November 12, 2007 - November 5, 2007
Monday, November 12, 2007
60 Minutes on Veterans
. If you wanted to see yesterday's wreath-laying ceremony at
the Tomb of the Unknowns, you had to watch it on C-SPAN. Fox News
carried snippets of it between breakaways for celebrity gossip and the
latest Peterson murder. CBS's 60 Minutes demonstrated its appreciation
of the veterans and our currently serving troops by doing segments
about the MRSA virus, a possibly psychotic murderer on death row, and a
wry look at the so-called "Millennial
" entering the workforce. Thanks, CBS.
If Morley Safer and company were conscious of the irony of spotlighting
spoiled slackers on a day when many were preoccupied by† a
different segment of the Millennial Generation, they never hinted at
it. Their touchstone was the sweeping characterizations articulated by
Jeffrey Zaslow of the WSJ Career Journal
You, You, You -- you really are
special, you are! You've got everything going for you. You're
attractive, witty, brilliant. "Gifted" is the word that comes to mind.
Childhood in recent decades has been defined by such stroking...
Now, as this greatest generation grows up, the culture of praise is
reaching deeply into the adult world....
Employers are dishing out kudos to workers for little more than showing
America's praise fixation has economic, labor and social ramifications.
Adults who were overpraised as
children are apt to be narcissistic at work and in personal
relationships, says Jean Twenge, a psychology professor at San
Diego State University. Narcissists aren't good at basking in other
people's glory, which makes for problematic marriages and work
relationships, she says.
Her research suggests that young adults today are more self-centered
than previous generations. For a multiuniversity study released this
year, 16,475 college students took
the standardized narcissistic personality inventory, responding
to such statements as "I think I am a special person." Students' scores have risen steadily
since the test was first offered in
1982. The average college student in 2006 was 30% more
narcissistic than the average student in 1982. [EMPHASES MINE]
The on-camera experts -- Zaslow, employers, consultants -- did express
concern about the millennials, but their primary message seemed to be
that most of the growing and adapting needed must be done by the Boomer
and post-Boomer adults presently in charge of the workplace. What
incompetent parents began must be continued and fine-tuned by the rest
of us because there's no realistic alternative. They are who they are.
Did I mention irony? I should revise the number. Let me count the ironies
embodied in this segment.
There's the irony of an elite news organization choosing to lavish
attention on the most pampered and relentlessly attention-demanding
subset of American youth on a day when they themselves can't spare a
minute for the most selfless of our youth. There's the irony of that
same news organization's flagrant refusal even to report on the recent
very dramatic achievements wrought by that selflessness. And there's
the irony of the historical role played by that news organization --
and the elite liberal culture it speaks for -- in maliciously libelling
and evicting from university campuses one of the (very) few
institutions capable of undoing parentally caused damage: the U.S.
The best and brightest among the cognoscenti have been adamant
about the desirability of keeping ROTC as far away as possible from our
most prestigious -- dare I say narcissistic? -- colleges and
universities, the very places that have become the breeding grounds for
silver spoon kids too loutish and lazy to master eating with a common
knife and fork. What manner of unspeakable perversion do they imagine
is underway at the supra-ROTC campuses of West Point, Annapolis, and
the Air Force Academy? Something so vile that preventing it is worth
the price of turning America's once world-leading corporations into
permanent servile babysitters?
You couldn't possibly figure out the answer to such questions from the
MSM's network news organizations. But if you're a lowly college
football fan, you could have learned a lot over the past two weeks
about what goes on inside America's service academies. Two weekends in
a row, you could have seen smaller teams with far less available
practice time defeat the heavily recruited football celebrities of
Notre† Dame.† Navy and Air Force prevailed over the Fighting
Irish the same way -- with discipline, unflagging determination, and,
yes, brains. Both teams featured running backs too small to be
recruited by any football power, and both backs played in multiple
roles, on special teams as well as the offense, where they also blocked
ferociously when they weren't carrying the ball.
Even sports announcers were moved to point out that playing football
for a service academy means a five-year commitment after graduation
that rules out professional football -- and that the daily regimen
includes on average 10-12 hours of rigorous study (no phys. ed. majors),
drill, and other work besides football practice. Nevertheless, they
find ways to excel. Air Force's diminutive star (5'8", 180 lb), Chad
, is just one example
The Falcons senior running
back-receiver is the only player in the
country to lead his team in both rushing (1,122 yards) and receiving
(426). He set a school record for rushing in a game last week when he
gained 275 yards against Army, breaking the mark of 256 he set earlier
in the season against Colorado State...
