Friday, August 20, 2010

Boys of Summer, Men of Valor

On this day, August 20, 2006, an IED attack hit the 3rd LAR, 2nd Platoon, company D, while they were on patrol. Three brave men died and three brave men were seriously injured, all for the cause of liberty for the Iraqi people and preservation of liberty for the United States of America.

The great men who gave their lives for us that day are:

Navy seaman Chadwick T. Kenyon, 20, of Tucson, Arizona

Marine Cpl. Adam Galvez, 21, Salt Lake City, Utah

Marine Lance Cpl. Randy L. Newman, 21, of Bend, Oregon

Links to their individual stories and pages can be found here. The men who were wounded in this action are remembered for their sacrifice and courage, and we pray God blesses them continuously. Their names and stories are their own to share as they wish, but I hope these men know how grateful we are to them.

Appearing in the photo, left to right, are: Adam Galvez, Albert Garcia, Chris Williams (holding sign "Haditha Iraq Summer '06"), unidentified, Chad Kenyon (in shades at back), Fredric Dean, and Tony Butterfield. Gary Cassen in front.

Of these, Galvez, Kenyon, Williams and Butterfield were KIA before the summer was over, as were Lance Cpl Randy Lee Newman, Cpl Phillip Baucus and PFC Jason Hanson.

We remember them all with grateful hearts. This is our newest Greatest Generation, and we may never know how much we owe them.

...Yet there's no sickness, toil nor danger
In that bright land, to which I go.

I'm going there to see my Father
I'm going there no more to roam;
I'm only go-ing over Jordan
I'm only go-ing over home.

I know dark clouds will gather round me
I know my way is rough and steep;
But golden fields lie out before me
Where God's redeemed, their vigils keep

I'm going there to see my Father
I'm going there no more to roam;
I'm only going over Jordan
I'm only going over home.

Song lyrics: "Wayfaring Stranger" traditional folk hymn

08/20/10 Update: The blog Posse Incitatus has an excellent post that is fitting for today: "The flame is still lit" as a tribute our heroes, and the completion of their work in Iraq.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Try to remember when life was so tender....

And now for something completely different: the Wedding of the Year gets closer by the minute. Erin Elizabeth has blogged about Lani's Bachelorette Party! They had cupcakes, natch, found a clever way to display her gifts as she unwrapped them, and all the girls look like princesses.

Lani says everything is done, just waiting on delivery of some things that were ordered. It will be a lovely wedding, and a happy marriage. She and Nick are well-suited for each other. They will have a good life.

Erin Elizabeth's blog "my heart belongs to me" is great - if you read here for the fun stuff, decorating, hometown travel, food and such, if you (heart) cupcakes, and if you love beautiful photos of home with sweet and sentimental notes to wrap up a day with a peaceful evening, you need to click over to her blog. Such a happy corner of the net - and superb photos of the family's lovely cats nearly always make their way into a post.

One recent post especially I've been meaning to point to is Erin's stroll along South Congress Avenue in Austin, or "SoCo" as she puts it. These pictures really do capture the feeling - it's such a witty and whimsical district to shop! I love the antique shops there - but there's also a store fully dedicated to monkeys! Not real monkeys - pretend monkeys :-)

Go visit, and have fun!


Title is a line from the old song " Try to Remember (the Kind of September)", written by - I was surprised to learn - Tom Jones!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

def·i·ni·tion: a statement of the meaning of a word

 "How do you know the fella what wrote the readin' wrote the readin' right?"  Festus Hagin

"Besides, if language must vary, like fashions... we must have our standard dictionaries republished, with the fashionable pronunciation... otherwise a gentleman in the country will become intolerably vulgar, by not being in a situation to adopt the fashion of the day. ...

"The new editions of them will supersede the old, and we shall have our pronunciation to re-learn, with the polite alterations, which are generally corruptions.

"Such are the consequences of attempting to make a local practice the standard of language in a nation. The attempt must keep the language in perpetual fluctuation, and the learner in uncertainty."
Noah Webster

 When Nicolas was very young, he scared me one day when I looked out to see him standing very close to a car stopped in the street, talking to its driver. Although the incident proved harmless, I scolded Nicolas, asking him "Haven't we told you never to talk to strangers?" His intelligent 4 year old reply "But that wasn't a stranger - that was just somebody I didn't know." Having only heard the word "stranger" used in a negative context by both the people in his life and in TV ads and shows, Nicolas had surmised that a stranger was not just someone he didn't know but specifically a scary looking person he didn't know.

