Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Vietnam and the War on Terrorism

I have completed my history assignment (mentioned in this post) to read Richard Nixon’s book No More Vietnams. My friend Lysis has provided a detailed chapter-by-chapter synopsis of the book at these links:
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6

By the way, Lysis, a high school history teacher, has a very entertaining post about a poster war the ensued at his school not long after the elections last November.

In his book, Nixon covers the entire involvement of the U.S. in Vietnam beginning in the early part of the 20th Century up to 1985 when the book was written. He states emphatically that it is his view of history and that others may have differing views. Despite being very critical of mistakes made, he is quite even handed and does a fair job of representing the views of the various parties involved. He provides keen insights into how different parties viewed things and their motivations for acting as they did. Still, he provides no quarter for the Communists and the media.

Nixon’s book is very strong on facts, but also explores some of the emotional issues surrounding the war. I learned many facts that I had not known and came to understand that some of the conventional wisdom about the war is based on ignorance and/or distortion of those facts.

Nixon also provides a great deal of analysis sprinkled throughout the book as to the effects of various choices made by various parties. Some of these bits of analysis are multi-faceted and deeply insightful on several levels.

One main thesis of the book is important to us today. An American president can only prosecute a foreign war as long as the hearts of the people are behind it. We should not get involved militarily in foreign conflicts without a clear mission statement, a clear plan for accomplishing that mission, and a clear plan for getting out. The American people become worn down and fatigued with protracted wars that do not have a clear moral justification and that lack a plan for getting out.

No American president prior to 1969 made a clear moral argument for our involvement in Vietnam. We had no plan for getting out of Vietnam prior to that time. By the time Nixon’s “Vietnamization” plan to transfer responsibility for fighting North Vietnam to the indigenous South Vietnamese came along, the U.S. was already tired of the conflict and anti-war sentiment had become extremely strong.

Nixon says that our involvement in Vietnam was a just and moral cause, although, we used our military might incredibly ineptly. He details mistakes (some horrible) and lost opportunities, but then shows how we actually did win the war. He then takes the reader on a painful journey that shows how we lost the peace that had been won. He is highly critical of the Congress that immorally left an ally high and dry resulting in innumerable deaths and incomprehensible suffering.

Nixon says that we must take allies as they are where we can get them, and that we can’t demand pure allies. The point is that we accept an ally that is better than the alternative even if the ally has a less than pristine record on democracy, trade, and human rights. We have ways to coax allies into making changes, but we can use only blunt force with enemies. People have more rights under allies than they would otherwise.

Nixon also forecasts the future of war in third world countries. He calls this the Third World War. While most of his prognostications are based on the idea that we will mostly be fighting will be fighting groups sponsored and supported by the old Soviet Union, his discussion of the nature and causes of these wars proves eerily accurate. He discusses the impending rise of terrorism and says that this will become pandemic unless we head it off.

Nixon says that the hawks are wrong with the attitude that all foreign problems are essentially military matters, but that the doves are even more wrong when they say that diplomacy without military might is the answer to foreign problems. He rightly notes that diplomacy without the force to back it up is worse than worthless. Diplomacy works only when we have the ability and the will to provide far nastier consequences. He says that while military might should be our last option, we must have the ability and the will to use it as our first option if conditions warrant it.

But Nixon says that we should start solving problems long before military action needs to be threatened. He notes that isolationism simply cannot work in today’s world. While we may not be interested in events elsewhere in the world, we cannot avoid the fact that they involve and/or impact us. We need to provide an appropriate mix of economic aid, trade, training programs, and diplomacy to prevent problems before they happen, but that we must use our military might to resolve problems when these methods fail.

Nixon says that we must attack the root causes of the problems. Groups that employ military means and/or terrorism must be supported by some power. While some repressive movements rise spontaneously in third world countries, they never gain power unless they are supported by some other foreign power. We must address the training and material flow from these foreign powers or even address the foreign powers directly to resolve these problems.

This last observation goes hand-in-hand with Michael Ledeen’s analysis of the nature of terrorist networks today. Ledeen says that while it is in vogue to state that terrorist cells throughout the world are largely autonomous and are not necessarily led by al Qaeda, experts know that the terrorist network is quite integrated. It operates with great support both in leadership and material from Iran, Syria, and Saudi Arabia.

