Thursday, June 29, 2006

The Education Gap - Poverty-Consequence?

An insightful and thought-provoking column regarding the “education gap” by Marty Solomon, former University of Kentucky professor, appeared in the Lexington Herald-Leader of 29 June. The thrust of his piece had to do with the irreversibleness of the gap in learning among public-school students that exists because of the financial factor, i.e., that students from poor backgrounds achieve at far lower levels than those from more affluent ones and will continue to do so.

Solomon mentions a number of reasons for this circumstance that accrue to the financial aspects affecting the family of the student and consequently the student himself, such as the need for poor parents to work at multiple jobs, thus depriving the child of their time for both encouraging him to study and helping him academically, although many such parents lack the background to be of much help academically. Solomon does not mention that the gap is probably most recognizable as obtaining between African-American students and those of other races, especially those of whites and Asians.

Solomon correctly points out the fact that taking teachers from the best schools in affluent areas and inserting them in the worst schools in the poor areas would not significantly address the problem. He essentially makes his entire case on the basis of rich vis-à-vis poor. There is significant validity to this claim, though it doesn’t go far enough in explaining the problem. In Kentucky, the futility of this approach (placing the entire burden on the educator) was seen a few years ago in the legislature’s law-rescinding deletion of the eight Regional Centers staffed by top educators designed and mandated as part of the Kentucky Education Reform Act of 1990 in an effort to provide top-quality help for poor schools throughout the state. Notwithstanding state financial constraints, the centers would have been continued if they had been successful.

Feeding into the rich/poor issue – and actually far more significant as a reason for the gap – is the sociological side of the problem. This actually translates into the diverse approaches to “family” within ethnic groups, the primary premise being that the nuclear family – father, mother, their biological children – is best suited as the vehicle guaranteeing success in education for the children. Seventy percent of births in the black community are illegitimate, i.e., with no documented father, the result being the “single-parent household” from the get-go. This household is most often poor, for obvious reasons, and reeks of the neglect inherent in particularly a father’s abrogation of his natural responsibilities as provider, disciplinarian, encourager, etc. The mother is often promiscuous, bears other illegitimate children, and subsequently neglects her responsibilities, as well, even though she may work hard.

In 1960, the rate of illegitimacy among blacks was 23.6% of births, meaning that more than 75% of black families could be assumed to be headed by a man and wife. Now, that illegitimacy rate is 70%, probably much higher in places like New Orleans, the logical conclusion being that currently only 30% of black families or fewer are headed by both parents. Whites have also gotten into the act, with illegitimacy rates increasing from 3 percent in 1960 to 28.5% in 2002 and probably 30% by now, for a probable increase of 900%. Besides connoting a perverse lifestyle, these figures explain in large part why millions of youngsters are damned educationally and economically. They lack the most important kind of support – that of the family.

Solomon is right in asserting that educators shouldn’t hammer themselves – at least unduly – over the fact that poor youngsters do poorly in school. They can’t undo in six hours on 176 days a year the damage done by parents whose priorities 24/7 on 365 days a year are “self first,” the devil take the hindmost.

A model for thought – Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Born into abject poverty and abandoned by his father at age one and abandoned by his mother at age 7, he was sent to live with his grandfather, who, unlike in most cases, instilled the learning/work ethic into the boy. The rest is history. The big difference in his life had little to do with education/pedagogy per se, but with his support system. Solomon should have at least mentioned the sociological aspect, especially since it contributes directly to financial matters, which he sees as defining.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Saddam's WMD - Too Old?

Now that elements of WMD – and quite a few of them – have been found in Iraq, the democrats and others are providing the stock boilerplate answer, namely, that the weapons have degenerated to the point that they could no longer pose a threat even if used. According to the reports, the weapons were found in various places. Inspector Kay spent some time there but couldn’t find them, so the next best thing is to simply say they’re outdated, etc. The best way to approach the subject is simply to take a look at the Bluegrass Army Depot, just five miles from Richmond and only 30 miles from the highly populated area of Lexington, Ky.

