Thursday, August 29, 2013

Texas: Fort Hood Victims Were "Casualties of War" (Update: Effort to Overturn "Workplace Violence" Designation)

A Texas state agency has taken the latest initiative in the continuing conflict between Texas and the Obama administration, addressing the discrepancy of labeling the massacre at Fort Hood by the recently condemned self-declared jihadi Nidal Hasan as "workplace violence".

Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson

Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson has announced that the Texas Veterans Land Board, part of the network of state agencies that exemplify the generous attitude toward the sacrifices of Texas veterans, will now classify those killed and wounded at Fort Hood as being "casualties of war".  This specifically applies to the spouses of the victims.  According to Patterson:
This wasn't workplace violence – these were casualties of war and we're going to change the rules to give these families full access to VLB benefits.  We'll let the lawyers work out the details, but I intend to make sure we honor their sacrifice.
Each of the active and retired military members who died in the Fort Hood terrorist attack lost their life while assigned to duty in Texas or in support of the military in Texas.  They were physically on duty in Texas and chose to remain until the time of their death in defense of both the citizens of the United States and Texas.  Like Travis and Crockett, their spilled blood remains forever intermingled with Texas soil.  Their surviving spouses who are residents of Texas at the time of application should be eligible for VLB programs.

Fort Hood memorial service
The lines preceding Patterson's reference to two of the great heroes of the Texas Revolution speak parenthetically to the particulars of state law, and have the whiff of familiarity with my time dealing with Vernon's Annual Statutes.  The sentiment expressed, however, is pure Texas. 

Jerry Patterson (Texas A&M, Class of 1970) was an officer in artillery and aviation in the US Marine Corps, both active and reserve, retiring in 1993 as a Lieutenant Colonel.  He was elected to the Texas Senate in 1992, representing the area around Houston, and as the Texas Land Commissioner in 2002.  (All major state government positions are independently elected in Texas, which simply adds luster to the cachet of what some would call the almost Byzantine nature of Texas politics.)  Patterson's accomplishments in the Senate include his authorship of the state Concealed Carry Law, the properly environmental Coastal Management Plan, creation of the state Veterans Home Program (the VLB manages eight veterans homes and four state veterans cemeteries), and his chairmanship of the first Veterans Affairs Committee.
As Land Commissioner, he helps oversee what is likely the most generous compilation of state programs for support of veterans in the nation, and his passion for Texas history ensures that he takes his charge seriously.  (Texas' generosity includes the Hazlewood Act, an additional college GI Bill for Texas veterans, meaning those born in the state or who joined the military while in Texas.  This reflects the cultural identity that a Texan needn't have to be native born, but willing to take up the identity of a Texan and all that that entails.)

The Texas legal structure benefits from Texas having been a sovereign nation.  The Texas Land Commission, which includes the VLB, derives its powers from the original Texas General Land Office established after the independence of the Republic of Texas in 1836, and was created in part to ensure that veterans of the Texas Revolution against Mexico (and General Santa Anna in particular) received the land grants they were promised as a result of their service in that war and the ensuing military actions against Mexican army incursions into the Republic, and subsequent state after 1845.  That codified promise was updated in 1946 with the creation of the VLB, to ensure the same courtesy to veterans of World War II. 

The Obama administration, particularly in the form of the obdurate Attorney General Eric Holder, has been waging a petty war on Texas and the increasingly conservative political atmosphere of the state, and this continuing battle takes its form in Patterson's declaration of the obvious against the political expediency of the Obama nomenklatura.  Examples of this conflict include the season of wildfires that burned more than 2.5 million acres statewide in 2011 without a viable response of federal disaster aid; withholding of federal aid for the massive explosion in the town of West; battles over education funding; victory over the EPA when it violated the Clean Air Act; allocating the remaining space shuttles – remnants of the defunct American manned space program before Obama shut it down – to safely Democrat-voting cities, snubbing the obvious choice of Houston and the Johnson Space Center (You remember, don't you?  "Houston, this is Tranquility Base…"?).

Eric Holder, the day after the Supreme Court struck down the antiquated bondage in which some states had to ask permission of the federal government to affect voting laws (a status Constitutionally reserved to the states alone), announced that his Department of Justice would do precisely that anyway in the case of Texas and its move to require voter ID.  And in a related move, the Democrats have announced an all-out effort to target Texas in particular in order to move it from its conservative political make-up to a state that turns out predominantly blue results.

