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September 29, 2007

The Phony Soldiers
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 05:10 PM * 210 comments

The latest Republican slam against US troops who decide to get out of the Army rather than re-enlist for another tour or who suggest that the US get out of Iraq is “phony soldier.”

Here’s a “phony” soldier’s response.

Go, read the whole thing.

He’s got pictures. Look at them.

Make up your own mind about who’s the “phony.”

Comments on The Phony Soldiers:
#1 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2007, 05:51 PM:

Apparently the only non-phony soldiers are the ones who've died in this Republican war.

#2 ::: Dave Kuzminski ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2007, 06:10 PM:

I never question the patriotism of any member of our armed forces regardless of their opinions because they've earned the right to speak their minds. Rush Limbaugh, on the other hand, gets to speak him mind only because those past and current members of our armed forces paid for him to do so. One would think that Limbaugh would have a greater appreciation for those who've provided him with so much, including the right to screw up his life with drugs.

Ah, maybe that's what we're hearing. Is it possible that Rush is still using and only vocalizing his hallucinations?

#3 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2007, 06:38 PM:

He was a loony right-winger in 1985 when I first heard him, presumably long before he got addicted to Oxycontin and began doctor-shopping to feed the habit.

No, Rush is a typical member of the species called "let's you and him fight."

#4 ::: John Chu ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2007, 06:43 PM:

*sigh* I hope no one is giving this latest slam with any credibility...

#5 ::: Connie H. ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2007, 06:44 PM:

Interesting how the transcript goes -- because it's clear to Rush that if you don't support the war, you simply aren't a Republican.

From the last entry here, it's clear we're headed towards having our own SS, and I guess loyalty oaths are coming on, too.

#6 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2007, 06:53 PM:

Rush is actually making it worse. He tried, Friday, to "explain" that his remarks had been taking out of context, and referred to one particular soldier, Jesse McBeth. To make his point, he aired a clip of the program in question. Unfortunately for him undoctored tapes of the show exist, indicating he excised over a minute and a half to make his explanation sound plausible.

One might have a tactical disagreement with MoveOn over their recent ads. But, as far as I know, they have never tried to hide the fact that those ads said just what they intended to say, and have not given in to a great deal of pressure and backed down.

Rush's original statement was deeply offensive. This deceptive onair response to critics makes it much worse. In a slightly rational world this would finally cost him his job. (I wan't hold my breath waiting for it.)

#7 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2007, 06:55 PM:

Err, - "taken" for "taking". Posting while angry is hazardous to your spelling and grammar.

#8 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2007, 07:56 PM:

It takes zero intestinal fortitude for Rush Limbaugh to condemn as phony people who have risked their lives for their country. Indeed, some of the 'phonies' he condemns went on to give their country the last full measure of devotion.

Limbaugh, on the other hand, is the spiritual heir of William Joyce.

#9 ::: Asteele ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2007, 07:56 PM:

Dave, nah, I'm pretty sure he'd be allowed to criticize the regimes enemies regardless of who was in charge.

#10 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2007, 08:03 PM:

Yeah, I'm a phony soldier too, and ginmar, and slavetothetink and a whole lot of other fakes, slacker and defeatists I know.

slavetothetink commented that she want's a shirt, "Phony Soldier" on the front, "OIF Veteran" on the back.

I'll buy one of those.

#11 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2007, 08:28 PM:

#8: Not William Joyce. Julius Streicher.

#12 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2007, 09:27 PM:

Jon Meltzer #11: You're right.

#13 ::: Dan ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2007, 10:50 PM:

I could see Rush doing movie reviews and nothing else. In fact, I'd imagine he'd probably be quite funny to listen to if he became a sort of anti-Michael Musto. But, when he gets into this world of politics, he's in so far over his head, I can almost imagine his need for self-medicating.

Still, if our legislators are going to condemn MoveOn.org for the Patraeus ad, they certainly have to condemn Rush for this slap in the face to the men and women of our armed forces. It's embarrassing if they don't, and it will only confirm the opinion that the Democrats are truly worthless cowards and hypocrites who don't deserve the positions into which they've been elected.

#14 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2007, 11:11 PM:

Terry 10: You shouldn't have to buy that for yourself.

#15 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2007, 11:21 PM:

Isn't this the part of Rush's illustrious career where he will be jumping over a pool full of sharks on water skis any day now?

#16 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2007, 11:24 PM:

As I understand it all those Democrats in office who keep saying that they were elected to stop the war in Iraq can't do any thing because they need to support the troops. If so, why can't they take the side of those same troops against a slime mold like Limbaugh? Is he the playground bully they're too afraid to go against?

#17 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2007, 12:09 AM:

Bruce @ 16

Something like that, I think.

It's that, or believe that they're hypnotized, drugged, or being blackmailed. (Or a combination of those.)

#18 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2007, 02:24 AM:

albatross #15: Five quatloos on Shark #3.

#19 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2007, 03:23 AM:

"Corporal Klinger, Rush Limbaugh is about the make a 200-foot leap over a pool of sharks, riding a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. Why have you brought a self-propelled anti-aircraft gun to the proceedings?"

"I'm here to protect the audience against airborne terrorists. Say, you're not against the War on Terror, are you?"

#20 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2007, 04:06 AM:

Dave Kuzminski @2:

Not picking on you, but...

I never question the patriotism of any member of our armed forces regardless of their opinions because they've earned the right to speak their minds.

I never question anyone's patriotism. It's been used as a cheap shot and a way of discounting good arguments and denigrating good people for too long to be anything else. If someone is right, or principled, or trustworthy, then I don't care if they're patriots. And if they're lying, deceiving, or just plain wrong, then having the Stars and Stripes embroidered on their very souls is no good to anyone.

And we all have the right to speak our minds. It's unearned; it comes with the territory and the passport. When it actually becomes an earned privilege, I will worry.

#21 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2007, 05:50 AM:

abi @ 20: I never question anyone's patriotism. It's been used as a cheap shot and a way of discounting good arguments and denigrating good people for too long to be anything else. If someone is right, or principled, or trustworthy, then I don't care if they're patriots.

Well said. In fact, I'd go a step further: if I accused somebody of being a patriot, I'd probably intend it as an insult: i.e., they're ignoring the bigger picture in favour of doing something that helps their country at the expense of something more important. I've never understood what's so damned important about countries.

#22 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2007, 06:14 AM:

Jules @21:
I accused somebody of being a patriot, I'd probably intend it as an insult: i.e., they're ignoring the bigger picture in favour of doing something that helps their country at the expense of something more important. I've never understood what's so damned important about countries.

I deduce from your email address that you're in Britain, and from the content of your comment I reckon you're probably culturally British as well.

It's hard to get a gut-level feel, as a Brit, for the American attitude to patriotism. But let's just say that the idea that "patriot" could be an insult wouldn't fly in American discourse.

(So sayeth Abi, who is American but lived in Britain for 14 years. I can see both sides of the picture.)

#23 ::: Rob Hansen ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2007, 06:43 AM:

abi: Yeah, we Brits have a long-standing suspicion of patriotism. It's all too often indistinguishable from jingoism and those who bong on the loudest about how patriotic they are tend to be the ones you need to be the most suspicious of. Here are some Samuel Johnson quotes on the matter that sum things up:

"Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel."

"Let us take a patriot, where we can meet him; and, that we may not flatter ourselves by false appearances, distinguish those marks which are certain, from those which may deceive; for a man may have the external appearance of a patriot, without the constituent qualities; as false coins have often lustre, though they want weight."

"It is the quality of patriotism to be jealous and watchful, to observe all secret machinations, and to see publick dangers at a distance. The true lover of his country is ready to communicate his fears, and to sound the alarm, whenever he perceives the approach of mischief. But he sounds no alarm, when there is no enemy; he never terrifies his countrymen till he is terrified himself. The patriotism, therefore, may be justly doubted of him, who professes to be disturbed by incredibilities"

"He that wishes to see his country robbed of its rights cannot be a patriot."

"It is unpleasing to represent our affairs to our own disadvantage; yet it is necessary to shew the evils which we desire to be removed."

#24 ::: jhetley ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2007, 07:54 AM:

Fully as offensive as "nappy-headed hoes" but I doubt if Rush will suffer The Fate of Imus.

#25 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2007, 08:47 AM:

Abi @ 22... But let's just say that the idea that "patriot" could be an insult wouldn't fly in American discourse. (So sayeth Abi, who is American but lived in Britain for 14 years. I can see both sides of the picture.)

And so sayeth Serge, who became an American by choice. The day he refuses to keep that tiny flag in his office is the day he has conceded that the fascists have conquered America's Soul.

#26 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2007, 09:21 AM:

That's one of the most disgusting things I've heard in a while. Rush Limbaugh can bite me.

#27 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2007, 09:39 AM:

Dawno's son is about to leave for a tour of duty in the Middle East. May it be a boring tour, Dawno. My best wishes.

#28 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2007, 09:51 AM:

Jules, remember also that 'Patriot' is also a term that refers specifically to the people who spearheaded the effort to cast off British domination of this country. This is the sense in which the name 'The New England Patriots' (an American football team) is used.

Patriotism got a bad reputation in this country during the Vietnam war; it became synonymous with that jingoistic philosophy you mentioned. Many of us refused to accept this, or came to reject it.

It became generally acceptable for liberals to self-identify as patriots shortly after September 11, 2001. We wanted to reclaim it the label from the neo-fascists who are in charge of the country we love so much.

#29 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2007, 09:55 AM:

Rob Hansen, #23: "we Brits have a long-standing suspicion of patriotism"

Born, to a large extent, of World War I, I think.

If the United States ever loses six and a half million soldiers and another million or so civilians--in a grinding land war fought in, say, Canada--we may come to some understanding of why modern Brits tend to mistrust jingoism. That would roughly equal, proportionately, the damage World War I did to the UK.

#30 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2007, 10:58 AM:

I was going to come in and say what Claude Muncey @6 did. I don't have anything to add to that, so I'll just follow up to Dan @13 by observing that Limbaugh is, fundamentally, a failed sportscaster. Precisely the sort who, if we were a civilized people, would have long ago been loaded onto the Gorgafrincham B-ark and sent off to a wonderful libertarian utopia on the other side of the galaxy to live out his days arguing about what the color of fire should be.

#31 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2007, 11:36 AM:

The discussion on "patriotism" is drifting off the important topic here, which is that the stab-in-the-back myth that is being created by the propagandists now includes soldiers that are not really soldiers, but agents of the Evil Power (the liberals, not bin Laden) responsible for our glorious country's impending loss. Just like German Jewish WWI veterans who found themselves in the camps despite their war service.

#32 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2007, 12:49 PM:

Jon Meltzer #31: The purpose of the original Dolchstoss legend was to discredit democracy as an institution. Is that what you think is intended by the idiots who are calling people who have volunteered to serve phonies?

#33 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2007, 01:17 PM:

#32: Yes.

#34 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2007, 01:20 PM:

The next phony war in the queue: Neocons seek to justify action against Teheran

Bruce Reidel, a former CIA Middle East desk officer, said the neo-conservatives realised their influence would wane rapidly when Mr Bush left office in just over 15 months. "Whatever crazy idea they have to try to transform the Middle East, they have to push now. The real hardline neo-conservatives are getting desperate that the door of history is about to close on them with an epitaph of total failure."

#35 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2007, 02:38 PM:

Earl @ 34

I hope they fail, because they've earned that epitaph.

#36 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2007, 03:42 PM:

Jon@31: The discussion on "patriotism" is drifting off the ... topic here

The original topic was a neocon fathead calling into question the honor and integrity of any military person who declines to continue fighting in a war.

The topic of "patriotism" simply expanded the discussion into calling into question the honor and integrity of any person (military or civilian) who declines to support a war.

Both are equally despicable for the basic fallacy that underlies them both: an infatuation with violence, that force can solve any problem. And it requires the notion that our intentions and the results of our actions will always line up. Any ill effects in the resulting outcome requires someone else to blame.

They hate us for our freedom.
Those pesky insurgents don't get that we're trying to help them.
The different factions in the country are trying to tear the place apart.
The Iraqi government is not working hard enough.

It's their fault, not ours.

The only problem with this basic argument is that everything that has happened was predicted years ago during the first gulf war and is exactly the reason Bush Sr. did NOT push into Iraq.

Whenever possible, the unintended outcomes, no matter how certain we were they would happen before the fact, will be blamed on some outside source.

At the heart of the infatuation of violence is a sense of personal infallibility. Anything that goes wrong as a result of someone's actions must be someone else's fault.

Good intentions, in these people's minds, absolve them of any responsibility for the real outcomes of their actions. They are blameless.

Which means that any viewpoints that shines a light on such a person's fallibility will be met with a withering attack of maximum proportions.

Criticize someone's war who is infatuated with violence and views themself as infallible, and you've just swatted the hornet's nest. They cannot be to blame. if there is something wrong with the war, it must be someone else's fault.

