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January 11, 2007

Ahhhh....

The Mistress of Snarkitude strikes.


George Bush hates white people.

Or, it that's not to your liking... there's this look at the Democratic Response to the President's speech.

Ah. Cassie uses her fingers better'n a Kansas City harlot, to butcher a phrase from a famous movie.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! »

by John on Jan 11, 2007 | TrackBack (0)

December 19, 2006

The MSM, Arbiters of All That Is Right, and Wrong.

Just trust us.

Interesting OP-Ed by Martin Kaplan in today's LA Times.

Some snippets...

Does Iraq need more debate? We've had plenty of shouting matches on the war; what we need are better leaders and more capable media. By Martin Kaplan, MARTIN KAPLAN is associate dean of the USC Annenberg School, where he directs the Norman Lear Center (learcenter.org). December 19, 2006

EVERYONE SAYS WE need a national debate on Iraq. Left, right, politicos, pundits, editorial writers, academics. If ever there was a universally held position, it's the belief that holding a national debate on Iraq is just the thing for what ails us in the Middle East.

But what would a national debate on anything really look like? How would it be any different from what we're already doing now? Imagine the elements of a national debate on Iraq, and then ask whether what's going on today fits the bill.

Analysts offering opposing views on television shows? Check. Dueling Op-Ed pieces? Check. Senators and representatives making floor speeches? Check. Presidential candidates staking out positions, and critics taking them on? Check. Magazines and journals offering thoughtful, conflicting takes? Check. A take-no-prisoners brawl in the blogosphere? Check. Public opinion polls? You can't go to the restroom without tripping over a new one. Thousands of people in the streets? Well, it's not like the Vietnam era — without a draft, it won't ever be — but plenty of cities have seen plenty of passionate marchers.

So why, despite all appearances of actually having a national debate right now, do people keep insisting that we mount one?

Perhaps it's because the mainstream media are too timid to declare the difference between right and wrong. Imagine if journalism consisted of more than a collage of conflicting talking points. Imagine the difference it would make if more brand-name reporters broke from the bizarre straitjacket of "balance," which equates fairness with putting all disputants on equal epistemological footing, no matter how deceitful or moronic they may be.

There's a market for news that weighs counterclaims and assesses truth value. It just hasn't kept up with demand. No wonder Jon Stewart has such a loyal audience: He has a point of view, and it's rooted in the reality-based — not the ideology-based — world.

And... he's on Comedy Central. Jon Stewart, reality-based. Yessir. Gottit. No ideology there. Snerk.

Maybe we don't need a national debate. Maybe what we really need are leaders with more character, followers with more discrimination, deciders who hear as well as listen and media that know the difference between the public interest and what the public is interested in. National debates nicely fulfill the circus part of the bread-and-circuses formula of modern public life. Like psychoanalysis, national debates are basically interminable. And in our postmodern era, they do a nice job substituting for the hard work of actually figuring out what's true and what's good.

Martin certainly reveals his bias in this piece. Which is fine - it's an Op-Ed for heaven's sakes. But I'm rather guessing (and this might be unfair) that Mr. Kaplan has in mind Dan's Memo's... as a measure of journalistic truth-telling.

Actually, point-by-point, I agree, and on the issue of leaders and followers, have said so in this space. I find it interesting that Mr. Kaplan tosses the blogs to the wolves (good lord, if *anyplace* exists with shrill evocations of right or wrong, it's the blogs) and essentially argues that only the MSM can fill this role. But, since Mr. Kaplan is "associate dean of the USC Annenberg School, where he directs the Norman Lear Center" I'm not surprised.

Read the whole thing here (though, frankly, it's as overwritten and anything Ry and I have ever done, and the snippets pretty much get the bit). Go look - tell me if the parts I left out materially affect anything.

Ah, for the glory days, eh, Mr. Kaplan? When Walter held forth magisterially from his anchor desk, and we peons just listened to our betters.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! »

by John on Dec 19, 2006 | TrackBack (0)

December 18, 2006

Iraq's Economy and the American Presence

[Castle Denizen FbL here. A political rant welled up in me late last night and I had to find an appropriate place to vent it. UPDATE: I've changed the paragraph before the second quote to better convey what I meant.]

I heard partisan pundits after the elections say it was going to happen, that now that the Democrats were in power we would start to read more stories about the good things in Iraq. But I my desire to try to believe the best of people made me disregard those pundits. They were right. Check out this amazing piece of reporting from MSNBC, keeping in mind that this has only begun to happen since November, of course (/sarcasm):

Civil war or not, Iraq has an economy, and—mother of all surprises—it's doing remarkably well. Real estate is booming. Construction, retail and wholesale trade sectors are healthy, too, according to a report by Global Insight in London. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce reports 34,000 registered companies in Iraq, up from 8,000 three years ago. Sales of secondhand cars, televisions and mobile phones have all risen sharply. Estimates vary, but one from Global Insight puts GDP growth at 17 percent last year and projects 13 percent for 2006. The World Bank has it lower: at 4 percent this year. But, given all the attention paid to deteriorating security, the startling fact is that Iraq is growing at all.

...Imported goods have grown increasingly affordable, thanks to the elimination of tariffs and trade barriers. Salaries have gone up more than 100 percent since the fall of Saddam, and income-tax cuts (from 45 percent to just 15 percent) have put more cash in Iraqi pockets. "The U.S. wanted to create the conditions in which small-scale private enterprise could blossom," says Jan Randolph, head of sovereign risk at Global Insight. "In a sense, they've succeeded."

Well, you can just knock me over with a feather. I thought it was all death and destruction over there and the best thing we Americans could do for them was just get out as soon as possible, damn the consequences.

Now seriously, I'll try not to be sarcastic. I don't mean to minimize the challenges or the suffering in iraq, but the tone of the final paragraph (compared to the drumbeat of "how do we get out of Iraq as soon as logistically possible" that we've been hearing in so much of the media) is startling:

In a business climate that is inhospitable, to say the least, companies like Iraqna are thriving. The withdrawal of a certain great power could drastically reduce the foreign money flow, and knock the crippled economy flat.

And meanwhile, we get "leadership" like this from the new head of the Senate:
"If the commanders on the ground said this [increase in troop strength] is just for a short period of time, we'll go along with that," said Reid, D-Nev., citing a time frame such as two months to three months. But a period of 18 months to 24 months would be too long, he said.

Oh, so "we'll give the commanders on the ground just some of what they want because we can meet them halfway?" Or maybe they're just feeling magnanimous. But it's a good thing we have such military experts as Senator Reid to tell our generals what is wise (Sorry, there goes that sarcasm again).
"The American people will not allow this war to go on as it has. It simply is a war that will not be won militarily. It can only be won politically," Reid said.

Well, if that's true, that why is he willing to "go along with" the commanders for even "two months to three months" of putting more soldiers at risk? How barbaric to sacrifice even a single warrior in something that "will not be won militarily!" Now, I agree that utimate success hinges on political machinations in Iraq, but that's not the context Reid is speaking in. Rather, he's using it to justify not putting in the military effort that could allow room for the necessary political growth.

Everytime I try to be positive about the professionalism and sliver of integrity that I dream exists among our politicians and media, I end up sorely disappointed. You'd think I would learn not to have any more positive expectations... - FbL

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! »

by Denizens on Dec 18, 2006 | TrackBack (0)

December 06, 2006

That's funny, he didn't *look* like a demon...

He really doesn't. Doesn't sound like one, either.

Who? Josh Rushing, the former Marine PAO who found himself employed by Al-Jazeera.

That would be Al-Jazeera "dot.NET" vice "dot.COM," a distinction lost on many people. Including yours truly.

Debbie Schlussel wasn't impressed with him. Over at Euphoric Reality, "traitor" was tossed about.

Not surprisingly, the Left likes him.

Mother Jones likes him. I would note that the author of the Mother Jones piece, Daniel Schulman, obviously got nearly the same pitch we did here at Leavenworth, but it's certainly flavored differently. Whether by Schulman and his filters, by Rushing's targeted pitching to his audience, or my recollections being flavored by my filters.

The Salon story tracks well with the general outlines Mr. Rushing's pitch, as well. So, his story is generally consistent.

So, how did I manage to meet Josh Rushing? Easy - he was a guest speaker at the Command and General Staff College, where he was brought in to address the Information Operations elective. The college also runs a faculty development program, where many of the guest speakers or people who are here for other purposes are asked to address the faculty. As they occur during the normal instructional day, attendance at these things is usually low enough that non-faculty people like myself are invited to attend (That shouldn't reflect badly on the faculty, btw - these are targets of opportunity, and classes still have to be taught and students mentored!).a We've also had Ralph Peters, Max Boot, and Ry's buddy Tom Barnett come visit.

One of the interesting things that none of the stories about Rushing captures is... Al-Jazeera. And the fact that most of us are thinking Al-Jazeera.com, when the organization that Rushing works for is the english language arm of Al-Jazeera.net.

Hey, one's a magazine, one's a television network. And they're probably flip sides of the same coin, right?

Apparently not. According to the disclaimer on the .com site (which resulted from a trademark-infringement lawsuit brought by .net against .com) the two are not related.

From the "About Us" section of the .com website:

About Aljazeera.com Aljazeera Publishing owns and operates Aljazeera.com, bringing you the world today. Aljazeera Publishing is an independent media organisation established in 1992 in London. Aljazeera.com has a particular focus on events and issues in the Middle East covering major developments presenting facts as they happen.

Important note: Aljazeera Publishing and Aljazeera.com are not associated with the controversial Arabic Satellite Channel known as Jazeera Space Channel TV (also known as Al-Jazeera Satellite Channel) station whose website is Aljazeera.net.

Aljazeera Publishing disassociates itself from the views, opinions and broadcasts of Jazeera Space Channel TV station.

Emphasis in the original.

So, what did Mr. Rushing talk about? He was there to do what he normally does to his military audiences (which include the Counter-Terrorism Center at West Point, the National Defense University, and others), he talks about Public Affairs, his role in OIF, and how he got to where he is now.

To his military audiences, his thesis, broadly restated, is "We don't know jack." Especially about managing media in the middle east.

He uses al-Jazeera as his example. How? Basically he asserts (and I have no reason to think otherwise) that Al-Jazeera is more powerful in the middle east than any equivalent US news operation is in the United States.

CENTCOM did not understand that, nor the distinction to be made about the .net incarnation vice the .com incarnation. His example? "The "boot" was on Al-Jazeera." "Boot" being Marine slang for newbie. I.e., Lieutenant Rushing was the face of the American War Machine on al-Jazeera.

He made three points about how that affected things.

1. The issue of trust. Mr. Rushing asserts (and challenged us to find evidence to the contrary) that al-Jazeera television never once showed a beheading. Mind you - not that they didn't show excerpts from the videos (as did the US media) but that they didn't show the actual beheadings themselves. In other words, they reported no differently than US and other international media did. Mr. Rushing avers that the viewership of al-Jazeera knows this, and when Secretary Rumsfeld stood in front of the cameras lambasting al-Jazeera for showing the beheadings, he lost credibility with the audience.

2. Al-Jazeera as the "Mouthpiece of Al-Qaeda." True, al-Jazeera has been a preferred place for al-Qaeda tapes to premier. But Mr. Rushing points out the wording of the disclaimer on al-Jazeera.com - the part where it says "Aljazeera Publishing disassociates itself from the views, opinions and broadcasts of Jazeera Space Channel TV station." is explicit aimed at protecting the .com people from the fatwas issued against the network for their support of Zionism and us. Support being defined as not being a reliable mouthpiece for... al-Qaeda.

3. His third point, I've already covered - the distinction to be made between the .net and .com entities - a subject too complex for this post.

He then moved on to discuss what he thought the US should do in the arena. He called for 'limited strategic engagement'. Mr. Rushing says there are two centers of gravity in the ME. Mosques, and al-Jazeera. We can't realistically get into the mosques, nor should we. But we can, should, and in fact *must* get into ME television sets. Find the progressive journalists (in the ME context of progressive) and give them access. His point being that if we continue to stiff-arm the biggest television voice in the ME, *someone*, usually the opposition, will fill the void.

Mr. Rushing pointed out that the US Gov engage with al-Jazeera. So, al-Jazeera then defaults to conservative think tanks to find people who will speak up *for* US interests. But the conservative think tanks don't trust al-Jazeera much either, and will usually only come on for a fee, with the attendant baggage that brings from a journalistic perspective. So they go to liberal think tanks, who are happy to come on for free - which then sets up the situation where people who *don't* really support US policy are brought on to *defend* US policy - and generally don't. Now you see why they're happy to come on al-Jazeera for free. Mr. Rushing suggests the USGov does itself, and by extension, the rest of us a dis-service by what he sees as the government's fundamental misunderstanding of al-Jazeera.

He talked about his own experience dealing with the USGov as an al-Jazeera correspondent. He said military people, to include senior military people, will engage him and al-Jazeera (hey, he was there talking to us, right?). But the senior DoD civilians stiff-arm him. He certainly knew his audience.

He had some other policy suggestions.

First - train soldiers down to the squad level on how to deal with the press. Not make them PAOs, but train them in how to engage with reporters, *and* report the results of those engagements up the chain, quickly, so that the PAO can be more proactive in responding. His term? A "media ninja".

On a more macro level, he brought up the "split branding" of the United States, i.e., on one hand, anger and annoyance with US foreign policy, while on the other hand, those same people many times can't wait to get here and make it home. He has a simple solution.

Be consistent. If we're going to act in what we perceive to be our best interest from a pragmatic point of view - then tell people that. But don't talk one thing and do another - or let the perception be that you're doing another if in fact you don't intend to be doing so.

More simply put - Change the message to match the policy, or change the policy to match the message.

Of course nothing in Life, the Universe, and Everything is that simple, is it?

Interesting fellow, who is treading an interesting path.

I don't know what I expected, but what I got was a tallish fellow with bright blue eyes, standing there looking tired in a blue suit, mauve shirt, and a striped tie.

He didn't look like the Devil Incarnate. He has an interesting view worthy of consideration. All in context. He does work for al-Jazeera, so he obviously has an interest in changing the perception of al-Jazeera.

But that doesn't mean that our perception of al-Jazeera is accurate, and that he doesn't have reasons other than the obvious professional ones for doing what he's doing.

Glad I went.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! »

by John on Dec 06, 2006 | TrackBack (0)

December 04, 2006

Victor Davis Hanson.

A bracing breath of fresh air.

Yet if some think the strange alliance between the new Democratic Congressional majorities and old Republican realists will ameliorate some of this by urging direct talks with North Korea, Iran, and Syria, pressuring Israel, gravitating to a European approach to problems, or withdrawing from Iraq, they should remember the Carter administration's experience with Iran, Afghanistan, Cambodia, Central America, and the Clinton response to the first World Trade Center bombing, Khobar Towers, the East African embassy bombings, and the USS Cole. Even more illuminating is to remember that the old appeasement of treating numerous enemies better than our few friends did not even win affection, but only outright contempt. I remember the visceral Iranian hatred for Jimmy Carter, and the worldwide ridicule of Bill Clinton, and sad US shuttles of the 1990s to beseech Assad and Arafat.

So we are in strange time, in which we see the known failures of the past offered up as correctives for the perceived failures of the present. In response, what the administration needs to do is to nominate someone from the uncompromising Bolton stamp who pursues UN reform, rethink tactics in Iraq to secure the country, renew diplomatic efforts to isolate Iran and foster internal change, continue the investigations and pressures on Syria, and craft an energy policy that collapses the world price of petroleum and with it the juice that powers a Chavez, Ahmadinejad, Putin, et al.

You should read the first part, too - over at The Corner.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! »

by John on Dec 04, 2006 | TrackBack (0)

December 03, 2006

Mr. Rumsfeld's Memo.

Let's leave aside the issues of governance by leak, etc. Apparently, once you reach a certain level, leaking classified information is a promotion criteria. Until you reach that level, you get to at least get fired, and sometimes go to jail. I never made it to the top, obviously, because the thought of leaking classified material, even inadvertently, makes this blog a far different thing than it could be. (However briefly, before I got to go reside in the Big House.)

Rumsfeld's memo as published by the NYT (I'm thinking there's no copyright violation here by me...)

Nov. 6, 2006

SUBJECT: Iraq — Illustrative New Courses of Action

The situation in Iraq has been evolving, and U.S. forces have adjusted, over time, from major combat operations to counterterrorism, to counterinsurgency, to dealing with death squads and sectarian violence. In my view it is time for a major adjustment. Clearly, what U.S. forces are currently doing in Iraq is not working well enough or fast enough. Following is a range of options:


ILLUSTRATIVE OPTIONS

Above the Line: (Many of these options could and, in a number of cases, should be done in combination with others)

¶Publicly announce a set of benchmarks agreed to by the Iraqi Government and the U.S. — political, economic and security goals — to chart a path ahead for the Iraqi government and Iraqi people (to get them moving) and for the U.S. public (to reassure them that progress can and is being made).

¶Significantly increase U.S. trainers and embeds, and transfer more U.S. equipment to Iraqi Security forces (ISF), to further accelerate their capabilities by refocusing the assignment of some significant portion of the U.S. troops currently in Iraq.

¶Initiate a reverse embeds program, like the Korean Katusas, by putting one or more Iraqi soldiers with every U.S. and possibly Coalition squad, to improve our units’ language capabilities and cultural awareness and to give the Iraqis experience and training with professional U.S. troops.

¶Aggressively beef up the Iraqi MOD and MOI, and other Iraqi ministries critical to the success of the ISF — the Iraqi Ministries of Finance, Planning, Health, Criminal Justice, Prisons, etc. — by reaching out to U.S. military retirees and Reserve/National Guard volunteers (i.e., give up on trying to get other USG Departments to do it.)

¶Conduct an accelerated draw-down of U.S. bases. We have already reduced from 110 to 55 bases. Plan to get down to 10 to 15 bases by April 2007, and to 5 bases by July 2007.

¶Retain high-end SOF capability and necessary support structure to target Al Qaeda, death squads, and Iranians in Iraq, while drawing down all other Coalition forces, except those necessary to provide certain key enablers for the ISF.

¶Initiate an approach where U.S. forces provide security only for those provinces or cities that openly request U.S. help and that actively cooperate, with the stipulation being that unless they cooperate fully, U.S. forces would leave their province.

¶Stop rewarding bad behavior, as was done in Fallujah when they pushed in reconstruction funds, and start rewarding good behavior. Put our reconstruction efforts in those parts of Iraq that are behaving, and invest and create havens of opportunity to reward them for their good behavior. As the old saying goes, “If you want more of something, reward it; if you want less of something, penalize it.” No more reconstruction assistance in areas where there is violence.

¶Position substantial U.S. forces near the Iranian and Syrian borders to reduce infiltration and, importantly, reduce Iranian influence on the Iraqi Government.

¶Withdraw U.S. forces from vulnerable positions — cities, patrolling, etc. — and move U.S. forces to a Quick Reaction Force (QRF) status, operating from within Iraq and Kuwait, to be available when Iraqi security forces need assistance.

¶Begin modest withdrawals of U.S. and Coalition forces (start “taking our hand off the bicycle seat”), so Iraqis know they have to pull up their socks, step up and take responsibility for their country.

¶Provide money to key political and religious leaders (as Saddam Hussein did), to get them to help us get through this difficult period.

¶Initiate a massive program for unemployed youth. It would have to be run by U.S. forces, since no other organization could do it.

¶Announce that whatever new approach the U.S. decides on, the U.S. is doing so on a trial basis. This will give us the ability to readjust and move to another course, if necessary, and therefore not “lose.”

¶Recast the U.S. military mission and the U.S. goals (how we talk about them) — go minimalist.

Below the Line (less attractive options):

¶Continue on the current path.

¶Move a large fraction of all U.S. Forces into Baghdad to attempt to control it.

¶Increase Brigade Combat Teams and U.S. forces in Iraq substantially.

¶Set a firm withdrawal date to leave. Declare that with Saddam gone and Iraq a sovereign nation, the Iraqi people can govern themselves. Tell Iran and Syria to stay out.

¶Assist in accelerating an aggressive federalism plan, moving towards three separate states — Sunni, Shia, and Kurd.

¶Try a Dayton-like process.

Nothing wrong with the thoughts of the boss as he's trying to figure out what to do.

But this passage is just depressing.

¶Aggressively beef up the Iraqi MOD and MOI, and other Iraqi ministries critical to the success of the ISF — the Iraqi Ministries of Finance, Planning, Health, Criminal Justice, Prisons, etc. — by reaching out to U.S. military retirees and Reserve/National Guard volunteers (i.e., give up on trying to get other USG Departments to do it.)

(i.e., give up on trying to get other USG Departments to do it.)

This is a corner the Secretary painted himself into, with his seemingly cavalier disregard for other USG agencies in the early days of OEF and OIF.

This is a corner the US Gov painted itself into, when agencies of the government set themselves above the President and his policy pronouncements, and, in effect, rebel, whether overtly or passive-agressively. A refusal to wear the adult pants, but rather to wear the petulant adolescent pants.

And that, ultimately, rests on the shoulders of the President and his appointees, for the failure to really clean that up. Sigh.

Which does not relieve the employees of their duty to do the job they've been told to do, once the decision has been made.

But like I said, because I think like that (among other things) is why I'm not trotting about amongst 'em.

Sigh.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! »

by John on Dec 03, 2006 | TrackBack (0)

December 01, 2006

The new exam for gaining citizenship.

Questions and Answers for New Pilot Naturalization Exam

On November 30, 2006, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director Emilio Gonzalez announced the release of 144 questions and answers for the pilot test of a new naturalization exam. USCIS will administer the pilot exam to about 5,000 volunteer citizenship applicants in 10 cities beginning in early 2007.

USCIS included new questions that focus on the concepts of democracy and the rights and responsibilities of citizenship. In designing the new exam, USCIS received assistance and worked with test development contractors, U.S. history and government scholars, and English as a Second Language experts. USCIS also sought input from a variety of stakeholders, including immigrant advocacy groups, citizenship instructors and District Adjudications Officers.

The pilot will allow USCIS to work out any problems and refine the exam before it is fully implemented nationwide in the spring of 2008.

During the trial period, volunteer applicants who choose to take the pilot exam can immediately take the current exam if they incorrectly answer a pilot question. To pass, applicants will have to correctly answer six of 10 selected questions. The 10 pilot test sites are: Albany, NY; Boston, MA; Charleston, SC; Denver, CO; El Paso, TX; Kansas City, MO; Miami, FL; San Antonio, TX; Tucson, AZ; and Yakima, WA.

You can read the questions - and answers - here.

When I saw this yesterday, I wondered how long before someone griped that it's too hard.

Heh. Not long.

The WaPo:

The Bush administration yesterday unveiled dozens of new questions that may be added to the nation's naturalization test, and immigration advocates are concerned that the changes could make it more difficult for millions of legal immigrants to become U.S. citizens.

Fred Tsao, quoted in the article says:

Watchdog groups such as the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights say they are examining the process to make sure the immigration agency is not placing a heavier burden on people who use legal channels to enter the country.

"We ourselves are going to be trying this out in our citizenship classes," said Fred Tsao, policy director for the Illinois group. Teachers will be encouraged "to see which of these questions make sense, which are too hard and which of them are off the wall."

Note, prospective citizens will have to get 6 of 10 questions, selected from the 144, in order to pass. They have to get a "D".

Mind you, some of the questions do seem to be a little arbitrary in terms of their applicability to the process, such as "Which mountain is the highest mountain in the United States?" Interesting, but, important? I have to admit, depending on how the 10 questions are selected, you could find yourself foundering on geography, but it *is* a test you can study for.

I wonder, if we administered it to every graduating High School senior, how many would pass? Which begs the question about how people value their birthright, vice something they obtain through effort.

Regardless of what you think of the test - it's still an easier path to citizenship than this one... military service.

My score on the test? As a result of my socio-economic status, I scored 99.3%. I missed question 66. It's been a looooooooong time since I worried, in any personal sense, about the answer to that question. I'm betting my son will get that one right, as I would have at his age.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! »

by John on Dec 01, 2006 | TrackBack (0)

November 27, 2006

Jonathan Chait thinks the unthinkable...

From his LA Times piece (and you should read the whole thing, not just my selective quoting):

THE DEBATE about Iraq has moved past the question of whether it was a mistake (everybody knows it was) to the more depressing question of whether it is possible to avert total disaster. Every self-respecting foreign policy analyst has his own plan for Iraq. The trouble is that these tracts are inevitably unconvincing, except when they argue why all the other plans would fail. It's all terribly grim.

So allow me to propose the unthinkable: Maybe, just maybe, our best option is to restore Saddam Hussein to power.

He goes on:


At the outset of the war, I had no high hopes for Iraqi democracy, but I paid no attention to the possibility that the Iraqis would end up with a worse government than the one they had. It turns out, however, that there is something more awful than totalitarianism, and that is endless chaos and civil war.

One can only expect that Mr. Chait finds this next quote, well, quaint, outmoded, and astonishingly naive...

War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself. John Stuart Mill English economist & philosopher (1806 - 1873)

Oh, there's no doubt we screwed the pooch in Iraq, and that Rumsfeld's Way of War was certainly an incomplete doctrine if you were going to do something other than fight the Big War. Rumsfeld's Way of War is really more of the Way of A Campaign, and especially a campaign that is a supporting effort.

Too many invalid assumptions were made, and weak, uncoordinated planning between the relevant US agencies, not to mention the seemingly deliberate sabotage by some elements of the US government directed at others, such as the strife between the CIA, State, and Defense. And that was all the professional bureaucrats there - the long-termers, a problem that spans Presidents and parties. But, President Bush was in charge, and he failed to take heed and bring those people to heel. Of course, I know from long experience in government myself they can be a hard breed to bring to heel.

I also know that nothing is as ever clear while it's happening as it is after the dust has settled, which is one reason I don't get as shirt-rendingly shrill as some when things turn out to have been a cock-up. I get shrill when people won't fix what is now clearly wrong, and this President seems to have left that to his successor, not that he'd get much done now, anyway. They can wait him out.

But that's a digression.

Chait is on to something. Perhaps not Saddam, but whoever rises in his place. The ultimate in realpolitik. Who cares what's going on somewhere as long as it doesn't affect us directly. The silence of the grave is preferable to chaos... at least as long as it isn't our personal grave.

Problem is, Mr. Chait - as long as your doctrine prevails, little advances, really, and the rule of law is really eroded, until we're completely back to the rule of men. Tribalism Resurgent.

I can hear the intake of breath, and see the fingers poised over the keyboards of some readers - Rule of Law? What part of torture, and illegal wars have you missed, Donovan?

Heh. The fact that we discuss torture, the fact that people can call the President a liar who made up an excuse for war and should be sent to The Hague to stand trial, the fact that terrorists are tried in courts and have lawyers (whatever limits may be placed on them because the terrs are truly dangerous people), and that Famous People and Faceless People make these claims... yet there hasn't been one "disappearance," or "death under suspicious circumstances," or mass arrests and imprisonments, and that government policies are challenged in multiple venues argues that the rule of law is actually working quite well, despite what the loons at DU think. Or the loons at Freeper during the Clinton administration.

But Chait is essentially arguing that peace at any cost is preferable.

I'm in Mill's camp.

Discuss.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! »

by John on Nov 27, 2006
» The Thunder Run links with: Web Reconnaissance for 11/27/2006

November 20, 2006

I love this.

Rep. Rangel Will Seek to Reinstate Draft Nov 19 12:41 PM US/Eastern

A senior House Democrat said Sunday he will introduce legislation to reinstate the military draft, asserting that current troop levels are insufficient to sustain possible challenges against Iran, North Korea and Iraq.

"There's no question in my mind that this president and this administration would never have invaded Iraq, especially on the flimsy evidence that was presented to the Congress, if indeed we had a draft and members of Congress and the administration thought that their kids from their communities would be placed in harm's way," said Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y.

Snerk. First paragraph, we might need 'em to fight all these bad guys. See? I'm tough on defense!

Second paragraph - Ha! If we had a draft, no one would ever be able to go to war again, unless it was a war the Dems approved of! [But wait, they *did* approve of this one - and would still approve if it had gone well. Success has many fathers, and in 2008 we'd be hearing about how Senator Clinton actually wrote the plan...] See, we're tough on, er, um, well, war is, y'know, bad. Besides, we'll blame it on President Bush, as we had no choice, and then after you dolts er, voters, put a Democrat back in the White House (while letting us keep the Congress, too, of course), we'll repeal it because it won't be needed after all, and then we can say we made it go away.

Of course, I doubt the President will sign any such bill, which means Rangel and Co. can then bust on him for being weak on defense.

Gad, it's a perfect gambit from a Democrat perspective. Unless it were to backfire. [dreamy look]

Be funny if the Prez *did* sign it. Would the campuses erupt? Blaming the Republicans, of course, because, well, they can't blame the Democrats, if you do that, it's unpatriotic and undemocratic. Just ask 'em.

First off, Mr. Rangel - how many troops do we need? Oh, wait - you'll ask the DoD to tell you, won't you? Oddly, they aren't interested in drafting anyone, but, hey. Or if you *do* have a number, do please let us know what it is.

Then, if you want to draft 'em, tot up those costs. Because the last time we had a draftee army, we weren't paying very well. You remember that Army - you were in it, during Korea. And we pay pretty good bucks, now. Or are you going to give all the people on active duty a paycut? Or, better yet, pay the draftees less... that'll play well when they start dying.

C'mon, Mr. Rangel - less bluster, more muster. Muster up some details so we can really evaluate your proposal. Otherwise, it's just another exercise in blowhard demogoguery.

Read the whole thing here. H/t, CAPT H.


Reporting As Ordered, Sir! »

by John on Nov 20, 2006 | TrackBack (0)

November 15, 2006

Michael Moore's Contract with on Conservatives...

My comments in [] brackets. Feel free to add yours!


A Liberal's Pledge to Disheartened Conservatives [puts hand on wallet]

November 14th, 2006

To My Conservative Brothers and Sisters,

I know you are dismayed and disheartened at the results of last week's election. You're worried that the country is heading toward a very bad place you don't want it to go. Your 12-year Republican Revolution has ended with so much yet to do, so many promises left unfulfilled. You are in a funk, and I understand. [Yay! We got through to him! Snerk]

Well, cheer up, my friends! Do not despair. I have good news for you. I, and the millions of others who are now in charge with our Democratic Congress, have a pledge we would like to make to you, a list of promises that we offer you because we value you as our fellow Americans. You deserve to know what we plan to do with our newfound power — and, to be specific, what we will do to you and for you. [MMoore - *I* am the Government, and I'm here to help! Scary words!]

Thus, here is our Liberal's Pledge to Disheartened Conservatives:

Dear Conservatives and Republicans,

I, and my fellow signatories, hereby make these promises to you:

1. We will always respect you for your conservative beliefs. We will never, ever, call you "unpatriotic" simply because you disagree with us. In fact, we encourage you to dissent and disagree with us. [Yeah, Mike, I get it, dude, you are *so* subtle-funny! As long as I'm not un-PC in my dissent (MCRI anyone?) or criticize your shibboleths, and stick safely to marginal topics or make no substantive criticism, I'm free to say anything I want.]

2. We will let you marry whomever you want, even when some of us consider your behavior to be "different" or "immoral." Who you marry is none of our business. Love and be in love — it's a wonderful gift. [Of course, you *do* realize that in several states, less than half the voting population agrees with that sentiment, regardless of the merits, right? Heh. I thought *my* side were the Republicans and *yours* were the Democrats?]

3. We will not spend your grandchildren's money on our personal whims or to enrich our friends. It's your checkbook, too, and we will balance it for you. [There isn't a whole lot of historical support for that statement, dude. Pardon me while I keep my hand on my wallet.]

4. When we soon bring our sons and daughters home from Iraq, we will bring your sons and daughters home, too. They deserve to live. We promise never to send your kids off to war based on either a mistake or a lie. [Again, it's a Brave New World, right? We're supposed to ignore history? But at least you imply that war *is* an option. How serious a one we'll see when you guys get the chance to fund the military. I suspect we'll have the *healthiest* most personally protected nerf-armed military in the world... well, again, if I actually expect you to match deeds to rhetoric]

5. When we make America the last Western democracy to have universal health coverage, and all Americans are able to get help when they fall ill, we promise that you, too, will be able to see a doctor, regardless of your ability to pay. And when stem cell research delivers treatments and cures for diseases that affect you and your loved ones, we'll make sure those advances are available to you and your family, too. [Hey! I thought you were going to balance the budget! Oh, wait - that's right, Nerf-armed Department of Peace = Universal Health Care. Sigh. It sure sounds good, but I just have to drink the maple syrup and assume that Alan's experience will be the Universal experience, all other data to the contrary. Heh. I already have government controlled, managed, and provided health care, dude. All I want to know is - will you and all your rich friends agree to restrict yourselves to using *only* that service? Or are you going to just buy all the healthcare you want, however and wherever you want - while making sure we unwashed masses pay the bills for each other? Just askin' Gimme the pledge, man - that when Universal Coverage is passed, all rich liberals and powerful Democrat politicians will use that service exclusively - and never, ever, get to bump the lines. Period. Sign that pledge, and maybe I'll take you seriously. We'll skip the whole "Give Me More Dead Babies To Feed The Beast So That Those Fortunate Enough To Escape The Birth Canal Can Live Forever!!! and other slippery slope arguments. It's just a bit too Peter Singer for Cro-Magnon me..]

6. Even though you have opposed environmental regulation, when we clean up our air and water, we, the Democratic majority, will let you, too, breathe the cleaner air and drink the purer water. [Not to mention the rolling blackouts we'll provide so you can *really* understand how Third World people live.]

7. Should a mass murderer ever kill 3,000 people on our soil, we will devote every single resource to tracking him down and bringing him to justice. Immediately. We will protect you. [Applying all the same tactics and procedural safeguards employed up to 9/11 to do so. You really didn't think this one through Mike. What you said was, you'll avenge me in a judicial and judicious fashion, but not enhance your ability to detect and prevent them from doing it - because, well, that might hurt someone's cultural feelings and all. I think it's revealing, Mike that you assure me you'll go catch the bad guy (I got it - you'll use restraint and the police approach vice reckless abandon and war) after he does it. Oh, and you'll protect me. Again - you're more focused on making sure we don't hinder anyone who knows how to play the grievance game than you really are about protecting anyone. It really is 9/10 in your world, isn't it Mike?]

8. We will never stick our nose in your bedroom or your womb. What you do there as consenting adults is your business. We will continue to count your age from the moment you were born, not the moment you were conceived. [Yeah, lucky me, I was born. But yer sure gonna stick your nose into my garage, kitchen, refrigerator, and gun room, arncha?]

9. We will not take away your hunting guns. If you need an automatic weapon or a handgun to kill a bird or a deer, then you really aren't much of a hunter and you should, perhaps, pick up another sport. We will make our streets and schools as free as we can from these weapons and we will protect your children just as we would protect ours. [Oy. Mike, you'd definitely rather be shot with an SKS or AK-clone than a Mauser X firing hunting ammo. No one hunts with automatic weapons, Mike - and if they do, they're doing it with heavily controlled, lawfully registered, and damned expensive weapons. And you really don't understand hunting, either. If you can take a deer with a handgun, you're a damfine hunter. You've got to get *close* to do that. It's easy to take a zeroed, scoped rifle with a range of over a mile, and shooting from a rest in a blind, kill an animal 800 yards away that will damn near be bled out before the sound of your shot reaches its now-dead ears. That's sniping, and takes patience. Hunting with a handgun - that's tracking and stalking, and takes some serious skillz, dude. But, all you're going to do is take away weapons from the law-abiding and pat yourselves on the back for having accomplished something. Because let's face it - most of the gun violence in this country is committed by people who get to play the grievance cards, which means you can't do too much about it, because that would be messing with their culture... ]
10. When we raise the minimum wage, we will pay you — and your employees — that new wage, too. When women are finally paid what men make, we will pay conservative women that wage, too. [So, In addition to the raised taxes, I gotta take a paycut, too? Oh, sorry - I forgot - what I earn isn't really mine, it belongs to The People In Power, who will determine how much I am allowed to have on a month-to-month basis. That is one of the fundamental philosophical differences between your side and mine, Mike. The premise of who owns what. Oh, and do all these rules and stuff that apply to you, Mike? Will you make sure that all the employees *you* have get that minimum wage and all the bennies? IIRC, you sometimes make exceptions.]

11. We will respect your religious beliefs, even when you don't put those beliefs into practice. In fact, we will actively seek to promote your most radical religious beliefs ("Blessed are the poor," "Blessed are the peacemakers," "Love your enemies," "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God," and "Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me."). We will let people in other countries know that God doesn't just bless America, he blesses everyone. We will discourage religious intolerance and fanaticism — starting with the fanaticism here at home, thus setting a good example for the rest of the world. [Um, Mike, shouldn't that be "Christian Religious Intolerance?" I don't see any sign of your side going after the Imams...]

12. We will not tolerate politicians who are corrupt and who are bought and paid for by the rich. We will go after any elected leader who puts him or herself ahead of the people. And we promise you we will go after the corrupt politicians on our side FIRST. If we fail to do this, we need you to call us on it. Simply because we are in power does not give us the right to turn our heads the other way when our party goes astray. Please perform this important duty as the loyal opposition. [Okay, I call you on it. Gimme the head of Representative Jefferson.]

I promise all of the above to you because this is your country, too. You are every bit as American as we are. We are all in this together. We sink or swim as one. Thank you for your years of service to this country and for giving us the opportunity to see if we can make things a bit better for our 300 million fellow Americans — and for the rest of the world. [Go for it, Dude. I got no argument with the sentiment - the devil, as always, is in the details and definitions, ain't it? Remember, you *did* ask me to dissent]
Signed,

Michael Moore
mmflint@aol.com
(Click here to sign the pledge)
www.michaelmoore.com

P.S. Please feel free to pass this on.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! »

by John on Nov 15, 2006 | TrackBack (0)

November 08, 2006

Note for soon-to-be-formerly-Honorable Mr. Ryun.

I am *so* pissed at you.

You couldn't even carry Leavenworth County.

Here's my take.

1. You took us for granted, as our Congressman. Your constituent services were, as I ran into them, perfunctory at best.

2. You took us for granted, as a Candidate. You acted, and mostly campaigned, if that's what you want to call it, as if the job was yours for the taking, until the end, when you suddenly realized... it wasn't.

3. Boyda wanted the job more than you. So she got it. Thanks, now I have an anti-gunner representing the Arsenal of Argghhh!!! in Congress. I feel *so* secure my interests have a voice in the House. They don't. On most of the issues she's taken a stand on.

4. Enjoy your retirement. And don't come back. This election is the last election you'll get a vote from me. You don't get a second chance at this address in Leavenworth County.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! »

by John on Nov 08, 2006

Finally! We win! We win!

Yahoo!

The farking campaign commercials are over!

The Republicans punted. The Dems have the ball. Let's see what they do with it. We still own the referee, for what that's worth, and the guys in the Replay booth are... mixed. Heh. That analogy is bilge, ainnit?

Awright, Denizens, how would you analogize this outcome?

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! »

by John on Nov 08, 2006
» The Thunder Run links with: Cutting Our Nose Off to Spite Our Face

It's not time to cut and run...

...but it's probably time to re-examine our involvement in the sobering light of post-election morn.

Why are we still there?
· Every morning there are newspaper reports of increasing numbers of deaths; every evening there is film footage of death and destruction.

Why are we still there?
· We occupied this land by force and it has caused us nothing but trouble.

Why are we still there?
· Many of our finest young people go there and never come back.

Why are we still there?
· The government is unstable and the leadership vacillating.

Why are we still there?
· Many of the people are, from any rational perspective, uncivilized.

Why are we still there?
· The place is infested with mutually-hostile religious sects whose actions defy understanding.

Why are we still there?
· The inhabitants' folkways, foods and fads are unfathomable to ordinary Americans.

Why are we still there?
· We can't even secure the borders.

Why are we still there?
· The place is billions of dollars in debt and it will cost billions more to rebuild it, which we can't afford.

Why are we still there?
· It is becoming abundantly clear -- we must let California find it's *own* destiny…


Heh. Tip o' the tam to Obie.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! »

by CW4BillT on Nov 08, 2006

November 06, 2006

Of interest to Kansas Voters. The rest of you just keep scrolling...

You've all seen the TV ad run by the Morrison campaign about my husband Bryan Brown (Phill Kline's Consumer Protection Chief with the twelve arrests). The ad intentionally withholds explanation of those arrests, and it's come to our attention that one newspaper even printed that Bryan is a convicted felon, which is an absolute lie. I'm sending this e-mail out to friends and family for clarification. This is a letter to the editor that Bryan submitted to newspapers across the state, but we don't know if it will get printed, and even if it does it may be edited down. Please do not hesitate to ask us questions. We welcome any opportunity to get the truth out about this, so please feel free to pass this information on to anyone interested. Love and Peace in Christ, Anne Brown

The Kansas AG race is really pretty ugly, with neither side having anything to be proud of. I've offered Morrison's campaign a chance to respond to this and several other items (mostly relating to the sexual harrassment bit that SWWBO linked to) but have received no response. Anyway, here is the text of the letter.

I am Attorney General Phill Kline's Consumer Chief. I write in response to Paul Morrison's allegations.

Yes, I was arrested twelve times between 1988-1992. All were tangential to the peaceful efforts of the pro-life rescue movement. Most were for being in the wrong place at the wrong time and, along with hundreds of others, refusing to leave. Most of the charges were city ordinance violations, which are not even misdemeanors.

Yes, a lower federal court in Indiana did order me to pay $61,000 directly to an N.O.W. sponsored legal team fifteen years ago. The injunction-winning abortionist attempted collection at first, but after the legal basis for the judgment was overturned by the United States Supreme Court all efforts were abandoned. That overturned judgment has been uncollectable for many years.

Yes, I have led a team effort to reform the Consumer Protection Division. Over the past years the division engaged in many investigations that were not proper under the law. The actions were, in a word, unconstitutional. While Team Kline has set records on the filing of enforcement actions and on educational efforts, Team Kline has stopped investigating complaints that contain no allegation of consumer fraud. Those who believe that government agencies should be tightly managed to do only that which is authorized will find the reforms of Team Kline inspiring. Those who believe that the “nanny state” should address every consumer complaint (regardless of merit) will find Team Kline's reforms quite disturbing. I encourage all taxpayers to read about Team Kline's reforms at www.ksag.org .

Ironies abound in this election season. Here are four of my favorites:

#1. Paul Morrison has spent $200, 000 in a bid to paint me as a criminal for actions I took at the same time that he was (allegedly) sexually harassing Kelly Summerlin. Yet he claims his case is too stale to be relevant.

#2. Many of my arrests ended in not guilty verdicts as a result of my pre-law school constitutional arguments. A few were settled against no contest pleas. A few were dismissed. Only one resulted in a conviction. Yet District Attorney Paul Morrison cries foul when the merits of a sexual harassment case he lost at the summary judgment stage are discussed.

#3. I am widely criticized for not respecting city ordinances enough due to my arrests. But when I post a report demonstrating that former AG Stovall (whose tobacco litigation reveals the degree to which she valued cronyism over justice) was operating her Consumer Division in a manifestly unconstitutional manner, I am criticized for taking state law too seriously.

#4. My pro-life arrests were a byproduct of my Christian values. Those were formed as I followed the lead of a good many Catholics and Catholic clergy, including Bishops. For those loiterings and trespasses I am roundly criticized by Paul Morrison -- who claims to be a leader in the Catholic Church while striking a Faustian bargain with the abortion industry to become the next Attorney General of Kansas.

I hope these ironies are not lost on the good people of Kansas

Bryan J. Brown

H/t, Jim C.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! »

by John on Nov 06, 2006
» Unpartisan.com Political News and Blog Aggregator links with: Bill O'Reilly In Abortion Record Tangle

November 03, 2006

Oops!

This just in - NYT exposes Bush White House Gaffe of Strategic Proportions!

The Bushies published details of Iraqi bomb-making plans on the Internet!

Check it out here: U.S. Web Archive Is Said to Reveal a Nuclear Primer (login req'd).

But in recent weeks, the site has posted some documents that weapons experts say are a danger themselves: detailed accounts of Iraq’s secret nuclear research before the 1991 Persian Gulf war. The documents, the experts say, constitute a basic guide to building an atom bomb.

Last night, the government shut down the Web site after The New York Times asked about complaints from weapons experts and arms-control officials. A spokesman for the director of national intelligence said access to the site had been suspended “pending a review to ensure its content is appropriate for public viewing.”

Officials of the International Atomic Energy Agency, fearing that the information could help states like Iran develop nuclear arms, had privately protested last week to the American ambassador to the agency, according to European diplomats who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the issue’s sensitivity. One diplomat said the agency’s technical experts “were shocked” at the public disclosures.

Okay. Dumb decision, especially if the data indicates the Iraqis had sufficient expertise to build the bomb, and truly provides down-to-the-math level information. (Full disclosure, I know how to build two kinds of nuke just off the top of my head. Of course, I also know pretty much exactly how an internal combustion engine works, too. The devil is in the details, like those dimensions. But with the resources, and some more of those details, I could build either... hmmm)

Of course, there were no reports of weird popping sounds from within the reality-based community as heads implode. There is seemingly no cognitive dissonance regarding the fact that... this means Saddam had a nuclear weapons program. It might have been cold... but he'd held on to the hard-to-get part. The knowledge and expertise. So, when the sanctions were lifted, as they would have been, and sooner rather than later... what would he have likely done with the data?

Hmmm like this quote from the article:

Among the dozens of documents in English were Iraqi reports written in the 1990’s and in 2002 for United Nations inspectors in charge of making sure Iraq abandoned its unconventional arms programs after the Persian Gulf war. Experts say that at the time, Mr. Hussein’s scientists were on the verge of building an atom bomb, as little as a year away.

Oh, I hear the response - "Well, whatever he did with it, he wouldn't have posted it on the Internet!" And that's all the matters right now. After all, there's an election next week, right?

Wait - excuse me - international (i.e., not a Rethuglican Administration employee, but the only authentic kind, i.e., international and/or safely liberal) experts said Saddam was a year away from building a bomb? The article text is ambiguous, it could mean 1991, or 2002...

So, we now have the Voice of the Liberal, Anti-war Establishment saying... Saddam coulda built a bomb in a year. Hmmmm but, there were no WMDs, no real threat - the NYT said so! Again, no popping sounds of imploding heads...

More here, if you'd like it, from Jim Geraghty at NRO.

by John on Nov 03, 2006
» Unpartisan.com Political News and Blog Aggregator links with: U.S. yanks Web site with reported nuclear secrets
» Stop The ACLU links with: Saddam Closer To Bomb Than Anyone Thought
» A Blog For All links with: The Rabbit Hole
» The Right Nation links with: Mid-Term (Open) Must-Read List /2
» Wake up America links with: New York Times Validates Iraqi DID Have WMD's .
» Searchlight Crusade links with: Upon Publishing Iraqi Data Regarding Nuclear Weapons on the Web
» purpleavenger links with: NYT validates Saddam WMD threat

November 02, 2006

I voted yesterday, and participated in some Americana...