Ledeen feels we are not doing enough to address the root of the problem, but are only whacking at the leaves. “We have killed thousands of terrorists there, and arrested many more, and yet we clearly have not dominated them. … We’re not nearly as vigorous as we should be in speeding up the fall of the mullahs, the Assads, and a Saudi royal family that has played the leading role in spreading the doctrines that inspire the terrorists.”

I think Nixon makes it clear that we need to be aggressive in dealing with problems like those pointed out by Ledeen. We need to do more in Iran and Syria. However, we have to be careful about what we do in Saudi Arabia lest we get rid of an ally, but replace him with something worse.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Thank Goodness for Neo-Conservatism

The brilliant conservative journalist Charles Krauthammer has graced the world with another of his tremendously insightful essays (here). In this essay, Mr. Krauthammer gives thanks that neo-conservatism (a curse phrase in some circles) is reaching maturation in U.S. foreign policy, noting that its strongest practitioners (W, Cheney, Rice, Rumsfeld) came from the realms of the school of realism. He says that they necessarily converted after reality whacked them up the side of the head on 9/11, and that what they brought with them has resulted in a certain richness that was previously lacking.

Mr. Krauthammer notes that the policy of the Bush I administration had many successes, but “suffered from the classic shortcoming of realism: a failure of imagination,” resulting in several significant problems. He says that we still undervalue the worth and quality of Bush’s work in the reunification of Germany.

Krauthammer then shreds the Clinton administration’s policy of liberal internationalism, saying that it was “a waste, eight years of sleepwalking, of the absurd pursuit of one treaty more useless than the last, while the rising threat--Islamic terrorism--was treated as a problem of law enforcement.”

He discusses the many prognostications of last year that neoconservatism was on its death bed and that it would be best to cut our losses in Iraq and run. But then four elections (U.S., Australia, Afghanistan, and Iraq) moved us from panic to sobriety. He criticizes the media for underplaying the Afghanistan election and he is grateful that it was impossible for them to do the same with the Iraq election. Indeed, the Iraq election spawned some tremendous events in the Middle East.

Krauthammer then provides the U.S. with a Middle East to-do list, starting with Lebanon, Syria, and later Iran, using the appropriate strategy in each place. He says that some think that we ought to start with our less-than-democratic allies (Egypt, Saudi Arabia which he calls a “royal kleptocracy,” Pakistan), but suggests this would be a grave mistake. He cites history where we allied with various less-than-free regimes (Chile, the Philippines) to conquer bigger threats, and then worked to help achieve freedom among our allies. He also says that we appropriately use different methods with our friends than we do with belligerents.

Krauthammer articulates some of the attributes of a maturing neoconservative philosophy: “discrimination and restraint, [examination of] both its principles and its practice in shaping a truly governing philosophy.” Then he notes that these attributes are already very evident in W’s administration.

Krauthammer says that rather than breaking apart into “conservative schisms,” W’s party has pulled together. He concludes, “This is not party discipline. It is compromise with reality, and convergence toward the middle. Above all, it is the maturation of a governing ideology whose time has come.”

Being a millennium-believing Christian, I believe that neo-conservatism, like all manmade philosophies, is unable to satisfactorily address all of the ills it aims to solve. However, I think it is proving to be one of our better foreigh policy philosophies, and it is one that we can use with some good results until we can settle on something better.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Steve Urquhart Aims to be Utah's Next U.S. Senator

Steve Urquhart has gone ahead and thrown his hat in the ring to challenge Senator Hatch for his senate seat. (See Steve’s campaign website). I have said that Senator Hatch needs to retire. Steve Urquhart is assaying to force Hatch to do so. Steve is smart and hard working. He is capable of doing a very good job representing Utah in the U.S. Senate, something that has become a low priority for Hatch.

Urqhuhart’s first job is to work with the GOP party faithful to build a strong base for the state Republican convention to be held next spring. Building name recognition among average voters is something that will need to pursued more strongly after the convention, assuming he pulls off a victory or forces a primary. Most of these people don’t have a clue what Hatch is doing in D.C. and will need to be educated. Then comes the chore of building name recognition among the class of voters that don’t even know how many senators or representatives we have in Washington, let alone knowing their names.

I wish Steve all the best in this pursuit.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

What Kind of Guy Is Judge John Roberts?