The installation encompasses approximately 14,600 acres, composed mainly of open fields and wooded areas. The installation is used for the storage of conventional explosive munitions as well as assembled chemical weapons. The depot primarily is involved in industrial and related activities associated with the storage and maintenance of conventional and chemical munitions. The conventional ammunition area consists of 852 igloos filled with ammunition with several tons additionally stored outside. The Depot's mission of conventional munitions has remained very active since World War II. Located within the heart of this highly secure area is the chemical limited area (CLA), with even more security. The three types of chemical agents at Blue Grass Chemical Activity include a blister agent, known as “mustard,” which began arriving in the 1940’s and two nerve agents, GB and VX, which began arriving in the 1960’s. The “mustard” blister agent is designed to incapacitate, while the GB and VX nerve agents are deadly.

These WMD vehicles are up to 65 years old and are yet so dangerous that the Army and Senator McConnell and others have been arguing for years about some way to neutralize them. So…the crap about the rusted WMD in Iraq is just that…CRAP!!! The weapons were there in 2003 and they’re there now, besides which, it seems fairly consensual among those who know that the rest of Saddam’s cache was transported away before the war, probably to Syria, so the stuff is still around the Middle East, and no telling how much is still in Iraq. There was no LIE in 2003 by Bush, Powell, or anybody else.

Plans for destruction of the weapons at Bluegrass have been made and discarded for years. A new system was just recently put on hold. The stuff can’t be transported on either highways or railroads for very obvious reasons, and so it has to be destroyed on-site, and folks in central Kentucky don’t enjoy the prospects. The installation is one of four such facilities in the nation, and people who live near them are not amused. It’s doubtful that Inspector Kay would put one in the trunk of his car and take it home. The WMD were not all in one place in Iraq, and they could still be scattered everywhere, and even Kay said Saddam was ready to start production again. Saddam’s WMD couldn’t be or have been anywhere near as old as that stored at the Bluegrass Army Depot, so anyone swallowing that stuff about the WMD in Iraq not being dangerous probably is too dumb to come in out of the rain and lacks the skill to open an umbrella, as well.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

House Resolution 861

One can only wonder what forces drive the legislative process in Washington, D.C. On 16 June, House Resolution 861 was approved in the U.S. House of Representatives by a vote of 256-153, with only 14 republicans and 10 democrats not involved in the voting. A total of 214 republicans voted for the resolution, with three against; a total of 42 democrats voted for the resolution, with 149 against. It would be well at this point to see what the resolution involved so one can make up his/her mind as to the reasonableness of the document and attempt a judgment as to why the vote was so rabidly partisan:

Resolved, That the House of Representatives--

(1) honors all those Americans who have taken an active part in the Global War on Terror, whether as first responders protecting the homeland, as servicemembers overseas, as diplomats and intelligence officers, or in other roles;

(2) honors the sacrifices of the United States Armed Forces and of partners in the Coalition, and of the Iraqis and Afghans who fight alongside them, especially those who have fallen or been wounded in the struggle, and honors as well the sacrifices of their families and of others who risk their lives to help defend freedom;

(3) declares that it is not in the national security interest of the United States to set an arbitrary date for the withdrawal or redeployment of United States Armed Forces from Iraq;

(4) declares that the United States is committed to the completion of the mission to create a sovereign, free, secure, and united Iraq;

(5) congratulates Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki and the Iraqi people on the courage they have shown by participating, in increasing millions, in the elections of 2005 and on the formation of the first government under Iraq's new constitution;

(6) calls upon the nations of the world to promote global peace and security by standing with the United States and other Coalition partners to support the efforts of the Iraqi and Afghan people to live in freedom; and

(7) declares that the United States will prevail in the Global War on Terror, the noble struggle to protect freedom from the terrorist adversary.