There is pre-eminently the political battle over border security, with the Texas border with Mexico covering over half the length of our 1954-mile frontier with that huge source of illegal drugs and massive illegal immigration, or as Jay Leno put it, "undocumented Democrats".  The press ballyhooed Obama allocating a temporary posting of a paltry 1200 National Guard troops to the southern border.  Only 286 of the troops were sent to Texas.  Governor Rick Perry railed against the federal abandonment of the issue, and called for more troops as well as enhanced security measures, and after being ignored on the issue, went so far as to press a letter to that effect onto Obama when he passed through the Austin airport on a campaign swing.  Obama refused to accept it and the ever-present Valerie Jarrett took it instead, with the same result of being pigeon-holed.

Perry turned down attendance at a useless briefing in Washington, DC, and an offer to briefly meet Obama in El Paso at another campaign stop, but that would have turned into another public dressing-down like Obama's 2010 State of the Union public berating of the Supreme Court over the Citizens United vs Federal Election Commission decision, or Obama strongly criticizing Paul Ryan's budget proposals at a speech at George Washington University in 2011 as Ryan sat directly in front of him in the front row of the audience.  (The last laugh was on Obama at the El Paso appearance, should anyone have caught it: he laughed at his border security critics, saying that they wanted to build a moat along the border, with alligators.  Obama keeps presenting us with a running gag of how ignorant he is of simple geography: the Texas border with Mexico consists of its entire length being comprised of the Rio Grande, a habitat of alligators from Laredo all the way down to the Gulf of Mexico.) 

If the administration seeks a political benefit over the bodies of the victims of the massacre at Fort Hood, insisting that the incident was a crime and not an act of war in the continuing effort to change our historical jurisprudence, then at least Texas in the form here of Jerry Patterson will stand athwart the 'progress' of Obama's minions, as William Buckley put it, and yell 'stop'.

Update: The effort continues, from the same source of Texas but on another front, attacking the "workplace violence" nonsense directly. 

Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas), Representative John Carter (R-Texas), and Representative Roger Williams (R-Texas) are introducing the Honoring The Fort Hood Heroes Act to the US Congress, which would overturn the designation of the Justice Department and make the shooting a terrorist attack. 

The bill would grant the victims the same status as those of the attacks of 11 September 2001, and make them eligible for a Purple Heart or a Defense Department civilian award, with the appropriate benefits accruing thereto.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Hasan Sentenced to Death

Nidal Hasan has been sentenced to death, by lethal injection, by the panel of thirteen officers (some news stories incorrectly call it a "military jury") and the military judge.  It is common in modern  American jurisprudence, and certainly in the press, to perform all manner of legal gymnastics to avoid a death sentence at all costs for essentially philosophical reasons, but not only is this sentence entirely legal, it is also just.


Hasan (he has also lost his rank – 'dismissed', equivalent to a dishonorable discharge – so we no longer have any compulsion whatsoever to include what would otherwise be an 'honorific' title of Major) is convicted and sentenced for the premeditated murder of 13 people (14, if one includes – as I do – the fact that one of the victims was a pregnant Private Francheska Velez, 21, who begged him over and over to spare her baby) and attempted murder of the 32 wounded victims in the crowded clinic waiting room.  We should all be familiar with the fact that he continued to yell "Allahu akbar" ('God is greater [than all other gods]') throughout his rampage inflicted upon the unarmed and helpless crowd until he was finally cut down after ten minutes by responding policeman Mark Todd. 

Objections are already being raised by the usual crowd.  One of these, his anticipated martyrdom, was anticipated by the lead Trial Counsel (prosecutor) Colonel Mike Mulligan during closing arguments in the sentencing phase:
You cannot offer what you don't own; you cannot give away what is not yours.  He can never be a martyr because he has nothing to give….  Do not be misled; do not be confused; do not be fooled.  He is not giving his life.  We are taking his life.  This is not his gift to God; it's his debt to society.  He will not now and will not ever be a martyr.  He is a criminal, a cold-blooded murderer.  On 5 November he did not leave this earth, he remained to pay a price.  To pay a debt.  The debt he owes is his life.
Yet those who would piously defend his life will argue nonetheless that he will be a martyr to the cause, a "recruiting tool" for other Islamic Supremacists.  Soon after the attack of 11 September, which was not the beginning but only the most egregious of the attacks in the crusade against the West, we heard from these same people that "only ten percent" of the Muslim world was so allied to the cause of eliminating or subjugating the world to Islam.  I take small comfort indeed that the resultant 160 million jihadis are perfectly fine with killing me, killing my family, and destroying my religion and way of life.  These people are fanatics, and like all true fanatics they will not be swayed in one direction or another from their purpose, so it makes no difference to them whether Hasan is executed or not, just like the canard about Guantánamo somehow being an excuse for all the attacks before 11 September.