I voted, and you should too.  And if you are in a country where you can't - what's up with that?

This might be a bit of a boring post. *I* was fascinated. And since what I discuss here, voting, is part and parcel of the purpose of the military, it's every bit as important as all those artifacts I toss up on these pages anyway, yes?

I did my bit to prevent the spectre of a Speaker Pelosi. Since I skipped the primaries, not being registered to a party, this was my first chance to use the new electronic voting machines the county purchased. It was also a chance to participate in an interesting little convention - the "Public Test."

Under Kansas law (and I wouldn't be surprised if every state doesn't have some form of this) the ballot, voting machines and tabulation devices, including the procedures for handling the exceptions, must be demonstrated and examined publicly, to any and all interested persons. Around here, being a smallish community in a smallish county, it's not a terribly lavish affair.

There were three of us participating as observers/testers, and two county employees, the County Clerk (an elected position, Alan!) and her chief elections assistant. The observers consisted of a representative of the county Democratic and Republican parties, and myself, interested citizen who'd never seen this before. It's a minor good thing I was there, in a humorous way.

There were Reform and Libertarian candidates on the ballot, they could have had observers as well, if there were enough of them in the state to be that organized... In fact, the only limit to observers is the size of the venue, but hey, like I said, we aren't that crowded here in Leavenworth (thankfully!).

The test consisted of looking at the ballot and confirming that the proper slate was present, with proper party affiliations marked on the ballots, and provision for write ins. That done, Linda talked us through the process of how, by whom, and when the electronic ballots are created and safeguarded once loaded onto the devices which load the machines.

She then ran us through the process for opening a voting machine, and explained the process for opening a string of machines for polling places which will have multiple machines. We saw how the machines are zeroed, what the accounting processes are for the machines, the built-in redundancies (they operate on socket power with battery backup so that power outages don't affect voting) as well as the procedures when operating on battery power to rotate the machines to ensure that there are always machines available to vote on. Essentially, for polling places with more than two machines, you can have at least one up and running at any given time for 24 hours. We were shown the security measures built into the systems, which I won't detail here. Suffice it to say that with the system as demonstrated, it doesn't appear to be any easier to manipulate the system than the old paper ballot - and the two-man rules for handling things put a brake on the human element. Nothing is perfect. The electronic machines are not networked in any fashion.

Anyway - we saw all that and then we took pre-voted paper ballots and voted them on the electronic machines. During that process we were shown how voters could change votes and how the machines made it possible for the blind to vote with the same level of privacy as everyone else. Essentially, if you choose that option, the screen blanks, you wear headphones, and use braille-marked keys on the console to make your choices, which are then read back to you via the headphones so you can confirm your choices. If you don't know braille, the keys have distinctive shapes.

We had to enter write-in candidates, there were some races where we didn't vote for anyone (to deliberately create 'undervotes' to demonstrate the accounting process to ensure that undervotes don't get assigned to a candidate, by accident or nefarious design). On the electronic machines, unlike a paper ballot, you can't over vote by having too many circles filled in. In that sense, there will be fewer votes going to the resolution board to be judged in this system - and fewer still that don't get counted because the board feels they can't discern the voter's intent. If you undervote (as I did for uncontested races) the machine asks you twice, in two different ways, to confirm you don't want to vote for a particular race. BTW, Alan, I'm not sure of the actual count, but we had about 15 judges up for retention (Alan, our Canadian Contrarian, is tickled about all the jobs we 'Muricans get to vote on).

We then took the paper ballots over to the mechanical tabulator. Why paper ballots? They are the ultimate backup for power/hardware issues, they are still how absentee ballots are handled, and people who simply don't trust the electronic systems can use a paper ballot.

This is where I was useful. Because of the need to be able to take the tabulated data and collate it with the voting machine data, the Elections office had to buy a new machine. And while everything had worked fine in the previous election, and in all the previous testing, of course it failed when there were outsiders present. It wouldn't feed the ballots properly. They must have spent 45 minutes trying to get it to work - to include troubleshooting by phone with the manufacturer. In the end, they decided a service call (which costs money) was going to be required.

Enter the Armorer. I've been watching them fiddle with it, kinda (we did move on and do other stuff) and I was lingering around looking the feeder system over when I noticed that the bin that caught the counted ballot was not aligned properly. I reset it, we loaded up some ballots, and off we went - and the service call was canceled. If you are a taxpayer of Leavenworth county, you're welcome.

Anyway, we ran the ballots through, there were ballots that had typical errors on them and we went through that resolution process. We then took our various data, compared them to the benchmark data, and I am pleased to assure you that up to this point, at least, Leavenworth County is ready for next Tuesday (advance voting actually began 20 days before the general election, which is why I took advantage of voting yesterday, to avoid the crowds.

And confusticate the exit pollers, none of whom read this blog.

And my name is on the document as an observer! Hey, I got folded, bent, and spindled (no mutilation, thank heavens) as a Defender of the System, now I got to be a tiny little cog in the System. Whee!

by John on Nov 02, 2006

October 31, 2006

Kerry Responds.

Apparently we struck a nerve...

If anyone thinks a veteran would criticize the more than 140,000 heroes serving in Iraq and not the president who got us stuck there, they're crazy. This is the classic G.O.P. playbook. I’m sick and tired of these despicable Republican attacks that always seem to come from those who never can be found to serve in war, but love to attack those who did.

I’m not going to be lectured by a stuffed suit White House mouthpiece standing behind a podium, or doughy Rush Limbaugh, who no doubt today will take a break from belittling Michael J. Fox’s Parkinson’s disease to start lying about me just as they have lied about Iraq. It disgusts me that these Republican hacks, who have never worn the uniform of our country lie and distort so blatantly and carelessly about those who have.

The people who owe our troops an apology are George W. Bush and Dick Cheney who misled America into war and have given us a Katrina foreign policy that has betrayed our ideals, killed and maimed our soldiers, and widened the terrorist threat instead of defeating it. These Republicans are afraid to debate veterans who live and breathe the concerns of our troops, not the empty slogans of an Administration that sent our brave troops to war without body armor.

Bottom line, these Republicans want to debate straw men because they’re afraid to debate real men. And this time it won’t work because we’re going to stay in their face with the truth and deny them even a sliver of light for their distortions. No Democrat will be bullied by an administration that has a cut and run policy in Afghanistan and a stand still and lose strategy in Iraq.

Can I lecture you, Senator? Does my 20+ years of wearing the green count?

Does my 70% disability count (though it does make me doughy like Rush...)? What, not fair? Hey, you wave your Purple Hearts (which you tossed over a fence, IIRC) at people, I can wave my disability payment at you...

Well, whether I can or not - I did. Many times. And I still think you betrayed your oath, multiple times, and were unfit to wear the uniform you still hold in contempt, except when you need to wrap yourself in it.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

It disgusts me that these Republican hacks, who have never worn the uniform of our country lie and distort so blatantly and carelessly about those who have.

Speaking of lies and blatant distortions about those who have worn the uniform of our country, Senator, I have just two words for you:

Winter Soldier.

Make it three:

Dirtbag.

Wanna debate?

Bill Tuttle
Vulture 15
1969 - 1970

by John on Oct 31, 2006
» Unpartisan.com Political News and Blog Aggregator links with: Bush toughens rhetoric to draw out GOP voters
» A Blog For All links with: Supporting Our Troops Again
» Political Humor links with: New Study Finds Elephants Possess Higher Intellige
» Political Humor links with: New Study Finds Elephants Possess Higher Intellige

John Kerry, Not Presidential Material, reason #456,987,321

U.S. Army Sgt. Maj. Benny Hubbard, the district Sgt. Maj. for Gulf Region South, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, shakes hands with an Iraqi child prior to the ribbon cutting ceremony for the Salah Hadi Obid Elementary School in Afak, Iraq, Oct. 11, 2006. The construction of the school was funded, contracted and inspected by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Dawn M. Price) (Released)


U.S. Army Sgt. Maj. Benny Hubbard, the district Sgt. Maj. for Gulf Region South, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, shakes hands with an Iraqi child prior to the ribbon cutting ceremony for the Salah Hadi Obid Elementary School in Afak, Iraq, Oct. 11, 2006. The construction of the school was funded, contracted and inspected by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Dawn M. Price) (Released)

Compare and contrast SGM Hubbard's efforts with students to... the junior Senator from Massachusetts...

Kerry then told the students that if they were able to navigate the education system, they could get comfortable jobs - "If you don't, you get stuck in Iraq," he said to a mixture of laughter and gasps

Oh, yeah, he said it. Don't wanna believe the journo? Listen to it here, courtesy Bill. I wonder what SGM Hubbard thinks about that comment?

Soooo, the 299,870,000 Americans not currently serving in Iraq all have advanced degrees, eh?

Well, let's be more accurate. Using the CIA factbook data on the US, 2005 data.

There are 134,813,023 men and women of military age (18-49).

There are, roughly, 130,000 troops in Iraq (a number that fluctuates, work with me here).


by David Dismukes October 27, 2006 Army recruits express their motivation during a platoon competition at an obstacle course at Fort Benning, Ga. This photo appeared on www.army.mil.


by David Dismukes October 27, 2006 Army recruits express their motivation during a platoon competition at an obstacle course at Fort Benning, Ga. This photo appeared on www.army.mil.

Which means there are 134,683,023 people of military age who have managed to avoid the trap at the moment. Oh, I know, I'm not accounting for the entire military, nor those who have been to Iraq and gotten out, etc - but we're talking ROM snapshot here.

Oops. That's everybody of the right age. That doesn't take into account *fit* for military service.

Pvt. Charlie Lonno from B Company, 3rd Battalion, 30th Infantry crawl through a mud filled pit with barbed wire overhead as part of an obsticle course on Fort Benning's Sand Hill Tuesday, Oct. 17.  The Micronesia native is on his fifth day of Basic Training.  Photo by David Dismukes


Pvt. Charlie Lonno from B Company, 3rd Battalion, 30th Infantry crawl through a mud filled pit with barbed wire overhead as part of an obsticle course on Fort Benning's Sand Hill Tuesday, Oct. 17. The Micronesia native is on his fifth day of Basic Training. Photo by David Dismukes

That changes things. Now we're down to 109,305,756 boys and girls for the recruiters to prey on. Of whom 109,175,756 aren't in Iraq, apparently having negotiated that hard-to-navigate educational system and found themselves free from being compelled by poverty to serve - there apparently being no other reason to serve, in Senator Kerry's world.

Drill Sgt. Primus Brown instructs Soldiers from B Company, 3rd Battalion, 30th Infantry as they learn to high-crawl through a sand pit as part of an obsticle course on Fort Benning's Sand Hill Tuesday, Oct. 17.  The Soldiers are in their fifth day of Basic Training.  Photo by David Dismukes


Drill Sgt. Primus Brown instructs Soldiers from B Company, 3rd Battalion, 30th Infantry as they learn to high-crawl through a sand pit as part of an obsticle course on Fort Benning's Sand Hill Tuesday, Oct. 17. The Soldiers are in their fifth day of Basic Training. Photo by David Dismukes

So... 0.0011893243755617041796042287105173% of the "fit to serve" population are apparently unable to hack it, eh, Senator, and find themselves with no choice but to take King George's Shilling and fight and die for Empire? Terrible great risk, ain't it?

This is Halloween - let's try to make it scarier for the kiddles, so they can feel even better about what a horror they are escaping.

Let's just restrict it to those coming of military age in a year... that gives us a 2005 estimated population of 4,180,074. Let's cheat, and say that all 130,000 troops in Iraq are 18 year olds. That gives us 4,050,074 of these kids whose scholastic abilities have enabled them to escape the clutches of the recruiters, since exactly 0% of them have come to the attention of their local draft boards... I bet that gives us a scary number for Halloween!

Ooooooh. 0.031099927896013324166031510446944

Just sayin'.

That's it. My scary Halloween post.

U.S. Military Academy Cadet Third Class Jason Schreuder spent 12 hours carving his contribution to the new <i>Army Strong</i> campaign. Photo by Leslie Gordonier


U.S. Military Academy Cadet Third Class Jason Schreuder spent 12 hours carving his contribution to the new Army Strong campaign. Photo by Leslie Gordonier

Apparently, I'm not the only one to notice...

Stop the ACLU
Captain's Quarters
Snerk - and Cassandra - and here I thought I was finally gonna have a post with more column inches than hers... nope.

And, as SWWBO notes - the services are, ahem, somewhat better edumacated than the population in general...

Education Level. The Military Services value and support the education of their members. The emphasis on education was evident in the data for FY 2002. Practically all active duty and Selected Reserve enlisted accessions had a high school diploma or equivalent, well above civilian youth proportions (79 percent of 18-24 year-olds). More important, excluding accessions enlisting in the Army or Army Reserve under the GED+ program (an experimental program of individuals with a GED or no credential who have met special screening criteria for enlisting), 92 percent of NPS active duty and 87 percent of NPS Selected Reserve enlisted recruits were high school diploma graduates.

Given that most officers are required to possess at least a baccalaureate college degree upon or soon after commissioning and that colleges and universities are among the Services’ main commissioning sources (i.e., Service academies and ROTC), the academic standing of officers is not surprising. The fact that 87 percent of active duty officer accessions and 95 percent of the officer corps (both excluding those with unknown education credentials) were degree holders (approximately 17 and 38 percent advanced degrees) is in keeping with policy and the professional status and expectations of officers. Likewise, 81 percent of Reserve Component officer accessions and 91 percent of the total Reserve Component officer corps held at least a bachelor’s degree, with 23 and 34 percent possessing advanced degrees, respectively.

There's a Heritage Foundation Study available here.

An extract:

A pillar of conventional wisdom about the U.S. military is that the quality of volunteers has been degraded after the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. Examples of the voices making this claim range from the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and New York Daily News [1] to Michael Moore’s pseudo-documentary Fahrenheit 9/11. Some insist that minorities and the underprivileged are over­represented in the military. Others accuse the U.S. Army of accepting unqualified enlistees in a futile attempt to meet its recruiting goals in the midst of an unpopular war.[2]

A report published by The Heritage Foundation in November 2005 examined the issue and could not substantiate any degradation in troop quality by comparing military enlistees in 1999 to those in 2003. It is possible that troop quality did not degrade until after the initial invasion of Iraq in 2003, when patriotism was high. A common assumption is that the Army experienced difficulty getting qualified enlistees in 2005 and was subse­quently forced to lower its standards. This report revisits the issue by examining the full recruiting classes for all branches of the U.S. military for every year from 2003 to 2005.

The current findings show that the demo­graphic characteristics of volunteers have contin­ued to show signs of higher, not lower, quality. Quality is a difficult concept to apply to soldiers, or to human beings in any context, and it should be understood here in context. Regardless of the standards used to screen applicants, the average quality of the people accepted into any organiza­tion can be assessed only by using measurable cri­teria, which surely fail to account for intangible characteristics. In the military, it is especially questionable to claim that measurable characteris­tics accurately reflect what really matters: cour­age, honor, integrity, loyalty, and leadership.

Again, just sayin'.

Senator, despite the fact that you simply cannot grow past it - whatever Iraq is... IT ISN'T VIETNAM!

by John on Oct 31, 2006
» She Who Will Be Obeyed! links with: These words will come back to Haunt John Kerry!
» Media Lies links with: John Fraud Kerry is....
» BIG DOGS WEBLOG links with: Real Men Don’t Disrespect the Troops John
» Sgt Hook - This We'll Defend links with: Stupid is, Stuck in Iraq (Drill Sgt. Bleu U.S. Army ret.)

October 28, 2006

The state of the Intelligence community...

Yesterday, the NYT ran this article by Mark Mazzetti: In ’97, U.S. Panel Predicted a North Korea Collapse in 5 Years

An excerpt:

WASHINGTON, Oct. 26 — A team of government and outside experts convened by the Central Intelligence Agency concluded in 1997 that North Korea’s economy was deteriorating so rapidly that the government of Kim Jong-il was likely to collapse within five years, according to declassified documents made public on Thursday.

The panel described the isolated and impoverished country as being on the brink of economic ruin and said that “political implosion stemming from irreversible economic degradation seems the most plausible endgame for North Korea.” The majority among the group argued that the North’s government “cannot remain viable for the long term” and could fall within five years.

Nearly a decade later, the assessment has not been borne out, and its disclosure is evidence of past American misjudgments about the internal dynamics of North Korea’s closed society. American intelligence agencies still regard North Korea as among the toughest of intelligence targets and have made little progress inserting human spies into the country to steal secrets about the government.

The assessment was produced by a group that included senior intelligence analysts, Pentagon war gamers and independent academic experts. It was made public on Thursday by the National Security Archive, a research group.

“Conventional wisdom was completely wrong,” said Ambassador Wendy Sherman, who during the late 1990s was the Clinton administration’s coordinator for North Korea policy. “People constantly underestimated the staying power of the North Korean regime.”

The National Security Archive page on the subject is here.

This was the subject of some discussion on a discussion list I belong to, one that concerns itself about intel concerns and the GWOT, among other things.

What follows was a part of that discussion, used here with permission, but anonymously per the posters request.

The first comment was:

The state of being of our intelligence in 1997 did indeed affect national decisions on the DPRK, when in fact the community, bolstered by outside experts was dead wrong. If affected both the Clinton and the early Bush administration. Surely, this document was updated periodically and new information included.

What is it about the community which leads to such misestimation? Was this a case of intelligence telling the policy people what it wanted to hear? Or was the community, apparently headless and heedless unable to focus in parallel on the many areas of interest?

Followed by this response:

I was commissioned as an Intelligence Officer in the US Army in 1978, and still retain my commission therein. In connection with my military service, I have four Intelligence-related Military Occupational Specialties and twice that number of Intelligence-related Special Skill Identifiers. I have worked as an Intelligence Officer, Counter-Intelligence Officer, and Counter-Terrorism Officer from battalion to theater-level, including on Joint Staffs. Based on my experience in the community, I can attest to the fact that Intelligence analysis is always subject to error; but over the past 30 years or so, the United States has done a great deal to needlessly undermine its intelligence capabilities and to thereby ensure greater error and failure. I can think of three things off hand that have most significantly contributed to this.

1. In the mid-1970's, in the wake of Watergate and the Vietnam War, the US Congress, House and Senate, conducted a massive purge and general evisceration of the nation's Intelligence Community from which it has never recovered. This was pursued as a largely partisan political campaign by House and Senate Democrats, who made no secret of their active hatred of the US Intelligence Community, which many of them openly regarded as the principal source of evil in the world. Counter-Intelligence and Counter-Terrorism operations became virtually impossible after this.

2. In the late 1970's, President Jimmy Carter decided that Human Intelligence
was not important and could be replaced by Technical Intelligence. Accordingly, he disestablished the bulk of the US Human Intelligence effort. We have similarly never recovered from this.

3. In the 1990's, President Bill Clinton further degraded what was left of US HUMINT capabilities by mandating that no HUMINT contacts may be involved in bad things. He also crippled the Intelligence Collection and Analysis communities by replacing effective collection and sound analysis with aggressive racial and sexual diversity quotas as the foremost goals of the Intelligence Community.

All of this has led us to where we are today. If you discern a pattern in the above, so do I.

In this context I couldn't help but think of a recent speech by She-Who-Would-Be-Speaker Pelosi:

"I think the fact that I am a woman will raise expectations in terms of more hope in government, and I will not disappoint...The gavel of the speaker of the House is in the hands of special interests, and now it will be in the hands of America's children."

Heh.

by John on Oct 28, 2006

Guest post by Denizen Ry.

BloodSpite has something up that’s near and dear to gollum’s heart: Border Issues . Two agents shoot a known border crasher smuggling drugs, wounding and not killing him, and get 20 years each.

That’s not what I’d like to hear. Sure, they messed up and picked up their brass and didn’t file the proper paperwork, but 20 years? For wounding a border crashing drug dealer who seemed to be brandishing a gun? But this drug dealing border crasher seems to have gotten nothing in the way of punishment.

I’m not quite with BlSp or Michele Malkin on this. The ICE agents screwed up royal. They hid evidence and broke the law themselves. There are penalties for behaving in such a manner. Don’t go all cowboy on us and forget there are rules and procedures that ensure nobody goes super nutty down there. I’m sure that this incident and sentencing sends a message loud and clear to all ICE personnel: actually do your job in relation to securing the border and we’ll see you in court. Just like cops in Oakland, CA won’t report an illegal alien driving without a license caught at a sobriety checkpoint because of action by the ACLU.

Might as well rename the country Workland, accept that all we are is a place for people to come work, get citizenship of whatever country will take us, and give up all pretensions of being a nation if that’s how we’re going to play it.

There is an upside to it. It proves this country treats everyone equally. One of the agents’ surnames is Ramos. He’s Hispanic. We treat everyone the same here in the US. We treat everyone like chit, but at least it’s equally chitty.

___________________________________________

Another Malkin bit that has me scratching my head. Put on the Web a fake passport generator good enough to get thru the security check point and draw federal heat? Well duh.

One of the reasons I’m in trouble around here ["Here" refers to where Ry surfs the internet gets his employment checks from. Around the Castle Ry only gets in trouble for excessive ankle-biting, whacking his spoon on his high chair when he wants attention, and teaching the zombies how to play hockey. Rotting body parts all over. Ick -the Armorer] is a series of renegade experiments I did two and three years back that ate up a bunch of budget for use of instrumentation. I decided I wanted to look at something and then tell DHS about my results. They were not only non-plussed about it but my contact called The Wife directly and told her I’d better stop or someone would make me a visit from men driving a ‘fleet car’ with gov’t plates. I stopped. She threatened to make me sleep on the couch. I also got into serious trouble when Miss Thang noticed that certain stocks were a lot less than they should’ve been.

‘They’ don’t like us doing things ‘off the reservation’. There’s a bias against us ‘amateurs’, however smart and innovative and well meaning we may be, doing stuff without ‘their’ knowing about it first and with ‘their’ okay. That’s the way the game is played. If you can’t play by those rules then you shouldn’t play. Sure, it’s stupid and inefficient. But they’ve got the power to throw your sorry butt in jail. So play by their rules as they’re the ones who have to take responsibility for terror attacks. [I would also note that while gov't is not known for innovation and risk-taking, as Ry notes, they are *also* the ones who have to clean up the mess if you screw up while conducting your experiments... it colors their thinking. As someone who spent time in the "cleaning up after other people's evil actions/honest mistakes, I can see in that window, so to speak. It isn't *always* benign/malevolent paternalism. Just often enough to be a real PITA. -the Armorer]

Posting this on the Web was an extremely stupid thing to do. Why not just hand terrorists the keys to the city while you’re at it? I got a lot of respect for the Hoosier who came up with the concept, but the dude totally screwed up in fighting red tape by posting it on the Web for everyone and anyone to get at it.

I’m a pariah in academe because I want access restrictions on certain journals and types of data. It’s just not smart to have it open to anyone and everyone when there’s a non-insignificant group of the global population who’ll take said info and weaponize it. We can live with the slowdown of discovery that restricted access will cause.

Lots of people are torqued over the NYT divulging the SWIFT program and the NSA wiretap program. It was handing info to the enemy. What this guy did by posting his generator on the web is worse. It’s handing tools to the enemy. The guy who did this is brilliant and yet stupid at the same time. I hope he does get credit for this. I also hope he learns not to go renegade again.

ry

by John on Oct 28, 2006

October 23, 2006

Nancy Pelosi on the changes in store if she becomes Speaker Pelosi, and stupid Republican tricks...

"I think the fact that I am a woman will raise expectations in terms of more hope in government, and I will not disappoint...The gavel of the speaker of the House is in the hands of special interests, and now it will be in the hands of America's children."

A-yup. Okay, I can run with that as a working description of the Democrats...

8^)

Nope. Can't make this stuff up. That quote is in the last paragraph of this story in the LA Times.

Stupid Republican tricks?

Quoting a 2004 article, "Lie Factory," that appeared in Mother Jones magazine and relied on interviews with a former Pentagon analyst turned White House foe, Karen Kwiatkowski, the mailing highlights Christopher Carney's role in a small intelligence analysis shop inside the Pentagon before the Iraq war. The top of the mailing warns voters, "Chris Carney failed our nation once." "Don't give Chris Carney a chance to FAIL us again," the next page says.

The mailing may seem par for the course in an election season in which Republican incumbents are vulnerable to attacks on their support for an unpopular war. But its return address is the Republican Federal Committee of Pennsylvania. The mailing's target is Mr. Carney, who some see as one of the national Democratic Party's brightest hopes to wrest control of the House of Representatives in 2006.

Bad move, guys. And you oughta disown the mailing. But we do get this amusement with the article - the New York Sun's Eli Lake, the author of the article, provides this fun paragraph to go with it...

Mr. Carney's position on Iraq differs from that of a Pennsylvania Republican, Rep. Jack Murtha, who has said America should set a date and begin withdrawing troops. But Mr. Carney counts Mr. Murtha as a political ally. In August, Mr. Murtha even promised Mr. Carney a seat on the powerful House Appropriations Committee, the congressional panel that spends the federal budget.

I guess it *is* getting hard to tell Democrats from Republicans these days...

by John on Oct 23, 2006

Fair's fair...

Chris Bowers of My Direct Democracy is Googlebombing the elections.

In a tit for tat move, so is John Hawkins of Right Wing News.

So, wanna play?

Senate

Connecticut: Ned Lamont

Maryland: Ben Cardin

Michigan: Debbie Stanbenow

Missouri: Claire McCaskill

Montana: Jon Tester

New Jersey: Bob Menendez

Tennessee: Harold Ford

Virginia: James Webb

Democrat Held Seats

(CO-03): John Salazar

(GA-03): Jim Marshall

(GA-12): John Barrow

(IA-03): Leonard Boswell

(IL-08): Melissa Bean

(IL-17): Phil Hare

(IN-07): Julia Carson

(NC-13): Brad Miller

(PA-12): John Murtha

(WV-01): Alan Mollohan

Republican Held Seats

(AZ-08): Gabrielle Giffords

(CT-04): Diane Farrell

(CT-05): Chris Murphy

(CO-07): Ed Perlmutter

(IA-01): Bruce Braley

(IL-06): Tammy Duckworth

(IN-02): Joe Donnelly

(IN-08): Brad Ellsworth

(IN-09): Baron Hill

(FL-13): Christine Jennings

(FL-16): Tim Mahoney

(FL-22): Ron Klein

(KY-03): John Yarmuth

(NC-01): Heath Shuler

(MN-06): Patty Wetterling

(NM-01): Patricia Madrid

(NY-20): Kirsten Gillibrand

(NY-24): Michael Arcuri

(NY-26): Jack Davis

(OH-15): Mary Jo Kilroy

(OH-18): Zack Space

(PA-06): Lois Murphy

(PA-08): Patrick Murphy

(PA-07): Joe Sestak

(PA-10): Chris Carney

(VA-02): Phil Kellam

(WI-08): Steve Kagen

by John on Oct 23, 2006

October 21, 2006

Since Saturday is a low-traffic, high google day...

...I think I'll post scary stuff.

On the issue of Right-thinking people staying home on Election Day to punish the Republicans. Among other things, remember people - perfect is the enemy of good. You're never going to get perfect. Here's a sample of what you *will* get with a Pelosi House.

New Faces and Ideas? Hardly.

As if, AP! [Tim Graham]

There is no funnier headline today than this AP one: "If Democrats Win House, Moderation Rules." Andrew Taylor notes the potentially incoming chairmen may be measurably liberal by their voting records, but they "promise to rule from the center." Stop, AP, my ribs hurt!

Has anyone considered how the Democrats can present themselves as a vote for "change" when you consider the term-unlimited people that will chair the committees, as AP reviews it? John Dingell: first elected December of 1955. That's almost pre-rock-and-roll. John Conyers: first elected 1964. Charles Rangel? 1970. Henry Waxman? 1974. George Miller? 1974. Fresh faces, anyone?

House Majority Whip Blunt has his own take on the issue:

PELOSI'S HOUSE Pelosi's House


"I pride myself in being called a liberal."


"I don't consider myself a moderate."


Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) (Time, 9/4/06)

...And she's not the only one.


"This list of the bills most likely to be championed by committee chairmen in a Pelosi-led House of Representatives would be great fodder for the latenight talk show hosts if it weren't true," House Majority Whip Roy Blunt said. "Instead, it's just plain scary. While Republicans fight the War on Terror, grow our robust economy, and crack down on illegal immigration, House Democrats plot to establish a Department of Peace, raise your taxes, and minimize penalties for crack dealers. The difference couldn't be starker."

******

Department of Peace and Nonviolence Act -- H.R. 3760: Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) and 74 Democratic cosponsors propose a new "Department of Peace and Nonviolence" as well as "National Peace Day." Cosponsors include three would-be Democratic Chairmen: John Conyers (Judiciary), George Miller (Education and the Workforce), and Charlie Rangel (Ways and Means).

Gas Stamps -- H.R. 3712: Jim McDermott (D-WA) and eight Democratic cosponsors want a "Gas Stamps" program similar to the Food Stamps program to subsidize the gasoline purchases of qualified individuals.

Less Jail Time for Selling Crack Cocaine - H.R. 2456: Charlie Rangel (D-NY) and 23 Democratic cosponsors want to eliminate mandatory minimum sentences for possessing, importing, and distributing crack cocaine. John Conyers, the would-be Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, which has jurisdiction over the bill, is a cosponsor.

Voting Rights for Criminals - H.R. 1300: John Conyers (D-MI) and 32 Democratic cosponsors, and H.R. 663: Charlie Rangel (D-NY) and 28 Democratic cosponsors would let convicted felons vote. Rep. John Conyers is the would-be Democratic Chairman of the Judiciary Committee which would consider this legislation.

Expand Medicare to Include Diapers -- H.R. 1052: Barney Frank (D-MA) supports Medicare coverage of adult diapers. Barney Frank is the would-be Chairman of the Financial Services Committee.

Nationalized Health Care - H.R. 4683: John Dingell (D-MI) and 18 Democratic cosponsors want to expand Medicare to cover all Americans. John Dingell is the would-be Democratic Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee who along with cosponsors Charlie Rangel, would-be Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, and Henry Waxman, would-be Chairman of the Government Reform Committee, would have jurisdiction over the proposal.

Federal Regulation of Restaurant Menus -- H.R. 5563: Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and 25 Democratic cosponsors authorize federal regulation of the contents of restaurant menus.

Taxpayer Funded Abortions & Elimination of all Restrictions on Abortion, Including Parental Notice - H.R. 5151: Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and 66 Democratic cosponsors want to overturn even minimal restrictions on abortion such as parental notice requirements. The bill would also require taxpayer funding of abortions through the various federal health care programs. John Conyers, the would-be Chairman of Judiciary Committee which has jurisdiction over the bill, is an original cosponsor.

Bill of Welfare Rights -- H.J. Res. 29-35: Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL) proposes a Soviet-style "Bill of Welfare Rights," enshrining the rights of full employment, public education, national healthcare, public housing, abortion, progressive taxation, and union membership. On some these measures, Rep. Jackson is joined by up to 35 Democratic cosponsors, including would-be Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers.

A note about this list: While by no means an exhaustive list of the liberal, out-of-the-mainstream bills introduced by Democratic Members, these bills deserve particular attention because the principle advocates are the very individuals who would be in a position to schedule committee markups and move the legislation through the Congress should the Democrats take control.


For more details on the would-be chairmen….

Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey (D-Wis.)
Elected 1969, 18th term
Rep. Obey voted with the AFL-CIO 100% of the time. Obey voted against the Deficit Reduction Act, against Defense Funding (FY06), against the Legislative Line Item Veto, and against funding the Global War on Terror (FY04).

“Mr. Obey was one of those Democrats who ripped Mr. Clinton for endorsing a balanced budget in 1995. Rather than cut spending, his goal would be to spend less on defense and more on domestic programs and entitlements.” (WSJ, 08/31/06)

Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.)
Elected 1970, 18th term
Rep. Rangel voted with the ACLU 94% of the time. Rangel consistently voted against free trade agreements, against the Bush tax cuts, against Pension Reform, and against Welfare Reform.

Rep. Rangel “opposed the Bush tax cuts and recently voted against free trade with tiny Oman. His committee's crucial health care subcommittee would be run by California's Pete Stark (1972), who in 1993 criticized Hillary Clinton's health care proposal because the government wasn't dominant enough.” (WSJ, 08/31/06)

“No question about it.” -Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY), when asked whether tax increases across the spectrum would be considered should Democrats take control of Congress. (CongressDaily, 09/26/06)

Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.)
Elected 1964, 21st term
Rep. Conyers voted with the AFL-CIO 100% and the ACLU 100% of the time. Conyers consistently voted against any liability reform, against the USA PATRIOT Act Reauthorization, against REAL ID, against the Child Interstate Abortion Notification bill, and against Border Protection and Immigration Reform.

“He recently made his plans clear in a 370-page report… the report accuses the Administration of violating no fewer than 26 laws and regulations, and is a road map of Mr. Conyers's explicit intention to investigate grounds for impeaching President Bush.” (WSJ, 08/31/06)

Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman John Dingell (D-Mich.)
Elected 1955, 25th term
Rep. Dingell voted with the AFL-CIO 100% of the time. Dingell voted against exploring for American-made energy in ANWR and OCS, against reforming the Endangered Species Act, and against the Telecom Reauthorization bill.

“The Michigan Congressman would do his best to provide taxpayer help to GM and Ford. But telecom companies would probably get more regulation in the form of Net neutrality rules, and a windfall profits tax on oil would be a real possibility.” (WSJ, 08/31/06)

Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman George Miller (D-Calif.)
Elected 1974, 16th term
Rep. Miller voted with the ACLU 95% of the time. Miller voted against Higher Education Reauthorization, against Head Start Reauthorization, and against Pension Reform.

Rep. Miller is “the chief sponsor of the ‘Employee Free Choice Act,’ which would make it much easier for unions to organize by largely banning secret elections… The Californian also wants to raise the minimum wage and fulfill the National Education Association wish to spend more federal dollars on local school construction.” (WSJ, 08/31/06)

Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.)
Elected 1980, 13th term
Rep. Frank voted with the AFL-CIO 100% and the ACLU 95% of the time. Frank voted against the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention Act, against Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement, and against Credit Rating Reform.

“…the ascension of Barney Frank (1980) would mean a reprieve for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, despite $16 billion in accounting scandals. His main reform priority has been to carve out a new affordable housing fund from the two companies' profits. And forget about any major review of Sarbanes-Oxley.” (WSJ, 08/31/06)

Government Reform Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.)
Elected 1974, 16th term
Rep. Waxman voted with the AFL-CIO 100% and the ACLU 95% of the time. Waxman voted against the 9/11 Recommendations Implementation Act, against the formation of the Bipartisan Katrina Committee, and against 527 Reform.

Rep. Waxman “would compete with Mr. Conyers to see who could issue the most subpoenas to the Bush Administration.” (WSJ, 08/31/06)

Intelligence Committee Chairman Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.)
Elected 1992, 7th term
Rep. Hastings voted with the AFL-CIO 92% of the time. Hastings voted against declaring that the U.S. will prevail in the Global War on Terror, against the 9/11 Recommendations Implementation Act, against Supporting Terrorist Finance Tracking, against the USA PATRIOT Act Reauthorization, and against Border Protection and Immigration Reform.

Rep. Hastings “who, should Ms. Pelosi succeed in pushing aside current ranking Member Jane Harman, would take over the House Intelligence Committee. Before he won his Florida seat in 1992, Mr. Hastings had been a federal judge who was impeached and convicted by a Democratic Congress for lying to beat a bribery rap. He would handle America's most vital national secrets.” (WSJ, 08/31/06)

*Group ratings are from 2004. Key votes are from the 108th and 109th Congress. Wall Street Journal quotes are extracted from “Back to the Congressional Future” editorial, August 31, 2006.

So vote, people. And in the next election cycle, get off your butt and get involved in the primaries. Otherwise, you're going to have the same choices on election day. The bulk of us who have either abandoned (or, like me, *never* participated) in the primary elections are part and parcel of why our options seem to be Dumb and Dumber.

by John on Oct 21, 2006

October 12, 2006

Is this Fred Reed?

...or Fred Reed on crack? Of course, since he has chosen the Expat Way, and lives full-time in Mexico, his effective "ruler" is Senor Calderon - or will be, anyway.

Here's a cheery little excerpt:

A tribal rite in the column racket is the discovery of darkness in the hearts of presidents, or witlessness, and we discover away industriously. I have done my share. I thought Clinton a bright, libidinous lout, Jimmy Carter a moralizing cipher, Reagan a sort of Grandfather Barbie and, by contrast, Eisenhower a wise man hiding behind remarkable syntax. None was evil, or mad. Bush is something new in presidential politics, genuinely dangerous and genuinely out of control. The time is ripe for him. America no longer has the institutional defenses to say "no."

What would happen if a president just refused to go? To remove him, someone would have to act. Who? Little would be necessary to stop a coup, granted. A couple of helicopters of Marines landing across the street from the White House would be enough. The various federal police bully civilians well (ask Steve Hatfill), but would find fighting real men another thing. But who in the military would have the courage to do it?

The rest is here.

But Fred's right - the military wouldn't stop it - the soldiers will be too busy killing their officers to intervene.

Geez, Fred, what happened? Was the worm in the bottle diseased? Some bad avocado?

by John on Oct 12, 2006

October 10, 2006

Okay. I understand the feeling...

...really I do. I feel it myself. The ennui with Republican idiocy. I feel the tug of Not Voting For The Right, myself. I don't really want to vote Republican, but truly, in the absence of a Constructive Left, what choice is there? And remember - the Left is doing to the Right (pulling it leftward, absent a huge majority) exactly what we expect the Right (though they're pansies about it many times) to do to the Left when the Right is in the minority. Yeah, the Right has a majority at the moment, but it *isn't* a huge one... in that respect, the system is working as intended, like it or not. If the founders had *wanted* a 51% majority to be able to run completely roughshod over the opposition - they would have given us Parliament, not Congress. Lookit Britain - not what *I* want. So, I don't think the Allahpundit (vote straight Dem) or Malkin (don't vote) approach are Good Ideas. They are, to my eye, Bad Ideas. Any path that leads to Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid are Bad Ideas.

Better a bunch of weak sister Righties in charge than Lefties. Now, if we could just find a way to make primary challenges to idiot incumbents competitive...


I had a post ready for this, but Bill Bennett says it better and more succinctly:

Okay, look. Now is the time for all good men—and women—to come to the aid of the party.

In 1960, Barry Goldwater famously shouted, "Grow Up Conservatives." It took 20 years for that call to be heeded, and we got the expanded, entrenched Welfare State, a disastrous & humiliating foreign policy in the meantime; and Ronald Reagan's presidency was about attempting to roll back those 20 years as much as moving forward on a positive agenda.

Look, if you want John Paul Stevens replaced on the Supreme Court with a carbon copy, pro-choice, pro-racial preferences Justice, stay home.

If you want Donald Rumsfeld hauled before Congress every week justifying the war rather than fighting it, stay home.

If you want spending to increase even above the levels you are unhappy with now, stay home.

If you want Henry Waxman holding hearings on every aspect of the administration's actions, stay home.

If you want to see the war in Iraq defunded to the point of withdrawal so that the worst elements in Iraq take over and a repeat of the helicopters-fleeing-Saigon-type-images come back all over again, signaling a decade-long disrespect and doubt of American power, stay home.

If you want to keep the border unsealed, stay home.

The stakes are large, we can't afford twenty years, we can't afford two years of this. If you want a change in your Congressional leadership, fine, wait until you have the election, then demand it, with a new GOP speaker and majority leader if you want...but let me tell you, a new minority leader and a new minority whip will not get you much, it won't get you anything.

Two years ago we sent a message by reelecting the President, have things fallen so hard since then that we can't muster those numbers again and see that the good should not be traded in for the bad? You want to rue a day? You will rue a day with John Conyers as head of the House Judiciary and Pat Leahy as head of the Senate Judiciary. Don't do it. Please don't do it.

For all of my career and beyond, I was never a registered member of any party, and never lived in a state where you could vote in a primary as an independent.

I'm finally going to have to declare a party - not because I really like the Republicans that much, but because I'm really farking tired of who the party picks for its candidates. I want some new blood. But I don't want new lefty blood. While we might send a middlin' Dem to the Congress, we'd *still* be creating Speaker Pelosi.

No thank you.

Stop the ACLU (and other's he links) agrees.

by John on Oct 10, 2006
» Watcher of Weasels links with: Submitted for Your Approval
» Watcher of Weasels links with: The Council Has Spoken!

September 19, 2006

This is for Jack... sorta.

...an interesting compendium of alternative views of Pope Benedict's speech.

Christopher Hitchens, who's never met a Pope he wouldn't like to push down the stairs. Preferably while they're in a wheelchair.

Martin Marty - who calls the Pope an absent-minded professor...

Mark Shea, who, along with his own round-up of opinion on the subject, lays the blame squarely at the feet of a cherry-picking press.

And, Robert T. Miller contends that the Pope did it on purpose, as an opening gambit.

Heck, they may all be correct in some form or another. Regardless, while one should exercise some care in the use of "fighting words" the regrettable trend of the West to blame itself when parts of the Muslim world explode in juvenile fury at perceived slights, and go on pillaging binges with a soupçon of killing, the fact remains the bad behavior is a childish choice, and while we daren't act as parents here, we can act as adults - and not reinforce the behavior by giving the tantrum throwers what they want. And we can look at the parents (the governments and Imams) and suggest to them they get their children in line.

Just sayin'


Update - then there's Iraq the Model...

by John on Sep 19, 2006

September 17, 2006

Just... Hoo-ah!

Could we have some of this up here, please?

AUSTRALIA'S Muslim leaders have been "read the riot act" over the need to denounce any links between Islam and terrorism. The Howard Government's multicultural spokesman, Andrew Robb, yesterday told an audience of 100 imams who address Australia's mosques that these were tough times requiring great personal resolve.

Mr Robb also called on them to shun a victim mentality that branded any criticism as discrimination.

"We live in a world of terrorism where evil acts are being regularly perpetrated in the name of your faith," Mr Robb said at the Sydney conference.

"And because it is your faith that is being invoked as justification for these evil acts, it is your problem.

"You can't wish it away, or ignore it, just because it has been caused by others.

"Instead, speak up and condemn terrorism, defend your role in the way of life that we all share here in Australia."

From the Herald-Sun.

What will CAIR say?

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows »

by John on Sep 17, 2006

September 16, 2006

The President's Radio Address.

When the Dems email their responses, I'll happily post them, too.

THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary
___________________________________________________________

Embargoed Until Delivery

At 10:06 A.M. EDT

Saturday, September 16, 2006

RADIO ADDRESS BY THE PRESIDENT TO THE NATION

THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. On Monday, I visited New York , Pennsylvania , and the Pentagon to attend memorials marking the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. It was an emotional day for me and for our country. On that day, we remembered those who lost their lives, and we paid tribute to those who gave their lives so that others might live. We rededicated ourselves to protecting the American people from another attack.

Next week, I will return to New York , where I will address the United Nations General Assembly. I look forward to talking to the world leaders gathered there about our obligation to defend civilization, and how we must work together to support the forces of freedom and moderation throughout the Middle East .

As we work with the international community to defeat the terrorists and extremists, we must also provide our military and intelligence professionals the tools they need to keep our country safe. Congress is considering two vital pieces of legislation to help us do just that. My Administration is working closely with members of both parties to pass these bills.

The first bill would allow us to use military commissions to try suspected terrorists for war crimes. We need this legislation because the Supreme Court has ruled that military commissions must be explicitly authorized by Congress.

I recently announced that 14 suspected terrorists, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the man believed to be the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, had been transferred to Guantanamo Bay . As soon as Congress acts to authorize the military commissions I have proposed, the men our intelligence agencies believe helped orchestrate the deaths of nearly 3,000 Americans on September the 11th, 2001, can face justice.

This bill will also provide clear rules for our personnel involved in detaining and questioning captured terrorists. The information the Central Intelligence Agency has obtained by questioning men like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed has helped disrupt terrorist plots, including planned strikes inside the United States and on a U.S. Marine base in East Africa, an American consulate in Pakistan , and Britain 's Heathrow Airport . This CIA program has saved American lives, and the lives of people in other countries.

Unfortunately, the recent Supreme Court decision put the future of this program in question, and we need this legislation to save it. There is debate about the specific proposals in this bill, and my Administration will work with Congress to find common ground. I have one test for this legislation: The intelligence community must be able to tell me that the bill Congress sends to my desk will allow this vital program to continue.

The second bill before Congress would modernize our electronic surveillance laws and provide additional authority for the terrorist surveillance program. I authorized the National Security Agency to operate this vital program in response to the 9/11 attacks. It allows us to quickly monitor terrorist communications between someone overseas and someone in America . It has helped detect and prevent terrorist attacks on our own country. The principle behind this program is clear: When al Qaeda operatives are calling into or out of our country, we need to know who they are calling, why they are calling, and what they are planning.

Both these bills are essential to winning the war on terror. So we will work with legislators from both sides of the aisle to get them passed. By passing these critical bills, we will bring terrorists to justice, continue collecting vital intelligence from captured terrorists in a lawful way, and monitor terrorist communications, so we can stop new attacks on our nation.

Thank you for listening.

This comes from the White House Blogger email list. It will be interesting, two years hence, regardless of which party occupies the building - if Castle Argghhh! will remain on the mailing list.

by John on Sep 16, 2006

September 11, 2006

9/11@ 5 years on - We Remember: The President's Address.

President's Address To The Nation As Prepared for Delivery September 11, 2006

THE PRESIDENT: "Good evening. Five years ago, this date – September the 11th – was seared into America ’s memory. Nineteen men attacked us with a barbarity unequaled in our history. They murdered people of all colors, creeds, and nationalities – and made war upon the entire free world. Since that day, America and her allies have taken the offensive in a war unlike any we have fought before. Today, we are safer, but we are not yet safe. On this solemn night, I have asked for some of your time to discuss the nature of the threat still before us … what we are doing to protect our Nation ... and the building of a more hopeful Middle East that holds the key to peace for America and the world.

"On Nine-Eleven, our Nation saw the face of evil. Yet on that awful day, we also witnessed something distinctly American: ordinary citizens rising to the occasion, and responding with extraordinary acts of courage. We saw courage in office workers who were trapped on the high floors of burning skyscrapers – and called home so that their last words to their families would be of comfort and love. We saw courage in passengers aboard Flight 93, who recited the 23rd Psalm – and then charged the cockpit. And we saw courage in the Pentagon staff who made it out of the flames and smoke – and ran back in to answer cries for help. On this day, we remember the innocent who lost their lives – and we pay tribute to those who gave their lives so that others might live.

