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If a tree falls...
16 December 2004 | Ron Pickrell

Posted on 12/17/2006 1:32:25 AM PST by pickrell

A few days ago I gave up a good part of a nights sleep, watching the rebroadcast of the CSPAN coverage of the tribute to Donald Rumsfeld. It wasn't really a choice. I could no sooner have resisted that than foreswearing chocolate chip cookies. And yet the comparison doesn't hold well because this tribute wasn't held to make us feel better. And, in a way, it wasn't held to strictly make Donald Rumsfeld feel better. And it certainly had no hope of moving the Washington Press Corps an inch closer to beginning to do their jobs.

Why then... did we do this? The ceremony will not be carried on the mainstream networks with the solemnity and dignity accorded rather to the latest grave developments in the Tom Cruise and Katie extravaganza. The ceremony instead, was restricted to those who cared to watch; that self-selecting group who could not help but watch. It held no meaning for the majority of Americans, apparently. And that sentence tells more than one would think at first glance.

An increasingly small and select group of Americans hold unseen pass-cards into this club, and this represents a growing danger to this country. It is a natural consequence of fielding an all-volunteer military. Never before in history has a military force been more effective, more capable, and yes... more critical, than today's U.S. servicemen and women. And due to the unprecidented effectiveness of those servicemen, a veritable handful of America's soldiers can now provide more strategic and tactical effectiveness than vast legions of former Soviet satellite conscripts. Three of them would humiliate the entire French army.

But as a very consequence of the service being voluntary rather than draft-compelled, the percentage of Americans with the rich experience of our military to pass on to their community and their families shrinks ever more. The bright side of that is that with the more highly educated, strongly motivated and profoundly talented soldiers serving today, each soldier has become a force-magnifier. It is a matter of philosophy.

Democrats understand that only the dregs of society could be compelled to risk their very lives to enforce our will upon other countries. They see clearly that desirable conscription of large numbers of young men, and women- ( in concession to the powerful women's advocacy groups, who maintain that young women need also to be press-ganged in a similar manner)- is crucial to our being able to inflict imperial domination upon those who resist the will of the Democratic Caucus.

Their spokesmen courageously point out that society's losers must pay a penance for not doing well in school, and that penance is to serve in an organization dedicated to brutality in a manner reminiscent of Genghis Khan. They firmly support our servicemen- the poor bastards...

Republicans, on the other hand, ascribe to the notion that this nation enjoys the freedoms it does- due to the courage and sacrifice of a relative handful of iron men. They feel that a truly noble calling shines in the commitment that a few good men swear; "..that as long as I breath- no harm will come to those I protect..." It is not something that is explained to the Democrats- at least not by anyone who values his time- simply because the great chasm of comprehension in this country would render such repetitive explanations as utterly futile.

The Republican spokesmen do dignified, press-ignored tribute in the best way they can. The site of a General like Peter Pace on the podium explaining with an ill-subdued grin that Don Rumsfeld worked all of them hard- an unapologetic taskmaster at a time so casual and unimportant as the worst attack on American soil in our history- evoked many smiles. Throughout our history, encrusted ways of doing things in a comfortable peace-time gentlemen's agreement among peers, has had to be grasped by the lapels and shaken firmly, once war shatters our illusions. We will have only anecdotes and politically correct hit-piece books aimed at Rumsfeld from which to piece together the real story of what it took to bring us out of our shock and cold-war/peace-dividend mentality, and quickly begin building a response to fufill President Bush's promise that "... and the people who knocked these buildings down will soon hear from all of us..."

Nations and civilizations have fallen or stood based upon their governments and citizens' relative notions of duty, and asking of themselves, "- what can I do for my country?". What a few men decide that they owe to their country, and those yet unborn, determines the fate of civilizations. What a few men do, to try their best to limit as much as possible the inevitable coming conflict, may, -may-, limit the deaths to many thousands.... or despite their best efforts, death may insist on harvesting multiple millions. Their service is no less, if they cannot staunch the bleeding, and the patient dies a multi-million deaths. Their sacrifice is no less noble if, -due to the machinations of the yellow press back home-, their enemies are re-invigorated and encouraged to expand the battle. They can fight and win every battle... but the war nonetheless can be, and is being, lost on the platform of public perception. Ask the Vietnam veterans for an in-depth briefing on that sad truism.