I also reject the Obama administration's refusal to characterize the crime as anything other than "workplace violence", in order to preserve the nicety of treating this as a crime and not an act of war, playing to their dogged insistence that all such threats be treated in a court of law as a civil crime and not within a military tribunal during a time of war.  Yet Hasan was not insane – a legal and not psychological term of art – in that he methodically planned out this attack over a considerable amount of time, and proclaimed his theoretical justification for such an attack to many others who were cowed by the toxic political correctness that would damage their careers if they were to utter anything that could (and would) be construed as anti-Islamic.  Hasan proclaimed himself as an enemy combatant, and that is all that is necessary to classify this as a war crime.  He effectively renounced his allegiance to the Army and to the United States by doing so, and his rights in this matter are so altered.

As for martyrdom being some attempt at a perverted sense of honor, he betrayed his oath to the Constitution and his native country as well as his oath to Hippocrates as a doctor to "do no harm".  He is without honor and can claim no such consideration.

We have abandoned any concept of a speedy trial (it has taken almost four years to arrive at this point) and we should expect no less in the slow trudge to that day when Hasan will finally be punished for his crime, just as applicable under the Law of Land Warfare as well as the UCMJ.

It will be said that on that day when he finally goes to his god that mercy should be shown to his soul.  That is within the purview of God.  I cannot, imperfect being that I am, for I can dredge up no mercy whatsoever for such a cold-blooded murderer.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

John F Kennedy Addresses the Current Economic Dilemma

Very little is said these days about the economic opinions and actions of one of the great Democrats, John F Kennedy.  Popular commentary dwells on the fluff of his Camelot days, a term invented by Theodore White in the few days after Kennedy's funeral, and one still hears of the supposed Kennedy plan to withdraw troops from Viet Nam, both post-mortem, since refuted.  From the savvy "Let us continue …" campaign strategy of Lyndon Johnson after the assassination, including the 'Goldwater will use the bomb' spot, to the present day, Democrats use the Kennedy administration as a Golden Age of American democracy.

But with our current catastrophic economic policy, with massive debt getting larger and the only plan being to make it larger still, Kennedy is not the source that Democrats rely on to make their point about larger government being the panacea for all social ills.

Neil Cavuto unearthed the following exchange in an audio segment.  It exists today as an outtake from an NBC News interview with Kennedy on 9 September 1963, just over two months from the day that he would be assassinated, by the iconic Chet Huntley and David Brinkley.  (The relevant portion in the video is between 7:00 and 9:30.)  Compare Kennedy's take on a major across-the-board tax cut, a move opposed by his own party, and compare it to today's eat-the-rich tax policy of Obama:

Brinkley: Mr President, Harry Truman was out for his walk this morning and he said he did not think we should have a tax cut until we get the budget balanced, and the other day Senator Humphrey was saying in the Senate that what the American people think is true is often more important than what actually is true.  What, in view of that, what do you think about cutting taxes while the budget is still in deficit? 

Kennedy: The reason the government is in deficit is because you've got more than 4 million people unemployed, and because for the last 5 years you've had rather sluggish growth, much slower than any other Western country.
I'm in favor of a tax cut because I'm concerned that if we don't get the tax cut that we are going to have an increase in unemployment and that we may move into a period of economic downturn.
            We had a recession in '58, a recession in 1960.  We've done pretty well since then, but we still have over 4 million unemployed.  And I think this tax cut can give the stimulus to our economy over the next 2 or 3 years.  I think it will provide for greater national wealth.  I think it will reduce unemployment.  I think it will strengthen our gold position.  So I think that the proposal we've made is responsible and in the best interests of the country. 

Huntley: The affirmative economic response to Britain's tax cut seemed to be almost immediate.  Would it be as immediate in this country, do you think? 

Kennedy: I think it would be.  Interestingly enough, the British came forward with their tax cut in April, passed it within a month.  They have experienced economic benefits from it.  Unemployment's been substantially reduced.
            They have a larger deficit than we do.  Yet the only criticism was that it wasn't enough.  Every… nearly every economist has supported us.  I think it's in the best economic interests of the country, unless this country just wants to drag along, have 5 or 6 million people unemployed, have profits reduced, have economic prospects… have our budget unbalanced by a much larger proportion.  The largest unbalanced budget in the history of this country was in 1958 because of the recession -- $12.5 billion.
            The fact of the matter is that, of course, government expenditures do go up in every administration, but the country's wealth goes up.  President Eisenhower spent $185 billion more than President Truman.  But the country was much wealthier.  It is much wealthier now than it was in the last year of President Eisenhower's administration.
I think our economic situation can be very good.  I think what we have proposed is a responsible answer to a problem which has been part of our economic life for 5 or 6 years, and that is slack, failure to grow sufficiently, relatively high unemployment.  And if you put that together with the fact that we have to find 35,000 new jobs a week, I think the situation in this country calls for a tax reduction this year.  [pauses in original]