So, we taught him the correct meaning of the word, and while he continued to be an outgoing kid, he was better prepared for life knowing that sometimes danger can come in attractive packages - and that sometimes words don't mean what one thinks they mean.

Between Noah Webster's definitive American Dictionary, and the Oxford Unabridged, the English language was once well served by printed dictionaries that provided a universally accepted standard for word usage and interpretation.

When it comes to words and their standard, accepted meanings, we can only make sense to each other if we all use the word to mean the same thing. And when a person or population doesn't know the standard definition or established word, the answer is not to change the word but to educate the person and the population, using established standards, so that they are then on an equal footing with us in use and understanding of the word.

To change the meaning to the incorrect one, or to stop using the word and switch to a different one robs the unknowing person and the population as a whole of clarity and understanding, perpetuates misunderstanding, and denies everyone the comprehension to debate equally with those who do use the word or phrase in its traditional sense.

If it seems Americans aren't able to reason together any more, it's not only differences of opinion but mostly due to growing differences in language. Thanks to misappropriation of words and their meanings by the Marketing and Influence industries, we've probably already lost even the word "reality". Other words that have been fully co-opted to our detriment just in the past 20 years include color words ("pink", "green"), and "integration" (now used to signal defined separation within "multiculturalism", where once it was fully understood by all with its true meaning of assimilation into a democratic union).

Rationality itself understands the need for a constant standard. The presence of instantly edited and impossibly condensed online dictionaries adds to the confusion. I once thought we'd no longer need the great old OED, Abridged, but now I am looking for another copy. Sometimes young people for whom English is their second language have a more effective vocabulary, and more easily understand my meaning, in part because they were taught from traditional source materials. Other times, I have found myself reading a resume from a well educated, sharp candidate and setting it aside because it was so laden with neologisms and buzz words that it failed to convey any coherent thought.

This trend has been growing over the past 20 years or so, with corporations setting out their own internal writing guidelines and news media adopting new style books that specify the actual words a reporter may use when reporting on a particular topic. Even small organizations like local school districts have added a Communications and PR branch to their permanent administrative payrolls.

Frequently, particularly in controversial matters, experts from one point of view may coin a new, "persuasive" definition for an established, well-understood word and begin a campaign in which they quietly use it with a new and different intention - to generate one meaning among "insiders" and deliberately foster misunderstanding among opponents. At the same time, academics may also manufacture objectionable connotations for the synonym(s) most commonly used by their opponents, not only limiting speech and pressuring English speakers to stop using a word in its legitimate context but also thereby twisting historical texts without need for rewrite as students are increasingly exposed only to the idea of the "bad" definition as the only possible interpretation.

We see this misappropriation of standard English words in many of the calls for "civility" - which itself has been co-opted to describe a peculiar system of "anger management" intervention rather than the full historical breadth of meaning - as these calls claim new objections to specific traditional words they want deleted from opponents' lexicon, yet do not establish a process that allows dissenters to impose similar restrictions on their own vocabulary. In traditional discourse, formats for debate are well established and the parties work together mutually to agree on parameters that provide each with equal footing. In traditionally civil discourse, even on topics that generate much emotion the debaters can clarify the nuance of the terms they use without attack, and agreement on specific words is unnecessary outside limitations on introduction of particular topics.

Clear communication between people on all sides of any issue requires, as a basis, that first people share a common language with long established rules of use familiar to all parties - young and old, rural and urban, self-made and ivy league, industrial and technological - and in which the words have standard definitions developed over time. Until very recently, many textbooks had a useful life of several years before edits were needed - dictionaries from my grandmother's time are still accurate. Webster's Bluebacked Speller was used for more than 100 years in nearly every school in the young United States.

Those of traditional bent overall tend not to change existing language much except where necessary for inventions or adoptions. The very word "conservative" means "to conserve, to save, to preserve". Instead, they can speak in broad vocabularies rich with historic references and the shared experience of readers. Conservatives and inventors also coin brand new, specific words or phrases for those situations or items which are truly new (as opposed to just seeming new to the inexperienced).

