Slacker Friday


Eric A. has a new Think Again column called "FISA and the Founders" here.

Name: Steve Milligan
Hometown: Colorado Springs


I hesitated to write about this, but I find this conversation disturbing. I do agree with you and Mike Huckabee that journalists have much better things to enquire into than his personal beliefs about creationism. Frankly, the whole question about one's beliefs about evolution and the request to answer by raising one's hand or saying yes or no is utterly offensive. On the other hand, we certainly have a right to know if a person is going to continue the war on science currently being waged by this administration. Obviously we wouldn't want to live (or continue living) under a regime that eschews the obvious evidence of natural selection. If, however, the answer is a response to the basic philosophical question of "how did we get here?", it is the height of intellectual laziness to label all creationists as thoughtless or stupid. It is also, as you point out, not a very good political tactic. Nobody knows the answer to that question, and thoughtful people can reach different conclusions. The evolutionist (I don't even like that term) answer to that question is far from airtight. We on the left have been victimized enough by strawman arguments. We should know better than to brandish them.

Name: Traven
Hometown: Seattle


I have just gotten off the fence and sent $100 to Obama. Why? Because in responding to Obama's critique, Hillary's attack dog, Howard Wolfson, compared Obama to Karl Rove, and added a few other nasty words. The mantra of the Clinton camp seems to be never let a criticism go but to attack back viciously and personally. It was just the latest in a string of comments from the Clinton campaign that have convinced me that if Hillary is elected, there will be no chance of bringing this country together at all; it will be all-out 24x7 political war for another 8 years on top of that we've endured through the Clinton and W. administrations. I can't stand the thought of any more of it. I don't know if Barack can break that cycle, but I'm betting my money on him because it's clear Hillary can't -- and doesn't want to.

Name: H Steven Dolan
Hometown: Alexandria, VA

The one thing that really struck me about Mr. North's conviction was that one of the charges on which he was convicted was:

Count Ten: Receipt of an illegal gratuity, charging North with accepting a home-security system paid for by Secord, in exchange for official acts performed by North.

For so many of the other truly egregious felonies he was acquitted, but on that small act of bribery the jury felt they had to convict.

However much he puffs himself he is, like so many others of his kind, in essence truly banal.

Name: Maria Blumberg
Hometown: Pasadena, CA

It is interesting to note that, in the oath no matter which version, swearing or affirming an oath to defend the Constitution comes before obeying the President or superior officers. It shows where the priority is placed. It is allegiance to the Constitution and the country that comes first, rather than any individual no matter how mighty or powerful he/she is.

Name: Jim Reuss
Hometown: Cheyenne, Wyoming

Colonel Bateman,

I believe you also have in the person of Oliver North a perfect example of how we reward unethical, illegal and unconstitutional behavior and continue the downward spiral of our society. When I see men and women like this rise to positions of prominence, influence and power once they are outside of their service, as well as having abused their office while in it, I despair for our nation.

Unfortunately, he is not nearly the only man to be rewarded for abuses of power and trust, the throwing aside of civil rights, or forswearing oaths. Paul Wolfowitz or the Medal of Freedom given to Paul Bremer are two recent examples among myriads that the Altercators could cite. How do the Representatives and Senators who voted to create and continue funding the Patriot Act and the NSA spying programs sleep at night, knowing that they are destroying our democratic traditions as they put their names to the bills? Republicans express outrage at the lack of character exhibited in former President Clinton's sexual activity, and democrats express outrage at fiscal corruption, and you express outrage at a military man's failure to uphold the Constitution. I think the patterns of abuse are rampant, endemic and entrenched. I can be happy that Karl Rove will no longer do damage to our society in the post he is retiring from, but I am cannot bring myself to think he will cease doing damage, and furthermore, that he will undoubtedly be publicly acclaimed and rewarded for doing so.

I have no solution to offer, as we seem to be, like Diogenes, unable to find and honest man or woman to adhere to the founding principles of our nation rather than one who serves narrow and self-interests. I would put the suggestion to Altercators for their support of a Bateman/Pierce ticket in 2008?

LTC Bob replies: Oh cripes, couldn't I just go back to Iraq? I can see the campaign slogans now:

"Bateman/Pierce '08: When you've tried everything else anyway."

"Bateman/Pierce '08: One of us won't shoot you in the face."