Many doubted President Bush would name a true conservative to the Supreme Court, but yesterday he kept his promise. Manuel Miranda of the Third Branch Conference (website under construction) says (here) that Judge John Roberts is a conservative’s conservative in the mold of Scalia and Thomas.

Some will recall that Mr. Miranda is a former staffer for Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) that was hung out to dry when he leaked (non-secret) Democratic senatorial memos that exposed the Democrats’ slimy, raw tactics in blocking the President’s judicial nominees. Rather than focus on the substance of the memos, Senator Hatch joined the exposed Democrats in an inquisition against Mr. Miranda, who (see here) “committed no wrongdoing–no hacking, no ethical lapses.” Mr. Miranda later formed the Third Branch Conference, which is sort of a clearing house and advisory group for conservative action groups.

Fred Barnes of the Weekly Standard says that while Roberts is conservative, he is no risk taker, which is what conservatives really hoped for. Indeed, he indicates that the nomination battle will probably be less than the bloody fight we have all been expecting. Barnes says Roberts is “an establishment conservative, [who is] respected as a private attorney and admired as a judge,” but that he is unlikely to vote to overturn Roe v. Wade.

William Kristol (also of the Weekly Standard) says that Roberts is a good choice, but that he’s “a Rehnquist, not a Scalia or a Thomas.” He said that in making his choice, Bush boldly focused on the best candidate rather than on political correctness, turning many pundit prognosticators on their heads.

Shannen Coffin of the National Review says that if there is a fight to get Roberts approved, it will be worth fighting. He outlines Roberts’ credentials and says that he “brings near unparalleled experience before the Supreme Court.”

National Review editors say that Roberts is a trade-up from O’Connor, and note some liberal rumblings against Roberts already in the works from the likes of Senator Dick our-soldiers-are-as-bad-as-Nazis Durbin (D-IL) (see al Jazeera story gloating over Durbin’s enemy love fest). They say that Roberts is a constructionist and they take the liberal gripers to task, noting that “Progressives have been telling us for more than a century that the original Constitution was inadequate.”

In nominating Roberts, the President noted that his 2001 nomination to the D.C. Court of Appeals was supported by a bipartisan group of over 150 respected lawyers with very diverse political views.

Roberts’ credentials are impressive (see Wikipedia article). He has served in many government positions and worked with the prestigious Washington D.C. based Hogan & Hartson Law Firm. That happens to be the same firm Sandy Berger (national security adviser to President Clinton) worked for when he “inadvertently” stuffed some classified memos down his pants and stole them from a vault in the National Archives, later destroying them at home so that they could not be reviewed by the 9/11 Commission. Keeping company like that could give conservatives pause.

The reason Fred Barnes says Roberts is likely to be confirmed is that he is a true Washington insider. He has many friends in many (influential) places on both sides of the aisle and is highly respected by them. He has a good reputation as a straight shooter, but he tends not to rock the boat (see links to multiple stories). I guess we’ll have to wait to see if Democratic senators try to Bork Roberts.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

What Motivates Terrorists?

Two recent articles in the National Review by Michael Ledeen of the American Enterprise Institute address the 7/7 bombings in London. Ledeen is a traditional conservative. His liberal critics have argued that Ledeen “is apparently capable of viewing diplomacy only through the barrel of a gun.”

In a piece that uses some dark humor as a device he explores the evidence surrounding the bombings in some detail to draw the conclusion that they were not suicide bombings. Rather, he says that the evidence suggests that the four men were duped by their handlers. They thought they were merely planting bombs, not that they would share the fate of their victims. Ledeen presents a compelling case.

In another piece, Ledeen works to explode the myths that people engage in terrorism due to poverty, ignorance, and/or oppression. He notes that many enlightened and educated people and their institutions like to ignore the facts that the most evil fascist societies of recent times proliferated in highly civilized countries, and that the cherished virtues of communism in practice have created extremely oppressive and evil societies.

Ledeen asks why we are all surprised that the 7/7 bombers were raised in a civilized country, attended good schools, had good family backgrounds, had decent jobs, and were well enough off financially. He then provides a host of other similar examples as support. He says that the idea that “that people raised in cultured, democratic, societies — whatever their ethnic background and whatever their political or religious beliefs — are immune to the emotional poisons that transform normal people into terrorists” amounts to “intellectual conceit.”

Ledeen argues that evil lurks in the hearts of men, and that those that engage in terrorism choose to do so because “They are people who find it fulfilling to kill us and destroy our society.” He also provides advice for dealing with the problem, saying, “The primary role of statesmen and other leaders is to contain the dark forces of human nature.”