The response, unfailingly, falls into a gross oversimplification of reality, trying to frame the issue into the worldview of someone who is infatuated with violence, someone who wants to believe that their good intentions are enough.

Whether a civilian or military person criticizes the war is irrelevant to the response. Their honor and integrity will be called into question, which is nothing more than an ad hominem attack. Make the arugument personal and avoid the real issue of whether or not the war is valid. Call into question the person's "patriotism" or their "courage" or their "honor" or "integrity", rather than looking at the reality that is the war. However, if a military person were to criticize the war, then that would require even harsher responses to maintain a worldview of infallibility.

(I put all those terms into quotes simply because someone who holds an infatuation with violence, who holds a worldview of personal infallibility, really doesn't know what any of those words mean.)

The whole thing is simply despicable, and after years of this comic book, fairy tale, version of reality being the basis for my country's foreign and domestic policy for the last several years, I've fricken had enough.

#37 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2007, 04:04 PM:

#31: Will this become the equivalent of McCarthy taking on the Army? When you start accusing the soldiers of stabbing *themselves* in the back it rather reveals the absurdity of your position, doesn't it?

#32: Of course they have to discredit democracy - they've already lost the demos. (And they don't really like it anyway - you want to give orthodontists a say in whether or not their children die thousands of miles from home?) But as long as they can keep their base convinced that the Glorious Leader is Right and will lead us to Victory... well, honestly I don't know what their long term plans are; they can't seriously expect to win elections that way right now, so they must have a plan B.

Bush once said that "you can fool some of the people all of the time, and those are the ones you want to concentrate on." They and the media are pretty much the only constituencies he has left.

#38 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2007, 04:18 PM:

#36: It's all a result of a very simple worldview. The actions of Good People produce good results, and the actions of Bad People produce bad results.

Therefore, if you are a Good Person and your actions appear to produce bad results, then some Bad People must have intervened to produce those bad results. So you need to find them and stop them. And violence is the only really effective way to deal with Bad People, because they're bad inherently and eternally.

"Infatuated with violence" is not quite right - they're really infatuated with righteousness. Violence is just a tool to deal with Bad People (and violence against Bad People is by definition Good, so there's no need to restrain yourself or anything). That's what lets them become, effectively, psychopaths: they've already decided that their targets aren't deserving of the rights and protections reserved for Good People.

So of course it's right for Blackwater to get away with murder: they're Good People, so the people they were fighting must have been Bad and deserved it.

#39 ::: Rob Hansen ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2007, 04:28 PM:

pnh@29If the United States ever loses six and a half million soldiers and another million or so civilians--in a grinding land war fought in, say, Canada--we may come to some understanding of why modern Brits tend to mistrust jingoism. That would roughly equal, proportionately, the damage World War I did to the UK.

No kidding. I recently came across this excerpt that makes the point about that damage very eloquently:

'In 1917 the senior Mistress of Bournemouth High School for Girls stood up in front of the assembled sixth form (nearly all dressed in mourning for some member of their family) and announced: "I have come to tell you a terrible fact. Only one out of ten of you girls can ever hope to marry. This is not a guess of mine. It is a statistical fact. Nearly all the men who might have married you have been killed...."

One of her pupils, 17 year-old Rosamund Essex never forgot these words. She herself stayed single, and in her own memoirs, written some 60 years later, she accepted that her teacher's pronouncement had been prophetic: "How right she was. Only one in every ten of my friends has ever married. Quite simply, there was no-one available...."

During WWII, a generation later, US commanders complained of how cautious Montgomery could be when it came to committing troops. He had no choice. Everyone who could be under arms was. Once those troops were gone there was no-one to replace them. He should have had many more young men to call on, but they had never been born. The men who should have fathered them had been cut down in WWI.

So, yeah. We can be very suspicious of patriotism and calls to war.

#40 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2007, 05:02 PM:

Rob, you probably know that women began to dance the English Morris for exactly this reason. Morris is traditionally danced by men between the ages of 19 and 25, and the dances have a vigor befitting such men.

After WWI there were no such men (not able-bodied ones, at any rate) in England, and the Morris would have died out had women not taken it up.

When I hear some fathead whining (and yes, I mean that in the most contemptuous possible way) about a women's Morris band, and how they shouldn't be dancing Morris because it isn't traditional, I really want to paste him one...or just stuff his mouth with tiny red poppies.

#41 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2007, 05:10 PM:

PNH @29: If the United States ever loses six and a half million soldiers and another million or so civilians--in a grinding land war fought in, say, Canada--we may come to some understanding of why modern Brits tend to mistrust jingoism. That would roughly equal, proportionately, the damage World War I did to the UK.

Based on the stats I'm pulling up from around the web, the UK's military casualties during WWI were approximately 2% of the total population, which is in accord with the above.

However, the American Civil War, the CSA's military casualties seem to've been nearly 3% of its total population, and 4-5% of the free population; one would think this would've made the latter subset particularly wary of flag-waving jingoism. And yet....

#42 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2007, 05:35 PM:

Civil wars are different.

#43 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2007, 05:38 PM:

Earl Cooley @ 34

the door of history is about to close on them with an epitaph of total failure.

And I hope it hits them in the ass as they exit into the night.

#44 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2007, 05:46 PM:

May the door of history catch their scrota, and crush them beyond recognition.

#45 ::: linnen ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2007, 07:34 PM:

The line is from Chesterton's first book of essaysThe Defendant(1901) from the chapter, "A Defence of Patriotism":

"'My country, right or wrong,' is a thing that no patriot would think of saying. It is like saying, 'My mother, drunk or sober.'"

#46 ::: Hector Owen ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2007, 07:50 PM:

Xopher #40, I love that song too, "The Ladies Go Dancing at Whitsun," but a minute with Google indicates that it may, I say may, be romantic mythology. The Ladies Go Dancing at Whitsun. Or do they?

Back on topic: It seemed clear to me that Rush was speaking about the media's propensity to interview fakers. I don't think a Blxgspxt link will get through the filter here, so by means of TinyUrl, here is Limbaugh on Solid Ground on 'Phony Soldiers'.

linnen #45, I take it then that you would applaud Chesterton did he not help his mother get home if he found she had had a few too many at the county fair, where she had been dancing with the Morris men?

#47 ::: Sylvia Li ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2007, 08:11 PM:

Patrick, #42: Yes, I think civil wars are different. They leave different scars, suspicions, and resentments, ones that are still visible to the naked eye a century and a half later.

One also needs to take into account that in WW I Britain, for all its terrible losses, finally ended up on the winning side. Post-war psychology isn't the same for the losers of a conflict. There is a tendency to want a do-over, and if that's not possible, there's still a long-lasting angry sentiment that is easily turned to war hysteria by opportunist demagogues. This is particularly true if the winners insist on their pound of flesh, as in Reconstruction, or the Treaty of Versailles, or the Unequal Treaties after the Opium Wars.

It is not a coincidence, in my opinion, that in the US the greatest concentration of flag-waving jingoism occurs in the former confederacy.

#48 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2007, 08:24 PM:

linnen, I heard the full quote as "My country right or wrong. My country to stand beside when she is right. And my country to make right when she is wrong."

That's what I mean when I call myself a patriot. To let such people as Bush take over and do the things they've done unchallenged would be less than patriotic in my opinion.

#49 ::: Jim Satterfield ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2007, 08:28 PM:

The American South romanticized their rebellion to such an unbelievable extent that certain things are conveniently forgotten or at least minimized. OTOH, much of their later abuse of blacks was at least in part amplified by taking out the psychological effects of the heritage of losing on them?

#50 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2007, 08:30 PM:

Hector Owen: Welcome.

That out of the way, the link you provided, isn't relevant.

What Limbaugh said was that those who aren't in favor of the war are phony.

That those (like Murtha, whom he specifically mentioned in his, "explanation), who disagree with the policy (even as they carry it out) are, in some way, not real soldiers.

No matter how many actual frauds there are, that's not what Limbaugh was talking about.

Those, like myself, who are veterans of this little debacle resent (and quite rightly) the imputation.

#51 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2007, 08:32 PM:

Hector Owen: I forgot to include that, in light of Limbaugh's clarification, your defense only applies if you are, in fact, arguing that people like Murtha didn't actually serve.

#52 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2007, 08:35 PM:

Hector 46: I wasn't aware of the song, actually. I was told this by people in a (male, as a matter of fact) Morris band. Since the people who told me that were SCAdians (and Laurels at that), I assumed (perhaps rashly) they'd done their research.

#53 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2007, 08:40 PM:

Chris #37: Well, if the regular army turns out to be a broken reed (i.e., if it actually behaves they way it's supposed to) then there's always the nice, private army with it's nice press-hating condotierro in North Carolina.

#54 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2007, 08:43 PM:

Xopher #44: A lovely imprecation, but I have to point out that Condoleeza Rice is one of said neo-cons, and she, ahem, lacks a scrotum.

#55 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2007, 09:15 PM:

Fragano @ 54

She does??

#56 ::: Hector Owen ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2007, 09:27 PM:

Terry Karney # 50 & 51, here's the quote straight from Media Matters:

CALLER 2: No, it's not, and what's really funny is, they never talk to real soldiers. They like to pull these soldiers that come up out of the blue and talk to the media.

LIMBAUGH: The phony soldiers.
CALLER 2: The phony soldiers. If you talk to a real soldier, they are proud to serve.

It looks to me like the relevant part of that is "come up out of the blue and talk to the media."

You said: "What Limbaugh said was that those who aren't in favor of the war are phony." What I heard was that there are people who falsely claim to have been soldiers ("phony soldiers") who are stating that actual soldiers are committing crimes.

The link that you say is not relevant lists a number of such fakers, Jesse MacBeth among many others, who are willing to slander serving soldiers in exchange for a bit of media attention. I never mentioned Rep. Murtha, and Rush's mention of him (if this is the explanation to which you refer) has only to do with his premature conviction-before-trial of the Marines who were at Haditha: "How about Jack Murtha blanketly accepting the notion that Marines in Haditha engaged in wanton murder of innocent children and civilians?" Since the charges against those men are being dropped as each trial comes up, it seems that Murtha spoke incontinently. He deserves to be slammed for that; I don't see anyone denying the fact of his service.

#57 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2007, 09:34 PM:

Hector, I would suggest that you check the link at my previous post, then consider whether that ground really is "solid" if making a plausible defense requires deception.

#58 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2007, 09:55 PM:

Hector: Looking at the piece you quote (and I went and listened to the show), doesn't support your claim.

Because you are leaving out the piece before that, where Limbaugh said the previous caller couldn't be a soldier.

******

LIMBAUGH: Mike, you can't possibly be a Republican.

CALLER 1: I am.

LIMBAUGH: You are -- you are --

CALLER 1: I am definitely a Republican.

LIMBAUGH: You can't be a Republican. You are --

CALLER 1: Oh, I am definitely a Republican.

LIMBAUGH: You are tarnishing the reputation, 'cause you sound just like a Democrat.

CALLER 1: No, but --

LIMBAUGH: The answer to your question --

CALLER 1: -- seriously, how long do we have to stay there --

LIMBAUGH: As long as it takes!

CALLER 1: -- to win it? How long?

LIMBAUGH: As long as it takes! It is very serious.

CALLER 1: And that is what?

LIMBAUGH: This is the United States of America at war with Islamofascists. We stay as long -- just like your job. You do everything you have to do, whatever it takes to get it done, if you take it seriously.

CALLER 1: So then you say we need to stay there forever --

LIMBAUGH: I -- it won't --

CALLER 1: -- because that's what it'll take.

LIMBAUGH: No, Bill, or Mike -- I'm sorry. I'm confusing you with the guy from Texas.

CALLER 1: See, I -- I've used to be military, OK? And I am a Republican.

LIMBAUGH: Yeah. Yeah.

CALLER 1: And I do live [inaudible] but --

LIMBAUGH: Right. Right. Right, I know.

CALLER 1: -- you know, really -- I want you to be saying how long it's gonna take.

LIMBAUGH: And I, by the way, used to walk on the moon!

[That's immediatedly followed by saying the soldiers who talk to the media; about Iraq, are all phony; because "real" soldiers all want to be there.]

CALLER 2: No, it's not, and what's really funny is, they never talk to real soldiers. They like to pull these soldiers that come up out of the blue and talk to the media.

LIMBAUGH: The phony soldiers.

CALLER 2: The phony soldiers. If you talk to a real soldier, they are proud to serve. They want to be over in Iraq. They understand their sacrifice, and they're willing to sacrifice for their country.

LIMBAUGH: They joined to be in Iraq.

******
So there you have it: We joined to be in Iraq (never mind that those of us who've been in for 10-15-20-30 years (two of the guys I went to Iraq with were Viet-nam vets, and a third was DQed because of shrapnel in his knee from his trip to SE Asia).

And if we don't think that's a good idea, well we're phony, just like Jack Murtha; whom, as said before, he mentioned in his explantion and Chuck Hagel U.S. Army, two Purple Hearts, Bronze Star whom he talked about in that show.