It seems to be nearly always those of non-traditional views who give new meanings to old words, change connotations from bad to good or good to bad, and create new words for old ideas or situations. Of course, people holding non-traditional views may be found among both major political parties, Republicans as well as Democrats: [PDF file].

If we really want to be able to sit down and talk - or stand up and debate - and really move toward understanding each other, a great place to start would be by calling things by their real names again in all of our conversation both internal and external, with supporters as well as dissenters, using the appropriate traditional professional jargon and formal vocabulary when speaking or writing, and not adopting euphemisms, neologisms or "redefinitions" to replace the words used over long history.

Try to make a habit of paying attention to the repeated words when we hear or read about things. Once your ear is attuned to flagging those buzzwords, you'll find yourself naturally becoming a little more interested in figuring out which words are deliberately not being used. And it is those words that are deliberately not said which hold the key to understanding the intentions of the speaker.

Here are some interesting lists of words and phrases that politicians of both stripes have either adopted or decried in effort to "frame the debate". As you read through them, notice which have been in use the longest, and why a new or different word is being pushed instead.

  1. The Atlantic May 2010
  2. Der Spiegel March 2009
  3. The Weekly Standard April 2010
  4. Newspeak Dictionary
  5. Ed Driscoll > The Daily Telegraph May 2010
  6. The Washington Post February 2010
  7. undated article
  8. Middle East Forum May 2009
  9. Lake Superior State University 2010
  10. Skookum Pete undated
  11. Washington Post June 2010
  12. The Underground Grammarian 2000
Suffice to say that generating new meanings for old words, or new words for old crimes, it is an old, old trick. Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss - or not really as the case may be. As Samuel Adams wrote in 1776: "How strangely will the Tools of a Tyrant pervert the plain Meaning of Words!"

Forget a "new Reagan" - we need a new Noah Webster:

"The two points therefore, which I conceive to be the basis of a standard in speaking, are these; universal undisputed practice, and the principle of analogy. Universal practice is generally, perhaps always, a rule of propriety; and in disputed points, where people differ in opinion and practice, analogy should always decide the controversy."

"Even supposing that a number of republics, kingdoms or empires, should within a century arise and divide this vast territory; still the subjects of all will speak the same language, and the consequence of this uniformity will be an intimacy of social intercourse hitherto unknown, and a boundless diffusion of knowledge."

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Civility Mirror Crack'd

Via Instapundit, comes Scott at Power Line Blog's astute word-by word analysis of Jim Leach's Denver Post article about Civility. A good exercise in whether your BS meter is operating in top form is to read:
Lynch's article first,
then read the Power Line take on it,
then come back here and read mine.

Mine's longer. Mine also has a surprise at the end (no don't look yet!).

Jim Leach, head of the National Endowment for the Humanities and former Senator responsible for the catastrophic Gramm Leach Bliley Act of 1999 that repealed Glass Steagall and thus gave us "too big to fail" and directly caused the global financial crisis, wrote an article for the Denver Post on civility. Unfortunately, about half the article says things like this: "Civility means respect for others, regardless of their station in life, their beliefs or their religion." while the other half makes pronouncements like this: " appeals to the irrational fears of citizens can inflame hate and sometimes impel violence." and "Process is our most important product. This emphasis on process as opposed to outcome has never been more important."

How sad that Mr Leach did not see that his own name-calling, labeling, re-defining, stereotyping, and dismissal by tag-word speak loudly and firmly about his own refusal to respect points of view outside his own, no matter how ancient, peaceful, natural, common, necessary or rational they may be.

How pitiful that Mr Leach was unable to speak of understanding others until after erecting a full set of barriers that exclude the vast majority of the world's population who still find value in contests of strength, in competition in business, in the capacity to achieve an effective deterrence and a successful defense - all engaging the "violence and aggression" that Mr Leach arbitrarily and specifically declares "of course unacceptable" as though there has been some recently attained great consensus of 8 billion people to simultaneously deny their natural, normal, healthy and essential humanity in favor of this year's emergent etiquette fiction.

