Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns


I like Victor Davis Hanson’s summary comments, but let me add one of my own. In addition to insulting our troops and not apologizing for it, John Kerry has inadvertently contradicted another Democratic talking point. Remember what he said:

"Education, if you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. And if you don’t, you get stuck in Iraq."

How can anyone like John Edwards argue that there are two Americas if individuals who work hard in school can succeed? In the first sentence, Kerry sounds almost like a garden-variety Republican.

Discussions - 6 Comments

I think it’s possible that Kerry did mean it just like he said he meant it, as a "botched joke" about President Bush. But even if that’s true, it’s still the case that he’s a moron, since any *reasonable* person would have taken a look at the speech and said, um, you know, that could be taken the wrong way - maybe we should fix it or just drop it. Or maybe it’s just Kerry’s super-clever ironic way of making himself the victim of the all-powerful GOP/Fox/Papal/Focus-on-Family/military- industrial-complex spin machine and thus endearing himself to the nutters over at Kos?

Nah. He’s just a moron.

Heck, the way he’s rambling in that first sentence, he sounds almost like Dubya himself.

It will take, or should take, something even more ludicrous than a Swift-Boating to make this gaffe very significant to most people. Yes, no doubt, there are some very bright young people and perhaps even some geniuses serving in our military. I had a friend in high school whose grades were in the mediocre range, but he was rather talented with working on electronic equipment, and so he ended up doing just that in the Air Force. I would say that his grades didn’t really reflect his intelligence or potential so well.

Anyway, let’s not kid ourselves, exceedingly few young men and women are feeling a need to choose between Harvard (or even a scholarship to a state uni.) and the front lines of Iraq. Are many Ashbrook Scholars leaving to defend-freedom-or-whatever in Iraq? The Pat Tillman example didn’t pan out, in a number of ways (friendly fire, army covered up, Tillman liked Chomsky, etc.), and since recruitment has struggled the military has had to lower its standards for who they send in as IED fodder.

But low test scores, criminal records (and tattoos!!! I was expecting a Knippenberg or Ponzi post about THAT!) notwithstanding, plenty of soldiers have sense enough to ask themselves why they are really there, and how they are possibly making anything better anywhere. As they watch the death toll of their fellow soldiers climb past the death toll of the 9/11 attacks that were used to justify their presence in Iraq, as they ask themselves what happened to Osama, as they wonder how this will improve Iraqi lives or make Americans safer, I think there’s at least one joke, beyond the "heckuva job" that Rummy’s done, that might eclipse Kerry’s in the slap-in-the-face dept:

Bush actually filming video clips in the White House and "joking" at a press dinner how "Those weapons of mass destruction have got to be here somewhere," while looking under furniture and such.

An Iraq War vet put it pretty well: "This cheapens the sacrifice that American soldiers and their families are dealing with every single day."

Regardless of the nuance between what Kerry said and what he meant - and I highly doubt his intent was to say "our troops are idiots" - and regardless of my test or IQ scores, if I were in uniform in Iraq I would have long ago begun suspecting that I was being played for a sucker.

Of course Kerry’s wrong. Just look at the army, and the high proportion of rich college graduates who populate it.

It was stupid to say it out loud, of course. You guys may well be able to keep congress now.

I went to Iraq...of course that is what happens to you when you pick up a philosophy/political science degree from Ashland. Jason Kleps also took his history degree to Iraq. And if Daniel K. believed he was being sarcastic about the Army he should check his own branch of service...Marines and high IQ/intelligence...rare (not impossible, but unlikely)