President Bush might be characterized as an idiom-savant, in that regard. The statement is not an attack upon him, but rather a comparison between him and his predecessor. Clinton took no action at all in the war on terror,-it being too politically risky-, surrounded himself with persons he held the FBI files on, and allowed the press to brilliantly package his failure, and fawn over his unchallenged rhetoric.

President Bush, by contrast, surrounded himself with quiet competent public servants, who refused to distract themselves with self-promotion sitting across from Larry King, and instead quietly defended the country.

They counted on the President to take a cue from Ronald Reagan, somehow go around a seething media, and deliver persuasive oratory that would educate and solidify an ephemeral public.

But President Bush will never be counted as an effortless orator. And after eroding his support and sufferance among the conservative base with certain arguably bizarre domestic policy choices, he eventually lost the critical ability to solidify the country behind the efforts of our men overseas, and thereby unintentionally provided political cover to those who now gleefully aspire to the downfall of Pax Americana.

Anyone who previously doubted that the press had a leftist agenda, must now be stone blind and deaf to continue denying the anti-American bias. The journalists who count on the first amendment to protect their jobs, slavishly embargo news of the evil of the enemies of freedom. Orchestrated murder on the wholesale level, while not yet rising to the million-plus Cambodians butchered by the ignored Pol Pot, is given political and moral equivalency to the questioning of captured terrorists, "... in a menacing and unkind manner."

"Only the Americans would perpetrate such a thing." What a scathing indictment of the rest of the free world, if that is indeed true. But I don't believe it of the Australians, and many of the British. And certainly not of the Poles.

What an awesome tribute to the retiring Secretary, his overworked subordinates, and the performance delivered by nearly every man up and down the chain of command, that five years later the American public can sniff that perhaps, "... the threat must not have been as great as we mistakenly first believed...."

That such overwork is made necessary; that young men are called upon unfairly to bear tremendous hardship, danger and in too many cases loss of their lives, to halt the direct consequences of disastrous policies of previous leaders of the country, will not be remarked upon by the opinion shapers in the media. The connection will not be made. How could it? The very admission would be a damning indictment of all those liberal network cheerleaders who insisted, during the initial, unanswered attacks upon our servicemen overseas, that it was only, "- the economy, stupid!", and that foreign policy delinquency on the part of a preoccupied, priaptic President had no real meaning in our lives.

How could the Newspaper of Wreckage conceal it's complicity, if a conspiracy of distraction was exposed? How would the New York Times spin that one?

Yet we wait as a nation for the assumption of Congressional Power next spring, by the very party which routinely disparages the efforts and sacrifices necessary to enable our citizens to continue to be entitled to vote. The opinion polls, unreliable as they are, insist that, by far, most Americans want Rumsfeld, and the changes he forced to expand the capabilities of the military, to be gone.

They have been assured by the media that they are tired of this war, and that they can, like voting themselves free stuff from the government, simply banish the peril we are in by electing those who promise to relieve us of this danger that we uncomfortably watch the Marines face every day. They have told us we are tired of this danger and we have believed them.

One of our founding fathers, I do not remember which- (such knowledge being lost in an ill-spent youth)- warned us all, "Those who accept disgrace... in preference to danger, will soon serve a foreign master... and deserve to do so." Or something to that effect.

Such wisdom has been gifted to us... but so many now refuse to take up this precious wisdom from those who, eleven-score and ten years ago, handed us all the precious freedoms we now enjoy, and which has been safeguarded, through the decades, by so many servicemen now "...forever on duty...".

Religious tolerance: which we now discard- so as not to offend the Islamo-fascists, the ACLU and the sophisticated Euro-Vichy. The press tell us it is better this way.

Freedom of speech: which we watch cowering under threats of decapitation of cartoonists, and deadly riots over slurs of a "peace-loving religion". The press tell us it is better this way.

Security of life and liberty: which the original 'detente' defenders, having watched the evil empire dissolve through the blurring of their journalistic tears, have a new cause celeb... in the latest trading of "lives for peace". "We... who threw tens of millions of Eastern Europeans under the wheels of the Soviet bus..., must now point out the necessity of pushing the jews off of the wagon, in order to satisfy the wolves. They may just leave us alone. Surely their hunger knows limits..."

Ronald Reagan must truly turn away in disgust, having earned his place by his steadfastness. The press, meanwhile, continues their unending attempt at refutation of all that he accomplished.

But all of the above men knew that their devotion to duty would remain largely unremarked upon, and relatively unknown, among the many shoppers waiting to buy more stuff for the holidays.