What might have been an engaging topic, had he sincerely wanted to listen, has instead been revealed as just another marketing campaign designed to drive specific behaviors, to appeal to targeted supportive constituencies, and intended to isolate and silence the very " nameless passengers clinging to flotsam in the water, calling for help" that he originally seemed to be reaching out to.

It is sad but clear eyes see the truth without disappointment - thinking for oneself not only prevents reliance on manufactured icons, but also recognizes them as such. Still, there is something to learn from every man, and from every encounter. And so I thank Mr Lynch, because his allusions prompted me to go to the source documents, and there I found riches indeed.

In quoting Abraham Lincoln's "A House Divided", I wonder if Mr Leach reviewed the full text of the great man's speech, and if he did, I wonder whether he was able to recognize that "Honest Abe's" words stood passionately against the work of activist judges and manipulated Congresses overruling legally adopted State Constitutions, denying each State's own citizens the right to choose not to accept legalization of that which they found unacceptable. Regardless where one stands on issues today, the parallels of process and necessity of focusing on outcome are interesting:

"We are now far into the fifth year since a policy was initiated with the avowed object, and confident promise, of putting an end to slavery agitation. Under the operation of that policy, that agitation has not only not ceased, but has constantly augmented. In my opinion, it will not cease,
until a crisis shall have been reached and passed. "A house divided against itself cannot stand." I believe this government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved -- I do not expect the house to fall -- but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing, or all the other. Either the opponents of slavery will arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction; or its advocates will push it forward, till it shall become alike lawful in all the States, old as well as new -- North as well as South. Have we no tendency to the latter condition?

"Let any one who doubts, carefully contemplate that now almost complete legal combination -- piece of machinery, so to speak -- compounded of the Nebraska doctrine, and the Dred Scott decision. Let him consider not only what work the machinery is adapted to do, and how well adapted; but also, let him study the history of its construction, and trace, if he can, or rather fail, if he can, to trace the evidences of design, and concert of action, among its chief architects, from the beginning.

"The new year of 1854 found slavery excluded from more than half the States by State Constitutions, and from most of the national territory by Congressional prohibition. Four days later, commenced the struggle which ended in repealing that Congressional prohibition. This opened all the national territory to slavery, and was the first point gained.

"But, so far, Congress only had acted; and an indorsement by the people, real or apparent, was indispensable, to save the point already gained, and give chance for more.

"This necessity had not been overlooked; but had been provided for, as well as might be, in the notable argument of "squatter sovereignty," otherwise called "sacred right of self-government," which latter phrase, though expressive of the only rightful basis of any government, was so perverted in this attempted use of it as to amount to just this: That if any one man choose to enslave another, no third man shall be allowed to object. That argument was incorporated into the Nebraska bill itself, in the language which follows: "It being the true intent and meaning of this act not to legislate slavery into any Territory or State, nor to exclude it therefrom; but to leave the people thereof perfectly free to form and regulate their domestic institutions in their own way, subject only to the Constitution of the United States." Then opened the roar of loose declamation in favor of "Squatter Sovereignty," and "sacred right of self-government." "But," said opposition members, "let us amend the bill so as to expressly declare that the people of the Territory may exclude slavery." "Not we," said the friends of the measure; and down they voted the amendment."

"....Auxiliary to all this, and working hand in hand with it, the Nebraska doctrine, or what is left of it, is to educate and mould public opinion, at least Northern public opinion, not to care whether slavery is voted down or voted up. This shows exactly where we now are; and partially, also, whither we are tending.

"It will throw additional light on the latter, to go back, and run the mind over the string of historical facts already stated. Several things will now appear less dark and mysterious than they did when they were transpiring. The people were to be left "perfectly free," "subject only to the Constitution." What the Constitution had to do with it, outsiders could not then see. Plainly enough now, it was an exactly fitted niche, for the Dred Scott decision to afterward come in, and declare the perfect freedom of the people to be just no freedom at all. Why was the amendment, expressly declaring the right of the people, voted down? Plainly enough now: the
adoption of it would have spoiled the niche for the Dred Scott decision.