"For many of our citizens, the wounds of that morning are still fresh. I have met firefighters and police officers who choke up at the memory of fallen comrades. I have stood with families gathered on a grassy field in Pennsylvania , who take bittersweet pride in loved ones who refused to be victims – and gave America our first victory in the war on terror. And I have sat beside young mothers with children who are now five-years-old – and still long for the daddies who will never cradle them in their arms. Out of this suffering, we resolve to honor every man and woman lost. And we seek their lasting memorial in a safer and more hopeful world.

"Since the horror of Nine-Eleven, we have learned a great deal about the enemy. We have learned that they are evil and kill without mercy – but not without purpose. We have learned that they form a global network of extremists who are driven by a perverted vision of Islam – a totalitarian ideology that hates freedom, rejects tolerance, and despises all dissent. And we have learned that their goal is to build a radical Islamic empire where women are prisoners in their homes, men are beaten for missing prayer meetings, and terrorists have a safe haven to plan and launch attacks on America and other civilized nations. The war against this enemy is more than a military conflict. It is the decisive ideological struggle of the 21st century, and the calling of our generation.

"Our Nation is being tested in a way that we have not been since the start of the Cold War. We saw what a handful of our enemies can do with box-cutters and plane tickets. We hear their threats to launch even more terrible attacks on our people. And we know that if they were able to get their hands on weapons of mass destruction, they would use them against us. We face an enemy determined to bring death and suffering into our homes. America did not ask for this war, and every American wishes it were over. So do I. But the war is not over – and it will not be over until either we or the extremists emerge victorious. If we do not defeat these enemies now, we will leave our children to face a Middle East overrun by terrorist states and radical dictators armed with nuclear weapons. We are in a war that will set the course for this new century – and determine the destiny of millions across the world.

"For America , Nine-Eleven was more than a tragedy – it changed the way we look at the world. On September the 11th, we resolved that we would go on the offense against our enemies – and we would not distinguish between the terrorists and those who harbor or support them. So we helped drive the Taliban from power in Afghanistan . We put al Qaeda on the run, and killed or captured most of those who planned the Nine-Eleven attacks – including the man believed to be the mastermind, Khalid Sheik Mohammed. He and other suspected terrorists have been questioned by the Central Intelligence Agency – and they have provided valuable information that has helped stop attacks in America and across the world. Now these men have been transferred to Guantanamo Bay , so they can be held to account for their actions. Osama Bin Laden and other terrorists are still in hiding. Our message to them is clear: No matter how long it takes, America will find you, and we will bring you to justice.

"On September the 11th, we learned that America must confront threats before they reach our shores – whether those threats come from terrorist networks or terrorist states. I am often asked why we are in Iraq when Saddam Hussein was not responsible for the Nine-Eleven attacks. The answer is that the regime of Saddam Hussein was a clear threat. My Administration, the Congress, and the United Nations saw the threat – and after Nine-Eleven, Saddam’s regime posed a risk that the world could not afford to take. The world is safer because Saddam Hussein is no longer in power. And now the challenge is to help the Iraqi people build a democracy that fulfills the dreams of the nearly 12 million Iraqis who came out to vote in free elections last December.

"Al Qaeda and other extremists from across the world have come to Iraq to stop the rise of a free society in the heart of the Middle East . They have joined the remnants of Saddam’s regime and other armed groups to foment sectarian violence and drive us out. Our enemies in Iraq are tough and they are committed – but so are Iraqi and Coalition forces. We are adapting to stay ahead of the enemy – and we are carrying out a clear plan to ensure that a democratic Iraq succeeds.

"We are training Iraqi troops so they can defend their nation. We are helping Iraq ’s unity government grow in strength and serve its people. We will not leave until this work is done. Whatever mistakes have been made in Iraq , the worst mistake would be to think that if we pulled out, the terrorists would leave us alone. They will not leave us alone. They will follow us. The safety of America depends on the outcome of the battle in the streets of Baghdad . Osama Bin Laden calls this fight “the Third World War” – and he says that victory for the terrorists in Iraq will mean America ’s “defeat and disgrace forever.” If we yield Iraq to men like Bin Laden, our enemies will be emboldened ... they will gain a new safe haven ... and they will use Iraq ’s resources to fuel their extremist movement. We will not allow this to happen. America will stay in the fight. Iraq will be a free nation, and a strong ally in the war on terror.

"We can be confident that our Coalition will succeed – because the Iraqi people have been steadfast in the face of unspeakable violence. And we can be confident in victory – because of the skill and resolve of America ’s Armed Forces. Every one of our troops is a volunteer, and since the attacks of September the 11th, more than 1.6 million Americans have stepped forward to put on our Nation's uniform. In Iraq , Afghanistan , and other fronts in the war on terror, the men and women of our military are making great sacrifices to keep us safe. Some have suffered terrible injuries – and nearly 3,000 have given their lives. America cherishes their memory. We pray for their families. And we will never back down from the work they have begun.

"We also honor those who toil day and night to keep our homeland safe – and we are giving them the tools they need to protect our people. We have created the Department of Homeland Security … we have torn down the wall that kept law enforcement and intelligence from sharing information ... we have tightened security at our airports, seaports, and borders ... and we have created new programs to monitor enemy bank records and phone calls. Thanks to the hard work of our law enforcement and intelligence professionals, we have broken up terrorist cells in our midst, and saved American lives.

"Five years after Nine-Eleven, our enemies have not succeeded in launching another attack on our soil – but they have not been idle. Al Qaeda and those inspired by its hateful ideology have carried out terrorist attacks in more than two dozen nations. And just last month, they were foiled in a plot to blow up passenger planes headed for the United States . They remain determined to attack America and kill our citizens – and we are determined to stop them. We will continue to give the men and women who protect us every resource and legal authority they need to do their jobs.

"In the first days after the Nine-Eleven attacks, I promised to use every element of national power to fight the terrorists wherever we find them. One of the strongest weapons in our arsenal is the power of freedom. The terrorists fear freedom as much as they do our firepower. They are thrown into panic at the sight of an old man pulling the election lever … girls enrolling in school … or families worshiping God in their own traditions. They know that given a choice, people will choose freedom over their extremist ideology. So their answer is to deny people this choice by raging against the forces of freedom and moderation. This struggle has been called a clash of civilizations. In truth, it is a struggle for civilization. We are fighting to maintain the way of life enjoyed by free nations. And we are fighting for the possibility that good and decent people across the Middle East can raise up societies based on freedom, and tolerance, and personal dignity.

"We are now in the early hours of this struggle between tyranny and freedom. Amid the violence, some question whether the people of the Middle East want their freedom – and whether the forces of moderation can prevail. For sixty years, these doubts guided our policies in the Middle East . And then, on a bright September morning, it became clear that the calm we saw in the Middle East was only a mirage. Years of pursuing stability to promote peace had left us with neither. So we changed our policies, and committed America ’s influence in the world to advancing freedom and democracy as the great alternatives to repression and radicalism.

"With our help, the people of the Middle East are now stepping forward to claim their freedom. From Kabul to Baghdad to Beirut , there are brave men and women risking their lives each day for the same freedoms that we enjoy. And they have one question of us: Do we have the confidence to do in the Middle East what our fathers and grandfathers accomplished in Europe and Asia ? By standing with democratic leaders and reformers, by giving voice to the hopes of decent men and women, we are offering a path away from radicalism. And we are enlisting the most powerful force for peace and moderation in the Middle East : The desire of millions to be free.

"Across the broader Middle East , the extremists are fighting to prevent such a future. Yet America has confronted evil before, and we have defeated it – sometimes at the cost of thousands of good men in a single battle. When Franklin Roosevelt vowed to defeat two enemies across two oceans, he could not have foreseen D-Day and Iwo Jima – but he would not have been surprised at the outcome. When Harry Truman promised American support for free peoples resisting Soviet aggression, he could not have foreseen the rise of the Berlin Wall – but he would not have been surprised to see it brought down. Throughout our history, America has seen liberty challenged – and every time, we have seen liberty triumph with sacrifice and determination.

"At the start of this young century, America looks to the day when the people of the Middle East leave the desert of despotism for the fertile gardens of liberty – and resume their rightful place in a world of peace and prosperity. We look to the day when the nations of that region recognize that their greatest resource is not the oil in the ground – but the talent and creativity of their people. We look to the day when moms and dads throughout the Middle East see a future of hope and opportunity for their children. And when that good day comes, the clouds of war will part … the appeal of radicalism will decline ... and we will leave our children with a better and safer world. On this solemn anniversary, we rededicate ourselves to this cause. Our Nation has endured trials – and we face a difficult road ahead. Winning this war will require the determined efforts of a unified country. So we must put aside our differences, and work together to meet the test that history has given us. We will defeat our enemies … we will protect our people ... and we will lead the 21st century into a shining age of human liberty.

"Earlier this year, I traveled to the United States Military Academy . I was there to deliver the commencement address to the first class to arrive at West Point after the attacks of September the 11th. That day I met a proud mom named RoseEllen Dowdell. She was there to watch her son Patrick accept his commission in the finest Army the world has ever known. A few weeks earlier, RoseEllen had watched her other son, James, graduate from the Fire Academy in New York City . On both these days, her thoughts turned to someone who was not there to share the moment: her husband, Kevin Dowdell. Kevin was one of the 343 firefighters who rushed to the burning towers of the World Trade Center on September the 11th – and never came home. His sons lost their father that day – but not the passion for service he instilled in them. Here is what RoseEllen says about her boys, “As a mother, I cross my fingers and pray all the time for their safety – but as worried as I am, I am also proud – and I know their dad would be too.”

"Our Nation is blessed to have young Americans like these – and we will need them. Dangerous enemies have declared their intention to destroy our way of life. They are not the first to try – and their fate will be the same as those who tried before. Nine-Eleven showed us why. The attacks were meant to bring us to our knees, and they did – but not in the way the terrorists intended. Americans united in prayer ... came to the aid of neighbors in need ... and resolved that our enemies would not have the last word. The spirit of our people is the source of America ’s strength. And we go forward with trust in that spirit, confidence in our purpose – and faith in a loving God who made us to be free.

"Thank you, and may God bless you."

Heh. While we appreciate the links from Unpartisan.com, we wish their aggregation algorithm was just a *touch* more discriminating... this is, after all, simply a posting of the text of the President's speech, and nothing else. But if you followed a link from there, Hi! Feel free to scroll down for our 2966 tributes - well, come to think of it, I *can* editorialize a bit. Go to this post (the one right above this one, and check out the two-line quote at the bottom of the post - it sort of encapsulates the attitude behind the speech, in rather shorter, and somewhat more refreshing, if naughty, terms.

Or, if you're 9/11'd out, but like guns and militaria, hit the "Gun Pr0n" archive!

by John on Sep 11, 2006
» Unpartisan.com Political News and Blog Aggregator links with: America Safer, But Concerns Growing

September 06, 2006

How is this different from essentially government-owned and operated health care?

California Governor Schwarzenegger has announced he will veto a comprehensive health care bill that passed the California legislature.

The bill establishes a state-run insurer who will pay all the bills. All private insurance would be abolished...

The plan, written by Sen. Sheila Kuehl (D-Santa Monica), would create one public insurer, to replace the existing network of private companies. Private doctors and hospitals would remain, but would have their rates set by the new state agency.

Okay - how is this different from the state essentially appropriating the doctors and hospitals?

Certainly, they could try to achieve efficiencies to squeeze more out of the dollar - which would result in... the state accusing them of overcharging, and promptly lowering the rates, creating a marked disincentive.

I just can't help but think that there is a better way than mandating increasingly poor health care for everybody, however "fair" that may seem.

The uninsured are an issue, certainly. And the current employer-based system has inequities and cost-containment problems of it's own - but de facto rationing of health care doesn't seem a truly useful answer.

Besides, once the state takes over paying the bills... it won't be long before the Nannystate rears it's head, with mandatory PT programs, weigh-ins, control of foodstuff content, penalties for eating beyond your allocated caloric intake, etc - all because the state will then have a legitimate interest in all your previously private behaviors... because they foot the bill.

Just as you see these things floated in Britain now and again...

There has to be a better way that doesn't just give the state such an awesome power grab. I admit I don't know what it is - but I know what it's like to live under that type of regime... just join the military.

There's an LA Times article here.

by John on Sep 06, 2006

One of the kewl things about being on the White House mailing list...

...beside getting our daily marching orders (at least that's what the Kossacks contend) we get fun stuff like this, White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten responding to Senator Reid.

Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid
528 Hart SOB
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator Reid:

Thank you for your September 4 letter to the President. I am responding on his behalf.

A useful discussion of what we need to do in Iraq requires an accurate and fair-minded description of our current policy: As the President has explained, our goal is an Iraq that can govern itself, defend itself, and sustain itself. In order to achieve this goal, we are pursuing a strategy along three main tracks — political, economic, and security. Along each of these tracks, we are constantly adjusting our tactics to meet conditions on the ground. We have witnessed both successes and setbacks along the way, which is the story of every war that has been waged and won.

Your letter recites four elements of a proposed “new direction” in Iraq. Three of those elements reflect well-established Administration policy; the fourth is dangerously misguided.

First, you propose "transitioning the U.S. mission in Iraq to counter-terrorism, training, logistics and force protection." That is what we are now doing, and have been doing for several years. Our efforts to train the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) have evolved and accelerated over the past three years. Our military has had substantial success in building the Iraqi Army — and increasingly we have seen the Iraqi Army take the lead in fighting the enemies of a free Iraq. The Iraqi Security Forces still must rely on U.S. support, both in direct combat and especially in key combat support functions. But any fair-minded reading of the current situation must recognize that the ISF are unquestionably more capable and shouldering a greater portion of the burden than a year ago — and because of the extraordinary efforts of the United States military, we expect they will become increasingly capable with each passing month. Your recommendation that we focus on counter-terrorism training and operations — which is the most demanding task facing our troops — tracks not only with our policy but also our understanding, as well as the understanding of al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations, that Iraq is a central front in the war against terror.

Second, your letter proposes "working with Iraqi leaders to disarm the militias and to develop a broad-based and sustainable political settlement, including amending the Constitution to achieve a fair sharing of power and resources." You are once again urging that the Bush Administration adopt an approach that has not only been embraced, but is now being executed. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is pursuing a national reconciliation project. It is an undertaking that (a) was devised by the Iraqis; (b) has the support of the United States, our coalition partners and the United Nations; and (c) is now being implemented. Further, in Iraq's political evolution, the Sunnis, who boycotted the first Iraq election, are now much more involved in the political process. Prime Minister Maliki is head of a free government that represents all communities in Iraq for the first time in that nation's history. It is in the context of this broad-based, unity government, and the lasting national compact that government is pursuing, that the Iraqis will consider what amendments might be required to the constitution that the Iraqi people adopted last year. On the matter of disarming militias: that is precisely what Prime Minister al-Maliki is working to do. Indeed, Coalition leaders are working with him and his ministers to devise and implement a program to disarm, demobilize, and reintegrate members of militias and other illegal armed groups.

Third, your letter calls for "convening an international conference and contact group to support a political settlement in Iraq, to preserve Iraq's sovereignty, and to revitalize the stalled economic reconstruction and rebuilding effort." The International Compact for Iraq, launched recently by the sovereign Iraqi government and the United Nations, is the best way to work with regional and international partners to make substantial economic progress in Iraq, help revitalize the economic reconstruction and rebuilding of that nation, and support a fair and just political settlement in Iraq — all while preserving Iraqi sovereignty. This effort is well under way, it has momentum, and I urge you to support it.

Three of the key proposals found in your letter, then, are already reflected in current U.S. and Iraqi policy in the region.

On the fourth element of your proposed “new direction,” however, we do disagree strongly. Our strategy calls for redeploying troops from Iraq as conditions on the ground allow, when the Iraqi Security Forces are capable of defending their nation, and when our military commanders believe the time is right. Your proposal is driven by none of these factors; instead, it would have U.S. forces begin withdrawing from Iraq by the end of the year, without regard to the conditions on the ground. Because your letter lacks specifics, it is difficult to determine exactly what is contemplated by the “phased redeployment” you propose. (One such proposal, advanced by Representative Murtha, a signatory to your letter, suggested that U.S. forces should be redeployed as a “quick reaction force” to Okinawa, which is nearly 5,000 miles from Baghdad).

Regardless of the specifics you envision by “phased redeployment,” any premature withdrawal of U.S forces would have disastrous consequences for America’s security. Such a policy would embolden our terrorist enemies; betray the hopes of the Iraqi people; lead to a terrorist state in control of huge oil reserves; shatter the confidence our regional allies have in America; undermine the spread of democracy in the Middle East; and mean the sacrifices of American troops would have been in vain. This “new direction” would lead to a crippling defeat for America and a staggering victory for Islamic extremists. That is not a direction this President will follow. The President is being guided by a commitment to victory — and that plan, in turn, is being driven by the counsel and recommendations of our military commanders in the region.

Finally, your letter calls for replacing Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld. We strongly disagree.

Secretary Rumsfeld is an honorable and able public servant. Under his leadership, the United States Armed Forces and our allies have overthrown two brutal tyrannies and liberated more than 50 million people. Al Qaeda has suffered tremendous blows. Secretary Rumsfeld has pursued vigorously the President’s vision for a transformed U.S. military. And he has played a lead role in forging and implementing many of the policies you now recommend in Iraq. Secretary Rumsfeld retains the full confidence of the President.

We appreciate your stated interest in working with the Administration on policies that honor the sacrifice of our troops and promote our national security, which we believe can be accomplished only through victory in this central front in the War on Terror.

Sincerely,

Joshua B. Bolten

Chief of Staff

by John on Sep 06, 2006

September 04, 2006

Ah-nuld for President.

No, I'm not a fan, frankly. Of Ah-nuld. Well, I liked his movies. Governor? No brief, for or against. I don't live there, but I can only assume he's an improvement on his predecessor. Which wasn't a high bar to clear.

Rammer supports Dean. Fine. Xrlq weighs in. The subject? Amending the Constitution to allow naturalized citizens the right to run for President. Do I have a dog in this fight? Well, oddly enough, I have a Naturalization Certificate (which is a real pain in the butt because I always have to trot out the physical document come security clearance update time). Yep, I'm a naturalized citizen. It doesn't work that way any more - kids born overseas to US parents aren't required to be Naturalized, but we once did. Now you get a Certificate of Citizenship, if I read things correctly Here's the rulez as the exist now. I *can* be President! Well, as long as no one popular or competent is running, anyway. See? Mebbe you don't want us Naturalized types to be eligible...

I say, throw it out there, and if people want to run with it, fine, we can debate it. But I don't think the people are gonna run with it. But the discussions in the comments at Dean's and Xlrq's places are interesting.

by John on Sep 04, 2006

August 27, 2006

Just another feckless exercise in window-dressing.

Yesterday, I noted this:

Heh. The UN Peacekeeping Force for Lebanon starts to take shape. The headline on Yahoo for this article is what caught my attention: "Europe Provides the Backbone for UN Peacekeeping Force". Heh. The "backbone" is a robust mission, robust ROE to support the mission, and the will to carry it out. Otherwise, it's just another feckless exercise in window-dressing.

Today, the UK Telegraph reports this:

UN will not stop Syria sending weapons to Lebanon
By Harry De Quetteville and Michael Hirst


(Filed: 27/08/2006)

The United Nations peacekeeping force to be deployed in Lebanon is facing further criticism after the admission that its forces will not even be allowed to intercept shipments of arms to Hezbollah from Syria.

Speaking in Brussels before heading to the region, Kofi Annan, pictured below, the UN Secretary-General, confirmed that the 15,000-strong force will not meet Israeli demands to police the routes used by the militia to smuggle missiles from Syria.

"Troops are not going in there to disarm - let's be clear," he said. Instead, the Unifil force will only carry out interception missions if asked by the Lebanese government - which has made no such request. Syria, meanwhile, accused by Israel of re-arming Hezbollah during the recent conflict, has said the deployment of any UN forces near its border would be considered a "hostile act".

Oh, I understand the logic. Lebanon has a putatively sovereign government with it's own army capable of this. The Forms Must Be Followed, even if they are pretty patently bogus.

As I said yesterday:

The "backbone" is a robust mission, robust ROE to support the mission, and the will to carry it out. Otherwise, it's just another feckless exercise in window-dressing.

Window dressing. Regardless of how many and of what quality troops are provided. Window dressing. Anyone remember the disaster that was the initial UN Peacekeeping mission in Bosnia?

Deja vu all over again.

Feckless window dressing.

Winston Churchill famously said that "jaw-jaw is preferable to war-war."

Fair enough. But if all jaw-jaw does is lead to more war, or wider war, or worse war... then all jaw-jaw does, in any particular case, is facilitate war-war.

Read the whole thing here.

August 22, 2006

Fractured Fairy Tales, British Version.

THE REST OF THE WORLD VERSION:


The squirrel works hard in the withering heat all summer long, building and improving his house and laying up supplies for the winter. The grasshopper thinks he's a fool, and laughs and dances and plays the summer away.

Come winter, the squirrel is warm and well fed. The shivering grasshopper has no food or shelter, so he dies out in the cold.

THE END

THE BRITISH VERSION:

The squirrel works hard in the withering heat all summer long, building his house and laying up supplies for the winter. The grasshopper thinks he's a fool, and laughs and dances and plays the summer away. Come winter, the squirrel is warm and well fed.

A social worker finds the shivering grasshopper, calls a press conference and demands to know why the squirrel should be allowed to be warm and well fed while others less fortunate, like the grasshopper, are cold and starving.

The BBC shows up to provide live coverage of the shivering grasshopper; with cuts to a video of the squirrel in his comfortable warm home with a table laden with food.

The British press inform people that they should be ashamed that in a country of such wealth, this poor grasshopper is allowed to suffer so while others have plenty. The Labour Party, Greenpeace, Animal Rights and The Grasshopper Council of GB demonstrate in front of the squirrel's house.

The BBC, interrupting a cultural festival special from Notting Hill with breaking news, broadcasts a multi cultural choir singing "We Shall Overcome". Ken Livingstone rants in an interview with Trevor McDonald that the squirrel has gotten rich off the backs of grasshoppers, and calls for an immediate tax hike on the squirrel to make him pay his "fair share" and increases the charge for squirrels to enter inner London.

In response to pressure from the media, the Government drafts the Economic Equity and Grasshopper Anti Discrimination Act, retroactive to the beginning of the summer. The squirrel's taxes are reassessed. He is taken to court and fined for failing to hire grasshoppers as builders for the work he was doing on his home and an additional fine for contempt when he told the court the grasshopper did not want to work.

The grasshopper is provided with a council house, financial aid to furnish it and an account with a local taxi firm to ensure he can be socially mobile. The squirrels food is seized and re-distributed to the more needy members of society, in this case the grasshopper.

Without enough money to buy more food, to pay the fine and his newly imposed retroactive taxes, the squirrel has to downsize and start building a new home. The local authority takes over his old home and utilises it as a temporary home for asylum seeking cats who had hijacked a plane to get to Britain as they had to share their country of origin with mice. On arrival they tried to blow up the airport because of Britain's apparent love of dogs.

The cats had been arrested for the international offence of hijacking and attempt bombing but were immediately released because the police fed them pilchards instead of salmon whilst in custody. Initial moves to then return them to their own country were abandoned because it was feared they would face death by the mice. The cats devise and start a scam to obtain money from peoples credit cards.

A Panorama special shows the grasshopper finishing up the last of the squirrel's food, though Spring is still months away, while the council house he is in, crumbles around him because he hasn't bothered to maintain the house. He is shown to be taking drugs. Inadequate government funding is blamed for the grasshoppers drug 'illness'.

The cats seek recompense in the British courts for their treatment since arrival in UK. The grasshopper gets arrested for stabbing an old dog during a burglary to get money for his drugs habit. He is imprisoned but released immediately because he has been in custody for a few weeks. He is placed in the care of the probation service to monitor and supervise him. Within a few weeks he has killed a guinea pig in a botched robbery.

A commission of enquiry, that will eventually cost Ł10,000,000 and state the obvious, is set up. Additional money is put into funding a drug rehabilitation scheme for grasshoppers and legal aid for lawyers representing asylum seekers is increased. The asylum seeking cats are praised by the government for enriching Britain's multicultural diversity and dogs are criticised by the government for failing to befriend the cats.

The grasshopper dies of a drug overdose. The usual sections of the press blame it on the obvious failure of government to address the root causes of despair arising from social inequity and his traumatic experience of prison. They call for the resignation of a minister.

The cats are paid a million pounds each because their rights were infringed when the government failed to inform them there were mice in the United Kingdom.

The squirrel, the dogs and the victims of the hijacking, the bombing, the burglaries and robberies have to pay an additional percentage on their credit cards to cover losses, their taxes are increased to pay for law and order and they are told that they will have to work beyond 65 because of a shortfall in government funds.

THE END - You know it makes sense!

The moral of the story is provided by Mike L:

Bottom line is no matter how hard you work in a socialist environment, come winter you will always lose your nuts!! ML
by John on Aug 22, 2006

August 19, 2006

Denizen Ry's View of Civilian Casualties...

...and some other stuff.

Ry demonstrates why he doesn't blog.... i.e., an endless post. Brevity, thy name is not Gollum. That said, it's a worthy read, I don't agree with all of it, and I will respond later.

I find a serious flaw in the argument put forward in the comments so far (carry over from the threads on this post and this post for those wondering what the farqing hell I'm talking about) in that all the focus is entirely upon the value of innocent dead and the concept that the existence of innocent dead meaning something nefarious and illegal happened.

There is no talk of the necessity of bad things to happen to end a horrible situation. Something that happens in everyday life whether it be divorce where families are torn asunder to lead to a state of greater stability for both kids and adults; or in a chemical reaction where at the point a reaction, the metamorphosis, really takes place is the most destructive time in the whole process. It denies by inference that really terrible but legal actions were taken in fights that the proponents of this position would support, like the attack on Thionville during WW2. This line of thought has become devoid of capital J Justice, bereft of the idea that there are costs for everything (TANSTAAFL) [There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch - a Heinlein reference for those who were scratching their heads. -ed] and Justice in particular, and ignores what the rules (largely Geneva, which embodies the ethical and legal philosophy of war) actually say about pursuing goals and the costs of a civilian populace may be submitted to during war.

Instead all we have is talk about dead civilians and how horrible it is, how evil it is that they died. We’re receiving commentary that seems to infer that no matter what the injury was and is it can never justify things like the attack on Qana or the horrific scenes of warfare we’ve seen in Lebanon. Yes, these things are terrible. Civilians who didn’t deserve to die are dead--- some by sheer accident while others by true spite--- but that in and of itself does not change it from jus ad bellum or jus in bello to war crimes and an always illegal act. We’ve lost sight what some of our predecessors, The Great Generation, took as a given: life isn’t fair, bad things happen to good people, and sometimes terrible---but not in themselves essentially evil-- things must be done to secure a better world. The forces of change are always destructive in one sense or another. Change has costs.

We've gone from one flawed paradigm (caring only about winning that existed before Abraham Lincoln came up with what became the Laws of Land Warfare, and interest only in the Rich and Powerful and Large Events) to another terrible paradigm (over stressing populism and Avg. Joe; and making success and failure be about how few civilians are killed regardless of objectives and other real world results---and it happens on both sides of the aisle around here---with a hefty helping of anti-colonialist induced self-hatred tossed into the mix.). By now focusing solely on civilian casualties, by going utterly and irredeemably populist with our prism we’ve lost the ability to see the bigger picture and how Justice is secured in that bigger picture. The bad guy is measured solely in how many civilians killed. He who kills more is the bad guy. By forgetting the bigger picture we’ve said bye-bye to reason and waved at Justice as we blew the popsicle stand.

We’ve moved to a shallow rubric by which we decide good and evil. A rubric that is so shallow that it allows for nothing more than deploring death in time of war as evil and always evil instead of an unfortunate event that should be mourned and treated with dignity. Creating a better peace is not something to be considered. Initial injury is not to be considered. Aims of the war, the necessity of harm to achieve said aims, and questions of jus ad bellum are not to be considered. Just civilian death is the metric. Every discussion will be, and must be, brought back around to innocent dead as nothing else matters. All because we have moved beyond the thinking of our benighted predecessors who only thought about the Mighty and Great Events and have begun to focus on The Ordinary Guy Who Gets Trounced.

The rest is in the Flash Traffic/Extended Entry.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows »

by John on Aug 19, 2006

August 09, 2006

Ah, the Primaries.

The Primary Monster has spoken.

McKinney is out (Yay!). Seems she went down fighting, so to speak.

Lieberman is now an Independent. That will be interesting to watch this fall. The Kossacks have finally conducted a successful ideological purity pogrom. Wonder how that will play out in the General? Primaries are the province of the passionate voter. Low turnouts give them their best chance to shape the candidates. I believe one reason that our politicians don't always seem to really reflect the electorate is because the electorate, through low turnout in the primaries, allows the passionately committed to choose the candidates, which pushes to the extremes. The old "run to the left/right" in the Primary, "run to the center" in the General. That didn't matter as much in the day of the "smoke filled room" when the party machinery was essentially selecting the candidates... but it sure makes a difference now. On both sides of the aisle. This isn't a Right/Left thing. Be interesting to see how the Democrats of Connecticut decide this November. Zuniga is certainly acting the Kingmaker this morning, however - demanding the Lieberman be stripped of his committee assignments, etc. Careful the effects of the echo chamber on the ego, Markos. One reason I try to hold on to my Contrarian Corps is they make you think. You just metaphorically shoot yours.

John Podhoretz looks at it this way:

"The weird little secret of the past couple of years is that when push comes to shove, Democrats in Washington have assented to the continuation of the war on Bush's terms...That's over now. The Democratic Party officially became the antiwar party last night."

We'll see in November, eh?

by John on Aug 09, 2006
» Unpartisan.com Political News and Blog Aggregator links with: Meet Joe Lieberman's Worst Nightmare

July 19, 2006

Yo, Mr. President!

If you had the $160Mil for this:

The Bush administration has decided not to offer free credit monitoring to 26.5 million veterans and military personnel whose personal information was on computer equipment stolen from the home of a Department of Veterans Affairs analyst in May.

Rob Portman, the White House budget director, wrote House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) yesterday withdrawing the administration's request for $160.5 million to pay for a year of free credit monitoring and citing the June 28 recovery of the stolen laptop and external hard drive by police. The FBI said it had a "high degree of confidence" that thieves had not accessed the files containing the names, Social Security numbers and birth dates of millions of veterans and active-duty military personnel.

"On the basis of the FBI's analysis, the administration has concluded that credit monitoring services and the associated funding will no longer be necessary," Portman wrote.

Cool, I already had free credit monitoring because I reported I might be the victim of identity theft and the credit agencies automatically did it for... free. But that's a different gripe.

How about you give the VA the money anyway? For... oh, I dunno, Veterans Affairs stuff like... health care? Fund that PTSD treatment? Y'know, mission-type stuff. You had $160 million for a CYA clean-up...

Just sayin'.

I know, I know, I'm just a greedy vet.

Read the WashPost article here.

by John on Jul 19, 2006

July 08, 2006

Revolting Generals.

Commander Salamander has an interesting view of what he calls "The Revolting Generals," in response to Jed Babbin's piece at Real Clear Politics. Much to chew on - but up front, I agree with the Salamander that the Generals are playing a dangerous game with politics in the context of how we structure the Military-Civilian relationship - and are setting the stage for even more 'political vetting' of senior General Officer positions than occurs already - exactly the opposite of what they intend, I believe, or that is good for the Republic in general... to coin a phrase.

Jed opens with this:

There was a time not long ago when a general would resign rather than follow an order he could not, in good conscience, obey. A conscience is an essential part of the character we expect our officers to possess. But it is an inconvenience to a politician. Some generals who become politicians - such as Dwight Eisenhower - overcome the inconvenience by remaining faithful to their conscience. Lesser men overcome conscience by letting it fall prey to the fatal flaws of political character: ambition and the desire to take revenge.

Just how long is 'not long ago'? Smedley Butler? There was the "Revolt of the Admirals" but I didn't see any resignations - other than the ones forced upon the rebels (ya lose, ya get stood in front of the metaphorical wall). General Harold Johnson talked the Chiefs into resigning over the prosecution of Vietnam, but backed down - no resignations there, either.

Okay, there *was* the AF Chief of Staff General Fogelman who played chicken with Secretary of Defense Cohen and lost during the Clinton Administration - and he reputedly did so because of HR McMaster's book, Dereliction of Duty (Colonel McMaster is the hero of Tal Afar, most recently)

Of course, one of the strengths of the Republic is that, for the most part, outside of their areas of expertise, we ignore the Generals, don't know who they are, and don't notice when they change jobs. All in all, that's a good thing. And that's just those of us who wear uniforms - much less the bulk of the population.

I think Jed Babbin overstates the case stretching to make his point that the Revolting Generals didn't resign in protest and are only doing so now from safe ground. We frankly don't want the Generals to willy-nilly resign every time their bosses over-rule them - except in the case of illegal orders or truly, earth-shatteringly bad directives. It's the officer's job to make his professional military opinion known, and then to execute the orders given to the best of his ability, as long as they are legal.

Mitchell Lewis says it all quite nicely, here.

It's all very interesting to watch - and see the motivations unfold.

by John on Jul 08, 2006

In honor of recent court activity...

...it seems appropriate to pull this out of the archives.

Military Police prepare to refuel before entering the city of Whew!, Mudholistan on December 5, 2020, while their International Court-appointed solicitor ensures that their field-refueling permits are still valid, and that all proper environmental impact forms have been filed, examined, rejected, resubmitted, approved, and thus the refueling operation is permissable, after which the forms will be buried in a peat bog and recycled as fire lighters.  There was a problem with one of the weapons registration certificates (carrying more ammunition than permitted) but that was dealt with by the individual soldier paying a 15K Euro fine and surrendering the contraband to United Nations personnel who transferred it to indigenous forces to achieve military balance.(Released) </p>

<p>(U.S. Army Photo by Spc Daniel Broward) Military Police refuel before entering the city of Whew!, Mudholistan on December 5, 2020.</p>

<p>Photo by Spc Daniel Broward</p>

<p>Released by Maj. Hawthorne-Smythwaite, Esq.

Military Police prepare to refuel before entering the city of Whew!, Mudholistan on December 5, 2020, while their International Court-appointed solicitor ensures that their field-refueling permits are still valid, and that all proper environmental impact forms have been filed, examined, rejected, resubmitted, approved, and thus the refueling operation is permissable, after which the forms will be buried in a peat bog and recycled as fire lighters. There was a problem with one of the weapons registration certificates (carrying more ammunition than permitted) but that was dealt with by the individual soldier paying a 15K Euro fine and surrendering the contraband to United Nations personnel who transferred it to indigenous forces to achieve military balance.(Released)

(U.S. Army Photo by Spc Daniel Broward) Military Police refuel before entering the city of Whew!, Mudholistan on December 5, 2020.

Photo by Spc Daniel Broward

Released by Maj. Hawthorne-Smythwaite, Esq.

by John on Jul 08, 2006

July 06, 2006

Lieutenant Watada.

Sanger, in a comment in yesterday's H&I, has one word for Lieutenant Watada.

Unicor.

The Federal Prison Industries.

We don't do Unicor here, Sanger. He'll come to the United States Disciplinary Barracks, Fort Leavenworth, not the USP Leavenworth, if convicted and sentenced to confinement.

To help you (and others) get oriented...

Here's a map laying out some of our local facilities.

Lieutenant (eventually Private) Watada would reside here, at the USDB.

Vice here, the Federal Penitentiary and Prison Camp (Everybody there gets to start in the "Big House")

Provided as a public service for those who might wish to come visit Lieutenant Watada if this goes as I suspect it will.

Perhaps I'll get an Ehren Watada original...

by John on Jul 06, 2006

July 01, 2006

I'm probably late on this, especially since I tend to be a...

...World Cup? Oh, that interests me as much as the Stanley Cup and NBA Finals kind of guy - but -

Anti-Americanism Has Reached A New Low by James Dunnigan June 30, 2006


Anti-Americanism has reached a new low. FIFA, the international sports organization for football (soccer to Americans) refused to allow U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan (and warships at sea) to view any of the current World Cup games being played in Germany. The U.S. AFN (Armed Forces Network) has no budget for sports programming, and usually gets a free feed for major sporting events, in the same spirit that movie studios and TV networks provide free access to their product for troops in combat zones. FIFA demanded money, and would not budge on that. While soccer is not a major sport in the United States, it's estimated that a quarter or more of the troops are fans, and would enjoy seeing some of the World Cup matches. However, once this situation became known, several wealthy Americans stepped forward to correct the situation. The first one to make a move was media magnate Robert Murdoch, who ordered his Fox Network to make arrangements, and pay whatever FIFA was demanding, to get the soccer games to the troops, as soon as possible. This was accomplished in 24 hours.

BTW - I actually support the FIFA in that it's their product, they can do what they want and we can draw whatever conclusions we wish and modify our behaviors to suit - I would no more compel them to give their product away than I would do so to General Motors.

This is about High Fiving those who *did* make it possible for the troops to catch the games.

H/t Jim Dunnigan of Strategy Page - and Rupert and whatever other wealthy 'Muricans stepped up to the plate.

by John on Jul 01, 2006

June 28, 2006

The Flag Burning Amendment

The Flag Burning Amendment failed by 1 vote. Good, sez I, as I don't like amending the Constitution for issues like this. There are other remedies the Congress can take - legislative remedies to remove the issue from the purview of the Courts (all perfectly legal under the Constitution) and put the issue back with the Legislative bodies, where it properly belongs. When the Courts decide, the issue is vigorously debated by lawyers in front of lawyers. When the 51 legislatures decide - the issue is argued by a heckuva lot of people, and a greater societal consensus is formed, while leaving room for experimentation and regional values to assert themselves, vice New York, Washington, and Los Angele's values being imposed on everyone. As for me - as I have said before - I've worn that flag on my shoulder as an aiming reference point for people who hate the flag and all it stands for - I say let 'em burn 'em. It just makes target identification easier. In a political sense, people, get a grip!

I think, though, that AP writer Laurie Kellman missed the boat in this bit of analysis that opens her piece:

By LAURIE KELLMAN, Associated Press Writer Wed Jun 28, 6:39 AM ET WASHINGTON - The narrow defeat of a proposal to ban flag desecration marks the second time in a month Senate Republicans have lost bids to amend the Constitution in ways designed to inspire social conservatives to vote in the midterm elections.

The failure of the questions *are* exactly what they intend to inspire the voters to vote. To change the demographics of the Senate and House to make things like that pass.

I would note a significant difference in approach between the parties on the issues... the Democrats seem to prefer to find a judge or 5 to get their agenda passed if they can't otherwise, thereby bypassing the people (who are obviously stupid or deluded) altogether in favor of a an unelected oligarchy (who are smarter and wiser than the collective 'we' are) - the Republicans prefer to send the issue to the states, where the people have a voice in the process, and a super-majority have to agree. Which is the more democratic way of accomplishing legislative and policy objectives?

You can read the whole piece here.

Heh. The issue makes for strange bedfellows. ;^ )

by John on Jun 28, 2006
» Unpartisan.com Political News and Blog Aggregator links with: Flag amendment faces close Senate vote
» Silicon Valley Redneck links with: Forget the flag - burn a politician!
» The Prodigal Sheep links with: American Idols

A little window into Europe.

While I would argue *no* state has the ability to match that first sentence at the indvidual level, setting that aside - this report from Belgium is a dark window into today's Europe.

The Belgian state is no longer able to guarantee the security of its citizens. On Saturday afternoon Guido Demoor, a 54-year old Flemish train conductor on his way to work, was kicked to death by six “youths” on a crowded bus near Antwerp’s Central Station. The incident recalls the rush-hour murder ten weeks ago of Joe Van Holsbeeck, 17 years of age, in a crowded Brussels Central Station on 12 April.

I find it interesting how supportive the Cardinal is. Good on him.

Another colleague told the newspaper Het Nieuwsblad: “After the Van Holsbeeck murder some whined that no-one had intervened. Guido did intervene and paid with his life.” After the assassination of Joe Van Holsbeeck Belgium’s Cardinal Danneels had said that Joe was a victim of “the indifference in Belgian society” because no-one had come to his rescue when two youths stabbed him to death for not handing over his MP3 player.

Today the Cardinal issued a statement saying: “Guido Demoor acted very bravely. The fact that he paid with his life does not mean that he acted wrongly.” In contemporary Belgium it is heroic for an unarmed adult to tell immigrant youths to calm down.

I wonder what, besides anguished hand-wringing and pompous bloviating, will result?

by John on Jun 28, 2006

June 27, 2006

General Gordon Sullivan on Billpayers.

In the H&I post today, I discussed the upcoming budget crunches and ways they are going to be met, mostly, I predict, by mortgaging the future and the warfighters.

Here's a little insider email running around the opinion makers of the retired General Officer corps, from former Army Chief of Staff Gordon Sullivan.

Friends---I have been observing very carefully the ongoing saga regarding the approval of the Supplemental for 2006. What my analysis suggests to me is the signals for the future of our Army are not good. Oh, I know there are many in town who will tell you that it is too soon to tell how things will evolve but I see too many signals to conclude otherwise. Needless to say this bothers me because by any measurement the Army as an institution has accomplished every mission it has been assigned. Furthermore, the leadership has looked to the future in a very enlightened and programmatic way which suggests to me a forward look which is both imaginative and practical. Yet the near future funding profile is beginning to look and smell a lot like what we lived through in the early 90's when Army leaders were forced to dramatically reduce the size of the Army, increase mission responsiveness and attempt to move onto the information age while being told we were in a strategic pause and fiscal resources available to the DOD would be used to fund other programs which I feel are nice to have, but not required. Just my opinion.

Think about what our Army leaders and Soldiers have set in motion and are accomplishing:
+ Fighting /Nation Building- Iraq, Afghanistan, elsewhere
+Sustaining the force/Recruiting -Retention- Reset
+Resourcing the augmentation of the Southern Border/Expanding Homeland security missions
+ IGPBS- Integrated Global Presence /Basing Strategies {Come home from Europe /Asia - rotation to Eastern Europe}
+ BRAC
+Transformation

I am starting to see signs indicative of a shifting of priorities in the funding steam without a change in strategy or requirements. Without appropriate fiscal resources, provided in a consistent stream, the Army cannot be expected to execute the national strategy and every other mission in as effective a manner as originally intended. This funding stream must flow for the next six years at least or the responsible parties must recast the National Defense Strategy as well as accept that all enabling programs are not feasible. Unless all appreciate the relationship of dollars to programs priorities will dictate tough choices and Army capabilities will diminish.

Part of my concern is that many opinion leaders in Congress and elsewhere believe that as long as the war goes on, their funding focus must be on current operations and not funding modernization programs like the Future Combat Systems, modularity and equipment reset so critical for active and reserve force readiness. Likewise, while all would applaud a successful outcome in Iraq and Afghanistan I fear that should hostilities end, the funding stream will end abruptly in order to recreate the illusion of a "peace dividend" instead of continuing funding for reset for at least two years as well as funding for the Army to refresh itself. In the coming days, I believe we must begin to speak out and let the public know that Army funding must be supported in the near term, but viewed in the long term during which multiple, high cost, long term missions of increasingly complexity such as those envisioned in the QDR and National Defense Strategy will continue.

Now when it should be only too obvious that our endeavors in Iraq and Afghanistan must be supported it is becoming painfully and clearly obvious that some are taking their eye off the ball. For instance, we have seen dithering over supplemental funding critical to Army operations which must maintain a steady state. Additionally, I also detect an indication that weapons which were either killed or modified during QDR deliberations are somehow creeping back into the FYDEP planning process. This doesn't surprise any of you I am sure, but watch how the numbers dance. I have no access to POM fiscal guidance 08/13 but the way folks are hedging their bets is not a good sign.

I am no longer in a position of responsibility and am simply one of those proud to be a Soldier. As such I am concerned that in the heat of battle aka "LONG WAR" Army leaders will find themselves forced into making choices between today and tomorrow and unfortunately could wind up being forced to make decisions with negative long term impact. I understand the Army ethos and our oath and the primacy of mission just as I understand that the defense of America is a shared responsibility between elected, appointed and uniformed people as well as our citizens. I believe now is the time to accept facts as they are--we are in a fight which must be continued to a successful conclusion and we must be prepared to face unknown crises. We are about to see if the resources are available to those who are carrying the load on the ground, Army and Marines, are forth coming.

I hope I am wrong, but I fear I am not. It is time to watch things very closely and accept the fact we might soon be facing a serious strategy resource mismatch which will in turn stretch our magnificent Army to the breaking point .

Gordon Sullivan

I should note I'm not on General Sullivan's email list, and probably got this with at least six degrees of separation. (Note to Sir - feel free to add me, however!)

by John on Jun 27, 2006

June 24, 2006

Here's a question for you.

Damian wanted to know what I thought about this. (Alan, you'll like the beer ad in Damian's post, I think)

I told him. I find a definition so broad that it includes me is meaningless. Another guitar smashed against the wall.

I can cherry-pick all of the arguments about any war ever undertaken. I feel his oh-so-strongly-felt angst. And where was he during Kosovo, and what were his opinions then? I find that instructive, usually. And I find any definition of chickenhawk that can stretch to include me to be ludicrously broad. I smash his guitar against the wall. But I'm tired and grumpy.

And that dam'ed nerve in my neck is killing me, so I can't get the gumption to work up a proper rant. So I'll default to my last rant on the subject, which did not meet universal approval, either...

What do you think?

by John on Jun 24, 2006

June 05, 2006

Acting vice bloviating.

Over at Greyhawk's famously Instalanched post on the media and Haditha, I ran into this from one of the participants, "WW", and it piqued my interest,

As for Murtha, I have yet to see anyone at any of the so-called Milblogs successfully impeach a single thing he has said. Murtha has done absolutely nothing but tell the truth. For that he is fiercely hated by those who, in the words of the whackjob colonel in that movie you all love, "can't handle the truth."

I responded:

Having said all I have to say and therefore falling silent in this - I pipe up to ask...

Apropos of nothing else in the discussion and not trying to move the thread...

WW - why "so-called milblogs" vice "milblogs"?

We return this thread to it's original, rambling gait.

WW responded:

John, I say "so-called Milblogs" because I think the Milblogosphere mainly consists of far-right-wing cranks who use military issues as a means to push their far-right-wing agenda.

The best evidence I can offer is the nearly complete silence from the so-called Milblogs about the horrendous problems in health services for returning veterans. Wouldn't you think that, if these were really "Milblogs," the many problems would get more attention? Nary a peep about it at Mudville, Blackfive or any of the rest. It's all right-wing politics, all the time.

To which I responded (in a long delayed post that popped up late, after the dicsussion moved on:

WW, Dave - speaking only for me (I'm in the tier of milbloggers just below your cited sites)...

I've seen discussions on the paucity and inadequacy of PTSD care.

We've followed the travails of wounded soldiers in the system.

Then, rather than write about it, beat our breasts, and wrap ourselves in smug self-satisfaction for having 'spoken truth to power'... we act. Enough so that it was noticed by the BBC. Chuck Ziegenfuss is a "so-called" milblogger, btw.