So he says some actual vets are phony; but you aver he didn't mean what he said but rather was talking about actual frauds; which he hadn't said (though they came up later) and that his talking about people who, "signed up to go to Iraq" weren't what he meant either.

The record is pretty clear, it walk, looks and quacks... Rush Limbaugh called the, not insignificant portion of the Army which thinks Iraq is a bad idea, phony soldiers.

#59 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2007, 10:05 PM:

linnen@45: With all respect to Chesterton, I'd never think to impugn Stephen Decatur's patriotism. On the other hand, all Decatur thought he was doing was making a toast at a banquet; no time-travellers were around to warn him that his next utterance would be shortened by more than half its length and made into a slogan for people whom he would, quite possibly, have found despicable.

#60 ::: Hector Owen ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2007, 10:08 PM:

Claude Muncey #57, I read that the first time you posted it, and having looked at it again, don't see the relevance, unless you want to claim that "Caller 2," in the elided segment, from your link, is lying about the chemical weapons:

CALLER 2: Exactly, sir. And, and my other comment was -- and the reason I was calling for -- was to report to Jill about the fact that we didn't, didn't find any weapons of mass destruction. Actually, we have found weapons of mass destruction in chemical agents that [inaudible] been using against us for awhile now.

I've done two tours in Iraq. I just got back in June and there were many instances of -- since [inaudible] not know what they're using in their IEDs [improvised explosive devices]. They're using mustard artillery rounds. The VX artillery rounds in their IEDs.

(Emphasis added.) Which has nothing to do with whether Rush Limbaugh slandered serving soldiers. What's the deception?

#61 ::: Constance Ash ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2007, 10:10 PM:

Yeah, all my relatives, male and female, in the Guard, in the Reserve, who have been serving one tour after another, are phony soldiers too.

Some of them are dead. Others are maimed. Some haven't seen their kids for a very long time.

Are they phony too?

#62 ::: Hector Owen ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2007, 10:16 PM:

Terry Karney #58, "Rush Limbaugh called the, not insignificant portion of the Army which thinks Iraq is a bad idea, phony soldiers." I don't think so. And I'll have to leave it at that, as I must arise with the lark in the morning.

Xopher #52, it's a lovely song. I couldn't find a free mp3 of it, but words and sheet music are here.

#63 ::: Sylvia Li ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2007, 10:17 PM:

Hector, #56: Just because charges were dropped, that doesn't mean the Marines didn't engage in wanton murder at Haditha. Those 24 Iraqi civilians were still shot to death, and the bodies still included women and infants.

The US military has a nasty and shameful habit of "investigating" its own misdeeds only when absolutely forced to by some outside publicity, and then--as soon as the spotlight of attention moves elsewhere--dropping or reducing charges, and letting even war criminals off with a slap on the wrist or no penalty at all.

From My Lai to Abu Ghraib, it's a pattern, and it's not in any way a secret. The whole world knows they do this.

#64 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2007, 10:23 PM:

Interesting. I'm in intel. The first units designed to look for the WMD caches were from my Bn (different Co., compiled for just this purpose) and I'd not heard, before this, that the most effective, and lethal, of the chem agents had been used.

Since VX is a contact lethal agent (and the prime reason for the suits, Sarin, Mustard, Phosgene, GB and all the rest are inhaled agents; their effect (even for Mustard and Sarin) as contact irritants is there, but for lethality they have to get into the body), one would think it would make the news.

Esp. since that would justify either the war, or attacks on Syria/Iran/whoever supplied it.

And the handling requirements for them are serious. The shelf-life, in ideal conditions is 10 years. Hussien hasn't had the means to manufacture for longer than that; so someone else had to make it for him.

But it's not even come up in briefings on the present condition. No TTP have been promulgated, no increase in MOPP training... in short a total blackout of one of the most significant changes in the battlespace.

And some random caller to Rush knows all about it.

What has happened (That I know of) is some attempts to weaponise pure chlorine. Which is a piss-poor weapon, without some serious work; which so far, seems to have not happend.

Some old shells, with traces of Mustard Gas (that weaponised chlorine) were found, but they were just that, traces; and old... probably leftovers from the Iran/Iraq war.

So, while I don't know what Carl Muncey thinks, I am willing to say Caller 2 is lying.

#65 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2007, 10:27 PM:

Civil wars are different because the "we are right, they are wrong" mentality doesn't quite work so nice in a civil war when "we" are "they" and "they" are "us". Which means the stock, cardboard character version of "patriotism" can't apply. Some more weird and twisted version must be applied, and it's generally easier to propagandize a civil war using other methods.

The non-propaganda version of patriotism is, to me, like being married, except you're married to your country. At some point, you say "I do" to love and honor your country, the way you love and honor your spouse. And you may not agree with everything your country does the way you may not agree with everything your spouse does, but that doesn't mean you leave them. Which always makes me shake my head when I see the "love it or leave it" arguments.

I love my wife. And when we disagree, I am obliged to tell her my side of the story so we can find some agreement going forward. I love her. I'm not leaving her. And we disagree.

If anyone thinks disagreement is a lack of love, then they're in a seriously messed up relationship. They're either walking on eggshells all the time, or they think they're in charge of their marriage and their spouse should obey them in every way.

That is seriously messed up.

#66 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2007, 10:48 PM:

Hmmm... in this context, should the American Revolutionary War be considered to've been a civil war, or do wars of colonial independence fall into a different category? ...though there are probably also important distinctions to be made along a sliding scale of the colonies' population ratio between emigrants and indigenous peoples, and for that matter the emigrants' degree of volition about emigrating in the first place.

#67 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2007, 10:50 PM:

Hector@46: It seemed clear to me that Rush was speaking about the media's propensity to interview fakers.

Say what? So, you're saying that every person who ever got on a camera to say that he was in the military (or had been in), and that he had served in Iraq, and that he now thought that the war didn't make sense and we should pull out, that every person who ever said that was a faker? That they weren't really in the military and never actually served in Iraq?

Because, the transcript says:

CALLER 2: they never talk to real soldiers. They like to pull these soldiers that come up out of the blue and talk to the media.

LIMBAUGH: The phony soldiers.

Because the only way your argument flys at all is if every military person who talks to the media against the Iraq war was actually never in the military. Otherwise, you've got a whole bunch of people who did serve, do not support the Iraq war or occupation, and are being called "phony" by this fathead.

#68 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2007, 10:50 PM:

Hector, I say to thee: red herring. Whether or not Caller #2 was lying is irrelevant. Nice try though.

The point is that Rush engaged in deceptive editing. I say that as I spent some years working as a radio news director and edited many, many hours of tape, in my case using razorblade and splicing tape. There is no problem cutting out the odd burp or cough -- that's routine. But if, for clarity's sake, you want to elide say, a minute and a half of sound, you do it like this:

[ACTUALITY #1: Conversation with Caller #1]

After that I briefly discussed weapons of mass destruction with another caller before returning to the issue.

[ACTUALITY #2: Discussion of soldier impersonation cases]

That's how you elide a minute and a half, if you want to accurately present what was said. Just slamming the two cuts together to create the impression that they were part of one continuous presentation is deceptive. If I had been caught pulling something like this, especially if it concerned my own words on air, I would have been fired so hard my butt would not have touched down for a block and a half. And I would have deserved it.

(BTW, Terry, I agree that Caller #2 was lying at best.)

#69 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2007, 11:07 PM:

Fragano 54: If the Lords of Karma put me in charge of Condi's fate, I will think of something...appropriate.

#70 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2007, 11:10 PM:

Greg: I'd say he was misinformed at best; but then again looking at the comments in "Lying in the Name of God", that's a poor defense; given the weight of evidence.

#71 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2007, 12:35 AM:

So I commented on the T-Shirt (which I misrepresented, it was "Proud to be a Phoney Soldier"

Here's slavetothetink's comment about it.

Proud to be a Phony Soldier

#72 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2007, 12:43 AM:

Julie, #41: Notice where the highest concentration of red states -- and, by extension, of Bushite war-supporters -- is on a US map. It maps very well to the old Confederate states.

The culture in those states... well, if you haven't lived there, it's hard to describe it adequately. They have yet to let go of a war they fought, AND LOST, 150 years ago. There are simultaneous currents of "valiant underdog" and "defeat = emasculization" that crop up over and over in the rhetoric. At one point, I had to call a moratorium on discussion of the Civil War in my house, at a party because it was getting nasty and I didn't want to have to eject either combatant -- they were both people I liked.

Now add racism. For most of the 100 years after the Civil War, racism in the Deep South was embodied by the Democratic Party -- the "yellow-dog Democrats" -- who were also the corrupt big-money, big-business party. Enter the Civil Rights Movement, and Strom Thurmond's infamous defense of segregation on the grounds of "states' rights" (one of the arguments which was used to fuel the secessionist movement in the first place), at the same time that the national Democratic Party was starting to court the labor unions, which meant reaching out to minority and low-income citizens. Faster than you could say wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am, all those rich, corrupt, racist Democrats changed parties... and they've been running the Republicans ever since.

I am convinced (which means I have no proof to offer beyond an opinion gleaned from living in the Deep South for over 30 years and hearing a lot of casual street-corner and water-cooler conversation) that one of the reasons the rank-and-file Southern Republicans are so hot to pursue this war is to make up for having lost the Civil War, to defeat a "n****r country" and make themselves feel like REAL MEN again.

#73 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2007, 01:28 AM:

I grew up in the Virginia-side suburbs of Washington DC; these blue counties are generally disowned by the rest of the state as not being "really" part of the South, and so my main regional legacy is having my vowels go slightly floppy when I'm tired (with an occasional eruption of "y'all").

IIRC I've seen the Red States mapped onto the former CSA before, possibly at Dave Neiwert's Orcinus. During the past month, his co-blogger Sara Robinson posted some interesting material there based on the book Albion's Seed, which traces the effects of four distinct groups of British settlers in the American Colonies; all of them had specific localized regional origins/subcultures which they brought with them across the Atlantic. Among other things, she points out that the two dominant groups in the South were the aristocratic Cavaliers and the rowdy Borderers; in this context, it seems perhaps significant that in both of those cases, one of their strongest motives for emigration may have been that they'd been on the losing side of a civil war back home.

#74 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2007, 02:30 AM:

Julie L. #73: "Y'all" is a heck of a lot more efficient than "youse guys".

#75 ::: Jim Parish ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2007, 06:29 AM:

Just a point of possible clarification regarding "my country, right or wrong": Bartlett's gives the full quote from Decatur as "Our country! In her intercourse with foreign nations may she always be in the right; but our country, right or wrong." It also quotes Carl Schurz, much later, thus: "Our country, right or wrong. When right, to be kept right; when wrong, to be put right."

#76 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2007, 06:46 AM:

P J Evans #55: It would certainly be non-standard equipment.

#77 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2007, 06:47 AM:

Xopher #69: I expect you will!

#78 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2007, 08:51 AM:

Fragano 77: I'm hoping for an appointment to the BOLOK (Board of Lords of Karma) when I die. My sense of poetry is a helpful line on my resume, but ultimately Rhadamanthos will appoint whom he chooses.

#79 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2007, 08:55 AM:

This almost has the feel of a "no true Scotsman" argument.

Person 1: No Scotsman puts two tsp of sugar in his tea.

Person 2: I'm a Scotsman, and I do.

Person 1: Yes, but no *true* Scotsman does.

It's restricting the definition of some category to make a misleading statement look true. Like "no patriot opposes this war" based on defining patriot as someone who never opposes the war his country is in. Or "no scientist disputes human caused global warming" based on defining anyone who doesn't buy human-caused global warming as not a scientist*.

I'm becoming more and more convinced that the main value of propoganda and a lot of argument is to hand people excuses (often unsound but plausible arguments or made-up but plausible data points) to keep believing what they really want to believe. There's no way I'm going to convince someone who's looking honestly at the evidence that, say, there are no US soldiers opposed to the war. But if I can spin the right kind of story, maybe I can provide people who *want* to believe that the soldiers all support the war an argument with which to convince themselves.

Does this make sense?

* Consensus != unanimity.

#80 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2007, 08:56 AM:

As I type this, Channel 25, Boston's local Fox station, is running live a homecoming ceremony for an Army medical unit. My bitter and cynical mind wonders why they have chosen this particular week to do this. It can't have anything to do with Rush's remarks, can it?

At least they didn't cut away from John Kerry's welcoming remarks, or the applause he got from the crowd.

#81 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2007, 09:08 AM:

Xopher #78: I'm certain you'd be a fine addition to the board, and may it be a long, long time before you qualify to serve on it.

#82 ::: Valuethinker ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2007, 09:43 AM:

'Rushwatch' aka Media Matters, has the whole gory story.


http://mediamatters.org/items/200709280009?f=h_top

This is the man who thought we should imprison drug addicts and traffickers, before, of course, he became one.

Why are we surprised?

#83 ::: Seth Breidbart ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2007, 11:33 AM:

There's always the story about Rush Limbaugh's military career: "Full Dinner Jacket".