The only ones who honor the deeds of that man, those men, and thereby of all such men... are the ones who understand not only the cost of those deeds... but what the cost would have been without those deeds.

If a tree falls in the forest, and no one is around to hear it... does it really fall?

More to the point- if a tree does NOT fall, but stands, holds back part of the destructive ravages of the spring flood by anchoring the land and smaller trees around it,- all while no one is around to nod in approval... did it really stand?

Is paying tribute to such a tree, honoring its service, (and biting our knuckles in fear that the next sapling in line may not hold the same strength), really worth it... if no one is around to hear it?

Each man must decide whether it is worth it to himself. We honor the deeds; we add them to the rich legacy of the men of the U.S. military, and understand the meaning behind such ceremonies... while a bored press seems only aware of the pageantry, and characteristically dimly at that.

But it is like a dangerous landing on an aircraft carrier by a U.S. President. It is an act that warmed the hearts of nearly every veteran who saw it. It was a statement that what is done is of value, and that the risk in one such act by the President is far outweighed by the need of the public to understand what our military men routinely risk every day.

That, though the difference in meaning, of words like "Mission accomplished!", as opposed to "War over!", is utterly lost upon reporters who are unsure which end of the rifle the "little bullet thingy comes out of"... those words are not lost on the rest of us.

No man, in over two thousand years now, is perfect. Small failings and small disappointments are inevitable from us all. Adults understand that. Liberals do not. They create their own kneepads, to fall down and worship their Hillarys and Bills.

But in the world of the serviceman... slavish devotion to a man, or a woman (or a boy) is a thing for rock fans. The rest of us do honor to the deeds done. And we honor the time of the man's life in which the deeds were done. That much is forever recorded, though the man may sometimes later falter.

To return to the analogy- whether any of the chipmunks in the forest heard the tree fall, or stand, (or even cared which), is entirely a different question.

And whether the rest of us,- unconcerned by what the tree standing at that critical point saved us from-, should decide instead to chop the tree down because it reminds us too much of the flood which it withstood, is also a different question.

Are we so tired of the flooding that we carry to power those people who bray that the only by smashing down our dams and floodwalls may we hope to control spring flooding? Are we so mad that we listen to the whispers of those who say the police encourage bank robberies and that firemen cause apartments to burn?

An oak has fallen.

And the river knows it.

KEYWORDS: duty; retirement; rumsfeld

1 posted on 12/17/2006 1:32:26 AM PST by pickrell
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To: pickrell

Good thoughts, but brevity is the soul of wit and all, and I burned out part way through.

Just a friendly suggestion.

2 posted on 12/17/2006 1:33:40 AM PST by Darkwolf377 (Immigration is to Illegal Immigration what Birth is to Abortion.)
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To: pickrell
"It held no meaning for the majority of Americans, apparently."

Who the heck cares about a NASA Space Shuttle launch anymore? The ungrateful public lost interest (and FAITH) in that over decade ago...and it burns me.


Re: "Founder's quote"

Check quote attributed to Benjamin Franklin :

"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."

3 posted on 12/17/2006 1:51:12 AM PST by endthematrix (Both poverty and riches are the offspring of thought.)
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To: pickrell
Good read - thanks. Just the right length, in my view.

I wonder if where it says 2004 at the top of this post, it meant 2006:

If a tree falls...
16 December 2004 | Ron Pickrell

4 posted on 12/17/2006 1:53:15 AM PST by ThePythonicCow (We are but Seekers of Truth, not the Source.)
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To: pickrell
The site of a General like Peter Pace...

Where was he?

"Dum ego spiritus, nullus seco advenio tu."

I like it.


5 posted on 12/17/2006 1:55:25 AM PST by Lurker (Historys most dangerous force is government and the crime syndicates that grow with it.)
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To: pickrell
If a tree falls...

And it falls on your head, do you hear it??
6 posted on 12/17/2006 2:06:38 AM PST by djf (They have their place. We have our place. WAKE UP!! They want to turn our place into their place!!!)
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To: pickrell

I didn't burn out at all. Best description of events I've read in a long while.

Edit..maybe a little, but don't lose the individual points.

7 posted on 12/17/2006 2:30:31 AM PST by Greenpees (Coulda Shoulda Woulda)
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To: Darkwolf377

Go back and read the rest. The best assessment of where we are right now in history.

8 posted on 12/17/2006 5:01:03 AM PST by OldFriend (THE PRESS IS AN EVIL FOR WHICH THERE IS NO REMEDY)
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To: pickrell
OUSTANDING....thanks for the effort. You said it well.