We can't fix it all, so we picked something we could fix.

Project Valour-IT

Blackfive, Greyhawk, Smash, Lex, and many others (see Project Valour-IT blogroll at my site) have raised, via our blogs, hundreds of thousands (yes, hundreds of thousands) of dollars for that and other projects which directly benefit the soldiers.

There is a milblog cottage industry on the subject. Soldiers Angels.

We just don't brag about it that much.

And then, just today, I went whacking at Congress (admittedly from the Right, though I'm a RINO, not a card carrying Republican) for their cynical use of the VA laptop theft to propose 1.25 billion, yes, billion, dollars to make the VA provide a service the credit agencies already provide for free. I'll take that 1.25 billion. And put it in the health accounts - like I said - here.

Just sayin'. We might not be talking about it on the blogs because we're *acting* on it.

I'm a retired soldier and a 70% disabled one at that, gents. You betcha we pay attention.

What have you guys done besides bitch in the comments of right-wing bloggers?

Update: I see that WW did respond to my last, directly, I missed it in the mass - I owe it to him to put it up here, rather than add it at the bottom:

John, you're right. And let me answer you. I supported the Iraq War for slightly more than a year. And even since then, believe it or not I continue to donate to charities that help the returning vets and I send care packages through Any Soldier -- along with resolutely non-political greetings, on the theory that the last thing someone over there needs to get is a package full of stuff along with a letter that says, "Oh by the way, I'm against your mission."

Good on ya. Now to pick up the thread again.

And looking around, I see that a lot of us *act* vice just whine about it.

I read the left, I see crie de coeurs about how I should think, and how stupid, mean and venal I am. I see them standing around holding signs, the more extreme of them trashing businesses as they "speak truth to power"

I see them earnestly lay out fevered plans, and organizing organizing organizing.

I see lots and lots and lots of telling me how I'm supposed to think, to live, and how I should just shut up and give the government my money, and call me mean-spirited when I object.

But I don't see a lot of productive "acting". I mostly see lots of organizing and moralizing (even where they implicitly reject that a moral stance is possible, since all things are relative) and finger wagging.

I'm sure there is acting going on. I just don't see it around here that much, and I'm just laying out why you might not see lots of blogging on particular subjects... because people are out *acting* instead.

Heh. Interestingly enough, in addition to blogging, I *act*. I literally put my money where my mouth is.

I've sent money for natural disaster relief here and abroad and encouraged others to do the same. I've helped raise money for military-focused charities. As in hundreds of thousands of dollars via blog-groups.

I am a Rotarian - via that venue I've helped almost completely eradicate polio - and done so in conjunction with... the UN. My club has provided funds for water projects in Panama. Our District has funded many water projects in Panama. This year, in addition to water projects, we're moving into equipping medical clinics. Medical professionals in my fairly right-wing club (we reflect our community) routinely donate of their time in the third world providing medical services - on their own dime, many via their (shudder) churches.

I do Meals on Wheels. I've participated in literacy programs. My club has spent thousands of dollars sending thousands of dollars of school supplies to Army units in Iraq to help re-start Iraqi schools. We give out thousands of dollars in scholarships every year. We participate in Group Study Exchanges by which Rotary International sponsors groups of non-Rotarians who travel to foreign climes to study and we host the foreign groups headed this way.

I sit on the local advisory board of a brand-name charity, helping them deliver services efficiently - and through them and the network of local charities I have a real sense of the level of need in my community.

I sit on the regional parent board of that charity - legally responsible for a 15 million dollar a year charitable effort in northeast Kansas. A charity that spends 91 cents of every dollar on services, not salary or perks.

The firm I work for (full of guys and gals like me in our local office) just raised tens of thousands of dollars for the American Heart Association, by being the people who put together the local Heart Walk, from soup to nuts, with yours truly out whacking signs in the dirt, marking the course.

In other words, I'm fairly well connected in the "acting" portion of our community.

And you know who I *don't* see? Aside from the kids in the local schools getting their community service credits? I don't see a whole bunch of lefties. That's not to say that I don't see liberals - though outside of Johnson County and Lawrence, liberals in Kanas are a pretty muted group - I don't see the kinds of people that I read on lefty blog sites.

I do see the kinds of people I read on right-wing blog sites.

I see people who *act*.

Not just bloviate.

Most of whom are so busy acting, they don't have time to blog. Me, I'm a blog-junkie, I pretty much gave up television in order to feed the monster.

Just sayin'

Like all these fine right-wing, mostly milbloggers who choose to *act* vice just beat their digital chests and fire up a bong.

Speaking of which - why don't you act - right now, and give to Project Valour-IT?


imparmwantsyousm.jpg
The Following Castle Argghhh! Fighting Fusileers for Freedom! Support Project Valour-IT!


by John on Jun 05, 2006

June 02, 2006

Veterans ID Protection Act

Color me unimpressed.

Rep. John Salazar (D. Colo.) has introduced the Veterans Identity Protection Act of 2006. This bill will require the Veteran's Administration to provide one year of free credit monitoring and a free annual credit report for the next two years to veterans who are affected by the recent theft of personal data contained on a laptop a VA employee had no business taking home. The measure also seeks to authorize $1.25 billion (that's billion, folks) to implement the program for the first year.

The bill has 92 co-sponsors. 89 are Democrats, 2 are Republicans, and the House's lone Independent have signed on as cosponsors. (Click here if you want to explore the names and districts)

I don't know Representative Salazar well, so I'll take a leap of faith here and assume, based on his website, that he's friendly to veteran's issues. Those who follow these things more closely can comment if they wish.

Examining this bill, I'm baffled. It's either;

1. A cynical attempt to splashily jump on the issue, embarrass the Administration, and isn't a piece of serious legislation, other than to smack the Administration while riding on the backs of veterans. Which is too bad, if Representative Salazar is in fact the friend of vets he portrays himself to be? Co-sponsors, knowing this, can safely jump on it and will use it to give themselves vet-cred in the upcoming election cycle, risking nothing for a shameless prostitution of themselves and a cynical manipulation of their constituents. Or,

2. These people are too stupid/ignorant to be allowed near the levers of power.

Ike Skelton (among others in the sponsorship list) is defense-savvy, and not stupid. He was my Representative for my entire career before I retired and officially was out of his district. So, I have to assume that as a vet, I'm being rode hard, put up wet - and they think I'm ignorant, or stupid, or both. For some co-sponsors, we know it's both.

How else to explain that they want to spend 1.25 billion dollars to pay for a service any of the affected veterans can get... for free. Simply by making a few telephone calls. It took me all of 30 minutes to request the credit reports and put a credit watch on my social security number with the 3 credit reporting agencies. And it didn't cost me a dime.

Even if we assume (wrongly) that all 26.5 million potentially affected veterans are alive and therefore vulnerable, they want to spend roughly 50 dollars each for a service already provided for free.

Heh. I'll take that 1.25 billion if they really want to spend it. They could plow that into the medical accounts and upgrade those services, rather than pay to provide a service you can already get, for free.

As I said, color me unimpressed. There are plenty of serious reasons to spend that money - this just isn't one of them. Fund the VA to do the outreach to tell veterans to get their free credit reports and establish the credit watch - and then with the remaining 1.24 billion, take care of those Who Bore The Burden, not pay some middleman to do work that doesn't need doing.

Ya wanna credit report, and establish an extended credit watch?

Here, provided free, as a public service:

How do I request a "fraud alert" be placed on my file if I believe I may be affected by the recent Veterans Affairs data security breach? You have the right to ask that nationwide consumer credit reporting companies place "fraud alerts" in your file to let potential creditors and others know that you may be a victim of identity theft. A fraud alert can make it more difficult for someone to get credit in your name because it tells creditors to follow certain procedures to protect you. It also may delay your ability to obtain credit. You may place a fraud alert in your file by calling just one of the three nationwide consumer credit reporting companies. As soon as that agency processes your fraud alert, it will notify the other two, which then also must place fraud alerts in your file. Equifax: 1-877-576-5734; www.equifax.com Experian: 1-888-397-3742; www.experian.com/fraud TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289; www.transunion.com

An initial fraud alert stays in your file for at least 90 days. An extended alert stays in your file for seven years. To place either of these alerts, a consumer credit reporting company will require you to provide appropriate proof of your identity, which may include your Social Security number. If you ask for an extended alert, you will have to provide an identity theft report. An identity theft report includes a copy of a report you have filed with a federal, state, or local law enforcement agency. For more detailed information about the identity theft report, visit www.consumer.gov/idtheft.

What is a credit file disclosure?
A credit file disclosure provides you with all of the information in your credit file maintained by a consumer reporting company that could be provided by the consumer reporting company in a consumer report about you to a third party, such as a lender. A credit file disclosure also includes a record of everyone who has received a consumer report about you from the consumer reporting company within a certain period of time ("inquiries"). The credit file disclosure includes certain information that is not included in a consumer report about you to a third party, such as the inquiries of companies for pre-approved offers of credit or insurance and account reviews, and any medical account information which is suppressed for third party users of consumer reports. You are entitled to receive a disclosure copy of your credit file from a consumer reporting company under Federal law and the laws of various states.
How often can I request a free credit file disclosure through this website?
You are entitled to receive one free credit file disclosure every 12 months from each of the nationwide consumer credit reporting companies – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. This free credit file can be requested through this website, by phone or by mail.

Extracted from from the VA Data Security tab at AnnualCreditReport.com, the site established by TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax.

Dear Congressman Salazar - you can put my $50 towards VA Healthcare services.

by John on Jun 02, 2006
» The Cool Blue Blog links with: Star Chores: Graceland

May 30, 2006

Heh. Rome burns, the Congressional Nero fiddles...

Here's one way the services play politics when their Masters fiddle - like going home on break with no budget supplemental. Below are the actions the Army will take in order to stretch it's funds if Congress keeps dilly-dallying on the issue.

The interesting thing is - absent a train wreck as happened early in the first Clinton Administration when the Republicans forced a governmental shut-down, what the delay really does is make it harder to actually debate the budget, as the pressure to get the supplemental in place becomes overwhelming. Of course, depending on how they go about it - it's also then easier to lard it up with pork... because the time crunch makes it harder to knock that stuff out of there. Sausage-making, from slaughter to finished product...

VCSA Sends:

As you are already aware, the Congress did not complete the FY06 Emergency Supplemental prior to leaving for the Memorial Day recess. Although we anticipate that Congress will finish the bill in June, we need to take action now to control spending in the Operation and Maintenance, Army (OMA) appropriation and stay within the law. In addition to an approved reprogramming action that will move $1.4 billion into OMA, we must progressively restrict spending over the next month. This will enable us to maintain the solvency of Army accounts pending receipt of the supplemental and will ensure that available resources are spent on the highest priority missions.

I expect all holders of OMA, to include GWOT funds, to reduce spending while ensuring that life, health and safety issues are covered. The priority is to continue critical support to ongoing operations and to readiness activities for units and personnel identified for the OIF/OEF 06-08 rotation. Exceptions may be made for those actions commands must take now to posture the Army for OIF/OEF 07-09. The following provides time-phased guidance for the minimum action that holders of OMA funds must take.

1. Beginning 26 May:

a. Do not order non-critical spare parts or supplies, unless the organization or unit is deployed or has a published deployment date. Only requisition spare parts to bring equipment to Fully Mission Capable (FMC), not to 10/20, level. For supplies, requisition only what is necessary to accomplish assigned theater missions. All units should draw down on-hand inventories first.

b. CG, Army Materiel Command, must advise of above actions' impacts to the Single Stock Fund and the Army Working Capital Fund. Deliver this assessment to me no later than 6 June.

c. Postpone or cancel all non-essential travel, training and conferences.

Use discretion if cancellation or postponement requires payment of cancellation fees.

d. Stop shipments of goods unless necessary to support deployed forces or units with identified deployment dates. If movement is necessary, restrict the shipment to the least costly method that will not create unacceptable operational risk.

2. Beginning 6 June:

a. Hold all civilian hiring actions. You may continue recruiting efforts but cease all final offers of employment.

b. Postpone summer hires until receipt of the supplemental.

3. Beginning 15 June:

a. Release all temporary civilian employees funded with OMA or performing OMA-funded work. This includes depot operations.

b. Freeze all contract awards and new task orders on existing contracts.

Process solicitation of new contracts only up to the point of award.

c. Suspend the use of government purchase cards.

4. Beginning 26 June:

a. Release service contract employees, to include recruiters, if doing so will not carry penalties or termination costs equal to or in excess of the cost of continuing the contract. You may retain a minimum number of personnel performing mission-essential services.

b. Consult your legal adviser as you implement these actions.

c. TRADOC, M&RA and G-1 must detail no later than this date the series of actions the Army will take beginning in July to trim MILPERS expenditures.

They should include: a cessation in recruiting; deferment of reenlistments; cancellation of all PCS moves; and a promotion freeze.

These are painful actions but they are absolutely necessary in order to continue operations during the month of June. This measured response will provide appropriate controls on our spending of OMA resources and will minimize the impact to our mission. Through your leadership, we will sustain the Global War on Terrorism during this period of constrained spending. We expect the Supplemental eventually will provide the Army more than $36 billion in additional resources to continue the GWOT. Please direct any questions you may have to the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Financial Management and Comptroller).

I will review weekly our accounts and keep each MACOM commander apprised.

GEN Cody

Oh, full disclosure - yeah, *my* tasks will be at risk here, too. Fortunately, I work for a firm that won't just tell me to go home for no pay or burn vacation. The downside to the government is (all snarks aside about whether I'm a bargain or not - "I *am*" he said smugly) is that *if* it comes to that (I'm betting it doesn't) they may not get some of those people back, they having been put to new tasks - which will have downstream ripple and cost effects.

by John on May 30, 2006

May 20, 2006

Immigration.

In which I continue my Zen of Immigration, despite the fact the historical subject sticks in a certain Southron's throat...

Sweet Mary, me darling, the war clouds are looming,
And traitors are plotting to fetter the land!
I go on the morrow, when cannon are booming,
To join in the battle with liberty's band.

Chorus: Fare thee well sweet Mary Mavourneen,
It grieves me to leave thee dear bride of my soul,
Fare thee well sweet Mary Mavourneen,
It grieves me to leave thee dear bride of my soul.

The land that has blessed us, with love and protection,
Is smitten with peril, beleaguered with foes;
The brave and true hearted, with loyal affection,
Must march where the banner of liberty's goes.

Chorus

With tear moistened eye-lids, I look through the gloaming,
And think of the pleasures that blessed us of old!
It's breaking my heart is, Sweet Mary Maloning,
With sorrow to leave ye, dear bride of my soul.
The Emerald Island away in the ocean,
With white breakers kissing its murmuring shore,
America's armor will one day be needing,
That British oppression may curse her no more.

Chorus

I go, but remember, Sweet Mary, me darling,
In camp or a marching, to you I am true!
And if you should listen in vain my returning,
I fall 'neath our banner--the Stars and the Blue.

Chorus

These lyrics, some history to go with them, mp3 samples, and the ability to buy the CD - all available here. I'm not making a dime or trade off of this, btw.

by John on May 20, 2006

May 18, 2006

Immigration.

The Zen Continues. Because of the already long posts up today, I've stuck most of this below the fold.

Just laying out my thoughts on the subject... via old songs.

I'm Paddy Magee, sir, from Ballinahee, sir,
In an illigant ship I come over the say;
Father Donahoe sent me, my passage he lent me--
Sure, only for that, I'd a walked all the way!
He talked of America's freedom and glory;
"Begorra," says I, "that's the counthry for me!"
So, to ind a long story, I've now come before ye,
To give the opinions of Paddy Magee.

The rest is below the fold, in the Flash Traffic/Extended Entry.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows »

by John on May 18, 2006

The Dangers of Thinking

This one's for Dusty and Frank.

It started out innocently enough. I began to think at parties now and then -- just to loosen up.

Inevitably though, one thought led to another, and soon I was more than just a social thinker.

I began to think alone -- "to relax," I told myself -- but I knew it wasn't true. Thinking became more and more important to me, and finally I was thinking all the time.

That was when things began to sour at home. One evening I had turned off the TV and asked my wife about the meaning of life. She spent that night at her mother's.

I began to think on the job. I knew that thinking and employment don't mix, but I couldn't stop myself.

I began to avoid friends at lunchtime so I could read Thoreau and Kafka. I would return to the office dizzied and confused, asking, "What is it exactly we are doing here ?"

One day the boss called me in. He said, "Listen, I like you, and it hurts me to say this, but your thinking has become a real problem. If you don't stop thinking on the job, you'll have to find another job."

This gave me a lot to think about. I came home early after my conversation with the boss. "Honey," I confess, "I've been thinking..."

"I know you've been thinking," she said, "and I want a divorce!"

"But, Honey, surely it's not that serious."

"It is serious," she said, lower lip aquiver. "You think as much as college professors, and college professors don't make any money, so if you keep on thinking, we won't have any money!"

"That's a faulty syllogism," I said impatiently. She exploded in tears of rage and frustration, but I was in no mood to deal with the emotional drama. "I'm going to the library," I snarled as I stomped out the door.

I headed for the library, in the mood for some Nietzsche. I roared into the parking lot with NPR on the radio and ran up to the big glass doors. They didn't open. The library was closed.

To this day, I believe that a Higher Power was looking out for me that night. Leaning on the unfeeling glass, whimpering for Zarathustra, a poster caught my eye, "Friend, is heavy thinking ruining your life?" it asked.

You probably recognize that line. It comes from the standard Thinkers Anonymous poster. Which is why I am what I am today: a recovering thinker.

I never miss a TA meeting. At each meeting we watch a non-educational video; last week it was "Porky's."

Then we share experiences about how we avoided thinking since the last meeting. I still have my job, and things are a lot better at home. Life just seemed...easier, somehow, as soon as I stopped thinking.

I think the road to recovery is nearly complete for me.

Today I made the final step. I registered to vote as a Democrat.


Oh, why not? It's how the Dems think of us, anyway...

by John on May 18, 2006

May 16, 2006

Hugo Chavez... nimrod? Or Evil Genius?

Hey, I understand standing up to the Big Gringo, it keeps everybody happy. No worries.

But ya gotta wonder what the sub rosa goal is that prompts this lunacy...

The AP, via Breitbart, is offering up this lede: Venezuela Weighs Selling U.S. Jets to Iran...

So, Presidente Chavez, in response to the US ban on arms sales to his government (hey, gringo, we can bash you all we want, but you better still give us stuff at good prices!) is considering selling its fleet of F-16s to... perhaps Iran.

Snerk.

The AP reports that Gen. Alberto Muller, a senior adviser to Chavez, told the AP he had recommended to the defense minister that Venezuela consider selling the 21 jets to another country.

Okey-dokey. One *small teensy-weensy problem* with that. Under the rules that apply to Foreign Military Sales, you have to have *our* permission to sell them to someone else, or, give them back. And we get to approve who you sell them to.

General Muller thinks that Iran should be on the table as a buyer.

Presidente Chavez has already threatened to "share" the planes with Cuba if the USGOV doesn't fork over parts and upgrades, or at least allow the Israelis to provide 'em.

Hee.

Okay, they won't be flying to Teheran, they'd have to be shipped. Guess what? That would make for interesting blockade possibilities, to keep the containers from leaving.

They could *fly* to Cuba. I wonder if Cubans would fly them or Venezuelans? I wonder who among them would like to participate in a live-fire exercise with a Carrier Air Group?

Yeah, I know - Cuba doesn't have F16s, and the CAG doesn't fly 'em either.  Welcome to Photoshop, where anything is possible.

by John on May 16, 2006

What planet does Arlen Specter come from? Will someone please tell me?

The ONLY military organization authorized to participate in law enforcement is the National Fargin' Guard.

This guy is on the Judiciary Committee and he hasn't heard of Posse Comitatus?

As you know, I'm a simple attack pilot but 2 years in mufti with the DEA did teach me a few things about what the military can, and cannot, do vis-a-vis law enforcement inside US territory.

The Guard is legally positioned very well to assist law enforcement organizations in a number of ways. Under Title 32, they belong to the Governor. Period. Dot. Granted, they live and die budget-wise based on their Federal active duty brethren's' largesse, but they rightfully and jealously guard their independence under that Title for just the reason Bush pointed out tonight. Been there. Watched 'em do that. Got the cap (they weren't selling t-shirts, just baseball caps).

Is this move an effective one? Who the hell knows? It certainly can't hurt and the Border Patrol types will get access to some pretty cosmic surveillance capabilities, tactical airlift, communications interoperability and the like.

What I find morbidly fascinating is the conservative movement (Republican or whatever) gnawing off its leg to teach itself a lesson. All the hand-wringing I've seen in posts all over the blogsphere lately just make me want to give everyone a swift kick. Where I won't say.

How is throwing up one's hands in disgust over what is very normal politics (compromise, giving a little to get a little, etc. etc.) good for the America we all love and want to protect?

Michelle Malkin banging her shoe on the table; WFB doing his best to convince us all is for naught in Iraq; John Derbyshire essentially saying "Bugger the silly wogs."

Feh. Pathetic.

Somebody had better listen to John "Consider the Alternatives, You Idiots" Podhoretz before you find out what defeat really, really means. We should all hitch up our britches and stay in the fray, send money selectively to conservative candidates (not the RNC) and vote. I put my big, fat pink body in harm's way for that privilege for 26 years and I'll be damned if I'm gonna sit on my a$$ and let Murtha, Conyers, Schumer, Leahy and Hillary march in and trash what too goddamn many of my friends died for.

Come November, people had better be making tracks to the voting booth.


Instapilot

by Dusty on May 16, 2006

May 04, 2006

The Party of Death.

[If Roe vWade and issues like it bore you to tears - scroll down quickly!]

Update: I see that Ramesh noticed the review, and labels me a moderate pro-choicer (in a nice way, mind you). Hmmm. Looked at from his perspective, maybe. I think I'm a *barely-by-the-skin-of-my-teeth* pro-choicer - one of those who can live with 1st trimester and "rape and incest" exceptions. I'm very much anti-POD on the issues of selective abortion, "killing for medicine research" and unplugging inconvenient patients who don't have the grace to get out of the way. You won't find NARAL and NOW and Planned Parenthood on my charitable giving list. Catholic Charities and Catholic Community Services, by contrast, are. And I'm not Catholic. Just sayin'.

A non-expert, non-policy wonk late-to-the-issue guy reviews The Party of Death, a book by Ramesh Ponnuru, senior editor of National Review magazine. This blogging thing has turned up a few perks. I get books for free to review. And I get to keep 'em! I've got to get a lot more before it covers the cost of hosting, however...

Bottom line up front: I liked it.

The MSM has provided plenty of the "pro" sides of the argument about Roe v. Wade, stem cells, and euthanasia. They haven't done a good job presenting the anti-side of Roe (nor has the anti-side always had a very usefully-crafted message). The record on stem cells and euthanasia is more mixed where the MSM is concerned. Many of the anti-side of the argument, especially on Roe, have been so strident as to be repugnant to me (I am, after all, in the great mushy middle). But as someone who has been involved in the taking of life, and the giving of orders to others to do so, I have more than an academic interest in the subject. Along comes The Party of Death.

Sure, it's a polemic. The title alone, leave aside the content, will drive rabid lefties and NOW-types into spittle-flecked, full-goose bozo mode. We're used to that, and the book isn't really aimed at them anyway. It's aimed at the... great mushy middle. The book is written clearly, it's concise and it's footnoted. It's easy to read, and conveys a lot of information and analysis quickly. Make no mistake, it's not "balanced" nor does Ponnuru pretend to be. Ramesh marshals his facts and argues his position. But it *does* provide a useful apothegmatic response to all the pro-death forces.

Part 1 of the book is titled "What Roe Wrought" and covers the rise of Roe, and how the basic underpinnings of the decision leaked out into other areas of life - by essentially establishing a concept of non-personhood for a specimen of homo sapiens, and argues how that has given traction to the elites who now seemingly want to judge the rest of us by our utility and expense, and if they don't like what they see, pull the plug. It includes a discussion of how the 'sanctity' of Roe has been used to develop the tools and procedures for silencing dissent, and how it has twisted the Democratic Party in ways that have contributed to it's decline – I would argue to the detriment of politics in general, not too mention the polarization of the electorate. We need a robust discussion. We need a marketplace-like driver in our politics. Absent that, we get what we have now, the Republicans of ’06, and while casting about wildly for a replacement all there is on offer is the Radical Wing of the Democratic Party. Locally it’s not so bleak.

Ponnuru doesn't spare the extreme right-wing, either, though it simply isn't a prime subject in the book. That is well-covered by the anti-forces, and Ponnuru doesn’t waste space trying to show us what a balanced and hip guy he is. (Though he is…) Unlike this writer, Ponnuru either has a good editor or can keep himself focused.

After establishing the baseline, Ramesh goes on to lay out how Roe and other factors have combined to bring us to Part II, the Bioethics of Death, with the opening chapter of The Doctor Will Kill You Know to the closing chapter of What's So Bad About Infanticide? with Stem cells in between to let you know where Ponnuru stands on the issues involved.

Part III is Life And The Parties, where Ramesh analyzes how the issues have affected the political debate and development of the parties in dealing with the electorate on this issue.

So, I liked the book. Why?

Not because I'm a rabid Pro-Lifer. I'm not. I'm in the mushy middle that can accept a compromise of what the press has told us Roe means - 1st trimester abortions on demand, increasingly more regulation as the pregnancy progresses. Oops. Except that *isn’t* what Roe really means, is it? More honestly, I like the book because it lays out the pro-life position and history of the last 30-odd years in a openly-biased fashion that isn't just incoherent rantings of rage - nor a dense, thick, dry tome suitable for a doorstop - without muddying the water trying to be “balanced.” Sometimes, you just need a clear statement of the position and argument of same, as happens in a debate - vice trying to pretend you are all things to all people.

I remember, back when Roe v. Wade passed in 1973, being mildly relieved. I was 16, in good shape, a brainy-jock, and girls were looking pretty good. The legalization of abortion had exactly the effect on me that has been attributed to it by various opponents.

It lifted a burden about certain aspects of my hopefully-about-to-explode sex life. While my sex life went on to develop in a satisfactory (and generally morally acceptable) fashion, I'm glad to say that no situation ever developed that would have caused me to be earnestly interested in the provisions (and unintended consequences) of Roe.

Then there is that whole 20-odd years in the Army thing, where my focus was that of the Watcher On The Walls. I was focused externally, with the Soviets and other things - I didn't have a huge interest in domestic politics etc, with the exception (d-uh) of 2nd Amendment issues and a general conservative bent.

Our son has not presented us with any surprises, and there is no daughter about whom to be concerned, and while there are the three nephews and two nieces, nothing has happened to make the imminent practical issues of Roe a suddenly burning issue.

I've had two grandparents do the slow dying bit (one was 103 when she finally passed) but none of the drama of the Terri Schiavo situation, much less the ongoing travesty that is the Andrea Clarke furore in Houston.

But I have grown more interested in The Party of Death as my parents age, and I move into that stage of life where the young ones are interested in sex and the elders are shuffling ever closer towards the end of their mortal coil - and as the one in the middle, certain realities are simply mine.

And, as my life and job responsibilities have changed, I've watched with greater and greater unease the ease with which people seem willing to kill, or at least let others die, for seeming ever more selfish reasons. And more and more, that 20-odd years of looking outward, loss of context, has loomed large, leaving the gap in my understanding that it did. The issues are not simple, nor, as the extremes at both ends of the issue believe, are they reducible to black and white stark, easy choices. There's plenty of gray in the margins. For me, the book helped limn things and understand how we found ourselves in this situation. Which will inform my voting, blogging, and politician-gigging.

Readers of this space span the gamut on these issues. We had a mini-meltdown over Terry Schiavo, but we hung together and agreed to disagree. I'll be happy to provide space for anyone who is a regular here who'd like to read the book and whack at it. Heck, I'll entertain input from you lurkers, too.

Just remember the rules. Attack the argument, not the arguer. And no spittle-flecked rants. Ya gotta have *full* posting privileges to do that.

Party of Death, by Ramesh Ponnuru. Copyright 2006, published by Regnery Publishing. 248 pages of text, with another 50 of footnotes and index. $27.95 cover price. Free if yer kewl.

by John on May 04, 2006

May 02, 2006

Murder in NYC

Moving on to other news... how 'bout that NYT? They did some useful analysis, and must have *hated* writing the story to go with it. They analyzed 1,662 murders in New York City from 2003-2005. Summary chart available here. (if registration is required and you don't want to - go to www.bugmenot.com).

New York Killers, and Those Killed, by Numbers By JO CRAVEN McGINTY Published: April 28, 2006 The oldest killer was 88; he murdered his wife. The youngest was 9; she stabbed her friend. The women were more than twice as likely as men to murder a current spouse or lover. But once the romance was over, only the men killed their exes. The deadliest day was on July 10, 2004, when eight people died in separate homicides.

Five people eliminated a boss; 10 others murdered co-workers. Males who killed favored firearms, while women and girls chose knives as often as guns. More homicides occurred in Brooklyn than in any other borough. More happened on Saturday. And roughly a third are unsolved.

At the end of each year, the New York Police Department reports the number of killings — there were 540 in 2005. Typically, much is made of how the number has fallen in recent years — to totals not seen since the early 1960's. But beyond summarizing the overarching trends, the police spend little time compiling the individual details.

It's really a very useful story - and the Times did a more thorough analysis of the statistics than the NYPD routinely does. Which I understand to a point - the NYPD wants to determine patterns and develop police responses.

The offender and victim were of the same race in more than three-quarters of the killings. And according to Mr. Farrell, they often had something else in common: More than 90 percent of the killers had criminal records; and of those who wound up killed, more than half had them.

I wonder how many New Yorkers take *this next* message away - given how the news is reported, both print and television (this particular story displaying one of the strengths of print journalism, btw, depth and persistence - you can just study it, not have to keep replaying a video...).

"If the average New Yorker is concerned about being murdered in a random crime, the odds of that happening are really remote," Mr. Farrell said. "If you are living apart from a life of crime, your risk is negligible."

I think the piece is really pretty well written, especially for coverage of this particular issue. There is a *screaming* "however," though....

The offender and victim were of the same race in more than three-quarters of the killings. [emphasis mine] And according to Mr. Farrell, they often had something else in common: More than 90 percent of the killers had criminal records; and of those who wound up killed, more than half had them.

That's the only place race is mentioned in the article. If the article is intended to inform, influence, and shape public policy, that would be okay - if race was a neutral data point. Here, however, it isn't. If you want some bang for your policy investment dollar, you need to target it, rather than develop one-size-fits-all templates. One reason drugs are more effective these days (*and* have more side effects it would seem) is because they are more refined, more targeted - in other words, people are different. Having three drugs available for a medical problem quite possibly accounts for differences between people, hence a drug works for you, but I get all the side effects - that other drug works for me. Same it true of one-size-fits-all public policy.

What am I ranting about?

Roger Clegg pegged it on National Review Online's The Corner:

While whites and Asians are underrepresented among murderers and murder victims in New York City, it does not appear to be the case that Latinos are overrepresented; in fact, their murderer/victim rate is the same as their percentage in the general population (about 27 or 28 percent). The overrepresentation is among African Americans, who are 25 percent of the population, but make up 60 and 61 percent of murder victims and killers, respectively.

The NYT skips that unpleasant little bit of analysis. But if you want to target your policy for effectiveness, in NYC at least, this tells you where to place your effort.

And it further highlights the seeming trend that inner-city black america is feeding on itself. Whether it's racism, poverty, the outgrowth of a flawed welfare policy, exacerbated by the effects of the Drug War providing a Prohibition-Style economic incentive, I don't know. It's *all* inter-related, I'm sure. But I strongly suggest that maybe, just maybe, Bill Cosby is right, and Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton are not. While there is much that society can do... the real impetus for change has to come from the sub-culture, aided and abetted in context by the larger culture it nestles in. It's a problem we all share - but ignoring the elephant in the living room isn't going to help it.

But we aren't allowed to say that, are we?

And we can't assume that what might work in NYC will work in San Antonio, Kansas City, Reno, or Los Angeles. Hence, the value of a "federalist" approach, coupled with in depth, honest analysis, vice either an "imposed from Washington" or "let's copy the NYC response" and make this generic template fit brute force approach that hasn't worked in the past...

You'd think the Left would embrace this. The brute force template approach assumes assimilation and acculturation, a concept anathema to them (well, except when it means conformance with their template). But, I'm guessing that's not how they want to work it - because it's just so much easier to use the Federal Government and the Courts to make the world look everywhere like you want it - especially if those hick locals don't want to have a Big Eastern City flavor to their midwestern town.

I have to admit - the big stick *is* appropriate at times. It took the Big Stick to knock apart the structure of Jim Crow. But the Big Stick isn't *always* the answer, and a more subtle and nuanced approach might well produce better results.

The whole story can be read here.

by John on May 02, 2006

April 30, 2006

On the Fighting KeeBees.

Bad Cat Robot asks:

I dunno why you think you can't joint the Fighting Keebees, O Armorer -- Baldilocks and a bunch of other retired military have. And I hear we need grunts ;-)

I support what the Fighting KeeBees are doing.

But.

I can't bring myself to embrace the term Chickenhawk for myself... because I don't qualify. Others who wish to, are free to do so, and many have.

I understand the intent of embracing the term. However, it was initially applied to those who never served who yet supported or advocated the war, I'm not in that group.

I served. A long time. And I have been on the distaff side - a Blue Star Son, if you will. I answered the door to get The Telegram. I have been on both sides of the issue. Those who use the term as a derogative impute to the bearers that they are somehow unable to grasp the costs and realities and therefore are unfit to hold an opinion. Obviously, I think the Chickenhawk model inapt and seriously flawed, and the product of callow thought and shallower intellect at best, and venal manipulation at worst. I support the counterattack of embracing it.

However, I get two checks a month that bear witness to my service, the price of it, and which hold me subject to serve again when called. I have volunteered twice for recall - but as yet have no skill so needed as to pull the fat furry disabled guy back into uniform.

The simple fact is - I am *still* a soldier. I am *still* subject to the UCMJ.

Ergo, I'm not a chickenhawk, nor am I willing to support the expansion of the term chickenhawk to mean that only those who oppose (the) war *or* who are *currently* serving overseas can have an opinion.

I'm picky that way.

Just as I don't take communion in church. I haven't declared for any particular faith practice, and it's just my nature to skip that sacrament when offered in church, as I feel it is for those who *have* declared. I don't find my opinions on God or faith impaired by so doing.

I don't vote in Primaries, either, because I have yet to find a party I wish to formally declare for.

I'm stubborn like that, for good or ill.

I'm not a Chickenhawk. I'm not a Summer Soldier. I'm not a Winter Soldier (in the good, Valley Forge, non-Kerry manner).

I'm a Regular, By God! A soldier for all seasons. I'm one of a long line of soldiers of the ilk who so dismayed Major General Phineas Riall of His Britannic Majesty's Army at the Battle of Chippewa. My commission is for life. It does not expire, it ends only upon my resignation or at the President's pleasure. There is a reason a 70-year old 35 year veteran orthopedic surgeon was recalled and served in Afghanistan. I have no delusions that I am needed like that. But, as the recruiting song of the 80's says, "When we were needed, we were there." So too will I be, if I am needed.

You just can't make the term Chickenhawk stick on my armor. There's no place for it to hook into. I have an identification card that says I'm a soldier, still. But most importantly, I simply *am* a soldier, still. That's what I see, when I look at that bearded visage in the mirror in the morning. What I do to put food on the table and guns in the basement is also in support of soldiers. My spare time goes to charity. for those in the community, or, via Rotary, the world, who have not what I have.

I don't want to dilute the pool of those who embrace the title of Chickenhawk, because I am not one.

I am John of Argghhh!, Master of the Castle and Arsenal of Argghhh!, Field Artillery, United States Army, retired. It is enough title for me.

SWWBO has joined the KeeBees, though she, too, has a DD214. While our paths are generally parallel, they don't entirely overlay each other. More power to her, and those of you who choose to man the 'boards.

We are Allies. But I have seen the fields where the Iron Crosses grow.

I am not a Chickenhawk.

But I'll fight the good fight alongside you. I got your six, wingman. Just as I'll fight alongside a Marine, Sailor, Airman, Coastie. Or anyone willing to stand and deliver.

by John on Apr 30, 2006

April 27, 2006

A case of the vapors...

Important battle rule for commanders: Always remember that the first intel reports are usually wrong.

That's what leapt to mind when I saw this Instapundit post.

Granted, I'm with a lot of conservatives on the frustration I feel with The Gang That Can't Shoot Straight, aka the GOP, but when you're up to your a$$ in political alligators, the correct strategy isn't to stick your head into one of the reptiles' mouths. Especially when the net result of staying home on election day or voting for Democrats will give us:

- An even more radical and totalitarian court system,
- Crushing tax burdens on business and individuals,
- A disastrous and capitualtory approach to foreign policy, e.g., what problems there are in the world are America's fault and we should take out lead from our UN and European betters, starting with a wholesale retreat from Iraq, letting Iran get the bomb (by relying on "negotiations" and the "watchdog" UN IAEA...run by a Muslim, no less), etc.
- Then there's immigration--the Dems want felons to be able to vote (at least some have raised the issue in public), why not illegals? Suffice it to say, for all their protestations about Bush's cavalier attitude on Mexicans, et al., in their heart of hearts, they see the 12 million+ new "constituents" as a good thing, so I doubt there'll be much of a change in policy...and what little there will be will probably not be in our national interest.

Shall I go on? Bottom line: Are we really ready to trust the Dems with the responsibility of keeping this country safe, it's aconomy strong and its people free?

In any case, I went on to read the comments associated with the above post. Fortunately, the vast majority are saying, and I'm paraphrasing, "OK, things are rough right now, but cutting the nose off to spite the face ain't exactly a prudent response."

Again, Glenn's "intel" has a little more to it than the impression left on Instapundit.

Personally, I like the Churchillian approach: Never, never, never give up.

by Dusty on Apr 27, 2006

March 15, 2006

Feingold Censure Resolution

From The Corner today:

THE FEINGOLD CENSURE [Kathryn Jean Lopez]

From Senator John Cornyn's office:

Results of the Feingold Censure Resolution (S.Res. 398): Day 2

Democrat co-sponsors of Feingold Resolution: 0

al Qaeda communications intercepted by Feingold Resolution: 0

Terror attacks prevented by Feingold Resolution: 0

I say we start adding to the list and invite our readers to do the
same, i.e.,

Terror suspects apprehended by Feingold Resolution: 0

Days usefully spent reducing the domestic terror threat by Feingold
Resolution: 0

Number of IEDs in Iraq neutralized by Feingold Resolution: 0

Number of good 5-cent cigars developed after Feingold Resolution: 0

etc...

Going to bed now...

Dusty


The Armorer adds: Profiles in Courage? Or just know that it's thin gruel? Dana Milbank on the Democrat Senators and the Feingold Question.

by Dusty on Mar 15, 2006

March 14, 2006

Bright shiny objects...

...that caught my attention.

One of the things I've been asking myself and others - how do the left and Progressives in general reconcile their seeming support of Islamic fundamentalists with their world-view? Especially how can feminists and gays do so?

Well, here's a gay man who left the US because of his experience of and dislike for, Christian intolerance regarding gays, and went to Europe, because they're beyond all that.

Only, they aren't. They are letting intolerance fester in a huge way.

Speaking of intolerance...

South Park's Chef is all about satirizing people... until his own ox gets gored. Ah, c'mon, Isaac, I thought better of you.

Hayes, who has played the ladies' man/school cook in the animated Comedy Central satire since 1997, said in a statement Monday that he feels a line has been crossed.

"There is a place in this world for satire, but there is a time when satire ends and intolerance and bigotry towards religious beliefs of others begins," the 63-year-old soul singer and outspoken Scientologist said.

"Religious beliefs are sacred to people, and at all times should be respected and honored," he continued. "As a civil rights activist of the past 40 years, I cannot support a show that disrespects those beliefs and practices."

"South Park" co-creator Matt Stone responded sharply in an interview with The Associated Press Monday, saying, "This is 100 percent having to do with his faith of Scientology... He has no problem - and he's cashed plenty of checks - with our show making fun of Christians."

Your right to protest as you see fit, Isaac, but absent a lot more context and evidence of epiphany, I throw the Hypocritical Bullshite flag.

Read the rest here.

by John on Mar 14, 2006

March 08, 2006

VA Nurse investigated for sedition...

Ry sends along a link to an article about a VA nurse in New Mexico being investigated for... sedition. Woo-woo! Heady stuff!

A Veterans Affairs nurse in Albuquerque, New Mexico, was investigated for sedition after she wrote a letter to a local newspaper criticizing the Bush administration's handling of Hurricane Katrina and the Iraq war. In her first broadcast interview, we speak with Laura Berg, as well as an attorney with the New Mexico chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.


To continue:

The response to Berg's letter was harsh. Her office computer was seized. And the government announced it was investigating her for sedition - that's right, sedition.

V.A. human resources chief Mel Hooker wrote in a letter to Berg, "the Agency is bound by law to investigate and pursue any act which potentially represents sedition."

Operative words... bound by law. Um, why?

Based solely on the info in the article, this is probably what triggered it: "act forcefully to remove a government administration playing games of smoke and mirrors and vicious deceit."

If you want the rest of my bloviation - it's in the Flash Traffic/Extended Entry.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows »

by John on Mar 08, 2006

February 21, 2006

Editorial Decisions.

The lesson from the Cold War is: If you give in to totalitarian impulses once, new demands follow. The West prevailed in the Cold War because we stood by our fundamental values and did not appease totalitarian tyrants. -Flemming Rose

Re-read that: If you give in to totalitarian impulses once, new demands follow. The West prevailed in the Cold War because we stood by our fundamental values and did not appease totalitarian tyrants.


It's also the lesson of 1939.

Let's examine two looks at editorial responsibility, an issue of interest around here what with L'Affaire Schlussel, etc.

Flemming Rose - the editor who chose to publish the cartoons that have caused people to kill people and to threaten to do so some more killing - hell, *demand* some killing, on why he did it.

Childish. Irresponsible. Hate speech. A provocation just for the sake of provocation. A PR stunt. Critics of 12 cartoons of the prophet Muhammad I decided to publish in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten have not minced their words. They say that freedom of expression does not imply an endorsement of insulting people's religious feelings, and besides, they add, the media censor themselves every day. So, please do not teach us a lesson about limitless freedom of speech.

That's what it comes down to, isn't it. Speech, free or sensitive to the person with the most exposed nerve.

The best defense against speech you abhor is... more speech. It can get ridiculous, but that was the essence of the Swift Boat Veterans fight with John Kerry, wasn't it? Speech, counter-speech, counter-counter speech, both sides getting bruised and battered, yes. Decorum often falls to the wayside, especially for deeply-held beliefs. But did anyone in that fight seriously (aside from the stray Moonbat-with-a-grudge-hearing-voices-scenario) *truly* fear for the lives? No. Their livelihoods, certainly, but not their lives. And we all got more information about an era most of us really were ignorant of. And what wasn't said (or released) was as important as what was said and released. And people made decisions about that, which ultimately helped decide who subsequently sat in the White House for four years. But while a flag or two may have gone up in flames, I don't recall any buildings doing so. Or people dying. Or bounties being named.

Therein lies the crux of the problem.

Rose notes this:

At the end of September, a Danish standup comedian said in an interview with Jyllands-Posten that he had no problem urinating on the Bible in front of a camera, but he dared not do the same thing with the Koran.

Hmmm. Wonder why *that* is? Those rampaging Christians? Um, no. Salman Rushdie and Theo Van Gogh, maybe...?

On occasion, Jyllands-Posten has refused to print satirical cartoons of Jesus, but not because it applies a double standard. In fact, the same cartoonist who drew the image of Muhammed with a bomb in his turban drew a cartoon with Jesus on the cross having dollar notes in his eyes and another with the star of David attached to a bomb fuse. There were, however, no embassy burnings or death threats when we published those.

It comes down to this:

Has Jyllands-Posten insulted and disrespected Islam? It certainly didn't intend to. But what does respect mean? When I visit a mosque, I show my respect by taking off my shoes. I follow the customs, just as I do in a church, synagogue or other holy place. But if a believer demands that I, as a nonbeliever, observe his taboos in the public domain, he is not asking for my respect, but for my submission. And that is incompatible with a secular democracy. [emphasis mine]

Exactly. Exactly. As CDR Salamander observes - a point the Norwegians missed entirely.

And given the fact that people who otherwise send money to the ACLU seem to think that Muslims should get some special consideration, while evangelical Christians should be suppressed and driven from the public square would do well to look deep into their souls at the inherent contradiction of that stance.

Rose continues,

As a former correspondent in the Soviet Union, I am sensitive about calls for censorship on the grounds of insult. This is a popular trick of totalitarian movements: Label any critique or call for debate as an insult and punish the offenders. That is what happened to human rights activists and writers such as Andrei Sakharov, Vladimir Bukovsky, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Natan Sharansky, Boris Pasternak. The regime accused them of anti-Soviet propaganda, just as some Muslims are labeling 12 cartoons in a Danish newspaper anti-Islamic.

The lesson from the Cold War is: If you give in to totalitarian impulses once, new demands follow. The West prevailed in the Cold War because we stood by our fundamental values and did not appease totalitarian tyrants.

Re-read that: If you give in to totalitarian impulses once, new demands follow. The West prevailed in the Cold War because we stood by our fundamental values and did not appease totalitarian tyrants.

It is also the lesson of 1939.

And a message that will not be preached from the pulpit of the Cathedral in Riyadh any time soon, either.

by John on Feb 21, 2006

February 01, 2006

Heh. I'm not a racist? But I thought I hadda be...

...cause I'm a right-winger.

Heh. Remember the study that suggests we conservatives are racist bassids?

Go read this, at The Right Coast. I'll wait.

Back? Cool. Now go take the IAT that Gail suggests. My result is in the Flash Traffic/Extended Entry.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows »

by John on Feb 01, 2006

January 31, 2006

Eeewwww. Politics.

But since Bill and I (with a belated "Me, too!" from Dusty) were original Signers (though I don't know why NZ invited us, really) of the Appeal from Center-Right Bloggers... I'm going to make my totally pointless endorsement in the Republican House Leadership Race. I'm late at this because I'm not truly a pundit, I don't have an Insta-opinion. Not a slam, Reynold's life and work are vastly different from mine - he's more informed simply by what he does for a living - I currently study the Future Army for a living, which means this is extramural for me. However, in that regard, perhaps I'm more representative of the bulk of the right-leaning voting population, too - because they all have lives that make this extramural to them, too. But as I've demonstrated many times before - I have a tin ear for politics.

I'm speaking for me. I'll let Bill and Dusty speak for themselves.

I say they should go with Shadegg.

Blunt and Boehner are More Of The Same, and I'm just not that impressed with The Same, whatever their other qualifications. Sometimes, you *do* need to change for change's sake.