"Our cause, then, must be intrusted to, and conducted by, its own undoubted friends -- those whose hands are free, whose hearts are in the work -- who do care for the result. Two years ago the Republicans of the nation mustered over thirteen hundred thousand strong. We did this under the single impulse of resistance to a common danger, with every external circumstance against us. Of strange, discordant, and even hostile elements, we gathered from the four winds, and formed and fought the battle through, under the constant hot fire of a disciplined, proud and pampered enemy. Did we brave all then, to falter now? --now, when that same enemy is wavering, dissevered and belligerent? The result is not doubtful. We shall not fail -- if we stand firm, we shall not fail. Wise counsels may accelerate, or mistakes delay it, but, sooner or later, the victory is sure to come.


Time to wrap up. One last little thing. Last but not least, again going back to original sources, I must wonder if Mr Lynch opened his bible when writing his article, and read the passage from which our great Republican President Lincoln borrowed the Lord's own words:

Mark 3:22-27 (New International Version)

"And the teachers of the law who came down from Jerusalem said, "He [Jesus] is possessed by Beelzebub! By the prince of demons he is driving out demons."

"So Jesus called them and spoke to them in parables: "How can Satan drive out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. And if Satan opposes himself and is divided, he cannot stand; his end has come.

"In fact, no one can enter a strong man's house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man. Then he can rob his house."

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Failing Liberty for Afghanistan by Failing Freedom of Religion

I wrote recently of the deadly flaw Congress has mandated in the US strategy in Afghanistan - that for the first time in our history not only denies the Constitutional right to Freedom of Religion to Christians, but actively supports the sole expression of another religion. By sincerely trying to be respectful of another culture, and in a weird misguided belief that this somehow reflects our confidence in that freedom of religion, we've actually done the exact opposite and denied it. So instead of assisting another government in setting up genuine liberty for its citizens whereby they can be free of oppression and make their own decisions, instead we watch the recreation of yet another absolute religious monopoly in a country that historically had an ancient Hindu culture as well as a Christian one.

The result of this policy is seen yet again today:

Christian medical aid team slaughtered in Afghanistan

"They hiked for more than 10 hours over rugged mountains - unarmed and without security - to bring medical care to isolated Afghan villagers until their humanitarian mission took a tragic turn.

"Ten members of the Christian medical team - six Americans, two Afghans, one German and a Briton - were gunned down in a gruesome slaughter that the Taliban said they carried out, alleging the volunteers were spying and trying to convert Muslims to Christianity. The gunmen spared an Afghan driver, who recited verses from the Islamic holy book Quran as he begged for his life. ....

"Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid told the AP that they killed the foreigners because they were "spying for the Americans" and "preaching Christianity." In a Pashto language statement acquired by the AP, the Taliban also said the team was carrying Dari language bibles and "spying gadgets." ....

International Assistance Mission slayings: part of Taliban war strategy

Patrik Jonsson writes:

"The execution-style killings of 10 people working for a Christian medical team in a remote region of northern Afghanistan fit into Taliban insurgents' stated shift in tactics: Target Western civilians, especially Christians, as "foreign invaders."

"Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the attack in conversations with Western reporters. "One of our patrols confronted a group of foreigners," Mr. Mujahid was quoted as saying. "They were Christian missionaries and we killed them all."

In June of this year, Afghanistan's Islamic government suspended the Church World Service and Norwegian Church Aid, both Christian aid groups (often referred to as Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs))from working in the country:

"...We want those who have converted from Islam to be punished. We also want the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to ban all the churches that have been established and any organisation spreading Christianity here," said one protester, Zabiullah Khan. ...

"Government officials said a follow-up investigation would aim to establish whether other groups were trying to convert Muslims. ...

"Proselytising* is illegal in Afghanistan, as is the case in many Muslim countries. "

"Proselytising" is a generic word that means preaching any belief. It is used in the media exclusively to refer to Christians accused of telling people about Jesus. The Moslem groups engaged in building the controversial mosque in New York City are proselytising.

So technically, using this word misrepresents the actual law in Muslim-majority countries or Muslim-controlled regions of other countries that allow Sharia to be enforced, which is that Islam is the only religion allowed to function in any way, despite claims or even constitutional provisions otherwise [info at link may be outdated]. Conversion is only allowed in one direction: to Islam. Christianity cannot be preached, public worship is not allowed, bibles may not be brought in to the country.

