons, I would have voted for McCain and Palin for allowing their kids to go to Iraq, as, respectively, a Marine and an Army infantryman. (And yes, Biden’s son is going too—as a military lawyer.) Today, few members of Congress or the administration have served. Fewer still of their children are serving. The more prestigious the university, the more likely it is to have driven ROTC and military recruiters off campus. Increasingly, those who for low pay are expected to put their lives at risk for us come from families of those who have served the country, or from immigrants. And those who benefit the most from America—the educated elites, the wealthy Hollywood stars and sports figures—feel the least call to serve.

Worse, perhaps out of hidden shame, they denigrate those who do serve. For every one of us who admired Pat Tillman for giving up a multimillion-dollar NFL career to serve our country, at the cost of his life, I’m sure there were three who secretly thought he was a jerk. As the war on terror drags on, the “we support the troops” mantra is wearing threadbare from poorly-hidden contempt.

Our guardians are growing increasingly disconnected from the society they protect. Leona Helmsley famously said, “Taxes are for the little people.” Increasingly, our elites believe that service to the Republic is for the little people, the contemptible poor who can’t get another job. When the 7,000 defenders of Constantinople fell to perhaps 85,000 besieging Muslims, about 2,000 of the defenders were mercenaries. Next time you rail against illegal immigrants from Mexico, note the number of Hispanic names on the casualty lists from Iraq. They are our mercenaries, Jose and Maria on guard, so Jason and Tiffany can take from the country without risk.

Once protecting the society is held in contempt, once the elites are no longer willing to lead the guardians, the signs of failure are manifest. The world will not appreciate what it will lose until the day America’s guardians fail. We who loved her will hope, like Constantine, to go down in the last melee. And the children of privilege will wonder, “How could this evil happen?” as their daughters don their burkas.