It's time for Something New in the Republican leadership, and I have so informed my Representative (that would be Jim Ryun, who listens politely, anyway, though I get better, more substantive answers from the staffs of Senators Brownback and Roberts). I'm something of a gadfly about guns, national defense and veteran's issues, though I have no delusions of my influence, given I don't give scads of money to any of those guys, because they don't need it around here.

I'm a fan of term limits, if only for the simple reason that one of the things that gets the political class in trouble is being so entrenched in their positions that they both lose touch with the reality of their districts, and, concomitantly, get sucked into the bubble of Inside the Beltway, which is fantasy world in many respects. I know - I've moved in those circles before, tangentially.

My sister and I had a discussion of that at Christmas - she's the family liberal, but she was receptive to the idea of term limits for a long time. Until Missouri elected Governor Blunt, who has done some (to her eyes) Dumb Newbie Tricks, especially regarding education, which gores a family ox for her. From that she deduces that Experience is Best.

I say Faugh! Change is good. Frankly, I see term limits a little bit like the NFL Draft. The draft keeps the Center of Gravity moving around the league, which, to my jaundiced eye, keeps football more interesting, as dynasties rise and fall. Contrast to Baseball, where their model tends to suck all the money to a few of the big players, which for me reduces the interest of the league to a few Big Teams and the Rest. No, it's not a perfect analogy...

But the concept I see is similar. New people, new ideas. Move the center of gravity around. Nothing against West Virginia, but is there anything left there that doesn't have Byrd's name on it? That's just one example. Move the center of gravity around the country, too. The Massachusetts Senate Contingent hasn't had a genuinely new idea in a long time. And the same is true, regardless of party, all around the country.

So, here's to the Republicans showing some leadership, rather than damage control. You've been in power long enough that you have the Power Disease; though you wield power badly. The Democrats are far better at that than you guys have ever been - which is actually a compliment, but I don't have time to go into that here.

The point is - you have the baggage, with no concomitant useful productivity.

So, try something new. Give a relative Outsider a chance. And gird yourselves to Make A Change.

Because I might just have to start voting in Primaries again, to try to send you guys packing, otherwise. I know I can't do much with the Democrats, so I'll pick on you.

Besides, with the Alito cloture vote, the Left's Moonbats are going to be picking on their guys, so I'll try to shape what passes for the Right.

**********************************

*tossing two cents on the workbench*

For what my opinion's worth--and I harbor no illusions in that area--I believe that John Shadegg most-clearly sees the need for reform. And he has the convictions and the passion to back them up:

“…I have a lifelong record of having fought for restricting government. I think many of you know that when I got here, I introduced almost as the very first bill I ever dropped, the Enumerated Powers Act. That was a bill that said that members of Congress...would have to identify in every bill they introduced, the provisions of the Constitution that authorized the Congress to legislate in that area…Congress is writing laws in all kinds of areas where it has no authority whatsoever. People have forgotten, members of Congress have forgotten, that the Constitution makes this a Congress with specific, limited, enumerated powers. And we have completely ignored that, aided and abetted by the United States Supreme Court. At a minimum, we need to get back to only doing those things that the Constitution allows us to do.”

The entire transcript of his conference call with the Big Bloggers is here. It's a fast read with a lot of substance.

Unfortunately, my rep is Rush Holt (D-NJ--12th District), who replies (seldom) to my missives with campaign literature from last year's election and an envelope for the sizeable check he hints I should send for his next campaign...

by John on Jan 31, 2006

January 27, 2006

Just Curious

...but has anyone weighed in with their Congressman on who to vote for for the House leadeship post? I did.

by Denizens on Jan 27, 2006

January 24, 2006

Canadian Politics, US Blogosphere Credit for...

...not.

In my reading and email, the Canadian Blogosphere doesn't quite see Captain Ed as the Savior of All That Is Right And Good, as exemplified in this post by Austin Bay (I *do* share Bay's opinion of the 4th CMBG, however). Damian at Babbling Brooks covers that pretty well, I think.

Not that they don't appreciate Captain's Quarters efforts regarding Gomery. But they would suggest (with some, shall we say, *insider* perspective) that while Gomery was certainly a part of the environment that caused the election - the election was, in fact, more a result of bad political tactics in a parliamentary system rather than the prime result of the Gomery investigation. This in no way denigrates Captain Ed's showing we Americans (and Canadians) some of the quirks of the Canadian political and judicial systems.... Yet what seemed obvious to luminaries such as Reynolds in November must be viewed in the light of subsequent events.

Regardless, we American bloggers should, perhaps, not take *quite* so much credit for what is a vastly more complex drama than simply the corruption scandal (which goes to the heart of what I talked about regarding our problems here down south - too long in power, you're bound to have this problem, regardless of left or right. It's a genetic disease of political power).

But even I, sworn to the Annexation of Western Canada (snerk!) was a bit uncomfortable with all the praise heaped on Captain Ed, Caped Crusader for Canadian Justice. (That's not Captain Ed's schtick, that's me talkin').

It's a bit like me taking credit for bringing down the candidacy of the Prince of Darkness, General Clark... when, in fact, the Prince was his own worse enemy. I was just a tiny sliver of a mirror. Captain Ed is a much larger piece than I, to be sure - but he's not the single-handed Architect of Doom, as Damian Brooks (not to be confused with Damian Penny) points out in his piece linked above.

Just sayin', y'know? All y'all are going to ruin my plans for Annexation if you keep riling 'em up like this.

Stop it.

Perhaps some of the Castle's Canadian Readers (and they are legion!) will weigh in here. Denizen Alan is already rejoicing in Divided Government... a personal fave of mine.

That said...

The Conservatives win - with a minority. But they win, which is a change. They now have a chance to show they can do something. Such as come up with innovative ideas to help the Maritimes that don't just involve wealth transfers from healthier provinces to the weaker ones - unless it is (apt for the Maritimes) to help them to fish, rather than just giving them fish. Too often the Left is about taking my fish and giving it to the other guy, vice giving the other guy the tools and skills to fish - or some other useful skill so I'll happily *give* him a fish in exchange for something I need. Keep that in mind up there you guys. You can grow your party if you've got the skillz. But good luck with that whole Quebec thing.

Update: Quotulatiousness has a nice Canadian Blog Roundup.

by John on Jan 24, 2006
» Ghost of a flea links with: A note to some of our friends in the American blogosphere
» Quotulatiousness links with: Who's saying what?

January 23, 2006

Silly Government Tricks

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If you live in Kansas, did you know that your state apparatchiks have decided that, despite the fact that others states allow it, and that they actually meet safety and roadability regs in place when built - you can't register something like a White Scout Car or Ferret in the state? I suppose on the plus side, it also mean they can't property tax you, either.

These things are registerable in other states. I have seen several (and ridden in one and followed it through downtown Atlanta traffic - see pic linked above) that are registered (and legal) in Georgia. This all arose from the efforts of a local KC man to register his Ferret (we're not talking tanks, here, people - there are SUVs bigger than a Ferret). This was seen tootling down a road in the PacNorthwest and the cop saw it as a photo opportunity, not a reason to call for air cover.

Those of us who collect aren't taking this lying down, as some unelected state officials make rulings based on ignorance, and yes, unreasoning angst. Rather than take up a lot of space with this, I'll put the rest in the Flash Traffic/Extended Entry.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows »

by John on Jan 23, 2006

January 22, 2006

I guess I should say something about Murtha...

...judging from the email I've been getting, largely sparked by James Webb's NYT OpEd piece, Purple Heartbreakers.

I haven't scoured the archives, but I don't think I've attacked Murtha's Vietnam record. There have been harsh words expressed in this space by others (mostly former Marines or deeply involved with them) about Mr. Murtha's "Marineness" in his current incarnation - which is not quite the same thing as questioning his service in Vietnam. As I said, I'm not going to scour the archives, y'all can do that.

I have attacked Mr. Murtha's policy and pronouncements, and I find his comments regarding "any appearance of a victory" unsettling, though, in context I believe he meant that he since he feels we lost already, he wants us to treat it as a loss, and leave as losers, tails between our legs, dejected and demoralized, so that one, we learn our lesson, and two, the Democrats get the political leverage. He doesn't want us declaring victory and going home - he wants us to wallow in defeat. And if you don't believe my part two is in there - you're fooling yourself.

I don't believe we have lost (we certainly can, however), therefore I think his position leads to bad policy (and losing).

Ah, you say - but you *did* attack Kerry's service. Yes, I did.

While not a Vietnam vet my father is. By his understanding of at least two of Kerry's wounds, Dad would have come back from Vietnam with 8 Purple Hearts (as it was, he came back with 5, all requiring stitches or better, to include a through-and-through of the lower leg.) For then-Lieutenant Kerry to use a policy intended for draftee enlisted (3 Purple Hearts, go home) to clear himself from a combat zone he *volunteered* to go to, while leaving his enlisted crew to finish out their tours facing dangers he no longer wished to face, is simply unacceptable conduct for an officer. Mr. Kerry volunteered multiple times (his enlistment, acceptance of officer training, acceptance of the commission, asking for the combat tour) and for him to leave early is, to this officer, unacceptable conduct.

By my lights, Kerry was a dilettante poseur. He wanted his "Kennedy" credential, and found that the price for it was higher than he was willing to pay - so he ran from it, and when he discovered that he could get laid being a protester, he went for it. No, I don't have much respect for either Senator from Massachusetts.

For those who accosted me with "But, John, was it not *more* honorable for him to leave to go home to protest a war he knew from personal experience to be immoral and unwinnable, than to stay and fight it?" my response is thus:

No.

That is *exactly* why I call him dilettante poseur. He says he went because he was troubled by the war, and wanted to go to see for himself. If this was his all along intent, then staying the whole tour, or resigning, taking his lumps, and fighting his fight would have been the honorable thing to do. He chose to leave early when he found the way to do so, then go chill on an Admirals staff for a while. I dislike David Hackworth, but he at least did something along those lines when he threw it all away and went to Australia - and in his later life, he made it clear he was *still* all about soldiers. Mr. Kerry is all about soldiers when it suits him to be. Which is true of much of the political class, on both sides of the aisle.

Back to the point - the difference between Mssrs Kerry and Murtha is that Kerry waved his credentials at everybody, used them to hammer on President Bush, and made his credentials the issue. Representative Murtha has not. And his detractors should not, in truth. The letter from Marine Corps Headquarters affirming his awards wasn't needed - I know how chintzy the Marines are that way. I saw how difficult it was for a Marine battalion commander to get a 'V' device for a Bronze Star when he was leading a counter-attack against tanks attacking a towed artillery battery.

Former Navy Secretary Webb makes some valid points and slips in some duds - but his central thrust is, in my view, correct. Accept service for what it appears to be. Unless the individual in question makes it the issue, as Mr. Kerry did.

On the flip side - a politician's supporters shouldn't throw it around as a shield against criticism of policy stances, either. It isn't.

by John on Jan 22, 2006

January 20, 2006

Politicians harried by blogger attack pack.

As signatories to the Blogger Manifesto regarding the Abramoff fall-out in the Congress, we've been privy to the behind-the-scenes work that group of bloggers has done to observe, report, and yes, influence, the Republican Intramural elections for the leadership positions in the House. It has been instructive seeing some big bloggers at work and how they interact. We have enough collective power these days that all three major players in the drama, Blunt, Boehner, and Shadegg, agreed to conference calls with us. While *I*, who work at a government site wasn't about to dial-in on a government phone from my government workplace on my non-government employers time - that's okay - the smart, informed and involved *were* able to do so - and NZ Bear has a round-up of their posts, and links to the audio of the conference. I realize from all of this just how minor-league I am and will stay a boutique milblogger! This is stuff the MSM won't - almost can't, provide. No wonder they worry about us.

by John on Jan 20, 2006

January 13, 2006

The Center-Right of the Blogosphere publishes an appeal...

And Bill and I signed up. Dusty is so wrapped up in taking over an airplane as the Captain, he hasn't gotten back with me yet.


An Appeal from Center-Right Bloggers

We stand with these others:

N.Z. Bear, The Truth Laid Bear
Hugh Hewitt, HughHewitt.com
Glenn Reynolds, Instapundit.com
Kevin Aylward, Wizbang!
La Shawn Barber, La Shawn Barber's Corner
Lorie Byrd, Polipundit
John Hawkins, Right Wing News
John Hinderaker, Power Line
Jon Henke / McQ / Dale Franks, QandO
James Joyner, Outside The Beltway
Mike Krempasky, Redstate.org
Michelle Malkin, MichelleMalkin.com
Ed Morrissey, Captain's Quarters
Scott Ott, Scrappleface

by John on Jan 13, 2006
» Neptunus Lex links with: Endorsed
» protein wisdom links with: "An Appeal from Center-Right Bloggers"
» CALIFORNIA YANKEE links with: An Appeal from Center-Right Bloggers
» Stuck On Stupid links with: Appeal of Center-Right Bloggers
» Don't Go Into The Light links with: It's a worthy cause, but...
» Musing Minds links with: Appeal from Right-Center Bloggers
» Suitably Flip links with: Shadegg Enters Leadership Race As Candidate For Reform and Renewal
» CDR Salamander links with: Second Endorsement
» Righty in a Lefty State links with: Transparency in Government

January 12, 2006

Scaliiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiito...

The Alito hearings are just becoming more and more surreal. After listening to the Tedster grill the nominee over whether he recalls random sentence fragments from twenty year old articles, (explanation here) I can hardly wait for Sunday's WaPo when Senator Kennedy (or more accurately, one of his junior staffers) will undoubtedly put out a translated version of the hearings so we can finally learn what the nominee really meant:

Never apologize for your past, my friend. Never apologize. It’s a sign of weakness. Which I despise.

Yeah, I was a member of Concerned Alumni for Princeton. Who wasn’t, in those days? Everywhere you look… blacks, Hispanics, homosexuals. Those people don’t know their place anymore. You know what I would do if you put me on SCOTUS? I would find their LEADER. The guy they respect and fear the MOST. And I would go up to that guy, and I would shake his hand and say I was glad to meet him, and with the other hand, I would put my piece in his mouth and ba-BOOM, I would earn myself a little respect.

You think I haven’t eliminated a few minorities and women in my time? Of course I have. Mainly law clerks.. you know, that sort of thing. You have to prune the ranks once in a while. To set an example. What happens if you don’t? They run roughshod over you. They give you no respect. So although I abhor violence, about once a month I grab one in the hallways, and I turn him around to face his buddies, and I take out my gavel, and ....well, you can guess the rest.

None of this is personal. It does not bring me joy. I just want to be able to relax with the Constitution and a cup of coffee and a cigarette and not have the neighborhood crumb-snatchers trampling my hydrangeas.

The simple pleasures. Aren’t those the things that really make life worth living? Of course they are. Of course they are, my friend....

Gentlemen, if you make me your next SC Justice, one thing I promise you: these lowlifes will never trouble you up on the Hill. On that...you have Scalito’s word.


I'm looking forward to Joe ("Talk to me like I'm your father") Biden grilling Alito about the NSA, individual privacy rights, and the "domestic spying" program. I can hear it already:

26 minutes into Biden's allotted time, and he still has not asked Alito a single question, nor allowed him to get a word in edgewise....

BIDEN: The world really went downhill, since 9/11. You know, Quasimodo predicted all of this.

SCALITO: Who did what?

BIDEN: You know, the middle east. The end of the world.

SCALITO: Nostradamus. Quasimodo's the hunchback of Notre Dame.

BIDEN: Oh, right. Notredamus.

SCALITO: Nostradamus and Notre Dame, that's two things different completely.

BIDEN: It's interesting that they'd be so similar, though. You know, I always thought "Ok, you got the hunchback of Notre Dame. But you also got your quarterback and your halfback of Notre Dame".

SCALITO: Notre Dame's a f***ing cathedral!

BIDEN: Obviously, I know. I'm just saying. It's interesting, the coincidences. What, you're gonna tell me you never pondered that?

SCALITO: [surreptitiously looking at watch] No. I never did...

Mrs. Alito looks at her watch, bursts into tears....

by Cassandra on Jan 12, 2006

January 10, 2006

In other news...

An activity the MSM doesn't seem to care about continues - in addition to all other duties in the GWOT.

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Local Pakistanis receive medical treatment at the U.S. 212th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital in Muzaffarabad, Pakistan, on January 5, 2005. The United States military is participating in Operation Lifeline, the Pakistani-led relief operation designed to aid victims of the devastating earthquake that struck the region October 8, 2005. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Barry Loo).
Emphasis in the caption is mine.

The Kansas City area is participating - our Army Reserve Chinook unit, Company B, 7th Battalion, 158th Aviation Regiment in Olathe, is deployed in support of Earthquake relief. The were diverted from their skedded deployment to Afghanistan over the mountains to Pakistan. Yes, Virginia, we're diverting assets from the war to help these people survive the winter. The MSM isn't covering *us* doing this - so I'm sure they aren't covering anyone else, either. Does anyone know what other nations are still involved trying to help the Pakistanis deal with winter?

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A CH-47 Chinook helicopter of the Army Reserve's Company B, 7th Battalion, 158th Aviation Regiment, makes uses of a tight landing zone during a relief flight to a remote Pakistan village.

by John on Jan 10, 2006

January 07, 2006

Murtha's "Semper Fidelis" Moment

It is often said there's no such thing as a "former Marine".

On that point, Jack Murtha seems bound and determined to challenge the conventional wisdom. An enormous controversy was launched recently after he proposed we renege on promises made to Iraq, Afghanistan, and our coalition allies to stay the course. Rep. Murtha wanted the United States to strategically "redeploy" its fighting men and women to a safer location, leaving the people of Iraq and Afghanistan defenseless against brutal terrorists who could, after all, simply take part in the democratic process if all they wanted was a voice in the emerging government. I have a question for Rep. Murtha: what, exactly, makes him think a ruthlessly unprincipled enemy will suddenly stop the killing when the only protectors of the emerging democracy are whisked across the border to safety?

streamers.jpg Rep. Murtha's "plan" was enshrined in the unassailable sanctity of a combat veteran's admirable service to this nation. No one, we were told, could question his motives, or his patriotism. Not even, it appeared, another Marine: one who had the temerity to speak publicly what any Marine with any sense at all was thinking privately: that his "plan" flew in the face of 200 years of proud Marine Corps history. Attend any ceremony where Marines gather and you'll see something special: the Marine Battle Colors. During the color ceremony, you'll watch the Marine flag lowered proudly, as it should be, in deference to the stars and stripes: Old Glory. But if you're lucky, you may also get to see another brave sight flying in the stiff breeze. The Marine battle streamers. One for each engagement the Marines have fought in over their long and glorious history. And on the unofficial Marine emblem appear these words: "These Colors Don't Run".

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Marines take those words seriously. Dead seriously. Because a lot of men - good men - have died to earn the reputation the United States Marine Corps enjoys throughout the world. They are respected, and feared, wherever they go. They command the field.

They do not leave it in the hands of the enemy, despite what Representative Murtha would like to see us do. And despite the waggling fingers of Democrats like Harold Ford, there was absolutely nothing wrong with Colonel Danny Bubp taking a fellow Marine down a peg on the House floor that day. Marines police their own ranks. They have always done so. One Marine is never afraid to take another to task when he thinks honor is at stake. And they all have a stake in the future of their Corps. And their country.

General Peter Pace, USMC, did so again the other day when Rep. Murtha stepped out of line and damaged our recruiting efforts, and rightly so. I commend him for having the courage to speak out. It must have been difficult for him. Military men do not like to involve themselves in matters political. General Pace should not have been placed in that position:

"That's damaging to recruiting," Pace said. "It's damaging to morale of the troops who are deployed, and it's damaging to the morale of their families who believe in what they are doing to serve this country."
Representative Murtha might do well, if he can find a quiet moment when he is not listening to the sound of his own voice, to consider the motto of the Marine Corps:
Semper Fidelis

It is a short one, for Marines are men of few words, preferring deeds to flowery expressions of feelings. It means "Always faithful". A Marine considers it his highest duty to be faithful: to his country, to his Corps, to what is right. Rep. Murtha might ask himself, to what has he demonstrated faithfulness?

His nation has made commitments to its coalition allies and to two nations which are now dependent on us: Iraq, Afghanistan. Whether or not he likes the cost of those commitments, an honorable nation does not shirk its duty once it makes a promise.

The Marine Corps will have a future that extends beyond this war...or perhaps it won't, if he has anything to do with it. Enlistment rates, whether or not the war lasts, have an impact far down the road. If his words have half the impact he hopes they will have, what damage is he doing to the future of the Marine Corps? Does he even care?

Certainly his words are having an impact now. Consider this news item:

Al-Qaida's No. 2, Ayman al-Zawahri, said in a videotape aired Friday that the United States' decision to withdraw some troops from Iraq represented "the victory of Islam" and called on Muslims to attack oil sites.

Al-Zawahri, wearing a white turban and gray robe and seated next to an automatic rifle, waved his finger for emphasis as he spoke in the two-minute excerpt aired by Al-Jazeera.

"I congratulate (the Islamic nation) for the victory of Islam in Iraq," he said.

You remember I told you more than a year ago that the American withdrawal from Iraq is only a matter of time, and here they are now ... negotiating with the mujahedeen," al-Zawahri said.

"Bush was forced at the end of last year to announce that he will pull out his forces from Iraq, but he was giving excuses for his withdrawal that the Iraqi forces have reached a good level."


This news, of course, is very worrisome to many on Capitol Hill. Rep. Murtha is certainly worried. He appears to have finally realized the impact of his words:

Appearing at a town meeting in Arlington, Virginia, with fellow Democratic Rep. James Moran, Murtha said, "A year ago, I said we can't win this militarily, and I got all kinds of criticism." Now, Murtha told the strongly antiwar audience, "I worry about a slow withdrawal which makes it look like there's a victory when I think it should be a redeployment as quickly as possible and let the Iraqis handle the whole thing."
You remember... those would be those Iraqi forces that Murtha says "aren't ready and will never be ready". That's why we need to skedaddle...err...redeploy as soon as possible. And we see what the response of al Qaida is to the withdrawal of our troops.

Attack. Full speed ahead.

It would appear that the question of just who Mr. Murtha is "faithful" to has been definitively answered. Al-Jazeera and Mr. al-Zawahri certainly like what he has to say. It seems, so far, only to be his fellow Marines who disagree with him.
And combat vets who know what it's really like in Iraq and Afghanistan.

by Cassandra on Jan 07, 2006
» A Blog For All links with: Murtha's Mess

October 15, 2005

Fear Not!

Despite the official banishment of Piglet to the Outer Darkness (aka the Colonies, aka all of us benighted souls on this side of the pond)...

Despite the efforts of well-meaning but slightly-gone-over-the-edge PMs...

There'll always be an England.

At least as long as they maintain their monomaniacal pursuit of the one-off, slightly daffy bit of humor.

Heh. Turn the speakers on. Work safe and kid safe--an admitted change for something from yours truly. Although the li'l nippers probably won't "get" most of the visual snarks, they'll get a kick out of the animation...

by CW4BillT on Oct 15, 2005

October 09, 2005

Denizens in the Assault!

What are the Denizens up to? MSG Keith entertains royalty while SGT B waxes rhapsodic about... aviators... ewwww!. Meantime, over at Random Fate, Jack's messy divorce from politics continues, as he pretty much hates all the options, and is probably considering a small, uncharted island where he can avoid the sausage-making that is politics. If I thought everybody else would *truly* leave me alone, I'd be jiggy with that. The Rammer family is dealing with the loss of Rammer's father. Pace, familias. The Snarkatron spanks the Smithsonian for essentially embezzling a donation in practical terms, if not in legal ones. Cassandra at Villainous Company says approving things about the Washington Post, and has a post up comparing history's only Bomb-dropper, Mizzou's own Harry S. Truman, to... wait for it... Dubya! Ah, Cassie - she covers Miers so I don't have to! Between Cassie and Baldilocks, my piece is pretty much said regarding Miers. But if you *like* Miers-blogging, consider Carnival of the Clueless #16 or Don Surber, one of the paid pundits *not* rending his garments over the nomination. Barb offers condolences, and reports out on someone you should know. SWWBO gives us her take on Miers - and don't forget this week's Carnival of the Recipes (SWWBO's Invention!) over at The Glittering Eye! AFSis's concern about justice is assuaged by some good news - just as Ohio is made happy with the return of their Marine reservists from a hard tour in Iraq. Castle Philosophotrix Kat reminds us that there is still work to be done in Afghanistan... and it is. Fuzzybear Lioness has some posers of questions about political figures - I got them both right. Allen and I agree about something - which happens more often than our snarking allows, but he *is* a foreigner, after all. While I'm as guilty as anyone about the 'Net, I don't get the need to be able to instantly contact anyone - and the seemingly concomitant need to be in constant contact with *someone*. I'm not available 24/7 and don't want to be - and have turned down jobs where a Blackberry was involved. And people who get angry with me for *not* have a cell phone with me at all times, and especially not having one that will take my email... well, that's both bemusing and amusing. If you want those kinds of jobs, rest assured, I am *not* your competition.

Let's close this out with some Gun-n-Plane Pr0n. The tailgunner position of the Memphis Bell[e]. For pity's sake, Jack. Like you've *never* had a typo!

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If you are *still* looking for something to do - try Jay's Sunday Funnies over at Stop The ACLU.

Probably last, but not least: Snerk!

From RedState.org.

by John on Oct 09, 2005

October 07, 2005

Continuing the assault on...

...the Mother Church's hold on scripture started by Gutenberg (down Jim, down big fella!) we offer up these tidbits of new versions of the bible, making Scripture accessible for all! Plus, ain't it grand, that no one is going to send a hit squad with dull knives to saw off my head for publishing these...?)

Starting with:

It's the new txtament, mate By Nick Squires in Sydney (Filed: 07/10/2005)

Not content with a Strine version of the Bible, Australia has translated the Old and New Testaments into text message language.

"In da Bginnin God cre8d da heavens & da earth," the SMS (short message service) version begins. "Da earth waz barren, wit no 4m of life; it waz unda a roaring ocean cuvred wit dRkness."

The Bible Society in Australia, which has produced the translation, hopes that young people will send their family or friends verses which can be accessed free over the internet.

But older people may feel that the text version lacks the gravitas and elegance of the original.

"The old days when the Bible was available only in a sombre black cover with a cross on it are long gone," Michael Chant, of the Bible Society, said. "We want to open it up for people of all ages, backgrounds and interests and the SMS version is a logical extension of that."

The idea came from the son of a society employee in Sydney and it took one person a month to convert the entire New and Old Testaments into SMS text.

Mr Chant said that biblical words of wisdom could be sent to comfort a friend or relative.

"Other people might just want to send a daily Bible recording to themselves to meditate on while they are on the bus or having their lunch," he said.

But wait! There's more!

The Virgin Mary is a "pretty special sheila" who wraps her nipper in a bunny rug and tucks him up in a cattle feed trough, according to a new Australian version of the Bible. The Three Wise Men are "eggheads from out east" who follow a star to find the baby Jesus and announce their arrival with: "G'day, Your Majesty!" The Good Samaritan is a "grubby old street sweeper" who patches up the victim of a highway robbery with his first aid kit, then drops him off at the nearest pub.


And shoot, I missed this version on the big tables at Sam's Club:

'Erotic' pictures to bring Bible back into fashion By Jessica Berry (Filed: 27/05/2001)

A GLOSSY magazine-style version of the Old Testament, featuring leading models pictured by the world's leading fashion photographers, will be unveiled later this year.

Claudia Schiffer and Markus Schenkenberg are the models expected to portray Eve and Adam in a project designed to attract young people who rarely read the bible.

Gustaf-Wilhelm Hellstedt, one of four Swedish entrepreneurs behind the idea, said: "Forget those old sketches in the Bible. Instead of a boring drawing of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, we may well have a couple walking down a New York street, kissing."

And this one! I missed this one, too!

A BIBLE for bikers in which Christ's blood is compared to the oil in a motorbike will be released by the Bible Society later this month.

The idea is that of Alan Lowther, an atheist turned Christian minister, president of the Christian Motorcyclists' Association and the "driving force" behind the new Manual for Life.

The Bible Society, whose patrons include the Queen and Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, says the version of the New Testament will "make Scripture more real and appealing to this sub-culture".

It uses the controversial Contemporary English Version of the New Testament which critics last year denounced as the "soap opera" Bible for its simplified prose. On the cover is a colourful collage of motorcycles and the message: "Discover the freedom of the open road."


by John on Oct 07, 2005

September 30, 2005

Stuff bumping around in my head today.

Here's a little story I'd missed... More interesting to me is Dr. Weevil's take on it, and his commenters response.

New Zealand's Government is relying on the "we're small, and we'll be nice to everybody" system of defense. You can do that when, in your heart of hearts, you know that if a *real* threat should show up, your northern cousin would send a carrier battlegroup or two, and a Marine amphib group, while your cousins on the Big Island to the West would probably do some dying buying time for you.

Which is no reflection on the New Zealand Armed Forces - the soldiers and sailors of Kiwi-land I've worked with are as fine a group of warriors as has ever taken up arms. Not dissing the aviators - just never worked with any! They've been reduced to what some want the USAF (or at least TRANSCOM) to become - a logistical/rescue force that would be Air FEMA. (A role they are already fully capable of, btw).

A little historical trivia:

1707 Austrians storm Gaeta, seizing it from the Spanish. I find this interesting, since Gaeta is in Italy, not Austria, or Spain.

1938 Munich Agreement: Czechoslovakia surrenders Sudentenland to
Germany. Which, in the end, didn't help. Let's hope 67 years from now we don't have an entry on my not-yet-born grandchild's blog that says...

2005 Gaza Agreement: Israel surrenders Gaza to Palestinian Authority. No, the situations are not exactly parallel... but it does indicate the level of risk that Israel is taking. It's a good thing, based on past performance of the Armies in question, that her enemies are Arab.

Strategy Page has some other interesting info today.

A little Iraq analysis.

In light of that bit - what should we make of *this* analysis? This highlights the problems decision makers face - how to reconcile all these competing views. I can tell you from working in a fusion cell - what's obvious in retrospect is anything other in real-time. H/t, Ry.

And a hoot of a video! Apparently this guy has a very accommodating significant other, as his grip strength is pretty weak. *Naughty Word Warning*

Jay at Stop the ACLU has a poll for you. *Very* Unscientific, but, hey, - it's a blog! I voted for strict constructionist, as passe' as that concept is.

Bob Owens takes on Sarah Brady over at Confederate Yankee, over the Brady Campaigns new advertising campaign... in Europe. Timely post, that is. Why? You should read SWWBO's post about her discussion of American governance with Brits in Bristol (where SWWBO is this week). Why? Because, at least in her limited sample, Brits are every bit as ignorant of the US as Euro's (and Weenie Elites in the US) claim we are about... them.

Then there's this...

BTW - Who Knocked Up Sam?

by John on Sep 30, 2005

September 15, 2005

Big Gun Pr0n

The Arsenal at Argghhh! is more than small arms. We have grenades, mines, maces for trench raiding, comfort items... etc. We also have a relatively decent assortment of artillery ammunition (it *is* after all, the ammunition that is the true weapon).

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We even know where we can get one of these:

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The dummy training projectile for the Iowa-class battleships. They're in Idaho, and at around 1800 pounds each, they'd be a tad expensive to ship.

More importantly, perhaps, we don't have the proper gear in the Arsenal to schlep 'em around, either (including the surly sailor!).

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But someday... someday, when the dream tower on the bluff overlooking the river is built... I'll get *two* to flank the driveway!

Oh, and I should caveat, all of this is in compliance with the Standard Disclaimers®.

And for all these reasons and more... the nomination of Judge Roberts is important to both sides of the debate. Why? Because things like the New Orleans rather arbitrary confiscation of firearms are going to end up before the court.

by John on Sep 15, 2005
» Alphecca links with: Hey, Big Boy...
» Unpartisan.com Political News and Blog Aggregator links with: Democrats shift focus in court fight
» NIF links with: Another Today
» Don Surber links with: The First Katrina Lawsuit
» PatriotVoices links with: Farewell to most powerful ICBM

August 21, 2005

Supporting the Military... Part 1

Part 1. How to Support the Military, if what you want to do is *not* support the Military... and, indeed, wrap up a whole buncha stuff ya wanna castigate in one, neat little package.

I'm a San Francisco City Supervisor. I want to demonstrate my support for the military.

Hmmm. Where to start, where to start, where to start?

Okay. I know! I know!

Let's start here. We'll say "no" to docking the USS Iowa as a museum and memorial.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., a former San Francisco mayor, helped secure $3 million to tow the Iowa from Rhode Island to the Bay Area in 2001 in hopes of making touristy Fisherman's Wharf its new home.

But city supervisors voted 8-3 last month to oppose taking in the ship, citing local opposition to the Iraq war and the military's stance on gays, among other things.

"If I was going to commit any kind of money in recognition of war, then it should be toward peace, given what our war is in Iraq right now," Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi said.

Feinstein called it a "very petty decision."

"This isn't the San Francisco that I've known and loved and grew up in and was born in," Feinstein said.

San Francisco's maritime museum already has one military vessel _ the USS Pampanito, an attack submarine that sank six Japanese ships during World War II and has about 110,000 visitors a year.

See! See! Fooey on you military guyz! *That's* how I support the military! I don't! Neener neener neener! Wow! I'm gonna dine out on this for *months!*

Snerk. Twits with no vision, I say. So wrapped up in short-term thinking and their own predjudices, they can't think outside the box, and instead, give us the same tired old refrain, over and over again. So do the Rolling Stones, but at least they're entertaining.

Heh. Why wouldn't they want the Iowa?

Good lord, I'd have thought they'd have *jumped* at the chance to have the Iowa. For *exactly* the reasons they cited they *didn't* want it!

They could have turned it into a huge, pink/rainbow colored floating museum castigating war, rumors of war, and homophobia! All with an artifact wrapped in gauzy remembrances of same.

Good lord, Dudes, you are *not* strategic thinkers! Drop me a line, the firm I work for specializes in that kind of stuff.

Oh, wait. Never mind. We *also* do work for the military, so, nah. We are a very progressive firm on Rainbow issues, however. We managed to reconcile the two, which you guys can't. Snerk.

Anyway -

You could have shown how the diversion of the immense amount of resources to build the ship affected impoverished children starving in Appalachia! And probably was responsible for the famine in Biafra in the 70's - and that probably led to the rise of Islamofacism!

Hey, c'mon, you don't need any real causal link - it just has to seem possible, and show right wing politics and economics in a Bad Light®, right?

You could have shown how it was used to kill poor Japanese soldiers who were merely responding to America's economic tyranny, forcing them to go to war for natural resources. Not to mention that when those rounds landed, they damaged the ecosystem and Disturbed Small Critters®! All the Japanese wanted was some wood, rubber, and coal - and here we forced them to conquer half of Asia for it - when if we had only properly embraced gov't funded mass transportation, we wouldn't have needed all that rubber and petroleum... which the Japanese could have had. And then the timber! Why, if we all lived in nice, enviro-friendly arcologies, we wouldn't have had that wasteful sprawl, either (more on that later!). And if we hadn't fought the Japanese, well, we wouldn't have made The Bomb®, either, right?

Bad enough the Iowa was used to kill those poor Japanese! At least they were capitalist pigs themselves, only worthy of support when we can Bash America®!

But then, *then!*, the Iowa was used to kill North Korean peasants and their Chinese brothers, Good Communist Peasants® all, who were simply trying to shine the bright light of Maoism to those poor, benighted, *gasp* capitalist-running-dogs of South Koreans, Lickspittle Sidekicks® of the American Hegemonists®! Heck, if the Iowa was a good ship, she'd have turned her guns on them! And those bassid 'Muricans in there with 'em!

Thankfully, this horrible machine of evil didn't hurt any of Uncle Ho's® children, but that shouldn't have stopped you guys from devoting some berthing space to how horrible we were in Vietnam - besides, some other Iowa-class BB's *did* shoot at Uncle Ho's® kids, so yer kewl there, too!

And then, you can highlight how the Iowa was used (the horror!) in Desert Storm - and this is a beaut - and therefore was responsible for Operation Iraqi Freedom - which we hateses, we does - so the ship is in fact the root of all that is Eeeeevilllll in the world, and it was The Chimp's® father who sent it there! And we hateses the Bush we does! Hateses it!

But wait! There's more!

You can do the whole Turret Fire thing. You can spin it as Gaia's Revenge®! Karmic Balance®! The ship *knew* she was being used for Eeevviiiillllll and tried to take herself out. And this is the Piéce de Resistance! You can slam the Navy for shoddy investigation, and the a$$-covering framing of an Innocent Man®, and they did it with a disgusting display of homophobia, by spinning the tale that Gunner's Mate Hartwig* killed himself and 46 others because he was broken-up over a Failed Gay Relationship®!


But wait! There's More!

C'mon, admit it - you guys really really really despise us Red Staters and hell, even Blues in the Flyover. Face it, If You Ain't Coastal, You Ain't Hip®! You can use one of the mess facilities on board for exhibits that show how Iowa, and other states like it, should be depopulated and allowed to Return to Nature®, with African Wildlife Reserves established, so that the Great Plains can become The World Zoo, and, following the instructions of the Sainted Native American® (oops, well, not exactly Native American®) Ward Churchill, only Native Americans (and select, properly screened Blue People®, of course) to occupy the land. But - even better - you'll keep the states as states, but now, only populated by Blue State Approved People®, you will *own* the Senate! And we inconvenient Red Staters can reopen Manzanar (as the Donella Meadows Arcology and Education Center - ooo, a double-entendre even!) and be bused in to clean houses and stuff while we get re-educated. And you can sneak in stuff about why Manzanar for Japanese Americans was Bad®, but under your administration would be Good®!

Hmmm. I guess I'm glad you guys have no Vision® after all.

Besides, the Bay Area already has the USS Hornet and USS Pampanito, which vessel you have seem before as the USS Stingray.

However, if you'd like to help the Veterans of the Iowa keep the ship in San Francisco (they seem a little miffed about Stockton), go visit them here!

*The author intends no disrespect to Gunners Mate Hartwig or his 46 comrades who died in the fire on the Iowa. Sometimes satire gets rough to make a point.

by John on Aug 21, 2005
» EagleSpeak links with: USS Iowa Banned from San Francisco, Moves to Stock
» Don Surber links with: SF to the USA: Drop Dead
» Mudville Gazette links with: Dawn Patrol
» Kerfuffles links with: Shunned By San Francisco

August 18, 2005

On Constitutions, as in The Land, Law of, Basic, 1 ea.

Pardon me if I have trouble understanding the current angst over the difficulties the Iraqis are having in establishing a satisfactory Constitution to govern the basic operational principles of the nation.

Hmmmm. They've just been through a period of despotic tyranny, which ended by war.

They struggled through getting an interim government established, to handle basic needs, while they set to the task of designing a more permanent, and hopefully durable system of government that takes into account the needs of a disparate population, while emphasizing certain common cultural elements.

Hopefully this will result in a less abusive and corrupt, if in comparison inherently 'less stable' government than that extant prior to the war.

Where have we seen something similar? Not an exactly parallel, granted with major, major differences, not least in cultures and cultural approaches to problem solving, but still, similar.

Hmmmmmm. Why does the date 1781 keep floating up.

How about The Founding?

Even though it seems to not be covered in basic high school education anymore, given what I read from college student ramblings at places like DU and Kos, the United States has had two different bodies of law to lay out governance at the Federal level.

The first, interim set, was called The Articles of Confederation and went into effect March 1, 1781, when ratified by Maryland.

We then replaced the Articles with the Constitution on June 21, 1788, when New Hampshire ratified the document.

The two were generally drawn up by the same people, allowing for natural attrition and politics, yet they *are* fundamentally different documents, with the second reflecting the results of a long period of discussion leading to a generalized consensus, informed by the lessons learned from dealing with the weaknesses of the original, interim document.

Federalist and Anti-Federalist Papers, anyone?

Even with the Marvels of Modern Communications®, is it really reasonable to expect that we are going to arrive at a perfect document so fast? And remember, going into the period of the Articles, we had had the period of the colonies working together from 1775-1781 as a prelude to the difficulties of working together. Anyone remember the travails of getting the Declaration of Independence written? And that, in order to succeed, left intact the near-fatal fruit of slavery, which was to bedevil us for almost a century, and a great Civil War, beyond the Declaration?

What? Nations spring fully-formed from the forehead of Zeus, like Athena? I think not. It is both the rank arrogance of the politicos, pundits, bureaucrats, combined with an appalling lack of historical perspective that leads anyone to expect that what we are trying to do with Iraq is going to be all cool and rosy once they get this document established.

It will be, at best, an interim document. And it is going to take them every bit as long to come to a more-smoothly functioning system of governance than they have now. We should just be happy if it keeps them so busy they don't have time to engage in mischief.

I add myself to the list of arrogant pundits. But I think I've at least got some historical perspective...

I ramble on in the Flash Traffic/Extended Entry, if anyone cares.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows »

by John on Aug 18, 2005
» Mudville Gazette links with: Dawn Patrol
» The World According to Nick links with: The RINO Hunt Is On!
» Searchlight Crusade links with: Links and Minifeatures 08 22 Monday (Part I?)

August 06, 2005

Continuing a discussion that started over at Boots and Sabers...

[This was a discussion of morality and warfare that started over at Boots and Sabers - back in January 2004. Since today is the 60th Anniversary of the Dropping of The Bomb, I'm going to rerun this, since it encapsulates my thought on the subject. Sorry JMH, *another* re-run! I have fixed some typos and blockquotes.] Oops. Comments are open now, too.

This post initially started out as a 'comment' on Owen's post on morality and war, and the comment stream that went with it. It obviously got out of control... I sent it to Owen and he posted it - and as it's about the longest screed I've done, I decided to post it here, as well. Except for a few typo corrections, it's the same at both sites.

Here is the post and comments that started it. [Original post is no longer there]

This is my response.


Hmmmm. Let's throw a former targeteer and other kinds of military planner thought into this discussion.

Owen of Boots and Sabers opened the discussion with this observation:

It seems to me that once a state of war exists, the only moral way to fight it is to employ the best weaponry and tactics to bring about victory while minimizing casualties on your side. In other words, the debate shouldn’t be about what weapon was used to kill the enemy, but rather was it the best weapon to use and was the target a tactically and/or strategically sound one.

As a targeteer and planner, I can live with this sentiment as expressed - except that it is incomplete and ignores the fact that absent a Carthaginian ending, there will be an aftermath to the war.

For example, the question about whether or not the US should have nuked Japan during WWII should focus on whether the targets were valid and whether the nuclear bombs were the most effective means of destroying those targets.

Okay so far, however arguable the underlying assumptions may be (I'll get to Stefan in a bit). Valid is a slippery word here. They were legal military targets. In isolation, you can argue whether the weapon-target pairing was justified for the target - which is how most people who are against it argue. But you have to take into account the strategic context of the target set. I'll address that later, too.

In the end, once you have decided that an enemy must die, the choice of sticking them in the gut with your bayonet or dropping napalm on them from 6,000 feet is a tactical choice, not a moral one.

Here, I start to disagree more loudly. Moral choices abound. The (lumping a whole bunch of law and culture into one pot for convenience's sake) Law of Land Warfare, and pure prudence dictate that you take into consideration the means you are going to use to achieve your ends. Second- and third-order effects should always be taken into account when doing the target-method of attack pairings, or you may destroy the target but suffer even greater consequences as a result.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows »

by John on Aug 06, 2005

August 01, 2005

Pugnacious Stupidity: Brit Police Edition...

Brit police, in an astoundingly dense rule laid down to show respect for Muslims whilst (heh) breaking in and searching their homes...

...will now do it in [drumroll, please] ...stockinged feet.

Someone please tell me this is a Sun Online satire piece...


{scene shifts}

News Item: New Home Office proposed legislation: Ownership of Jacks is now prohibited in the United Kingdom.

{scene shifts}

Jihadi feverishly searching Ebay. "Allahu Akbar! I found what we seek!"

Caltrops.

"But Achmed - we can get them here, no problem!"


Heh. Even the Arsenal at Argghhh! has three different types of caltrop.

Puh-leeze.


H/t, Jim C.

by John on Aug 01, 2005
» Confederate Yankee links with: And Now For Something...
» Mudville Gazette links with: Dawn Patrol
» Mudville Gazette links with: Dawn Patrol
» Banter in Atlanter links with: You Have Got to Be Kidding

July 24, 2005

How do you tell you *don't* live in an Army town?

I covered how to tell you *do* in this post.

Here's how to tell if you probably don't. People have to send out press releases (even to medium traffic milbloggers) like this:

>>> "I LOVE AMERICA" ART EXHIBIT To counter anti-American art Featured at Attorney General's Office

>>> Pro-American Art Exhibit & Rally
Downtown Sacramento, 13th & I Streets - Thursday, July 28 3:30 - 10:00
PM


(SACRAMENTO) - The controversy surrounding the display of an anti-American, anti-military, anti-Christian "art" exhibit at the publicly-funded California Department of Justice building in downtown Sacramento will take a turn in a different direction this week.

The offensive anti-American art can be seen here.

Move America Forward, a non-profit organization based in Sacramento, California that supports our troops and their heroic fight against terrorism (website: www.MoveAmericaForward.org) will be organizing a pro-American counter art exhibit, titled, "I LOVE AMERICA" on the sidewalks outside of the anti-American exhibit.

"The offensive material displayed at the Department of Justice building sends the message to the terrorists around the world that American morale is low. Having just returned from Iraq I can tell you that our soldiers and Marines reported that every anti-American news story is used as a rallying cry by the terrorist insurgents as evidence that they are winning the war for hearts and minds," said Melanie Morgan, Chairman of Move America Forward.

"We are not saying people do not have a right to produce and display such offensive art, but it should not be sponsored by a taxpayer funded official and displayed in a taxpayer funded building. Does the Attorney General not have any shame by promoting a display that undermines American forces when we are in an armed conflict in the war on terrorism?" asked Morgan.

While the Attorney General has tried to distance his involvement in the affair, Move America Forward has obtained the press release showing Lockyer's sponsorship of the exhibit. Lockyer said he was "honored" to sponsor the exhibit, praising the display's "style" and "beauty"

See Press Release Here.

"Instead of simply protesting that the display is in a taxpayer funded facility, and sponsored by the taxpayer funded Attorney General and California Arts Council, we wanted to do something pro-active and positive. And that's when we came up with the idea for the 'I LOVE AMERICA' art exhibit," Morgan said.

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
PRO-AMERICAN ART EXHIBIT: "I LOVE AMERICA"
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

The "I LOVE AMERICA" art exhibit will be featured in front of the California Department of Justice building (located at 1300 I Street in Downtown Sacramento) from 3:30 PM to 10:00 PM this Thursday, July 28, 2005. The pro-American art exhibit will be directly in front of the offensive exhibit on display on the first floor of the California Department of Justice building.