Jesus Christ's final instruction to the Apostles came after His resurrection, when He told his followers to go everywhere and tell the Good News to every person. Christians know this as "The Great Commission" and it is one of the foundational tenets of our faith:

Mark 16:14-16 (New International Version)

14 Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating; he rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen.

15 He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.

16" Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned."

To deny a Christian the freedom to tell others about Christ is to deny the practice of our faith. This is persecution.

What is happening in Afghanistan is not the same as, for instance, requiring all employees to conduct their business during work time without overt display or talk about their specific religion. Those employees can still invite coworkers to come to church with them, they can still pray before meals, they can still take their religion's turn to use the Quiet Room for afternoon prayers; with reasonable adjustment to company dress codes, they can still wear their cross or required clothing.

No, what is happening in Afghanistan is that an entire population is being denied their right to decide for themselves what their religion is going to be. The entire population is being denied the fundamental human right of choosing their faith. When Christianity is banned, this means all literature is censored and contorted - scientific and educational as well as casual.

So along with no Freedom of Religion, there's also no Freedom of the Press and no Freedom of Speech. What other basic liberties are also denied?

However one may feel about any religion - good, bad or indifferent - the freedom to choose one's own beliefs - or none - and to choose one's method of worship - or none - is a fundamental human right that is primary in the US Bill of Rights for good reason: it is a linchpin on which all other freedoms hinge.

The leaders of our government throughout this entire war, Republican as well as Democrat, have - perhaps almost accidentally - abandoned a principle so essential to American life than without it America will cease to exist. And in doing so, they are denying these basic charitable human rights to the men, women and children of Afghanistan.


Updated 08/09/10 to add: Various parties are denying that the murdered team of medical workers were teaching Christianity. The denials are being reported in the press as though it matters - as though it would be a blot on their memory that they were martyred for their faith, as though the victims would "share" blame for their own deaths if they had preached. What is the deal here? Why is the outrage directed at a squabbling point of who is telling the truth, and not at the absolute facts: The team were believing, bible-carrying Christians. The Taliban admits murdering them because of that. Why is this not sufficient to outrage every person who wants the freedom to choose their own religion or none for themselves? Are these denials as primary as the press is causing them to appear, or is there another "journolist" somewhere still coordinating the message?


Friday, August 6, 2010

Considering Hiroshima in context with Unit 731 and the realties of 1945

The United States stands for the liberty of the individual to set his own course, to profit from his own decisions, to be responsible for his own mistakes. We are a nation that respects and admires our ancestors but we do not worship them, and we do not apologize for them.

This is what "created equal" means, this is what the end of slavery insured: that each person's birthright is freedom. We are not responsible for the debts our mothers leave, nor are we entitled to status or nobility. We never blame people for the actions of their ancestors - nor do we expect recompense from relatives. Fairness and equality will not abide feuds.

To assure that we can never be pushed back into serfdom again, and to aid others to gain their own God-given liberty, the United States stands against tyrants. We go to war to protect liberty and American interests, and in the process liberty has spread to many nations - including to Japan, which at the time of WWII was still under the rule of an Emperor, its common people in thrall to warlords, still trapped in ancestral roles.

When they tell you that America saved the world in WWII, they are not exagerating. Here is a part of the war you may never have heard about before:

Manchuria 731st Unit - Mass Grave Discovered
31 July, 2010

Ground-zero of Imperial Japan's germ war
By Peter J Brown
Asia Times

"In 1989, a mass grave was unearthed at the construction site for a National Institute of Health facility in the Shinjuku section of Tokyo. ...

"These were all probably the unfortunate victims of a string of medical experiments performed on living subjects in Japan as well as in Manchuria and China by the Imperial Japanese Army. ... The infamous Unit 731 created in 1932 - aka the "Kwantung Army Epidemic Prevention and Water Supply Department" or simply the "Manchuria 731st Unit" - was also headquartered there.

"...Ishii Shiro, the director of Unit 731 who died in the 1950s, was once described as the "Japanese Mengele", a reference to Josef Mengele, the German SS officer and a physician in Nazi concentration camps who was also known as the "Angel of Death". ...