Items 1, 2, 5, and 6 are eminently predictable, against none of which any of the solons would dare to vote…or at least the ones with enough sense to come in out of the rain or enough skill to open an umbrella. So…the rupture between the two parties has to do with items 3, 4, and 7. The titular head of the Democrat Party is Senator John Kerry, who barely missed being elected president in 2004. According to the Malone Report, Kerry made this statement recently to a group pf activists in Washington: "I believe we need a hard and fast deadline, not an open-ended commitment of U.S. forces, so that we shift responsibility, and demand responsibility from the Iraqis themselves." The vast majority of House democrats apparently agreed with Kerry, as seen in their vote, thus seeing Item 3, which is in direct contradiction of President Bush’s policy, as unacceptable.

One wonders what the people in the rest of the world think about this circumstance, especially in light of the fact that democrats constantly caterwaul about the bad image this country allegedly is disclosing to the world populations, thus conditioning them on a daily basis to think ill of this country whether they know anything about it or not. This is the Vietnam Kerry who traveled to Paris in 1971 and met with folks on both sides of the Vietnam conflict, and in July of that year held a press conference in D.C. at which he said essentially that American POWs would be returned on a date certain if President Nixon would just set a date for withdrawing troops from Vietnam, thus, of course, surrendering and trusting the enemy to keep its word concerning the POWs. Sound familiar? Notwithstanding the fact that setting a withdrawal-timetable would empower the enemy to stand down and wait its chance to foment a horrific civil war, Kerry exhibits the same “la-la-land” war strategy that he thought was terrific 35 years ago…and the House democrats swallow this stuff, apparently – at least most of them if definition by association is operative. Weird!

Turning their backs on Item 4 meant that most House democrats screamed to the world that this nation will not keep its stated commitments and consequently is not to be trusted. They also said to the world that the opposition party that might win back the House this year is ready to make a grand sellout of Iraq, tuck its tail, take its marbles, and truck on home. The irony connected to this justifiable conclusion is that in Iraq, through the good offices of this government and its Coalition partners, there already is a free sovereign state with a complete representative government – after three nationwide elections – and security being acquired gradually each day. The recent killing of al Zarqawi, top terrorist guru and operator, is part of the proof of this, not to mention that Iraqi people will soon take over a section of southern Iraq that has been the preserve of some of the Coalition partners for years now.

In turning their backs on Item 7, most of the House democrats attempted to apply the coup de grace to worldwide civility and hope by asserting that this nation perhaps will stand down in the war on terror, the devil take the hindmost, the hindmost being all the smaller/weaker nations that depend on the USA for furnishing a glimmer of freedom. The non-Muslim folks in those nations understand that the term “infidel” applies to them as much as it does to Americans, so they see this country as perhaps the last, best hope that the beheaders-in-the-name-of-god will not come after them, as they’re instructed to do in their “holy book,” the Qu’ran. They understand the lessons of the Sudan, where the Islamic fascists who run the government have systematically attended to the genocide of hundreds of thousands.

So…the House has voted, and the democrats have only shame for their portion.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

DNC Memorandum #17

From the Office of Dr. Howard Dean, chair, Democratic National Committee

*** It has come to the attention of the DNC staff that some volunteers are expressing exuberance over the death of al-Zarqawi. Depending on location (certainly not Massachusetts or California), this may be permissible publicly, but please be advised that Zarqawi’s death comprises a setback for the party, since there are among the uneducated and the unwashed (almost everybody in the nation) the presumption that his death has been accomplished by the republican administration. It has, of course (but do not admit this), and so staffers are directed to immediately change the subject when Zarqawi or even bin Laden are mentioned. Bin Laden has been thoroughly marginalized, so there is little capital to be gained by mentioning, as our media colleagues did immediately upon news of Zarqawi’s unfortunate bombing, that ObL is STILL alive and threatens the entire world from his cave in the mountains.

