Friday, November 06, 2009

A Gathering Storm

(fm the BC thread "Fort Hood")

Regarding Sam Grant, "one of the most mild, “un-political” Presidents" seems a fair evaluation. What I remember from his memoirs was the lyrical beauty of his description of Mexico and his principled opposition to the Mexican war. Last year the NY Historical Society had a wonderful exhibition on Grant and Lee that included their student artwork from West Point.

We may avoid being eaten by demagogues. The next Sam Grant or Abe Lincoln, or to be fair to the Democrats Harry Truman or Jack Kennedy, possessed of both partisan zeal and love of country, awareness of larger threats in the world and respect for the individual citizen, a capacity to act and faith in the Constitution, may be with us in the Club.

how could the German people be so stupid as to elect Adolf Hitler?

One consequence of the coarsening of public discourse engaged in by extremists is that it lowers expectations. Everyone who fell under Hitler's spell stated that the first thing that struck them was how mild mannered and reasonable he was. By screaming that all conservatives beginning with the entertainer Rush Limbaugh are really knuckle dragging monsters with blood dripping from their teeth they leave the door open for a real revolutionary to slip by. They expended enough energy in their panic to demonize Sarah Palin and can fight off the efforts of a Huckabee to slip in conservatism under the cover of populism and religion, if only because of his odd name. The risk is that someone who is really extreme and not intending to defend individual liberties will use the formula, be female or religious or quasi socialist populist, to gather support. Mussolini started on the "Left" and changed his allies but not his goals. The threat to democracy may come from someone who starts on the Left and then gathers support for a populist nationalist crusade, uniting poor whites and blacks against "the other." Fortunately John Edwards imploded but the next smooth talking wannabe demagogue is out there.

Given how thin Hasan's file was, he had stayed at Walter Reed for years during a war when everyone was getting shifted around and deployed and he had little advanced training on his record, and given his documented disciplining for unprofessional conduct, most unusual for an officer to have in his file, it is clear that he was not promotable and therefore was unlikely to last until he got a pension. It surprises me that he made it as far as Major (O-4.) The Army was clearly eager to get rid of him but his connection to the transition team shows that he had what law enforcement officers call a "Rabbi" (pun intended here) so my guess is instead of pressing him to resign "For the good of the service" they shifted him off to Texas, telling him it was a "Get well tour." It would be nice if the contents of his address book giving his contacts in DC and email records came to light but I suspect that they are being scrubbed.

Nov 6, 2009 - 1:12 pm

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