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Newsflash - the science is settled: Liberal girls are easy. A new scientifical study has proven that how liberal you are is based on how high your IQ is. "This applied also to sexual exclusivity in men, but not in women."
"Now hold on a minute," you might demand, "they made a musical out of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels?"
Yes - and here's what appears to be a surreptitiously videoed version of the Broadway production on the YouTubes. This is the opening segment, including the song quoted above.
But as far as the new super scientifical study goes, to understand it real good like the CNN reporter does you have to understand this hard science stuff.
The study takes the American view of liberal vs. conservative. It defines "liberal" in terms of concern for genetically nonrelated people and support for private resources that help those people.
High IQ liberals will probably understand that intuitively. Low IQ conservative, religious paranoids will just deny deny deny because they aren't smart and scientifical like you and me and that CNN reporter are. Plus they will all try and stereotype even though she specifically warned them not to.
"Now hold on a minute," you might demand, "how did you know they made a musical out of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels?"
Well, I saw it last night. See, my daughter had a role in the local production. Here's a review calling it "frivolous, fun and easy on the eyes and ears."
Scoundrels is set in Beaumont Sur Mer, a posh gambling village on the French Riviera. For years, local cad Lawrence Jameson has preyed on the wealthy American women who visit, conning them with his cultured charm, lying through his immaculate teeth and then taking their money.
Small-time hustler Freddy Benson arrives and proceeds to compete with Jameson. The two form an unlikely alliance, and over the course of the movie-slash-play, attempt to one-up each other by increasing the stakes of each successive con.
See, they make their victims feel smart and beautiful and important then use their concern for total strangers as a means to con them out of their money. I couldn't sneak a video camera into my daughter's performance last night - but here's a still photo from that opening number.
And here are a couple of photos from later in the play. Notice that "Freddy" is pretending to be an army sergeant in a wheelchair. Most of the play concerns this particular con - it's one of the oldest tricks in the book for preying on the gullible.
Anyhow, the real point of that CNN story isn't about how liberal girls are easy - I was just kidding when I said that. It's about how smart and much more highly evolved liberals are - boy liberals and girl liberals, too.
Evolutionary psychologist Satoshi Kanazawa at the the London School of Economics and Political Science correlated data on these behaviors with IQ from a large national U.S. sample and found that, on average, people who identified as liberal and atheist had higher IQs.
Anyhow, that's the important thing for liberals to keep in mind at all times: you are very intelligent and highly evolved. No one's going to even try to put one over on you.
"The adoption of some evolutionarily novel ideas makes some sense in terms of moving the species forward," said George Washington University leadership professor James Bailey, who was not involved in the study. "It also makes perfect sense that more intelligent people -- people with, sort of, more intellectual firepower -- are likely to be the ones to do that."
Scoundrels doesn't have anything to do with politics (well, "the prince" is trying to raise money for a revolution...) but speaking of religion, in this scene my daughter plays a nun:
This production required lots of costume changes - here she's an Oklahoma cowgirl.
I just wanted to point out the costumes by way of explaining why she and her friend are dressed like this and out in the snow.
If you didn't know the whole story you might think that's not very intelligent behavior. But you see, the last time it snowed in Savannah they were five years old. So when it happened a couple weeks ago they took a break from rehearsals and ran outside for some photos.
"Now hold on a minute," you might demand, "snow in Savannah? What happened to the global warming?!?!"
Amazingly, the con man in the play actually discusses global warming:
I, for one, genuinely wish that the climate crisis were an illusion. But unfortunately, the reality of the danger we are courting has not been changed by the discovery of at least two mistakes in the thousands of pages of careful scientific work over the last 22 years by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. In fact, the crisis is still growing because we are continuing to dump 90 million tons of global-warming pollution every 24 hours into the atmosphere -- as if it were an open sewer.
Wait - my bad. That's not from Dirty Rotten Scoundrels - it's Al Gore in the New York Times. Now I've jumbled cold, hard, facts with fiction - mixed science with art, and confused news with reviews. Gosh - the weekend is such a blur...
Let's zoom into the mansion - and go out with a song!
MARJAH, Afghanistan -- Marines and Afghan troops cleared the last major pocket of resistance in the former Taliban-ruled town of Marjah on Saturday -- part of an offensive that is the run-up to a larger showdown this year in the most strategic part of Afghanistan's dangerous south.
From NATO, here's a three part video series on Operation Moshtarak produced by video journalist Josh Fortune, who "revisits the village of Nad Ali in Central Helmand where he had embedded with Estonian forces one year ago. This area had been controlled by Taliban militants and drug traffickers. One year later, Fortune embeds with Afghan, British and Estonian soldiers for Operation Moshtarak and captures the preparation, the launch and the actual operation in progress."
Previously: Contact: Moshtarak
Next: News from Emerald City
"Open and consistent access across the board."
The Department of Defense released its official policy on new/social media today. The policy (Directive-Type Memorandum 09-026), which is effective immediately, states that the default for the DoD non-classified network (the NIPRNET) is for open access so that all of DoD can use new media. This is DoD's first official policy on new media. Prior to today, the Services and other DoD components developed and implemented their own ad hoc policies -- some banning it all together. Under this new policy, there will be open and consistent access across the board, but prohibited content sites (gambling, pornography, hate-crime activities) will still be blocked. Also, Commanders at all levels and heads of DoD components will continue to keep networks safe from malicious activity and take actions, as required, to safeguard missions.
Service members and DoD employees are welcome and encouraged to use new media to communicate with family and friends -- at home stations or deployed -- but it's important to do it safely. Keep in mind that everyone has a responsibility to protect themselves and their information online, and existing regulations on ethics, operational security, and privacy still apply. Be sure never to post any information that could be considered classified, sensitive, or that might put military members or families in danger.
All of us?
Yes, all of us.
CLIMATE scientists yesterday stunned Britons suffering the coldest winter for 30 years by claiming last month was the hottest January the world has ever seen.
The remarkable claim, based on global satellite data...
Stunned Britons are reportedly wandering aimlessly through the streets even as you read this. But the hot weather has gone south for the winter, where a Huge Antarctic iceberg broke off as scientists focused elsewhere.
(Speaking of remote sensing data, you can see some pretty cool photos here.)
Neal Young, the Australian scientist who captured the moment with his camera, said the birth of this iceberg was not evidence of climate change but a natural event...
The "elsewhere" on which scientists were focused was the other side of Antarctica:
The new iceberg, slightly smaller than the Hawaiian island of Oahu, broke off from a place it wasn't expected to - the cooler eastern end of Antarctica, scientists said Friday."Researchers have been focused on the western side of Antarctica," we are told, where remarkably the melting had "paused" due to unusually cold summer weather.
Remarkably, that peninsula, where last year one ice shelf was said to be hanging by a thread, has had an unusually cool summer and a pause in its ice loss, said Ted Scambos, senior scientist with the National Snow and Ice Data Center.
In other news
The ice shelves in the southern part of the Antarctic Peninsula appear to be disappearing because of climate change, according to a new report from the U.S. Geological Survey and the British Antarctic Survey."In the worst-case scenario, the potential sea-level rise if the entire Antarctic ice sheet melts is estimated to be 213 to 240 feet." Since I live near the coast (near Savannah- where we got our first snow in 14 years last month*) I'm particularly concerned.
"The changes exhibited in the region are widely regarded as among the most profound and unambiguous examples of the effects of global warming yet seen on the planet," the authors write in the report.
As all good CNN viewers know, that's caused by global warming, too.
*Not complaining about snow here - we just got flurries. Others have to shovel out: 4th biggest snow in NYC in 141 years.
Get Kaboom by milblogger Matt Gallagher.
Who recently posted this:
I wanted to let all of you know - especially those of you in the milblogging community planning on attending the fifth annual MilBlog Conference, being held April 9-10 in Arlington, VA - about one of the book events Da Capo's crack publicity team (led by the ever-diligent Lissa Warren) has scheduled for Kaboom. I'll be at the Arlington Barnes & Noble, on Sunday, April 11, at 1 p.m. I'll give a short talk, do a reading, and sign personalized copies for anyone interested.
(link w/details of the event: http://store-locator.barnesandnoble.com/event/65526)
I'm greatly looking forward to the MilBlog Conference - it'll be my first (insert consummate e-virgin joke here) - and in addition to the rock solid list of speakers and panels they have set up, there's that whole ability to eat, drink, and be merry with people I've only known digitally up to now. With regards to that verb in between eat and be merry, don't be mistaken - I don't plan on pulling a Norman Mailer on Sunday, and give my reading at B & N still reeking of whiskey and speaking in the third person. But, realistically, I'll pop an Advil or two that morning, since no group other than the Irish drinks the way former soldiers do. Not even active soldiers. We just have old war stories, they still have PT in the morning.
Anyhow, for you stray milbloggers still in the DC area on Sunday, or those with flexible travel plans, please come on by!
"Beck and Dobbs don't know Oathkeepers like we know Oathkeepers," says Jonn Lilyea.
"When the Oathkeepers first came to my attention, right after the 2008 election, it smelled a little fishy to me. All of the American servicemembers I know don't need a group to tell them to uphold their oath..."
Me, too. (But then again, I never knew any that were Ron Paul supporters, either.)
The Washington Post: "Some Iraq, Afghanistan war veterans criticize movie 'Hurt Locker' as inaccurate."
Critics adore the film and it has been nominated for nine Oscars -- a feat matched only by "Avatar," the top-grossing movie of all time -- but Paul Rieckhoff, founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, says that's "nine more Oscar nominations than it deserves. I don't know why critics love this silly, inaccurate film so much," he wrote on his Facebook page.
"Films, almost more than anything, will be the way Americans understand our war," Rieckhoff said. "So we feel that there is a responsibility for filmmakers to portray our war accurately. We see ourselves as watchdogs. . . . When he puts a hood on like Eminem and starts roving outside the wire, it's ridiculous."
Damn - my fellow Iraq vet/milblogger Alex Horton thought it was just a (good) movie.
But "As a voice of the new veterans' movement, and of thousands of IAVA members across the country, I have a responsibility to serve as pop-culture watchdog, and to help the American public understand what accurately depicts the military's experience in Iraq and what doesn't," Paul Rieckhoff writes in his Newsweek assault on Hurt Locker.
Well then, perhaps we can all look forward to this upcoming bit of non-ridiculous totally realistic hard-corps MATT DAMON badassery!!!!!
It isn't at your local theater yet - but here's coverage of MATT DAMON at the premier from celebrity gossip.net.
The Green Zone looks to be an action-packed, thrill a minute tour-de-force of Iraq exactly as we all remember it, and besides MATT DAMON features Paul Rieckhoff as "Gonzales."
Here's a scene where MATT DAMON question's Paul's intelligence:
And it's based on the book Imperial Life in the Emerald City by Washington Post reporter Rajiv Chandrasekaran, now re-titled and available with badass MATT DAMON cover!!!
Hell yeah! Kick ASS!! Iraq vets finally get the movie they deserve!!!
Update - ouch: "The Man in the Bomb Suit"
This week in 1848: The Communist Manifesto was published, establishing a theory that after 162 years still hasn't worked.
"Mr. President, welcome," began Cheney.
"Lookin' good," replied Bush.
"Holding up," said Cheney.
"Lookin' good," said Bush again.
"Could be worse," said Cheney.
Unconfirmed rumor has it that when one later asked "how goes it?" the other responded with "Oh, it goes." We'll keep you posted.
In our last episode:
US news sources... missed this one. They'll probably catch up, but if I recall correctly they used to be out in front of this stuff in years past...
And the next day the Washington Post caught up. But I guess the DoD hadn't made the "grim milestone" official yet - so their "Death toll in Afghan war nears 1,000" headline is partly true.
But as an Iraq vet their (Iraq) angle (Iraq) on the (Iraq) story was (Iraq) somewhat (Iraq) perplexing (Iraq) to me.
"To some, the relatively quiet approach of the new benchmark is a sign that the country has grown more sober-minded in the way it perceives the war," we are told.
The number of dead is small in comparison with U.S. casualties in Iraq, where 4,366 uniformed personnel have died since 2003. But as operations intensify in Afghanistan, the war is killing more and more service members who came home safely after serving in Iraq, only to return to the battlefield in another theater.
Since Dec. 1, at least 30 percent of the American military personnel who have died in Afghanistan have been veterans of the Iraq war, according to a Washington Post analysis.
Others see a fundamental change in American foreign policy after almost nine years of combat. "The American people and the governing class have accepted that war has become a permanent condition," said retired Army Col. Andrew Bacevich, a history professor at Boston University whose son was killed in Iraq in 2007. "Protracted war has become a widely accepted part of our politics."
Perhaps it is so.
And perhaps, if you've read this far, you might be ready for the story of one.
Dear Michael Yon,
Today we were sent your story of February 14, 2010. The "unknown" Canadian is our son Danny. He is a 23-year-old soldier from Vancouver, Canada.
Your photographs were extraordinary and have impacted so many people here in Canada. There has been an outpouring of affection for the Americans who helped Danny in his moment of need. For that, we thank you for recording these acts of kindness into history.
Mike's photos are extraordinary, as usual.
A top Sunni lawmaker who just last week pulled his party out of Iraq's upcoming election backtracked Thursday, ending any possibility that minority Sunnis would boycott the crucial March 7 vote.
Instant update: it's over here now.
Another challenge has always been how to get leftists to embrace it. Democrats always pretend to oppose this sort of thing (Star Wars, the war in Iraq, etc.) in an effort to get people who actually oppose this sort of thing to vote for them. This presents The Party with something of a problem when they occupy the White House and hold a supermajority in Congress and have to start explaining why they haven't delivered unicorns. "Blame Bush" and "the country is ungovernable" only goes so far.
So they dress it up in Hope and Change. It doesn't seem like it would work - in fact it seems transparent and feeble - but then again it doesn't take much to continue to fool people who were duped into voting for free unicorns in the first place.
When my buddy Cdr Salamander first broke this story earlier this month (Missile Defense Agency goes Hopey-Changey) he hit the old nail square on the head: "This habit has a very bad history and of all nations, ours should be the last where a military adjusts its heraldic items to reflect something involving political parties."
But ten days later the story exploded.
Free Republic first noticed the similarity to the Obama campaign logo. Weasel Zippers, Political Wrinkles, JWF, and other blogs have picked up on it.
And Drudge. While Salamander's story pre-dates that Free Republic post by a week, he didn't really come up with the angle that would appeal to red-meat Republicans - which would in turn provoke sneering from the Left.
I suppose when you really think about it, airborne lasers and other missile defense systems are actually a form of health care, right?
In other missile defense news: U.S., Russia Nuclear Talks Stuck on Missile Defense:
"Such a treaty is impossible and cannot be concluded without acknowledging interrelation between strategic offensive weapons and missile defense," Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told Interfax on Friday.And
Earlier this month, however, Romania and Bulgaria said they were in talks with Obama's administration to deploy elements of the U.S. missile shield on their territories from 2015.
Of course, by 2015 there could be another new and different symbol on that shield.
Jim Hanson: "Except for a few minor instances, the CPAC event here in DC was notably lacking much talk about foreign policy and national security." He also quotes Frank Gaffney, who says "the program was bereft of the focus one would think 10,000 people who cherish the memory of Ronald Reagan would have demanded, especially in the midst of a global war with two active combat fronts."
I wasn't there - so I'll take their word for it.
But I can see where it's a tough issue for conservatives. The Republican party position on Iraq was defined by Harry Reid back in 2007: "[Democrats] are going to pick up Senate seats as a result of this war."
And on Afghanistan, by Lindsey Graham and Rahm Emanuel last year: "Mr. Emanuel was talking with Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, who urged him to settle on a troop number 'that began with 3' to win Republican support."
None of those folks are considered conservative by those who consider themselves conservative - but they certainly defined the "conservative position" on those two active combat fronts.
Robert Howard was the only man to be nominated for a Medal of Honor three times.
While leading a covert SOG platoon-sized mission in southeastern Laos on November 16, 1967, Sergeant First Class Howard carried out actions that led to his being recommended for his nation's highest honor. While the main body destroyed an enemy cache, Howard's team came upon four North Vietnamese Army soldiers, whom he shot. The team was then pinned down by heavy machine gun fire. Howard first eliminated a sniper and then charged the machine gun position, killing its occupants. When a second machine gun opened up, he crawled forward to within point-blank range and threw a hand grenade, disabling that gun.
When more of the North Vietnamese took over the same gun, Howard stood in the open and fired a light anti-tank weapon, knocking it out once again. The team was then successfully extracted by helicopter. Although recommended for the Medal of Honor, Howard's award was downgraded to the Distinguished Service Cross. This would be the first of three recommendations within 13 months for the Medal of Honor for Robert Howard.
In mid-November Howard accompanied an FOB-2 Hatchet Platoon into Laos. After four days in the area, on November 19, 1968, the force was ambushed by Vietnamese troops, including a Soviet-built PT-76 tank. Braving intense fire, Howard crept forward and knocked out the PT-76 with an anti-tank rocket. After a medivac helicopter was shot down, Howard, already wounded, charged forward 300 yards through North Vietnamese fire to lead the two pilots and a wounded door gunner to safety. He was again wounded, this time by 14 pieces of shrapnel, but all that this seemed to do was aggravate him.