I watched, cried, and am worried for American and the rest of the civilized world.

9 posted on 12/17/2006 5:03:33 AM PST by OldFriend (THE PRESS IS AN EVIL FOR WHICH THERE IS NO REMEDY)
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To: Darkwolf377
Good thoughts, but brevity is the soul of wit and all, and I burned out part way through.

Hard for you to listen to trees falling?

I read every word with thoughtful pleasure. Surely not long enough. You have much to say that some will find worth listening to.

10 posted on 12/17/2006 5:11:01 AM PST by Louis Foxwell (Here come I, gravitas in tow.)
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To: Amos the Prophet
Hard for you to listen to trees falling?

No, just hard for me to listen to the sound of the same exact tree falling over and over and over and over and over again, that's all.

11 posted on 12/17/2006 5:12:30 AM PST by Darkwolf377 (Immigration is to Illegal Immigration what Birth is to Abortion.)
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To: OldFriend

I read it. My opinion stands.

12 posted on 12/17/2006 5:15:38 AM PST by Darkwolf377 (Immigration is to Illegal Immigration what Birth is to Abortion.)
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To: Darkwolf377

LOL.....guess complex sentences are just too hard to digest, eh?

13 posted on 12/17/2006 5:18:34 AM PST by OldFriend (THE PRESS IS AN EVIL FOR WHICH THERE IS NO REMEDY)
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To: pickrell

Why has a small group of anti-American and hate-filled journalism school graduates (hardly a difficult accomplishment) along with actors of little education, been awarded the honor of deciding if America survives in the WOT?
Can Conservatives take this away from the destroyers of freedom and run the media the way it should be, with truthful and hardhitting reporting? Until we destroy the leftist media through not buying their rags or their sponsors products then we have not taken away their ability to destroy our Nation. Do we really want the owners of the New York Times, Pinch and pals, to demand our attention at every turn and agree with their twisted view of America and how it should be governed? The self-absorbed ignorance of many Americans has been carefully cultivated by the left and we are seeing their harvest of America haters here and throughout the world.

14 posted on 12/17/2006 5:42:12 AM PST by Rockiette (Democrats are not intelligent!)
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To: OldFriend
No, just long, rambling and repetitive ones.

As someone who gets paid for his writing, I know the difference between trying to make one's thoughts seem deep, and having the mental clarity to write one's deep thoughts in a sharp, clear style. If you need to pretend sophisticated tastes by praising unnecessarily repetitive writing, it suggests more about your own insecurities about your intelligence than anything else.

15 posted on 12/17/2006 5:51:34 AM PST by Darkwolf377 (Immigration is to Illegal Immigration what Birth is to Abortion.)
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To: ThePythonicCow
"...I wonder if where it says 2004 at the top of this post, it meant 2006:..."

That's what happens when you wake up at 3:30 A.M., with acid reflux from having forgotten to take your Pepcid... and sit down to type out a post in tribute to a great man (and great men) ... finishing up at 4:35 A.M.

I can be such an idiot at times!

Good eyes, and thanks for the correction, Pythonic! :-)

16 posted on 12/17/2006 8:07:59 AM PST by pickrell (Old dog, new trick...sort of)
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To: Darkwolf377
"...Good thoughts, but brevity is the soul of wit and all, and I burned out part way through.

Just a friendly suggestion..."

And probably a very good suggestion at that. I don't write for a living, and find myself increasingly less motivated to do so, falling victim to despair of our ever righting the ship of state.

When I finally see something that inspires me to write a tribute, I probably could use a good editor to sharpen the piece. But they require paying!

The many of us who contribute on the spur of the moment to a forum of voluntary, unpaid opinion pieces- we often rehash somewhat in our offerings.

To rehash- brevity is probably is something I should keep in mind. Thanks for the comment, and the time taken to make it.

17 posted on 12/17/2006 8:23:42 AM PST by pickrell (Old dog, new trick...sort of)
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To: Darkwolf377

I did not read the article as repetative. To me it was a thorough elucidation of a variety of facets of a critical issue. The sort of thing a scholar might write in pursuance of a fully developed theme.

18 posted on 12/18/2006 9:22:51 PM PST by Louis Foxwell (Here come I, gravitas in tow.)
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To: Amos the Prophet
not to be repetative, but "repetitive"
19 posted on 12/18/2006 9:31:18 PM PST by Louis Foxwell (Here come I, gravitas in tow.)
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