(OK, so the joke is recycled from 20 years ago. It still works.)

#84 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2007, 12:19 PM:

I'll let G. Lightfoot speak for me:

The patriot's dream is as old as the sky
It lives in the lust of a cold careless lie
Let's drink to the men who got caught by the chill
Of the patriotic fever and the cold steel that kills...

#85 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2007, 01:43 PM:

Rush still supports prison for the "real" druggies. He was just a victim of circumstance, he didn't "choose" to have a problem. He, you see, was hooked by a doctor.

All those meth/crack/pot/coke heads were using illegal drugs, which is different.

They aren't Republicans (well maybe the cokeheads, look at the difference between powder and crack when it comes to usage vs. punishment).

#86 ::: booklegger451 ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2007, 01:55 PM:

Greg, way up @26: That's one of the most disgusting things I've heard in a while. Rush Limbaugh can bite me.

Greg, I have to recommend against letting Rush Limbaugh bite you. Whatever it is he's got, I'm worried it may be contagious. ;)

#87 ::: Wilfred Owen ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2007, 02:44 PM:

Dulce Et Decorum Est

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of disappointed shells that dropped behind.

GAS! Gas! Quick, boys!-- An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And floundering like a man in fire or lime.--
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,--
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

#88 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2007, 03:13 PM:

Apologia pro Poemate Meo

I, too, saw God through mud —
The mud that cracked on cheeks when wretches smiled.
War brought more glory to their eyes than blood,
And gave their laughs more glee than shakes a child.

Merry it was to laugh there —
Where death becomes absurd and life absurder.
For power was on us as we slashed bones bare
Not to feel sickness or remorse of murder.

I, too, have dropped off fear —
Behind the barrage, dead as my platoon,
And sailed my spirit surging, light and clear
Past the entanglement where hopes lay strewn;

And witnessed exultation —
Faces that used to curse me, scowl for scowl,
Shine and lift up with passion of oblation,
Seraphic for an hour; though they were foul.

I have made fellowships —
Untold of happy lovers in old song.
For love is not the binding of fair lips
With the soft silk of eyes that look and long,

By Joy, whose ribbon slips, —
But wound with war's hard wire whose stakes are strong;
Bound with the bandage of the arm that drips;
Knit in the welding of the rifle-thong.

I have perceived much beauty
In the hoarse oaths that kept our courage straight;
Heard music in the silentness of duty;
Found peace where shell-storms spouted reddest spate.

Nevertheless, except you share
With them in hell the sorrowful dark of hell,
Whose world is but the trembling of a flare,
And heaven but as the highway for a shell,

You shall not hear their mirth:
You shall not come to think them well content
By any jest of mine. These men are worth
Your tears: You are not worth their merriment.

November 1917.

(It's amazing to me how apposite this poem is, to so many topics)

#89 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2007, 03:23 PM:

Another thing to remember about WW1 was that a generation later we had WW2.

Making a few assumptions, from the starting point of total population. those schoolgirls may have been given an exaggerated figure. Then again, a sixth form at a girls' school of the time would be quite high-ststus, and their idea of an eligioble male might have selected for casualties.

Anyway, the number of dead is about half the number of men in the 20-25 age group, and the stats show about twice as many wounded. So the age-group engaged in combat is obviously much wider.

However, high-status young men were the junior officers in the front line, at high risk. Maybe less at riskmin the Royal Navy, but the RN did test for competence in a way the Army didn't.

The WW2 deaths for the UK were about half the WW1 deaths, though there were far more civilian deaths. As a percentage of population, the total was about three times the US figure. In absolute terms the UK total was slightly higher than that for the USA.

Incidentally, the three British non-nursing corps for women, the ATS, WAAF, and WRNS, had a combined peak recruitment of over 450,000, about a hundred thousand more than the US equivalents.

#90 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2007, 03:30 PM:

TPM is reporting Harry Reid is moving for the condemnation of Limbaugh. Whether it will go any farther than the letter he's trying to get the other senators to sign is another question.

#91 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2007, 04:47 PM:

WRT Senate condemnation of Limbaugh -- you might want to ask your Senators to do something a little more solid: Have Limbaugh's program removed from the Armed Forces Radio Network...FWIW.

#92 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2007, 05:09 PM:

Complaining to Limbaugh's commercial sponsors might help as well (some have responded positively to this in the past). Hmmm, the boycott Rush sites I've found so far have advertiser lists that are years out of date.

#93 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2007, 05:25 PM:

Earl: Go to my my blog post on the subject.

It has a, fairly, recent list.

#94 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2007, 06:12 PM:

Terry Karney @ 85

They aren't Republicans (well maybe the cokeheads, look at the difference between powder and crack when it comes to usage vs. punishment).

According to Nina Totenberg on NPR this morning the Supremes are have scheduled a case for this term that questions the constitutionality of that discrepancy in sentencing. We'll see if true conservatism wins over neo-conservatism and racism.

Come to think of it, does this blamelessness make Rush a phony druggie?

#95 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2007, 09:05 PM:

Go Harry, and the Republicans can piss up a rope.

Compare and contrast:
Via Digby

Harry Reid speaks on the Senate floor:

If we take the Republican side at their word that last week’s vote on another controversial statement related to the war was truly about patriotism, not politics, then I have no doubt that they will stand with us against Limbaugh’s comments with equal fervor.

I am confident we will see Republicans join with us in overwhelming numbers. Anything less would betray a double standard that has no place in the United States Senate.


IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

OCTOBER 1, 2007

Mr. KINGSTON submitted the following resolution

RESOLUTION

Commending Rush Hudson Limbaugh III for his ongoing public support of American troops serving both here and abroad. Recognizing Mr. Limbaugh for his relentless efforts to build and maintain troop morale through worldwide radio broadcasts and personal visits to conflict regions.

+++++

Typical.

#96 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2007, 09:30 PM:

How many personal visits has Limbaugh made to 'conflict regions'?
Has he gone by himself, or as part of a group tour with, say, the USO?
Did he go to Iraq or Afghanistan, and if so, did he get out of a well-guarded location?

Inquiring minds would like to know if that claim is real or just more BS.

#97 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2007, 10:53 PM:

I don't know, but if he want's to visit me, he'll definitely be able to say he's been to one.

:)

#98 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2007, 11:36 PM:

I hope I never meet Mr. Lying Douchebagcomediandrugaddict in person. If I do I'll have to make the decision that my gut response to his idiocy is to kick him in the .... urm, no thanks, I don't want to steam clean my foot or my shoes. (I'm short enough that trying punch him would be a fruitless effort because I'd bounce off the stomach-shield).

He's a contemptable sack of shi!t, beneath my consideration actually.

#99 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2007, 12:21 AM:

I don't find that I derive any benefit from attempting to parse the utterings of El Rushbo or exactly what he meant. We're not talking about Holy Scripture here.

#100 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2007, 07:29 AM:

I suppose Elvis Presley shows the problems there can be with famous people in the military.

But, after getting a deferment to finish shooting a movie, he went, and served in a tank battalion in Germany.

That puts him several steps ahead of a lot of people.

#101 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2007, 09:24 AM:

Harry Reid: If we take the Republican side at their word that last week’s vote on another controversial statement related to the war was truly about patriotism, not politics, then I have no doubt that they will stand with us against Limbaugh’s comments with equal fervor.

Ooh, nice strategic move. (1) admit your MoveOn actions last week were simply petty political nonsense, or (2) condemn similar comments by Rush Limbaugh, or (3) show the world you're a bunch of hypocrits.

#102 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2007, 09:58 AM:

PJ @96

How many personal visits has Limbaugh made to 'conflict regions'?

My understanding is that he did travel to Afghanistan in 2005 but could not get permission to visit Iraq.

#103 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2007, 10:16 AM:

Greg London @ 101

Or door # 4, the one they'll probably take: ignore Reid completely and blather on as before, assuming their "base" will follow them through the gates of Hell as long as they get someone else to shine their shoes.

#104 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2007, 10:27 AM:

Dave Bell @ 89... The WW2 deaths for the UK were about half the WW1 deaths

Was it because, by WW2, surgery and medicine had vastly improved?

#105 ::: Richard Brandt ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2007, 10:52 AM:

For Rob at #23 (hi, Rob!)

"In Dr. Johnson's famous dictionary patriotism is defined as the last resort of a scoundrel. With all due respect to an enlightened but inferior lexicographer I beg to submit that it is the first." (Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary)

#106 ::: mjfgates ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2007, 12:06 PM:

Serge@104 : UK deaths in WWII were lower than in WWI because the "dying horribly" part in WWII was mostly handled by the Soviets. THEY lost... well, there isn't a good count, but the estimates I've seen run between twenty and thirty million dead.

There were a lot of other reasons, but that's the big one. England only really got all of Germany's attention for about a year, before the eastern front opened up.

#107 ::: rm ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2007, 12:33 PM:

A student came to my office this morning to tell me he's been deployed. No more college for a while. Damn, damn, damn.

#108 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2007, 12:56 PM:

Even as someone often accused of being conservative, I loathe Rush. Political discourse was already stupid enough without him lowering the bar; now the US is filled with dittohead blather where nobody has to interact with anyone who doesn't already agree with them. It makes me long for the days where in my home state (Md.) Connie Morella was one of congress's most liberal Republicans and Beverly Byron was one of the most conservative Democrats. Of course, both seats have since been lost to the other party.

No. Virginia combines southern efficiency and northern charm. I've never understood the attraction of the place.

#109 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2007, 05:34 PM:

106 mfgates:

And yet, the odd thing is, if you look at the starting points of the countries and the endpoints after the war, it seems like:

a. The USSR suffered horrifying losses, and emerged as a first-tier world power.

b. Germany and Japan were smashed.

c. The UK was on the winning side, and suffered fewer losses than in WW1, but *lost*, judging from their power and wealth from before WW1 to after WW2.

I remember, visiting Switzerland, wondering if this was what all of Europe would look like, if they hadn't spent half their wealth and some godawful number of lives murdering one another and blowing up one anothers' stuff.

#110 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2007, 07:58 PM:

Bruce@103: Or door # 4, the one they'll probably take: ignore Reid completely and blather on as before

Yeah. Life isn't a sequential game. It's simultaneous. And it's pretty hard to make a strategic move in the real world that eliminates all the other options, including doing nothing.

Oh well. After reading a whole bunch of dittohead comments the last few days on various other blogs, I am reminded once again that there is a certain segment of the population who are impervious to reality. They have their narratives of how the world works, and to hell with any real world data that conflicts.

#111 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2007, 09:41 PM:

Dave@89: Is it not also possible that the speaker was referring to their particular area? I've read in various places that the British army tended to put everyone from a single community into the same unit (reasons given vary), which meant that one "Over the top!" could lead to the situation described by Laurie King in The Beekeeper's Apprentice: -"villages in which there was not a whole man between the ages of sixteen and forty-six."- Or would a girls' school have drawn from too large an area for that to hold?

#112 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2007, 12:18 AM:

albatross (#109) Germany and Japan had the Marshall Plan, putting people & money into changing their culture & rebuilding their society.

The UK had to pay for much of the aid sent it by the USA (deferred to peacetime by Lend Lease), and continued to do so for decades, as well as losing income from quite a few overseas holdings. It possibly didn't get some support from the USA because of the turn towards Labour and 'socialism' in the UK elections after the end of the war.

There are probably quite a few other issues, maybe like getting involved in arms races again — which left chunks of inland Australia still radioactive (search Maralinga, for instance (and Emu)). The parts of the Quatermass series about a British/Australian space effort weren't completely fiction, either (look for Woomera, "Blue Streak" or "Black Knight", for instance).

#113 ::: Katherine ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2007, 12:54 AM:

The other thing about high casualty rates is that the people who know just how bad war is are mostly not around to say so. I can't find the quote, but Shelby Foote tells the story of a former CSA officer who encountered an eager young Southern patriot on a train and assured the young man that, yes, the South had been well and truly whipped.

The first time I ever saw a Confederate flag, it was in the window of a pickup truck in northern Pennsylvania. The owner clearly didn't understand the irony of glorifying a cause that his ancestors died to suppress. There, and in the Sun Belt migrations, you have pseudonostalgia for the glorious Lost Cause, without the actual experience of defeat. (Hmmm, sounds remarkably like the neocon understanding of Vietnam.)

#114 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2007, 01:21 AM:

C. Wingate, #108: ...combines southern efficiency and northern charm

While I appreciate the snark level of that aphorism, I have to say that (having lived in various parts of the Deep South for over half of my life) frankly, my dear, I've never seen the charm.

#115 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2007, 02:12 AM:

I think that the Lady Headmistress was referring specifically to young men of the minor gentry, the class from which most of the girls came, and outside which it would have been thought scandalous for them to marry, for opposing reasons. This particular demographic provided the junior officers of the Western front, and according to anecdote, was the most slaughtered of all. I really can't say how true this legend is. Perhaps so.