Times have changed from the early 1960s, certainly.  Kennedy cites the public concern with the unemployment rate, which at the time of the interview was at 5.4%, compared to 7.4% now.  If the economy had to grow by 35,000 jobs per week then, it must grow, using the same calculations, by 75,000 jobs now.  A 1963 dollar is worth $7.55 now.  There are more variables to compare, but that will give you a start.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Some Thoughts on Rat Bounties

I came across a news item about the township of Southgate, Michigan and its problem of an infestation of rats.  The story doesn't specify, but I notice that the town abuts the southern edge of Detroit, which immediately brings to mind that perhaps even the rats are electing to desert this urban equivalent of a sinking ship.

At any rate, the story describes one resident's improvised method of trapping the varmints: a bucket two-thirds full of water with some grass clippings spread on top, baited with peanut butter, and a small wooden strip of wood serving as a rat ramp to provide easy access, a microcosmic drowning pool that would appeal to the lemming in every rodent.  His tally so far that day was fourteen. 

His is a small example of the compulsive drive that seeks to better himself and thereby also others.  He was motivated initially by the idea that he should take his harvest of vermin to city hall in the hope that the fetid mess would provide some negative motivation for the city to "do something".  He was further motivated by somehow discovering an old law from 1919 (shown in the televised story) that put a bounty of 10¢ a head on rats, a not-insignificant sum in those days and one that would still appeal to the gentleman in the story due to the target-rich environment.  The mayor is interviewed and replies that (1) he is predictably "unaware" of such a law but more importantly that (2) the city is somewhat constrained in the magnitude of services which it is supposed to provide for the commonweal and instead suggests that the citizens may wish to take it upon themselves to eradicate whatever rats that are thereabout to the extent that they may – nothing after all prevents people from taking their own best interest to heart in circumstances such as these. 

The gentleman is moved by the offer of a mere dime per head, yet other communities offer far more.  The nearby Oregon settlement on Puget Island (served ironically from the state of Washington), offers from $5 to $8 per rat, and Louisiana (as we were recently reminded by that cunningly popular Duck Dynasty) offers $5 for Nutria, a particularly insidious rat Goliath.  Other states and communities offer such bounties, and even St Claire Shores, only a few miles from Southgate, is considering a $5 bounty as well. 

Nutria (Did I say 'big'?)

His remarks remind me of the aftereffects of Hurricane Andrew in 1992, a category 5 storm and one of the top three hurricanes of the 20th century, which smashed through southern Florida (receiving an enormous amount of press coverage) and then crashed into Louisiana (which did not).  I put together a church group of volunteers that traveled to Berwick, Louisiana to aid with the cleanup, and the contrast of the attitudes between what we saw in Louisiana ("Another hurricane.  Well, let's roll up our sleeves and get to work.") and the televised reactions in Florida were striking.  What stuck in my mind as an example of Florida was the scene of one woman sitting in front of what had been her house, complaining that the government simply wasn't quick enough in providing aid, and cited the fact that there were dead dogs around that needed to be disposed of.  My mental reaction was that, if getting rid of dead dogs was a priority for her, then maybe she should consider getting off her duff and burying them herself, because everyone was rather busy trying to restore civilisation.  At that moment, my reaction was tinged by the fact that I was almost literally "up to my ass in alligators", and I dwelt on the fact (as I have so often had the opportunity to do) that a strong dose of reality has a way of focusing one's mind on the truly important priorities of life. 

In thinking on the pest control improvisator in the story, it brings to mind the famous observation of the great Adam Smith and his classic Wealth of Nations, wherein he says: 
Every individual necessarily labours to render the annual revenue of society as great as he can.  He generally neither intends to promote the public interest, nor knows how much he is promoting it.... He intends only his own gain, and he is, in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was not part of his intention.  Nor is it always the worse for the society that it was no part of it.  By pursuing his own interest he frequently promotes that of the society more effectually than when he really intends to promote it.  I have never known much good done by those who affected to trade for the public good.
In doing so, Smith reminds us that the individual most commonly must surmount "a hundred impertinent obstructions with which the folly of human laws too often encumbers its operation."