He charged the Vietnamese, killed two and dragged back a third as a prisoner. North Vietnamese anti-aircraft fire halted the extraction of the platoon until the following morning, when Howard, already perforated multiple times, moved forward and silenced a 37 mm anti-aircraft gun, allowing the extraction to be completed. For the second time, Howard was recommended for the Medal of Honor, but his award was again downgraded to a Distinguished Service Cross.
"For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. 1st Lt. Howard (then Sfc .), distinguished himself while serving as platoon sergeant of an American-Vietnamese platoon which was on a mission to rescue a missing American soldier in enemy controlled territory in the Republic of Vietnam. The platoon had left its helicopter landing zone and was moving out on its mission when it was attacked by an estimated 2-company force. During the initial engagement, 1st Lt. Howard was wounded and his weapon destroyed by a grenade explosion. 1st Lt. Howard saw his platoon leader had been wounded seriously and was exposed to fire. Although unable to walk, and weaponless, 1st Lt. Howard unhesitatingly crawled through a hail of fire to retrieve his wounded leader. As 1st Lt. Howard was administering first aid and removing the officer's equipment, an enemy bullet struck 1 of the ammunition pouches on the lieutenant's belt, detonating several magazines of ammunition. 1st Lt. Howard momentarily sought cover and then realizing that he must rejoin the platoon, which had been disorganized by the enemy attack, he again began dragging the seriously wounded officer toward the platoon area. Through his outstanding example of indomitable courage and bravery, 1st Lt. Howard was able to rally the platoon into an organized defense force. With complete disregard for his safety, 1st Lt. Howard crawled from position to position, administering first aid to the wounded, giving encouragement to the defenders and directing their fire on the encircling enemy. For 3 1/2 hours 1st Lt. Howard's small force and supporting aircraft successfully repulsed enemy attacks and finally were in sufficient control to permit the landing of rescue helicopters. 1st Lt. Howard personally supervised the loading of his men and did not leave the bullet-swept landing zone until all were aboard safely. 1st Lt. Howard's gallantry in action, his complete devotion to the welfare of his men at the risk of his life were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit on himself, his unit, and the U.S. Army."
Retired Army Col. Robert L. Howard, a Medal of Honor recipient who retired in San Antonio and was one of the most highly decorated soldiers from the Vietnam War, died Wednesday.
Howard, 70, died about noon at a hospice in Waco, where he'd been for about three weeks, suffering from pancreatic cancer, said Benito Guerrero, a close friend, Vietnam veteran and retired sergeant major.
Howard, a larger-than-life figure on the national military scene, appeared at many patriotic events in San Antonio and helped honor the wounded by attending Purple Heart ceremonies.
At his suggestion, the local Blue Star Mothers of America chapter began holding an annual ceremony in late December to remember the troops serving overseas.
"He said, 'Don't forget the troops at Christmas.' He was very adamant about that," said Chris Peche, who in 2004 helped organize the annual event, now held each year at the Alamo.
In April, Howard traveled, as he often did, to Iraq and Afghanistan to talk to U.S. troops about service. Just two months ago, he visited troops in Germany, Bosnia and Kosovo.
In the history books and in the hearts of all his soldiers, Howard was a hero, but to his son, Sgt. Robert L. Howard Jr., he was simply 'Dad.'
"You know everyone talks about his military accolades and all he accomplished ... but just as a regular person he was also a great man," Sgt. Howard said.
Just in time for the 19th anniversary of the start of the ground war in Iraq: Extending Our Stay in Iraq.
Tom Maguire is having a bit of sport with that:
IRAQ'S March 7 national election, and the formation of a new government that will follow, carry huge implications for both Iraqis and American policy. It appears now that the results are unlikely to resolve key political struggles that could return the country to sectarianism and violence.
If so, President Obama may find himself later this year considering whether once again to break his campaign promises about ending the war, and to offer to keep tens of thousands of troops in Iraq for several more years. Surprisingly, that probably is the best course for him, and for Iraqi leaders, to pursue.
One Of Obama's Great Achievements May Be Unraveling
Was it only two weeks ago that Joe Biden explained that Iraq was on track to become "one of the great achievements" of the Obama Administration? Now Thomas Ricks, author of "Fiasco" and "The Gamble", warns us of the fragile stability in Iraq and the possible need for a delay in US troop withdrawals...
"Heh," I believe is the correct term here.
...Obama's pledge to pound sand was never as complete as some might believe. According to the Bush SOFA, the total withdrawal of all US troops must be accomplished no later than December 31, 2011. And as McClatchy reported at the time, unless he can somehow break the agreement, "Obama's campaign plan to leave a residual force of some 30,000 American troops in Iraq would be impossible under the pact."
Now back to Tom Ricks for a bottom line: "But I think leaders in both countries may come to recognize that the best way to deter a return to civil war is to find a way to keep 30,000 to 50,000 United States service members in Iraq for many years to come."
In accordance with the prophesies.
But that's old Europe.
*Was I cowardly not to spell out "pansies"?All done!
Jimbo gives an attaboy to Spencer Ackerman - for repeating what a commenter says. That commenter says some insightful things and speaks from experience - so I hereby add my own kudos, humble though they may be.
My own experience in practice of the art of war is a mere quarter century, and from that comes the temptation to file everything under this explanation: "shit happens." But perhaps, with a bit of effort, I can offer a bit more.
Read the link (and the links within it) for background. I'm only going to quote one line from young Spencer here.
"Here's why McChrystal kept the bases in Nuristan Province open..."
What he follows with is the basis for everything else he writes, but it's not why McChrystal kept the bases in Nuristan Province open. If I thought otherwise, I'd join the lunatic fringe crowd (oddly enough, both left and right) screaming for McChrystal's head. (Screaming for various and sundry other reasons - but not for this one yet.)
Let's start by repeating this:
Everything else, from what the local governor or Hamid Karzai or the lowest private or the battalion commander said, wanted, or did is a distraction - everything was on hold awaiting word from the top.
Any commander would like to have enough troops to have reinforced Keating and its environs. It is strategically important. The area is, as Ackerman's commenter said, "a known avenue of approach" where the Taliban could come and go from Afghanistan to Pakistan at their leisure.
But this is how it was before the attack:
"It is really hard to interdict the enemy," said the base's company commander in an interview with The Washington Post in late September. "There are literally thousands of trails around here. We just don't have the numbers of troops we need to be effective."
"We patrol the high ground around the base, but we have an agreement that we won't go into the villages around the outpost unless we are invited," the officer said. "We have not been invited yet."
So why were they still there? The answer "because the governor wanted them" seems sufficiently stupid and infuriating to get people genuinely outraged - but it's a load of horse shit. (As is "not enough helicopters" - another early excuse but one the US had no trouble abandoning.) They were still there because the command-level question "will we have enough troops to do this right?" was unanswered. "Probably not" was the likely answer - expected, even - but "probably" and likely" are why there was a plan to abandon the position that hadn't been executed yet. There were any number of plans for Nuristan awaiting a White House-level decision - but the enemy got tired of waiting first.
That the local governor preferred having American troops in his area (and which one wouldn't?) is coincidental. And whether anyone agreed with him or not doesn't matter now because it didn't matter then. To repeat for emphasis: everything else, from what the local governor or Hamid Karzai or the lowest private or the battalion commander said, wanted, or did is a distraction - everything was on hold awaiting word from the top.
Eight Americans died because the President of the United States delayed a decision for far too long. That's inexcusable - but the Army he commands can't acknowledge that. Ultimately the Army scapegoated the low-level commanders involved. ("Because unlike most human endeavors, scapegoat hunts never fail.") Since those commanders are involved it's easy to blame them; since they aren't at fault it's not difficult to defend them - but the McClatchy story (see "politics" section here) that actually began this discussion attempts to shift the blame up to the General McChrystal level, and that falls short, too. Ackerman, God bless him, comes tantalizingly close to grasping the thing here, then veers away.
He'll have other opportunities to agonize properly. Ultimately the President made his decision - as a result a lot more people will die.
Given enough practice - and that seems likely - Ackerman might be able to reduce his explanations for those deaths to two words.
"Gonzalez said the base takes security seriously and the situation was dealt with quickly."
Authorities say two men were shot by security officers after they drove a stolen car through a gate at an Air Force base outside Phoenix during a police chase.
Officials say one of the men died and the other was wounded.
Yeah, dude - those aren't mall cops.
The owner of a stolen vehicle used by two suspects to slam through a guard gate at Luke Air Force Base said she hadn't even had the car a full day.
There were actually two stolen cars involved in the story:
Officer Karen Gerardo of the Glendale Police Department told msnbc.com that at about 11 p.m. Monday an officer received a report of a stolen car.
That car was stopped and the occupants were taken into custody, she said. Gerardo said that that car had been traveling with another stolen car, which appears to be the one driven onto the air base.
She said the car was not being pursued by police at the time and she did not know why it would have gone onto the base.
But that car had also been stolen - though even the owner (and the police) didn't know it until after the incident when the police came to her door.
"Do you know where your car is?"
"I pretty much spent all my taxes on the car... I didn't have it for a whole day, and it's gone."
Foreign Policy's AfPak Brief:
At least seven people were killed by a remote controlled bicycle bomb in the provincial capital of the southern province of Helmand, Lashkar Gah, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Adm. Mike Mullen called progress in the ongoing coalition offensive in Marjah "steady if perhaps a bit slower than anticipated," as the United States passed a deadly milestone as the 1,000th U.S. service member was killed in the Afghan war.
They cite coverage from AFP, Pajhwok, BBC (twice), and Reuters.
US news sources... missed this one. They'll probably catch up, but if I recall correctly they used to be out in front of this stuff in years past.
Cutbacks, I guess.
Okay, here (via the Dawn Patrol) is an official DoD photo from Iraq...
Surely we can come up with a better caption than that?
Give 'em credit for chutzpah, I suppose:
Top researchers now agree that the world is likely to get stronger but fewer hurricanes in the future because of global warming, seeming to settle a scientific debate on the subject. But they say there's not enough evidence yet to tell whether that effect has already begun.
Now that Copenhagen is past history, what is the next step in the man-made global warming controversy? Without question, there should be an immediate and thorough investigation of the scientific debauchery revealed by "Climategate."
I guess the "What's next?" questioned is settled.
The report on the "warming study" references the 2005 hurricane season, but somehow overlooks last year's...
In all, there were only nine named storms, including three hurricanes. Two struck the U.S. coastline this year -- Tropical Storm Claudette, which wobbled ashore on the Florida Panhandle in mid-August, and Tropical Storm Ida, which hit Alabama on Nov. 10 after initially strengthening into a Category 2 hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico.
...but that's already been blamed on El Niño.
As for the 2005 season, it's a damn shame the database is contaminated - not just because it's used to justify reports like this one, but because people die because of it.
Of course, if you aren't on the coast, you've got nothing to worry about...
"We've really come a long way in the last two years about our knowledge of the hurricane and climate issue," said study co-author Chris Landsea, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration top hurricane researcher.
...except that your tax dollars are paying for it.
Scientists have been forced to withdraw a study on projected sea level rise due to global warming after finding mistakes that undermined the findings.
That "mistake" being that global warming is a fraud.
Here's part two of CNN's report on Captain Roger Hill, and the career-ending decision he was forced to make to save his troops:
There's probably little direct action you can take to change the situation on the ground in Afghanistan, but you can sign the petition for Roger Hill here.
"I did not have sexual relations with that woman..."
The quote needs no attribution - it defines Bill Clinton's presidency like no other, and will likely serve as his legacy to the world.
Less well remembered are the military actions launched against Iraq as the Lewinski scandal grew. Twelve years ago this week thousands of troops deployed to the Persian Gulf, and the United States was on the verge of war...
The next day in an Ohio Town Hall meeting Secretary of State Madeleine Albright assured citizens that "Iraq is a long way from Ohio, but what happens there matters a great deal here. For the risks that the leaders of a rogue state will use nuclear, chemical or biological weapons against us or our allies is the greatest security threat we face. And it is a threat against which we must, and will, stand firm." From the same stage, National Security Adviser Sandy Berger expressed no doubt as to Hussein's capabilities and intentions: "He [Saddam] will use those weapons of mass destruction again, as he has ten times since 1983."
USA Today reported that anti-war protesters at the meeting got their comeuppance from a heroic soldier who phoned in a timely message:
Some of the protesters held aloft a banner that said, "No War," but one caller identifying himself as a U.S. soldier on duty in Germany said he supported Clinton's approach.
"If a soldier's life needs to be lost let it start with mine," the soldier said by telephone. His remark drew a round of applause from the arena audience.
In response, on February 23, 1998 Osama bin Laden declared war against America:
...despite the great devastation inflicted on the Iraqi people by the crusader-Zionist alliance, and despite the huge number of those killed, which has exceeded 1 million... despite all this, the Americans are once against trying to repeat the horrific massacres, as though they are not content with the protracted blockade imposed after the ferocious war or the fragmentation and devastation.
So here they come to annihilate what is left of this people and to humiliate their Muslim neighbors.
The ruling to kill the Americans and their allies -- civilians and military -- is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it, in order to liberate the al-Aqsa Mosque and the holy mosque [Mecca] from their grip, and in order for their armies to move out of all the lands of Islam, defeated and unable to threaten any Muslim.
Some may recall the furor that erupted when the US Air Force took control of the main airport in Port au Prince, Haiti in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake there.
The US military's takeover of emergency operations in Haiti has triggered a diplomatic row with countries and aid agencies furious at having flights redirected.
Brazil and France lodged an official protest with Washington after US military aircraft were given priority at Port-au-Prince's congested airport, forcing many non-US flights to divert to the Dominican Republic.
The reality was a bit different - as anyone with experience in disaster relief might expect. ("Right now the problem is chaos, but given time that will inevitably be replaced by an impenetrable bureaucracy." See also here and here.)
But last week the AP reported on their review of the "flight logs" from the airport for those days. They stop short of giving the well-deserved credit for an amazing accomplishment to the handful of enlisted Air Force troops who saved Haiti from becoming an even greater disaster, but they do acknowledge that the logs "disprove accusations from some humanitarian groups that the U.S. held up aid in favor of military flights."
And they do document who was able to get to Haiti before doctors, humanitarian relief teams, or all military crews were in place.
Nearly all the groups sending in aid insisted their load was urgent, said Air Force Capt. Justin Longmire, who has been coordinating the flight schedules and is helping prepare the airport to reopen for commercial flights on Friday.
The result: Church of Scientology ministers landed, as did AP reporters, CNN's Anderson Cooper and diapers from Canada. But a French portable hospital and planeloads of doctors with medical supplies were diverted to the Dominican Republic.
"US Military denies Doctors Without Borders" was a fairly big story at the time. Even Anderson Cooper reported it from Haiti...
You know, Doctors Without Borders yesterday pointed out that their mobile surgical unit, which they wanted to fly in, didn't get permission to land, and they had to fly to Santo Domingo. And then they had to drive it across, wasting many, many hours, costing who knows how many lives theoretically.
And yet, governor of Pennsylvania, with great intentions, is able to get a plane in to take a number of orphans out. And, again, it's a great cause. But I'm just curious. I don't know -- maybe it's something we should start looking into it, like who's making decisions about what planes get to land here?
Still, flights from that group Doctors Without Borders are being turned away. We are going to trying to figure out who's responsible for that. We are going to show you the impact on that. People are dying. We're "Keeping Them Honest."
This one, not so much.
I knew I wanted to be with her for the rest of my life. But, at some point it takes more of a promise than a mere kiss, and that time has come. So, this weekend I will be flying down to Dallas to ask her to marry me.
Actually, I already flew down. And as you are reading this, so is she, as she sits in the USO center with her friends and me standing awkwardly behind her. So, Caro, if you think you'd like to take this idiot guy who loves you with all his heart, now would be a good time to turn around and tell me so.
Read the whole thing . And don't miss comment #5.
(And while the author says "She's hot and young, I am neither," I say he looks like a movie star.)
The first man you'll meet in this video is Hershel ("Woody") Williams. The Fairmont, West Virginia native earned his Medal of Honor for actions on Iwo Jima, a battle begun 65 years ago this week.
"All warriors are in awe of all other warriors, not of what they've done themselves." Watch the whole thing, during the course of the half-hour you'll also hear that quote from Jack Jacobs, who earned his Medal of Honor in Vietnam. "Medal of Honor recipients do not represent themselves. They represent all those who are not here to represent themselves - and all fighting men and women who are out there right now serving and sacrificing for us."
There are fewer such voices every day. And as the final story illustrates, the ranks are not being replenished.
...now that Al Haig's gone?
Those too young to remember the media furor that erupted over that statement can trust me on this: it was a bigger story than the fact the President of the United States had been shot. A deep desire among some reporters for Tip O'Neill to take over as President could have contributed to that. (It also fit the eternal Republicans are stupid media theme.)
But enough of all that. Here's to an interesting life well lived.
Bush administration lawyers did not violate legal ethics rules when they wrote memos authorizing harsh interrogations for terrorism detainees, the Justice Department said Friday, releasing the long-awaited results of its investigation into the memos.
However, they add that the report does say two of the three attorneys investigated "exercised poor judgment." The short version of what that means is captured in the Washington Post's headline: "Authors of waterboarding memos won't be disciplined."
Coincidentally this week:
WASHINGTON -- The U.S. military's highest court says it will review the conviction of an Army reservist who prosecutors said was the ringleader of detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.