"Bateman/Pierce '08: We have neither money, nor looks, or even much hair, but then you've already tried that and look where it got ya"

"Bateman/Pierce '08: Vote for us and you'll get Carl Kasell's voice on your home answering machine..."

But what would the Cabinet look like? All I can think of is the obvious: Press Secretary Jon Stewart.

Name: Merrill R. Frank
Hometown: Jackson Heights, NYC

Dr. and Lieutenant Colonel Bob Bateman,

It comes as no surprise that Fox News has the traitor North as a commentator/pseudo-journalist. He's a perfect fit amongst their cast of characters that are frequently called upon to analyze the events of the day. Namely disgraced former LAPD Detective Mark Fuhrman as well as Watergate co-conspirators Chuck Colson and G. Gordon Liddy.

If only today's cable news had the standards to recruit folks of this caliber.

LTC Bob replies: Coincidentally, I just happen to be writing an article for World War Two Magazine on Murrow and his "Boys." Should be out late this year. (History magazines have long lead times.) You are right. He was a man with integrity.

Name: Jennifer
Hometown: Greenwood, MO

Oliver North is not and has never been a journalist. There are people who work in the journalism profession whom I can point out are lazy and incompetent. North is a different category and serves a very different purpose for his employers. It's a waste of time to complain out his methods, tactics and overall professionalism.

Name: gmoke
Hometown: Cambridge, MA

I've been reading about Colonel John Boyd, USAF, and his ideas about strategy. According to his biography, he would buttonhole promising junior officers and give them his "to do or to be" speech. His idea was that you could decide to do something significant or to be a senior officer. You probably couldn't accomplish both.

Sounds like LTC Bateman's former superior officer, Captain "Trash" decided to do something and therefore was not acceptable to be any higher rank than he already was.

You can read John Boyd's original briefings and more about his work here and here.

I've written "Guerrilla War of the Mind: John Boyd's Lessons on Counter-Guerrilla Campaigns," here, and "How the Pentagon Works: John Boyd's Lessons on Bureaucratic Warfare," here, if anybody is interested in my (limited) understanding of Boyd's work.

Name: jcasey
Hometown: Chicago

Dear LTC Bateman,

I'm confused by this claim:

"I have no clue what General David Petraeus will say next month when he gives his assessment. I do know that no matter what he says, some significant percentage of the American people will write him off as a stooge, or a fool, while others will hail him a hero. Both groups will cite the same words Petraeus speaks as their "evidence" for their opinion. I suspect General P knows this as well. What I would like to pass to you, today, is my assessment. Take it for what it is worth. General P is smart, and he is savvy, both of which make him come off to some people as "political." He is not. But he is more like Trash than he is like LTC H, and that, Altercators, reassures me. "

It appears, if news reports are to be believed, that Petraeus won't actually be "saying" anything on his own account, as the White House plans to write his report for him. Aside from that, he hasn't had a track record of being particularly correct in the recent past, and he avoids media sources that might be "critical" (Greenwald). I don't feel reassured, but I don't have your experience, so it would be interesting to hear your reactions.

Name: Thomas N. Beck
Hometown: Princeton, NJ

I'm sure Petraeus himself is a very good man. But he works for a very bad president. It has been reported that the White House is going to write Petraeus's report for him - if that's the case, it doesn't matter how good a man he may be, he is permitting himself to be used by a very bad man. That does not give me confidence that he is not, in fact, "a stooge, or a fool." At best, he is permitting himself to get the reputation of being a tool.

LTC Bob replies: Thomas, I recommend to you a solid article about the ethics and morals of service. I wish I had written it, but in this case a Sailor/Scholar beat me to the punch. It appeared in the most recent issue of the Naval War College review. The article is by (Navy) Captain George Clifford, and it is titled "Duty at All Costs." The short version is that if every officer resigned his commission whenever political parties exchanged power (because all politicians "use" us as "tools" ... that is our purpose), we would need two separate armies. That happened once, 1861-1865, and it did not come out well.

Name: mikefromtexas
Hometown: Corpus Christi

'Poker With Cheney' is without a doubt the best blog post I've ever read. Thanks for putting that back up. The Editors have such a wonderful sense of snark.

Name: Ginger Mayerson
Hometown: Los Angeles

Eric A, Eric B, Eric R. And all Eric with a C, not K. Why is that? Eerie.

Eric A replies: We dunno.

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