#116 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2007, 02:27 AM:

Lee @ 114

And having been born and spent most of the first 25 years of my life in the North (and the rest on the West Coast), I can say with some confidence that northern efficiency ain't so much either. In fact, until I came to Oregon I didn't know that there was such a thing as a civil servant, or that the Department of Motor Vehicles was not the 3ʳᵈ circle of Hell.

#117 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2007, 03:41 AM:

Serge, #104, the figures I was able to quickly find for WW1 and WW2 showed the in both wars, for ground combat, there were about two wounded for every serviceman dead.

However, navy and air force personnel were far more likely to be killed than wounded. The WW2 British Commonwealth totals show more killed than wounded.

#118 ::: Valuethinker ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2007, 04:58 AM:

104, 117

From memory, British dead in WW1: about 1.1m million

WWII: about 250k + 50k civilians

WWI also probably killed some civilians (due to decline in living standards) in addition to that (plus a few hundred due to Zeppelin Raids, Gotha bombers and naval shellfire). There would also be a count for civilians killed in submarine warfare.

the difference in military casualties WWI v. WWII was about:

- completely different tactics and styles of fighting. Only for relatively localised periods (Italy, Burma, Holland) did the 2 sides face each other for months in deep entrenchments, with purely infantry conflict

All the senior British generals had been junior officers in WWI. There was no desire to restage the slaughter of massed infantry attacks against fortified positions. Even on D-Day, British forces (compared to Americans) had the use of large numbers of specialised armoured vehicles (Hobart's 'Funnies'). The Americans used to complain about Montgomery's caution, but the point that the British had literally run out of 18 year olds is correct.

- no use of chemical weapons

- no multi-year period of engagement with the Germans on one front, except the Western desert (where frontline forces were very small)

- demographics: in WWII, proportionately, much more of total British forces came from Commonwealth sources

The historian Norman Davies (great book: No Easy Victory, the European War 1939-45) has emphasised that, looking at total casualties (civilian and military) and military effort, the war was about 75-80% the Russian Front, 15% the Western Front (France 1940, Normandy and Italy, chiefly) and 10% the strategic air war.

The closest estimates for Russian losses are now around 27 million dead, about 7-8 million of whom were in uniform. Several millions more starved to death in Stalin's Gulag, who are not, I believe, included in that total. The next worse losses were Poland (around 6 million, including 3 million Jews). From memory, something like 4-5 million Germans (3 million military and 1-2 million civilians).

A major reason for France's 'failure' in WWII was that France had had 3 million dead in WWI. The fathers of the recruits of 1939-40 had literally been blown away in the trenches.

Of course, the Spanish Influenza which swept the world in 1919 had killed at least as many again as WWI (40-80 million). And unusually for a flu, it killed healthy adults (due to cytokine storm ie overreaction by the immune system) rather than the old, sick and young.

On postwar British recovery, there are lots of factors. The Imperial system of finance and trade (ship coal and textiles out on ships you built, import food and raw materials in the empty hulls coming home) broke down with the end of Empire. Britain was never as good at 'high tech' manufacturing like chemicals, electrics, electronics, precision machinery, as it was at the original Industrial Revolution of textiles, coal and steel.

Britain also expended all her economic reserves in WWI and WWII, ending the war heavily in debt. Then she tried until the early 1960s to hold on to Empire, at an enormous economic cost.

One must also go with Mancur Olsen re the economics of interest groups. The devastation of the Second World War, allowed Germany and Japan to build new industrial capacity, and new institutions (eg in labour relations) that allowed for economic dominance. Britain was stuck with a 19th century legacy of bitter class divisions, and a labour relations system founded on small craft unions, any one of which could paralyse a whole enterprise (whereas the German trade unions represent an entire industry).

In the immediate postwar period, with labour shortages, British employers brought peace at the cost of inferior productivity and an inflationary wage structure.

The political and economic divisions between the two political parties, and recurrent currency crises didn't help.

#119 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2007, 07:40 AM:

re 112: One should note that Lend-Lease repayment by the British didn't end until 2006. Yep, that's less than twelve months ago. One thing that has always stuck with me when reading 84 Charing Cross Road is how much of Hanff's early interaction with the bookstore is taken up by essentially sending them care packages. The two wars simply exhausted the British economy; one wonders how much the British Invasion could be ascribed to music and culture being the only things they could afford to export by the early '60s.

#120 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2007, 08:28 AM:

Katherine@113: pseudonostalgia for the glorious Lost Cause, without the actual experience of defeat.

It's weird, isn't it? Or at least I find it weird. When I keep seeing the same pattern over and over again, I start to wonder if it isn't biological. Are we mostly hardwired this way for most things in our lives, and maybe a person might be lucky if they truly grasp one subject in their lifetime? Sometimes I wonder if changing this is even possible.

We are such strange creatures.

#121 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2007, 08:45 AM:

Greg #120:

I think there's a kind of natural selection of stories going on. Stories that have a complete, compelling moral narrative, stories that make us out to be the good guys, etc., survive and reproduce better. (Yes, I'm stealing the basic idea here from Dawkins.)

Stories about the past tend to mutate, either in the retelling or in the memory. The parts that make the story less compelling as a moral narrative of good us vs bad them tend to fall away, and the more appealing stories outcompete the truth for attention and belief.

I think personal memories are much the same. I remember some instances of terrible injustice at the hands of teachers and parents, and those stand out in my mind. But I'm pretty sure I also got away with a lot of stuff, though I don't have a strong memory of injustice the other direction, since that didn't offend me. It's hard not to retell your life story in terms that make you the misunderstood hero. It's also hard not to retell your country's or region's or church's history that way.

#122 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2007, 09:46 AM:

albatross @ 121

I think there is a biological effect that amplifies the success of stories with a strong narrative, with a clear beginning, middle, and end. Our thinking seems to be wired for easy identification and telling of such stories*, so as they are told and retold (and "remembering" is a kind of retelling), the stuff that doesn't fit the skeleton so well is de-emphasized or dropped, and details that fit better are conflated to fit.


* My theory is that such stories standout against the background of events in everyday life, and are more easily perceived by our pattern recognition abilities.

#123 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2007, 10:42 AM:

Bruce Cohen (#122): the stuff that doesn't fit the skeleton so well is de-emphasized or dropped, and details that fit better are conflated to fit.

Conflated, or ignored, like those parts of the Bible mentioned in that other recent thread. When it's a *story*, rather than just miscellaneous laws and such, the natural progression always seems to be toward either heroic saga or tale of persecution leading to revenge (or grand transfiguration).

#124 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2007, 10:46 AM:

PS: The spin put on the Pat Tilman and Jessica Lynch "stories" offers clear examples of invented heroism (plus coverups).

#125 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2007, 11:12 AM:

Katherine @113: The first time I ever saw a Confederate flag, it was in the window of a pickup truck in northern Pennsylvania. The owner clearly didn't understand the irony of glorifying a cause that his ancestors died to suppress.

Also, neo-Nazi skinheads in the US and Russia. And to some extent, Western Japanophiles who happily wear shirts emblazoned with patriotic kanji slogans which mean things like "Revere the Emperor, expel the barbarians".

#126 ::: Jakob ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2007, 11:33 AM:

I believe the number of junior army officers killed in the First World War* was about 50,000. It was in an attempt to avoid that kind of grinding attritional slaughter that the decision was made to fight the Second World War cautiously, and with massively superior firepower. As a result, large numbers of the best and brightest† were steered towards the technical services‡ such as the RAF. In a tragic irony, many of these were cought up in the grinding attritional slaughter of the strategic bombing offensive. Bomber Command lost about 55,000 aircrew in the course of the war.

*When I was at NASM, my supervisor§ always insisted on using this form; he maintained that WWI/WWII sounded like a bad film franchise to him.

†At least in the views of the recruiters.

‡Unlike the Germans, who were happy to send PhDs to the front.

§Himself a veteran of the Normandy landings¤. He was inordinately proud of the fact that he'd entered the war as a private, and had finished it with the same rank.

¤Whereupon hangs another story. He was the curator of air transport, and would on a regular basis get inquiries on military aviation. He would always gently explain that he had somewhat of an aversion towards airpower. When asked why, he would refer to having had the singular honour of being bombed both by the Luftwaffe and the RAF, which had rather soured him on warplanes, and pass the questioner on to another curator.

#127 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2007, 11:58 AM:

re 114 & 116: Oh, my father's family is from the Charlotte area. There's no way I'll ever live south of the Potomac; I have a great repository of crazy southern relative stories to draw from, just as Macdonald has sea stories. Everything in Southern Ladies and Gentlemen is all true.

The interesting thing about the red-statedness is that the main red state band overlaps the south seemingly only be coincidence. This handy map (which uses intensity rather than shade) shows it quite plainly: the primary red band starts in west Texas and runs stright up through Nebraska, then turns west to Mormonland. There's a secondary strip running south from Indiana, and another thinner strip running along the eastern edge of the Appalachians; both of these are less intense, though.

It's particularly interesting to compare this to the Valpo religion maps, because there are some very strong correlations. Take this map of adherents, for example, which correlates extremely closely with redness (except NM, Indiana, and a strip in E. Oregon and SW. Idaho). What's most striking is this map of the Methodists. One doesn't think of them as a conservative church, but they correlate very strongly with the red zones in the plains and along the east coast. By contrast, the baptists correlate very strongly with the south, but not all that well with redness. (One has to wonder at that sharp line at the OK-KS border. What did they do-- shoot Baptist preachers who crossed the line?)

#128 ::: Ursula L ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2007, 12:03 PM:

Jakob @ 126 wrote:

When asked why, he would refer to having had the singular honour of being bombed both by the Luftwaffe and the RAF...

A situation which begs for further explanation...

#129 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2007, 12:05 PM:

Another Dixie note: there was a huge migration north out of the middle south after WW II, and a lot of it was white.

Of course, MD is the state with the most doggedly confederate state song. We appear to retain it out of sheer dogged perversity (and to annoy the Virginians: there is a great deal of state culture that revolves around resenting/annoying/thumbing noses at the Virginians).

#130 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2007, 12:18 PM:

Don't forget that "wounded" in WWI covered not only loss of legs, arms, etc., but also a broad spectrum of conditions ranging from shellshock to total vegetative state. Many soldiers were blinded or lost much of their breathing apparatus to gas attacks. A good proportion of these wounded would be no more fit to marry, at least in any practical sense, than would a corpse.

#131 ::: Jakob ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2007, 12:23 PM:

Ursula L #128: In Normandy, his unit was attacked by RAF fighter-bombers that mistook them for Germans; thankfully they missed. He was also unlucky enough to be attacked by German aircraft, of which there were precious few over Normandy - although this might have been later in the war; he didn't say.

#132 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2007, 12:27 PM:

C Wingate #127: (One has to wonder at that sharp line at the OK-KS border. What did they do-- shoot Baptist preachers who crossed the line?)

The contrast is actually even more striking across the Missouri/Iowa border.

I think a lot of it has to do with the Southern Baptist Convention specifically. Although the map includes anybody calling themselves Baptists, it's obvious that the SBC--emphasis on "S"--has a very tight hold on a specific region, and is by far the largest contributing group.

The one I don't get is the over-50% county on the Texas coast just south of Corpus Christi, in an area I would have expected to be super-majority Catholic.

#133 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2007, 12:27 PM:

I would like to point out that, for all it's horrors, gas wasn't a great killer, and wasn't (in the scale of the Western Front) all that large a creator of permanent casulaties.

My grandfather was gassed, in WW1.

It's really a piss-poor weapon. Even in the Sarin attacks in the Tokyo subways (about as perfect an environment for gas attacks as one can get) there weren't, proportionally, that many casualties.

#134 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2007, 12:41 PM:

joann @ 123

That looks like Kenedy county. It's kind of weird.
Wiki: In 2000, its population was 414.
And in 2004, Kerry got 85 votes and Shrub 82.

#135 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2007, 02:11 PM:

Bruce @122: Your theory raises the question of why we have a pattern-template in our heads that corresponds to these forms of stories. By the way, you're not related to Jack Cohen, are you? You should check out some of his recent books, which expound on his theories of story. One of the Science of Discworld books, II, I think, and Figments of Reality.

#136 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2007, 03:21 PM:

NelC @ 135

My father was named Jack, but it's not the same person.

My own take on why we have a story template is that it evolved as a generalization of many temporal patterns that have common (or in some sense parametrized*) beginnings or endings, with individual-story-dependent middles. For instance:
1. Group sees predator (parameter is predator species)
2. Group does something about predator: runs, attacks, freezes and thinks like a tree, etc.
3. One or more members of group gets eaten by predator.

The pattern assumes the common thread of the predator throughout; assumptions of causality, which are common for these sorts of pattern, make the predator the cause of the story, and the death the effect. Get enough kinds of events like this, and you can generalize to a pattern of Cause, Action, Effect, which is essentially how we think of the three part story pattern.

* Which to use, "parameterize" or "parametrize"? If this were an essay about software, the former, of course, of a mathematical proof, the latter. But it's neither, so I flipped a coin.