Yet Mark Twain has another observation on the subject, and just as germane:
[T]he best way to increase wolves in America, rabbits in Australia, and snakes in India, is to pay a bounty on their scalps.  Then every patriot goes to raising them.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

My Vote For Top Halloween Costume of the Year: Obama Rodeo Clown

Halloween is just around the corner, and it's considered an increasingly popular holiday by an increasing number of residents of America (a separate category from Americans) – much like Cinco de Mayo.  And now, just in time, comes the idea for the new promise of the number one costume for the season: the Obama Rodeo Clown.

News reports are awash with the item that the Missouri State Fair and Rodeo included an act wherein a faux dummy with an Obama mask was propped up in the expected line of attack of a bucking bull.  The resultant outrage and its side-lobes should have been anticipated in this day of the Obama Cult of Personality, and it speaks also to the knee-jerk opportunity of the Sophisticati to react condescendingly to the enthusiastic response of the gun-and-religion clingers in the stands.

State legislators and officials are tripping over themselves in trying to bound aboard the bandwagon of bombast in condemning the act.  Calls are made for curtailing state funding for the fair, questions about why police are not investigating the incident (some paltry excuse about the First Amendment …), sensitivity training has been decreed for all officials and contractors, the head of the state NAACP has called for the incident to be investigated by the Department of Justice and the Secret Service, and the latest news that the clown involved – not identified (not yet, but you just know that he will have to be hauled out to be pilloried) – has been banned for life from further appearances at the fair.  The head of the Missouri Rodeo Cowboy Association has resigned, not in penance for the incident but instead in protest that the punishment didn't go far enough, as a firewall against being further swept up in the controversy in order to protect his full-time job as superintendent of the local school district. 

Conveniently forgotten in the press stampede is the fact that the act has had its previous incarnations, involving several sitting presidents, at least as far back as 1994 when a caricature of President George H W Bush was used.  Oddly, the liberals were silent about those stunts, but they did show their appreciation of many such allusions about Obama's predecessor, involving innumerable comparisons of George W Bush to chimpanzees and Hitler, a movie and book about Bush's assassination, and endless examples of the Bush Derangement Syndrome.  And let's not forget Bush's head on a pike, shown in an episode of the popular Game of Thrones:
Reaction on both sides of the political spectrum is predictable.  I especially appreciate the comment from Pamela Geller at Atlas Shrugs: "They should have had the bull wear a Putin mask."  The Looking Spoon did a good job of summing it up:
This is one more item to add to the Obama Cult, wherein he is not only supposed to be immune from criticism, but detractors or even satirists must be hounded into silence.

Update: Representative Steve Stockman (R-Texas) has invited the clown in question to perform in Texas.  Perhaps Governor Perry can consider a grant of asylum.

Another Obama Tone-Deaf Vacation

Someone in the White House Press Office needs to be sent packing (right after the staffer who forgot Obama's notes, rendering the Great Orator speechless).  There can be no other rationalization for the permission to release the ridiculous photo of the President on another of his golf outings at Martha's Vineyard.  We might expect an embarrassing photo from a paparazzo, but the phalanx of his tight security (I'm speaking here of the Secret Service, not the press) would surely have such an unauthorized and unvetted photographer far removed.

That photo is bad enough, but it could also be tempting for some wag to come up with something like this:
This isn't a one-off; just one of series.  For example:
The vacations and outings for Obama and family continue unabated despite the economic crisis still bound in a staggering recovery, and a recovery if only on paper.  A highly touted 1.7% growth last quarter can barely, if at all, keep up with simple population growth, and with the Chinese economy continuing to grow in the 7.5% range, it won't take long before we see the reckoning from our self-inflicted economic doldrums.
Allowing such photographic equivalents of drivel as this is indicative of the tone-deaf attitude about the visuals associated with vacationing in the Pleasure Dome that is Martha's Vineyard.  Add to that the dispatch of the family dog aboard one of the new MV-22 Osprey that is part of the Marine HMX-1 presidential squadron.  These are two very expensive additions that the president isn't allowed to use for himself, but it's fine for his dog.  (The aircraft isn't considered sufficiently safe for the Presidential Presence, after bad press around the development of the aircraft and two crashes.  To demonstrate his confidence in the new type of Marine aircraft after the last crash investigation, the then-Commandant General James Jones boarded it for its first test flight, accompanied by his wife.)
Note also the two mesh bags of basketballs.   Now, I'm not one to begrudge someone some time off, but the difference between how the MSM handles the presidential outings of Obama and his predecessor are marked.  Whereas Bush dropped golfing altogether, Obama is simply unfazed by the contrast between his frequent and untimely trips to the links and the economic dilemma of the country.  I particularly like the comment about how "Obama's frequent outings reflect a cool self-confidence."