He concludes with this ominous warning. “Evil cannot be "fixed" by some social program or suitably energetic public-affairs strategy, or by "reaching out" to our misguided comrades. It must be dominated. Otherwise it will dominate us.”

Monday, July 18, 2005

It's Time to Replace Senator Hatch

Ed Koch, who was the Democratic mayor of New York City from 1978 to 1989, pines (here) for the good old days when there were more “political titans” in both major parties. Although Koch provides a description of a titan (has integrity, but is not perceived as an ideologue), it is difficult to ascertain exactly what he means by the term. I think he mostly means that they remind him of himself in some way.

Koch includes the following as titans: Senators Joe Biden (D-DE), Hillary Clinton (D-NY), John McCain (R-AZ) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT), and Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell. Putting this group together seems kind of creepy to me. Look at the company Senator Hatch is keeping. And to Koch, none of these people are ideologues?! Sheesh!

Koch is a fine man, but I disagree with a lot of his political views. So what does it say when a Senator representing Utah (I was about to write, “from Utah,” but that would be inaccurate) merits political praise from the likes of Ed Koch? Maybe voters in Utah would like a senator who is an ideologue on certain issues.

I lamented in a previous post that Senator Hatch is not choosing to retire. Koch’s comments only strengthen my lamentation. I agree with Utah Representative Steve Urquhart (R-St. George) (as stated in this Pignanelli & Webb column) that Hatch has worn out his usefulness to Utah and is now only loosely connected to us bumpkins out here in the west. He truly has become a “creature of Washington.”

Hatch is doing a lot of work in D.C., but is it benefiting Utah? It seems that he is more interested in achieving some kind of personal legacy than in serving Utah. I previously compared him to Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV), but at least Byrd works hard to serve West Virginia.

Every time I talk to someone about the possibility of supporting a challenge to Hatch, the first words out of his/her mouth are the mantra that in the U.S. Senate tenure is everything and that, despite Hatch’s faults, Utah wouldn’t want to give up that position of seniority.

Oh, really? Before we go worshipping at the altar of senate seniority, perhaps we should consider what Hatch has done and is doing with that oh-so-precious commodity.

After eight years of leading the Judiciary Committee, it is the most dysfunctional committee in the senate. Hatch’s lackluster use of seniority allowed Utah’s junior senator, Bob Bennett, to quickly surpass Hatch in leadership. (Good for Bennett).

Hatch’s seniority is useful to Utah only if it helps Utah. I don’t see that happening. He loves working on all kinds of bipartisan pet issues that address matters that really aren’t all that important to the average Utahan, as well as some issues that are patently offensive to significant portions of our population. Hatch won’t give the time of day to elected and appointed Utah officials. They don’t merit his attention.

Look folks, it’s time for a change. I saw a horror movie years ago where a bunch of people in an area were turned into some kind of horrible, destructive monsters. Other people were sent into the area to fight them, but if they stayed too long they were affected and turned into monsters themselves. So they learned to go in, do the job quickly, and get out. There were a rare few that had some kind of genetic immunity to the infecting agent that could stay and fight longer. Hatch isn’t one of the latter. He’s one of the former. He’s been in Washington so long that he has become one of “them.”

But it isn’t good enough to simply do an anybody-but-Hatch maneuver here. We need high quality representation. Utah Representative John Dougall (R-American Fork) provides good reasons (here) for supporting Steve Urquhart to challenge Hatch.

While there has been a lot of scuttlebutt about a possible challenge, Urquhart has not yet decided whether to go for it. He knows it would be a David vs. Goliath battle. Hatch’s campaign manager Dave Hansen basically says that Hatch has enough money to squash any contender like a bug. That type of arrogance is what sets titans up for a fall. While I would like to see a good challenger step up to take Hatch down, only Urquhart and his family can determine whether this is the right fight for him or not.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

The Supreme Court Debacle Began 70 Years Ago

WSJ editorial page deputy editor Daniel Henninger explains how we got into our current judicial mess – what the founder of Common Good calls legislative and legal “incoherence.”

It seems we hit a point about 70 years ago where some (elitist) folks figured that the scale of problems such as urban poverty had become so great that they had to be handled on a national basis. Moral teachings and enforcements that had been managed since the beginning of time on a community level then began to be managed by government agencies. Of course, that meant that federal courts, particularly the Supreme Court, had to become the ultimate arbiters of morality.