Former Cpl. Charles Graner Jr. was sentenced in 2005 to 10 years in prison for his role in the scandal.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces in Washington said Tuesday it will consider whether the trial judge erred by refusing to let jurors see memos approving "enhanced interrogation tactics" for detainees.
Graner's attorney launched his appeal of his client's 2004 conviction last year when the Obama administration released the torture memos. However, at the time Gary Myers, lawyer for Abu Ghraib defendant Chip Frederick, acknowledged that the accused had no knowledge of the memoranda, which weren't applicable to the US military in the first place. Further, Last year "Myers said he spent many hours examining whether he could find legal footing for making a memo-related argument." Short version of his conclusion: no. Longer version here, where you'll also find an account of Graner's 2004 defense - before he or his lawyer were aware of any memos.
In opening arguments here at the court-martial for the soldier, Specialist Charles A. Graner Jr., his lawyers insisted that he was simply following orders and using lessons from his civilian life as a prison guard to try to maintain discipline in a war zone. Using naked and hooded detainees to make a human pyramid was much like what cheerleaders "all over America" do at football games, the lawyer, Guy Womack, argued, and putting naked prisoners on leashes was much like what parents in airports do with their toddlers.
Still, Private Frederick and other soldiers testified, commanders did not know about the kind of treatment shown in the photographs and would not have sanctioned it.
He moved to the US in the 1920s, serving in the United States Army between 1921 and 1924 before becoming an electrician.
He died in Spokane, Washington, where he had lived since 1932, according to a statement from Mr Harper.
Mr Babcock tried to enlist in the US military again in 1941 but failed when it was discovered he had never become a US citizen.
He was naturalised as a US citizen in 1946.
Frank Buckles, America's last surviving WWI vet, celebrated his 109th birthday earlier this month.
Two things I know:
Primum non bardus, etc.
Leisure time activities in Iraq:
That's "the largest airborne exercise conducted by U.S. forces in Iraq since the beginning of the war" because during the war there wasn't time for exercises. Now there is - good. Troops are still operating in Iraq, but there's little doubt now that what's done is done - and that few really care much about what's next.
But now the light at the end of the tunnel is officially seen:
Oddly enough, making it official might cause a stir. As of 1 September 2010 the mission will be called Operation NEW DAWN. (Ironically, the same name was used for the second battle of Fallujah - though "Phantom Fury" was also used - and the term is also applied to the first of the five daily prayers recited by practicing Muslims.) I wonder if those serving in NEW DAWN will qualify for combat pay and benefits? Someone should ask Joe Biden...
Right now my moms is at an airport in Maryland waiting on a plane to send her to Germany, then to Kuwait, then to Iraq. She turns fifty years old on Thursday. At first, I thought she was an anomaly. I believed that there were no other 40+ year old women headed to Iraq.
I was wrong. With my mother there are at least two other women in their forties.
It never dawned on him before, I guess.
Here's Roger Hill on CNN:
Here's the full transcript. This excerpt begins where the video ended:
BOUDREAU (voice-over): As the clock ticked towards the 96-hour NATO deadline, the 12 suspected spies were held in this small building on base.
HILL: I decided that I needed to break protocol and interrogate them myself. I took three gentlemen outside, sat them down, walked away, fired my weapon in the ground three times, hoping that the men on the inside, left to their own imagination, would think that they really needed to talk.
BOUDREAU: Meaning that maybe you killed these men?
HILL: Or hurt them. I really did not consider what they would think. I just knew that it would gain a reaction.
BOUDREAU: You thought it would scare them?
HILL: Yes. And that's all I was concerned about, because I needed that intelligence.
BOUDREAU: So what happened?
HILL: Fired three rounds into the ground, walked back inside, and sure enough, some of the detainees started to talk.
BOUDREAU (voice-over): What the detainees told him inside this building was ultimately enough to convince the Afghans to take all 12 suspects into custody, including Hill's interpreter, Nuri (ph). Hill felt he'd done the right thing, that he'd protected his soldiers.
HILL: I broke protocol and more or less took matters into my own hands out of necessity, out of self-defense.
BOUDREAU (on camera): But the Army saw it differently. Hill was charged with detainee abuse. He accepted a plea deal and received a general discharge last year. His military career was over.
(voice-over) NATO spokesman James Apatherei (ph) announced the 96-hour detention rule in 2005 after talks with both U.S. and Afghan military commanders. He told CNN, quote, "We have to balance the requirement for protecting our soldiers with the reality that Afghanistan is a sovereign country, that there must be limits on the time we can detain Afghans before handing them over to Afghan authorities."
U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham says cases like Roger Hill's are the reason NATO needs to change the rule. SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: The one story I hear told over and over and over again, "Senator Graham, this policy makes no sense. It is putting our folks at risk for no higher purpose. Quite frankly, here's what's going to start happening. We're going to take less prisoners. They're going to start shooting these folks."
BOUDREAU: Graham has seen the problem first hand. He's the only U.S. senator who serves in the Air Force Reserves. He's a colonel and was in Afghanistan just last year.
GRAHAM: Who the hell made this rule up? Why did you pick 96 hours versus 80 hours or 100 hours? I can't get anyone to tell me how this thing was formed, whose idea it was, and how it became policy.
BOUDREAU: To find out, we tracked down Cully Stimson. In 2006, working for the Pentagon, he advised then-secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld, on the 96-hour rule.
(on camera) Did you have concerns at that time?
CULLY STIMSON, FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: I did then. I do now in certain circumstances. But I do believe the policy works for the most part. There is no perfect system. There is no magical number in terms of hours and days or weeks. And so I think it's a healthy compromise.
BOUDREAU (voice-over): Compromise may not be what General David Petraeus wants to hear. After all, he's the commander in charge of all U.S. forces in the region. He's the one who would know best if the 96-hour rule really is working. After a public appearance we asked him about the detainee rule.
(on camera) I'm with CNN. We just have one quick question.
Is 96 hours enough?
GEN. DAVID PETRAEUS, U.S. CENTRAL COMMAND: Ninety-six hours is not enough, if you are going to ensure that they stay behind bars, obviously. Again, there has to be a process by which the individuals that need to be detained are detained or that, if they're handed over to Afghan officials, that there's confidence in the system working. OK?
BOUDREAU: Thank you.
PETRAEUS: You bet. That's a big concern of mine personally.
BOUDREAU: Big concern of yours?
A well done introduction given the time constraints - but a shame they didn't get around to detailing what happened to Hill afterward. For that, see Roger Hill and Dog Company.
"My immediate reaction was to go towards the smoke..."
Fox News is interviewing a guy (former military) named Robin DeHaven who works for a glass replacement company named Binswanger.
He drove to the building after seeing plane and smoke from the crash, put his ladders up to the building -- and when he saw that the people at the window were 'panicked' -- climbed into the building, and helped get five people out.
Video: "My immediate reaction was to go towards the smoke... I was a combat engineer with the US Army for 6 1/2 years."
Stack is described as a former bass player for another band here, his wife is a classical pianist. His "manifesto" references "an expensive new business asset, a piano."
I suppose somewhere someone will be talking about failure to connect the dots regarding that band name/album title before too long. But dot connecting only looks easy after the final one appears.
ABC reports "One of the injured was taken to the Brook [sic] Army Medical Center's burn unit." Which is down in San Antonio.
Via email from Roger Hill:
Friends and Family,
Mine and my company's (Dog Company 1-506th Infantry) Afghanistan experiences will be airing on CNN (Anderson Cooper 360) tonight at 10 ET.
This past fall, I was approached by CNN about doing a piece on my experiences in Afghanistan. We expect a fairly in depth look at the circumstances surrounding my case, totaling around 30-35 minutes of total story line, interview, commentary, etc. and all focusing on the need for more effective ROE and detention policies to better match up to the asymmetric enemies we face today, especially in NATO led Afghanistan.
Lauren and I are very excited to share this with all of you, as this story serves as a culminating point and a vivid reminder of all the prayers, encouragement, support and activism all of you provided on our behalf. We cannot thank you enough and will never forget all that you have done.
Roger and Lauren Hill
P.S. The website my family put together, www.morethanbrothers.com has been updated and a petition link established. We plan to make a formal appeal to the Army over my discharge status and fight for an Honorable discharge after the show has aired. Anyone is welcome to sign the petition.
Here's Roger telling his story in his own words:
(For those with a blank box above, click here.)
As Greyhawk wrote at the time:
One element of this story that stands out to me: two military professionals confronted with decisions of "the right thing to do". Such a situation isn't unusual, although the degree is extreme in this example, weighing right and wrong is universal among military and civilians alike. An example: one could argue that speeding is illegal, whether you are rushing a critically injured loved one to a hospital or not. We may sympathize with the speeder in that example, as we would with a witness who upon seeing a vehicle flying down the road potentially endangering others promptly phoned the police to make a report.
We would be outraged to discover that the driver had first called an ambulance, but had been told "no".
But if you can't be in front of your TV at 10ET, set your DVR to record Anderson Cooper 360.
And visit More than Brothers here
(And sign the petition.)
(Or: how truth becomes news.)
The good folks at the Nisqually Valley News have watched their local child abuse story grow into an international media sensation - after a few fraudulent details were added to the original:
Media leaps on 'waterboarding' story
By Megan Hansen
Yelm made international headlines this week after media outlets compared a child abuse case to CIA torture.
Headlines spread like wildfire, saying Joshua Tabor, 27, was accused of using a technique called "waterboarding" to discipline his 4-year-old daughter.
Waterboarding is a torture technique in which a cloth is placed over someone's face and water is added to simulate drowning.
National media outlets incorrectly reported that Yelm police compared what Tabor did to waterboarding. The headlines hit national and international media sources including ABC News and BBC.
"I never referred to it as waterboarding," said Yelm Police Chief Todd Stancil.
Because it isn't.
But a week after the Nisqually Valley News reported the story the London tabloid Daily Mail found it and "spiced it up" a bit. Their added CIA/Bush/American soldiers-are-inhuman-monsters-even-though-Obama-ordered-them-to-stop-torturing-people angle proved irresistible to numerous international (and American) media outlets. We noticed that here in Mudville, and tracked the story's progress from truth to "news" here.
Now I'm going to reveal a trade secret. I was able to do that using a website called "Google" (www.google.com). I'm not going to reveal all the complexities involved in using it - because frankly it's just too damn much fun to watch the folks who can't figure it out.
One after another, in a great example of "monkey see, monkey do," bloggers and mainstream media outlets reported the Daily Mail story as though it were true. The one Alan Colmes particularly liked (and linked without question) even used the phrase "monkey see, monkey do" to describe why soldiers torture their children because of Bush.
Andrew Sullivan might have topped that, though: "No US paper has yet to report the story. Why am I not surprised?" It would be nice to respond "because they take the time to fact-check" - but like Andrew they don't let facts interfere with a story, and were already all over this one.
Is anyone surprised?
I suppose I should add my voice to the chorus of those praising the NY times for holding off on reporting their leak from unnamed senior White House officials that the CIA and ISI captured "the Taliban's top military commander" until it wouldn't hurt our national security. Because reporting it any earlier would have damaged our national security, even though it could have been used as a big fat "in your face" to Darth Cheney on Sunday. So hooray for grown-ups!
And Spencer Ackerman has a good point - It's Extremely Important We Don't Torture Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar. I'm not involved, but I too believe Spence and his pals shouldn't torture him - or anyone, for that matter. I say it's wrong and it doesn't work - but Spence says "If we treat the guy respectfully, in a demonstrated way, it might spur a reconsideration of Taliban goals." Well, it's hard to argue with "might," sez I. We shouldn't forget that, either.
Also, if that mean ol' Mullah Baradar claims he was tortured, even though no one did...
...we should remember that's just what those no good lyin' jihaddi bastards do. And we're damn sure not suckers who believe everything we hear or read about some...
Just kidding. Blame Bush.
...Atlantic hurricane activity increased significantly, but the increase was counterbalanced by diminished activity in the East Pacific, where hurricane-strength storms are 50 per cent more prevalent. The West Pacific showed no significant change. Overall, the declines balance the increases.
"When you average the number of storms and their strength, it almost exactly balances." This isn't indicative of an increase in atmospheric energy manifesting itself in storms.
It's not the point of that piece, but I'd question the reliability of the Atlantic dataset, too.
In fact, I have questioned its reliability. Remember Hurricane Dennis from July, 2005? Probably not - even though news reports detailed the awesome power of the storm. Here's one account published in real-time as Dennis made landfall in the Florida panhandle:
PENSACOLA, Fla. (AP) -- Hurricane Dennis came ashore on the Florida Panhandle and Alabama coast Sunday with a 120-mph fury of blinding squalls and crashing waves that followed in the ruinous footprints of Ivan just 10 months ago.
The storm crossed land near the same state-line spot where Ivan arrived, pounding beachfronts already painfully exposed by denuded dunes, flattened neighborhoods and piles of rubble that threatened to turn into deadly missiles.
White-capped waves spewed four-story geysers over sea walls. Sideways, blinding rain blew in sheets, toppling roadside signs for hotels and gas stations. Sheriff's deputies were only responding to ''life and death'' 911 calls because it was too dangerous to be out on the streets.
That's a dramatic description, most likely you were able to imagine the scene. But in the imagination is the only place that scene occurred - the report was the product of its author's imagination.
Here's a later report, once actual "damages" could be assessed: "Some signs are down; trees are relatively intact. There is minor flooding near the McDonald's." So if you don't remember "Hurricane" Dennis - that's one reason why.
You'll find both reports (and more) here. I think the garbage in part of the equation is tragic in its own way, but at the time (and still today) I was less concerned about contaminated datasets than I was about operational impact.
But what about next time? Sensational type reporting - and exaggeration of minor storms into major stories - contributes to the lack of response on the part of many to a major storm when one does come along. People who erroneously believe they've survived a cat 3-4 storm will be in for a rude surprise when a real one moves in.
As some folks probably were when Hurricane Katrina hit a few weeks after, causing the sort of damage that real hurricanes cause.
What I didn't say at the time (but could drop hints - ah, the many perils and drawbacks of pseudonymous milblogging...) was that I had 20 years experience in operational weather (not to be confused with research meteorology) as an Air Force forecaster, including most of the 1990's (a period of "greatly increased hurricane activity") at Eglin Air Force Base on the Florida Gulf Coast. I'd "ridden out" several very real storms - along with some near misses and false alarms - and published a handful of papers on operational analysis of hurricanes/tropical storms. (Geek brag: I was the first person to witness one making U.S. landfall with a "Nexrad" Doppler radar - as it was landfalling on my position.)
Sadly, among other things I learned from all that experience is that pointing out the false alarms - even in the context of "we can do better" (unlike hurricane damage, the cost of false alarms in lives, dollars, and reduced credibility can be lowered with increased research and understanding) is not a popular stance.
Of course, that "increased research" is the realm of the research meteorologist, and outside my lane. But that doesn't mean I can't sympathize with their plight:
Are your funding problems due in part to your views?
G: I can't be sure, but I think that's a lot of the reason. I have been around 50 years, so my views on this are well known. I had NOAA money for 30 some years, and then when the Clinton administration came in and Gore started directing some of the environmental stuff, I was cut off. I couldn't get any NOAA money. They turned down 13 straight proposals from me.
With last year's hurricane season so active, and this year's looking like it will be, won't people say it's evidence of global warming?
G: The Atlantic has had more of these storms in the least 10 years or so, but in other ocean basins, activity is slightly down. Why would that be so if this is climate change? The Atlantic is a special basin? The number of major storms in the Atlantic also went way down from the middle 1960s to the middle '90s, when greenhouse gases were going up.
Why is there scientific support for the idea?
G: So many people have a vested interest in this global-warming thing - all these big labs and research and stuff. The idea is to frighten the public, to get money to study it more...
...back in 2005.
"Army mom" gets out:
In other 3ID legal news:
The decision still carries consequences for Hutchinson. She is being demoted in rank to private and will lose benefits afforded to military service members and veterans, Fort Stewart spokesman Kevin Larson said.
Larson said the Army had evidence that Hutchinson, regardless of her family situation, would have resisted deploying "by any means." He said commanders decided a court-martial would be too disruptive to the Army, requiring soldiers now in Afghanistan to return to the U.S. to testify.
An Army soldier charged with making threats in an angry hip-hop recording in which he describes going on a shooting spree will be transferred from Georgia to Kuwait to face a court-martial, Fort Stewart officials said Wednesday.
Fort Stewart spokesman Kevin Larson said commanders opted to transfer Hall's case overseas because most of the witnesses are members of his infantry unit who are currently deployed to Iraq. Hall will remain confined in Kuwait until his military trial is held there or in Iraq, Larson said.
He said commanders decided it would be best if soldiers being called as witnesses didn't have to travel to the U.S. from Iraq to testify.
"It keeps these people in the fight," Larson said. As for Hall's defense, "if that means a handful of people from the U.S. have to travel to Kuwait, so be it.".
Hall, already a veteran of an Iraq tour, was being forced to remain on active duty for another under the Obama administration's "stop loss" policy.