"Chad Hall is an academy kid," [Air Force coach] Calhoun said. "He will
fight and claw and scratch to get the job done."
A football fan could have seen something even more educational watching
Friday night's Army-Rutgers game. Rutgers is far better than this
year's Notre Dame and they defeated Army handily
But Army played the whole game exactly the same way Navy and Air Force
played theirs, with practically no penalties or mental errors, and as
resolutely on the final snap as the first. The ESPN announcers had spent an
entire week at West Point and were so overwhelmed by the experience
they couldn't stop talking about it.† They expressed their sense
of privilege at having been permitted to witness the daily lives of the
cadets, which filled them with admiration. One of Army's best defensive
players was also commander of one of the academy's four regiments; his
duties were so time-consuming that he slept about four-and-a-half hours
a night. They spoke on the phone on-air with the father of the Army
quarterback, who had been on duty in Iraq throughout his son's football
career and thus had never seen him play in person, but only via the
Armed Forces Network.
Apparently, not all of the Millennial Generation are like the
dysfunctional creeps in Morley Safer's piece. The military seems to
know a little more about raising adults than the nation's affluent
parents. But, I can hear the libs tut-tutting, what happens to them in
the cauldron of war? What kind of beasts do they become after they've
experienced combat? What becomes of them when they realize they've been
duped into a greater sacrifice than kids should be expected to bear?
You could have learned something about that, too, last night, though
not on CBS. You'd have had to go exploring as far as the Military
, which devoted the entire day's programming to some of the
tougher consequences of military service. For example, from 9 to 10,
the channel broadcast War
Wounds: Women Fighting On
(video at link) and from 10 to 11, War Wounds: Home and Still Fighting
Neither show is for the faint-hearted, and if you don't have the
courage to watch all the way to the end, you might very well draw a
wrong conclusion, as did the reviewer for the ever-reliable New
(Take special note of the gag-me rhetoric in the second
and Still Fighting] chronicles the rehabilitation of several
American soldiers severely wounded in Iraq...
Wounded soldiers have become something of a cause, especially since Bob
Woodruff, the ABC newsman, used his own battlefield injuries to shine a
spotlight on their plight in a television special in February....
The TLC program, though, is particularly graphic in its images and its
details. Watch it and youíll learn how a man vomits when his jaw is
wired shut. Youíll learn the odd side effects when a chunk of skin from
the scalp is used to reconstruct a nose.
The documentary completely ignores the elephant in the room: the war
itself, and whether these menís sacrifices were justified. That leaves
it feeling vaguely voyeuristic, like the latest entry in an escalating
game of who can find the most hideously wounded soldier and get him to
agree to go on camera.
But against that cynical view thereís another: Weíre obliged to look
long and hard at the ghastly injuries these men have sustained.
Because, collectively if not individually, weíre the ones who sent them
Beginning with the fact that he doesn't know the difference between
soldiers and Marines, the NYT's Neil Genzlinger doesn't know much. He fundamentally misstates
the purpose and value of this show and Women Fighting On
. Yes, the wounds
we see are horrible, and peculiarly unnerving in the case of the women,
but the point of their additional sacrifice in sharing their ordeals is
not our reaction, but theirs. We observe them depressed, in pain,
trying to assimilate considerable and in some cases overwhelming
physical loss, but if you were looking for an exact opposite of the
feckless me-ism of CBS's Millennium Generation, they are it.
In the Women
episode, we meet
three veterans who have experienced amputations and worse, but the
tears they shed are for the comrades-in-arms who didn't make it home.
One carries a copy of her dead friend's (large) tattoo so that she can
have it inked onto her own forearm in permanent remembrance. Another
insists that she doesn't regret her decision to enlist, because her
experience and the people she met, including the two close friends
killed in the same accident that so grievously wounded her, have meant
so much to her life. All three remain proud of their service and
determined to lead strong, rewarding lives.