Members of the public are invited to contribute their own artwork to the exhibit. Move America Forward asks that entries be approximately 8.5" x 11" and be accompanied with a note of support for our troops serving in Iraq & fghanistan, either on the back or on a separate piece of paper.

After the display is taken down Thursday night, Move America Forward will pack each individual display, along with note of support to our troops, and will ship them to the men and women serving in Iraq and Afghanistan as a morale booster.

Each piece of artwork will be accompanied by a shipment of premium ground coffee and cookies as part of Move America Forward's "Cookies & Coffee for Our Troops" program. Local Sacramento coffee roaster, Cornerstone Coffee, is the official coffee supplier for this program.

Move America Forward and Sacramento radio host, Mark Williams of KFBK 1530 Sacramento, will be the hosts of this event, however we are working with talk radio hosts from around the country to promote the exhibit.

Already, artwork has been arriving from around the nation. The very first piece arrived via overnight mail from Key West, Florida with a poignant message in support of our troops.

= = = = = = = = = = =
PRO-AMERICAN RALLY
= = = = = = = = = = =

Additionally hundreds of people are expected for a pro-America rally that will take place simultaneous to the art exhibit.

The rally will take place in front of the California Department of Justice building at 1300 I Street in Downtown Sacramento (corner of 13th and I streets).

Participants are invited to bring American flags, and signs showcasing their support for our troops and America's heritage of democracy and liberty.

"We want to send a message heard round the world that Americans stand united with our troops and the fight against terrorism. And we want to make it very clear that those who constantly howl about how bad they think our nation is are but a very small minority," Melanie Morgan said.

The event will also be carried live on KFBK 1530 AM in Sacramento from 7:00 PM until 10:00 PM on Thursday, July 28.

For more information on these two events visit www.MoveAmericaForward.org.

Also, details of the "I LOVE AMERICA" art exhibit and pro-American rally will be discussed from 5:00 AM to 9:00 AM each day on the "Lee Rodgers & Melanie Morgan Show" on KSFO 560 AM in northern California and during the evenings from 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM on Mark William's "Night Talk Live" on KFBK 1530 AM.

CONTACT: Mark Washburn
Mark@REMOVETHISMoveAmericaForward.org or (916) 441-6197

Edited to create hyperlinks.

Members of the public are invited to contribute their own artwork to the exhibit. Move America Forward asks that entries be approximately 8.5" x 11" and be accompanied with a note of support for our troops serving in Iraq & fghanistan, either on the back or on a separate piece of paper.

If any of the Castle Readership would like to create some art I encourage you to do so - and if you can put it into digits, I'll post them here, too. If you can only do it in time to get to them - send it to them! If you make some thing that can't get there in time - send it along. If we get anything, we'll put it up!

by John on Jul 24, 2005

July 07, 2005

Compare and contrast:

George Galloway, Buffoon, MP, Fallujah:

We extend our condolences to those who have lost their lives today and our heartfelt sympathy to all those who have been injured by the bombs in London.

No one can condone acts of violence aimed at working people going about their daily lives. They have not been a party to, nor are they responsible for, the decisions of their government. They are entirely innocent and we condemn those who have killed or injured them.

The loss of innocent lives, whether in this country or Iraq, is precisely the result of a world that has become a less safe and peaceful place in recent years.

We have worked without rest to remove the causes of such violence from our world. We argued, as did the Security Services in this country, that the attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq would increase the threat of terrorist attack in Britain. Tragically Londoners have now paid the price of the government ignoring such warnings.

We urge the government to remove people in this country from harms way, as the Spanish government acted to remove its people from harm, by ending the occupation of Iraq and by turning its full attention to the development of a real solution to the wider conflicts in the Middle East.

Only then will the innocents here and abroad be able to enjoy a life free of the threat of needless violence.

George, you ignorant putz. Oh, not really. You are honest. Once bought, you stay bought, eh?

"Only then will the innocents here and abroad be able to enjoy a life free of the threat of needless violence."

Ah, George, you clever man. The 'innocents abroad' in Iraq who died at the hands of your pal and mentor, Saddam Hussein, they were just the victims of "needful violence," in order to preserve the perks and style of your buddies regime, eh?


Compare George vice the Socialist Mayor of London, Ken Livingston:

"I want to say one thing, specifically to the world today — this was not a terrorist attack against the mighty and the powerful, it was not aimed at presidents or prime ministers, it was aimed at ordinary, working-class Londoners, black and white, Muslim and Christian ... young and old … that isn't an ideology, it isn't even a perverted fate, it is an indiscriminate attempt at mass murder."

"They seek to divide London, they seek Londoners to turn against each other ... this city of London is the greatest in the world because everybody lives side by side in harmony. Londoners will not be divided by this cowardly attack."

"I know that you personally do not fear to give your own life in exchange to taking others ... but I know you do fear you may fail in your long-term objective to destroy our free society ... in the days that follow, look at our airports, look at our seaports and look at our railway stations ... you will see that people from the rest of Britain, people from around the world, will arrive in London to become Londoners, to fulfill their dream and achieve their potential … whatever you do, however many you kill, you will fail."

Way to rise to the occasion, sir. Much more Winnie-like than Mr. Blair, too.

Update: It occurs to me, that today, in London - more "avatars of ourselves" are having that brief, shining, transcendent moment. The everyday heroes.

by John on Jul 07, 2005

July 01, 2005

Fusileer Alert! and other stuff.

Geldof and Co. will be having Live8. Let's face it, they're going to raise scads of cash. But there *is* an event competing for your dollars... and I encourage you to drop by Brainshavings, and plan on leaving a little cash with a fundraiser that will benefit the troops at the "Rear Echelon" blog-a-thon!

Publicola notes we have Buy A Gun Day, National Ammo Day, but no day to shoot all that ammo through all those guns, so he proposes American Range Trip Day, to take all those guns out and burn that ammo. He proposes the day of June 23rd, to mark the day the Supreme Court told Ms. Kelo that her house was only hers as long as some developer didn't want it, too bad, so sad. I say, let's not wait a year, go ahead and spend *this* years allocation this weekend! And write letters to your state officials about Eminent Domain abuse. Back to the subject... Publicola notes - any day that ends in "y" is a good day to go shoot!

In fact, I sent Publicola a note suggesting July 4th for this year - but, as you can see, he was pretty adamant about waiting until June 23rd next year... but to, well, prepare.

John, It's a date specific thing. A month ago if I'd have had this idea I would have went for April 19th. But since SCOTUS handed down Kelo on June 23rd I figure that's the most appropriate date we have at the moment. I know it'll be almost a year till the first ART day, but that'll give us that much more time ot get the word out. & of course I always recommend going to the range before you plan on going to the range just to make sure everything's cool, followed by going to the range after you've gone to the range to make sure everything was in fact cool. :)

take care,

Publicola

Works for me!

Mr. Completely offers up some Gun Pr0n!

TFS Magnum points out a disappointed District Attorney, but an un-raped abused wife.

If you've not visited the Blogging Babes of the Cotillion... well, perhaps you should?

Like Say Uncle - I really don't like people like this. And I *really* despise officious petty officialdom like these dolts Denise at The Ten Ring ran into.

In case you missed it, there's been some tut-tutting in the world about USGov response to an alleged Iranian Hostage Taker, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, being elected (such as elections work in Iran) President. The usual suspects in the MSM, in this specific instance, NBC's Brian Williams, pointing out that Presidents Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe were all, in the eyes of the British Crown at the time, equivalent characters - i.e., terrorists. I could go on about it - but Callimachus at Done With Mirrors has done so already.

Dean Esmay types a defense of Robert Heinlein's works - all I have to add is that Heinlein's Rocket Ship Galileo started me on seriously reading fiction, and hooked me on science fiction (c'mon, kids build backyard rocket for eccentric man - only to find Nazi's on the Moon... and use a Garand to conquer - what's not to like?) , when I was in the 6th grade, just as Russell Davis' Marine at War (personal memoir of the war in the Pacific, and better'n anything Manchester wrote, if only because it's all true...) twigged me to history, while in the 5th grade.

Greyhawk looks back at a year of combat in Iraq...

This will annoy somebody... Dittoes, Dean, regarding the UN.

Fallout from Kelo - both sides: Happy to pillage for dollars via The Agitator... and in building defenses against, via Say Uncle. For the record - I think the legislative remedy is the way to go.

Another soldier balladeer. Luke Stricklin.

Matt has probably already covered these guys... but here are three more soldiers you should know: Sgts. 1st Class Bradly M. Felix and Roger G. Watts, and Staff Sgt. David G. Colucci, all assigned to the 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne). Silver Star awardees.

And after Fallujah? The enemy is relying more and more on remote attacks and suicide bombers... which increases the casualties among the civilians... which is causing more and more civlians to help out with information. Now is *not* the time to set a hard date for withdrawal. Feel free to recall a few retirees to give the young 'uns a break...

An interesting Op-Ed in the NYT on how to proceed in Iraq. Food for thought.

Trying to influence the influencers...


by John on Jul 01, 2005
» Boudicca's Voice links with: Great Causes for our Troops
» PajamaHadin links with: Live8 celebrity benefit against poverty in Africa

June 28, 2005

Heh. Just, heh.

Ted Kennedy's plan for Iraq.

Hat tip, Jim C.

In other news... Well, carp. On the plus side, you can see why Dusty joined the team, we think along similar lines, but with different approaches. On the minus side, bassid steals the post I built for tomorrow!


The proposed development, called "The Lost Liberty Hotel" will feature the "Just Desserts Café" and include a museum, open to the public, featuring a permanent exhibit on the loss of freedom in America. Instead of a Gideon's Bible each guest will receive a free copy of Ayn Rand's novel "Atlas Shrugged."

And heh, again.

Hat tip, Mike L, anyway!

I'll replace it with this thought and data blurb. Some of the drumbeat amongst the anti-war and wobbly politicos on this side of the water has been about setting a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq. Which, I believe, is *exactly* the wrong approach, for lots of reasons.

The better model, I believe, is setting conditions for withdrawal. Essentially the Northern Ireland model. It's no coincidence or accident that the Iraqis, Brits and the US are talking to the insurgents. Unless we're willing to kill 'em all (not likely, and Not a Good Idea, anyway), they *have* to be brought into the process - and in order to get them into the process, you have to address at least *some* of their concerns. Then you can drive wedges into the insurgency, and start to bring some of 'em to the table... and the hard core, well, they just get more and more isolated. In the end, that is an issue that the Iraqis will have to settle.

So, set conditions - something like this list below - and we aren't there yet -but it's a point of departure and discussion. This is from the official daily email the Army sends out to leaders (and anyone, like me, who wants to subscribe to it via Army Knowledge Online).

As I noted in my first post of the day - we didn't build a functioning government in a year after we won the Revolution, gee, surprise, neither have the Iraqis. But there *is* progress... and we *are* trying other paths than just shooting everybody, regardless of what the anti-war left, and wobbly right-wingers think.

IRAQ SUCCESS

One year ago today, sovereignty was returned to Iraq and its people. The Coalition Provisional Authority was dissolved and leadership was handed over to an interim Iraqi government. Over the past year, Iraq has seen many successes in its development, despite the continuous attacks and violence.

As stated by the Department of Defense, there are four key components which are vital to continued success. Each of the four are listed below with examples of successes.

1. A secure environment free of the threats posed by insurgents, extremists and others who aim to disrupt progress.
Successes:
* Coalition and Iraqi operations are disrupting terrorist sanctuaries, such as Fallujah, and keeping them on the run.
* In less than a year, Iraqi Regular Army and Intervention Forces grew from one operational battalion in July 2004 to 107 operational battalions in June 2005.
* Seven basic police academies are now operational; together, they train over 3,500 new police officers from the 8-week course each month.
* Thirteen provincial SWAT teams have been trained and equipped. Three more teams are in training, and seven more are scheduled to complete training by August 2005.

2. A representative government with its associated government institutions in place.
Successes:
* The National Assembly was elected and seated in Aug 2004.
* More than 8 million people defied terrorist threats and voted in the January election.
* The Transitional National Assembly met for the first time on March 16, 2005, and Iraq's Transitional Government leaders were sworn in May 4, 2005.
* The elected leaders are drafting a constitution, which Iraqis will vote on by October 15.
* Under the new constitution, a permanent government will be elected on December 15.

3. Improved infrastructure and economic opportunity that gives the Iraqi people essential services such as electricity and water, as well as the jobs necessary to provide for their families.
Successes:
* The Baghdad Stock Exchange opened for trading on June 24, 2004.
* At the New Iraqi Dinar (NID) auction June 20, the settlement price was 1,465 dinars per USD. Nineteen banks offered and sold a total of NID 67.92 billion ($46.36 million).
* On June 20, the Iraqi government announced that it had signed a bilateral agreement with Canada canceling $470 million of Iraq's debt, amounting to 80 percent of Canada's claims against Iraq.
* There have been 26,785 new Iraqi businesses established.
* A total of over 2,000 megawatts of power have been added to the grid (enough to service 5.4M Iraqi homes).
* The three major cell phone companies in Iraq continue to enroll new subscribers at healthy rates. As of June 15, there were 2,683,024 active cellular subscribers in Iraq.
* Construction is underway on 142 new primary health care facilities across Iraq.
* 3,105 schools have been renovated and another 950 schools are currently under rehabilitation.

4. A system of communications in which the Iraqis-not the coalition or international community-communicate their nation's goals and aspirations to the Iraqi people.
Successes:
* Iraqi President Talabani met with more than 30 prominent individuals from the Diyala Province and confirmed that all Sunnis should be unified and participate in the next election. He called for the unity of all sects to have a successful political process.
* In June, Constitutional Dialogue program facilitators reached out to hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, encouraging them to discuss topics linked to the constitutional process while seeking their input for the TNA Constitutional Committee in charge of drafting the Iraq constitution.

Just sayin'

by John on Jun 28, 2005
» TacJammer links with: Getting Out

Morning reads.

First up - go right to Lt Prakash at ArmorGeddon and spend just under 8 minutes of your day watching SPC Roby blow up an IED. While you are there, show me the tired, dispirited, low morale soldiers I read about over at Kos, wouldja? Way to go, SPC Roby! But, dude - you were shooting short! If you are in an office with delicate ears, turn down your sound. No gore - but lots of typical soldier talk. And ya know what that means... H/T the Admiral of the Moat Fleet!

And speaking of patrolling in Iraq - Michael Yon has a new bit up - The Feathers.

The guys at David's Medienkritik put their protest signs where their mouth is - good on ya, Ray!

How can we lose the war? In my post on the subject yesteday, I averred it's lost when we lose it in our hearts, not before. Part and parcel of that - keep paying attention. H/t, Strategy Page.

Interestingly enough - today is the anniversary of the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand and the Countess Sophia, in Sarajevo, the fuze that lit WWI.

It's also the day the Treaty of Versailles was signed, five years later, which lit the fuze for WWII.

Captain E. N. Bennett, speech at a Union of Democratic Control (11th November, 1920)

The fundamental falsehood on which the Versailles Treaty is built is the theory that Germany was solely and entirely responsible for the war. No fair-minded student of the war and its causes can accept this contention; but the propaganda story of Germany's sole guilt has been preached so persistently from pulpit, Press and Parliament that the bulk of our people have come to regard it as an axiomatic truth which justifies the provisions of the most brutal and unjust Treaty in the world's history.

John Maynard Keynes, The Economic Consequences of Peace (1920)

The Treaty includes no provision for the economic rehabilitation of Europe - nothing to make the defeated Central Powers into good neighbours, nothing to stabilise the new States of Europe, nothing to reclaim Russia; nor does it promote in any way a compact of economic solidarity amongst the Allies themselves; no arrangement was reached at Paris for restoring the disordered finances of France and Italy, or to adjust the systems of the Old World and the New.

It is an extraordinary fact that the fundamental economic problem of a Europe starving and disintegrating before their eyes, was the one question in which it was impossible to arouse the interest of the Four. Reparation was their main excursion into the economic field, and they settled it from every point of view except that of the economic future of the States whose destiny they were handling.

Read the rest here. Note that after WWII, the Marshall Plan did exactly what Keynes was talking about - provided for an economic rehabilitation of western Europe. Something the Soviets did *not* do for their side of the wire, with consequences still felt in Germany and Eastern Europe (and dare I say Russia?) today.

Just as we need to honor our obligation to the Iraqis, and not cut and run as we did from the Versailles Treaty (while offering nothing in it's place) after WWI.

It has, after all, only been a year since they stood up a post-Saddam government. Remember how long (from school, dudes, I know we aren't old enough, sheesh!) it took us to get a Constitution written? That whole Federalist/Anti-Federalist thing? 6-7 years? And that was having something else, the Articles of Confederation, to work from...

Just sayin'

Ravenwood makes an interesting observation. Of course, I tend to judge historical figures by their milieu, not current sensibilities. Yes, Lincoln was racist by todays lights. He was, IIRC, for sending freed slaves back to Africa, because he didn't feel they would fit into US society, among other things not unusual to his era. But to slam him for not being a sensitive 90's kind of guy (not what Ravenwood was implying, I'm running with my own idea here) is to completely ignore the fact that he rose above the tenor of his times to do something no one else in power had been willing to do. For that, I extend him great credit, understanding fully it was the press of war that made the Emancipation Proclamation both needful and possible... HE STILL DID IT - he didn't have to, but it *did* serve to take the British out of the equation, and while Ravenwood notes:

Of course he's exactly right. The Emancipation Proclamation only called for the freedom of slaves in Southern states. And given that the South had seceeded from the Union, the order didn't actually free anyone. In fact, by the time Lincoln got around to proclaiming emancipation, the U.S. Congress had already banned slavery in Southern states.

Lincoln still sent a lot of northern white boys and free/d black men down South to make good on the promise. A lot of whom didn't make it back.

Still yet from Ravenwood - gun sniffing dogs. Whoo boy! They'd be all over my cars like stink on poo, too!

Countertop takes the Kelo decision to a "Reductio in Absurdum" level. But it makes ya think, given the way our political system seems to be ruled by the Law of Unintended Consequences...

John Cole, at Balloon Juice, notes sadness at the 100 Acre Wood, and we're not just talking Eeyore.

Zach Wendling at In the Agora has an interesting take on self-defense measures you can take vice Kelo... I would note the Castle has a wetland in front, providing habitat for frogs, birds, fish, toads, squirrels, chipmunks and at least 1 oppossum...

I was going to take a look at the Drill Sergeant abuse story running around now - but I see it's adequately covered over at Outside the Beltway, so I'll send you there, with a "Dittoes, dudes." Abuse doesn't build good soldiers; hard, realistic training does, combined with a tough, caring leadership. Which is always the harder way to lead vice being a terroristic bastard. The reaction of some people brings to mind this thought of Neptunus Lex's that I put up in the post below:

When the sacrifices of the many who fight for us are diminished by an unremitting focus on the failures of the few, sapping the morale of all -

You'd think the Press might 'get' this, seeing as how they whine that Eason Jordan, Blair Whatsisname, Rathergate, etc, do not fairly reflect them and how they truly approach their jobs... yet, we hear this carp from Chris Bowers...

As if the U.S. military didn't have enough scandals going between Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo and the ghost detainees, now we learn it is abusing its own recruits:

Ed Morrissey notes, over at Captain's Quarters:

This story has been known for four months. Within days of the incident, other soldiers reported the abuse, and those involved were relieved of duty. The Army has successfully court-martialed four of the people involved, including the company commander, Captain William Fulton, who got six months of confinement. The recruits were transferred to a different command to complete their training. If the reader gets all the way through the article, he finds out that there were 120 allegations of abuse in all of 2004, resulting in 16 DIs got relieved as a result -- and the rate for 2005 is half of that for last year.

Captain Fulton is a guest at our local facility here in Leavenworth, I believe.

Charmaine Yoest over at Reasoned Audacity is quietly pleased with the Discovery Channel's Greatest American #1 pick was President Reagan. She does admit a sentimental attachment... The list isn't as bad as it could have been (I wonder what it would have been like had it been NPR, not Discovery Channel?) but it does reflect that people know best what they lived through, and that history isn't our strong suit...

Anyway...

Last, but not least this morning... sometimes routine maintenance is just that.

Routine.

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by John on Jun 28, 2005

June 27, 2005

Piling on...

Oh, what the heck, I can be a me too! artist.

Here, for the 6 of you who haven't seen it elsewhere - QandO's Military Insignia Primer.

Don't miss Greyhawk's Dawn Patrol.

Then there's the RINO Sightings Carnival over at Say Uncle.

SWWBO is a Playful Primate! Woo-woo!

Don't miss Blackfive's "How to lose a war"

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Neptunus Lex asks, Could We Lose?

When the service of one's country in a time of need rests increasingly upon the sons and daughters of servicemen (a petri dish for praetorianism), rather than upon the nation's youth at large

When we come to examine cost alone, and not value of accomplishment -

When winning at politics trumps winning at war -

When the sacrifices of the many who fight for us are diminished by an unremitting focus on the failures of the few, sapping the morale of all -

When the public will of the greatest power for good the world has ever known, a country of unprecedented moral, material, economic and military power blanches in the face of the brutality of a sadistic few, betraying its ideals and allies -

Then yes, we could lose.

When I was a wrestler in high school, one of the things I would do getting up for a match would be to pace behind the team seats in an oval, visualizing what horrors I was going to visit upon my opponent, and essentially, chanting a mantra:

I cannot be beaten - I will not lose

I cannot be beaten - on this given day there is no one out there who can defeat me... therefore, I can only beat myself.

I will not lose - because of the first, I must ensure that I don't fail, and in so doing give away victory.

It worked for me. I was a State and AAU champion.

I won't deny, that prior to the March Upcountry, I was not a convinced fan of the invasion. Once we decided to throw the dice however, I was committed to carrying the burden and playing through to the finish - we owed that much to everyone who died, was maimed, or simply wounded - on both sides. We still do.

Right now we seem to be approaching a balance point - at least in the minds of emailers, some commenters, and certainly in the eyes (and seemingly strenuous efforts of) the MSM. And not a few war bloggers and conservatives are starting to go wobbly, too.

It's simple - the Insurgents are hoping to redeem "I cannot be beaten" by ferociously clinging on to "I will not lose." They read their Vietnam Briefing Books. The cling to the belief that the weakspot in American politics still exists, and a huge chunk of that weakspot - the aging 60's types, are still vulnerable to the cut and run - especially when they see, regardless of the external consequences, the path to power resting there. Yes, I do believe that a good chunk of the anti-war left would find a disintegrating Iraq acceptable, if it leads to the White House, and control of Congress. Plus - let's face it, for them, wobbling in the face of a determined enemy is grounds for running away.

Does that mean that we blindly follow the path we've set out on, regardless of consequences? Of course not. But this is not Vietnam.

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Compare that to these graphs, at iCasualties.org (not a fan of the war, but pretty even-handed in their approach).

US Deaths by month.

The Trend-lines (yep, it's up - so what? - that's normal in wartime, the variability)

The point being - thus far, we've accomplished more (never enough, though, eh?) at far less cost on both sides than we ever managed in Vietnam. Simply put - this isn't Vietnam. Yeah, there've been cock-ups galore. That's why Clausewitz called it "friction." But as far as wars go, it's been pretty well run. Good grief, people, read anything that covers the start of any major American (or really, anyone elses) war. We are trying to do this on the cheap, and that has cost us somewhat - but it isn't grounds to surrender merely because the other guy is still mostly murdering his own people... at least the numbers of Iraqis dying at Iraqi hands are generally fewer than were dying under Saddam's tender loving care.

This is only Vietnam if we let it be, in our minds and hearts. This *is* winnable. But we have to stay the course long enough to let the Iraqi government truly establish itself in an environment where that is going to be difficult. And the resulting government is not going to be fully to our liking, either.

One of the biggest differences between this and Vietnam is the absence of Main Force units of another power being in play. The Viet Cong were never the threat romanticism made them out to be. The real enemy in Vietnam was the North Vietnamese government and it's Army. That is a type of player not present in the current conflict, and not likely to show up, either.

However, I do think we are sliding towards a point where we can lose, as in the second half of my mantra. We, the people, are the ones who have to have strength - the political class, in it's increasingly feckless way, is going to bend to the loudest voice. Some say that is democracy - I say it's an ad-hoc way to run a country - but okay, let's play it that way - let's get our voices out there, and heard. Loudly.

One last caveat - I *don't* echo Lex's fears of Praetorianism (of course not, I'm one of *them*!) nor am I fan of the implied draft in the quoted extract, but you don't have to agree with everything he says to agree with his basic premise.

by John on Jun 27, 2005

May 25, 2005

Something to reward you for visiting!

Hindrocket has a good point. Of course, the answer is - good news ain't news. That said, in defense of the MSM... it *is* Memorial Day coming up, not Veterans Day - though they did miss Armed Forces Day, too. Hat tip to the Commissar, who has his own points to make... and we have to Hat Tip to Conservative Thinking for send us to the Commissar in the first place...

Then we there's this:


You don't see these too often!* Hi-Res, click here.


And then there is "Why Soldiers Like UAV's...," courtesy the Israel Defence Force. What you are seeing is some Bad Guys® servicing a mortar firing on Israeli settlements (near the cursor, you'll see some muzzle blast and people scurrying around) who are clueless (and have bad crew drill, anyway) to the fact they are being watched... until the missile arrives.


Oh! Ry - still working it, dude. I keep trying to write a book!

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows »

by John on May 25, 2005

April 12, 2005

Around the web...

We're learning. Mind you, this is how the French were dealing with it in WWI, so we aren't *quick* on the uptake. But we're learning. Combat Stress.

Another horrible accident. This time in Canada. Hat tip to CAPT H. (Alan! This shoulda come from you!)

Army Transformation Efforts. The Asymmetric Warfare Group.

Preparing the RC for War - Lessons Learned in First Army Mobilization Training.

Turkey tries to kiss and make up.

The Chinese are paying attention - and *we're* the threat they talk about in their Threat Briefings...

The Base Realignment and Closure Commission should prove interesting this time 'round. Blue states are probably going to feel some pain. But so will some Red States, especially in the Interior.

The GAO faults Pentagon logisitics preparations and execution. Great article, nothing new - but nicely wrapped up. I'm not so concerned about the early war problems... we're *never* going to be able to maintain a wartime level during sustained periods of low-level activity. And the War Reserve issue... well, the flip side to that is we've been selling off warehouses of surplus War Reserve stockages left over from WWII, Korea, Vietnam and Cold War - that's how Surplus dealers stay in business. I'm less concerned with the level of stockage as I am with the ability to surge production and movement - and the planning and management thereof. The ability to flex, surge, and adapt are the key enablers - and an continuing rolling analysis of requirements is what's needed. Take the body armor shortages - some of that was caused by long lead times because there were insufficient stocks of the right materials - so things like *that* are what should be in strategic stocks, as an example. Not necessarily tens of thousands of rounds of artillery ammunition. Or tents.

Oh, and I nominate Marvin for Denizen status. Anyone second the nomination?

by John on Apr 12, 2005

April 08, 2005

TOWARD A NEW CONCEPTION OF THE CITIZEN SOLDIER

It's long, but eminently skimmable. I really would like to hear your thoughts. Active, Reserver, serving, formerly served, retired. And the rest of you, who would foot the bill. If you would like to have this to forward on to people, either send 'em a link, or drop me a line, I'll forward you the email this comes from.

Moskos is a proponent of a return to the draft. Recognizing that as politically a dead issue, he proposes this solution instead. I think it's worthy of consideration and discussion. If we get a good dialogue going, I'll provide the comments to FPRI to forward to Mr. Moskos.

Bill? This *is* your life, after all - whatcha think? It's long, most of it is in the Flash Traffic/Extended Entry.

Foreign Policy Research Institute 50 Years of Ideas in Service to Our Nation 1955-2005 www.fpri.org

E-Notes
Distributed Exclusively via Fax & Email

TOWARD A NEW CONCEPTION OF THE CITIZEN SOLDIER
by Charles Moskos

April 7, 2005

Charles Moskos is professor emeritus of sociology at Northwestern University. A former U.S. Army draftee in the combat engineers in Germany, his research has taken him to combat units in Vietnam, Panama, Saudi Arabia, Somalia,Haiti,Bosnia, Kosovo,and Iraq. The author of many books and over 200 articles in scholarly journals, his writings have been translated in 19 languages. This essay is based on a presentation at an FPRI conference on "The Future of the Reserves and National Guard," held on December 6, 2004.


TOWARD A NEW CONCEPTION OF THE CITIZEN SOLDIER

by Charles Moskos

The desirable end-strength of our armed forces, especially that of the Army, has become a subject of concern. All agree that the military manpower demands owing to Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) in Afghanistan are causing extraordinary strain. Recruitment and retention shortfalls in the Army is expected to be especially severe in reserve components. Indeed, the Army Reserve is "rapidly degenerating into a broken force" in the words of its top commander in early 2005.

Our focus here will be on the Army Reserve and the Army National Guard, by far the largest of the reserve components (RC) and the forces experiencing the greatest difficulties. As of this writing (January, 2005), RC make up some 40 percent of the military in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Among the Army dead in OIF, about a quarter have been from reserve components.

Survey and interview data collected by the writer in OIF December 2003 found large differences in the morale of the active duty versus the reserve Components. These differences have been widely affirmed in the intervening time. Reservists were markedly more dissatisfied than the active force. But this was not because of the mission itself, but rather due to the reservists' perception of inadequate training and poorer equipment compared to that of the active duty forces. The recurring theme was that reserve components were treated as "second-class" members of the Army.

The rest is in the Flash Traffic below.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows »

by John on Apr 08, 2005

April 07, 2005

News you can use.

"It is the soldier, not the campus organizer, that has given us the freedom to demonstrate," said Adiofel Mark Mendoza, a sophomore from San Diego who came in his ROTC cadet uniform.

Yep

Instapundit adds. Money quote from one of Glenn's emailers, Bart Hall:

The rarely-mentioned dirty secret of it all is that the military are increasingly disinclined to recruit in such places to begin with. They did not push to reinstitute ROTC at places like Harvard and Middlebury because "frankly, we've found that students from such institutions tend to perform poorly as officers," to quote an officer (O-4) in a position to know.
(Hat tip to CAPT H.)

Good on yaz, Perfesser.

Wall Street Journal Op-Ed:

We've never been considered soft on the Clinton Administration or its leading personalities. So we hope we'll have some credibility, especially with our friends on the right, when we say that the misdemeanor plea bargain struck by the Justice Department last week with former National Security Adviser Sandy Berger looks to be a reasonable outcome.

Nope. Dudes - *because* of his prominence, the penalty should be harder. "To whom much is gven , much is expected." I have a *higher* standard of performance for Sandy Berger, not a lesser. I am of the same mind when General Officers get slapped for things lesser mortals come spend time at Leavenworth over. Not Acceptable. Undermines Good Order and Discipline. Sorry, guys. You're Wrong. Yes, the story is perhaps less sinister than it appeared before.

Nonetheless.

I spend long hours where I work because I can't take my classified work home with me. And I know how to turn the documents back in. If I got them from someone else's safe, I give them back, and initial off on the register. It's that simple. The man was smart enough to be the National Security Advisor... but couldn't handle classified? Gimme a break.

I hope the judge smacks him. What Berger did was worse than what Stewart did. And guys, if this was some no-name Sergeant, would you feel this way?

It's worth noting that Mr. Berger will still have to explain his actions to a judge at sentencing--a judge who could reject Justice's recommendation and give him to up a year in jail. We hope the judge does insist on a full explanation of motive. Lesser officials have received harsher penalties for more minor transgressions, so a complete airing of the facts will show the public that justice is being done. But given the minimal damage from the crime, this looks to be a case where prosecutors have shown some commendable restraint against a high-powered political figure.

New topic. Note the complete lack of Irony:

However, a new study gives a more wholesome picture of the invasion, revealing how the far north was colonised by Viking families looking for somewhere new to set up home, especially those from the western seaboard of Norway where fertile land was in short supply.

Kinder, Gentler, Vikings. That Blood Eagle thing? Ah, no worries!

Good. (Hat tip to CAPT H for both Telegraph links)

MetalStorm at Picatinny. They're moving along smartly, these guys are. Link might not work from behind a .mil firewall. There's some good video (you should download it, much better quality than the preview stuff).

This is for Origen Plotinus - if she still visits! A look inside the Swiss Guard. Cool uniforms. If I ever install Men-At-Arms for Castle security...

Can someone explain to me why it's anything other than pandering to the Catholics among their consitutents that Pro-Choice, anti-just-about-everything-he-stood-for Senators Kennedy and Kerry are headed to the Pope's funeral?

Heh. Pardon me if I'm sceptical, Mr. Secretary.

Wondering what all this FCS stuff is about? Try here. It *is* an Army website, so don't expect a whole lot of negativity - but there is a lot of info on what they are trying to accomplish. Feel free to snark away.

Nothing is simple, soldier. See ya in the Sandbox.

Sometimes, timing is everything. Discipline is key. From my perch, justice was served here. Your mileage may vary.

Good Grief! Has this taken long enough?

USA Today April 7, 2005 Pg. 3

Court-Martial Of Army Sergeant Begins

By John Bacon With Staff And Wire Reports

Jury selection began at Fort Bragg, N.C., in the court-martial of a sergeant accused in a grenade attack that killed two U.S. military officers in Kuwait in the early days of the Iraq war. {snippage} It is the first time since the Vietnam War that a soldier has been prosecuted on charges of murder or attempted murder of another soldier during wartime.

This is only fair. If we're doing it to them, they can properly do it to us. Sad that it's come to this, though.

Missed this story. This unit looks like it may have had a serious leadership problem.

The bad guys aren't stupid. They flex and adapt, too. It's a dance.

"Un-American and Immoral," so says the ACLU calling for criminal sanctions against a school board for allowing prayer before a baseball game (scroll down to last item). While that seems a *bit* harsh, you should also see the ACLU's-eye view of it. Looks like some eye-poking going on from both directions. Amazing what a difference *perspective* makes, eh?

by John on Apr 07, 2005

March 03, 2005

RFOs

In the combat planning business we have RFIs, Requests For Information. As bloggers, those expand to RFOs, Requests For Opinions. I have received two of those, so I better get busy!

The first one is easy. The Draft. I am not a fan, though I am open to arguments. One reason I am not a fan is because if we wish to impose a draft - we first need to officially gut check our strategic thought regarding how we are going to go about things - from all out war to peace-keeping. Unfortunately, the nature of politics in a democracy makes that kind of long-range planning difficult. A John Kerry administration is going to have a hugely different strategic paradigm than a Bush administration.

That said - the two articles cited for me were:

Carter and Glastris in the Washington Monthly.

Austin Bay on his website.

Where do I stand? Pretty much in the Austin Bay camp, with room for discussion. Any points I really have to make on the particular point-counterpoint are made by Austin in his response, and the comments are instructive as well.

Okay, second issue. Jack at Random Fate asked me to comment on his post here, where he takes issue with comments Dean Esmay makes in this post.

All in all - I'm with Jack, mostly, though I do think we have the right to a little payback when it's in our interest. And I do like his use of the historical record in defense of his position.

Yes, Allies get to make choices. And they get to live with the consequences. Britain should get favored status for siding with us. France and Germany should get to live with the consequences of their decisions, as well. Fair's fair. I've got friends, and I've got buddies. I don't maltreat my friends - but I invite buddies over for drinks, to wander through the Arsenal, and to party in the comments.

I like Mark Steyn, and value his observations. I also like and admire Dean Esmay (who is a buddy) - but something else is true about blogging and opinion writing - you have to take a stand, and that usually means being pretty stark. That's the difference between Op-Eds and articles. In and of themselves they can spark debate - but if you are always in the mushy middle, there is no reason to debate (Hence, there is often not much debate here... hmmm, good thing I do Gun Pr0n and have good parties - even if that probably keeps us from getting linked by Hewitt, Bay, and other, more serious folk).

I also agree with Dan Schneider's point in the comments, though I don't agree with his cited article. I decided I didn't have the time to address that in this format when it was first pointed out to me, but since I talk about it in my comment on Jack's site, I should link it here so you can go see for yourself what you think of Dan's argument. He's worth the read, regardless of if you agree or not.

Oh, and Jack - you're a buddy too.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows »

by John on Mar 03, 2005

February 22, 2005

Iwo Jima, Iraq, and Will.

Arthur Herman, writing on OpinionJournal.com said:

Yet even this valor and sacrifice is not the full story of what Iwo Jima means, or what Rosenthal's immortal photograph truly symbolizes. The lesson of Iwo Jima is in fact an ancient one, going back to Machiavelli: that sometimes free societies must be as tough and unrelenting as their enemies. Totalitarians test their opponents by generating extreme conditions of brutality and violence; in those conditions--in the streets and beheadings of Fallujah or on the beach and in the bunkers of Iwo Jima--they believe weak democratic nerves will crack. This in turn demonstrates their moral superiority: that by giving up their own decency and humanity they have become stronger than those who have not.

Word. That's why we have "Rough Men." And women.

The full piece is here.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows »

by John on Feb 22, 2005

February 21, 2005

How about a little U.N.-bashing?

I know, I know, easy target - just like any bureaucratic process-driven entity. JMH sent along a link to an column by Peter Worthington in the Toronto Sun last week. (I have a 'blog fodder' folder where I save this stuff to help kick-start the Muse - if you send me something and it doesn't show up immediately doesn't mean it won't - nor that I don't appreciate it!)

Anyway, the title of the column is of itself provocative, as it challenges the received wisdom, always a Bad Thing when dealing with the Establishment, liberal or otherwise...

Rwanda was not about race

He goes on.

Of all the movies nominated for this year's best picture Oscar, none matches the harrowing power of Hotel Rwanda.

While unlikely to win, it serves two valuable purposes: It dramatizes the horror of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda in a way news stories can't, and it graphically shows how impotent the UN was. [emphasis mine]

The UN didn't/doesn't *have* to be impotent. It chose/chooses to be. Just as it did in the Balkans when NATO, pressured by the US, the USGOV itself under pressure from interest groups, finally chose to act in it's own backyard. Given what it took to get anything done in the Balkans (whether we should have done what we did how we did it in the Balkans is a different discussion from this one, please) by the people who lived next door to it, can we be surprised that virtually *no one* was prepared to act, especially after the fact, in Rwanda? That doesn't have to be racism, active or passive. It's inertia.

Reality is, the United Governments is pre-disposed to *not act* - as most actions outside of what it routinely does day to day involve dealing with failed states and governments... and the members of the United Governments are not disposed to dealing with that, because it sets the precedent for meddling in their own affairs. Just as police, absent great external pressure are not disposed to investigate themselves in an open and forthright manner... or, as in our own government at the moment, intelligence services and their umbrella organizations. Unlike the rest of us, for whom government, through it's police and judicial powers, acts as that external pressure, the UN, and most governments, do *not* have that external pressure. Ones which are truly periodically subject to public validation (however messily in the event) do have that pressure... the rest, don't. The UN is mostly composed of governments that, don't.

I'm a Calvin Coolidge kind of guy - most problems coming down the road will roll off into the ditch by the side of the road without strenuous effort or intervention on our part, as he so famously noted. However, that doesn't mean that you don't keep an eye on them - and act to nudge the more dangerous ones off into the ditch a little sooner when their inertia is less, rather than wait for them to bound towards you like a cannonball to a rank of soldiers - one of whom puts his foot out to stop the ball... which doesn't notice the foot, except as a flying body part that very briefly slows it's progress. (Napoleonic and US Civil War abound with stories of green troops trying to stop slow-rolling cannon balls... how much better to have snuck into the opposing army's camp and soaked their gunpowder...).

The argument is made here that Rwanda was such a rolling ball... that could have been stopped with a little water on the powder. The UN mission in Rwanda was a flying body part. Always acknowledging that hindsight is 20-20... but what's the purpose of studying the past, unless you just *like* living Groundhog Day?

Actor Nick Nolte's performance as the colonel commanding the inadequate UN force was modeled on Canada's Romeo Dallaire -- then a brigadier-general, and since promoted to Major-General and Lieutenant-General, and decorated for his service.

Gen. Dallaire's emotional collapse and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have been well documented, both in the news and in his Governor-General's Award-winning book, Shake Hands with the Devil. He has since left the army and become something of a poster-boy for PTSD, and is Canada's special advisor on war-affected children. [Old soldiers never truly leave the Army... not really. It is too much a part of us. Ask MacArthur]

In his book, Dallaire acknowledges that his mission was a failure and that he was the wrong man to command in Africa -- his first UN command. [emphasis mine]

Why would this be so? By all accounts, General Dallaire was a competent soldier and leader, a man for Canada to be proud of. Which they generally are, I should hasten to add, lest you think I meant otherwise.

To continue with Worthington's piece.

This is no reflection on Dallaire -- a sincere, decent man who got no support from UN superiors and was out of his depth in Rwanda -- in Africa, even. [emphasis mine]

When Dallaire was sent to Rwanda, it was considered a Cyprus-style peacekeeping mission, not the powder keg it became.

Dallaire's request for more troops was refused. When a high-level informant warned him of an impending massacre, he asked the UN's New York headquarters to okay a preventive raid on a secret weapons cache. Again denied.

So, who was the UN's civilian-in-charge for this event? Kofi Annan. General Dallaire insists that racism was the cause of the world's failure to act. I would argue it was benign neglect, and a reluctance to act until it's all very obvious. Bureaucrats are like that. One does not rise to high office in an institution like the UN with a reputation as a risk-taker. Worthington continues:

When Dallaire was sent to Rwanda, it was considered a Cyprus-style peacekeeping mission, not the powder keg it became.

Dallaire's request for more troops was refused. When a high-level informant warned him of an impending massacre, he asked the UN's New York headquarters to okay a preventive raid on a secret weapons cache. Again denied.

Worthington suggest had a different Canadian, General Lew MacKenzie - with more experience in UN operations - been in command, things might well have proceeded differently.

A reason why Dallaire wasn't taken seriously was because this was his first real field command, and the senior UN military advisor in New York was Maurice Baril (later to become Canada's chief of defence staff) who likely told Kofi Annan that Dallaire was inexperienced in command.

If MacKenzie had been in command, it's unlikely his reports would have been dismissed so casually. With nine UN missions on his record, he was the world's most tested UN Commander -- the hero of Sarajevo.

Herein lies the great frustration of guys on the ground who have no support from the guys on high - of course the flip side *is* the frustration of guys on the ground who are being micromanaged from on high... by people who don't understand the situation on the ground - and won't listen.

And here is the difference between good soldiers and great commanders. Risk-taking. As Worthington notes:

First, MacKenzie knew New York was (is) hopeless for quick decisions. As he did in Sarajevo, he would have gone to Rwanda with more weaponry and reserves than authorized by the UN.

Most significant, he wouldn't have asked permission to stage a preventive raid on a weapons supply.

Arguably, that was Dallaire's greatest failing -- he already had a mandate to do whatever was necessary to ensure security. With none of MacKenzie's field experience, Baril would not have dared second-guess Canada's most celebrated UN commander.

On such seemingly simple things do great events turn...

Worthington closes with this thought:

It's academic now, but Rwanda's genocide might not have happened had a more experienced Canadian commander been in charge. And it has nothing to do with racism.

While I won't argue with that in and of itself... Worthington is taking the journalist's lesson from it - and he's right as far as it goes - except that someone had to take the initial risk on MacKenzie and put him in Sarajevo... and then supported him in that very difficult mission. But I would add a new dimension.

No, for me, the other lesson is in how we raise, train, develop, and nurture our leaders. General Dallaire's failure was one of nerve - not personal courage, but in the moral dimension, when you, as the man on the ground and with the final responsibility, act. Or not act - and in so doing, bump up the problem to a different level.

I don't know how I would have acted in General Dallaire's shoes. I too, might have foundered in that situation - which would simply mean that in that instance, that place, that time - I was bumping up against my personal Peter Principle. And, if General Dallaire *had* acted, and prevented the Massacre - he might well have been ruined for not being a team player... because No One Would Have Known What He Prevented... and the facts might well support sacking him.

My point? Them's the breaks, especially for Officers, in the Service. Which is why a good moral balance and grounding are critical. I'm not talking about being religious fanatics or moral philosophers here - I'm talking about Doing What's Right as you see it when you see it - and let the chips fall where they may, recognizing you may be wrong. And that tends, more often than not, to be the place at which Generals fail. Good men and women, but when faced with that one tough decision - they fall back to the safe answer, rather than the hard one.

Peacekeeping is a tough business - and I'll note that more often than not, Canadians have been pretty good at it.

Again, hat tip to CAPT H for sending that along. And if anyone has a link to General MacKenzie's column, please pass it along.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows »

by John on Feb 21, 2005

February 15, 2005

Paradigm shifts.

Jeff Quinton at Backcountry Conservative has a post up about the possiblity (it's really a marketing ploy by the locals and their Congressman) of bringing the 1st Foot or the 1st Tank to Fort Jackson, South Carolina, when the divisions are returned to the US from Germany. As an alum of both divisions I have a passing interest. Fort Jackson being one of the few major Army installations I've never been to, I gotta wonder - does it have the maneuver space, range infrastructure and environmental resilience to support high-density mech unit training? Perhaps the Heartless Libertarian, currently commanding a company at Fort Jackson, and who had a good gun day will follow his trackback and enlighten us...? While you are there, you should scroll down a post and read his latest on little guys fighting to keep their property from being taken from them by government and given to developers - a personal sore point of mine, given the behavior of the Wyandotte County executive here in the KC area for the NASCAR racetrack.

Getting back on point - Fort Jackson certainly seems to be close to the other requisite infrastructure - especially rail and seaport for the heavy vehicles of the divisions, and with sufficient total ramp space and turn time (i.e., ability to handle transport aircraft in enough numbers to move the troops quickly in reasonable numbers) to make it a better choice than the large installations in the interior of the nation, like Fort Riley or Fort Carson. Closer to sea ports is a Good Thing for the heavy divisions.

Continuing the theme of paradigm shifts, now seems a good time to post a link to an article about a briefing on 4th Generation Warfare that CAPT H passed along a while ago.

Then - the briefing itself. The Instapilot should approve, being a Boyd fan. I've had discussions with the authors and posted an earlier version of the brief here. This is the kinda stuff I get to fiddle with and test for a living, at the moment, though not this particular bit in any direct sense.

Take a look - tell us what you think. I mean come on, 1400 or so of you a day, 15 regular commenters. Surely some of the rest of you have *something* to share?

Perhaps the Instapilot has thoughts about this: Fighter Pilots - be afraid, be very afraid. And who is driving the demise of manned fighters? Tanks? Artillery? Those bleeping Crunchies! Hat tip to Strategy Page for the last.

by John on Feb 15, 2005

February 11, 2005

If this isn't true... it should be.

Email from a friend. If this isn't true, well, it should be. Because it *is* true in a cosmic sense. It's all so neat and tidy, it probably more along the lines of Aesop's fables... but those were instructive, too, n'est ce pa?