#137 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2007, 03:57 PM:

'course the thing is that talking about the phenomenon of storytelling is also storytelling, so that the revisionism of reconsidering these narratives tends to fall into the same structure. When I read Paul Fussell's Wartime, it was conspicuous to me that his deconstruction worked into a metanarrative that was every bit as determinative as the one he was attempting to debunk.

#138 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2007, 05:16 PM:

C. Wingate @ 137

God = (God = (God ...) over djinn) over djinn

It would be easier to write if it were right-recursive, but you get the idea. Any attempt to treat narrative as a fixed metastructure will result in you biting your own neck. It's got to be dynamically-evolving with higher metalevels instantiated only as needed. Otherwise, like that recursive example above, you'll dive depth-first into infinity without ever finishing the first level.

#139 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2007, 05:50 PM:

Serge, #104- the short answer is that it was a different war fought in a different way, so there was no way that deaths would be as high as in WW1.

#111- in WW1 once they ran out of professional soldiers, tehy encouraged recruitment by people in the same area, or from the same territorial battallions, or from the same workplace, look up Pals battalions. It was a great way to use peer pressure to raise large number of men, but meant that casualties could be concentrated by geographical area.

#140 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2007, 06:13 PM:

re 138: Hey, I do Lisp as well as the next man, uh, er, never mind that.

Maybe it's just me, but I do see the general aura of revisionist criticism as being exactly the kind of "fixed metastructure" you describe. And I see it as a circular and not recursive relationship.

#141 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2007, 06:33 PM:

I prefer APL, but that's an acquired taste and I no longer have access to the special keyboard required to program in it using the native character set. I'll admit that there is more Lisp Poetry in the wild than most computer languages, though.

#142 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2007, 09:07 PM:

C. Wingate@127: that's a very interesting map; if it's accurate, Hampshire (western end of Massachusetts) was the bluest part of the state that has been the bluest since I was able to vote. This is despite its having been the base of the state's last Republican senator and a traditional place for Republican gubernatorial candidates to pander to -- hence its use as the basis for our very own modern-day gerrymander (see district 1, noting how it spans most of the northern border to make up for excluding the cities in the Connecticut River valley (the little loop in the NW of district 2)).

#139: "Pals battalions" (one of several names I've seen) were what I was pointing toward; I've heard them explained not as peer pressure (also supplied by women with supplies of white feathers) but as a way to get a group that already trusted each other rather than needing breaking down and remolding as a cohesive unit. "Run out of professional soldiers" was a reason I was given for them; it seems strange given Britain's huge colonial holdings, but perhaps understandable with the last invasion being centuries back (e.g., vs "in living memory" for France).

#143 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2007, 10:42 PM:

albatross, #121: It's hard not to retell your life story in terms that make you the misunderstood hero. It's also hard not to retell your country's or region's or church's history that way.

Words of deep wisdom...

Terry, #133: I think it's the psychological horror of turning the very air against you. Of course, I may be hypersensitized to this because I have a personal horror of breathing something that's not air; when I had my shoulder surgery a few years back, I told the anesthesiologist to make sure I was OUT COLD before the mask went on. (He did.) I never could do the breathe-helium-and-quack-like-a-duck trick in high school, either -- it completely squicked me out.

About "stories": there have recently been several intense discussions of this topic over at Suzette Haden Elgin's LiveJournal. Look for headers which include the phrase "Stories That Work".

#144 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2007, 10:44 PM:

Mass. is a piker state in the gerrymandering department; though I haven't seen anything quite as egregious as the notorious I-85 district in NC (it's still there, just not as extreme), MD is definitely in the lead, with beauties like District 4 and especially District 2. I forget the reason behind the latter, but the former was created to get Connie Morella out in District 8, which used to just sit on most of Montgomery County. The strip they gave to District 4 is a Republican cranky hotbed, so they stitched it onto 4, the blackest and most democratic part of the state outside Balto. It's interesting that the congressional delegation has (at least until the last redistricting) been fairly evenly split, but Maryland as a whole has quite consistently gone D on the presidential election of late, excepting NIxon in 1972.

#145 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2007, 10:45 PM:

Bruce@136: 1. Group sees predator

Yeah, I'd buy that for a dollar.

There was a study I read about recently that showed people notice changes in people and animals far more likely than in inanimate objects. We seem to be hardwired to deal with predators and attackers and things that go chomp in the night.

Now, the question is whether that narrative is hardwired or not. The more I read about animals and humans and language capacity, the more it seems it's just a lucky coincidence of genetics that we can talk and understand one another, and that our ability to understand is the result of the language processing chunk that's hardwired into our brain.

Is the us/them, good/bad, narrative machine also hardwired? Firmware? Software?

#146 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2007, 11:00 PM:

As for the WW1 discussion, I don't know why casualties were so much higher. I do know that the Battle of Somme, 1916, was the battle to this day the killed the largest number of British soldiers in one day, nearly 20,000.

The battle was intended to be a battle of attrition meant to wear the Germans down. But it didn't work that way. Artillery was meant to knock out the German trenches and barb wire. But it didn't work that way. After a week of shelling, the British advanced into no man's land and were hung up on barb wire and mowed down by machine guns.

If I had to guess why casualties were so high, it was because the method of warfare was static. The machine gun had just recently been invented, but they were heavy and not fun to move. Barb wire was also a relatively new invention, which was perfect for lining up masses of troops into the killing zones of dug in and fortified machine gun nests. Battles were fought and the gains and losses in land were tiny, but in blood were huge.

Attrition was the only strategy available.


#147 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2007, 11:15 PM:

Lee: Gas is a different terror for me.


20 Mar O3

They started the war.

So far, for us, it has been mostly false alarms, many ecstasies of fumbling as someone (usually in foolish panic) yells, "GAS! GAS! GAS!" Given that Chemical attack is the bugbear of modern warfare (and the most insidiously frightening aspect of it), no one takes such cries; even the ones we know are false, for granted. We just stand around afterwards wondering who will/can give the all clear. The most dramatic was the idiot who stuck his head into the mess hall and caused several hundred people to toss knives, forks, spoons and cups aside in favor of ripping into mask carriers, while the Bangladeshi help looked on in amused (and perhaps bemused) wonder. We have had rumors of the siren being on the fritz (that from a pair of reporters,) to an imminent attack by SCUD, in 30-60 minutes. I blew that one off, because flight time for a scud is 12-18 minutes...

21 Mar 03.

A night in which exhausted collapsed early, to rise in the middle of the night, the calm slept and all were instantly awake when "Gas" was called at midnight. Wearing the mask I think I could sleep, if I knew it was merely practice, but waiting for the decision to put on more gear, when what used to be fear has turned rather to resigned worry, then the effort of sucking air through the filter, of hearing the valves flap in a vaderish wheeze, at those times all I can do is relax. Either into the earth of the bunker, or against a pole, or, as last night, against my pillow. Sleep threatens, but the body resists.

Today, however, we got more than just empty fear. The siren rang, a long and single tone.

Incoming.

Organised chaos, not panic. We were half ready, we had heard the Patriot battery coughing, felt the whooump of the rockets' leaving and half expected it. But only half.

I blew it. The drill is grab your gear, run to the bunker and don your mask. I masked. Then I donned my blouse, and gear, and ran, pell-mell, for the slit trench, which is our bunker. I was not the last one there.

Calling for people, making sure we were all-up, and then the waiting. All the while the shrill tone of the siren.

I didn't really feel afraid. The siren is supposed to go off if an impact is expected in a radius of 10 kilometers, given that, and the inaccuracy of SCUDs, the odds of hearing an impact are slim, much less getting hit.

Then the whee-whoo, whee-whoo of the all-clear. I deflated. Sank into the dirt, and drew a full breath, probably for the first time since the alarm.

Since then things have been quiet.

What I never mentioned at the time, was the alarm which went off the next day. After we were all in the bunker (a giant ditch, with a huge berm) the siren made a whooo-whoo whooo-whoo.

Not the all clear, but rather, "Gas". We had to don our suits, and then wonder if it was going to be hours, and then the difficult question of testing for the all clear, and decontaminating everything.

When the all-clear sounded, five minutes, and three lifetimes, later we were drained; exhausted and dumbfounded.

We knew it had been a pro-active alarm, because the all-clear was so soon. We got to our feet, slowly, and pulled our masks off.

I recall, as I was pulling on my chem suit thinking, "I don't want to die." It wasn't panicked. It wasn't terrified. It wasn't as emotionally charged as wondering about shooting the guy in the car behind me.

It was dispassionate. A simple observation, to myself, that this was not a good thing.

So I took all deliberate speed and made sure I put the suit on properly.

But I've been in rooms full of CS gas. I've done all sorts of things when I couldn't see, snot was running down my face, breathing was agony and my skin was on fire.

So a lot of the "horror" of it is gone. It's a problem, but I have the tools to deal with it.

Honestly, if it's not VX, you can get away from it. Just head upwind, and don't panic. Breathe through a wet rag.

#148 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2007, 11:55 PM:

Interestingly, British war deaths in WW I almost exactly parallel those in the (American) Civil War: about 1 in 11 killed. Deaths in WW II for the allies, excepting Russia, were at a much lower rate. One gets the impression that the War of Northern Aggression ought to have had a greater impression on European military planning.

#149 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2007, 12:39 AM:

Well, it looks like Rush is going to get away with it.

There are people like him stacked seventeen deep in Hell.

#150 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2007, 01:05 AM:

Greg London @ 145

I've been out of the loop for awhile on theories of language evolution, but the state of play when I last checked was that the most of the non-fringe theories held that language evolved from some more general mechanism that was selected for because of other uses. For instance, William Calvin had a theory that development of the ability to throw rocks accurately resulted in a section of the brain being developed into a parallel processor that could be re-purposed for parsing language.

If the language processing sections of the brain developed from more general processing systems, then it's reasonable that the same or similar systems might have been otherwise re-purposed, say as a narrative generation and parsing engine, or even that the speech centers have that as a secondary function.

#151 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2007, 02:00 AM:

C. Wingate: It seems there was a discounting of the war as being, "colonial/parochial/unprofessional" and so not relevant to Europe.

Much as Nappy discounted Wellington because he was, "a sepoy general." This last is amusing, because Wellington, to his dying day said his most difficult battle was that of Assaye.

It continued on, Spain and China's air war were discounted by the RAF, as "sideshows" not relevant to a "real war."

#152 ::: Adrian ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2007, 02:41 AM:

Katherine wrote, #113: The first time I ever saw a Confederate flag, it was in the window of a pickup truck in northern Pennsylvania. The owner clearly didn't understand the irony of glorifying a cause that his ancestors died to suppress.

How do you know his ancestors died to suppress it? Maybe they died trying to defend the Confederacy. Maybe he's a first-generation immigrant whose ancestors never thought of the the American South in all the nineteen century.

The point I'm trying to make is that you can't count on people staying in the same place for generations. If you've never moved a significant distance to go to school, or to take a better job, or to live in a better climate, or to live near someone you love...that's unusual. Why do we talk as if Virginia (all of Virginia) is still a relic of unReconstructed Confederacy while Massachusetts (all of Massachusetts) is a hotbed of Liberalism? Every so often, someone will do a detailed survey and notice that northern Virginia is urban and liberal, as liberal as almost anywhere else. And western Massachusetts is rural and conservative, as conservative as almost anywhere else. Not that anybody wants to think about that.

#153 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2007, 02:51 AM:

Katherine, #113, on Monday, I saw a pickup with a Bush/Cheney sticker right next to a Confederate sticker.

#154 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2007, 03:39 AM:

It's a cool calm misty grey morning in Belgium, near Ypres. We are commemorating the 90th anniversary of the battle of Passchendaele, said to be the highest daily casualty rate ever for Australian troops, by re-burying some Australian troops killed there, only discovered earlier this year.

#155 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2007, 03:46 AM:

It's a cool calm misty grey morning in Belgium, near Ypres. We are commemorating the 90th anniversary of the battle of Passchendaele, said to be the highest daily casualty rate ever for Australian troops, by re-burying some Australian troops killed there, only discovered earlier this year.

#156 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2007, 05:19 AM:

142: "Run out of professional soldiers" was a reason I was given for them; it seems strange given Britain's huge colonial holdings

Britain didn't exploit colonial (and Dominion) manpower to the same extent as British manpower in the Great War. Australians, for example, could be conscripted, but only for service inside the Commonwealth; the Australian troops who fought in the war were volunteers. The army of British India was an entirely volunteer force. And so on.

The results can be seen from examining the casualty figures; British military deaths, as a percentage of population, were noticeably higher than those of the colonies and Dominions.

The reason was that Britain didn't have complete authority over the Empire. The Dominions were self-governing - Australia, for example, voted twice against a conscription policy that would have sent Australian conscripts to the Western Front. And an attempt to introduce conscription in India would have almost certainly provoked revolt.