Initially the court’s moral rulings had little impact on the lives of individuals, but after more than half a century their combined weight has made “individuals largely irrelevant to a modernist rule of law, which purports larger moral goals through the administrative process.” People have taken notice, and now “there is a politically potent constituency, which believes that this 70-year-old legal-administrative state is smothering them–as individuals, as communities and as a society.”

That is why conservatives feel strongly about the President nominating a constructionist to the court. That is why the battle in the “coming advise, consent and demolition hearings” will be important and will be worth winning.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

RDAs: Good Tools or Hideous Beasts?

The Standard Examiner Editorial Board recently opined that RDAs have their usefulness and should not be vilified wholesale. However, in today’s edition Mike Jarman of the Utah Taxpayers Association takes the editorial board to task on its position and explains how RDAs always end up hurting local governments and school districts while subsidizing retailers and business parks.

Jarman notes that bringing subsidized retail establishments into an area does not promote economic growth. Rather, he states that economic growth occurs “when local businesses export goods and services to households and businesses in other states and countries,” and when business productivity increases “through investments in hardware, software, machines and worker education.”

After providing staggering statistics on how RDAs are hurting local governments and school districts in Utah, Jarman says, “RDA subsidies for retail enrich a handful of developers and attorneys at the expense of counties, school districts and taxpayers.” He concludes by calling for meaningful RDA reform.

Johns Hopkins Study Says U.S. Health Care Is Expensive and Deficient

A Johns Hopkins University study has concluded that the high cost of U.S. health care is simply from higher prices rather than from litigation costs (see here). The study found that per capita medical litigation costs in 2001 were $16, while per capital overall medical costs in 2002 were $5440.

The study also found that U.S. health spending accounted for a greater percentage of GDP than almost any other country, but that for all that expense Americans have less access to some services. The study also beat on the class distinction drum, stating that higher income patients have better access than lower income patients in every area measured, while other developed countries have far less class disparity.

I did some searching, but was unable to discover who funded this study and the basic methodology for the study. I can’t get out of my head the warning of my undergrad statistics professor telling the class that any statistic you see or hear is worthless until you understand how the data were produced.

While the study found the direct cost of medical litigation to be relatively minimal, it appears to completely ignore the indirect costs of medical litigation. How much do we spend on unnecessary tests and procedures so that medical practitioners and organizations can cover their tails to avoid litigation? How is the quality of our care affected by these CYA practices?

I really choke on the conclusion that the U.S. has longer wait times for physician appointments and less access to hospital beds. My experiences with universal health care in Norway and Germany were that you could go to the doctor any time you wanted, but that you’d better pack a lunch. You could wait six or seven hours. You could also go to the hospital, but unless it was an extreme emergency, you’d better be prepared to wait two to three months to be admitted.

If I really want to see a doctor, I can see one today. The longest I have ever had to wait is 90 minutes, and I thought that was very bad. I have seen many people here (myself included) admitted to the hospital the same or the next day for non-emergency conditions. Perhaps health care is better in northern Utah than other places in the U.S., but is it really so much better that the rest of the U.S. lags behind Norway and Germany in these measures? I wonder where Johns Hopkins got its data?

Moreover, this whole study flies in the face of an article by Johns Hopkins University President William R. Brody published last year in the Washington Post. Brody explores the current medical tort system and rips it to shreds.

Something is fishy here. I wonder why it is so difficult to discover who funded this study and how the data were gathered. I wonder why the study seeks to refute recent bold statements by the university’s president. I think this study should be held at arms length until the public can figure out how the study was done and who funded it.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Bork Explains Why We Need Conservative Justices

Retired judge, former U.S. Solicitor General, and one time U.S. Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork opines here on the current state of SCOTUS and on replacing retiring justices.

Of course, the verb bork is derived from the unprecedented campaign of personal and political defamation carried out in 1987 by liberals that culminated in Bork’s defeat at the hands of the U.S. Senate. Bork’s lynching by well funded liberal forces caught the Reagan administration off guard and raised the politicization of federal judicial nominations to an unprecedented level.