Added (after first comment below): In an "unrelated incident" late last year 3ID commander Major General Tony Cucolo's policy of reprimanding female soldiers who became pregnant (and their male partners) during their tour of duty in Iraq came under fire from "women's groups" ("How dare any government say we're going to impose any kind of punishment on women for getting pregnant," NOW President Terry O'Neill said. "This is not the 1800s...") four female Democrat Senators (Barbara Boxer, D-Ca., Barbara Mikulski D-Md, Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH, Kirsten Gillibrand, D-NY) and the media late last year. General Ray Odierno, commander of US forces in Iraq, then announced he was overturning the policy.
As an ex-pat I can't resist this story. Do your duty.
I know Bayh didn't really live there, but was he actually that out of touch?
Update: or was short notice part of the plan?
In an interview with POLITICO, Tamyra D'Ippolito said that after news broke Monday morning that Bayh was retiring, her campaign contacted Democratic officials in Indiana to request they help her get the needed signatures by noon Tuesday -- when they must be verified by the state's 92 country registrars.
It would be something close to a nightmare scenario for Democrats: were D'Ippolito to qualify for the ballot, she would be the likely nominee and the party would be left to face the GOP with a political neophyte who said she is running in part to take on a party establishment she said practices "sexism with a big S."
It's precisely what Bayh had hoped to avoid. By disclosing his retirement one day before the filing deadline, the idea was that no Democrat would qualify for the primary ballot and the party's state central committee could tap their favored candidate.
One quote on her candidacy: "This would be a complete and unmitigated disaster," said a leading Democrat in the state. "We'd be up sh--'s creek."
Fun comments on this Indiana blog - where a post concludes "there is little chance of anyone directly qualifying for the ballot per the 4,500 signature requirement. The result of this will be a vote by the State Central Committee as to a replacement on the ballot."
Then there's this:
Her campaign manager has contacted all of the heads of the county Democratic parties asking them if they would help her get on the ballot.
But she's not getting the sense that they want to be helpful in that effort. "Politics in Indiana is the old boy's school. They're getting ready to put one of their own in," D'Ippolito, a cafe owner in Bloomington who gained experience in politics running a primary campaign for Gretchen Clearwater in 2006. "My gut feeling tells me they're meeting in a room, I don't know if they're smoking cigars," D'Ippolito said, basically working under the assumption that Bayh's announcement was timed so the state party could pick the nominee by themselves. "The timing of this is amazing."
Ben Smith says "Still, with the help of some mischievous local Republicans, she might have a chance."
But should they bother? I'm not sure the Republicans aren't looking forward to running against a "machine candidate" - whether this is a bad year for Democrats or not, it's damn sure a bad year for the machine.
Update: now then, go away:
Restaurant owner Tamyra d'Ippolito (D) has enough signatures to make the ballot in the race to replace Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN), she told Hotline OnCall in a brief interview, but an official in a key district says she has failed to reach the threshold.
An official in Marion Co. (IN) tells Hotline OnCall d'Ippolito turned in just 3 signatures in the 7th CD, the district with the highest percentage of Dem voters. The noon deadline has passed, meaning d'Ippolito failed to meet the requirements to get on the ballot.
I'm sure The Party feels she's better off in the kitchen anyway.
Snow in Georgia delays at least one deployment to Afghanistan.
SO, DO WE HAVE ENOUGH TROOPS IN AFGHANISTAN THAT WE'RE NOT JUST "Air Raiding Villages and Killing Civilians?"
Not to assign meaning, but there's an understanding (along with a taunt) of that first quote ingrained in the second.
Others are rediscovering it:
You see, boys and girls, I've kind of come full circle on the Afghan campaign. I used to think that defeating the Taliban justified everything we did in and to Afghanistan, in light of my own emotional twists and turns associated with 9-11 (which unlike many or most of you, are come by in my case from having been there and all)... but as Izzy Stone would say... you can be honest or you can be consistent... and I'd rather be honest. Ergo, having had the current President f*ck me (and everyone else who supported him) on that whole "justice and human rights" thing, my college classmate, for whom I campaigned, to whom I gave campaign contributions, whom I supported on the blog and for whom I worked the polls on election day... has finally convinced me that he is every bit as feckless as his predecessor... and hence, President Obama's decision to escalate the Afghan campaign, like any and every other exercise of American imperial aggression... is just wrong. Just wrong. I'm finally sold. The decision to escalate the Afghanistan campaign... like other "Bush's third term" decisions... is just wrong, too.
"...you can be honest or you can be consistent... and I'd rather be honest." A damn shame when folks are forced to choose sides, don't you think? Such are the horrors of war I can only imagine.
Previously: The inevitable dead
Next: Contact: Moshtarak
Photo: Marines from India Company, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment and soldiers from the Afghan national army take part in a firefight while an explosion occurs outside of Marjah, Helmand province, Afghanistan (USMC photo by Lance Cpl. Tommy Bellegarde)
Heh - Chris Muir's Day by Day.
Read the whole thing.
That headline could have been written before the operation started.
Afghan officials put the death toll in the rocket incident at 10. "We just know that a rocket hit a civilian house and 10 people were killed," said Daoud Ahmadi, spokesman for the governor of Helmand province, by telephone. "We are investigating to find out the details of how they were killed. We don't even know if the rocket was from our side or the enemy. It was not an air strike for sure, it was a rocket that hit a civilian house in Marja."
But ISAF accepted responsibility, and admitted two rockets were launched at insurgents firing upon Afghan and ISAF forces, but impacted approximately 300 meters off their intended target, killing 12 civilians. In the aftermath, "the use of the HIMARS [High Mobility Artillery Rocket System] has been suspended until a thorough review of this incident has been conducted."
Prior to the move into Marjah, NATO forces advised residents to remain in their homes.
US Marines raised an Afghan flag inside the town limits but pockets of Taliban militants dug in, with some veterans comparing the intensity of the fighting to that encountered when they stormed the Iraqi city of Fallujah in 2005.
"In Fallujah, it was just as intense. But there, we started from the north and worked down to the south. In Marjah, we're coming in from different locations and working toward the centre, so we're taking fire from all angles," Captain Ryan Sparks told Reuters.
Conflict always brings conflicting headlines:
Yesterday - "limited resistance":
Today - "intense battle":
The Fallujah intensity comparison might be accurate for individuals involved - but this next claim most certainly is exaggeration:
The top Taliban commander in Marjah, Mullah Abdul Razaq Akhund, insisted that his fighters had pushed back the NATO and Afghan allies who were, he claimed, involved in a face-saving operation masking their defeat in Afganistan.
"Tens of foreign soldiers have been killed by roadside bombs and we have also destroyed many vehicles. By the grace of God we have had few casualties," he said.
The "restrained use of [the coalition's] overwhelming firepower has largely worked," reports the Christian Science Monitor, "with civilian casualties limited to 12 killed when a rocket landed 300 meters (nearly 1,000 feet) from its target, and seven wounded in separate incidents."
Previously: We're all in this mushtarak
Next: The conflicted
Okay - first some brief introductory unpleasantness, and then on to the fun activities.
That's the text from the box in the upper left corner of this panel from a recent Captain America comic book.
If you want the full story, click here.
"Nice going Marvel Comics. Thanks for making patriotic Americans into your newest super villains."
I know that because I collected comics when I was a kid. So I remember Captain America from the early 70's...
...simpler times, back before all this controversy.
As for what exactly is behind the controversy, apparently if you ignore the black folks among the organizers and political candidates rising in the Tea Party movement there really aren't (relatively speaking) a whole lot of black folks involved in the mostly white Tea Party movement. None of those few have experienced any hostility from their fellow Tea Partiers, but since some black folks who do get active in this particular cause have been beaten by anti-Tea Party union thugs you can even make a case that such gatherings aren't safe for people who don't stay where they belong. Know what I'm sayin'? Wouldn't want anyone gettin' hurt.
But enough controversy - here in Mudville we don't shy away from controversy, but for Sunday Funnies we prefer those simpler times of color comics pages and fun activities. With that in mind, today we've prepared an activity that should be fun for the whole family - inspired by the above. As far as puzzles go, we think this one's a peach.
I scoured the web (via Google images) for the first large-crowd protest pix I could find. The results are below. In the spirit of "Where's Waldo" I invite you to play "Find the Falcon."
In this game, you are Captain America, and you must see if you can discover your crime-busting partner hidden somewhere in the crowds below. (Click on photos for larger versions - if available, or the original source page - if I could find it.) Good luck, and don't waste time - he could be in trouble!
Did you find him?
Well of course not - he's an imaginary comic book character, and these are pictures from the real world. What you find in comic books are pigments of the imagination of the creators of those books.
However, even if you didn't look too closely you might have noticed that these are real-world Iraq war protest pictures - and not Tea Parties. But there's little variation in the ocean of pink pixels above, so from these examples one might conclude that our hero was right - a mob of angry white folk is no place for people of color.
Perhaps so. But based on these Iraq war protest photos...
...I think they'd still be relatively safe.
Now you might be thinking "hey, you tricked us!" But hopefully we all learned something today, because funtime activities should be educational, too.
Update: heh. (Thanks, Phillip!)
Meanwhile, Glenn Reynolds writes at the Wall Street Journal, about the Tea Party movement, however...
One primary challenger is Les Phillip. He is running against Republican Parker Griffith in Alabama's fifth congressional district. Mr. Phillip, a black businessman and Navy veteran who immigrated with his parents from Trinidad in his youth, got his start in politics speaking at a tea-party protest in Decatur, Ala., last year.
"Somebody had to speak," he told me, "so I stepped up." He did well enough that he was invited to speak at another protest in Trussville, Ala., after which things sort of snowballed. Of the tea partiers, he says, "Their values are pretty much mine. I live in a town in North Alabama where there are plenty of blacks driving Mercedes and living in big houses. Only in America can someone come from a little island and live the dream. I've liked it, and that's what I want for my children. [But] I saw the window closing for my own kids."
Mr. Phillip has gotten tea-party endorsements, as well as one from Mike Huckabee. The Republican establishment is siding with Mr. Griffith, who only recently switched from Democrat to Republican. That support is perhaps understandable as realpolitik, but it's not the sort of thing that sits well with tea partiers, who think that too much realpolitik is what rendered the Republican Party corrupt and ossified over the past decade.
...what I saw was yet another veteran who probably ought to get elected. Read the whole thing. (Yeah, I say that, too.)
Opening line from that last link:
I'll just come out and say it: ISAF's inability to discuss the Marjeh operation in consistent, understandable terms leaves me serious doubt that they have established realistic, achievable goals in taking the town.
Let's start with this: could be. And let's get this straight, too: I read Registan for the knowledgeable insight on Afghanistan Josh Foust provides. On the military, not so much. But even an expert on either (as much as that's possible) can be thoroughly confounded by what they've heard on Marjah lately. If you haven't already drawn that conclusion from what I've been posting on the topic, start here, and let me know where I failed.
Without going into detail, any authentic contradiction in ISAF's statements on Marjah can be attributed to:
Now, unless you've got a direct line to ISAF, you're relying on reporting about what's going on. That's done by reporters who are well aware of the limitations above, will use that to create the best story possible, may or may not be on the scene, and may or may not be unbiased (beyond biased to put out a "good" story). Some reporters might abuse that - but I'm not bashing reporters here.
But conflicting reports lead many news consumers to settle on a narrative and stick with it, dismiss as bad information that which doesn't fit and embrace that which does. A big mistake when done with first reports - or if your mind is made up before the first reports arrive. That's hardly news - it's been the case for as long as I remember, but it's certainly more obvious since Desert Storm - when immediacy of cable news changed American's perceptions about how fast they could get information they might or might not mistake as answers. But speed of communication has no impact - zero, zip, nada - good or bad - on the accuracy of the information conveyed.
Nor does the quantity of information - when much of it's conflicting (as it invariably is). But this is hardly the first example of a military op with heavy embedding of reporters - see Baqubah, Fallujah, and the initial invasion of Iraq for previous examples. So what's different? Back to my first post on Marjah: "What has changed - and clearly - is the tone of newspaper coverage." Behind me, as I write this days later, my TV is tuned to CNN. They're extolling the virtues of American efforts to avoid civilian casualties, denouncing the horrific evil of the Taliban, and passing on ISAF talking points as facts. I know these are mostly true things - but it's notable (to the point of being almost disconcerting) to hear that said on CNN in the manner it's being presented. I'm reminded of Iraq reporting - as it was until approximately 1 May, 2003. After that date reporting on Iraq was reliably consistent - therefore simpler. Those who grew used to that might be puzzled by the return of nuance today.
Will all Afghanistan reporting be like CNN's today? Certainly not. So the task of sorting through information will be more challenging when the providers aren't all saying the same simple thing.
Welcome to the Goodwar.
Previously: Marjah: mount up
Next: The inevitable dead
How to destroy a soldier's life? Hardly - some people are simply better off apart. Given what we know about one of those people from her writing sample it's hard to make the case that her ex would be "better" with her. "For the kids" is something to consider, but their son ends up at Annapolis - not an easy achievement and one that's clearly in his father's footsteps as much as it is a refutation of all that mom holds dear. (More dear than her son or husband, as her story makes clear.)
The Mrs and I held it together. On our 20th anniversary I was in Iraq, and for our 23rd, too. We've since marked our 25th. Neither luck nor fortune has anything to do with our longevity, and we missed none of the challenges of military life. My first deployment to a distant desert was in 1987, I left her at home alone with our two year old son - and pregnant. A couple years later I went to Korea - but although I'd opted for an accompanied tour (a rare opportunity) I had to travel well in advance. She flew from the US to Korea later, with two toddlers and all their luggage in tow. I met her at Kimpo. For the remainder of our time in Korea I was "in the field" for two to three-week stretches, and rarely home for a month in between. The trade off for being accompanied was a two-year tour rather than the one year solo option, but as it turned out by choosing togetherness we simply spread our year apart over those two years. (And she spent her "alone time" in Korea instead of the United States.) Point being, it ain't easy - it's just life.
I'm not bragging. We aren't "better" than anyone else. Part of the reason we're together is that she's independent enough to get along just fine without me. There are many reasons marriages end, but for her part the author of the piece in question reveals none other than her desperate need for having a man around all the time - something that appears driven less by sexual appetite or inability to open peanut butter jars, write checks, or fix a leaky faucet and more by the need for constant (and male) affirmation of her specialness. More than anything else a military wife needs to be more liberated than our tragic author; shortfalls in any of those areas will make life tough for a military spouse, but the last one alone will make it unbearable.
If she found a guy willing to provide that constant affirmation, good for her. A lot of guys are complete losers, total assholes, even. Over the years I've dealt with some who wore the uniform (Shockka!! I know, right?) and others whose wives did. But men and women, young and old - I've worked with them, lived with them, drank with them and listened to them, and offered my advice - while making it clear I don't have all the answers. Some worked it out, others didn't. Some lost something, others didn't. One hundred percent experienced pain in the process, ninety-nine-point-nine percent of those who ended up apart were better off apart. In that regard our author is nothing special.
And her soldier is far from "destroyed."
This piece has been all over the milblogs for days, by the way. From John at Castle Argghhh to Cassandra. Meanwhile, at Spouse Buzz ( a blog for military spouses - imagine that) I learn (after writing this post) that there's a new movie coming out - what an amazing coincidence. Either that or we're all participating in a viral marketing campaign. From that, I get the idea for my title, rest same.
As for movies this story reminds me of, I say Forrest Gump - wherein desperately needy Jenny clings to an abusive relationship with a "Marxist." But to each his own.
Lastly, something I wrote for Mrs G, in a tent, by flashlight, in Iraq. (And it wasn't even Valentine's Day.)
Click for larger version:
The excitement builds:
If the Marines are wishing they could just get on with it, they aren't the only ones:
NEAR MARJAH, Afghanistan - U.S. and Afghan troops fought back small-scale attacks by Taliban fighters Friday on the northern outskirts of Marjah, as tribal elders pleaded for NATO to finish its planned attack on the Taliban stronghold quickly and carefully to protect civilians.
On Friday, a group of 34 elders said in a letter to provincial officials that their people are frightened and worried they won't be watched after, according to Abdul Hai Agha, an elder from Marjah.
"We said in this letter that if you are doing this operation in Marjah, do it quickly," Agha told The Associated Press by phone from nearby Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand province. They also urged the troops to do their best to avoid civilian casualties during the assault and have food and shelter ready in nearby towns for refugees.
If that headline seems unusual*, try this one: Marjah fight geared for Afghan civilians' safety.
"This operation is designed to open the way for those Afghans who want to join the peace process and to use the military power against those foreign terrorists who are hiding here," Atmar told the elders during a meeting in Lashkar Gah, the Helmand provincial capital about 20 miles northeast of Marjah.
The elders told Atmar their support depended on how the operation was carried out and whether a large number of civilians were killed or injured. One elder, Mohebullah Torpatkai, said that if the operation improved civilians' lives, "we the people of Marjah will fully support it."
Azimi said intelligence suggests the Taliban will avoid a major confrontation and attempt to slip the noose. Fighters who have joined the Taliban for money rather than jihadist ideology will be encouraged to lay down their arms and remain, he said.
There are indications the message is being received.
"Groups along the edge of the city are already telling Marines, 'Hey, we're ready for you guys to come in,' " said Marine Col. Paul Kennedy, who commands a regiment that will come to Helmand as part of a surge of U.S. forces ordered by President Obama. "These guys would have to be idiots to try to go toe to toe."