*** Congressman Murtha is being approached in the interest of writing a White Paper explaining in detail that American GIs are committing atrocities in Iraq at the rate of some ten or twelve a day. When you receive this document, read it carefully and be ready to defend it when you use it in your town-meetings if someone asks for specifics. As yet, there are only a couple of instances or so where an atrocity has been proven, but, unfortunately, the offending GI(s) have been punished, leaving no viable position based on government laxity. Since specifics have already been noted in the media, simply mention “Abu Ghraib” and steer the discussion in that direction, but do not mention that no one was hurt at that location. As for the scenes at Abu Ghraib, much lewder depictions are seen regularly on TV sitcoms and soap operas in this country, not to mention the Internet, so just talk about emotional distress…without mentioning that the prisoners at Abu Ghraib were murderers of women and children, of course. Senator Kerry may agree to help Congressman Murtha, since he is on the record (Meet the Press) as claiming that Americans have been raiding Iraqi homes in the midnight hours and making nuisances of themselves. If anyone mentions Kerry’s 1968 Christmas in Cambodia, make it clear that the senator insists he never said he was there and that he won’t say it again.

*** The hanging of themselves by three prisoners at Guantanamo is the juiciest bit of campaign bubbly that has dribbled (little joke there) into the country’s awareness in months. Make it a point to indicate in town-meetings that these men were driven to despair by the American hoodlums who guarded them, but obviously not well enough to protect them from themselves. Do NOT mention that these decedents were killers of women and children. Senator Durbin is being approached for another White Paper to be used in town-meetings, one that will explain the senator’s comparison of American GIs with Stalin’s Gulag guards, Hitler’s Storm Troopers, and Pol Pot’s keepers of the killing fields. Incidentally, it may be well to conduct town-meetings exclusively in the appropriate places rather than in homes or, especially, in bars, the latter always the venue of choice. People too far into their cups often slur their speech and some even say nice things about the republicans. This is particularly problematic when these meetings are televised.

*** Please be advised that Senator Clinton has requested that staffers never attempt to identify her positions on any issues. Her stances are always contingent upon location/audience, not a very different circumstance from that of most office-holders, with the possible exception of President Bush, who is likely to blurt out the truth no matter where he is. Also, Senator Biden, an announced candidate for 2008, has made it clear in a private communication that he takes positions on the basis of the “poll du jour” (a little French there for the Canadians), since he insists that a president must define leadership by follow-ship, i.e., find out what the people think and then do it. So far, his polls have indicated the need for a 90% tax increase when he is elected, but that would be unpopular, as he stated in his communication, so he has asked the DNC to take a low-profile approach to his candidacy until he has figured out how to successfully crunch the numbers.

*** Please refrain from gloating with regard to Republican Congressman Cunninghams’s trip to the Big House. This approach worked well until Congresswoman McKinney attacked that policeman, Congressman Kennedy tried to drive into the House chamber at 3:30 a.m., and Congressman William Jefferson was filmed in the parking garage accepting all that money, later found in his freezer among the frozen chicken nuggets. Also, try to destroy all the pictures of those National Guard trucks stuck in Congressman Jefferson’s front yard while he threw stuff into them from a second-story window of his house, after Katrina hit New Orleans. Those trucks were supposed to be used to help the citizens get out of New Orleans, or deliver water or whatever. In any case, the congressman has said he didn’t use those trucks and won’t use them again. In connection with the Jefferson matter, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has refused to make a poster showing her with her foot in her mouth while trying to say “No one is above the law.” She will, however, retract her statements about the FBI having no right to search a congressman’s office, especially if he shows signs of having either hundred-dollar-bills or chicken nuggets melting in his back pocket.

*** State Secretary Condoleezza Rice is a scheduled speaker at the annual clambake of the Southern Baptist Convention this week in Greensboro, N.C. She will be speaking in a church, so this should give staffers an opportunity to make huge political capital about the “religious right” and how these people threaten the very core of the Constitution. These Baptists number about 16 million and forge a huge voting bloc, therefore, much should made of this fact, especially at the time the president has just insisted once again that marriage should be a man-woman thing, thus depriving all the homosexuals, lesbians, transgenderites, transsexuals, cross-dressers, incest-practitioners, and pederasts their rights, either actual or desired…the right to the “pursuit of happiness” thing. The secretary has insisted that she is not a candidate for 2008, but use your own judgment as to how to play this, depending upon your location. Do NOT – repeat – DO NOT mention Kerry, Gore, Clinton, Jackson, Edwards, Lieberman, Sharpton, and other democrats in connection with this, since they campaigned vigorously in African-American churches and have never accounted for the offerings/contributions/collections/honoraria/whatever made available at those times.