Many see Bork’s failure to be confirmed as justification for ignoring anything he says. However, Bork’s qualifications and thinking skills far exceed those of 99.5% of his critics. Bork provides a provocative analysis that is particularly interesting for conservatives and explains why it is imperative to appoint justices that “have so firm an understanding of the judicial function that they will not drift left once on the bench.”

Bork rips on elitist justices that have long been interpreting law with little connection to the Constitution, calling their rulings “vaporings.” He says, “Once the justices depart, as most of them have, from the original understanding of the principles of the Constitution, they lack any guidance other than their own attempts at moral philosophy, a task for which they have not even minimal skills.”

Bork particularly dwells on the court’s steady slide toward individual autonomy and separation from social responsibility. He warns, “In its insistence on radical personal autonomy, the court assaults what remains of our stock of common moral beliefs. That is all the more insidious because the public and the media take these spurious constitutional rulings as not merely legal conclusions but moral teachings supposedly incarnate in our most sacred civic document.”

While I’m not sure the public is so easily duped into accepting the court’s rulings as definitions of morality, the court’s moral definitions are implemented as public policy and have far reaching effect.

LDS Church Apostle, Elder L. Tom Perry recently commented on societies that “are becoming so secular in their beliefs and actions that they reason that a human being has total autonomy.” He says, “Societies in which this secular lifestyle takes root have a deep spiritual and moral price to pay.”

I am certain that those that support the court’s continual departure from morality have little concern for or worry about Elder Perry’s warnings. However, the proliferation of these attitudes and policies in our society will come with a price that must unavoidably be paid. While I’m sure that liberals and relativists are unconcerned, we will eventually be unable to implement sufficient social programs to circumvent the serious social ills that will befall us. The cost will be enormous. Check out western Europe, for example.

Bork concludes that it will require at least three appointments of strict constructionists to halt the court’s downward spiral. He argues that each nomination will be worth the fight, saying, “The stakes are the legitimate scope of self-government and an end to judicially imposed moral disorder.”

Old Cartoons Rule!

This may seem rather frivolous, but before going off to various Scouting activities, I spent some of my own allowance on the DVD set of Jonny Quest – the Complete First Season. I loved the show when I was a kid, and I have to say that seeing these episodes again is better than seeing them the first time. I’m not sure there has been a cartoon series since then that has been as cool and has been done as well as Jonny Quest. The interesting thing is that my four boys, ranging from age 13 to age 5, are absolutely mesmerized. Despite the series being 40 years old, my kids find it every bit as captivating as I did as a 60s youngster.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Camp Is Great, but Home Is Better

I am back after two back-to-back long-term Scouting activities. Two weeks ago I was one of four adults that took 15 boys that are 14-15 years of age to the St. George area and did a wide variety of activities. We worked to keep everyone safe (and well hydrated) and accounted for. Everyone had a great time, but we were all glad to go home.

My son reports that he’s not too thrilled about the heat in Utah’s Dixie. He was also somewhat disgusted at encountering cockroaches for the first time in his life. I thought it was an amazing place, but I am not ready to join the multitudes of people that are flocking there and stimulating rapid growth. I was surprised to find out from one life-long resident of St. George that no building in the area had any kind of refrigerated climate control (A/C or evaporative) prior to the 1960s. No wonder growth remained slow until after that.

Last week I was one of seven adults (some attended in shifts) that took 11 boys that are 12-13 years old to Camp Loll, which is in a narrow strip of the Targhee National Forest that is sandwiched between Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. Nobody went anywhere without a buddy. We hiked our group to the spectacular Union Falls, which is the second highest waterfall in Yellowstone, on a 17-mile round trip hike.

While at camp we endured rain, hail, lightning, mud, more mud, incredibly nasty mosquitoes, etc. But we also experienced the beauty of the wilderness, sunshine, more stars than you’ve ever seen in your life, and a Scout camp program that is unparalleled. It is a great place to go if you want to learn about patriotism and fulfilling the responsibilities of citizenship. We came home tired and mosquito-bitten, but safe and happy.

While at Camp Loll I received an assignment from an old friend that is a history teacher to read Richard Nixon’s book No More Vietnams. He has a multi-part series on the book that starts here. He tells me it will help me understand how the U.S. can win the war on terrorism. I’ll report more when my assignment is finished.

I am grateful that we did not have any major problems or safety issues during these two activities. I am glad we took some simple, but important safety precautions. I am glad my boys had these opportunities and for the people that worked to provide them. But I am especially glad to be home.