Prev | List | Random | Next
This is going to be a long running series...
"I'm John Kerry, and I'm reporting for duty."
Outstanding! Continue to stand there while readers click you.
Oh, and don't buy into your press releases, Senator. Steer clear of the commoners.
Update: And unless three fingers is enough for you, don't try this at your local Wendys...
By the way, it's caption contest time. Have at it.
In the interest of maintaining balance in the blogosphere and countering the message of the "Eowyn Voters League" I offer this.
After all, don't we have enough to worry about?
"I'm John Kerry, and I'm reporting for duty."
Great. For now your duty is to sit there and let readers click you.
Reports in Kuwait on Friday said a man assumed to be Al Qaeda leader in Iraq, Abu Musab Zarqawi has been captured near the Syrian border.
I won't speculate on accuracy, but I wonder how many Americans know who the guy is.
Update: If not well known, at least he won't be lonely:
Iraqi police have arrested 270 terrorist suspects, mostly from neighboring Arab countries, in recent raids, the interim interior minister said in remarks published yesterday.
Lefty blogger Matt Yglesias has invited every blogger on the right of the aisle to link his post on Kerry's speech. Says Matt:
To put it politely, I thought that was crap.
A widely held opinion, if not widely stated. Reasons are varied; Mr Yglesias is disappointed in what he saw as a lack of substance. But he's young and an idealist, and substance is not the stuff of candidates speeches from convention floors. You can bet on that.
Two days ago, here: ...if you could take the stage and outline your plan, tell us what you'd do, you'll have my vote.
I didn't specify a plan I could agree with. I just said a plan.
Now you'll have to earn my vote some other way, Senator.
Though I'll bet Matt's still going with NotBush.
Hook's not the only MilBlogger in the 'Stan. From beautiful downtown Phoenix (Camp Phoenix, that is) welcome Signaleer to the MilBlogs Ring.
THERE IS SUPPOSED TO BE a straight line between Bush's moral absolutism—between his penchant for calling our enemies "evildoers" or even, well, "enemies"—and Guantánamo, and then between Guantánamo and the case of Jose Padilla, and then between Padilla and the depravities of Abu Ghraib. More than a mere demonstration of cause and effect, the line is supposed by those opposed to a second Bush presidency to function as a geometric proof of the proposition that the American position in Iraq is not only untenable but ignoble. It's supposed to prove that victory in any such enterprise is not worth the taint and that withdrawal is tantamount to victory, because it will save the national soul. In fact, it proves something quite different: It proves that just as the existence of the animal-rights movement is said to depend on the increasing American distance from the realities of the farm, the liberal consensus on the war in Iraq depends on the increasing American distance from the realities of soldiering. All Abu Ghraib proves is what Lincoln made clear in his writings, and what any soldier has to know from the moment he sizes up another soldier in the sight of his rifle: that war is undertaken at the risk of the national soul. The moral certainty that makes war possible is certain only to unleash moral havoc, and moral havoc becomes something the nation has to rise above. We can neither win a war nor save the national soul if all we seek is to remain unsullied—pristine. Anyway, we are well beyond that now. The question is not, and has never been, whether we can fight a war without perpetrating outrages of our own. The question is whether the rightness of the American cause is sufficient not only to justify war but to withstand war's inevitable outrages. The question is whether—if the cause is right—we are strong enough to make it remain right in the foggy moral battleground of war.