*** Important Note: Impeachment planning underway, with Ramsey Clark (on loan from Saddam) as lead attorney.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Kentucky Politics - the Damnedest?

It’s unlikely that even Kentucky – at least government-wise – has formerly been through what it has experienced in the last few years. Starting during the previous governor’s term, the legislature made it a habit not to pass a budget, so Paul Patton was left to approve the checks and carry on business according to his own design. This habit on the part of the legislature continued into Governor Fletcher’s term, leaving him to do the same, notwithstanding that the state Constitution mandates the passing of a budget by the legislature during each biennium. In the legislative session just ended, and after a court ruling necessitating it, the legislature finally passed a budget at the right time. The legislatures’ dereliction of duty – fueled, as always, by 138 sets of eyes on the next election cycle – was reprehensible and actually points to malfeasance.

The peccadilloes – personal and otherwise – of Governor Patton, some of which replicated by Governor Fletcher, also point to malfeasance, though corruption in state government is more expected than surprising in Kentucky. Patton came upon hard times personally when his dalliance with a woman not his wife became a matter of public awareness. It was a disgusting affair of trysts in motels and was also fraught with overtones of favoritism and outright corruption. Then, Patton, shortly before leaving office, managed to pardon four indicted persons – two in his administration and two in Louisville’s union-labor infrastructure – for crimes that amounted to felonies (vote fraud) and for which significant prison time could be expected upon convictions. He obviously could not risk testimony that could touch him.

Governor Fletcher has not been beset by personal problems, but he has gone down the “pardon road” regarding indicted officials, thus removing a number of players in his administration from the threat of – almost entirely – simple misdemeanors, malfeasances involved with awarding positions in state government. His pardoned colleagues, most or all of whom he has fired, played fast and loose with the system, just as the democrats had been doing for decades…but the republicans got caught, mostly on the evidence connected with – of all things – e-mails.

It hasn’t helped that the logic connected with the misdemeanors would have meant that a handful of matters that should have been brought to the attention of some personnel or ethics agencies in the government was turned on its head, with the matters actually going to the office of the Attorney General, instead. Attorney General Stumbo has made it clear that he would be interested in running for the governor’s seat in 2007 if the current governor should become “unpopular.” He seems to be seeing that the governor does, in fact, become unpopular, running an essentially “misdemeanor-show” out of his office.

After about a year of thrashing about and seeing much of his work go up in the smoke of pardons, with the State Supreme Court making the pardons practically tamper-proof future-wise, the A-G has finally gotten around to indicting the governor himself. So, is the governor’s popularity on the wane? Of course! One wonders if plans were made in advance for the prosecutions by the A-G, who had run the House for years, knew exactly what to expect from an incoming administration – whether democrat or republican – and just set everyone up. Only the “Shadow” knows, but the betting is that there’s a smoking gun somewhere and that it will never be discovered, but, if so, probably would smell only of “politics as usual” rather than illegalities.

It can and does become weirder. Governor Fletcher recently took himself off to Florida for a vacation, so Lieutenant Governor Pence did what any lieutenant governor worth his salt might do – announced that he will not run on the ticket for reelection with the governor in 2007, and threw in his resignation as chief of the Justice Department, in the bargain, effective 31 July. He has not definitely ruled out running for the gubernatorial spot in 2007. Coincidence? According to the State Constitution (Sec. 72), “… The duties of the Lieutenant Governor shall be prescribed by law, and he shall have such other duties as delegated by the Governor.” So, did the lieutenant governor, by quitting the job assigned to him by the governor, actually betray his Constitutional responsibilities? Of course, the lieutenant governor was a federal prosecutor who sent a gaggle of elected officials and bureaucrats (mostly democrats) to the Big House (the speaker for quite a long time) in the early 1990s, so – give him credit – he may actually have been offended by the pardons. The plot thickens.

