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Friday, November 16, 2012

David Petraeus - The Last of the Roman-Sounding Generals

Flavius Aetius was the 5th Century Roman general who finally stopped Attila the Hun's invasions of Roman territory.  He has been referred to as 'The Last of the Romans'.  Like all great Romans of the day he had many great enemies, not least of whom was his master, the emperor Valentinian III, who feared Aetius' ambitions and distrusted his loyalties.  Valentinian eventually assassinated Aetius, reportedly by his own hand, in the culmination of a plot carried out while Aetius was at court delivering some sort of financial report.

Heh, life is tough near the top.  Politics ain't beanbag, and it wasn't back then either.  Aetius was a general with a great reputation but as he - and more recently, David Petraeus - found out, being a famous general with a cool-sounding name doesn't protect you when the guy at the top believes he has reason to fear you.

The former Director of the CIA is right now testifying about what the White House knew, and when it knew it, about the attack on the consulate in Benghazi on 11 September.  His testimony will be impeachable no matter what he says because his character has been effectively assassinated.  Petraeus already briefed Congress and in that earlier briefing he supported the President's claims.  He is now in the unenviable position of informing Congress he lied in that earlier briefing in order to cover up lies the President was telling at the time.  Either way Petraeus is a liar.  Oh, and an adulterer.  There are good reasons not to trust people that are either and Petraeus is now certified to be both.  David Petraeus may have made the same mistake Aetius did 1600 years ago:  He thought he was still safe, that his boss wasn't ready to do him in.  That he was still useful enough to his master that his master would not move against him.  He misjudged his man.  David Petraeus could have rock-solid proof that Barack Obama was lying about Benghazi but his word will be discounted because he is himself a lying adulterer.

But here's the postscript to the Aetius assassination of 454 AD:  Within six months, the conspirators against Aetius had fallen out so badly one of them had the emperor himself assassinated.  There were a number of soldiers present whose duty of course it would have been to protect the emperor.  But they had been Aetius' men.  None lifted a hand.

If I were Barack Obama I would wonder who I could trust.  The men and women that had enough power to help the President destroy David Petraeus' reputation have no reason to expect any loyalty from Barack Obama.  They see how he is.  What happens when some of them start to worry about when Obama is going to stick it to them in public like he did to Petraeus?  Are some of them worrying already?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Was it "over" when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?

Okay, I've had just about enough of this.  The country isn't what we thought it was.  Maybe we've hit the tipping point.  Maybe the republic can't be saved.  Decline is here, and it's unstoppable.  Blah, blah, blah.
Here's what happened:  we got smoked.  The eternal verities haven't changed.  Right is still right, wrong is wrong, and our government is still on an unsustainable path that will eventually lead us to ruin if it isn't checked.  The Democrats ran a better campaign.  They injected abortion into an argument about economic idiocy.  They successfully turned an election about the direction of this country into a discussion about "lady parts".  They ran a left-wing, ideologue, crony capitalist politician and managed to convince the electorate that our guy was the out-of-touch plutocrat.  While we sat around one-upping each other about how no one could possibly want to give this obvious fool another four years at the wheel, they, bit by bit, sliced off pieces of the voting public, and maintained enough control of the "narrative" that they managed to win the election.  They kicked our ass.

This is a disaster, but it's not a refutation of the idea that liberty is still better than slavery, or that a growing blob of a government is a bad thing.  Those things are still true.  The fool in the White House is still going to attempt to do foolish things, and our job is to attempt to stop him.  It just got harder, that's all.

What kind of conservatives would we be if we didn't already know that people are fickle, things go wrong, and life is and always has been a constant struggle?  Do I have to quote Kipling at you?