MSNBC seems a bit confused about how Taliban fighters dress (headline: Militants plan to wait out looming offensive disguised as civilians) but their story does offer insight into possible Taliban response to the Marjah offensive: "a Taliban commander told NBC News' Richard Engel that many insurgents would wait out the offensive."
"They (U.S. and coalition troops) will come in and announce that they have conquered the area. We will let them come in. They are welcome.
"They will ask, 'Are there any Taliban in the area?' We will say, 'Yes, but they have left'," the Taliban leader added.
"We will not fight them face-to-face," he said. "We will shake their hands, as civilians. Then they will leave."
He doesn't explain how long he thinks it might be until they leave, but the same story reports that "the militants, meanwhile, dug in for a fight, reinforcing their positions with rocket-propelled grenades and heavy weapons, according to witnesses."
Meanwhile, the World Socialist Web Site issues marching orders, too
The town is the largest population center under Taliban control and has been dubbed a "Taliban stronghold" in the US media in order to excuse in advance what are likely to be massive civilian casualties.
And the world's socialists respond:
U.S. Poised to Commit War Crimes in Marjah: Will President Obama and Congress act to protect civilians in Marjah , in compliance with the obligations of the United States under the laws of war?
Meanwhile, in Afghanistan, Lt Col Nick Lock, Commander of the Royal Welsh Battle Group, speaks to soldiers about the upcoming operation, exhorting them to do the best they can, partner properly with their Afghan colleagues, get the people to understand that we are here to stay this time, and achieve a huge success.
*Pre-publication update: The AP story has already been re-written. The new headline is "Civilians flee Afghan town ahead of US assault," but the report also says
Residents told The Associated Press by telephone this week that Taliban fighters were preventing them from leaving, warning the roads were planted with land mines to slow the NATO advance.
Later update: And it's been changed again - "US: Attack on Afghan town Marjah launched"
"The first wave of choppers has landed inside Marjah. The operation has begun," said Capt. Joshua Winfrey, commander of Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines, which was at the forefront of the attack.
Gen. Stanley McChrystal, commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, has ordered many Army and Air Force Exchange Service facilities closed as a way to focus on the war and to provide space for the U.S. troop buildup.
According to a "fragmentary order" issued earlier this month, concessions such as Burger King, Dairy Queen, Orange Julius, Pizza Hut, the Oakley stores and Military Car Sales must be closed within 60 days, with the possibility that each concession could get a 30-day extension.
Those were nice to have in Iraq, but I think I ate some place other than the DFAC about six times while I was there, in most cases because I was too damn busy during DFAC hours.
But I guess some folks just love the Whopper.
At the briefing today, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs was asked about Biden calling Iraq one of the great potential achievements of the Obama administration given that Biden had previously advocated that the country should be divided into thirds and split among Kurds, Shiites, and Sunnis, and then-Sen. Obama opposing the surge of US troops that many experts argue helped bring stability that allowed the reconciliation process to continue.
In fact, in January 2007 then-Sen. Obama said that he was "not persuaded that 20,000 additional troops in Iraq is going to solve the sectarian violence. In fact, I think it will do the reverse."
Gibbs said the achievement was "putting what was broken back together and getting our troops home, which we intend to do in August of this year."
A reporter pointed out that the Status of Forces Agreement to bring troops home was signed before the president took office.
Gibbs called that agreement "something I think that the political pressure that the president, as a then-candidate, helped to bring about."
Yeah - 7 years and 10 months into his term of office George Bush responded to Senate pressure.
There's an odd thing about this administration claiming credit for victory in Iraq - half the country knows Biden and Obama had nothing to do with it, and the other half will never admit there is a victory to claim. However, since they think we're all stupid, I guess the White House wants to give it a shot.
For the record, this was Barack Obama's plan for Iraq: "Obama will immediately begin to remove our troops from Iraq. He will remove one to two combat brigades each month, and have all of our combat brigades out of Iraq within 16 months." To be fair, he's still got four months to get er done. (To be really fair, they don't call them "combat" brigades anymore...)
As for the SOFA: "Obama and Biden also believe that any security accord must be subject to Congressional approval. It is unacceptable that the Iraqi government will present the agreement to the Iraqi parliament for approval--yet the Bush administration will not do the same with the U.S. Congress." In August, 2008 Biden even introduced a Senate Bill that would require just that.
Neither of those things happened - which I believe keeps Team Obama's record on campaign promises at 100%. (In fact, shortly after moving into the White House, Team Obama deleted all copies of the SOFA from the White House web page.)
As the SOFA neared completion in October, 2008, Joe Biden did declare it was all Barack Obama's idea:
Democratic vice-presidential candidate Sen. Joe Biden, speaking at a rally in Colorado Springs, Colorado, on Wednesday, October 22, said, "finally after six years, George Bush is now backing the plan that Barack Obama suggested, which is to set a timeline for withdrawal from Iraq and turn over responsibility to the Iraqis. That's the agreement we're negotiating now."
Even CNN waved the BS flag on that one at the time.
It could be that Biden has confused Obama with Senator John McCain - who offered this view in May, 2008:
"By January 2013, America has welcomed home most of the servicemen and women who have sacrificed terribly so that America might be secure in her freedom," McCain said at the Columbus Convention Center. "The Iraq war has been won. Iraq is a functioning democracy, although still suffering from the lingering effects of decades of tyranny and centuries of sectarian tension. Violence still occurs, but it is spasmodic and much reduced."
Which is at least closer to today's reality than Obama's pledge to pound sand.
However, Obama's pledge to pound sand was never as complete as some might believe. According to the Bush SOFA, the total withdrawal of all US troops must be accomplished no later than December 31, 2011. And as McClatchy reported at the time, unless he can somehow break the agreement, "Obama's campaign plan to leave a residual force of some 30,000 American troops in Iraq would be impossible under the pact."
President Obama has inherited a golden opportunity to take credit for all that is right in Iraq for the next several years, and deflect all blame for what's not. At some point he - unlike Republicans - might even choose to declare "victory" there.
Or just have Joe Biden do it. But again, half the country knows Biden and Obama had nothing to do with it, and the other half will never admit there is a victory to claim.
Perhaps we can all agree that Joe Biden is a blithering idiot.
I'll repeat what I said yesterday, too: "But if not f#@%ing up Iraq does prove to be this administration's greatest accomplishment, I won't hesitate to give them credit for that."
There is much breathless commentary right now about the anticipated "Operation Moshtarak" to clear Taliban fighters out of Marjah. Many reporters are calling it "Afghanistan's Fallujah," painting it as a big upcoming clash. Some press outlets almost seem to relish the prospects of a violent, photogenic fight and, of course, American casualties.
But looking into this further, I think we're seeing another media mischaracterization. Granted, it's partly due to the Marines' "we're-coming-for-you" pre-battle rhetoric, which is pretty much their standard procedure. But it's also due to some sloppy journalism. In particular, if you see Marjah described as a city or town, beware the source. Nominally, Marjah is a village about 15 miles west of Lashkar Gah, the provincial capital. Online map hounds can zoom into 31°31'35"N, 64°09'05"E.
But it's really an area of about 10 miles by 5 miles, an intertwined complex of villages, compounds, fields and orchards in the heart of Helmand Valley's green zone and the hub of poppy-growing country. About 100,000 people live there.
Yes, it's laced with irrigation canals, and the Taliban has reportedly been emplacing hundreds of IEDs and mines. But Marjah is no Fallujah, Hue or Stalingrad... And remember the numbers here. Press stories estimate 1,000 to 2,000 Taliban. About 15,000 U.S. Marines, British troops and Afghan soldiers are about to descend on them with 24/7 overhead coverage by helicopters, fighter-bombers and drones.
"So the "assault" will likely be over quickly, with not much boom-boom for the camera crews." I hope that proves to be the case.
Meanwhile, we discover the new mission for the 5th Stryker Brigade:
Marines and Taliban insurgents exchanged gunfire Thursday on the outskirts of Marjah, a southern militant stronghold where American and Afghan forces are expected to launch a major attack in the coming days.
To the north, a U.S.-Afghan force led by the U.S. Army's 5th Stryker Brigade linked up with Marines on Thursday, closing off a Taliban escape route to the nearby major city of Lashkar Gah.
No casualties were reported in the scattered clashes, which broke out as Marines moved ever closer to the edge of the farming community of 80,000 people, the linchpin of Taliban influence in the opium poppy producing province of Helmand.
Marines said the Taliban defenders were apparently trying to draw the Americans into a bigger fight before the U.S. was ready to launch the main attack.
"They're trying to draw us in," said Capt. Joshua Winfrey, 30, of Tulsa, Okla., commander of Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines.
Operation Moshtarak (Dari for "Together") is the first major offensive for U.S., coalition and Afghan forces to employ the new reinforcements ordered by President Obama in December of 2009. The mission is to retake the town of Marjah in Helmand province, a Taliban stronghold and center of the opium network. Moshtarak is expected to include as many as 15,000 U.S., coalition, and Afghan troops and will likely commence within the coming days.Regarding that link, via email:
"The significance of this operation, lead by U.S. Marines in coordination with coalition and Afghan partners, cannot be underestimated as it is the largest joint operation in Afghanistan since 2001 and the first major test of the additional U.S. forces President Obama ordered last December," explained Jeffrey Dressler. Prior to their deployment, Mr. Dressler briefed Marines at Camp Lejeune on his comprehensive work on Helmand province published last fall by ISW.
Times (London): Q&A: Why the mission in Marjah is so important and well publicised and Ousted tribal leaders poised to take over after Nato offensive
Wall Street Journal: New Battles Test U.S. Strategy in Afghanistan
Previously: Eve of battle: Marjah
Next: Marjah: mount up
"I am very optimistic about -- about Iraq. I mean, this could be one of the great achievements of this administration. You're going to see 90,000 American troops come marching home by the end of the summer. You're going to see a stable government in Iraq that is actually moving toward a representative government."
I spent -- I've been there 17 times now. I go about every two months -- three months. I know every one of the major players in all the segments of that society.
"I mean, this could be one of the great achievements of this administration." Looks like the only thing the Obama administration won't blame on Bush is the one thing that actually can be "blamed" on Bush.
And by consistent, I mean he's always been a liar - and not a very good one.
And when he goes to Iraq, the "major players" find ways to avoid him, while people protest in the street.
Fortunately for Joe, Sarah Palin still gets the news coverage - he doesn't.
As for his boss - the only thing he knows about Iraq is what he reads.
But if not f#@%ing up Iraq does prove to be this administration's greatest accomplishment, I won't hesitate to give them credit for that.
The basic idea is for Ken and I to race around every regional command in Afghanistan in 30 days. At first, this may seem pretty easy. Afghanistan is just a little bit smaller than Texas, and I've driven across Texas in less than a day. It won't be that simple here, especially during the winter. Between each RC we will be taking helicopters or maybe some fixed wing aircraft. We will face delays and many nights waiting for space available flights that may or may not pick us up. From the main forward operating bases we'll be taking convoys out to the areas we want to cover. While this mode of transportation is less affected by weather, the risks of improvised explosive devices and ambushes are far greater.
We need to get to those areas because that's where the stories we want to cover are. We want to bring you to those areas with us and share the experience. We want to show you what life is like out there, not just for service members, but for the Afghans we're all here to free from the grip of war. From past experience, I can tell you the lives of people here are hard. Sleeping in small rooms packed to the ceiling with cots and bunk beds with platoons of soldiers who haven't showered in a week. But they're here for a reason; they're working for a greater good. A greater good I feel isn't covered enough in the mass media. I want to answer the question, why are we doing this? Why are service members and civilians out there being killed, wounded and suffering miserable lives? And I want to cover it from an "average" perspective, talking about it in normal speak so everyone can see this war as those on the ground see it.
To tell this story, Ken will be uploading daily vlogs, and I will be providing the blogs and photos. We're going to try and stay off of each other's toes as much as possible, because we both want to share as much Afghanistan as possible. While Ken's goal will be to humanize the people, mine will be to humanize the conflict. But we're not the only players in this project. The biggest player is you, the reader. This project will not work without your participation. For the next 30 days, we work for you. Please let us know of any questions you have and we'll either answer them, or find the right people out here to answer them for you.
I like the potential here - they're military journalists, but they're also Air Force - not Soldiers or Marines thoroughly experienced in counterinsurgency ops or Afghan people and politics, so expect something of a "beginners guide." Tackling reader-submitted questions is a great idea, too.
The tour begins here.
Well then, never mind.
That's one reason I call sites like that toilets on the left-wing information sewer.
What color is this bracelet?
I hear the answer in Borat's voice: "This bracelet is black."
For cryin' out loud, there's even black in the picture if you need a comparison. That story answers the question "who you gonna believe, me or your own damn lying eyes?"
...has seen the end of war.
"Charlie tried to persuade Congress to provide this economic aid after the military aid was successful, but even he couldn't accomplish that," his colleague Martin Frost wrote in 2007. "The movie shows this effort and concluded with a quote from Charlie about how we lost a golden opportunity to avoid Muslim extremism. He was right then just as he was right in helping drive the Soviets out of the country."
The movie is a must-see, but if you've never read the book, it's currently available at Amazon at bargain price. (That might not last long.)
Wilson's affiliation with Jack Murtha hasn't gone unnoticed this week. Here's the excerpt from the book detailing his unlikely selection as savior of a fellow Congressman:
"Wilson accepted the speaker's deal," the passage continues. "Delighted at his lifetime appointment to the Kennedy Center board, he was a happy warrior as he raced to the rescue of his imperiled friend John Murtha."
(More to follow.)
It is the eve of battle and today the Marines on the outskirts of Marjah got their marching orders from their commanding officer.
"This is a date with destiny," said Brigadier Gen. Larry Nicholson. "For the rest of your careers, you will be known as Marjah Marines."
If you get your news from McClatchy, you'll read that one of the difficulties confronting them will be the civilians trapped in the area - unable to escape the pending carnage:
As U.S.-led coalition troops prepare for a long-awaited offensive against the Taliban in southern Afghanistan, few civilians have managed to escape the town at the center of the operation, raising the risk of civilian casualties that could undermine the Obama administration's military strategy for the country.
The U.S.-led force said Tuesday that fewer than 200 families -- around 1,200 people -- had left the town of Marjah and the surrounding area, which have a population of about 80,000.
Thousands of U.S., British and Afghan soldiers are poised to push into the area, with preliminary operations reported to have begun late Tuesday. Afghan police will accompany the soldiers in an effort to establish law and order quickly.
The presence of a large number of civilians could make the operation much trickier and provide a test of the new coalition military doctrine of protecting the population...
An estimated 2,000 Taliban fighters are dug in and are believed to have planted roadside bombs and booby-trapped buildings. Residents said the insurgents had dug trenches in a traffic circle and mined the roads out of town. It may be too late for those who haven't escaped by now.
Other reports describe thousands of civilians fleeing the area in fear of the coming carnage:
Operation to remove Taliban from Marjah sends thousands fleeing
The civilian population of Marjah, a farming community in Helmand, Afghanistan, are fleeing ahead of a huge NATO operation designed to defeat the entrenched Taliban in the region and restore government control.
Thousands of foreign and Afghan troops are converging on the Marjah plain, an area in the central Helmand River valley of southern Afghanistan, ahead of what is expected to be a bloody battle against the Taliban in one of its last strongholds in the south.
After rejecting NATO calls to surrender, Taliban commanders - who have amassed fighters and arms in the area - have told their insurgents to dig in, setting the scene for a major showdown and sending thousands of Marjah residents fleeing.
As squadrons of warplanes roar overhead toward the battlefield and NATO and Afghan troops roll in along the dusty roads, a stream of frightened families head in the opposite direction to refugee camps and reception centers being rapidly assembled by the provincial authorities.
Schools have been set aside as sanctuaries in the provincial capital of Lashkar Gah and other towns, and tent cities are being constructed in preparation for receiving an estimated 10,000 people displaced by the military offensive taking shape in their homeland.
Other reports indicate NATO is telling civilians to stay put - but the government is ready if thousands of civilians chose to flee even though they should be safe staying home:
Afghanistan says ready if thousands flee assault
Afghanistan (Reuters) - Afghanistan is ready to feed thousands if they flee a major assault by NATO troops, but officials hope fighting will be limited and civilians can safely stay home, President Hamid Karzai's spokesman said.
Hundreds of civilians have so far left Marjah, but NATO has advised villagers to stay in their homes and not flee, and most of the population, estimated at up to 100,000, has stayed put.
"We have been assured both by our forces and by international forces that they will make sure that this operation is conducted in a way that has minimum impact on civilians, and hopefully no casualties in terms of civilians in the area," Karzai's spokesman, Waheed Omer, told a news conference on Wednesday.
Reuters adds that "Human rights groups say that since NATO has encouraged people to stay, it bears an additional legal and moral responsibility to avoid heavy fighting that would cause civilian casualties."
If you're confused by all these contradictory reports, don't worry. McClatchy also adds that "a large media contingent from around the world will accompany the troops, recording their progress."
Previously: A little unconventional war
Next: The approach to Marjah
Israel Del Toro, who I mentioned here and here was severely injured when a roadside bomb in Afghanistan took his face, his hands and his career as an elite JTAC, an in-theater joint terminal attack controller summoning tactical jet strikes.