That was enough politics for a while, but the governor, basking in the sun before the hurricanes made their annual hit on Florida and not liking what he heard, suggested that the lieutenant governor consider resigning his post, notwithstanding that the post is a Constitutional office and that he, though part of a ticket headed by the governor, was elected actually by the people in 2003. The lieutenant governor declined, of course, so Governor Fletcher left his vacation temporarily to visit the state republican-party central-committee clambake held last week and announced that a new candidate for the second spot was already lined up and ready to go. The new candidate, Robbie Rudolph, just happened to be in charge of the state’s finances (a job he will give up) and executive secretary of the Cabinet. His being wealthy didn’t hurt the cause, either. He is a proven “giver,” having contributed almost $350,000 to the opposing/losing campaign featuring him as the lieutenant governor candidate in 2003.

Politics in Kentucky may or may not be the damnedest in the country, but they must be near the top (or bottom) in that category. The governor, having vowed not to pardon himself, has his lawyers motioning in court to have the AG removed from prosecuting him, but the matter hasn’t been resolved, and the truth probably is that most folks wish the whole nine yards would just go away. In any case, the year 2007 will be great for entertainment value. With the lieutenant governor and the attorney general possibly snapping at his heels (though the AG carries heavy baggage – palimony stuff, for one type), the governor and his new running mate are at least off to a start. Of course, the money already raised for a Fletcher-Pence campaign may now be in dispute, so what is there to do? Stay tuned.

Oh yes…at first the governor said he had no plans to fire the lieutenant governor from his post as Justice chief…then, a few days later, did just that – fired him.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Haditha...a Perspective

The mantra of the mainstream media these days is “Haditha,” the town located some 140 miles northwest of Baghdad, where, according to some reports, U.S. Marines murdered 24 Iraqis in cold blood last November. According to the British publication The Guardian, the town is run entirely by insurgents in a sort of Taliban-like manner, and public beheadings are just part of the everyday routine. The matter is under investigation by the U.S. military, but some prominent democrats, such as Pennsylvania Congressman Jack Murtha, have already passed judgment on the Marines, accusing them of the murders.

Murtha’s charges resemble those of Senator John Kerry back in 1971, when he accused American GIs of committing atrocities in Vietnam and even went to Paris, by his own admission before a Senate committee, to parley with the enemy for whatever he considered proper, but actually undercut this country’s effort to end the conflict. More recently, the senator has accused Americans of invading private Iraqi homes in the middle of the night and committing atrocities there. Partisan politics has so invaded the nation’s capital that conduct as unseemly as this on the parts of both men is common.

As soon as this affair – whatever it was – was made an item throughout the world, the mainstreamers went into action, bringing up such terms as No Gun Ri and My Lai, the former connected to alleged atrocities by American GIs in the Korean Conflict, when an unknown number of refugees fleeing northern troops were killed in transit in the area of a railroad overpass, and the latter in Vietnam, for which Lieutenant William Calley was the only American GI to serve time as the result of a conviction.

The Korean War had just begun in July 1950, when American troops were hastily sent from Japan to forestall an attempt by the communist-controlled North to overcome the South. The intelligence concerning the circumstances necessitating the flight of fearful Koreans was not good, although that probably had little to do with what is alleged – and still only alleged – to have happened. The GIs had received the instruction that all natives in hostile areas were considered hostile until definitely proven friendly. This meant that it was possible – or probable – that northern troops could be expected to infiltrate groups of innocent civilians as they fled, the result being the virtual assassination of American and South Korean soldiers.