Pearl Harbor, Hawaii (Jan. 22, 2005) - Sailors man the rails and render honors to the USS Arizona Memorial as the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) pulls into Naval Station Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Ronald Reagan's first port visit to Hawaii is in support of Operation Unified Assistance, the humanitarian operation effort in the wake of the Tsunami that struck South East Asia. U.S. Navy photo by PhotographerÕs Mate 1st Class James Thierry

And, as a Disaster Response planner for DoD in my last job on active duty - that's *exactly* how we looked at aircraft carriers. They can also (as can numerous Naval vessels) produce a LOT of electrical power - and are purpose- built to distribute it dockside, along with the water.

Subject: Today, I was "Unprofessional"... Varifrank, January 4, 2005

Today, during an afternoon conference that wrapped up my project of the last 18 months, one of my Euro colleagues tossed this little smart-comment out to no one in particular:

"See, this is why George Bush is so dumb, there's a disaster in the world and he sends an Aircraft Carrier...

After which he and many of my Euro colleagues laughed out loud, and then they looked at me. I wasn't laughing, and neither was my Hindi friend sitting next to me, who has lost family in the disaster.

I'm afraid I was "unprofessional", I let it loose -"Hmmm, let's see, what would be the ideal ship to send to a disaster? Now what kind of ship would we want? Something with its own inexhaustible power supply? Something that can produce 900,000 gallons of fresh water a day from sea water?"

"Something with its own airfield? So that after producing the fresh water, it could help distribute it? Something with 4 hospitals and lots of open space for emergency supplies? Something with a global communications facility to make the coordination of disaster relief in the region easier? Well 'Franz', we peasants in America call that kind of ship an 'Aircraft Carrier'."

"We have 12 of them. How many do you have? Oh that's right, NONE. Lucky for you and the rest of the world, we are the kind of people who share. Even with people we don't like."

In fact, if memory serves, once upon a time we peasants spent a ton of money and lives rescuing people who we had once tried to kill and who tried to kill us. Do you know who those people were? That's right Franz, Europeans."

There is a French Aircraft carrier? Where is it? Oh.. Right where it belongs! In France of course! Oh, why should the French Navy dirty their uniforms helping people on the other side of the globe. How Simplesse... The day an American has to move a European out of the way to help in some part of the world it will be a great day in the world, you sniggering little snob..."

The room fell silent. My Hindi friend then said quietly to the Euros:

"Can you let your hatred of George Bush end for just one minute? There are people dying! And what are your countries doing? Amazon.com has helped more than France has. You all have a role to play in the world, why can't you see that? Thank God for the US Navy, they don't have to come and help, but they are. They helped you once and you should all thank God they did. They didn't have to, and no one but them would have done so. I'm ashamed of you all..."

He left the room, shaking and in tears. The frustration of being on the other side of the globe, unable to do anything to assist and faced with people who could not set aside their asininity long enough to reach out and help was too much for him to bear. I just shook my head and left. The Euros stood speechless. Later in the break room, one of the laughing Euros caught me and extended his hand in an apology. I asked him where he was from, he said "a town outside of Berlin". He is a young man, in his early 20's. I asked him if he knew of a man named Gail Halverson. He said no. I said "that's a shame" and walked away to find my Hindi friend.

For those of you who may not remember, Gail Halverson was the transport pilot responsible for the "candy drop" during the Berlin airlift. They called him the "Candy Bomber" as he dropped goodies for all the Berlin children.

Matt Archer
BOEING
Flight Operations
Transport Test Pilot

Hat tip to Mr. Greenjeans! And there, Boudicca, I found a use for your pic!

Update: Murdoc has his own take on the sujbect.

And this apparently hit the internet first, here.

by John on Feb 11, 2005
» EagleSpeak links with: Ronald Reagan Tsunami Help
» Murdoc Online links with: A couple of Friday quickies

January 21, 2005

Heh.

MSM Anchors Dan Rather and Peter Jennings, NPR Reporter Cokie Roberts, along with a paratrooper assigned to protect them, were hiking through the desert in Iraq one day when they were captured by Iraqi murder bombers and others of unsavory ilk. They were tied up, led to a village, and brought before the leader. The leader said, "I am familiar with your western custom of granting the condemned a last wish; so, before we dismember and kill you, do you have any last requests?"

Dan Rather said, "Well, I'm a Texan; so I'd like one last bowlful of hot spicy chili." The leader nodded to an underling who left and returned with the chili. Rather ate it all and said, "Now I can die content."

Peter Jennings said, "I am Canadian, so I'd like to hear the song 'O Canada' one last time." The leader nodded to a terrorist who had studied the Western world and knew the music. He returned with some rag-tag musicians and played the anthem. Jennings sighed and declared he could now die peacefully.

Cokie Roberts said, "I'm a reporter to the end. I want to take out my tape recorder and describe the scene here and what's about to happen. Maybe someday someone will hear it and know that I was on the job till the end." The leader directed an aide to hand over the tape recorder and Roberts dictated some comments. She then said, "Now I can die happy."

The leader turned and said, "And now, Mr. Paratrooper, what is your final wish?" "Kick me in the a$$," said the grunt. "What?" asked the leader. "Will you mock us in your last hour?" "No, I'm not kidding. I want you to kick me in the a$$," insisted the soldier. So the leader shoved him into the open, and kicked him in the a$$. The troop went sprawling, but rolled to his knees, pulled a Desert Eagle .40 S&W from inside his DBUs, and shot the leader dead. In the resulting confusion, he leaped to his ruck, pulled out his M4 carbine, and sprayed the Iraqis with gunfire. In a flash, all the insurgs were either dead or fleeing for their lives.

As the paratrooper was untying Rather, Jennings, and Roberts, they asked him, "Why didn't you just shoot them? Why did you ask them to kick you in the a$$?"

"What?" replied the exasperated troop, "And have you three a$$holes call me the aggressor?"

Hat tip to Mike L.

by John on Jan 21, 2005

January 20, 2005

While I'm sure there's more to this than meets the eye...

...stories like this, this, and this do make me assume the RCA Victor Dog pose.

If you've only got time for one, go with the last one.

I'm not a judge, though I've been one before, in UCMJ terms. But I suspect I'd have handled this differently.

But why am I not surprised to find Ramsey Clark in the muddle [sic] of it?

Hat tip to CAPT H.


Unrelated note to save posts... Some of you are being mean and using dirty language dealing with Chadrock over at Simon's place (check the comment stream). Naughty naughty! I thought I'd taught you better manners than that!

Update. I think I won my debate.

by John on Jan 20, 2005
» Electric Venom links with: Un.Freaking.Believeable!

January 17, 2005

A little fractured history...

I can't wait to see what Allen has to say...

Today's History lesson is on evolution of Conservatives & Liberals.

Subject: Evolution of Conservatives & Liberals.

Division of the human family into 2 distinct political groups began some12,000 years ago. Humans existed as members of small bands of nomadic hunter/gatherers. They lived on deer in the mountains in the summer & would go to the beach & live on fish & lobster in winter.

The 2 most important events in all of history were the invention of beer & the invention of the wheel. The wheel was invented to get man to the beer. These were the foundation of modern civilization & together were the catalyst for the splitting of humanity into 2 distinct subgroups: Liberals & Conservatives.

Once beer was discovered it required grain & that was the beginning of agriculture. Neither the glass bottle nor aluminum can were invented yet, so while our early human ancestors were sitting around waiting for them to be invented, they just stayed close to the brewery. That's how villages were formed.

Some men spent their days tracking & killing animals to B-B-Q at night while they were drinking beer. This was the beginning of what is known as "the Conservative movement." Other men who were weaker & less skilled at hunting learned to live off the conservatives by showing up for the nightly B-B-Q's & doing the sewing, fetching & hair dressing. This was the beginning of the Liberal movement.

Some of these liberal men eventually evolved into women. The rest became
known as 'girleymen.' Some noteworthy liberal achievements include the domestication of cats, the invention of group therapy & group hugs, and the concept of Democratic voting to decide how to divide the meat & beer that conservatives provided. Over the years conservatives came to be symbolized by the largest, most powerful land animal on earth, the elephant. Liberals are symbolized by the jackass.

Modern liberals like imported beer (with lime added), but most prefer white wine or imported bottled water. They eat raw fish but like their beef well done. Sushi, tofu, & French food are standard liberal fare. Another interesting revolutionary side note: most of their women have higher testosterone levels than their men. Most social workers, personal injury attorneys, journalists, dreamers in Hollywood & group therapists are liberals. Liberals invented the designated hitter rule because it wasn't "fair" to make the pitcher also bat.

Conservatives drink domestic beer. They eat red meat & still provide for their women. Conservatives are big-game hunters, rodeo cowboys, lumberjacks, construction workers, medical doctors, police officers, corporate executives, soldiers, athletes & generally anyone who works productively outside government. Conservatives who own companies hire other conservatives who want to work for a living.

Liberals produce little or nothing. They like to "govern" the producers & decide what to do with the production. Liberals believe Europeans are more enlightened than Americans. That is why most of the liberals remained in Europe when conservatives were coming to America. They crept in after the Wild West was tame & created a business of trying to get MORE for nothing.

Here ends today's lesson in world history.

Hat tip to Mr. Green Jeans!

by John on Jan 17, 2005
» Pass The Ammo links with: Evolution of Conservatives & Liberals.
» Thoughts of a Medic links with: The Divergence of Conservatives and Liberals
» Simon and the Lefties links with: More conservative story crap

Man, who needs to blog, when your commenters do it for you?

SangerM is honing his rhetoriblogular* skills... and, once again, they shouldn't be hiding in the comments. Of this post, if you'd like the context. Jack, I'll offer equal access for a response, should you wish.

"Trends are important, as are appearances.."

Yes, they are, but we are at war, and some folks will avoid coming here until the war is ended, and the enemy's propaganda decreases, and there is less chance the new arrivals will actually be thought of as Americans (=targets).

Even so, even if there is only one more person who wants in than wants out, then we are on the up side, which is so not true of most other countries. For example, who really wants to emigrate to China, or Japan, or Europe these days. I've lived in Europe for years at a time, and frankly, I wouldn't trade any backwater podunk town in this country for any place in continental Europe for more than a few months. Why? Because Europe is owned and run by Europeans, who tend to think that their little countries are the equal of ours in every way just because theirs have been around for a thousand years more. As if.

The problem with that line of thinking is that it assumes the people in Europe today are the recipients, beneficiaries, and proud owners of the accumulated wisdom from thousands of years--that, as a whole, they are smarter, wiser, and more able to see the right of things than we are because they have been there before. In fact, the folks who actually live in Europe now are no wiser because of their long histories than are the people in this country, because most places in Europe have been razed several times within the past thousand years, and a good number of the people there have been slaughtered. And by who? Well other Europeans, mostly

While America certainly did its share of sending Europeans to the grave, I'd guess more Europeans have been slaughtered, maimed, tortured, molested, raped, swindled, and abused by Europeans than by all the Americans who've ever been there. We all know the history. Every time some country got a little ahead of the others and decided it wanted a bigger vineyard, or a port, or a few acres, it just tried to take it from the neighbors. What's so great about that kind of history? And what did they learn from that 1900 years of modern history. Bigger and better ways to kill one another, but little else that stuck.

Where was the wisdom that should have prevented WWI and WWII? Where
was the vaunted wisdom that should have tossed Chamberlain in the Thames?
Or that couldn't see into the future past the end of their collective noses to know that the Treaty of Versailles would lead inexorably to WWII. As we all know, if it weren't for this country--poor, sorry, evil, imperialistic, stupid America--the French would be speaking German instead of working so hard to pretend English doesn't exist and that anti-headscarve laws aren't discriminatory.

As I said, I lived there, and I traveled, I got to know a lot of people there. What I found was that the only thing Europe as a whole is really good at is hate and recrimination. Individually, Europeans are wonderful, friendly people (well, except for the French who have a reputation to uphold, and the Flemish who all treated me and my wife like crap), but when you scratch the surface, as I did with many of my friends, you will find most of them full of hatred for all the same peoples their parents hated, plus some new ones. And they don't really know as much about this country as they think they do. Really, they don't.

And the intensity of the hatred Europeans feel toward one another transcends anything I've encountered in this country. Yes, we have old wounds that are hardly healed, but we don't have the hard-shell coating on the hatred that can only come with centuries of misdeeds and marauding, with layer upon layer of emotional, financial, and physical destruction.

And one cannot even say the hatred over there is so old that they don't know why they hate one another. That would be pure rubbish. A good many people in Europe today can remember quite vividly and quite well why they hate who they hate. WWII wasn't that long ago yet and every year there is another Beslan or a bridge at Most. The wounds over there never get to heal.

Anyway, again, I agree that trends are important, but one has to consider that we are talking about people and countries that haven't been able to put or keep their own houses in order for more than a few years out of the last 11 decades without our help. If people don't want to come here, it's because they are choosing to believe all the bad they hear, not because we have changed for the worse or because this country is worse than it was. I daresay the opposite is quite true and that in spite of the endless self-flagellation by Europhile apologists, this is a far better country for people to live in than it has ever been.

And I'm not interested in any of that crap about the Patriot Act, the restrictions of liberties, and all that nonsense. 1) We are at war with an implacable enemy who means to win by any means possible, and who is getting plenty of outright help from both our mainstream media and the confused leftist mass. 2) The enemy-within ALCU and other organizations of its kind are still going full tilt persecuting such evils as the Boy Scouts and prayer in school, but avoiding important issues like repression of free-speech on college campuses. 3) Many of the universities in this country are slowly turning diversity-speak into
conformance-fascism. And 4), anti-white male gender bias has become so great that frat houses and other male-only organizations have been forced to let women in, but woman are still allowed to have woman-only organizations, and so are people of color.

As far as I am concerned, the notion that this country might be a worse place for people in general or minorities or women to live today than it was when I was a child is absurd. Anyone who believes it just doesn't remember or know the past. And as for Europe, well, the Balkans are just about where they were in 1909, except now we're there keeping folks from killing each other.

Us good ole' sorry Americans.

My ass.

-SangerM

*New word. If it ever makes it into the OED - researchers, it appeared here first!

by John on Jan 17, 2005

January 01, 2005

1st post of a new year

I think I'll go for nostalgia, irony and machineguns.

Yep.

Nostalgia first. Let this be the year we drive a bayonet through the heart of Islamofacism.


Irony second.

Machineguns, third. This is a present for all y'all, considering the bandwidth cost!


The present is not the guy above, he's an Iraqi Security Force guy trying to secure rights for his people - though he's gonna have feed problems with his belt like that. I just liked the pic.

No the present is this: A 13 meg movie. A movie of people enjoying the Second Amendment... Right click and save - don't even try to stream it - it'll be choppy and it's better played from your hard drive.

And, what the heck, a little trivia, too. Notable events for January 1st.

Born

1735 Paul Revere, patriot, silversmith, gunfounder
1739 Edmund Burke, Whig politician, author ("Reflections on the
Revolution")
1909 Barry Goldwater, bomber pilot, senator
1912 Kim Philby, Soviet spy

Died

1950 Secret Service agent Leslie Coffelt, killed defending Pres Truman
1961 Dashiell Hammett, war veteran, novelist ("The Maltese Falcon")
1969 Ian Fleming, secret agent, author ("James Bond")

Event

1586 - Sir Francis Drake launches a surprise attack on the heavily fortified city of Santo Domingo in Hipanola.
1660 Samuel Pepys begins writing his famous diary - good reading if ya like that kinda stuff like I do.
1801 United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland formed - huh. I thought the UK moniker was older than that.
1846 Yucatan declares independence from Mexico - that didn't last long, did it?
1861 Emancipation Proclamation goes into effect - who says war never solved anything?
1892 Annie Moore becomes the first immigrant to arrive at Ellis Island
1915 - The German submarine U-24 sinks the British battleship Formidable off the coast of Plymouth Massachusetts.
1920 League of Nations convenes for the first time - an organization even less successful than the United Nations.
1923 USSR formed - Bummer.
1944 Oran, Algeria: Army defeats Navy 10-7 in football "Arab Bowl" - would we could do that with a little more regularity... Beat Navy that is.
1946 Emperor Hirohito of Japan announces he is not a god - tell me again about war never solves anything?
1950 Puerto Rican terrorists attempt to kill Pres. Truman - they got Agent Coffelt, above.
1951 Massive Chinese/North Korean assault on UN-lines - beginning of a bad coupla days for Dad.
1959 Castro enters Havana as Fulgencio Batista flees - and he's still there, sadly.
1962 Navy SEAL teams established - Happy Birthday, fellas.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows »

by John on Jan 01, 2005
» Pass The Ammo links with: Sweet Second Amendment

November 30, 2004

More tales from Fallujah Vets.

Many of you military types have probably seen this already - it's flowing through the email stream. It also is the kernel of what Dusty referred to below in latest post.

Email from Dave - Nov 19, 04

Dear Dad -

Just came out of the city and I honestly do not know where to start. I am afraid that whatever I send you will not do sufficient honor to the men who fought and took Fallujah.

Shortly before the attack, Task Force Fallujah was built. It consisted of Regimental Combat Team 1 built around 1st MarineRegiment and Regimental Combat Team 7 built around 7th Marine Regiment. Each Regiment consisted of two Marine Rifle Battalions reinforced and one Army mechanized infantry battalion.

Regimental Combat Team 1 (RCT-1) consisted of 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion (3rd LAR), 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines (3/5); 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines (3/1)and 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry (2/7). RCT-7 was slightly less weighted but still a formidable force.

And a joint force, leveraging the strengths of each of the services to cover the weak spots - and melded into a cohesive whole from a command and control perspective. This level of cooperation and integration was unheard of in my company grade days, and only during the latter part of the field grade days were we moving to this. Make no mistake, though, it took the war to finally make this happen.

And I suspect there was still some kludging going on regarding integration of C4ISR (military command and control computer systems) - and that becomes an even greater problem when you go combined - adding the non-US elements. Very few nations have sophisticated, much less pervasive C2 computer systems, and those that do are not usually compatible with our stuff - a real planning consideration when planning combined operations anymore. Some armies literally cannot safely play with ours, absent a huge infusion of US liaison teams, it's own logistical problem.

Cutting a swath around the city was an Army Brigade known as Blackjack. The Marine RCT's were to assault the city while Blackjack kept the enemy off of the backs of the assault force.

The night prior to the actual invasion, we all moved out into the desert just north of the city. It was something to see. You could just feel the intensity in the Marines and Soldiers. It was all business. As the day cleared, the Task Force began striking targets and moving into final attack positions. As the invasion force commenced its movement into attack positions, 3rd LAR led off RCT-1's offensive with an attack up a peninsula formed by the Euphrates River on the west side of the city. Their mission was to secure the Fallujah Hospital and the two bridges leading out of the city. They executed there [sic] tasks like clockwork and smashed the enemy resistance holding the bridges. Simultaneous to all of this, Blackjack sealed the escape routes to the south of the city. As invasion day dawned, the net was around the city and the Marines and Soldiers knew that the enemy that failed to escape was now sealed.

3/5 began the actual attack on the city by taking an apartment complex on the northwest corner of the city. It was key terrain as the elevated positions allowed the command to look down into the attack lanes. The Marines took the apartments quickly and moved to the rooftops and began engaging enemy that were trying to move into their fighting positions. The scene on the rooftop was surreal. Machine gun teams were running boxes of ammo up 8 flights of stairs in full body armor and carrying up machine guns while snipers engaged enemy shooters. The whole time the enemy was firing mortars and rockets at the apartments. Honest to God, I don't think I saw a single Marine even distracted by the enemy fire. Their squad leaders, and platoon commanders had them prepared and they were executing their assigned tasks.

That's discipline, folks, pure and simple. And PT (physical fitness training) is another element of discipline. Which the Marines excel at. The Army, well, some of us do, some of us don't...

As mentioned, 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry joined the Regiment just prior to the fight. In fact, they started showing up for planning a couple of weeks in advance. There is always a professional rivalry between the Army and the Marine Corps but it was obvious from the outset that these guys were the real deal. They had fought in Najaf and were eager to fight with the Regiment in Fallujah. They are exceptionally well led and supremely confident.

Coming from a Marine, that's real praise. I have no doubt it is merited, and was earned. And I'm sure it's reciprocated, too. Even if they are Jarheads.

2/7 became our wedge. In short, they worked with 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines. We were limited in the amount of prep fires that we were allowed to fire on the city prior to the invasion. This was a point of some consternation to the forces actually taking the city. Our compensation was to turn to 2/7 and ask them to slash into the city and create as much turbulence as possible for 3/1 to follow. Because of the political reality, the Marine Corps was also under pressure to "get it done quickly."

For this reason, 2/7 and 3/1 became the penetration force into the city.

And this time, the sons of Custer fought as their namesake fought in the Civil War, and not as he did in the Indian Wars.

Immediately following 3/5's attack on the apartment buildings, 3/1 took the train station on the north end of the city. While the engineers blew a breach through the train trestle, the Cavalry soldiers poured through with their tanks and Bradley's and chewed an opening in the enemy defense. 3/1 followed them through until they reached a phaseline deep into the northern half of the city. The Marine infantry along with a few tanks then turned to the right and attacked the heart of the enemy defense. The fighting was tough as the enemy had the area dialed in with mortars. 3/5 then attacked into the northwest corner of the city. This fight continued as both Marine rifle battalions clawed their way into the city on different axes.

There is an image burned into my brain that I hope I never forget. We came up behind 3/5 one day as the lead squads were working down the Byzantine streets of the Jolan area. An assault team of two Marines ran out from behind cover and put a rocket into a wall of an enemy strongpoint. Before the smoke cleared the squad behind them was up and moving through the hole and clearing the house. Just down the block another squad was doing the same thing. The house was cleared quickly and the Marines were running down the street to the next contact. Even in the midst of that mayhem, it was an awesome site.

Survivors of Stalingrad, Berlin, and Hue are nodding their heads approvingly.

The fighting has been incredibly close inside the city. The enemy is willing to die and is literally waiting until they see the whites of the eyes of the Marines before they open up. Just two days ago, as a firefight raged in close quarters, one of the interpreters yelled for the enemy in the house to surrender. The enemy yelled back that it was better to die and go to heaven than to surrender to infidels. This exchange is a graphic window into the world that the Marines and Soldiers have been fighting in these last 10 days.

It's also a graphic window into why that Marine shot the man in the mosque. The muji's set the conditions. From a cold, military perspective, it also means that you are going to end up killing the die-hards, which may well aid in the reconstruction and perhaps reconciliation after the war finally ends.

I could go on and on about how the city was taken but one of the most amazing aspects to the fighting was that we saw virtually no civilians during the battle. Only after the fighting had passed did a few come out of their homes. They were provided food and water and most were evacuated out of the city. At least 90-95% of the people were gone from the city when we attacked.

If you read the memoirs of Germans, Russians, British, and American soldiers talking about fighting in the cities during WWII, the same sort of pattern emerges. The civilians (the smart ones anyway) who couldn't get away, get very, very good at hiding, and staying quiet, not attracting attention to themselves. The movie Enemy At The Gates kind of hints at it, as well.


I will end with a couple of stories of individual heroism that you may not have heard yet. I was told about both of these incidents shortly after they occurred. No doubt some of the facts will change slightly but I am confident that the meat is correct.

The first is a Marine from 3/5. His name is Corporal Yeager (Chuck Yeager's grandson). As the Marines cleared and apartment building, they got to the top floor and the point man kicked in the door. As he did so, an enemy grenade and a burst of gunfire came out. The explosion and enemy fire took off the point man's leg. He was then immediately shot in the arm as he lay in the doorway. Corporal Yeager tossed a grenade in the room and ran into the doorway and into the enemy fire in order to pull his buddy back to cover. As he was dragging the wounded Marine to cover, his own grenade came back through the doorway. Without pausing, he reached down and threw the grenade back through the door while he heaved his buddy to safety. The grenade went off inside the room and Cpl Yeager threw another in. He immediately entered the room following the second explosion. He gunned down three enemy all within three feet of where he stood and then let fly a third grenade as he backed out of the room to complete the evacuation of the wounded Marine. You have to understand that a grenade goes off within 5 seconds of having the pin pulled. Marines usually let them "cook off" for a second or two before tossing them in. Therefore, this entire episode took place in less than 30 seconds.

The second example comes from 3/1. Cpl Mitchell is a squad leader. He was wounded as his squad was clearing a house when some enemy threw pineapple grenades down on top of them. As he was getting triaged, the doctor told him that he had been shot through the arm. Cpl Mitchell told the doctor that he had actually been shot "a couple of days ago" and had given himself self aide on the wound. When the doctor got on him about not coming off the line, he firmly told the doctor that he was a squad leader and did not have time to get treated as his men were still fighting. There are a number of Marines who have been wounded multiple times but refuse to leave their fellow Marines.

I don't want to hear another word about John Kerry's Purple Hearts. The paragraph above simply confirms my whole position on the subject. If you are a leader, you lead. You don't use piddling wounds as an excuse to leave combat. John Kerry is not fit to shake that man's hand in that regard. And Kerry was a commissioned officer, whom I would hold to the absolute highest standard. No one besides doctors were ever drafted into commissioned status. Not that it matters now - but too bad this story wasn't out there before the election.

It is incredibly humbling to walk among such men. They fought as hard as any Marines in history and deserve to be remembered as such. The enemy they fought burrowed into houses and fired through mouse holes cut in walls, lured them into houses rigged with explosives and detonated the houses on pursuing Marines, and actually hid behind surrender flags only to engage the Marines with small arms fire once they perceived that the Marines had let their guard down. I know of several instances where near dead enemy rolled grenades out on Marines who were preparing to render them aid. It was a fight to the finish in every sense and the Marines delivered.

I have called the enemy cowards many times in the past because they have never really held their ground and fought but these guys in the city did. We can call them many things but they were not cowards.

My whole life I have read about the greatest generation and sat in wonder at their accomplishments. For the first time, as I watch these Marines and Soldiers, I am eager for the future as this is just the beginning for them. Perhaps the most amazing characteristic of all is that the morale of the men is sky high. They hurt for the wounded and the dead but they are eager to continue to attack. Further, not one of them would be comfortable with being called a hero even though they clearly are.

By now the Marines and Soldiers have killed well over a thousand enemy. These were not peasants or rabble. They were reasonably well trained and entirely fanatical. Most of the enemy we have seen have chest rigs full of ammunition and are well armed are willing to fight to the death. The Marines and Soldiers are eager to close with them and the fighting at the end is inevitably close.

I will write you more the next time I come in about what we have found inside the city. All I can say is that even with everything that I knew and expected from the last nine months, the brutality and fanaticism of the enemy surprised me. The beheadings were even more common place than we thought but so were torture and summary executions. Even though it is an exaggeration, it seems as though every block in the northern part of the city has a torture chamber or execution site. There are hundreds of tons of munitions and tens of thousands of weapons that our Regiment alone has recovered. The Marines and Soldiers of the Regiment have also found over 400 IEDs already wired and ready to detonate. No doubt these numbers will grow in the days ahead.

In closing, I want to share with you a vignette about when the Marines secured the Old Bridge (the one where the Americans were mutilated and hung on March 31) this week. After the Marines had done all the work and secured the bridge, we walked across to meet up with 3rd LAR on the other side.

On the Fallujah side of the bridge where the Americans were hung there is some Arabic writing on the bridge. An interpreter translated it for me as we walked through. It read: "Long Live the Mujahadeen. Fallujah is the Graveyard for Americans and the end of the Marine Corps."

As I came back across the bridge there was a squad sitting in their Amtrac smoking and watching the show. The Marines had written their own message below the enemy's. It is not something that Mom would appreciate but it fit the moment to a T. Not far from the vehicle were two dead enemy laying where they died. The Marines were sick of watching the "Dog and Pony
show" and wanted to get back to work.

Dave

I don't deny that I wish I could have been there.

And where do we find these men? Look around you - they just got out of high school. In Red States and Blue States. In Red Counties and Blue Counties. Keep that in the back of your mind when you grumble about the kids. They have steel in them, it just needs a forge.

Hat tip to Rich B and Mike L.

by John on Nov 30, 2004

November 15, 2004

Stories from the Front.

1. Not all the casualties are young soldiers. The Senior Leaders are dying, too.


In Iraq, CSM Faulkenburg conducted a combat patrol with every platoon in the task force. He followed the platoons through the orders process, rehearsals, precombat checks and inspections, execution, and AARs. He knew that was how he could best understand the strength and weaknesses of each platoon, its leaders, and Soldiers. Never backing down from a fight, Ramrod 7 was involved in Task Force 2-2’s first firefight in March 2004 on the day of the transfer of authority. CSM Faulkenburg lived for maintaining contact with the enemy once the snake raised his head. During the Battle of Muqdadiyah Market Place on 08 August 2004, he fearlessly roamed the battlefield. A soldier described him as, “the Robert Duvall character in Apocalypse Now” and he inspired those around him.

CSM Steve Faulkenberg, Ramrod 7, TF 2/2 Infantry, KIA 4 Nov 04.

Now is the time at Castle Argghhh! when we dance: In Memoriam.

2. Payback is hell, motherf*ckers. Get some, Marines.

3. A little more payback. More of that good reporting from Toby Harnden I mentioned in an earlier post.

70 insurgents killed in mosque battle By Toby Harnden in Fallujah (Filed: 11/11/2004)

Fight for Fallujah

American troops scored one of their biggest successes in the battle for Fallujah when an estimated 70 foreign fighters were killed in a massive precision artillery strike on a building in a mosque complex.

Military intelligence officers were last night trying to confirm that a "high-value target" or HVT died in the attack. The man is suspected of being a key lieutenant of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the most wanted man in Iraq, and responsible for marshalling hard-line insurgence from other Arab countries.

The strike took place on Tuesday afternoon, less than 24 hours after the invasion of the rebel-held Sunni bastion began, after an Abrams tank commander from Phantom troop, part of the US Army's Task Force 2-2, observed large numbers of men converging on a building next to a mosque. "Guys with short brown hair, dark pants and carrying AK-47s were moving in groups of between two and five across the road to a yellow building," said Lt Neil Prakash, the tank commander.

"Then some started throwing Molotov cocktails and pouring gasoline on the road to create a smokescreen."

They apparently thought the smoke would obscure them from view.

Lt Prakash, whose call-sign is Red 6, observed the scene through the optical sight of his tank, 2,400 metres away in an "area of responsibility" or AOR covered by the 1st Company, 8th Marines, west of Task Force 2-2's AOR on the eastern edge of the city.

The constraints of firing into another AOR, where US marines might be operating, and the danger of damaging the mosque, which would have provoked outrage in the Arab world, meant attacking the building had to be authorised at a very senior level.

A Humvee from Phantom troop fitted with a Long Range Acquisition System (LRAS) was moved to within two kilometres of the mosque, well inside its maximum range of 15km, to get a second opinion on what was happening. "The strike was so sensitive that it took more than an hour to approve it," said Maj John Reynolds, operations officer for 2-2. "Normally it happens in minutes."

Lt Prakash was asked to provide a grid co-ordinate, accurate to within a metre, to minimise the chance of hitting the mosque, about 50 metres from the building.

At about 3pm, the higher authorisation came through and Lt Col Pete Newell, commanding 2-2 and with the call-sign Ramrod 6, gave the order to fire a barrage of 20 155mm high-explosive shells from howitzers about three miles away from the mosque.

Specialist James Taylor, manning the LRAS, watched the burst of shells hit.

"They landed on the left side of the building and I saw three bodies fly into the air," he said. "It was awesome."

Lt Prakash radioed that the rounds were right on target and requested 10 more to ensure maximum killing effect.

"One of the men was in a sniper position on the building," said Lt Prakash. "I saw him fall off, hit the ground and bounce up. There were about five bodies that went three, four, five storeys up in the air. I'd already counted between 40 and 50 men going into that building. There were men running out, coughing and doubling over. The second lot of rounds took them out and all those who had been crossing the road.

It is believed that Task Force 2-2 hit fighters gathered to discuss how to retreat after US forces had pushed the insurgents down from the north and in from the east.

Mobile phone intercepts and reports from Iraqi informants suggested there were 70 gunmen in the building and indicated that the very senior Zarqawi lieutenant had perished. A final assessment on who died has yet to be made.

"We are hearing reports saying that the enemy is withdrawing to a central place for a final stand," said Maj Reynolds. "It's like a Gettysburg. We have urrounded the whole area."

Make it like the Germans in the Falaise Gap, or Stalingrad. The French at Dien Bien Phu. The Romans at Cannae. Too much of the Army of Northern Virginia escaped from that crossroads in Pennsylvania.

That is some fine soldiering going on there.

4. Now let's let the Marines have their turn - and pay attention any moonbats - look at how hard we are trying to make sure that the only dying is being done by bad guys.

The Watchdogs of Fallujah

From: Bing West

Subject: If a "Muj" Blinks, the Marines of VMU-1 See It

Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2004, at 11:34 AM PT

In a small ops center inside a tent, a dozen Marines peered at two 26-inch flat-panel displays. On the screens, the black edges of the hospital roof stood out in sharp contrast to the white thistle clumps of palm trees in the courtyard below. A line of white ghosts snaked around the trees and flowed onto the roof.

"Those guys are wearing packs. They're friendlies," Lt. Col. John Neumann, the mission commander, said. "It's the 36th Iraqi commandos."

"Concur," said Lt. J.P. Parchman, the watch officer. "The movement's too disciplined to be muj."

A few miles away in Fallujah, Operation Phantom Fury had commenced at dark on Nov. 8. Inside the tent, the Marines of unit VMU-1, which flies the Pioneer Unmanned Aerial Vehicle or UAV, were looking at video taken from the UAV by a Forward-Looking Infra-Red (or FLIR) camera. The pictures were bright as day.

"The raiding party wants us to scan across the river," Cpl. Robert Daniels said, reading a chat-room message that had popped up on his computer monitor. "Someone's firing."

"Take us east," Neumann said over his shoulder. "Shift from white-hot to black-hot."

Behind him, the pilot of the UAV adjusted the flight path as his partner tightened the zoom on the plane's camera. The images on the screen jumped slightly and focused on two black spots hopping from place to place behind an earthen berm.

"I confirm weapons," said Sg. Jenifer Forman, an imagery analyst. "Watch their right arms when they run. They're shooting across the river."

When the black spots bobbed together, the screen suddenly bloomed white, then settled back into focus, showing a thick gray cloud and a scattering of small black spots, like someone in the cloud had thrown out a handful of rocks.

"Tank gun got them," Neumann said. "Picked them up on their thermals. They're scratched. Scan up the street."

The camera tracked up a wide, empty boulevard bordered by ramshackle warehouses, tin-roof repair shops, and dingy apartment buildings. Four dark spots—presumably insurgents—were splayed against one corner of a large concrete building, with three similar spots on the other corner

"One's lying down," Neumann said. "They're manning a crew-served weapon pointed at the bridge. Tell Fusion we have targets for Basher."

Neumann's VMU unit flew the UAVs and analyzed the video for targets but rarely communicated directly with the shooters. Matching targets to shooters was the specialty of the Fusion Center located on the other side of Fallujah. There a staff pulled together information from Marines on the front lines, UAVs, electronic intercepts, agent reports, and other sources. The Fusion Center compiled target lists, tracked battle damage, prioritized targets, and assigned shooters.

Cpl. Daniels typed in and sent the center a grid location accurate within a few meters. The center sent a one-line response: Basher on the way. Marines doing various chores around the op center stopped what they were doing and clustered behind the screens. A minute went by. The four dark spots moved slightly but stayed in the shadow of the building next to the street. On the screen a ball of black hit the edge of the building, sending black chunks flying out. Another black ball and another and another, enveloping the dark spots crouched along the side of the building.

"Basher," an Air Force AC-130 aircraft, had illuminated the ambushers with its huge infrared spotlight and was pounding them with 105 mm artillery shells, each round packing 50 pounds of high explosives. Gray smoke rose from the scene.

"Watch for squirters," Neumann said. "There's one now, heading north. Stay with him."

A black spot broke out of the smoke. Against the background of the macadam on the street, the man's silhouette stood out plainly. He was running with the speed of a sprinter.

"Ten to one he's headed for the mosque up the street,'" Neumann said.

"Same as always," Lt. Parchman said as he watched the runner climb over a wall. "He's made it. Can't hit him there."

The camera tracked back to the damaged building. Basher had moved on to another target. The Pioneer UAV circled the building to assess battle damage. A large door in the back of the building slid open and two men ran around the side and quickly returned, dragging something behind them. The Marines watched as this was repeated a few times.

"Are they carrying a heavy weapon or a body part?" a Marine asked.

"Don't know. We can confirm four down, though," Lt. Parchman said. "Mark this as a safe house. We'll come back later for a relook."

The Pioneer flew on for a look along the river's edge. The "Watchdogs," as the Marine UAV crew called themselves, were the scouts out in front of the troops assaulting Fallujah. It was impossible for the insurgents to move out of doors without being seen and tracked.

"Those muj are out there to kill our soldiers or Marines," Lt. Col. Neumann said. "We're in here to find them so our shooters kill them first."

Bing West is a former Marine who is writing a book about Fallujah. This is his fifth trip to Iraq. His writings can be found at www.westwrite.com.

This is one of the enabling technologies that make this fight so much different from Mogadishu, much less Hue, Seoul, Stalingrad...


11/06/04 - Spc. William Pasiechnik with 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division, launches an unmanned aerial vehicle, known as the Raven, to locate insurgents attacking Patrol Base Uvanni in Samarra, Iraq.


Meanwhile... back at home - the Marines are disrupting the fun of anti-war protestors... hee hee hee. Good job, Smash!


by John on Nov 15, 2004
» The Jawa Report links with: US Warplane Shot Down by Terrorists Identified

Worth a read.

From David Warren (with a hat tip to CAPT H for pointing him out):

War does solve problems. It is what removed Saddam Hussein from power, uncovered his mass graves, failed to uncover specific nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons, did locate and remove mountains of the "conventional" sort, and is now removing the Jihadis from Fallujah. It is what has brought elections to Afghanistan, sent little girls to school, brought food and hope to millions of starving, and as an unintended side-effect, increased the opium harvest and given the Afghan warlords a new lease on life. Nothing in life is perfect -- not even war -- but if there is going to be liberty anywhere in the world, there are going to be wars to obtain it.

Read the rest, here.

by John on Nov 15, 2004

November 09, 2004

Random Militant Musings

First off - the Red Ensign Standard is snapping in the breeze, if you'd like to read what militant Canadians and their fellow-travelers (like the Armorer) have to say about things.

Next, the Instapilot stole my first post this morning, so I'll just pile on his...

Regarding the BLU-113: I still wanna meet the guy who was sitting on the pot, flipping through Reader's Digest, who suddenly had the inspiration... "Hey! Why don't we take redundant Army 8" cannon tubes, fill 'em with RDX, stick a GBU-guidance system on 'em and drop 'em on bunkers!?!"

That was some outside-the-box thinking. When you read the Instapilot's post, you may wonder why the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) is funding development of this monster.

Simple. The requirement to hit targets like deeply buried bunkers exist. The alternative weapon choice is a nuke. DTRA's role is to both protect the US from threats, and to reduce arms proliferation. If we can do it with a creative conventional bomb, we may not need to develop the nuke that's already on the drawing boards.

Beth is off doing her job, and has found herself in a pool of blue-staters who are *terribly* concerned about Operation Phantom Fury, the assault on Fallujah. They are checking the news all the time, and wringing their hands over the casualties, muttering about how horrible it is. These people *really* miss their vacation from history. They really are nice people - but they live in a different world than the one I do. They know I'm a retired soldier. So, being nice people, they asked Beth,

"Your husband is retired military, right? I'm sure he's glad he no longer has to do this, or be involved!"

The Mistress of Argghhh! knows the Armorer well. Her response:

"Hell no! He's a warrior. If he could, he'd be over there right now, up to his eyeballs in it. "

Damn straight. The Armorer volunteered for recall on 9/12. The Armorer keeps his volunteering current, even though it would be fiscal disaster if the Army took him up on it. The Armorer is a broken-down hulk of his former self, and would only be a liability in direct combat, most likely - but, to paraphrase the old recruiting song, "If I am needed, I'll be there."

I'm a Regular, by God, subject to recall for life.

And by his post (and other comments) the Instapilot feels exactly the same way.

Which is how we're supposed to feel.

Don't take that as a willingness to rush into a war. Different thing entirely. But once the throw-down starts - Party On, Garth!

Lastly - we have a new study from the JFK School of Government at Harvard, that well-known bastion of neo-con warmongering. The study report discusses the origins of Terrorism. Guess what, sports fans - Poverty doesn't cause terrorism. At least as far as this researcher is concerned.

Alberto Abadie: 'In the past, we heard people refer to the strong link between terrorism and poverty, but ... when you look at the data, it's not there. This is true not only for events of international terrorism ... but ... also for the overall level of terrorism, both of domestic and of foreign origin.'

Uh-oh. Michael Moore and Martin Sheen, call your office.

A John F. Kennedy School of Government researcher has cast doubt on the widely held belief that terrorism stems from poverty, finding instead that terrorist violence is related to a nation's level of political freedom.

Associate Professor of Public Policy Alberto Abadie examined data on terrorism and variables such as wealth, political freedom, geography, and ethnic fractionalization for nations that have been targets of terrorist attacks.

Guess what? It just get's better! Ya know who has the least terrorism? The extremes. Free societies, and totalitarian societies.

Before analyzing the data, Abadie believed it was a reasonable assumption that terrorism has its roots in poverty, especially since studies have linked civil war to economic factors. However, once the data was corrected for the influence of other factors studied, Abadie said he found no significant relationship between a nation's wealth and the level of terrorism it experiences.

"In the past, we heard people refer to the strong link between terrorism and poverty, but in fact when you look at the data, it's not there. This is true not only for events of international terrorism, as previous studies have shown, but perhaps more surprisingly also for the overall level of terrorism, both of domestic and of foreign origin," Abadie said.

Instead, Abadie detected a peculiar relationship between the levels of political freedom a nation affords and the severity of terrorism. Though terrorism declined among nations with high levels of political freedom, it was the intermediate nations that seemed most vulnerable.

Mike, Martin, Babs, Janeane, Alex - cancel those calls. Time to rehabilitate Neville Chamberlain. Turns out you guys were right. Appeasement *does* work. Supporting dictators *does* reduce violence, well, at least the open kind that makes the papers. As long as you are willing to go all the way, anyway. Damn that Churchill and Roosevelt for not following through on the plan.

I really do have a point here. Honest. Coming up now.

Though his study didn't explore the reasons behind the trends he researched, Abadie said it could be that autocratic nations' tight control and repressive practices keep terrorist activities in check, while nations making the transition to more open, democratic governments - such as currently taking place in Iraq and Russia - may be politically unstable, which makes them more vulnerable.

"When you go from an autocratic regime and make the transition to democracy, you may expect a temporary increase in terrorism," Abadie said.

Read the whole thing yourself.

That's where Iraq is. Russia. And elsewhere. The choice is - do you fight the tyrants, or do you roll over? The Hollywood left says to roll over.

I say there's just some people as needs killin'. And those people are in Fallujah, the Sunni Arab minority who don't want to share power with the Shia Arab majority. And yes, innocents are going to die. But we're going to be killing far fewer of them in this city fight than has ever been done before - and we're developing the tactics, techniques, procedures and hardware that will make it harder and harder for people like the fedayeen to hide in the cities, using the innocents as human shields.

And yes, those of you with Beth, I'm perfectly willing to go there, do that. I swore an oath that still binds, regardless of inconvenience it may cause.

Ich Dien. Send Me. No Mission Too Difficult, No Sacrifice Too Great. Duty First.

Tired slogans all. But I still believe in them. But I don't believe in all of them. There's some Wilfrid Owen in me, too. I just don't happen to think that Operation Iraqi Freedom is WWI-like in motivation.

Wilfred Owen Dulce Et Decorum Est

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of disappointed shells that dropped behind.

GAS! Gas! Quick, boys!-- An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And floundering like a man in fire or lime.--
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,--
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

Shame on us, and our political class, if we let it become so. Even more so, if, having started this, we don't have the stomach to finish it. *That* would be a crime.

by John on Nov 09, 2004
» uruloki's lair links with: Cluebat&trade, part I

November 04, 2004

Coupla things, before I head off to watch some TV...

1. Mrs. Edwards - Ma'am, I know it's been a tough year already, and I wish you a million more times more success (and true success, no multplying by zero here) in your new fight. No more, no less. May absolute and total victory be yours. Not just you - you and anyone suffering from or recovered from, that particular affliction.

2. I'm gonna do a Red Ensign post tomorrow. Today - I'm going to point out why I proudly support the Flea's Own. I simply know Canada is better than Carolyn Parrish. Heck, we've got Cynthia McKinney back in Congress, I can't fault the Canadians for their own moonbat.

3. Peggy Noonan. In the Wall Street Journal today.

Who was the biggest loser of the 2004 election? It is easy to say Mr. Kerry: he was a poor candidate with a poor campaign. But I do think the biggest loser was the mainstream media, the famous MSM, the initials that became popular in this election cycle. Every time the big networks and big broadsheet national newspapers tried to pull off a bit of pro-liberal mischief--CBS and the fabricated Bush National Guard documents, the New York Times and bombgate, CBS's "60 Minutes" attempting to coordinate the breaking of bombgate on the Sunday before the election--the yeomen of the blogosphere and AM radio and the Internet took them down. It was to me a great historical development in the history of politics in America. It was Agincourt. It was the yeomen of King Harry taking down the French aristocracy with new technology and rough guts. God bless the pajama-clad yeomen of America. Some day, when America is hit again, and lines go down, and media are hard to get, these bloggers and site runners and independent Internetters of all sorts will find a way to file, and get their word out, and it will be part of the saving of our country.

If you're reading this - you were a part of that, however small our individual parts may have been. Walk proud. You lefties, too.

5. Last, but not least. For any offended by Michael Moore's montage of the dead of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom - Headmistress SondraK, a femme formidable', offers this in retaliation!

Hat tip to GEBIV!

by John on Nov 04, 2004
» Evil pundit of doom! links with: Artistic justice
» Evil pundit of doom! links with: Artistic justice

November 02, 2004

Some more Andersonville...

Andersonville is, appropriately, also the home of the National POW Museum.

Save the Holocaust museums I have visited, this is possibly the most depressing... especially the initial entryway (past the atrium, in the museum proper) showing the footage of POWs and the treatment they received at the hands of their captors - with voiceovers from actual POWs, telling their stories.

Not surprisingly, most of that, though certainly not all, is from Vietnam vets, with sprinklings from Korea and World War II.

When you vote today, if you are undecided yet, consider who gave aid and comfort to the North Vietnamese, and measureably made the lives of the POWs worse. I can forgive Jane Fonda quicker than I can John Kerry. He betrayed his brothers-in-arms, Jimmy Carter's likely rehab of Kerry's discharge notwithstanding. The government has forgiven John Kerry. We'll find out today whether or not the Nation has (or cares about 30 years ago). Even should he sit in the Oval Office, I will not forgive. Doesn't mean I won't continue to well and faithfully serve, as my oath demands - but I will not forgive.

tyrants.gif

Senator McCain may have chosen to forgive, that is his right.