It's the same with the men, as well as the friends and families in their
lives. There is a sergeant whose face and most of whose eyesight were
obliterated by an IED. He worries that the burden of his many
reconstructive surgeries and his various intervening disabilities,
including damage to his hands, falls more heavily on his wife than on
him. She has two young children to care for, but they all care for each
other, and for those who watched Morley's Millennials earlier in the
evening, it was far easier to see how they could manage to remain
cheerful, hopeful, and forward-looking than to imagine how any of the
stunted human beings in the 60 Minutes piece could respond as bravely
to any setback, including the loss of an iPod.
The final image was the first trip out of the hospital for a young Marine who
had sustained the loss of a leg, severely wounded hands, and multiple
head and facial traumas. His mother pushed his wheelchair to the Iwo
Jima Memorial, past Marine guards who saluted his passage along the
path to that huge and familiar sculpture. He was on the mend and he was
smiling as he explained how seeing his mother's ceaseless care of him
throughout a series of life-threatening emergencies had taught him how he
must care for his children when
he had his own one day. The red-jacketed Marines who performed the
memorial ceremony swarmed him afterwards and had their picture taken
with him, all of them standing in the kind of thin red line fabled for
What the wife of the man with the wounded face said turned out to be
true. The injuries were atrocious and terrifying the first time you saw
them. But as soon as you recognized the people inside, you stopped
seeing the wounds at all. Then the frightened pity fell away too. What
remains is warmth and admiration... and pity for the Genzlingers whose
only reaction to their experience is counting up ammunition for the
next polemic about the war.
There's more to the Millennial Generation than Morley suspects. But you
have to know where to look. And you have to be willing to look. What
say you to that, Mr. Safer?
Sunday, November 11, 2007
changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns
A time to thank those we can and to remember those we can't. God bless
Thursday, November 08, 2007
THERE ISN'T ANY GOD
Don't watch the YouTube file yet. I want to provide a little
context first. This past week we've had stories in the news that might
not seem to have anything to do with the clip above:
- The extraordinary Michael Yon
the MSM don't seem to have much interest in.
- Publication of a book
defending the actions, character, and historical rightness of Joseph
- Two separate middle school controversies that seem flatly
contradictory on their face: one involving punishment
in school and one involving birth
without parental notification for 11-year-olds . (And don't
forget all the progressive breastbeating about "the kids" over the
- The Univeristy of Delaware Reeducation
- The Weather Channel's founder proclaiming like a bolt
from the blue
that Global Warming is the "biggest scam in history."
All of these events and their treatment in the mass media are
opportunities to see secular liberal orthodoxy at work.
The Yon snap is photo non gratis on two counts. It suggests quite
powerfully that Iraqis are not all at one another's throats, and it
embodies an expressly religious symbol that is supposed to be anathema
in that country. So it doesn't fit the Iraq narrative we're expected to
believe without question. It's just a blip to be ignored.
The McCarthy book was six years in the writing, voluminously footnoted,
and the first treatment of McCarthy to take extensive advantage of the
Soviet records made available since the end of the Cold War. Naturally,
the traditional opening review from Publishers Weekly merely yawns,
accuses the author of† "conspiracy thinking," and argues,
absurdly, that "Most scholars... concede his position and argue now
only over secondary matters, like the guilt of Alger Hiss." Is it
really "conspiracy thinking" to document the breadth and depth of a
very real Soviet conspiracy which penetrated all branches of our
government and stole every major military and diplomatic secret we had?
Also, am I the only one who missed the previous flood of scholarly
books exonerating Joe McCarthy
? And since when was the matter of
Hiss's guilt "secondary"? He stood behind FDR at Yalta. What's more,
his guilt is no longer a matter for argument. He was a Soviet agent.
What's most puzzling to the PW reviewer, of course, is why anyone would
spend the time trying to rescue the reputation of the most defamed
American of the twentieth century. In the orthodoxy of the left, he
long ago passed over into the realm of iconic evil. He is the Judas of
their faith, beyond facts and beyond redemption. He is the kind of
personal, cultish symbol upon which their worldview depends, a
necessary foil for equally iconic liberal saints like FDR, JFK, RFK,
and MLK. A McCarthy book of this sort is a heretic testament, doomed to
oblivion before it ever hits the shelves.
The two school controversies are not as contradictory as they appear.