In 1861, Abraham Lincoln suspended the writ of habeas corpus, and historians today applaud the restraint he displayed in throwing thousands of American citizens in jail. By the middle of 2002, George W. Bush had declared two American citizens enemy combatants, and both men are still in jail at this writing, uncharged. Both presidents used war as a rationale for their actions, citing as their primary constitutional responsibility the protection of the American people. It was not until two years later that Congress took up Lincoln's action and pronounced it constitutionally justified. Our willingness to extend Bush the same latitude will depend on our perception of what exactly we're up against, post-9/11. Lincoln was fighting for the very soul of this country; he was fighting to preserve this country, as a country, and so he had to challenge the Constitution in order to save it. Bush seems to think that he's fighting for the very soul of this country, but that's exactly what many people regard as a dangerous presumption. He seems to think that he is fighting for our very survival, when all we're asking him to fight for is our security, which is a very different thing. A fight for our security? We can handle that; it means we have to get to the airport early. A fight for our survival? That means we have to live in a different country altogether. That means the United States is changing and will continue to change, the way it did during and after the Civil War, with a fundamental redefinition of executive authority. That means we have to endure the constitutional indignity of the president's declaring Jose Padilla an enemy combatant for contemplating the still-uncommitted crime of blowing up a radioactive device in an American city, which seems a constitutional indignity too great to endure, unless we think of the constitutional indignities we'd have to endure if Padilla had actually committed the crime he's accused of planning. Unless we think of how this country might change if we get hit again, and hit big. In defending his suspension of habeas corpus, Lincoln sought to draw the distinction between liberties that are absolute and those that are sustainable in time of war. Bush seems to be relying on the same question, and the same distinction, as an answer to all the lawyers and editorial writers who suggest that if Jose Padilla stays in jail, we are losing the war on terror by abrogating our own ideals.
Losing the war on terror? The terrible truth is that we haven't begun to find out what that really means.
Read the whole thing. At least twice.
Hugh Hewitt offers a text of Michael Moore's recent Boston speech. Moore, in town for the Democratic National Convention, apparently wanted to express his solidarity with the troops:
But I know it was rough. I know in those first days of the war, I know. I stood on an Oscar stage five days into the war. I know what the mood was like. It was not easy to say we are being led to war for fictitious reasons, right? (applause) And those of you who felt the same way at the beginning of this war?remember what it was like at work or school? You had to be kind of careful, right? And if you expressed any opposition to the war, you had to immediately say but, but I support the troops, right. But, but I support the troops. You didn?t need to say that. Of course you support the troops! You?ve always supported the troops. Who are the troops? The troops are those that come from the other side of the tracks. The troops are the people who come from families who?ve been abused by the Bush Administration! You?ve always supported them! You?ve always been on their side! (applause) No one should question that! The way that you don?t support the troops is to send them into harms way when it isn?t necessary. The way that you hate the troops is when you send them off, some of them to their deaths, so that your rich benefactors can line their pockets even more. The Halliburtons, the oil companies, that is anti-American. That is unpatriotic. You do not support the troops when you do that! (applause)
I can only imagine the sheer terror Moore must have felt on that Oscar stage. We should all admire his unflinching bravery. What do you guys think?
From Digital Marine
Michael Moore was a no-show for a screening of Fahrenheit 9/11 in Crawford Texas. Rumor has it as consolation for the despondent crowd the movie was projected onto a screen made from one of his old t-shirts.
Meanwhile, here in Germany:
Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11" opens in Berlin on Wednesday. German film and movie theater executives expect it to break Moore's own record for the most-shown documentary ever in the country.
His first Bush diatribe, "Stupid White Men," sold nearly 1.1 million copies in German -- comprising an astonishing one-third of the book’s total global sales. And more than a million Germans turned out to see his Oscar-winning indictment against US gun laws, "Bowling for Columbine".
But in Iraq (Note: Permalinks not available. Scroll to July 27 entry):
Another scene I had a problem with was one that many critics seemed to praise. When Moore presents the murders of 9/11 at the World Trade Center, and displays only a black screen with the sounds of destruction and pain all around, I couldn’t help but think he employed what has become a popular self-imposed censorship. We were not allowed as viewers to see the horror of that day, not allowed to be reminded of people jumping from buildings, bodies on the ground, destruction everywhere. We just saw a black screen, and heard some awful familiar sounds. We did however, see images of Saddam’s Iraq, peaceful and enjoyable, and of the destruction left in the wake of US soldiers. For me, it was just another example of eclipsing from our minds the images of that day, while turning the camera on the “havoc” that we have brought to the world.
Three Fort Carson soldiers charged in the drowning of an Iraqi man last January may argue today that their actions were caused by an anti-malaria drug. . . .Via Instapundit, who adds
The drug is being investigated to determine whether it is linked to panic reactions, rage, aggressive behavior and other mental and physical problems, said Steve Robinson of the National Gulf War Research Center. Violent behavior by other soldiers has also been blamed on the drug.