I do not.

by John on Nov 02, 2004

October 19, 2004

Holy Bejeebers! I almost forgot this...

It's entirely possible that there would be no Global War on Terror (and you can take that however you like) if this event had not happened on October 19, 1781.


Lord Cornwallis' surrender to General Washington at Yorktown.

Immediately after the surrender Lord North, the British Prime Minister, resigned. The Brits decided that it was no longer in their best interest to continue the war, and Britain recognized the United States and promised to remove all its troops from the country under the accords of the Treaty of Paris. 8 years after the Declaration of Independence, the United States of America was fully established as an independent nation. And we're war-weary after two years now?

While I credit the combat assistance and sacrifices of the soldiers and sailors under the command of General Rochambeau and Admiral de Grasse (amply repaid I would say) I would note that during the negotiations at Paris, the the French set the tone for Franco-American relations that would in this century make money for John J. Miller of National Review fame and his co-author, Mark Molesky. Congress told the American negotiators, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, John Jay, Thomas Jefferson, and Henry Laurens, to follow the advice of the Comte de Vergennes. It soon became obvious, however, that Vergennes did not have the best interests of the United States first on his agenda, as is perhaps understandable - and ain't nothing changed since - except our own national naivete'!


A nice summary of events can be found here.

by John on Oct 19, 2004
» Sworn Enemy links with: Lord North Surrenders
» Sworn Enemy links with: Lord North Surrenders

October 06, 2004

BTW- though you don't hear about it much.

There's still a war going on in Afghanistan. Of course, since it's going fairly well, all things considered, it's not news. It's especially not news if you are running on the Quagmire mantra. On a lighter note... some of this does sound like the Castle's basement... amzing what a difference *intent* makes, eh?

Coalition Nabs 16 Enemy Soldiers After Afghan Firefight American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 4, 2004 -- Coalition forces captured 16 enemy insurgents Oct. 3 during a daylong battle near the Afghan city of Spin Buldak, according to officials.

The coalition troops were patrolling when enemy forces attacked them. No coalition troops were wounded or equipment damaged during the engagement.

Six enemy troops were wounded during the battle and were taken to Kandahar for medical treatment. One wounded enemy soldier is in stable condition. The others were treated and detained for questioning.

In other news from Afghanistan, insurgents launched mortar fire against a coalition outpost in Paktika Province Oct. 3. About 12 to 15 mortar rounds were shot toward the base, but none landed within the camp's perimeter.

Another Oct. 3 insurgent mortar attack targeted a coalition base in Khowst. One mortar round fell within the camp's perimeter. There were no coalition injuries or damage to equipment resulting from the attack.

Afghan army troops found a weapons cache near Nangalam on Oct. 3. The cache yielded 29 107 mm rockets, seven rocket-propelled-grenade boosters, 210 82 mm rounds, 67 boxes of 14.3 mm rounds, 67 boxes of machine-gun rounds, four boxes of magazines, and a large amount of electrical cord.

Also, Orgun-e villagers found another weapons cache Oct. 3 and turned in the ordnance to local Afghan police. The cache contained 53 rockets, one 14.5 mm machine gun, one recoilless rifle, 46 recoilless-rifle rounds, two machine guns with 90 boxes of ammunition, 191 mortar rounds, and six RPG rounds.

In another incident, an improvised explosive device was found on a bridge in Kandahar on Oct. 3. The IED was disarmed by an explosive-ordnance team and was moved to another area for destruction.

Two other weapons caches were discovered Oct. 2 near Farah and Ghazni. Local Afghans turned in the Farah cache to coalition troops. That cache contained six surface-to-air missiles, 1,015 cases of ammunition, 1,400 mortars, 50 RPGs, 40 82 mm rounds, 5,000 machine-gun rounds, 18 mines, 58 fuses, 2 anti-aircraft guns, one machine gun, and 10 cases of unserviceable ammunition.

The Ghazni cache contained 1,000 RPG rounds, 50 anti-personnel mines, 80 82 mm mines, 5 anti-tank mines, and machinegun cases. An explosive-ordnance team was tasked to destroy the weapons and ammunition.

(Compiled from Combined Forces Command Afghanistan news releases.)

by John on Oct 06, 2004

September 28, 2004

If you don't know what you are talking about...

...it's better to just shut up and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt. (This may be a punishing post for you guys on dial-up, I apologize in advance)

How 'bout the Amazing Kerry? Another one of those 'searing' memories...

"My favorite gun is the M-16 that saved my life and that of my crew in Vietnam," said Mr. Kerry, a veteran, according to the October issue. [Of Outdoor Life] "I don't own one of those now, but one of my reminders of my service is a Communist Chinese assault rifle."

Guess he had to have that because he threw away his medals. Oh, wait, those were someone else's.

Mind you, this fellow is sponsoring an Assault Weapons Ban that would have been more strict than the late, unlamented one. So, we expect him to know something about the things he wishes to legislate and regulate, right? Or to rely upon the advice of those who do. And to have staff who understand these things. Is that unreasonable?

Well, out here in the 'sphere, we right wing gun nuts (and prolly some lefty gun nuts, too) had fun with and pointed out his cluelessness regarding a subject near and dear to many voters hearts - such as the shotgun he accepted (and later returned) which would have been illegal under the awful wording of his law (but he and his staff said, "No, it wouldn't." but which most people, on both sides of the issue said, "Yes, it would, Senator." Then there is the fact that the laws are labyrinthine enough now that the well-intentioned gift of the shotgun was illegal, though only those of us who are 'into' guns apparently knew that - but that doesn't stop the good junior Senator from Massachusetts from wanting to add more to the pile of badly-written, feel-good, ineffective law on the subject.

So, what does the Senator (or his staff, depending on which version of events the campaign is putting out now) think is an assault weapon? According to the New York Times:

Senator John Kerry's campaign said yesterday that Mr. Kerry did not own a Chinese assault rifle, as he was quoted as saying in Outdoor Life magazine, but a single-bolt-action military rifle, blaming aides who filled out the magazine's questionnaire on his behalf for the error.

Leaving aside that I don't know of any double/triple/quadruple-bolt action rifles (Department of Redundancy Department alert), we find the Senator, as is his wont when things break the wrong way - blaming subordinates. And, from this, we are to infer that subordinates made up and supplied the quote? Or is there a program the campaign uses, that strings together phrases from the Senator's past speech to generate plausible-sounding verbiage for campaign questionnaires? Who is this "Campaign," guy, anyway? Can we speak to him? Did he write the Senator's legislation regarding assault weapons? We're beginning to think he might have... Oops, we can - because it wasn't the campaign speaking (I know the artifice, I'm being Safire-ishly snarky here) because:

Michael Meehan, a spokesman for the campaign, said Mr. Kerry, the Democratic presidential nominee, owns two guns, a double-barreled 12-gauge shotgun and the rifle, which Mr. Meehan said Mr. Kerry "keeps as a relic" and had never fired. Mr. Meehan said the gun had no make or model markings on it and that Mr. Kerry "got it from a friend years ago," adding that such rifles were first manufactured in Russia more than 100 years ago and were used by the North Koreans and the Vietcong.

Okay, so which of you guys thinks that thing is an assault rifle? Five-shot bolt action rifles are now assault rifles? Well, in WWI and WWII they were, true enough- at least until true 'assault rifles' came along in the form of the German Maschinen Pistole/Sturm Gewher 44 (Sturm = Storm/Assault, Gewehr= weapon). So was the Springfield Model 1903 in the US Army. Sigh. And yet this gentleman and his underlings want to regulate this stuff. When they are clueless about it, other than "Guns are dangerous, and people can do bad things them... so we must regulate them, and, preferably, ban them altogether, because, well, like, you know, it's good for the kids and man-in-the-moon-marigolds, or something. And you people who want guns and stuff are too stupid to be allowed them, because, like, well, - you don't know anything about 'em and stuff, like, well, um, we do.

So, here's a primer, courtesy the Arsenal at Castle Argghhh!, to help you guys tell the difference.

Chinese (Bulgarian, Russian, Polish, fill-in-the-AK-blank) Assault Rifle. (Though even this isn't - it's a semi, and doesn't have a bayonet lug).

Not Assault Rifle. But, it *is* on of those "rifles were first manufactured in Russia more than 100 years ago" a 1895-dated Imperial Russian Mosin-Nagant Model of 1891, M91 for short. (And I bet, if you clueless dolts had brain cells that make contact, there's markings on it... they just don't say "Chinese Assault Rifle" in english - but unless it's been scrubbed, it'll tell ya who made it, when, and where. And as far as I know, there aren't that many of the 'scrubbed' rifles in the US - since the ones that were scrubbed for clandestine use had their S/Ns removed, too. But - pull that action, and I'll bet you find proofs on the tang.

Hi-res here.

Plus, it's just a bit longer than those AK's and SKS's.

Just a bit...

Unless of course, it is one of the younger siblings of this rifle, the M38, without a bayonet, or the M44, with a built-in bayonet. Lot of them floating around in Korea and Vietnam, too. In fact, this M38 came home with a soldier from the Korean War, and the M44 came home from Vietnam.

M38 hi-res here.

M44 hi-res here.

Remember your pals, the French? Who said yesterday they won't play with you either?

This is a French Assault Rifle. Post-WWII, notice how nice and clean and shiny and unused it is.

It even has one of those dreaded bayonet mount-cum-grenade launcher-cum-flash suppressor thingys you don't like.

Hi-res here.

But it's still pretty short, Senator.

Hi-res for the MAS 49/56 is here.

Okay, Senator (and your underlings). Here's a test. One of these is a Dreaded Assault Weapon. One is not. Can you tell?

Hi-res for the M1903 is here.

Hi-res for the L1A1 is here.

by John on Sep 28, 2004
» Dispassionate Lib links with: Blogtopian Pen Pals

September 15, 2004

You can always rely on senior NCOs...

...to point out to you that your ass is showing. Well, you can rely on them to point it out to you if you are, in their opinion, a Good Officer.

gore.jpg

If you aren't, if, in fact, you are a real idjit - they won't point it out to you, they'll point it out to others.

Like this, from an email.

" In recent weeks and months, as an uncensored voice for the Democratic cause, Gore has skewered President Bush's team for moral cowardice, the "lowest sort of politics imaginable," aligning itself with "digital brownshirts" who intimidate the press, and political tactics as craven as those of Richard Nixon. Just to cite a few examples. "

I resent being labeled a "digital brownshirt", but probably not as much
as Gore regrets "inventing the internet".

Sergeant Major V

by John on Sep 15, 2004

September 14, 2004

Welcome back into the light...

Here are the weapons at the Armory of Castle Argghhh! that were subject to controls under the AWB, when in their original, military configuration, i.e., bayonet lugs, flash suppressors, and grenade launchers (all features eagerly sought by criminals):

Our M1A (in the middle).
Our L1A1
Our ROMAK (semi-auto AK clone).

Here are the weapons in the Armory that would be subject to banning by the strict interpretation of the bill (though the shotgun would be a stretch even for a liberal judge) that Senator Kerry is co-sponsor of:

Our Garand.
Our M1 Carbine, M1A, and Winchester M97 Riot Gun (top, center, bottom, in order)
Our French semis (the three on the bottom).
Our Tokarev carbine.
Our Tokarev rifle.
Our SKS's.
Our L1A1.

Here's what I could still own.

Our DEWAT Vickers.
Our DEWAT Maxim.

Under the law, both are reactivateable (izzat a word?).

If I were to acquire a registered base cup, our M2 60mm mortar would be legal in shootable condition, too.

As Charles Krauthammer noted (via Volokh in Legal Affairs), this isn't about safety, or crime. It's about boiling the frog, stone-souping the masses, desensitizing the public, for eventual confiscation. Which is why we will fight these fights again. Forever. Until/Unless they win - when the only way the fight will be fought again is as it was fought in 1776. Which is not really a Good Thing. So, we'll have to keep fighting 'em off, and fighting 'em off, and fighting 'em off.

Sigh.

Oh, and first time visitors to the Castle who find themselves shocked and horrified should probably go here, and read the Standard Disclaimer™ and stuff, before you grab the phone and ring up the ATFE. And first time visitors to the Castle who see an 'insta-collection' opportunity should probably also go read the Standard Disclaimers - especially the Periodic Goblin Warning™.

by John on Sep 14, 2004
» Bad Example links with: PLEASE PUT THE SILENT BACK IN SILENT NIGHT

August 16, 2004

Abu Ghraib, again.

Whatever your thoughts on Abu Ghraib, from how it happened, how it developed, and how the Army handled/handles it - this little bit of the story is reprehensible... from the ABC news website (via Drudge)

‘Reality Check’ Family of Whistleblower in Prisoner Abuse Scandal Is Shunned by Neighbors, Friends

Go after the message. Not the messenger. The Sergeant (then a Specialist) did the Right Thing. If the alleged abusers had done the Right Thing - there wouldn't be an Abu Ghraib scandal.

Aug. 16, 2004 — When news of the abuse of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison broke, Army Spc. Joseph Darby's family said they were proud the soldier revealed photos documenting the mistreatment. But they never expected their own friends and neighbors would turn on them for what they considered a brave disclosure.

I'm with the family. If you think that Sgt Darby did something wrong (absent better info than I have at this point) - go read someone else's blog, because I sure haven't been getting through.

The full story is here.

by John on Aug 16, 2004

August 01, 2004

On the nature of heroes, and how society chooses who to mythologize.

I've waited to blog this until I knew what I wanted to say. I've come to a conclusion, I guess.

The creation of heroes in any society is pretty much a product of the media, and/or clever hype - as tempered by what the populace wishes to consume and assimilate.

It's hard to assimilate, however, if the story isn't out there. And the only place this story seems to be is the blog-world, which, while growing, is still an insular place, with it's continents of like-thinker-linkers among the general firmament of the Internet.

Who is the hero? How do we measure that?

Is it PFC Jessica Lynch? Who was a soldier in a marginally-led unit who was captured in a convoy ambush with an apparently unserviceable weapon (see 'marginally led,' above) and the subject of a dramatic rescue?

Who, if you Google her, will generate over 300,000 references? The leader being her very own domain and the website thereat? (No slam intended to Ms. Lynch - as far as I know she's never pretended to be what the government and media initially portrayed her as, and she'd be a fool not to take advantage of the opportunity - I have NO quarrel with her... her story is just illustrative of what I talking about).

Her website opens with this poem from a 12-year old:

This Poem was posted on the Jessica Lynch Forums and touched me so much I had to include it on the Main page, it was written by 12 y/o Candice Malone of Virginia Dear Jessica this poem is for you.

An American hero
Jessica from what I hear you are really cool,
I also hear you want to be a teacher at an Elementary school.
You left your country to fight in danger,
you were trying to free people who were filled with anger.
You are now all over TV you have become an American hero,
when I compare you to any superhero in the world you win 10 to 0.

After her website, we find the UK Guardian, United Justice, Time Magazine, the BBC, NBC, New York Daily News, and ABC news heading out the first page.

By contrast, do a Google Search on SFC Paul Ray Smith, and you'll get circa 12,000 entries. Led by bloggers. AlphaPatriot, Winds of Change, *then* you'll get to SFC Smith's eponymous posthumous website, the Fallen Heroes Memorial, Bryan Strawser's blog, Enter Stage Right, Free Republic, GOP USA, and, finally, The Final Roll Call, a list of the casualties.

I quit after 5 pages of Google hits. Not once did I see a 'major news outlet.'

Such is the nature of 'news.' The government made the announcement, but hasn't pushed it. The 'nets choose to ignore the story. It's not 'news.' Hey - it's their business, one assumes they know what 'news' is. And a dead white guy ain't news.

It's just a Medal of Honor. The nation's highest award. Possibly to be awarded to a dead white guy. No big deal. Happens all the time. Good looking blonde chicks (maybe raped!, they added breathlessly) getting rescued by Special Operators - that's news. I got it. They get to decide who the heroes are going to be... unless we make our own choices. I choose to work for SFC Smith. Jessica has all the help she needs.

LEADERSHIP: Medal of Honor Awarded for Iraq Action

October 23, 2003: In today's world, it's easy to lose sight of the fact that one man can make a difference. Paul Ray Smith is on the way to becoming the first serviceman to receive the Medal of Honor since MSG Gary Gordon and SFC Randall Shughart fought their last battle in Mogadishu on October 3, 1993.

During Operation Iraqi Freedom, SFC (Sergeant First Class) Smith was a platoon sergeant/acting platoon leader in the 1st Brigade's B Company, 11th Engineer Battalion attached to the 2-7 Task Force. Bravo Company was in contact with Saddam's forces nearly every day during the second phase of the campaign. After a pause below As Samawah and Karbala, the drive on Baghdad from the south carried the 2-7th into Saddam International Airport.

On the morning of April 4, the Task Force was inside of the airport and several enemy soldiers had been captured, so a containment pen had be to quickly built. There was a wall 10 ft tall paralleling the north side of the highway, on the battalion's flank just behind the front lines. Smith (whose callsign was 'Sapper 7') decided to punch a hole in it, so that the inside walls would form two sides of a triangular enclosure and the open third side could be closed off with rolls of concertina wire.

Smith used an armored combat earthmover to punch through the wall and, while wire was being laid across the corner, one of the squad's two M113s moved toward a gate on the far side of the courtyard. The driver pushed open the gate to open a field of fire, revealing between 50 and 100 enemy soldiers massed to attack. The only way out was the hole the engineers had put in the wall and the gate where the hardcore Iraqis were firing.

What happened next was equal to Audie Murphy's legendary World War II heroism. Iraqi soldiers perched in trees and a nearby tower let loose with a barrage of RPGs and there were snipers on the roof. A mortar round hit the engineers' M-113, seriously wounding three soldiers inside. Smith helped evacuate them to an aid station, which was threatened by the attack as well.

Smith promptly organized the engineers' defense, since the only thing that stood between the Iraqis and the Task Force's headquarters were about 15 to 20 engineers, mortarmen and medics. A second M113 was hit by an RPG, but was still operational. Dozens of Iraqi soldiers were charging from the gate or scaling a section of the wall, jumping into the courtyard.

Smith took over the second APC's .50-caliber machine gun and got the vehicle into a position where he could stop the Iraqis. First Sergeant Tim Campbell realized that they had to knock out the Iraqi position in the tower and after consulting with Smith, led two soldiers to take the tower. Armed only with a light machine-gun, a rifle and a pistol with one magazine, the trio advanced behind the smoke of tall grass that had caught fire from exploding ammunition.

Smith yelled for more ammunition three times during the fight, going through 400 rounds before he was hit in the head. Shortly before taking the tower and gunning down the Iraqis inside, Campbell noticed that the sound of Smith's .50-caliber had also stopped. Campbell figured Smith was just reloading again.

The medics worked on SFC Smith for 30 minutes, but he was dead.

According to the citation, his actions killed 20 to 50 Iraqis, allowing the American wounded to be evacuated, saving the aid station and headquarters (as well as possibly 100 American lives). Fellow soldiers credit Smith with thwarting the advance of well-trained, well-equipped soldiers from the Special Republican Guard, which was headed straight for the 2-7 Task Force's headquarters (Tactical Operations Center), less than a half-mile away. The battle captains, commanders and journalists huddled at the operations center were trying to protect themselves against tank fire and snipers in the nearby woods They had no idea about the possible onslaught of Republican Guard from the nearby complex.

Smith, a veteran of the 1991 Persian Gulf War, was a 33 year old from Tampa, Florida. He left behind a wife, a son and a daughter.


Like it or not, Private Lynch was a mostly passive participant in the battle and aftermath that have brought her fame, and perhaps (one hopes) some fortune, as well. As long as she can refrain from playing the victim card - she can be a 'little h' hero in my book, along with every other soldier who got stuck at the sharp end.

SFC Smith? Well, he was just another soldier doing his job, eh?

No story here. Move along. We like our heroes alive, pretty, and with nice hair.

by John on Aug 01, 2004
» Freedom Nation links with: The Stuff of Heroes

July 22, 2004

I left this one alone...

...because other people were all over it and I didn't have much to say.

Nice little article on NRO today the gently kicks the media (and blogosphere, a bit) in the teeth for being, well, slackers.

This guy googled his away around and found the band on Annie Jacobsen's scary flight.

This guy doesn't pooh-pooh what Annie said in her piece... but he did ask the questions I was asking. With all that was going on that was in violation of the protocols in place on every flight I've taken lately - how come no one - no one - on that flight did this?

Now, by that I certainly don't mean that the interceptors should have scrambled or the passengers should have started swinging Chardonnay bottles as soon as the oud player took too long in the john. But evidently no one even engaged these guys in a conversation, and no one, not the flight crew, and not the air marshals, challenged their egregious violations of protocols about congregating near restrooms or standing up in unison as the plane started its descent. Nothing was done to alleviate the terror Jacobsen, and probably a lot of the other passengers, felt.

That's the bit that annoyed me - not Jacobsen's disquiet or (depending on your politics) un-pc attitude about it all.

This is the bit that get's me. Put me in Clinton Taylor's corner here.

Liberals will likely decry the suspicion and interrogation the musicians faced on Flight 327. And the principled Right will regret that that was necessary. If the band's English wasn't very good they might not have understood the instructions. But a polite word and some helpful gestures earlier on, rather than a guilty PC silence, might have saved them some embarrassment. In any case, the police-state parallels fade quickly: In a real police state, like, oh, Syria, you are not even allowed inside the country with an Israeli stamp in your passport.

June 29 was no ordinary day in the skies. That day, Department of Homeland Security officials issued an "unusually specific internal warning," urging customs officials to watch out for Pakistanis with physical signs of rough training in the al Qaeda training camps. The warning specifically mentioned Detroit and Los Angeles's LAX airports, the origin and terminus of NWA flight 327.

That means that our air-traffic system was expecting trouble. But rather than land the plane in Las Vegas or Omaha, it was allowed to continue on to Los Angeles without interruption, as if everything were hunky-dory on board. It certainly wasn't. If this had been the real thing, and the musicians had instead been terrorists, nothing was stopping them from taking control of the plane or assembling a bomb in the restroom. Given the information they were working with at the time, almost everyone should have reacted differently than they did.

Army Transformation

If you look at the era of limited warfare since World War II, this continuum of American involvement in limited liability wars from Korea to Iraqi Freedom, you'll notice that 81 percent, or four out of five, servicemen and women who died in combat at the hands of the enemy have been infantrymen -- not soldiers or Marines, but infantrymen. Something like five percent of the force is suffering 80 percent of the dead at the hands at the enemy.

What's also interesting in this period of limited wars is that the greatest killer of Americans on the battlefield is the mortar -- simple iron tube that throws a grenade up into the air. The enemy today, of course, is taking mortars and artillery shells and turning them into explosive devices. The principle is the same.

From the opening statement of MG Scales (see extended post)

With that setting the stage...

This post is about Army transformation. I encourage my readers who work in the business to scan the stuff below, read the document, and come back and offer their views. You can comment anonymously, simply by putting bogus data in the comment fields. Feel free to contact me directly, if you have something to say that you don't want public. Just please make it clear that it's not for the public! I am a blogger, after all! If all you have to say is an incoherent screech, don't bother, I'll just delete it. 8^)

The link at the end of this post is to the transcript of recent testimony given to the House Armed Services Committee on the subject of Army Transformation. There is much there worth pondering, for those of us who are involved with it, either intellectually, like myself and Rammer, or operationally, like SGT Hook and Uruloki. I'm providing some snippets that caught my eye as I went through it, hopefully they will encourage you to read the whole thing. I would right click and save the document, rather than spawn it from my server. That way you'll have it locally to read at leisure.

From Rep. Roscoe Bartlett's (R-MD) intro to the hearing:

Both President Bush and Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld have embraced transformation as a guiding concept for reshaping our military forces for the new security challenge facing our nation. Arguably, the Army has emerged as the most visible and aggressive effort to implement this vision. The questions before the committee are varied and complex, but they include: Precisely how is the Army transforming? Is it moving in the right direction? And, is it wise to attempt such radical change while the Army's troops are continuously engaged in combat?

We may find that the Army has no choice but to significantly change to meet the demands of modern warfare, but we also have an obligation to determine what will be gained and what will be lost as the Army undergoes this lengthy and difficult process.

Change is always difficult. We understand that some have criticized the Army for being too bold in changing when it is fully engaged in combat in Iraq. Others, including some at the witness table, have said that the Army's plan is too timid to meet the challenges to today's security environment.

While part of the Army's plan involves procurement programs, the more critical proposed changes rest in the Army's culture, doctrine and organization. In any case, we have a duty to carefully review this important initiative as the most fundamental change facing the Army since the end of the draft, close to thirty years ago.

Our witnesses today have either operated within or studied the Army intimately. Since none of them are presently officially connected with the Army, they are well placed to provide their frank and unvarnished views of the changes the Army is undergoing.

The rest is in the Flash Traffic.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows »

by John on Jul 22, 2004

July 01, 2004

Now let's take a look at this...

Attack Iran, US chief ordered British By Michael Smith, Defence Correspondent (Filed: 30/06/2004)


America's military commander in Iraq ordered British troops to prepare a full-scale ground offensive against Iranian forces that had crossed the border and grabbed disputed territory, a senior officer has disclosed.

Um, it seems to me he told them to prepare. Not attack. There is a difference. An important one. If you don't have a plan when you get the order, you either wing it, or delay execution until you have one - and usually do things like take more casualties. Based on that one paragraph alone, I would say Sanchez was saying, "Prepare for an attack, I want that option." Which is exactly what a commander is supposed to do. Develop options. Planning. It's what staffs are there to do.

Not the same thing as saying, "Go get 'em!" Maybe I'm missing something.

An attack would almost certainly have provoked open conflict with Iran. But the British chose instead to resolve the matter through diplomatic channels.

Maybe it would, maybe it wouldn't. They might have pulled back. We'll never know, will we? But they learned that we wouldn't attack, didn't they? So they know something about us - and we learned next to nothing about them. Oh, and did what they learned about us figure into subsequent actions... like shanghaiing some patrol boats? Not necessarily the best trade. And, if the Brits or US did go through any motions of movement, positioning forces, aerial reconnaissance - how do we know their decision to act on diplomatic overtures was not influenced by the presence of probably the two best armies in the world right there? That's before you introduce the Air Force and Naval and Marine aviation into the picture. Somehow, I'm just not picturing the Iranians too keen on committing a large number of heavy forces with trigger happy US flyboys looking to add more tank silhouettes to their aircraft. Just saying.

"If we had attacked the Iranian positions, all hell would have broken loose," a defence source said yesterday.

"We would have had the Iranians to our front and the Iraqi insurgents picking us off at the rear."

Maybe. You might have had Iranians fleeing back across the border and insurgents learning that Iran wouldn't be too supportive, too. Again, just saying.

The incident was disclosed by a senior British officer at a conference in London last week and is reported in today's edition of Defence Analysis. The identity of the officer is not given.

"Some Iranian border and observation posts were re-positioned over the border, broadly a kilometre into Iraq," a Ministry of Defence spokesman said.

The incident began last July when Revolutionary Guards pushed about a kilometre into Iraq to the north and east of Basra in an apparent attempt to reoccupy territory which they claimed belonged to Iran.

It would be instructive to know what level of force remained close by the border that could have supported these forces. Then the decision making would be a touch easier to understand.

The rest is in the extended post.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows »

by John on Jul 01, 2004

June 21, 2004

Some things that make ya go, hmmmm.

IRAQ: Baghdad is Safer than Washington, DC

June 21, 2004: The anti-government violence in Iraq is causing a annualized death rate of 15 per 100,000 population for terrorist activities alone. That compares to a murder rate in the United States of 5.6 per 100,000. European nations have an average rate of about four per 100,000, while Russia is 20 per 100,000. Some nations are particularly violent. South Africa has a murder rate of 59, and neighboring Namibia is 45. Colombia, in South America, was over 50 a few years ago, but is now down to the 30s because a crackdown on armed militias. The Middle East tends of have low murder rates, with Turkey having a rate of 2.3. Israel also had a rate of 2.3, until the Palestinians began their terrorism campaign in late 2000. The deaths from suicide bombings and other
attacks doubled Israel's murder rate to about 4 per 100,000, although that has
been coming down in the past year.

But Iraq has become accustomed to a high murder rate. Saddam's police forces were the cause of many murders, and as far back as the 1970s, the official murder rate was 12 per 100,000. The coalition forces and Iraqi security forces have gotten the non-terrorist murder rate down to about five per 100,000. This, combined with the deaths caused by terrorists, produces a rate of about 20 per year. The murder rate in Washington, DC, is over 60 per 100,000.

One thing that jumps out there... "easy availability" of firearms does not seem to be a consistent factor, does it? Criminal and political violence seems to be a better, if not fully consistent, index. Yet, the middle east abounds with criminal activity, just not as vicious (though the political violence more than compensates). Hmmmm.

INFANTRY: New Helmet for Australian Infantry

June 21, 2004: Australia, after studying four different helmet designs, accepted one from an Israeli firm and is introducing it as the Enhanced Combat Helmet (ECH). Some ten ounces lighter than the current helmet, the ECH also offers better protection and is much more comfortable. The Israeli proposal is a modified (to meet Australian specifications) version of the RBH 303 helmet (itself a modification of the RBH 103 helmet currently used by the Israeli armed forces.) The main modifications were improved ballistics protection, changes to the padding system, the elimination of the front brim and a reduction in ear coverage to enable troops to use “Active Noise Reduction” equipment. The ECH comes in four sizes (small, medium, large and extra large), with the heaviest one weighing 2.6 pounds. The RBH 303 only had three sizes, but it was found
that many Australian troops, well, had big heads.

The current Australian helmet, the PASGT, is similar to the Kevlar model adopted by the United States in the early 1980s, and by many nations after that. The Kevlar design was a third generation combat helmet, and nicknamed the “Fritz” after its resemblance to the German helmets used in both World Wars. The German World War I design, which was based on an analysis of where troops were being hit by fragments and bullets in combat, was the most successful combat helmet in that war. This basic design was little changed during World War II, and finally adopted by many other nations after the American Kevlar helmet appeared in the 1980s.

Most of the second generation helmets, which appeared largely during World War II, were similar to the old American “steel pot” design. The fourth generation helmets, currently appearing, use better synthetic materials and more comfortable design.

The Aussies have big heads? Say it ain't so, Vern! Trivia note on the 'fritz' helmet design. Deliberate decision made in the 50's when the steel pot got relooked to *not* go with the 'fritz' helmet shape. That shape was just too identified with german militarism and Nazi excess to even think about adopting it. A splinter argument, if you will, of the discussions about whether or not to use the Nazi concentration-camp-derived medical data, which was a mixed bag of yes and no, regarding it's use.

SURFACE WARSHIPS: Naval Gunfire Support Questions

June 21, 2004: The debate over naval gunfire support has raged since the retirement of the Iowa-class battleships in 1991. While the revolution in precision-guided munitions has made air support much more reliable and effective, there are still people who raise questions about adequate fire-support for Marine operations.

With the retirement of the Iowa-class battleships and their 16-inch (406mm) guns, despite superb performance in Operation Desert Storm, the largest guns for fire-support has been the 5-inch (127mm) guns on the Ticonderoga-class cruisers, and the Spruance and Arleigh Burke-class destroyers. The Spruances are headed for retirement, though. This leaves the Navy arguably short on bombardment capability, particularly due to the troubled development of the Extended-Range Guided Munition, which was to have a range of 100 kilometers. The 155mm shells for the Advanced Gun System on the Zumwalt-class destroyers will have a range of 180 kilometers. However, these are relatively small shells, weighing about 260 pounds (118 kilograms) for the 155mm and 110 pounds (50 kilograms) for the 5-inch shells.

While better than nothing, the United States Marine Corps is not convinced there is enough fire support to do the job, even with the shift of carrier air wings to an all-Hornet strike wing (consisting of F/A-18E/F and F/A-18C Hornets) . While aircraft with smart bombs can deliver ordinance (sic) cheaply ($18,000 for a GBU-31 based off of the Mk84), and on target (currently within 40 feet, but in reality it is much closer – a new version promises hits within ten feet), there is a lengthy turnaround time to fuel and re-arm the aircraft. Tomahawks or other land-attack missiles (like the suspended Land-Attack Standard Missile, which has a speed of Mach 3.5, and a range of 280 kilometers) are expensive ($500,000 per Tomahawk, roughly $420,000 for the Standard missile). Naval gunfire support (and artillery) doesn’t have the drawback of a lengthy period of time for a follow-up attack or high cost.

These perceived shortfalls in fire support are the reason that there has been a lobbying effort to reactivate at least two of the Iowa-class battleships, led by the United States Naval Fire Support Association (USNFSA). The two ships that would return to service should the USNFSA get its way are the Iowa (the #2 turret has been nearly repaired, and the parts to complete the repairs are stored in that turret) and the Wisconsin. These ships would be equipped with shells developed from the HE-ER Mk 148 program (cancelled after the 1991 decommissioning of the battleships). The Ex-148 was slated to have a range of 91 kilometers using a 13.5-inch (343mm) shell in a sabot. An 11-inch (280mm) version would have had a range of 180 kilometers (equivalent to the 155mm AGS). These shells, at 1,400 pounds/635 kilograms and 694 pounds/315 kilograms respectively, are much larger than the shells from the 127mm and 155mm guns. For targets close to shore (within 15 miles/25 kilometers or so), the Iowas could use their regular shells, either the 2,700-pound (1,225-kilogram) armor-piercing shell or the 1,900-pound (862-kilogram) high-capacity shell. This is possible due to the fact that the Iowa-class battleships carry much more armor than the Burke and Zumwalt-class destroyers, and are thus much more resistant to damage.

The controversy will not go away, even after the last Iowa becomes a museum. If anything, a new era of the big gun could be dawning as the United States Navy seeks to address the concerns of the Marines – or at least to quiet the complaints before Congress takes note of them and makes the Navy do something. – Harold C. Hutchison (hchutch@ix.netcom.com)

USNFSA website: (a number of links on that site are broken)

The Iowas were retired because they were expensive to crew and operate, and the cost to try to refit them with more automation was consdered prohibitive. And, just like the Army, when we retired the 8inch cannon for similar reasons (and the impact the ammo has on the logistics system - artillery ammo is very heavy in log terms, and takes up a lot of carry capacity for its volume) the guys on the ground still wish for something that gives as satisfactory a bang at the delivery end, in all weather, all the time, in ways that aircraft just can't. We tried going without artillery in Afghanistan... and found out we still need it.

This and other good stuff is available from Strategy Page.

by John on Jun 21, 2004
» Closet Extremist links with: Don't fix it, if it ain't broke.
» Blog o'RAM links with: Webby Pictures

May 28, 2004

2LT Leonhard Cowherd, Final Roll Call


"First Sergeant, Call the Roll."


Lieutenant Leonard Cowherd...

Lieutenant Leonard Cowherd...

Lieutenant Leonard Cowherd...


"First Sergeant, let Lieutenant Cowherd's name be stricken from the roll."

Play this as you read. Amazing Grace


All,

Before all that is to follow, I want to thank the Agnew's for hosting a gathering after the Arlington ceremony. They are the parents of Charles', Leonard's twin, roommate from VMI. This was 'just' the thing; you can't put that many high-energy young people together without laughter and good memories finding a way to the surface. This gathering was vital to lifting spirits and providing a steam valve for emotions. At the end - the young ones stuffed the 'old folk' in one limo headed back to Culpeper while they went out in another to find some adventure.

As it should be. Thank you for opening your home and your hospitality.

I now have to apologize to all of you who attended the Arlington ceremony. We know this wasn't a trivial thing for your to accomplish. We are sad that we couldn't visit and thank you personally. I now know that an Arlington internment is one of being 'whisked' - here and there and it all makes sense but... So many friends and we didn't get to say hello rightly. Thank you. Your presence and support meant more than you'll ever know; to Sarah, to the Cowherd's, to the Cerri's, and to veterans everywhere.

And what to say of the ceremony itself?

We left Culpeper with a motorcycle escort and through every county and interstate we were handed off to the next jurisdiction's protection. At points there were up to 6 motorcycles and police cars guiding us through the various turns and road nuances. The coordination and dedication to make this possible were not lost on us. At the end, the motorcycle police managed to array themselves at the entrance to Arlington with a standing salute to Leonard. We never had the chance to meet, know, or thank them... They just honored him.

Of Arlington?

An old friend who lovingly...sadly opens his door for what must come. Arlington is America's memory of what makes the nation. Other memorials on the mall are wonderful and meaningful - but Arlington is not only for us...it is of us. Generations have made this place part of the national fabric. Rich man, poor man. General, private. Lifer, conscript. All services, all heritages. Men and women who gave the full measure; honored in perpetuity.

There are no surprises at Arlington. Everything is as manicured and as perfect as nature can be made. Acres and acres of military order. Simple. Dignified. Elegant. As long as there is Arlington, there will be America.

Pulling in we were momentarily amongst the tourists. And they were not interruption - they were purpose. I too have been on the outside looking in. Now, with roles reversed, I was thankful to see those throngs coming to learn and experience and teach. I saw more than one parent pull their child aside to point and whisper a lesson of our country. I saw many stop and put their hands over their heart as we passed; simple, dignified, elegant.

The day was early-Summer, Southern gem. Hot but not stifling. Blue sky with wispy white. And the cicadas? Strangely appropriate. For you in other parts of the country, they are big but gentle things. I doubt anyone who attended didn't have at least one land on them at some point in the day. And the sound? A distant jet on the runway waiting to take off. A constant whine. And it was good...nature carrying on. And Leonard would have been fascinated and investigating.

And the ceremony?

These words, my feelings, are insignificant to describe the wash of emotion in all of this.

As the hearse door opened I placed my hands upon my daughters shoulders...and I felt her shudder. MG Blount holding her to the left,
Charles to the right, her mother, her brother, and I to her rear. The
Cowherd's a part of the single family we've all become.

The Old Guard does not make mistakes. The wooden casket came off the hearse rails with precision and practiced timing.

There were 12 chairs under the small awning erected beside the grave site; just enough seats and space for immediate family. Sarah to the right-front in her black dress. Again, her mother and I found ourselves directly behind. My son to my right shoulder and the hundreds of family and friends closed in around us. It is hard to imagine intimacy in all of this, but it was there. There were quiet and peace in that little circle amidst the vast openness of Arlington.

Have you heard Amazing Grace on bag pipe? If that little bag of wind was put on earth for no other reason than to play this one song - it would still have a place amongst all the wonderful instruments the world has ever known. And the kilted-piper didn't end his song, he just turned and walked away...till the strains faded in the cicada whine.

The prayers offered by the family minister were perfect; a soldier's prayer born of powder, honor, and hope.

The 21 guns were three, crisp firings of seven. Again, the Old Guard does not make mistakes. However, a moment to speak of those guns. Like Leonard, I am a West Pointer. Like Leonard, I religiously counted guns whenever a dignitary arrived at school. 21 reports signified a visitor with enough importance to grant the Corps amnesty for all the various troubles and peccadilloes cadets seem to manage. West Point has a lot of visitors and a lot of cannon fire but rarely 21. 18 - "peon." 20 - "oh good Lord, another wanna be." and so on.

And on this day, on this sacred ground, 21 guns were fired to honor 2LT Cowherd.

Taps... An American will always struggle during Taps. While surely a
harbinger for many, it is our heroes we cry for. Not of sadness per se - of loss. How to measure against their lives? How to reconcile against their sacrifice? How to deal with what it takes to keep America? Simple, dignified, elegant...

The flag was creased, folded, and lovingly presented to my daughter.

She understands its meaning. It currently rests in an oak case with the Army seal. It will have a place of honor always. Leonard's mother and brother each received one as well.

Stand a little stiller during your next National Anthem. That song and that flag are paid for.

And my daughter?

Leonard's wife...my Kiddo. Leonard was her everything and she is his honor.

We all have our moments, Sarah more.

I'll offer historic perspective that seems most appropriate. Stephen Pressfield recreates the words of Greek king to the families of the 300 Spartans:

"When the battle is over, when the 300 have gone..., then will Greece look to the Spartans, to see how they bear it. But who ladies, who will the Spartans look to? To you. To you and the other wives and mothers, sisters and daughters of the fallen. If they behold your hearts riven with grief, they too will break. And Greece will break with them. But if you bear up, then Sparta will stand and all Greece will stand behind her. Why have I nominated your men and you to bear up beneath this most terrible of trials, you and your sisters of the three hundred? Because you can."

If these words ring true, then look to my daughter, Leonard's mother, my wife, and all the rest of the families' members. They are bearing up. America stands strong and proud. In Sarah's love, she has found an open heart for friends and a strength of belief that will carry her through.

Sarah's future is now at hand. I know there is a large community waiting to see... wanting proof in their faith that families are cared for. Believe. Army, VA, AER, TAPS, AFSC, Social Security and a bunch of other acronyms have checked into the net offering help both immediate and long-term. The years ahead are waiting and will write their own story. For now, no one could ask anything else.

To all of you that have been part of this thread - its been a way to keep you up to date and answer questions we know you have. I grabbed your names that first night because you needed to know or I knew you would want to know. Others have joined along the way as arrangements and details fell into place. As I tap these last words on this Memorial Day - I hope you haven't minded one man's view into what the day is all about.

Thank you for cards, and flowers, and prayers, and visits, and trips, and food, and errands, and arrangements, and condolences...and for holding our hand. You friends around the world have truly helped.

Our sails are filling with wind again and we'll all be back to work tomorrow. We know there will be awkward moments. Don't worry. Believe us...we understand. We'll all get through it. It's OK.

30

T
Tony Cerri

Now is the time at Castle Argghhh! when we dance. In Memoriam.

by John on May 28, 2004

April 04, 2004

Here's another one...

...of those returning vets who's gonna kick ChickenHawk Warblogger A$$.*

Incite. Yep, Cap'n Dave is going to come around hunting us up. Go see why.

Hat tip to Right Wingin' It for the pointer.


Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows »

by John on Apr 04, 2004

February 16, 2004

I want! I want!

From Iron Bear at Who Tends The Fires we find this link.

ntw2-sm.jpg

I want one. BTW - did you know that PTRS anti-tank rifles are available now in Germany - but not here? Thanks, Sarah. Sigh. I want one of those, too. But I feel so much safer knowing the SaraHillary BradhyShumerStein is watching over me. I know they will come to my aid if I need it. Well, I'm sure they'll call 911 anyway. Probably to report me, not save me. Hmmm. Better take a happy pill.

ptrs11-2003.jpg

by John on Feb 16, 2004

February 09, 2004

Just a little perspective...

Commentary: Some Soldiers missed Super Bowl

By Lt. Col. Andrew Straw
February 4, 2004

WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Feb. 4, 2004) -- At kickoff, I was touching up the shine on my combat boots. I thought of calling my wife in Charlotte, N.C., but she had already gone across town to a Super Bowl party.

As I left Washington for the drive to the airfield, the first half was winding down and the score was still 0-0. I couldn't find the game on the car radio and forgot about football for the next 30 minutes.

I arrived at Davison Army Airfield to find the eight young Soldiers from the Honor Guard, also dressed in camouflage fatigues, sprawled out in the small passenger lounge. They were ogling the halftime show on TV and wisecracking back and forth just like thousands of other groups of young guys across the country at that moment. I learned that the score was 14-10, Panthers behind.

The general arrived five minutes later, just as the pilot stepped in to say the aircraft was ready. Anita called from Charlotte on my cell just as I was walking out the door-"Can't talk, gotta go." On the TV behind me, play was just beginning for the second half.

The ten of us followed a sergeant through the darkness from the near-deserted terminal to the waiting helicopter. As we carefully tiptoed across patches of ice on the apron, one of the Honor Guard soldiers whispered something about Janet Jackson.

Another Soldier beamed with adventure as he climbed in, "It reminds me of the first time I rode a tractor!" I was beaming too. It would be my first ride on an Army Blackhawk.

I was warned in advance that Black Hawks had no heaters, and had bundled up with two layers beneath my uniform. The night was clear. We flew to Delaware at low altitude over beautiful snow-covered scenery. We landed at Dover Air Force Base 45 minutes later, and parked near a huge C-141 cargo plane with Air Force Reserve markings. The rear doors and ramp were open, and light spilled from the huge cargo bay.

I followed the general as he was quickly ushered into a small, neat passenger lounge. Coffee? Water? The game was on TV; the score was 22-21. A half dozen others in various uniforms were waiting. I introduced myself to a major from New York City -- a forensic dentist in the Army Reserve, called up to help out for a 30-day tour. A Methodist minister serving as an Air Force chaplain bragged about the support his wife gives him while he is recalled to active duty.

While the general got a briefing on the mission details, an Air Force colonel gathered the rest of us together, and we marched out to the C-141. I followed him up the ladder into the cargo bay. It was empty except for the three oblong boxes in a perfect row down the center. Two loadmasters were adjusting the ramp in the rear of the aircraft, and several others were carefully arranging U.S. flags over each of the boxes. A congenial major explained the proceedings to follow the way a priest leads a family through a wedding rehearsal.

I line up with the flight crew along the fuselage, facing the caskets. Attention! The Honor Guard marches in silently; wearing white gloves with their camouflage uniforms now. The General marches up the ramp with the Air Force wing commander, a colonel. The chaplain says a prayer with all the right words: fallen warriors...the Army family...selfless service...the price of freedom.

Nobody is thinking about football. Nobody. The young Soldiers from the Old Guard are standing smartly, solemnly, expressionless. No slouching or snickers now, only the serious task at hand. Ready...Down! Ready...Up! Ready...Face! Forward...March! They move to the measured commands with astounding precision.

In the cold dark night, there are fewer than two dozen of us present. No outsiders are watching, but those young men give a TV-quality performance, as if their burden was a fallen president. Present Arms! We salute as the first remains are marched off the plane under the watchful gaze of the general. He salutes.

We do it again for the second set and the third. The unmarked, clean, white truck then drives off very slowly with its red, white, and blue-draped cargo. The Honor Detail marches behind it. The General dismisses us.

Back in the small lounge, the game is still on, eight seconds left. I watch the unfolding excitement numbly.

Welcome home, fallen sergeant, corporal, and private first class.

You missed the Super Bowl. The Patriots won.

Thank you.

(Editor's note: Sgt. Eliu Miersandoval, 27, Cpl. Juan Cabralbanuelos, 25, and Pfc. Holly McGeogh, 19, of the Army's 4th Infantry Division, died Jan. 31 in Kirkuk, Iraq, when their vehicle hit an improvised explosive device during convoy operations. Lt. Col. Andrew Straw is an Army Reserve officer from Charlotte. He has been serving on active duty at the Pentagon with the Army's G3 since October 2002.)

by John on Feb 09, 2004
» Technicalities links with: A Little Perspective on the Super Bowl
» Me, Myself & I links with: From john of argghhh-