"Shinjuku was the source of [germ warfare] agents that infected thousands of people in China. Estimates of the total death toll in China range from anywhere between 250,000 and
1 million. ..

..."Details from this period were suppressed during the Cold War. The US government cut a secret deal with these Japanese doctors, giving them immunity from prosecution in exchange for their medical data," said Chang in 2004. [2] ..."


As early as 1941, US and Allied intelligence picked up information that the Japanese military were deploying germ warfare in areas of China they had occupied several years earlier, releasing plague and cholera into communities, and researching delivery methods.

Despite the astonishing betrayal of Pearl Harbor, Japan had been our ally during WWI, and it was difficult to conceive that the Japanese people would tolerate or allow this insanity, or the atrocities their armies were inflicting on captured civilians that became symbolic of the Pacific War. By 1944, it became clear that disease sources were being produced and stockpiled in multiple locations in Japan and China, including in Japanese Universities and hospitals.

By 1945, the United States and the Allies had gained detailed and certain knowledge of Japan's accelerated release of biological toxins in China and extreme brutality against POWs and civilians in all the areas Japan controlled from Indonesia to Manchuria. The Allied forces had grave concerns that Japan was planning a final, last ditch assault of massive biological bombings - an event that would have had catastrophic consequences for the entire world. Given the propensity for their military to fight to the death - in the battle for Iwo Jima, Japan's entire fighting force of 22,000 men all chose death over surrender, killing 7000 Americans and wounding 19,000 before they were through - an invasion of D Day proportions was untenable.

It became essential to end Japan's capacity for warmaking as rapidly, and distantly, as possible.

The scope of this use of biological weaponry must have made MacArthur's hair stand on end. Remember that this occurred so close to WWI that the same men fought in both, within the early years of the scientific revolution that advanced the military literally from horseback cavalry to intercontinental flight, from gunpowder to the hydrogen bomb.

After the war, the US military determined that despite the moral desire for a public trial and punishment of those scientists who carried out these experiments, it was more essential for the sake of humanity and US National Security to document and preserve the intelligence and data the Japanese scientists had amassed, particularly in light of Russia's capture of several highly placed scientists from Unit 731, and the USSR's subsequent post-war hegemony.

Had the US not coerced the scientists into documenting fully and completely all the germ warfare data and research they had done, America and other countries would have been at grave risk that others would use this kind of deadly assault against us. As difficult as it may have been for decent people to let evil walk, in doing so they put a lid on biological warfare that has remained effective for seven decades since.

To learn the truth of any historical matter, go to contemporaneous sources.

Many of the now-declassified documents on Unit 731 and Japan's Biological Warfare activities are found in the pdf document available from the AII POW-MIA InterNetwork archive [5/27/16 URLs no longer work. Here is one US Gov website with PDF lists and other links:  100,000 Pages Declassified in Search for Japanese War Crimes Records . From the page: " Select Documents on Japanese War Crimes and Japanese Biological Warfare PDF file is a selection of 1,400 documents related to Unit 731 and biological warfare experiments and attacks in World War II. It includes images of about 25 documents in the holdings of the National Archives and will be the starting point for any researcher interested in Japan’s wartime human experimentation programs.   ].

Some claim that the US should not have used the Atomic bombs to stop Japan - after years of direct conventional warfare had not convinced Japan's military or Emperor to give up its desire to conquer all of Southeast Asia. Perhaps learning the experience of China, and of the Dutch in Indonesia, will provide necessary balance and perspective.

All things considered in the full context of the time, using "The Bomb" was a difficult action - but ultimately probably the most effective for preservation of life in Japan, China, and the prison camps of civilians held by the Japanese throughout Indonesia and Southeast Asia, as well as of our own troops. We all pray use of atomic weapons will never be necessary again.

That war was over before I was born. I hold deep respect for those who preserved liberty for America and the world. I will neither second guess them nor justify those they fought. Just as today our newest Greatest Generation takes the necessary actions to preserve liberty, so that Greatest Generation did what they had to do, they succeeded, and our lives are good because of it.

But I will also not seek to shame or punish the innocent or forget the first principles of freedom. All men are created equal.

We, whether Americans or Japanese or any other nationality, who were not even born then, owe no apologies or reparations to anyone, and none are owed to us.