Residents of the tony get-away for the rich are advised that, if they have complaints about traffic being shut down to accommodate Obama's movements, they are to call or e-mail the White House.  This is the effective equivalent of a traffic cop giving you a ticket along with a parting shot of "Have a nice day."

Compare this with the typical Bush 'vacation' at his ranch in Crawford, Texas.

But concern about jobs and the economy during these expensive, taxpayer-paid jaunts?  That's for the little people.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

General Mattis Condemns Feckless Response to the Iranians: Thoughts, Background, and Lessons

The former CENTCOM commander, General James Mattis, USMC (retired), delivered remarks in a recent Q&A session at the Aspen Security Forum with CNN's Wolf Blitzer (and is there a better name for a Pentagon correspondent?) wherein, inter alia, he criticized the Obama administration in no uncertain terms about announcing the discovery of an active plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States and then doing precisely nothing about it.

Attorney General Eric Holder and FBI Director Robert Mueller held a press conference in October 2011 where they implicated Manssor Arbabsiar, a naturalized US citizen from Iran living in Texas (and who knew that my sleepy, end-of-the-road hometown of Corpus Christi would be a hotbed of Iranian terrorism?), and Gholam Shakuri of the Iranian Quds Force, the overseas enforcement arm of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps.  The plot would have been carried out by detonating a bomb in a popular Washington, DC restaurant while the ambassador, Adel al-Jubeir, participated in a dinner meeting, in an operation similar to the Sbarro, Maxim, and Matza restaurant bombings (to name a few) that were carried out in Israel.  Other bomb targets that were to be attacked shortly thereafter included the Saudi and Israeli embassies in Washington, as well as other targets such as in Buenos Aires. 

Arbabsiar had been arrested and had already been interrogated, but Shakuri remains at large.  The plot as formulated required the assistance and cover of Mexican narco-terrorists, and but for the fortuitous intervention of an undercover DEA agent, the plot would possibly have remained undetected. 

The accusations, while not detailed for security reasons, were nevertheless quite specific to the point of certainty that some such plot was undertaken (DNI James Clapper later testified to that effect).  Detractors decry the lack of detail in the charges (see previous sentence) and quibble that the Quds Force has not taken on an operation of this sort.  This is beyond the splitting of hairs: the Iranians have carried out such attacks by proxy before, whether Quds had left a calling card or not, and Buenos Aires had already been subjected to a bomb attack on the Argentine Israelite Mutual Association building (there is a sizable Jewish population in Argentina) in 1994, killing 85 and injuring hundreds, as well as the Israeli embassy there in 1992 which killed 29 and injured 242. 

Such large body counts of innocents are part and parcel of that cultural terrorist mindset found in the Iranian mullah dictatorship.  The DEA agent testified that when he asked Arbabsiar in Mexico about the expected collateral damage from a bomb in a popular Washington restaurant, the reply was "They want that guy done.  If a hundred go with him, fuck 'em."  It was "no big deal." 

Yet despite the dire pronouncements, nothing has been done as a consequence of the plot.  Mattis said:
When we finally caught them in the act of trying to kill Adel, we had a beleaguered attorney general, a fine man but beleaguered politically, stand up and give a legal argument that frankly I couldn't understand. ... We caught them in the act and yet we let them walk free.
After a question about why the administration failed to follow through on some sort – anything – of a serious consequence:
Frankly, I'm not sure why, again, they haven't been held to account…. I don't know why the attempt on Adel wasn't dealt with more strongly…. We've got to be very careful of avoiding confrontation with Iran because right now with their cyber effort, they're like children balancing lightbulbs full of nitroglycerin.  You get the picture?  One of these days they're going to drop one and it's going to knock out the London stock exchange or Wall Street because we never drew a line and said, 'You won't do it.' … It's also very important once in a while that we say, 'This is what we absolutely will not tolerate.'
Mattis' remarks on the affair amongst the other topics covered during his interview were not reported at all by some services, but the tone and care show not just his intelligence but also his professionalism, this despite the fact that his bluntness over the years have given a case of the vapors to the Sophisticati of the Obama establishment.  This is likely the reason he was given the bum's rush in his retirement schedule (he was originally set to retire in August) along with other capable modern generals of our effort in this 'war with no name' against radical Islamic terrorism.  And he comes by his focus on Iran honestly: during his tour as CENTCOM commander, with the high-paced missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, he said that the top three items on his intelligence brief every morning were "Iran, Iran, and Iran".