The My Lai incident in March 1968 has been thoroughly publicized and involved the deaths of some 300 civilians. It came about as a result of the “search and destroy” edict that had been programmed by the U.S. military, and, of course, was promulgated for the same reasons that obtained in the No Gun Ri episode, i.e., that the enemy was everywhere, was undistinguishable, and posed a stab-in-the-back threat to Americans and South Vietnamese troops. If The Guardian account is accurate (no reason to disbelieve it), the affair at Haditha almost exactly paralleled these two events, since insurgents, who looked like all other Iraqis, could be anywhere and posed the same kind of threat.

The loss of innocent life is never acceptable, but it could well be that the current generation of media-types are so inured to relatively small events (or so anti-administration driven), as compared to huge losses of innocent life, that they are unable/unwilling to present anything within the proper perspective. For instance, there has been constant carping on the events at Abu Ghraib prison, for which several American GIs have received punishment (jail) and a brigadier general demoted, even though there was no loss of life there or even personal injuries. The fact that nobody got hurt seems not to register with reporters/commentators when they are in full-attack mode. Abu Ghraib stuff has worn thin, however, so Haditha was a veritable mother-lode of good fortune for the media, even featuring “cold-blooded murder,” as Murtha and probably Kerry would have it.

Of course, it may be that the current generation of media-types are so naïve that they can’t imagine anything untoward happening in situations in which people are attempting to kill each other, or that the best-laid plans in time of war not only often, but almost always, go astray. One has only to think of the surprises (weather and defenses) at Normandy 62 years ago this month, when the allies invaded France and began the end of World War II, terminated just under a year later. In terms of civilian casualties/fatalities, one remembers the decision on both sides in that war to make the bombing of cities not only acceptable but necessary – mostly to destroy military objectives but also to damage morale and consequently hasten war’s end – in the interest of gaining victory. The Germans laid waste to English/Scotch cities – especially London – in the “blitz,” the night bombings from September 1940 to May 1941, resulting in some 43,000 dead civilians and 1.4 million made homeless. While 60,000 civilians died in Britain, 650,000 German civilians died in the bombings. Think of that in terms of Haditha.

The British and American air arms responded in kind. Hamburg, Germany, was bombed 187 times during that war, but was virtually destroyed on just a few days and nights in July-August of 1943 – some 50,000 dead civilians and 900,000 homeless (deadly firestorm-bombing). In February 1945, Dresden, in east-Germany, was destroyed when it was full of refugees fleeing the Russians. Estimates of 35,000 to 100,000 dead were made, and the infrastructure of all the bombed cities was decimated. Indeed, the end of the war was accomplished in August 1945 when the first atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan – some 130,000 dead in Hiroshima alone.

The Nazis in that war accounted for 11,000,000 civilian deaths, 6,000,000 Jews alone. Some 80 or so American GIs taken as prisoners of war were gunned down by German troops in gangland style in December 1944 near Malmedy in Belgium. At Oradour-sur-Glane, France, the Germans killed 642 civilians in June 1944, herding the men into barns and shooting them, and herding women and children into a church, shooting them and then burning the church and the town. In Lidice, Czechoslovakia, all men and boys over age 16 (172 of them) were killed by the Germans and the women and children sent to concentration camps, where most of the women died. The town was totally destroyed and removed from the map. The atrocities committed by Japanese soldiers against civilians throughout the Far East in the 1930s-40s were stupendous in both number and kind.

None of this is offered as an explanation/excuse/reason for the 24 deaths at Haditha. It is merely to open a window so that everyone can understand that “things happen.” This is true every day in a normal atmosphere such as that enjoyed in this country at present, but it happens in spades and is virtually inevitable in areas and times of profound abnormalities…such as at Haditha, in situations where/when men are expected to use the best split-second judgment possible while trying to stay alive. Media-types need to remember this…if they can…or, if they will. As they report/comment, however, they should remember that their fathers, grandfathers, uncles, and great-uncles were forced to respond according to war-plans and in split-second-situations like those at Haditha. Should they call these men murderers…or guarantors of their freedom?

And so it goes.

Jim Clark.