THE SCRAPBOOK wanted to give some of its space this holiday season to an email from our friend Jim Hake, founder and chairman of Spirit of America. This terrific non-profit supports our troops' efforts on the front lines by supplying materiel they judge will be helpful in accomplishing their mission.
"The photo above," writes Hake, "shows Lieutenant Colonel Billy McCullough, Battalion Commander of the 1/5 Marines in Nawa, Afghanistan. The Marines in Nawa have made great progress in the last 6 months. McCullough is presenting the Marines ceremonial sword--the Mameluke--to local Afghan leaders who have been working cooperatively with the Marines. This is one of the ways relationships are reinforced on the front lines. Because of [support from our donors], Spirit of America was able to provide the swords when they were needed.
"A few days ago I received an email from a Marine captain asking if we could provide 20 treadle-powered sewing machines. They'll be used to help women in Nawa, Afghanistan and build upon the gains of the 1/5 Marines.
"You may recall that years ago we provided swords (www.spiritofamerica.net/site/blog/912) and sewing machines (www.spiritofamerica.net/projects/16) to help the Marines in Anbar Province, Iraq. That was before and during the 'Anbar Awakening' and the surge--when the situation in Iraq was difficult and challenging, as Afghanistan is today.
"Speaking of the Marines in Anbar Province. . . . In 2004, the 1st Marine Division invited me to visit them in Iraq to explore how Spirit of America could increase our support. Before going I was required to participate in a one-day training session at Camp Pendleton.
"At the end of the day, I was briefed by a young lieutenant. He asked if I knew what to do if anyone started shooting at us. Figuring that the Marines would know where to take cover, I said, 'I'll do what the Marines do.' The lieutenant gave me a strange look and said, 'No. The Marines are going to run to the fire. You are going to run away.'
"I've never forgotten what the lieutenant said. The Marines run to the fire--meaning they don't shrink from the tough or unwanted situation. They do what needs to be done no matter how hard it is. They 'run to the fire.' I've come to understand this is an ethos that applies broadly--not only to Marines in combat.
"Afghanistan is a tough situation, even for those not serving. Here at home there is ample pessimism and disagreement. Many prefer to avoid the subject entirely. And there is no easy solution. The situation is difficult but we are not powerless. We can help our troops succeed and come home sooner and safer. This is our time to 'run to the fire' and do what needs to be done."
THE SCRAPBOOK can vouch for the tremendously important work Jim Hake and Spirit of America are doing. You can learn more about their mission (and contribute!) at www.spiritofamerica.net.
China Screws Obama?
An interesting leftwing critique of China's part in the Copenhagen farce appeared last week in the Guardian. Obama fans will be inclined to embrace it, because it exonerates their hero from blame for the "failure" (from the global warmists' point of view) to secure a U.N. climate change treaty. THE SCRAPBOOK embraces it because it rings true.
China wrecked the talks, intentionally humiliated Barack Obama, and insisted on an awful "deal" so western leaders would walk away carrying the blame. How do I know this? Because I was in the room and saw it happen [writes Mark Lynas]. . . . -China's strategy was simple: block the open negotiations for two weeks, and then ensure that the closed-door deal made it look as if the West had failed the world's poor once again. And sure enough, the aid agencies, civil society movements and environmental groups all took the bait. The failure was "the inevitable result of rich countries refusing adequately and fairly to shoulder their overwhelming responsibility," said Christian Aid. "Rich countries have bullied developing nations," fumed Friends of the Earth International. All very predictable, but the complete opposite of the truth.
Lynas continues: "Sudan behaves at the talks as a puppet of China; one of a number of countries that relieve the Chinese delegation of having to fight its battles in open sessions. . . . China gutted the deal behind the scenes, and then left its proxies to savage it in public."
The Guardian's contributor is violating a taboo, of course, as he acknowledges: "[Climate] campaign groups never blame developing countries for failure; this is an iron rule that is never broken." Indeed, if THE SCRAPBOOK may resurrect a phrase, "they always blame America first."
'National Affairs,' Number 2
Feeling bereft when you've finished the latest issue of THE WEEKLY STANDARD? Need something else stimulating to read? THE SCRAPBOOK has just the thing for you.
The new quarterly journal National Affairs, edited by SCRAPBOOK friend and WEEKLY STANDARD contributor Yuval Levin (see his article with James C. Capretta on page 9 of this issue), debuted last September with a spectacular initial issue. That's now been followed by--dare we say--an even better second issue. Read James Q. Wilson on blame and responsibility in our criminal justice system; Nicole Gelinas on pro-market regulation of our financial industry ("Too Big Not To Fail"); Diana Schaub on baseball and the American spirit; Jim Manzi on how to balance social cohesion and economic innovation ("Keeping America's Edge"); Eric Cohen on "The Moral Realism of Irving Kristol"; and much more. To sample or to order, go to nationalaffairs.com. And enjoy.
Sentences We Didn't Finish
"There was a time, a decade ago, Patti Smith said, that she did not want to make a film about herself. 'To me the idea seems sort of conceited,' she said in an interview. 'I felt, even though I was 50 years old at the time, too young to do a documentary. I hadn't done enough work yet to merit a documentary.' It turns out that being followed around by a camera for more than a decade can help one overcome shyness. On Dec. 30, Ms. Smith's 63rd birthday, PBS will broadcast . . . " ("A Legend as Muse: Patti Smith Fills Role" New York Times, December 20).
Rudy Boschwitz, Art Critic
THE SCRAPBOOK was happy to hear from Rudy Boschwitz, former senator from Minnesota, and is pleased to pass on his comment on the art accompanying Michael Pakenham's review of the new book on U.S. Grant in our December 21 issue:
"As an admirer of President Grant, I think the new biography by Joan Waugh sounds wonderful. But I hope the artistic representation of Grant & Lee at Appomattox in THE WEEKLY STANDARD was not in the book. It showed Grant in polished boots and dress uniform. Actually he came in off the field in 'unpressed jacket and mud-spattered trousers' (McFeely, p. 219)--also described as 'scruffy army-blue clothing' (p. 216). Nor was it a good resemblance of Lee, a tall aristocrat who arrived in an immaculate uniform with a sword. Poor Lee. He looks kind of scrawny in your picture, with no sword in sight."