He awoke in intensive care in the burn treatment unit of Brooke Army medical Center in San Antonio. Burns covered 80 percent of his body. His wife was there and he wanted to hug her, but Carman was only able to squeeze a toe. She told him president Bush had been there to see him. Dressed in medical gloves and booties, stayed with him, thanking him for his valor. Israel remembered none of it.
His recovery is beating all of the odds and medical professionals and physical trainers are amazed at the pace and extent of his recovery.
He loves the Air Force and wanted nothing more than to continue his fifteen-year career with the Air Force. He has worked desperately toward that goal and NOW after a long and difficult battle, that goal has been achieved.
Video is here
His Air Force spirit has not wavered and he has become an advocate for other burn victims like himself and now he's an advocate for those who want to stay in the military and continue serving their country even after such severe injuries.
Way to pave the road, Del Toro!
Here's a good look at Sarah Palin from the left. It's fair and accurate - for the most part because Taylor Marsh doesn't start from the premise that Sarah Palin is stupid.
And that premise is the foundation upon which opposition to Palin is built, and has been since the day John McCain (whose non-stupid identity was well established on a national scene) introduced her to the lower 48. One can, as Ms Marsh does, detect a note of sexism in that (and certainly for many of Palin's detractors it's authentic), but it's also a demonstration of equal opportunity in action. She is being treated exactly as George Bush was for most of his eight years in office, throughout which the foundation of every opposition complaint was that Bush is stupid.
Drop back a few years and you'll recall that the foundation of every opposition attack on Ronald Reagan was Ronald Reagan is stupid. (In his case blamed in part on his advanced years.) The stupid meme skipped his successor (George Bush*, who, in an ironic - because he was anything but - change of pace was derisively labeled a "wimp") but was applied vigorously to his vice president Dan Quayle.
Those my age will recall the knock on Gerald Ford. For you youngsters out there here's the short version: Ford is stupid.
I guess some jokes never get old. (Chase would later explain: "obviously my leanings were Democratic and I wanted [Jimmy] Carter in and I wanted [Ford] out, and I figured look, we're reaching millions of people every weekend, why not do it." And in fairness, Saturday Night Live ridiculed all presidents - here they are making fun of how intelligent, hip, personable and plugged-in - but still a folksy, regular guy - Jimmy Carter was.)
That's all in the past - in our modern, high-speed, cable TV/internet era you can't always wait for Saturday night to get your message out.
While it's before my time, if you want an origin of that stupid label it could be in the realization that identifying the Democrat candidate as the intellectual choice was insufficiently persuasive to voters - a lesson certainly learned in the 1950's when that was the definitive argument presented by Adlai Stevenson in his campaigns against Dwight Eisenhower (a man whose war hero status - even more so than McCain - rendered him stupid-proof). While that "intellectual" persona has never been abandoned by Democrats (it's always rather subtly spun as "gosh, do you think voters will reject Gore/Kerry/Obama because he's so incredibly intelligent?") the lesson learned from that era was that you needed something a bit less subtle to convince (presumably stupid) voters that your opponent was stupid. Labeling your opponent as "stupid" seemed the most effective choice.
So there you have it. With subtle variations on the theme (stupid girl, stupid hick, stupid pretty boy, stupid old man, stupid klutz) "stupid" has been the favored Democratic response to Republicans for nearly four decades now. As the first female to earn that level of attention (and fear) from Democrats, Sarah Palin has broken another glass ceiling.
*Upon further review: it didn't completely skip George Bush - Bill Clinton's "it's the economy, STUPID" may have been one of the most successful campaign themes in history.
Okay kids, one more (this time non-comedy) history video, but then it's nap time.
And remember: when confronted with bardus maximus, primum non bardus is the only response.
Megyn Kelly: "They lied about being war heroes, and now they might get away with it scott free."
Another Strandlof appearance included. Strandlof was an easy take-down. I know because I did it. It took about an hour of my time, but none of the dots I connected here had been connected previously. And he's just one example - in this case, one example who showed up in political ads for Democrat candidates in Colorado. But lefties get fooled by these guys time after time after time - because they want to be fooled. They are what's called an easy mark. Con artists know this.
Jeebus, he could have shown up in a freaking half-assed unicorn costume and they would have believed he was the promised one.
And do we milbloggers ever get a simple word of thanks from their victims once the creeps that made them look like blithering idiots get hauled off to jail? Of course not. (sniffle)
Mr. Murtha was first hospitalized with gallbladder problems in December. He had surgery Jan. 28 at the National Naval Hospital in Bethesda, Md. He went home, but was hospitalized two days later when complications developed. According to a source close to Mr. Murtha -- confirming a report in Politico -- doctors inadvertently cut Mr. Murtha's intestine during the laparoscopic surgery, causing an infection.
Mr. Murtha died surrounded by family at the Virginia Medical Center in Arlington, Va., at 1:18 p.m. according to a spokesman.
And the first guy to try to score political points off of Jack Murtha's death? Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.):
COHEN: He was my friend... He died because when he went in for gall bladder surgery his intestine was perforated and that should not have happened... It was, from my understanding, malpractice.
And somebody who loses their life because of medical fault should have a court system that can give damages, depending on what the person's life expectancy was and the loss -- and the loss of Jack Murtha's great."
HOST: Are you suggesting that Jack Murtha is a martyr in the cause of health care reform?
COHEN: No one's a martyr, but the fact is he went in for gall bladder surgery and they perforated his intestine and that happens to other people around this country.
A screen capture from the Washington Post:
Classy, huh? I'm not a Sarah Palin voter - but unlike most journalists in the world I don't feel threatened by her either.
The Washington Post just succeeded in making the Huffington Post seem reasonable by comparison.
Update: just following orders?
Because unlike most human endeavors, scapegoat hunts never fail.
One reason I can't possibly be the grandfather of milbogs: she's still too young to be a grandma*.
However, she's spending her birthday working on yet another project to expand the ever-growing milblog world, which you can join. (She'd consider that a nice birthday present, in fact.)
*And no, she won't be releasing her birth certificate to "prove it." ;)
...but it's too late. Uncovering the birther movement's birth certificate: "The far right and the far left can be equally insane, and the extremes end up echoing each other."
I suppose the realization that Democrats founded the birther movement could surprise some of the newer advocates - but it's more a reminder than a shocking revelation. Most people have probably forgotten there were birther-type charges floating around against McCain, too. Here's one version in the New York Times from February, 2008 - pre-dating the "early summer of '08" launch of the Obama Birther movement among Clinton supporters. At issue was McCain's birth (as a military dependent) in Panama. (More correctly, the issue was whether any military dependent born overseas had citizenship rights.) By July 2008 Snopes declared his legitimacy "undetermined."
And in case I wasn't clear, it's the birther movement that should have been aborted. I've noted before that the Dems should fund the birther movement - it's Barack Obama's best (maybe only) chance for 2012. Given the parentage, maybe they can deduct any donations from taxes as "child support."
Added thought: on a more personal note, besides the birthers efforts to undermine the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan linked above, (yes, I know they wouldn't characterize their actions in that way) over the years I served with many Americans (men and women) who married foreign nationals - and had children with them while serving stateside and overseas - the attacks on Obama and McCain all rolled into one. I'd like to see the birthers try and explain to these folks why they consider their children to be second-class citizens unworthy of full rights and privileges granted by the US Constitution.
(Hat tip: Instapundit.)
Well if nothing was illegal we wouldn't need lawyers: Stolen Valor Act facing legal challenges.
I would say this is timely in light of the McManus story, but there's always someone trying to pass themselves off as a "decorated veteran."
For example, our old pal Rick Strandlof makes an appearance in the story.
...suffers an ironic fate. A team from SOUTHCOM went to Haiti for a disaster relief conference - and one member was killed in his hotel when the earthquake struck that day:
A search team on Sunday found the body of the Air Force major killed in Haiti after his hotel collapsed during the 7.0 magnitude earthquake, his family said.
Maj. Ken Bourland had not been heard from since the Jan. 12 earthquake after he sent an e-mail to his wife from his hotel room minutes before it hit. He and six other members of U.S. Southern Command had flown to Haiti on the day of the earthquake to attend a disaster relief conference.
Our thoughts and prayers to the family.
Previously: Automatic for the People
He is now, as I was just told via email, what President Obama would call an "ex-Marine Corpse."
His final appearances at Mudville as a living person will be his role as "guy who threatened to cut military funding unless they'd give Nancy Pelosi a plane". Prior to that, his efforts last fall to raise taxes. ("The tax should be paid by all taxpayers, with rates ranging from 1 percent for lower wage earners to 5 percent for the wealthy.") But whether you think you pay too many taxes or too few, Jack Murtha got more of your tax dollars than anyone else. (At that time he was also being investigated for "ethics violations.")
Now he's dead. So this quote on Afghanistan might be his last on the topic of war: "I'm not sure there's a threat to our national security." Maybe he thought his gallbladder was nothing serious, either.
The Washington Post: "He was revered among Democrats."
Critics dubbed Rep. Murtha, the chairman of the powerful subcommittee that controls Pentagon spending, the "King of Pork" for the volume of taxpayer money he could direct to the area around his home town of Johnstown. Most of the largesse came in defense and military research contracts he steered to companies based in his district or with small offices there.
I will pause now to say something nice about him: he was never convicted.
"Murtha was beloved by his constituents for tapping billions of dollars in federal funds to seed new industries there," reports the Post. That might be true - he could call them "racists and rednecks" and still be re-elected. I don't know if any of them actually voted for him - but he was always reelected.
In the 2008 election, Democrats had to burn a last-minute half million dollars in response to a strong campaign from Murtha's opponent, in what they thought was an easily held district - despite Murtha's "best efforts" on the "campaign trail":
Rep. John Murtha's opponent in the 2008 election claims the Pennsylvania congressman's chief of staff has threatened to have him recalled to active duty and court-martialed for campaigning while in the military, which is in violation of military code.
Bill Russell, an Iraq war veteran who served with the Army, told FOXNews.com that Murtha's chief of staff, John Hugya, made the threat on two occasions -- first to his former commanding officer and then to his face in March.
Russell has now issued a statement requesting prayers for Murtha's family.
The Post story neglects to mention that Murtha called several Marines killers, that they were absolved, and that they in turn sued him for libel - along with various other reasons that most veterans consider him "the second ex-Marine."
But who cares - he's dead.
A blast from Mudville' past - back in 2006, Congressman Jim Moran had arranged a "Town Hall" meeting in his Virginia district just outside of D.C. One invited guest was Jack Murtha - other invited guests were Iraq Veterans Against War members who were brought in to appear as local veterans there to say wonderful things about Murtha and Moran's anti war stands.
Most of Murtha and Moran's talking points from this event are from 2003-2004 - not enough armor, Abu Ghraib was a result of poor training, troops aren't getting medical care, only poor people join the army - we've debunked them all here over the past several months. As the Post noted, MoveOn.org sent e-mails to opponents of the war urging the faithful to attend. And although several Iraq war veterans turned activist made the long trek to cheer him on, an actual "local vet" also made an appearance...
And just before the end of the meeting, Vietnam veteran General (retired) Louis C. Wagner approached the mic.
Enough of the past - on to the future:
According to state law, the governor has ten days once the vacancy is officially declared to decide on the date for the special election, which can come no sooner than 60 days following that proclamation.
Prior to Murtha's passing, there were two Republicans in the race: 2008 nominee Bill Russell and businessman Tim Burns. It remains to be seen whether either or both men run in the special election although, regardless, it is a certainty the field will grow as ambitious Republicans (and Democrats) see the chance to get to Congress in an abbreviated campaign.
The story also notes that "Murtha's passing comes at a tenuous time for House Democrats as they seek to convince some of their older members to re-up for another term in the face of what looks to be a difficult national political environment for the party."
or "how America's news is made".
Chapter one: the locals
Our story begins with the sort of tragic child abuse story that appears in local papers all too often. This one was from the Nisqually Valley (Washington) News - a report of an arrest made on January 31.
Man suspected of beating 4-year-old
By Megan Hansen
A Yelm man was arrested Sunday [January 31] for allegedly beating and torturing his daughter. Police said they found the child covered with bruises.
Officers were dispatched around 2 a.m. to Umptanum Road behind Safeway for a report of a disturbance.
Joshua R. Tabor, 27, was allegedly walking up and down the street with a helmet, saying he was going to bust windows, said Yelm Police Chief Todd Stancil.
He appeared to be intoxicated.
When police arrived they discovered Tabor's 4-year-old daughter had locked herself in a bathroom.
Tabor's girlfriend allegedly told police that Tabor has an anger problem and beats his daughter, Stancil said.
The child was interviewed and photographs were taken of the bruises that covered her body.
During the investigation it was also discovered Tabor may have held the girl's head, backward, in a sink of water because she wouldn't say her ABCs, Stancil said.
The Seattle-Tacoma News Tribune added additional details, including that the suspect was "a Joint Base Lewis-McChord soldier."
Anger over alphabet ends in arrest
Charged: Man accused of dunking 4-year-old
According to court records:
Tabor's girlfriend told Yelm police that Tabor beats his 4-year-old daughter and that the child's back was covered in bruises. The girlfriend reported that the 4-year-old had locked herself in a closet because she was afraid of her father.
The girlfriend also reported that when the child wets herself, Tabor "makes her sit in the urine-soaked clothes" until he gives her permission to change.
Tabor spoke to a Yelm police officer and said that he and his girlfriend had "held her down on the counter and submerged her head into the water three or four times until the water came around her forehead and jawline." He said that she was face-up when her head was in the water. He added that they gave this punishment for the 4-year-old "refusing to say her letters."
Tabor was released Monday from the Thurston County Jail after posting $10,000 bail. He is restricted to base at Lewis-McChord as a condition of his release.
The "dunking" was an important point because - as the Nisqually Valley News had reported - "Tabor was arrested for third-degree assault of a child, but police are requesting charges be increased to second-degree assault of a child because of the alleged water incidents." And "they are also asking the prosecutor to charge Tabor's girlfriend, who he said helped hold the girl down in the water." And according to the News Tribune: The Thurston County Prosecuting Attorney's Office filed a charge of second-degree assault of a child against Joshua Ryan Tabor, 27, on Tuesday.
As to why he chose dunking her in the sink "until the water came around her forehead and jawline" - "Tabor allegedly admitted to police that he did it because he knew she was terrified of water."
And there you have it. Tabor's arraignment is scheduled for Feb. 16. Until then he is confined to post. It's a tragic story, and it happens all too often. As a parent, it's horrifying and unforgivable and a reminder that ability to have children and ability to raise children are two different things - and that some thankfully small percentage of people just barely qualify as "people". There are some in your neighborhood and mine. That's one of the reasons when it happens in your neighborhood, it isn't news in mine.
Chapter two: Tabloid data (in which our story sets out for Britain to seek it's fortune)
Somehow the British tabloid Daily Mail heard the child abuse story, and one week after the arrest they found a way to make news from Nisqually Valley an international sensation: add "waterboarding" and CIA" to the mix.
U.S. soldier 'waterboarded his own daughter, 4, because she couldn't recite alphabet'
A soldier waterboarded his four-year-old daughter because she was unable to recite her alphabet.
Joshua Tabor admitted to police he had used the CIA torture technique because he was so angry.
"The practice of waterboarding was used by the CIA to break Al Qaeda suspects at Guantanamo Bay," the Daily Mail helpfully adds. "Detainees had water poured over their face until they feared they would drown. President Barack Obama has since outlawed the practice."
But in addition to that description of actual waterboarding, they also include a description of what Tabor allegedly did to his daughter. The story even includes a photo captioned "Human rights activists demonstrate waterboarding in front of the Justice Department. A soldier father stands accused of waterboarding his daughter because she couldn't recite the alphabet" - even though the photo itself is further proof that what Tabor is accused of isn't waterboarding.
But that's what tabloids do. Here's the front page of the Daily Mail's web site, here's a list of libel suits that have been filed against them in the recent past - that has no bearing on this particular story, just an indication of how they do business. This is no secret - "Brangelina's Secret UFO Sex Diet" sells - especially with added Beckham quotes. "Man beats kid near Seattle" doesn't draw the average housewife's attention away from the Snickers bars in the checkout lanes - unless he used secret CIA waterboarding techniques.
Fortunately, no one's really that gullible. (/kidding)
Chapter 3: Back in the USA (In which our week-old story makes it's way back across the Atlantic to it's home country, reborn.)
"Money see, monkey do. And the chimp in chief made it a household word," explains the American web site Political Carnival in their endorsement of the Daily Mail story. Fortunately no one reads... wait - "Joshua Tabor admitted to police that he used a CIA torture technique on his 4-year-old daughter because he was angry she couldn't recite the alphabet. (h/t The Political Carnival)" reports Alan Colmes (fomerly of Fox News). So now we have a man admitting he used a CIA technique? Astoundingly, Colmes uses the Daily Mail photo, too - but doesn't quote the portion of the story that reveals this isn't what the father is accused of doing.
The Daily Beast web site links the Daily Mail story too, and adds another twist: "He chose waterboarding--the CIA torture technique that simulates drowning and has been banned by the Obama administration--because he knew the girl was terrified of water."
AOL News Filter ("With so many news aggregators out there, who can keep up? AOL News filters the filters to steer you to the headlines that really matter" reads their banner) announces "The Daily Beast picks up a story from Britain's Daily Mail, reporting on a U.S. soldier who allegedly waterboarded his 4-year-old daughter." The AOL roundup includes several stories - but the overall headline is "The Filter: Soldier Accused of Waterboarding Daughter".