He demurred from attacking Holder personally.  This could be attributed to the habit of following the legal proscription against commissioned officers publically criticizing high civilian officials (Article 88 of the UCMJ, to be specific), but instead I am certain that Mattis, as a gentleman, has no interest in playing the political game of 'who shot John'.  He is rather focused on the policy, or lack thereof.  But his famous candor may be loosened a bit further by the fact that he was accelerated along to retirement not despite but because of the fact that he has been a brilliant and forceful commander. 

Much has been said about General Petraeus being the architect of the surge strategy that won the American stage of the war in Iraq by the summer of 2008 (separate from the current news of Iraq sinking back into increasing sectarian violence), but Mattis was just as important to the effort in crafting that strategy.  It was a joint effort between the two though there were distinct differences in emphasis, with Mattis leaning more to the application of force in contrast to Petraeus' hearts-and-minds angle.  Both agreed to the bottom line, but there was degree of difference in their approach. 

Mattis is what is called a Marine's Marine.  His masterful balance of the need to accomplish the mission and his care for his men won him the admiration of the Marines fortunate to serve under him.  Some have said that he emphasized the enlisted grunt over the officer, in the endless temptation by many to cast the distinctions in rank as some sort of class warfare.  But that is off the mark.  His focus has always been on the warrior over the staff or support echelon, and that is rank immaterial.  Many who cannot fathom the culture of the military are shocked to hear that he is an intellectual (not so rare a creature in the military as they would think), and he has both added to the long-time Marine Commandant's Professional Reading List as well as developing his own list for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Possessed of an enormous library, he is particularly fond of what he would consider his default mentor, Marcus Aurelius, as much as he is dismissive of the computer "net-centric" approach of the modern Pentagon: "Computers by their very nature are isolating.  They build walls.  The nature of warfare is immutable.  You need trust and connection."

He likewise abolished the pernicious Effects-Based Operations model (in the same category as the old Outcome Based Management), which declared that results could be predicted based on quantifiable data: "It is not scientifically possible to accurately predict the outcome of an action.  To suggest otherwise runs contrary to historical experience and the nature of war."

He is the epitome of the warrior ethos that the Marines embrace, yet that has caused him friction with civilian political types who have no concept of or contempt for the military culture (or both). 

An early example was the reaction that stemmed from Mattis' off-the-podium remarks to a group after a panel discussion in San Diego in 2005:
You go into Afghanistan; you got guys [Taliban] who slap women around for five years because they didn't wear a veil.  You know, guys like that ain't got no manhood left anyway.  So it's a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them.  Actually it's quite fun to fight them, you know.  It's a hell of a hoot.  It's fun to shoot some people.  I'll be right up there with you.  I like brawling.
And he was "right up there", leading from the front.  There are stories of his journeys to the commands in his AO that would include tag-alongs with patrols that would find him returning with a few minor dings from close observation of his Marines in enemy contact, always ready to take the same risks as his men.  In fact, he even had his own 'jump' platoon which he would lead and deploy whenever the opportunity presented itself, demonstrating that in addition to the fact that every Marine is a rifleman, every officer should be at heart a platoon leader.  But the reaction to his remarks betrayed an ignorance of what the chattering class should know about a general in a war.  (John Guardiano, writing in The American Spectator, lays out a practical introduction to Mattis and the military culture from someone who served under him.)

His attitude has always been candid and refreshingly realistic, or "casually profane" as Esquire puts it.  One phrase of his that is one of my personal favorites approaches blasphemy to so many apparatchiki in industry and government: "PowerPoint makes you stupid."  Another shares my appreciation for the enormous problem that arose (and is still felt) throughout the US intelligence community when Jimmy Carter and Stansfield Turner eviscerated our human intelligence networks (apparently we should never talk to anyone who may have a possible whiff of impropriety) in favor of technology: "I don't get intelligence off a satellite.  Iraqis tell me who the enemy is." 

I have also maintained throughout my life, with increasing attention as time goes by, what I call a healthy sense of paranoia, particularly as it would apply to a combat zone.  So I also quite appreciate Mattis' counsel to "Be polite, be professional, but always have a plan to kill everybody you meet." 

His advice to his assembled Marines as he would travel to his units in Iraq was succinct: "The first time you blow someone away is not an insignificant event.  That said, there are some assholes in the world that just need to be shot.  There are hunters and there are victims.  By your discipline, cunning, obedience and alertness, you will decide if you are a hunter or a victim." 

His expectation of his men was to learn about and interact with the Iraqis and Afghans, to converse with them on their level and to build a bond of mutual respect and understanding, and all that that meant, but once the enemy was identified the Marines were to quickly and effectively eliminate them.  This was primarily shown during the brutal fighting that commenced in the First Battle of Fallujah, when he changed the directive about closing with the enemy from "capture or kill" to "kill or capture".  He adopted from Sulla the declaration that Marines are "No Greater Friend, No Worse Enemy" (a phrase which figured into the intriguing court-martial and eventual acquittal of Lt Ilario Pantano).