#157 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2007, 06:27 AM:

Greg London #146 - As the battles of 1918 showed, attrition wasn't the only tactic although the attrition of previous years meant that there were weak(er) parts of the front to exploit. The other factor for the static war was that the number of troops involved and the narrow depth of the battlefield meant that Western Europe from the channel to the Swiss border had the kind of density of troops that in previous wars would only be seen in a siege. Essentially it was a giant siege of Europe.

One more thing to remember is that the generals were under political pressure to do something - anything - to break the deadlock. That the only thing they could think of to do is fight battles of attrition is their failure; some of them seem to have worked out it was a siege and might have preferred to fight it less aggressively.

#158 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2007, 08:55 AM:

Re gerrymandering: this is where I live. It successfully robbed us of our Democratic senator, who now represents another city that is no longer in our district. OTOH, the anointed Republican who thought he could win the district race by saying that if it weren't for the local football team, he wouldn't care if our city got bombed tomorrow, lost the race--to a relatively unknown and even more conservative Republican

Re the confederate flag issue: since having heard, in 2005, a college student aver out loud in a college discussion group that both WWII and the Iraq war were designed to "defend us from communism", I have zero faith in the ability of any randomly selected American to assign meaning to any symbol with any degree of historical accuracy.

#159 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2007, 08:56 AM:

The confederate flag appeals to a parallel nation of rubes, soreheads, and bigots. Citizenship can be life-long, or last only as long as the sticker purchased on a whim at a gas station convenience store isn't plastered over with another sticker slamming Californians, tree-huggers, or Hillary.

#160 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2007, 09:40 AM:

Greg (#146) One of the really impressive parallels between WWI and the Civil War, for me, is that the changes in military technology landed in the laps of commanders who weren't able to adjust to cope with them very quickly, because they hadn't had enough experience with them to be able to adapt either their thinking or their tactics to accomodate the effects of these changes. Braxton Bragg (to take one example) did not learn his basic infantry tactics in a system based on rifled muskets and Minié balls, and when he had to deal with them, from Shiloh on, he was not able to either get his mind around what these changes in long arms and ammunition meant in terms of the effectiveness of musket fire, or adapt his tactics. Haig, among others, had no training or practical experience in dealing with machine guns in secure positions when WWI started.
It's one thing to know, intellectually, that one is dealing with a different result in terms of rate, range, or accuracy of fire, and it's another altogether to be able to adjust one's thinking and planning to deal with it--both those wars show this pretty plainly. As young officers, both Bragg and Haig were trained as thoroughly as the professional standards of the day directed in the tactical use of standard infantry weapons--and then standard infantry weapons changed beyond recognition.

As for why they paid so litle attention to things the American Civil War taught, especially in terms of the trench-style fighting that was in use in Virginia by late in the War--it was an American war, fought by amateurs who couldn't manage decent close-order drill half the time--surely you couldn't expect real soldiers to take that sort of thing seriously! Besides, that was fifty years before, and things change--you have to move with the times!

#161 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2007, 11:06 AM:

Epacris, there's also a film being made.

#162 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2007, 11:09 AM:

160: well said. I would add a couple of things.

Haig wasn't a flexible thinker even by British Army standards. He wrote "The aeroplane and the tank will never be more than adjuncts to the horse and the man" - in 1926.

Don't underestimate the ability of senior military officers to discard real-life examples by saying "Ah, well, that war was an unrepresentative aberration." (For example, see USAF, circa 1970. (Q: Why does the USAF need an all-jet, supersonic fleet, when it's fighting a COIN campaign in Vietnam, which requires slow prop-driven attack aircraft? A: Well, because Vietnam is a freak, and the real war will be the one against the Soviets. (Which, er, never happened.))*

It's all very well chuckling about how "generals always prepare to fight the last war". The dismal fact is that, most of the time, they don't even prepare for that. Would that they did!

*Yes, I know I've left an unclosed parenthesis. I did it solely to annoy all you programming types. Deal with it.

#163 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2007, 11:09 AM:

ajay #156: There was also concern that introducing conscription in the colonies could produce a backlash. Not that colonials didn't volunteer. I know one chap who won the DFC and who went on to an extraordinary career as a lawyer (defending Jomo Kenyatta), politician (cabinet minister in Jamaica) and diplomat (Jamaican high commissioner in Nigeria). In 1941, he wrote a letter to the Daily Gleaner urging his fellow Jamaicans to fight for king and country, and signed up himself.

#164 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2007, 11:16 AM:

163: quite. Which makes it rather unnerving to find that a lot of Indians today actually think that British Indian troops were conscripts, and consider it a grave injustice... I've even run into a couple of Australians who think the ANZACs at Gallipolli were conscripts. For heaven's sake, not even the British at Gallipoli were conscripts.

#165 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2007, 11:20 AM:

Watching Fox News in a hotel breakfast room this morning, saw a great advert featuring a soldier taking Rush to task.

#166 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2007, 11:24 AM:

Ajay #162: )

#167 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2007, 11:43 AM:

ajay #164: That's one way of distancing themselves from the war.

#168 ::: Parenthesis the Great ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2007, 11:44 AM:

ajay @ 162

Deal with it.

This phrase can mean one of two things:

1. Come to terms with the situation.

2. Take action as required to neutralize undesired consequences of the situation.

Considering the level of code fu in this group, you really don't want one of us to choose the latter interpretation. You have been warned.

-- Parenthesis the Great, for the High Code Council

#169 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2007, 11:52 AM:

#168

*snort* *snicker*

#170 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2007, 12:07 PM:

Unclosed parentheses would be easier to find if ( and ) weren't such unassuming and shy puntuation marks. We need more aggressive punctuation.

#171 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2007, 12:14 PM:

167: That's one way of distancing themselves from the war.

Given the popularity of the Axis (especially the Japanese and their allies) in India, you're probably right...

#172 ::: Alan Braggins ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2007, 12:15 PM:

> the real war will be the one against the Soviets. (Which, er, never happened.)

"See how effectively our proper preparation for it deterred them."

#173 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2007, 12:30 PM:

ajay #171: In the Caribbean, the reason tends to be the assumption (made by people with no real sense of history) that both world wars were 'white man's wars' which people of colour had no business fighting.

#174 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2007, 12:35 PM:

Hrmnf. I am reminded that my only rassf award was for a post on Passchendale.

#175 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2007, 12:38 PM:

WRT to losses in the Second World War, the town of Bedford, Virginia lost 75% of its young men on D-Day on the beaches of Normandy.

If you're ever in the area, stop and take a look at the beautiful war memorial there.

(Born a Virginian, and proud to claim the same birthstate as Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, and Robert E. Lee.)

#176 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2007, 01:13 PM:

Lori 175: And justly proud (though I have my doubts about Lee). There's no reason you shouldn't be. There's no reason you shouldn't fly the state flag of Virginia.

But if you fly gules, a saltire argent charged with a saltire azure bedecked with mullets argent (someone with better heraldry please blazon that better), you have no right to object to your neighbors flying gules, on a plate a fylfot per saltire sable.

#177 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2007, 01:41 PM:

Xopher, no "Stars'n'Bars" (the Confederate Battle flag) nor "Bonnie Blue" (the REAL flag of the Confederacy) on my flagpole. Perfectly content to fly Old Glory (and the Ohio State University flag on game days).

Re: Robert E. Lee, who was a West Point graduate. There was a lot more loyalty to invidual states in that era than in the present day. He would have commanded the Union armies had Virginia remained in the Union.

He was a genuinely good man and had a sterling reputation, including the respect of those who served with or under him. (The same cannot be said of General Custer...)

Having grown up with and around Civil War enthusiasts, I have been in my fair share of discussions and games re-fighting various battles
of that war. For the record, I have no sympathy with those who participated in the slave trade -- buyer, seller or owner. ("Hail Boston! Hail Charleston! Who stinketh the most?")

#178 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2007, 02:09 PM:

Gules, on a saltire azure fimbriated thirteen mullets argent.

It's possible that a second "argent" is required after "fimbriated", but in general if the tincture of something is not specified you keep going till you hit a tincture and all charges and ordinaries between that and the preceeding tincture are presumed to be in the latter.

And if you don't specify the arrangement of some charge, it defaults to "symmetrical", so it'd be three stars on each leg and one in the middle without need for further definition.

#179 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2007, 02:54 PM:

Cutting a long story short, some units at the Somme did achieve their immediate objectives. A lot of the troops weren't really trained well enough. A couple of years later the British Army did have the answers, did have the training, and broke the German Army.

And, around that time, my Grandfather was in the trenches with the US Army, trying to teach them how not to be stupid.

And it's an odd feeling to realise that you know how to spell Passchendaele without thinking about it. It's not really an English word, but somehow it has seared its way into English memory.

Passchendaele, Dunkirk, the Blitz; it seems odd that they aren't the victories, but the bad times that had somehow to be endured. Maybe it's a good thing that these are what we remember.

#180 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2007, 03:23 PM:

Dave Bell @179 said: Passchendaele, Dunkirk, the Blitz; it seems odd that they aren't the victories, but the bad times that had somehow to be endured. Maybe it's a good thing that these are what we remember.

It is well that war is so terrible, or we should grow too fond of it.

° Robert E. Lee, at Fredericksburg

#181 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2007, 04:07 PM:

Carrie S #178: Clearly, this problem is all caused by those unbalanced parens above.

#182 ::: John L ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2007, 04:17 PM:

Lori @ 180:

I also like Lee's other quote from Fredericksburg:

"It is history that gives us hope".

I've got a t-shirt with that quote on it from a shop in downtown Fredericksburg after walking the battlefield a few years ago. Burnside was truly an idiot with his tactics that day, but hey, he did warn Lincoln he didn't feel up to the task.

#183 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2007, 04:23 PM:

Steve C @ 170

We need more aggressive punctuation.

Precisely why daring Lisp Hackers invented the Super Parenthesis "]"; it closes all currently open parentheses. I carry a small bag of them where ever I go, just in case I have an emergency need for closure.

#184 ::: John L ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2007, 04:23 PM:

fidelio @ 160:

It wasn't just Bragg with his outmoded tactics in the Civil War. The Union had more than their share of generals who did not recognize how lethal rifled muskets were, from McClellan to Burnside to Pope, and lesser ranked commanders as well. All of them fought battles where standing in the open and firing at the other side until they broke, or charging entrenched troops, were the only tactics they could think of. Bragg was just one of the longer lived ones on the Confederate side (mainly because he wasn't wanted anywhere near Richmond, and the other alternative, Johnston, was even more disliked by Davis).

#185 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2007, 04:26 PM:

Speaking of Robert E. Lee... I recently read Gardner Dozois's short story Counterfactual, which is about an alternate History where the South lost the Civil War. Recommended, and not solely because SF writer Clifford Simak is the main character.

#186 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2007, 04:45 PM:

#184-- John L:
The list is indeed substantial; I picked Bragg out of a slew of candidates because he demonstrated such a long period of triumphantly failing to adapt to the changes and because he held so high a command, and thus seemed a good partner for Haig.

#187 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2007, 05:29 PM:

Carrrie S@178: Fimbriation is a borderline issue.

#188 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2007, 05:36 PM:

Fragano Ledgister @ 173

which people of colour had no business fighting.

What in Time made them think that white people had any business fighting them? Or any people, for that matter?

#189 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2007, 06:12 PM:

Re Civil War enthusiasts and their mindsets, a line (paraphrased from memory) from a CSI episode last season:

Model Shop Owner: "I get a lot of Civil War buffs who go to battle re-enactments every weekend looking for a different outcome."

#190 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2007, 06:29 PM:

SpeakerToManagers quips: Precisely why daring Lisp Hackers invented the Super Parenthesis "]"; it closes all currently open parentheses.

Not invented first. We ML-family hackers have always had the ";;" mechanism for explicitly terminating statements. And CamlP4 hackers are able to define new kinds of parenthetical constructions on an as-needed basis. All your parentheses belong to us! (except the /* */ C-language comments... you must keep those yourself and wear them as an outward display of your sinful nature.)

#191 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2007, 06:44 PM:

Bruce Cohen #188: That, you see, was white people's business, not theirs.

#192 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2007, 09:53 PM:

Adrian@152: your general point is strong, but note my previous remark on Wingate's posting that no county in MA was bluer than the westernmost. This croggles me given the concentration of ~leftists, college students, etc. in the next county over;

ajay@156: I was thinking more that \holding/ the colonies (excluding AU/NZ, which were a very different case) would have required a large standing force -- but I suppose it was spread thinly enough that not much could be transferred to Europe.

Carrie S @178: what designates the color of the fimbriation? Is it automatic?

Dave@179: Maybe it's a good thing... Damn right. I remember thinking when I visited the national ANZAC memorial in Canberra how much saner it was than typical U.S. bluster -- not just the evenhandedness of the exhibits when (in 1985) U.S. politicos were trying to bury the true memory of Vietnam, but the gloomy-looking heap (in place of phallic "aspiration") in full view of Parliament.

I'll have to find that Dozois story; sounds like it \should/ have been in the collection NESFA did for MilPhil, but it isn't.