One of the people who writes at The Atlantic using the name Andrew Sullivan writes "A US Soldier Waterboards His Own Child." He (I believe all the "Andrew Sullivans" are he) calls the Daily Mail a "populist paper" (the original Andrew Sullivan is British - so he should know) but is mostly concerned that Marc Thiessen might claim "she wasn't really "waterboarded" as the professionals do it." I have no idea who Mark Theissen is, but if he does make that claim it's because it's true, and apparently at least one of the "Andrew Sullivans" knows this. (Does his willingness to acknowledge up front that he's wrong somehow increase the truthiness of what he writes?)
But more hilariously, "Andrew Sullivan" further notes that "No US paper has yet to report the story. Why am I not surprised?" Except that US papers broke the story a week ago - a British paper twisted it into a form suitable for international news of the tabloid variety, and not only are lefty bloggers and web sites falling for it, but the New York Daily News, Fox News, and ABC all have the "waterboarding" headlines now, too. (ABC News adds that the suspect served in Iraq!!!!)
But there you have it - that's how "news" is made in America today.
And if you ever doubted that leftists are convinced that American soldiers are "monkeys" who would torture their own children because of Bush, now you know a little more about that, too.
Oh, and free advice to any potential lawyer in this case: ignore the people quoted above, don't try to blame Bush.
Story tip: Miss Ladybug.
(Instant update: Fox has re-written their story to eliminate the false "waterboarding" claim. You can see their original headline here)
And update: this is Mark Thiessen. Now I know.
Next: Chimpy see, chimpy do
Retired Navy Commander Kirk S. Lippold, who has an extensive background in the military including a major run-in with al-Qaida, is pondering a run for U.S. Senate in Nevada, two sources said Thursday.
Why, that's Harry ("the war is lost") Reid's seat. (Or the people's, depending on your point of view.) I can think of no other I'd more enjoy seeing defeated by a veteran.
"At this point I would just say, stay tuned," Lippold said in a brief interview. "Nevada clearly needs more experienced leadership than candidates who are in the race right now are capable of providing."
We met (or re-met, if you grew up in Indiana like me - though I hadn't heard of him in years) Edgar Whitcomb at Castle Argghhh last week.
As related in that story at Argghhh (with more promised to follow), before he became Governor of Indiana Whitcomb served in the Pacific during WWII.
He enlisted in the United States Army Air Corps in 1940 and was deployed to the Pacific Theater. He was commissioned as a Lieutenant in 1941 and made an aerial navigator. He served two tours of duty in the Philippines and was promoted to Second Lieutenant. During the Battle of the Philippines, Whitcomb's base was overrun; he was captured by the Japanese and was beaten and tortured by his captors, but was able to escape. Recaptured a few days later, he escaped a second time and was hunted for several more days but was able to evade his pursuers. He escaped by swimming all night through shark infested waters to an island unoccupied by the Japanese army. He made contact with the Filipino resistance and fought with them for two years, loosing his vision in one eye, severe hearing loss, and injuring his back in the progress. He was eventually able to secure passage to China under an assumed name where he made contact with the United States Army and was repatriated in December 1943. He wrote a book about his experience entitled Escape from Corregidor, published in 1958. He was discharged from active duty in 1946, though he remained in the reserve military forces until 1977 holding the rank of colonel.
That Wikipedia bio also explains why I hadn't heard of him in years - his life after the Governor's office was almost as interesting as his life before. But the happy discovery he was alive and kicking set me searching the internet, wondering if his book was still available.
The bad news - it's out of print.
"This ability of our American youth to adjust from the quiet American home to the hardships and grimness of the battlefield is a quality that I have often marveled at and long admired," wrote Marine Lt. General Field Harris in the 1958 introduction. "He has been described in some quarters as soft and not able to take it. However, it has been my observation that, given the proper tools and training, he is the equal, perhaps the superior, of any fighting man in the world. Maybe it is our competitive sports and competitive way of life that develop this quality, but whatever it is, the American serviceman is tops in my book."
Aside from the very interesting reading offered by this book, I feel that it cannot help stirring up a quiet pride in the breast of every American parent whose boy has participated in our wars. These boys asked for so little and gave so much.
Here in Mudville we believe everyone deserves a chance to chuckle:
...even the elitist snobs who didn't laugh until they saw the third one (which is what makes the third one actually funny - but they won't get that joke, either).
U.S. soldiers are dying in Afghanistan. One died just Monday in southern Afghanistan, blown up by an improvised bomb. And I'm supposed to sit here in my cozy media work room in Miami and demand to know why Kyle Eckel is playing football for the Saints while some of his classmates are tiptoeing around IED's in Kabul? Sorry. Can't do it.
Which is good news for those interested in news from Afghanistan. I linked his latest entry in the previous post, but it deserves more attention.
We have a little phenomenon in the Army called, "Badge-hunting." Although mid-grade officers, very senior NCO's and fobbits are most often accused of it, everyone wants their "stinking badges." It affects how those who haven't yet "gotten some" go about their business. They are looking for the fight that will earn them their combat badge, either the CIB (Combat Infantry Badge) or CAB (Combat Action Badge). Medics are less likely to go way out of their way to get their CMB (Combat Medical Badge), but if they earn it, they want it.
You have a tendency to find what you are looking for. Sometimes, it gets extreme.
An example follows - read the whole thing.
(As usual, via the Mrs, who's always first.)
It seems you can't read (or watch) a news report on Afghanistan lately without encountering something new and different - radical, even - about our approach to war.
Like this unusual example of advertising in the Washington Post:
NATO ministers, commanders advertise planned offensive in southern Afghanistan
ISTANBUL -- For the upcoming Battle of Marja, the element of surprise has already gone by the wayside.
Although Rasmussen said he could not go into details "for security reasons," other NATO officials said an allied force, led by U.S. Marines, was preparing for an assault on the town of Marja, a Taliban stronghold in Helmand province. Senior military officials began touting the offensive, the first operation since a U.S. troop increase in Afghanistan, even before President Obama announced in early December that he would be sending more forces to the country.
Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the top U.S. and allied commander in Afghanistan, said the offensive would start "relatively soon." When asked why he and other commanders were being so open about their plans, he said it was partly to try to persuade as many Afghans as possible in Marja to throw down their arms and side against the Taliban.
"If they want to fight, then obviously that will have to be an outcome. But if they don't want to fight, that's fine, too," he told reporters Thursday. "We'd much rather have them see the inevitability that things are changing and just accept that. And we think we can give them that opportunity. And that's why it is a little unconventional to do it this way."
The plan has indeed been advertised. Admiral Mullen mentioned Marja during a pre-Christmas visit to Afghanistan,
Marja - a region west of Kandahar - remains a Taliban hotbed. "It's been very clear for weeks now for the need to clear out Marja, and that's going to happen," Mullen said. "It's going to happen at a time and place of our choosing, but it's going to happen."
...and multiple news articles on the pending offensive have appeared since.
Some may question the wisdom of the approach, but certainly announcing our intent is not a radical new concept. The November 2004 attack on Fallujah was undoubtedly the most widely telegraphed punch ever thrown in the history of warfare - at least since the first battle for Fallujah - even though no one expected the enemy would choose peace there.
But as for the wish that a potential enemy will "see the inevitability" rather than choose to fight - as much as some might be disappointed in that outcome it's something we should all want. Similar sentiments were expressed in a less newspaper-friendly way by Marine General James Mattis in Iraq in 2003:
After the invasion he sent home his tanks and artillery pieces and went to Iraqi military leaders in each area his troops were in."I come in peace," Mattis recalled telling them. "I didn't bring artillery. But I'm pleading with you, with tears in my eyes: If you fuck with me, I'll kill you all."
In fact, little has changed from our approach to the battlefields of Iraq to the battlefields of Afghanistan. Follow the Fallujah link above and you'll find this post-battle quote from 2005:
"We're mostly known for killing the bad guys" says Lt. Col. Harvey Williams, a reserve officer with the Marine 5th Civil Affairs Group. But killing alone can't defeat the insurgency. Win over the populace or lose the war.
And explanations of exactly that approach were appearing in newspapers as early as 2003 - where they were dismissed as an illegal Bush administration propaganda effort directed at the American public.
What has changed - and clearly - is the tone of newspaper coverage. And the certain knowledge in the minds of those who would potentially lead or encourage a bloody opposition to US and Afghan forces in Marja or elsewhere that General Mattis wasn't bluffing.
Next: Eve of battle: Marjah
Jim Hanson on the Battle of Wanat: "I happen to know a number of folks who were there - who survived that," Jim says, "I've had the time to hear their stories about that first hand, and I'm not convinced that what I'm reading in the media these days matches up with what I was told by these folks."
Audio at the link.
Michael Patrick McManus was arrested tonight by the Houston FBI. Charge is Stolen Valor.
"The blog reads like an old time wanted poster: Wanted for stolen valor. Do you know this man? Reward"
"He also said the chin whiskers are a dead giveaway. He says no true serviceman would dishonor the uniform by appearing in public with facial hair."
Cdr Salamander: "This was a Joint operation between milbloggers, the traditional media, POWNet, the FBI, and mostly you - the readers of milblogs."
More from KTRK Houston:
The man, who the FBI says is nothing but a fraud, even showed up in a military uniform at Houston Mayor Annise Parker's inauguration. The problem is that he didn't earn any of the medals he was wearing.
Michael Patrick McManus was arrested Friday night after a federal judge signed a warrant for his arrest. The FBI says he was arrested without incident.
The picture of McManus was taken at Mayor Parker's victory party in December. The man who shot it is retired military. He sent six pictures to us though he didn't want to be identified. He spoke with us by phone about why he was so suspicious seeing all the awards on this man's uniform.
The pictures ignited a flurry of bloggers attempting to figure out who was parading around town as this highly-decorated war hero. They pushed to expose what they see as improper and illegal, saying "the violations of uniform regs are legion" and "This is illegal as per the Stolen Valor Act and this guy needs to go to jail. This has been a cancer for a long time, but with the internet we can do what other generations could not."
The man who took these pictures wanted to expose him to protect the legitimate honors earned by so many.
"Don't steal somebody else's honor and valor and service to their country by wearing something you're not supposed to be wearing or that you haven't earned in the first place," he said.
We should note that we contacted Mayor Parker's office to see if anyone there knew of this person. Parker's spokesperson says they don't know him and that her victory party was open to the public.
Good advice from Chuck Z: "Don't ask, Don't tell, and don't wear medals you didn't earn."
For the real deal, read about Capt. Joshua Glover
Previously: CSI Milbloggers
Just as there are rules to place a "hold" on nominees, there are rules to remove that hold. The Democrats just don't want to follow those rules.
Which is correct- but not entirely. In fact, on further review:
Holds can be overcome, but it takes 60 votes in the 100-member Senate. While tradition-bound senators are typically reluctant to take that step, they did so Thursday in voting to confirm nominees to the Labor Department and the General Services Administration.
So not only can they do it, they did it this week. They unblocked the ones they wanted, and sent out a memo on the rest. (Seventy? Really?)
Anyhow, finally found the answer:
Also Thursday, Vice President Biden said he was so frustrated by Republican foot-dragging that he was considering whether Senate rules should be changed.
"There's a little disappointment in that it seems like the only way to do business up here anymore is with a supermajority on almost everything," Biden said moments after swearing in Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., who gives Republicans 41 votes, enough to filibuster on any issue.
"What I have been doing is spending a lot of time having my staff go back and scrub this, you know, the use of the filibuster and how it's worked," Biden said. "This is not a constitutional requirement."
Now that at least makes sense - if they wanted to confirm the President's nominees they'd confirm them; if they wanted to change the Senate rules now that they no longer have a "supermajority" they'd send a memo and get a dutifully outraged response.
I doubt they really want to change the rules though - more likely they just want to remind voters that they just can't get anything done because of those damn Republicans! (Pay no attention to those two behind the curtain, or this demonstration that the House can do anything it wants as fast as it wants, too...)
I'm still left with questions - like "is that a backlog, or did the President just nominate 70 new government employees?" Or "are they newly-created positions, or are these replacements for people who recently quit?" Or (on another tangential issue), "do we need a counter-IED Center at Redstone? It sounds more important than anything Jack Murtha ever earmarked, but is it?" And "can the USAF Tanker issue ever be resolved?" (I think that last one's a "no" - too many congress types in too many States and too many companies making parts and sub-parts...)
But the President does have one answer - and it explains why they thought going this route was a good idea: Americans are too stupid to "get it."
Attempt to get a direct response from the White House late Thursday afternoon were unsuccessful.
A spokeswoman instead pointed to Obama's comments earlier this week decrying Senate delays on "well qualified" nominees "because of some completely unrelated piece of business."
"That's an example of the kind of stuff that Americans just don't understand," Obama said.
At least he didn't call us "retarded".
Update: another odd aspect of this story is the misuse and abuse of the terms "pork" and "earmark" - errors addressed here. It's amazing how many people apparently misunderstand the terms (see links at first two links in this post). One might be tempted to claim that vindicates Obama's "American's just don't understand" statement, but I think the majority of those who've made the "error" do so under the (White House-approved) assumption that their readers are stupid ( nothing new). As to motive, the desire for hypocrisy charges against Tea Party folks (should they choose not to condemn the Senator from Alabama) is probably more than enough.
...but they'll be the wrong ones.
"U.S. commanders in Afghanistan face tougher discipline for battlefield failures" reads the headline in the Washington Post. Hard to quibble about that.
I mean, I suppose one could argue that the words are vague and undefined, but since we're now officially committed to "success" in Afghanistan, failure is clearly the exact opposite of that.
The military does not release figures on disciplinary actions taken against field commanders. But officials familiar with recent investigations said letters of reprimand or other disciplinary action have been recommended for officers involved in three ambushes in which U.S. troops battled Taliban forces in remote villages in 2008 and 2009.
And certainly we all agree that failure shouldn't be rewarded, that nobody's perfect, and that many successful people are those who learned from failure and became better for it - though sometimes not in the military. "Such administrative actions can scuttle chances for promotion and end a career if they are made part of an officer's permanent personnel file," - but that still beats death, another punishment for battlefield failure often meted out during the battle by those who didn't. Such are the fortunes of war.
The story also mentions the surviving family members of those who fell at Keating - fell most likely due to the failures of others. They are part of the source of pressure as used in this quote: "The reprimands come amid growing political pressure from lawmakers who have pushed the military to assign greater accountability for incidents in which large numbers of U.S. troops are killed or wounded." And they absolutely have a right to expect answers.
The question - as it always is - is who screwed up? Here's one example of a government answer:
On Wednesday, the families of the soldiers killed at Kamdesh received a call from an Army casualty assistance officer. The officer read from a prepared script informing them that the investigation was completed and that members of Congress would be briefed on its findings as early as Thursday.
The script praised the bravery of the troops at the Kamdesh outpost, which was briefly overrun by the enemy. It also suggested that commanders should have focused more attention on improving the base's defenses and on analyzing intelligence reports that the enemy was planning a large-scale assault.
The final investigation recommended that the squadron commander overseeing the outpost receive a letter of reprimand. The brigade commander was given a less-severe letter of admonishment, said military officials.
But that's followed immediately with "the squadron and brigade commanders overseeing the Kamdesh outpost had been pressing to close it for months after they determined that it made no sense to keep troops in the area."
That answer doesn't appear in the newspaper coverage. It isn't news - it's just the truth.
But all that's in the past. So let's keep moving forward, with all eyes focused on our clear path to success.
I'm not going to bash anyone for mispronouncing an unfamiliar term - all of us have done it at one time or another, especially if trying to speak a foreign language or just discussing areas in which we have little experience or expertise. Since I've always seen one purpose of this site as familiarizing those not familiar I sure don't want to humiliate anyone who's trying to learn.
And I also try to ask the questions others fear to ask - like when you think about it, shouldn't it be corpsperson?
Back to the educatin': for those who aren't familiar with their mission, among other things they're the front line guys in charge of doctrine. (Click that link or audio player below for correct pronunciation.)
Whenever someone gets hurt, they immediately start doctrine, and hopefully their patient gets better. (A more graphic explanation here.)
And once again...
...but this time to give credit for at least not pronouncing it "Multi-National Corpse-Iraq."
Now, for serious education: for those actually interested in what Navy Corpsmen are all about, Doc in the Box is the place to go. Besides operating one of the longest-running milblogs around, Sean Dustman is a veteran of multiple combat tours in which he had more important things to worry about than the King's English. (In addition to all that, I've met him and he's a great guy.)
Here's a 3D movie from back when Robert Byrd was still called Bobby. Course, back in those days the three D's were screen height, width, and running time.
Come to think of it, this swashbuckling tale of daring do has a fourth D - none other than Douglas Fairbanks, the King of Hollywood himself. In this feature, he leads the original Special Forces A-Team: The Three Musketeers.
Now, since it was already a technological breakthrough before he started meddlin' with it, the Senator probably didn't appreciate all this fancy-schmancy extra talky soundtrack nonesense Junior added to this perfectly good movin' picture years after it was made - but here in Mudville we say that's just progress, and no reason to get your knickers knotted up.