PS Thanks to Pat at And So It Goes In Shreveport, whose link about Hiroshima reminded me to write this.

8/7/10 Update: Via Chicago Boyz (a great blog of cultural/political commentary) comes another set of declassified documentation - this being wartime radio intercepts - that further highlight the facts on the ground in 1945, as told by Richard B. Frank in the Weekly Standard:

"The intercepts of Japanese Imperial Army and Navy messages disclosed without exception that Japan's armed forces were determined to fight a final Armageddon battle in the homeland against an Allied invasion. The Japanese called this strategy Ketsu Go (Operation Decisive). "

Be sure to also review the comments for links to additional archival documents from the time.

*Photo is the remains of a "Brewster Buccaneer" Scout Bomber, on Parris Island SC. Used for training, this plane crashed in 1943. Both crewmen survived and the wreck was towed to an out of the way location where it remains today.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Not Your Father's WPA: the Involuntary Draft of Women

From Diane at the blog "Rural South Texas Life", who feels VERY strongly about this, and I can't say I blame her:

Text of H.R. 5741: Universal National Service Act


July 15, 2010

Mr. RANGEL introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Armed Services



(a) Obligation for Service- It is the obligation of every citizen of the United States, and every other person residing in the United States, who is between the ages of 18 and 42 to perform a period of national service as prescribed in this title unless exempted under the provisions of this title.

(b) Forms of National Service- The national service obligation under this title shall be performed either--

(1) as a member of an active or reserve component of the uniformed services; or

(2) in a civilian capacity that, as determined by the President, promotes the national defense, including national or community service and service related to homeland security.




(a) Registration Required- Section 3(a) of the Military Selective Service Act (50 U.S.C. 453(a)) is amended--

(1) by striking ‘male’ both places it appears;

(2) by inserting ‘or herself’ after ‘himself’; and

(3) by striking ‘he’ and inserting ‘the person’.

(b) Conforming Amendment- Section 16(a) of the Military Selective Service Act (50 U.S.C. App. 466(a)) is amended by striking ‘men’ and inserting ‘persons’.

Read the rest here. Probably wise to talk with the people you elected to stand in your place in Congress and let them know how you feel about this.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

And How Cold Were The Winters?

Oh doesn't that snow look nice and cool right now? This is from February. We had so much snow this past winter - and so many cold days! It was one cold winter. We knew in advance that there would be snow, thanks to the Texas Winter site ( - linked on my sidebar)

Texas Winter is the hobby website of a Texan who enjoys meteorology and has a keen sense for prediction. It can be a real challenge to get reliable winter weather information for Texas. We have multiple climate zones and squillions of micro climates. The Farmer's Almanac does a good job generally, but it's too general to help us. So it is great to have someone who lives here really focus in.

Plus, it's intriguing to learn more about different kinds of scientific weather prediction. Because Texas Winter is the work of an individual enthusiast, it's even more fascinating to me.

Go check them out - all the posts are there from 2009/2010, and they've just announced they are going to predict the winter again this year!


* Title is from what are known as the "Quaker Questions", an exercise in exploring the development of faith:
Where did you live when you were a child, and who lived with you?
How cold were the winters, and how was your home heated?
Who was the warmest person in your life when you were a child?
When did you first know God as a warm Being, and how did this happen?

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Pirates Talk, Pirates Walk, Pirates Have A Party

If whereever you turn, you hear people blurting out Spanish Main kinds of things like "Avast!" and "Aaaaarrggggghh", can International Talk Like A Pirate Day be far away? Time to start drawing the map - it's already August & September 19th will be blowing in on a fair wind before we know it.

Mom in High Heels has some very cute ideas for a pirate themed party, with games for little ones and a whole menu that would be a hoot even if the pirates are getting a little long in the tooth! There's a fabulous cake, and my favorite was this watermelon shark (photo above, with Mrs HH's kind permission). See the whole thing on her blog (and don't miss their trip to LegoLand while you are there).

Only 48 days to go. Better start trying to find some of those nifty Skull goblets!


What else happened on September 19th? Oh yeah - the Continental Congress passed the first Budget of the United States. As they've done every year since. Oh. Wait.


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