What they have in common is a secular view of humanity as livestock
whose animal behaviors are best handled through a combination of
bureaucratic regulation and antiseptic veterinary prophylaxis. Despite
their fervent protestations, they don't really care about the kids
except as instruments for enhancing the power and reach of the
government. The only rational motive for separating an 11-year-old girl
from her parents at the moment of puberty is to prevent those parents
from imposing moral, spiritual and religious values the state finds
objectionable. Why is hugging bad? Because the school administration
says it is -- and we expect you to do as we tell you and believe
as we tell you.
That's the significance of the University of Delaware freshman
. Its chief attributes were its compulsory
nature and the vaguely defined threats levied against those who posed
any resistance. Even the Resident Assistants who were conscripted as
enforcers were threatened with career-ending consequences if they
failed to carry out their propaganda duties. Any argument that such a
program had as any part of its purpose the advancement of academic
freedom, critical thinking and personal expression by students is
simply laughable. The only conceivable purpose is the exact opposite of
To what end? The stifling of debate. The ready acceptance of
pre-programmed items of political and philosophical orthodoxy which
empower collective, secular entities over individuals. The real mission
of contemporary American education is to separate students from their
families, their belief in God or any power higher than the government,
and their confidence in their own curiosity and effort as a means of
arriving at independent decisions. They are to understand that the
"Truth," however conceived, is permanently out of their hands. That
kind of authority is reserved exclusively for the consensus of the
In what context have we heard "consensus" invoked most enthusiastically
in recent months? Progressive environmentalists keep informing us that
the debate about Global Warming is over. The consensus is in. If we
resist the consensus, we are "deniers." But what are we supposed to do
with our common sense understanding that the debate isn't over until
all our questions have been answered to our
satisfaction? Until then, we
have every right to go on believing whatever we believe, even if it's
wrong by someone else's lights.
The truly annoying thing about the Global Warming consensus for liberals is that every
week or so some new "denier" shows up to remind the rest of us that a
consensus is not necessarily a valid thing when it comes to science.
When all scientists agree on an answer to a scientific question, it
means everyone has stopped researching it. Have all the scientists
stopped researching Global Warming? If not, what is it they don't agree
on? More importantly, what is it exactly that they do
agree on? Is it, in fact,
possible that the consensus they boast of has more to with a worldview
than a specific interpretation of meteorological data?
Mark Steyn has an interesting post at The
today. It has to do with the worldview of environmental
"Humanity is the greatest challenge,"
says Colorado environmental activist John Feeney in "The Green Room" at
BBC News. It's not enough to reduce emissions, we have to reduce the
folks doing the emitting:
We must end world population growth,
then reduce population size. That means lowering population numbers in
industrialised as well as developing nations.
It's fascinating to observe how almost any old totalitarian racket
becomes respectable once it's cloaked in enviro-hooey. For example,
restrictions on freedom of movement were previously the mark of the
Soviet Union et al. But in Britain, they're proposing limits on your
right to take airline flights to other countries - and, as it's in the
name of environmental responsibility, everyone thinks it's a grand
idea. Mr Feeney's views are the logical reductio, which means in
another six months or so European cabinet ministers and UN officials
are bound to start taking them up.
Read the quote carefully: "We must end world population growth, then
reduce population size. That
means lowering population numbers in industrialised as well as
developing nations." Who is the "we" here? Is it you and me and a bunch
of other individuals emppowered to make our own decisions about our
lives? Or is it some power above you and me which can reach down into
our lives and bedrooms by brute force, if necessary, to make certain
that we live generation after generation of less?
How would that power go about establishing unquestioned authority and
obedience to policies so many independent folk might resist and flout?
And what might their new, smaller and less human-infested earth look
like in a generation or two? Something like a "hermit kingdom" perhaps,
a spartan island in the immensity of space?
Now you can look at the YouTube video. The opening scene is the
conclusion of one begun here
. All you need
to know is that the dramatic
eyesight-restoring initiative shown in the clip was the result of an
international mission by a Nepalese eye surgeon who personally operated
on every person in the room, some thousand of them. You say it can't
happen here? Test that answer with a modicum of logic.
If you've got the stomach for it, watch all three clips. The third is
You'll note, I think, that there isn't any place for that other kind of
divinity referenced in Michael Yon's photograph.
If any of you atheists are offended, good.