But perhaps the most quoted phrase of Mattis came as he met with his defeated Iraqi military counterparts in Al-Anbar province, as the new Iraqi government was beginning its early stages of being re-composed, showing his homework in understanding the culture: "I come in peace.  I didn't bring artillery.  But I'm pleading with you, with tears in my eyes: if you fuck with me, I'll kill you all." 

I have laid out a more than adequate listing of his thoughts in order to present his perspective on the earlier question of what, if anything, the administration has done with the Iranian attempt to kill an ambassador and God knows how many others on American soil.  He reflects an attitude of frustrated bewilderment that is shared with many of us, as to how an administration can be so blinded by a politically constrained legal rigor that has to be applied to blatant operations of foreign governments in attacking diplomats and our citizens on our own soil, an act of war so recognized at least as far back as the Peace of Westphalia, if not the Bible. 

Let me swing over to another explanation for those more obtuse and to those who would enjoy the instruction, that of the incident during the presidential debates of the Republican candidates in the last election.  This was during the debate that was under the purview of CBS News, on 12 November 2011, and was notable for the exchange between Scott Pelley and Newt Gingrich.  Pelley makes the common mistake of departing from his role as moderator in order to argue a point, taking sides in the guise of presenting a question.  The transcript of the exchange is provided but it is worth watching the video in order to catch the arrogant condescension of Pelley when he speaks of the "rule of law", and Gingrich's devastating rebuttal, to the delight of the audience.
Scott Pelley: Speaker Gingrich, let me ask you the same question.  As President of the United States, would you sign that death warrant for an American citizen overseas who you believe is a terrorist suspect?
Newt Gingrich: Well, he's not a terrorist suspect.  He's a person who was found guilty under review of actively seeking the death of Americans …

Scott Pelley: Not found guilty by a court, Sir … 

Newt Gingrich: He was found guilty by a panel that looked at it and reported to the President … 

Scott Pelley: Well, that's extra-judicial … 

Newt Gingrich: Let me tell you … 

Scott Pelley: It's … it's not the rule of law. [light applause] 

Newt Gingrich: It is the rule of law.  That is explicitly false.  It is the rule of law … 

Scott Pelley: No. 

Newt Gingrich: If you engage in war against the United States, you are an enemy combatant.  You have none of the civil liberties of the United States; [applause] you cannot go to court … [sustained applause] … Let me be very clear about this, on two levels.  There is a huge gap here that frankly far too many people get confused over.  Civil defense, criminal defense, is a function of being within the American law.  Waging war on the United States is outside criminal law.  It is an act of war and should be dealt with as an act of war, and the correct thing in an act of war is to kill people who are trying to kill you. [sustained applause] 

Rick Perry: Well said.  Well said.

Returning to the remarks at the Aspen conference, an added perspective can be found in another of Mattis' comments during the Aspen conference on the subject of the attempted bombing, speaking of the Iranians:
They actually set out to do it.  It was not a rogue agent off on his own.  This decision was taken at the very highest levels in Teheran.  Again, absent one mistake, they would have murdered Adel and Americans at that restaurant a couple of miles from the White House. [emphasis mine]
That one mistake was Arbabsiar tracking down the prospective bomber in Mexico who turned out to be a DEA agent.  Up to that point, we did not have a clue that there was an undertaking of this sort or magnitude.  Once alerted, we were able to sift through the enormous accumulation of otherwise innocuous data to put the case together and to track all the elements.  The most secure means of communication remains the messenger, in an ancient system that shuns any other method that could be exploited.  As our technology increases, so does the complexity of our systems, which means that they can in turn become too fragile.  It would seem that the Iranians have learned this lesson, taught as recently as von Rundstedt's suspicions of Allied code-breaking while he was planning the Battle of the Bulge, or the similar Egyptian use of messengers that resulted in the surprise attack on the Israelis at the Bar-Lev line (their version of the Maginot, and just as effective) in 1973.  Once we had that warning, we were able to trace back and forward to uncover the details of the plot, showing that whatever we may say about our advanced technology, we must still rely on old-fashioned intelligence gathering of the most basic sort, active and not just passive, instead of a reliance on machines and blind luck.

And as for General Mattis, after the immense good fortune of a 41-year career in the Marines (and the wonderment that he survived not just combat duty but the more vicious political battles over his candor), one has to expect that he must hang up his spurs at some point.  And I pray to God that other leaders of such fortitude can grace this nation with their courage.