Also in terms of the Kerry comment I took it at face value as nothing to get worked up about...just regular democrat prejudice...because clearly he thinks that there are two americas....the rich white america who goes to college and the poor hispanic/black america who goes to Iraq, but he isn’t necessarily implying race as the factor, but hard work. Of course democrats may have a sociological point about the poor(and by statistical inference: minorities) being too demoralized to work is a sort of catch 22. Detroit and St Louis have a lot of crime...they also supply a lot of soilders...because jobs seem scarce...opportunities seem limited...people don’t work hard without hope/ in a sense the Kerry comment was part carrot part stick. You can either work hard in school...and if you do you can succeed...or you can give up/underperform in school...leaving the military as an option...and no matter how "hard" you think working on school is can’t immagine that being yelled at by a drill sergeant and touching down in Iraq two weeks out of AIT can be much easier. So in the best light it was a comment that said that every action you take has consequences despite your ability to fully grasp them(and the example of alternative Iraq and a yelling Drill Sergeant is a good picture, that is easy to grasp, and thus a good stick.)...what seems hard in the short run may be the easiest path in the long run. If Kerry had said that you can work hard in school or you can wind up dead in the streets over a drug deal gone would have conveyed the same message...but it might not have been as poignant because thankfully more young people see the military as a way out as opposed to dealing drugs. I suppose Kerry might sound like the Republican if the message is simply work hard and you can do well in life...and that is part of what he is saying...the other part of the message is that there are no easy short cuts...joining the army isn’t the free ride it used to think about the consequences of your decisions today instead of defaulting to the easy today that winds up being the hard path in the long tommorow. Insult to the troops or no insult to the troops it shouldn’t matter because the message is true. What you choose to do with your time today matters. Even if you are stuck in misery...even if you are depressed...even if you are poor...or a minority (or any other excuse) The catch 22 thinking is an may have reached a point in life where you screwed up so much that you don’t think that additional screw ups will even matter(but they will) Rich or poor, smart or dumb, ahead in life or of today, as of this very second: you are even(key poker principle...Tilt play is bad). I see this all the time in Poker...and I have to defend against it...someone will lose say $1000 and from that point on they will not feel any further loss...every hundred they lose from that point the moment doesn’t register...(but if they were even then it would register).... But you are always even because life like poker is a matter of positive expectations. In the course of life you are rewarded for the sum total of all your good choices minus your bad ones...luck which will be a factor in the short run...factors itself out in the long run. In fact it is possible to be unlucky for being lucky especially if it occurs early in life and corrupts your cognition (as happens all too often to rich brats.)

In short, insulting the troops is forgivable if it results in driving home the important concepts I laid out above. Your immediate actions always matter no matter where you are in life, no matter how lucky or unlucky...because you are always even. And for folks who have taken to thinking me a Nihilist or extreme relativist I have just laid down an absolute truth claim. For those who want to see Christianity everywhere...then you can point out that my absoulte truth claim is simply the idea of salvation...but this salvation depends on making the right choices...being proactive regardless of station in life. And Iraq will be twice as bad for the person who wants to get by doing the minimum...but in boot camp they might get lucky enougth to learn that the hard path is the easy path. The hard path is the easy path. No matter how hard or insignificant it "seems" at the moment, making the right choice makes things easier in the long run...that is the bottom line. That is an absolute truth. You can take it to the bank, and if I followed my own advice I would be a millionaire. So it is never as easy in the moment as the "garden-variety" republican bromide...and for some people because of fate/circumstances/character it is more difficult...but it is always true, and I hope that this was Kerry’s point.

To answer your question: "How can anyone like John Edwards argue that there are two Americas if individuals who work hard in school can succeed?"

Because there are two Americas at least... if not four.... There are those very few who almost always make good decisions in life, and also get lucky when they make bad ones...these do very well...there are those who make some bad decisions in life and fail peak potential. There are all kinds of gradations...and thus there are all kinds of america. Also it is a fact that being demoralized leads to downward spirals(unless people find salvation...either religiously or by learning my concept(Mike Caro’s)of always being even.) Basically success can never be guaranteed but it can be deserved. Also preseverence is the most important virtue(to suffer the slings and arrows of ill fortune, and not give up thinking) have to have a certain requisite can never, never, never, give up. The way I see it what the democrats have to say about the oppressed, the poor, the minorites...the catch 22...that is all true is a fact. It is human nature, to err, to seek an easy way(i.e. get lucky), to give up, to become discouraged...and those at the bottom are both blessed and cursed by not having an insurance cushion for bad choices. Basically those at the bottom have to find a way and a will to transcend what the statisticians and sociologist have to say about them. The only true way is to embrace the truth that decisions have consequences no matter how insignificant those may seem in the moment of despair. Of course it is difficult to come to this conclusion from an excess of comfort or the poor kids might have it too hard to ever think that luck will be factored out in the long run...and the rich kids might be too insulated by ease and money to realize or care that they are blowing it.

There are two America’s...In one america are the people who grasp the truth that all actions matter...and in the other are the people who do not understand this truth, either out of comfort or despair...but in truth it is more or less one america on a bell curve with the majority being inconsistent with regard to this key truth. In truth only the most sucessfull americans are faithfull to the concept of always being even...the somewhat un-answerable question is that of causation since it is a self-reinforcing loop/habit of character. And because knowledge of this truth and perhaps all others is on so much of a feedback mechanism basis...the "garden-variety" republican answer sounds hollow, cliche and preachy...despite being absolutely all of my posts(being preachy and hollow:)...

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