#193 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2007, 09:58 PM:

CHip @ 192... Dozois's story can be found in Year's Best SF 12 edited by David Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer.

#194 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2007, 10:22 PM:

Lori 180: It is well that war is so terrible, or we should grow too fond of it.

See, that's the same form as "I'm glad I hate onions, because if I liked onions, I'd eat them, and I hate onions." I've learned to detect these because one common manifestation is "I'm glad I'm not gay, because gay guys [redacted], and that's disgusting."

If war were not terrible, growing fond of it would not be a bad thing. Football is not terrible, and while growing fond of it certainly has drawbacks, I wouldn't say that it's bad...and it's otherwise quite similar to war.

#195 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2007, 10:57 PM:

Bruce Cohen, #183. "Precisely why daring Lisp Hackers invented the Super Parenthesis ']'; it closes all currently open parentheses."

Nah, real 7090 hackers used a punch card laced with right parens. (True! But that was told to me by someone who's probably 80 by now.)

#196 ::: Keir ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2007, 11:51 PM:

I've mentioned this before, but NZ and Australia both have Kemal Ataturk memorials. Ataturk was one of the Turkish commanders at Gallipoli.

I can't think of any other countries that have memorials to an opposing commander, especially an opposing commander that won in a very bloody way, off the top of my head. Are there any?

Holding colonies wasn't that hard -- certainly, by 1900, there wasn't a need to maintain large standing armies to hold the overseas empire. A small, professional force was all that was needed.

Remember, the Maori in NZ were still, in terms of warfare, at the level of sticks and stones when Cook arrived. Very advanced sticks and stones, but still, with fortifications that were very well adapted, and so-on, but still. By the time of the Land Wars, the Maori were only a generation or two away from musketry being a great novelty. This wasn't a hugely unusual situation.

The British Army in the Imperial holdings rarely fought opponents that were as well armed as they were, and certainly never any who had the same sort of organisational backing. The sort of warfare in which the BEF found itself in in France was very unusual, in that the enemy was very closely matched in technology, and in tactics, with the resources of a modern State lined up behind. The British hadn't fought a war like that since Napoleon, I don't think.

There's a reason the British Army did a good line in bitterly fought stands of small groups against vast hordes*. That was the archetypal colonial fight.

* The Royal Navy did not. In Sir Julian Corbett's Principles of Maritime Strategy, he mentions desperate rear-guard actions, and says something along the lines of ``the British have no such tradition; we have never needed it.'' This was written before the First World War, when the British seemed to possess an unmatchable superiority, and the Royal Navy, especially, looked like the most excellent fighting force ever.

#197 ::: Jakob ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2007, 06:07 AM:

Xopher: Whether terrible or not, football rarely results in deaths and war usually does. I've always taken the quote to mean that people can get overly fond of the jingoism and pomp of military adventures if there is little cost tro them, ultimately resulting in the deaths of others. Cf.

Whatever happens, we have got: The Maxim gun, and they have not.

#198 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2007, 07:07 AM:

Keir #196: The last European war the British were involved in before the First World War was the Crimean War.

#199 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2007, 07:33 AM:

192: I was thinking more that \holding/ the colonies (excluding AU/NZ, which were a very different case) would have required a large standing force -- but I suppose it was spread thinly enough that not much could be transferred to Europe.

Not actually the case, as noted above. Holding on to India required fewer than ten thousand Britons - civil service and military combined! The Army of India (which includes Indian and British troops) was only 150,000 strong in 1913. And, as noted above, it was generally illegal for colonial troops to serve outside the Empire, unless they specifically volunteered to do so.

196: The British Army in the Imperial holdings rarely fought opponents that were as well armed as they were, and certainly never any who had the same sort of organisational backing. The sort of warfare in which the BEF found itself in in France was very unusual, in that the enemy was very closely matched in technology, and in tactics, with the resources of a modern State lined up behind. The British hadn't fought a war like that since Napoleon, I don't think.

Generally the case, but a few exceptions come to mind: the Sikh Khalsa, which was equipped to the same standard as the Company army it fought in the 1840s, and trained by European mercenaries; and, of course, the Indian Mutiny, when the Army of India fought itself.
I don't think that the Russian army (in the Crimea) passes any standard of quality that those two fail.

#200 ::: Jakob ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2007, 07:49 AM:

On Haig and the British army: There is a strain of revisionist history that disputes the 'lions led by donkeys' thesis for the war. I haven't read any of the works in detail, but the argument seems to be based around the idea of a 'learning curve', in which the mass conscript army was forged into an all-arms fighting machine by the 100 days' offensive, with modern communications and weapons used to the full. The attritional warfare in the mid-war years was the only alternative at the time given the numbers of soldiers involved and the supremacy of defensive technology at the time.

Whilst the British army of 1918 was undoubtedly effective, I do wonder why then the Ludendorff offensive was so dangerous. Even given the need to take the pressure off the French, it is hard to see that the Somme was really the best use of Haig's forces.

There is another, related, argument about the current popular image and memory of the war being very different to what was perceived at the time, but again it's not my field.

#201 ::: Jakob ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2007, 07:55 AM:

Some links for my post above from the BBC history website:
The origins of the First World War
From disaster to victory: the British army in the First World War
The Western Front: Lions Led by Donkeys?
World War One: Misrepresentation of a Conflict
Dan Todman and Gary Sheffield would, I belive, both describe themselves as revisionist* historians.

*In this sense, a value-neutral term.

#202 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2007, 08:00 AM:

Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives... You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side now here in this country of ours... you, the mothers, who sent their sons from faraway countries wipe away your tears; your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace. After having lost their lives on this land. They have become our sons as well.

Atatürk, 1934 (quoted from the Australian War Memorial website)


#203 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2007, 08:24 AM:

Jakob 197: Whether terrible or not, football rarely results in deaths and war usually does.

Well, that's most of what makes war terrible and football not. The terribility of war comes from its killing and maiming and destruction; football has most other things in common with it. I've often said that if we didn't have sports to get out the boys' aggression, we'd have wars between New York and Boston.

I've always taken the quote to mean that people can get overly fond of the jingoism and pomp of military adventures if there is little cost to them, ultimately resulting in the deaths of others.

I do take your point that war needs to be terrible to the people who might grow fond of it in order to prevent the effect. This is why the administration won't allow photographs of coffins returning from Iraq. NPR does a good job of this; they do periodic profiles of our dead, and the (often conservative war-supporting) towns they come from, showing the tragedy of every single death, and the devastation it causes their families.

Sometimes these families do see that they've paid in blood for Dubya's ambition; the listeners always do. Now Dubya is one of those people for whom war is not sufficiently terrible.

#204 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2007, 10:24 AM:

Carrie S @178: what designates the color of the fimbriation? Is it automatic?

That's why I say there may have to be an "argent" after "fimbriated"; I'm not sure if the rule about "keep going till you hit a tincture and everything between it and the preceeding tincture are of the latter" rule applies when it's an ordinary and a charge.

Like, you can say Sable, an eagle displayed and three roses Or, which means "black background, gold eagle and roses with the eagle in the middle and the roses in two-and-one configuration around it"; the eagle's gold because gold is the first tincture that shows up after the eagle's named. But I don't know if you could say Sable, a fess between three roses Or, because a fess (horizontal line) is an ordinary and the roses are charges.

But assuming that the carryover-tincture rule applies between ordinaries and charges, the fimbriation is argent because that's the first tincture to show up after it's named.

Fimbriation is a borderline issue

Hey, now, none of that! Remember heralds don't pun--they cant.

#205 ::: Valuethinker ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2007, 12:47 PM:

200

Tony Travers as well, to an extent.

But I think the revisionist historians are kidding themselves. British Generals, and in particular Haig, deliberately isolated themselves from the battlefield, so they would not be put off the drive for victory by the sight of bloodshed. So their troops went down to massed slaughter. In the French case, eventually to mutiny.

It was military innovators, and politicians like Winston Churchill, who drove through innovations like the tank (Cambrai, 1917) and the massed use of aircraft to break the deadlock. And indeed common soldiers, who invented the mills bomb and the trench mortar as well as raiding tactics.

The Germans invented the Stosstruppen (storm troops, many would later become Nazi Party followers) and small unit tactics involving suppressive fire and infiltration. Successfully used on the Eastern Front, and then against the Italians, and in the 1918 offensives.

The British generals could have innovated in these ways, but they did not, by and large. Other than Allenby in the Middle East of course, but that was a very different war.

The performance of the US against Iraq in 2003, when the US Army (see FIASCO by Thomas Ricks) was planning to refight Kuwait 1991, shows the same problem of not adapting fast enough to changing conditions.

On WWI, the Michael 1918 offensive could only have worked had it fallen on the French lines, and knocked them out of the war due to morale. The Germans did not have the logistic werewithal to back up a breakthrough. British troops just did not have the same morale issues-- they were defeated, but they fell back.

Ajay

On the Commonwealth 1914 v. 1939, the trick was not so much conscription, as the fact that the Commonwealth populations in 1939, relative to the mother country, were much larger. And of course the war was much more global-- hence the Australians in the Middle East and Far East, the Indian Army, the Canadians in the Battle of the Atlantic (and Italy and Normandy) etc.

Of all Allied Powers other than Russia, in fact, New Zealand had the highest proportion of military casualties relative to population.

#206 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2007, 02:16 PM:

ajay: Crimea. Britian faced equivalent forces. Didn't seem to learn much.

And there were examples post US Civil war (Franco-Prussia, Russo-Japanese, Russo-Turk).

But they, you see, weren't fought by the British, you see.

That sort of parochialism is all I can put forth to explain the lack of learning on the part of the British High Command.

#207 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2007, 05:12 PM:

I've just heard an unconfirmed story that someone I was a school with has been killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan. I wasn't close - They were a year above me, I don't think I ever spoke to them after school, and didn't even know they were out there - but every now and then when swapping stories with schoolfriends their name would come up. And now I guess it won't.

And I'm wondering what the Afghan or Iraqi leaders will be saying in twenty years time - something generous and friendly like I quoted Atatürk saying above? I don't know. I doubt the Tora Bora mountains will become a rite of passage for travellers like ANZAC day at Gallipoli is for Aussies in Europe, but maybe it will. It would be nice if it did.

I'm not sure I have a point here; it's just having got this news I felt like saying something.

#208 ::: Keir ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2007, 08:22 PM:

Ajay #199: Yes, but neither of those armies had the institutional backing or industrial base that the British Army did.

As for the Crimean War, I wasn't sure just how well organised the Russian forces were, compared to the British/French forces.

#209 ::: Valuethinker ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2007, 03:38 PM:

206

There's a lot of discussion out there why the Russo-Japanese war, which was well documented by foreign correspondents, did not influence European battle tactics.

The consensus seems to be that the Europeans viewed the Russians as incompetent (as evidenced by the 1905 Revolution) and so it wasn't Japanese skill.

Of course, on one in the US Navy thought to think through the implications of the surprise torpedo attack on Port Arthur, for the US base at Pearl Harbor.

The British had the Boer war, which taught them all about manoeuvre and infantry tactics. One of the reasons why the 'Donkeys' did so well in 1914 in stopping the Germans, even if heavily outnumbered.

The Boers administered some nasty defeats on the British, despite being outnumbered and outgunned. The British changed uniform colour (to Buff Khaki) and learned about maneouvre warfare. They also marked the first widespread deployment of military barbed wire.

In fact, British riflery was so accurate and rapid in 1914, that German units reported they were facing machine guns (the British had as few as 2 per battalion at that time).

All of the European commands were fixated on the 'quick brutal' war that was 1870-71 and the Franco Prussian war. They expected a series of cataclysmic and decisive battles (a la the Battle of the Marne). The Germans didn't have enough explosives to keep fighting into 1915, and all sides ran out of shells before Christmas.

Once confronted with trench warfare, they remained convinced, that like the Eastern Front, and the Russo-Japanese, American Civil and Franco-Prussian wars, a sufficiently aggressive attack, backed up with cavalry to exploit, would prevail, no matter how aggressive it was.

In a way things didn't change. Comparable battles in WWII (Crimean front, Leningrad front, Bataan, Okinawa) were just as bloody (or worse) despite the presence of tanks and air power. Where both sides had enough armour, the advantage or the terrain tended to cancel out the ability to make sweeping thrusts. Eventually one side or the other collapsed (because its logistics had been tampered with or its position became untenable).

And so on to Korea, where again neither side could break the deadlock, once it had been created. Not to mention Dien Bin Phu, which was classic siege warfare.

And then to Vietnam, where after the Tet Offensive, the US Marines found themselves in brutal trench warfare north of Da Nang, taking their worst casualties of the war.

#210 ::: Keir ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2007, 03:57 PM:

The other thing was, if you were British, the Russo-Japanese war seemed to back up your prejudices -- island power thrashes continental giant via a campaign relying on control of the seas followed by a brief mopping up land campaign?

So it seemed like it all fitted into a pre-existing narrative.

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