So while you're waiting for the latest from Johnny Depp or Clint Eastwood or Errol Flynn or any of those other Johnny-come-latelies, push play, sit back, and enjoy this classic from a time when men were men and wimmen were proud of it and no one had any of those confounded cell phone whatsits going off in the middle of the good parts and they didn't charge five bucks for a bucket of... well nevermind. Enjoy the movie.
You can even put your 3D glasses on first if you want*.
*They won't do you any good, but you can wear them. However, if you want you can click the little button in the lower right corner of that movie screen player thingy and it will get bigger.
Apparently there are those in his home state who've been gently nudging him in that direction.
And apparently he will get the people's actual office. I wonder what odds and ends he might find in the various desk drawers, high shelves, or forgotten corners...
It seems incredible now that outside of Massachusetts, the name Scott Brown was unknown until a few days before the polls opened there. For example, by the time he had become a "national story" it was too late even for the talented folks at Saturday Night Live to work him into the script for their show the weekend before the special election.
They made up for that this past weekend...
...but while his name may be even more recognizable than Douglas Fairbanks now, who exactly the most junior member of the United States Senate is remains something of a mystery. And that makes some folks nervous - even (or especially) those who saw the "R" as the only thing that mattered back when there really wasn't much time to consider much else.
So if Democrats are at all upset by the SNL video clip above, they can take heart from responses like this one from my milblogger brothers-in-arms at This Ain't Hell - who are squinting a bit at the badges and beret.
They weren't the first to raise questions - Glenn Beck led the way, in what I suspect was retaliation for declining an offer to make his first appearance as Senator-elect on Beck's show.
WALTERS: You're a Lieutenant-Colonel. On Wednesday the President announced that he wants to work with Congress to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell. What's your view?
BROWN: I think it's important, because as you know we're fighting two wars right now. And the most -- the first priority is to -- is to -- is to finish the job, and win those wars. I'd like to hear from the generals in the field -- in the field -- the people that actually work with these soldiers to make sure that, you know, the social change is not going to disrupt our ability to finish the job and complete the wars.
WALTERS: But Senator, your own view.
BROWN: That's my view.
WALTERS: So you can't say whether you're for or against it?
BROWN: No. I'm going to wait to speak to the generals on the ground.
That, I believe, is the right thing to do. And I agree with his stated priorities. And within days Secretary Gates and Admiral Mullen informed Congress that they'd have an answer for them sometime after the November elections - so "we're waiting to hear from the generals on the ground" will continue to be the answer at least until then.
"Everyone really is the 41st senator," Brown said.
`Come, we shall have some fun now!' thought Alice. `I'm glad they've begun asking riddles.--I believe I can guess that,' she added aloud.
`Do you mean that you think you can find out the answer to it?' said the March Hare.
`Exactly so,' said Alice.
`Then you should say what you mean,' the March Hare went on.
`I do,' Alice hastily replied; `at least--at least I mean what I say--that's the same thing, you know.'
`Not the same thing a bit!' said the Hatter. `You might just as well say that "I see what I eat" is the same thing as "I eat what I see"!'
`You might just as well say,' added the March Hare, `that "I like what I get" is the same thing as "I get what I like"!'
`You might just as well say,' added the Dormouse, who seemed to be talking in his sleep, `that "I breathe when I sleep" is the same thing as "I sleep when I breathe"!'
`It is the same thing with you,' said the Hatter, and here the conversation dropped, and the party sat silent for a minute, while Alice thought over all she could remember about ravens and writing-desks, which wasn't much.
The Hatter was the first to break the silence. `What day of the month is it?' he said, turning to Alice: he had taken his watch out of his pocket, and was looking at it uneasily, shaking it every now and then, and holding it to his ear.
Alice considered a little, and then said `The fourth.'
And indeed it is! Which explains this, I'm certain.
However, after reading that link and considering it a little, it occurred to me that the new movie version of Alice in Wonderland coming soon to a theater near you could be interpreted as an attack on President Obama. But checking the film's Wikipedia page I learned it's actually a newly-written sequel occurring after Lewis Carroll's accounts of Alice (thus it won't include the scene above or the one at the link), in which "she reunites with her childhood friends, including the Mad Hatter, who explains to Alice that they need her help in over-throwing the Red Queen, who has assumed control of all Wonderland. Alice then embarks -- assuming both large and small sizes -- on an adventure of self discovery and to save Wonderland and her Wonderland friends from both the Jabberwocky and the Red Queen's reign of terror." In short, pure fantasy.
So my concern was obviously unfounded.
Bob Feller, that is - Baseball Hall of Famer even though he took a few prime years off from the game...
Due to his baseball skills, some of the Navy leadership wanted to stash Keller in a stateside billet so he could play on the navy baseball team. As the time for the Army-Navy baseball game at Pearl Harbor came around, Admiral Nimitz, commander of the Pacific Fleet, let it be known he wanted Feller to leave his sea duty and pitch for Navy. His ship's captain passed on the news, but Feller reported he respectfully turned down the admiral, saying, "But I'll see you after we win this war."
After the war ended, Navy leadership finally had their wish and assigned Feller to the baseball team at Great Lakes (one of the naval training stations), which toured the country. He spoke of that time with joy on his face and in his words. "Beat team in the world," he recalled.
But that happiness faded quickly as his reminiscences returned to wartime topics and he became somber again. "In those days this nation had unrelenting resolve. We had great leadership. Today, we don't have as much," he said, disgust edging his voice.
From his Wikipedia bio: "One year after his return to Major League action, in 1946, he registered an incredible 348 strikeouts while pitching in 48 games, starting 42 of those games. That year Bob was 26-15 with an ERA of 2.18 while pitching 36 complete games."
Here's the rest of the story at Castle Argghhh.
How would you complete the following sentence?
"Leaving a cross at a Wiccan* assembly area on a college campus is the equivalent of ____." (Consider the "blank" to be as long as you need.)
Did you say "placing a swastika in a synagogue"? Me neither.
Why, the person who did this must be a ______.
Did you say "anonymous Christian supremacist"? Me neither.
Know why? Because first be not stupid is a good motto**. At least that's what I always say.
*Apparently it's actually "the official worship site of the United States Air Force Academy's earth-centered religions."
**(And, as until moments ago it didn't exist on Google, I hereby claim this motto as my own.)
(I think I own "Interpretive Kabuki," too - at least, in the context of how Bills, treaties, laws, rules and regulations etc. are read and acted upon.)
Primum non bardus?
...for proposing extra spending on nuclear weapons research and security.
Though not everyone is offering praise:
Greg Mello, director of the nuclear watchdog Los Alamos Study Group, said budgets for NNSA and DOE have increased in recent years, but the nation "hasn't seen any increase in weapons activities like this since the early years of Ronald Reagan."
One day last summer, in the back of a bug-like armored truck in southern Afghanistan, an American infantryman my own age asked me a question, one I've heard countless times from countless soldiers when they learn that at home, I study at an Ivy League college: What do they think of all this back there, in your world?
I knew what answer he expected because of the surprise that registers on such soldiers' faces when I offer a different one. He expected that in my world of left-leaning professors and privileged students, the war he and his unit were waging would be viewed with scorn or disgust, and maybe that he and his profession would be, too.
That wasn't the case, I told him. From his expression, what I told him was worse: that in my world (if it really is my world, but that's another question) most students -- young people who are his peers, at least in terms of age and video games and music -- rarely spare his war more than a passing thought.
One of my best friends, a senior from Virginia who studies environmental biology and health care policy, explained it like this.
"It's hard to stay engaged about Afghanistan, partly because our president rarely brings it up," he said. "If he were to have spent more than like fifteen seconds on it during his State of the Union Address, maybe I'd have an opinion, but he didn't."
Regardless of your opinion, certainly that story - and all the others in today's Dawn Patrol, gives us something to think about.
"...it is earnestly recommended to all the Troops that with strong attachments to the Union, they should carry with them into civil Society the most conciliating dispositions; and that they should prove themselves not less virtuous and usefull as Citizens, than they have been persevering and victorious as Soldiers... And altho', the General has so frequently given it as his opinion in the most public and explicit manner, that unless the principles of the Federal Government were properly supported, and the Powers of the Union encreased, the honor, dignity and justice of the Nation would be lost for ever; yet he cannot help repeating on this occasion, so interesting a sentiment, and leaving it as his last injunction to every Officer and every Soldier, who may view the subject in the same serious point of light, to add his best endeavours to those of his worthy fellow Citizens towards effecting these great and valuable purposes, on which our very existence as a Nation so materially depends.
- General George Washington, Farewell Address to the Army, 2 November 1783
"So large an army as the government has now on foot, was never before known, without a soldier in it, but who had taken his place there, of his own free choice. But more than this: there are many single Regiments whose members, one and another, possess full practical knowledge of all the arts, sciences, professions, and whatever else, whether useful or elegant, is known in the world; and there is scarcely one, from which there could not be selected, a President, a Cabinet, a Congress, and perhaps a Court, abundantly competent to administer the government itself."
- Abraham Lincoln, July 4th Message to Congress, 1861
"I am certain that no one but a veteran-probably those who have seen active service-will hold any job after the war, from Constable to President."
- A letter to Newsweek from naval officer in the Pacific during WWII
It's September 2016, year 15 of America's "Long War" against terror. As weary troops return to the homeland, a bitter reality assails them: despite their sacrifices, America is losing.
...Disillusioned veterans are unable to find decent jobs in a crumbling economy. Scarred by the physical and psychological violence of war, fed up with the happy talk of duplicitous politicians who only speak of shared sacrifices, they begin to organize. Their motto: take America back.
...A retired senior officer who led America's heroes in central Asia is anointed. His creed: end public disorder, fight the War on Terror to a victorious finish, put America back on top. The United States, he says, is the land of winners, and winners accept no substitute for victory. Nominated on September 11, 2016, Patriot Day, he marches to an overwhelming victory that November, embraced in the streets by an American version of the post-World War I German Freikorps and the police who refuse to suppress them. A concerned minority is left to wonder (and tremble) at the de facto military coup that occurred so quickly, and yet so silently, in their midst.
It Can Happen Here, Unless We Act
Yes, it can happen here. In some ways, it's already happening. But the key question is: at this late date, how can it be stopped? Here are some vectors for a change in course, and in mindset as well, if we are to avoid our own stealth coup...
- William J. Astore, CBS News, January, 2010.
Gates and Mullen testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee, livestream:
(Concluded - video embed removed)
Last week, during the State of the Union address, the President announced that he will work with Congress this year to repeal the law known as "Don't Ask Don't Tell". He subsequently directed the Department of Defense to begin the preparations necessary for a repeal of the current law and policy.
I fully support the President's decision. The question before us is not whether the military prepares to make the change, but how we best prepare for it. We have received our orders from the Commander in Chief and we are moving out accordingly. However, we also can only take this process so far as the ultimate decision rests with you, the Congress.
That last line bears particular note - it's the often-ignored but fundamental and key truth at the heart of the issue - and it can't be repeated enough. "The ultimate decision rests with you, the Congress." That's not a decision Congress welcomes with open arms - and that reluctance presents a great illustration of one difference between power and responsibility - words that represent concepts that have meaning. Those concepts combined are such an enormous burden that the typical member of Congress can bear only one.
Back to Gates: "To ensure that the department is prepared should the law be changed, and working in close consultation with Admiral Mullen, I have appointed a high-level working group within the department that will immediately begin a review of the issues associated with properly implementing a repeal of the "Don't Ask Don't tell" policy. The mandate of this working group is to thoroughly, objectively, and methodically examine all aspects of this question and produce its finding and recommendation in the form of an implementation plan by the end of this calendar year."
An astute politician hears "end of this calendar year" (as opposed to simply "year" or "fiscal year") as "after the November elections," and breathes a sigh of relief. Nothing else matters.
Credit the Secretary and Chairman with doing their duty.
No, you can not have a free ride home. No, you can't bring the kids.
While accepting their newly-acquired role as "shuttle service" for the Speaker of the House, the Department of Defense is attempting to draw a line in the sand regarding congressional transportation with an updated directive on DoD Support for Travel of Members and Employees of Congress. Some of the language in the newly-released regulation (dated 15 January, 2010 - the first update since 1964) appears to be the direct result of lessons learned in dealing with Nancy Pelosi.
Among other changes, the directive now specifies that "outside of the Speaker Shuttle, no funds will be made available by the Department of Defense to pay the expenses of travel or subsistence for any trip made by any Senator or Representative between Andrews AFB and their home State."
For other travel, if "deemed in the national interest" the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Legislative Affairs may "authorize the travel of ONE family member" accompanying a lawmaker at no expense to the government. While an adult child can take the place of a spouse under those circumstances, "children under 18 years of age are not authorized travel" on Congressional flights.
The old version simply stated "DoD policy prohibiting accompanying travel of dependents of Department of Defense personnel on military carriers is equally applicable to travel of dependents of members and employees of the Congress" but allowed for exceptions (only if authorized by the SecDef or branch secretary) "when essential to the proper accomplishment of the mission, desirable because of diplomatic or public relations, or necessary for the health of the individuals concerned."
Partly due to modern requirements to spell out in detail what used to be considered "common sense," the new version of 4515.12 is twice as long as the old. But I suspect our highly dedicated and patriotic lawmakers (mostly via the magic of interpretive kabuki) won't find it overly restrictive.
(File all that under "Pelosi Rules.")
Added thought: in 1964 the regulation cautioned those planning Congressional transportation to ensure any such travel was primarily in the interest of the DoD - (not the traveling Congressman) - and further defined that interest as "not merely for the purpose of engendering goodwill or obtaining possible future benefits." That sort of thing was called fraud, waste, and abuse - and was frowned upon.
By 2007, Jack Murtha could comfortably declare (to reporters, even) that the DoD had damn well better provide Nancy Pelosi a plane because she controls their budget. I guess that's what they call "progress".
Previously: The Jet Set
Recent/related: Everyone gets a Fifth
For those aircraft aficionados out there, thought you might appreciate a look at part of Nancy Pelosi's fleet:
Okay, actually it's yours - she just gets to use it. To fly her family around. On official government business. Anyhow, the little one is a C37 (a Gulfstream V for you civilians) and the bigger one is a C40 - a military version of the Boeing 737-700.
And time flies whether you do or not - witness this story is from three years ago today:
The sources, who include those in Congress and in the administration, said the Democrat is seeking regular military flights not only for herself and her staff, but also for relatives and for other members of the California delegation. A knowledgeable source called the request "carte blanche for an aircraft any time."
And this one was from one week after:
Top House Republicans such as Minority Whip Roy Blunt of Missouri and Rep. Adam Putnam of Florida, chairman of the House Republican Conference, agree the speaker merits the use of a military jet for security reasons, but say Pelosi has been pressing the Pentagon to provide her with a bigger jet than used by Hastert so she can ferry family, other lawmakers and lobbyists across the country.
Pelosi and her staff scoff at the criticism, saying she has just asked the Pentagon for guidance because of the travel distance to California and even President Bush believes security concerns warrant military aircraft for her.
But Putnam said Pelosi's bid for a bigger plane, which he dubbed "Air Force Three,'' shows "an arrogance of office that just defies common sense'' and constitutes a major deviation from the previous speaker's perks.
To sort this out a bit, the Speaker's argument, as I understand it, is that there's a terrorist threat ("It has nothing to do with family and friends and everything to do with security," Pelosi said) if she is forced to travel in a smaller aircraft that would have to refuel at any of the red dots along the pink line on this map:
...but her political opponents claimed she was actually just trying to score a bigger aircraft so she could transport her family (and anyone else she wanted) free of charge. Pelosi countered that as far as family travel went, the only reason they had asked about that at all was to make sure they weren't breaking any rules if the Speaker brought her kids along for the ride. (You know, as long as they're using one of those great big airplanes anyway because of the security threat, and all that extra space was just going to waste...)
In the end, Jack Murtha was able to resolve the issue by accusing the Air Force of being behind the "leaks" regarding Pelosi's "travel plans," and warning them they had best shut up if they knew what was good for them:
Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., the Pelosi ally who chairs the House military appropriations subcommittee, said he has spoken to Pentagon officials about the need to provide Pelosi with a bigger plane that can fly passengers coast to coast in comfort.
But he denied pressuring the Pentagon. "I don't need to pressure them. I just tell them what they need to do,'' Murtha said.
Murtha said he is convinced the Pentagon has been leaking information about the possibility that Pelosi would use large military planes to make her look bad. But he said, "They're making a mistake when they leak it because she decides on allocations for them,'' referring to the Pentagon budget.
While apparently aimed at the military, Murtha's unsubtle reminder of just who held the purse strings controlling all that taxpayer money was heard loud and clear outside the Pentagon, too.
But apparently over the intervening years someone either figured out that the rules did allow Pelosi's children and grandchildren to fly, or they (or she) simply re-wrote the rules.
Rules can be changed, after all. For instance, at that time, military dependents were forbidden to travel on military aircraft (even if space was available) within the United States (unfair government competition with domestic airlines was the explanation I recall), but a late-2007 rule change allowed it if the military member was deployed.
Update - ah, here's the rule:
Members of the speaker's family cannot fly unless the speaker makes a request in writing. The Pelosi family has to reimburse the U.S. Treasury for the cost of a coach ticket per person for the travel, as well as for any food.
The question is: are taxpayers okay with that?