Lariam has, in fact, been linked to psychiatric symptoms -- some quite severe -- but the likelihood that several soldiers would all suffer from those simultaneously seems quite low to me.
Indeed, as they say. But the chances of it being used as defense of any OIF vet accused of anything might be high.
As with this defense:
Soldier Testifies Unit Was Ordered to Throw Iraqis Over EmbankmentAn historic line that's failed often, from Nuremberg to My Lai.
In answer to the many readers who have asked about “The Book"— it will be available very soon...
In the mail today, my new threads:
Yours truly will be sporting this outfit as he galavants about Europe this summer. I think it'll wear especially well in France.
They made that statue, you know.
Scores of people were killed in Iraq today in a suicide car bomb attack and in a gunbattle, making it one of the worst days of violence since the handover of official sovereignty in Iraq last month.
The car bomb exploded in Baquba, a town about 40 miles north of Baghdad, killing 70 people and wounding 56, according to the Iraqi Health Ministry, in the deadliest such attack since the United States-led coalition passed some power to the Iraqi interim government on June 28.
A statement from the United States military put the death toll at 45 Iraqi civilians killed and 98 wounded, and a spokesman for the military could not explain the discrepancy between the death toll figures.
Que the Senator. After your cruise, sir, if you could take the stage and outline your plan, tell us what you'd do, you'll have my vote.
I expect slogans and chants. Surprise me.
Update: Did the invitations say casual? Someone didn't get the memo...
Update 2: This doesn't impress me as a big deal - but I will read the book, and I think that's Drudge's real point. But after all, even MacArthur carefully staged the landings in the Philippines for the cameras (and lost a bid for the presidency too).
Now here's a slogan: "They're not patriots," Moore said (of Republicans) . "They're hate-triots, and they believe in the politics of hate-triotism. Hate-triotism is where they stand, and patriotism is where real Americans stand."
He's probably tired of them censoring him.
Why are so many otherwise successful people such utter failures at child rearing?
Think twice before choosing Baghdad as an alternate vacation spot. Three stories for your consideration, without additional comment:
From the Philadelphia Inquirer:
Baghdad Becomes Captive Of Extremists More than 60 people from 20 nations have been kidnapped, threatening the interim rulers' bid for international support. BAGHDAD - A new wave of kidnappings has sent shock waves through the diplomatic and business communities in Baghdad, virtually shutting down most embassies and thwarting Prime Minister Ayad Allawi's efforts to drum up international support for his fledgling government.The Christian Science Monitor:
Abductions Surge In Iraq
BAGHDAD - In the past week, car bombings and other insurgent attacks against US and Iraqi forces have returned to pre-June 28 handover levels. But kidnapping, too, is emerging as one of the most effective weapons for eroding confidence in the interim Iraqi government and slowing reconstruction.
And the London Sunday Telegraph:
Away From The Bombings And Bloodshed, Some Fun Is Slowly Returning To Baghdad
Iraqis are cautiously resuming their social lives in defiance of the mullahs and threats from insurgents.
Abdel Halaf slaps a cold beer down on the 80-year-old mahogany bar at the Alwiyah, Baghdad's oldest members' club. The veteran barman is delighted: he looks like a man who would die happy if serving the drink was his last act.
He has a bar full of customers, beer on tap and shelves packed with wine and spirits. Baghdad's upmarket watering holes are back in vogue as Iraq's elite shrug off threats of violence and criticism from fundamentalist mullahs.
By day, an unmistakable vitality has returned to Baghdad and with it a semblance of normal life. The capital is still restless, stalked by the fear of the next car bomb, but Iraqis fed up with staying at home in sweltering temperatures - in the high 40s - are venturing out for fun.
A Ferris wheel pokes above the palm trees in the affluent district of Zaitoona; at neighbourhood funfairs, parents usher their children on to the rides, slides and merry-go-rounds. Thanks to American grants to Baghdad city council, a derelict patch of ground near the Tigris river has been transformed into a playground, complete with football pitch and basketball courts.
Once the heat of the day has passed and the sun starts to set, a steady trickle of excitable youngsters drag their parents and grandparents to the banks of the river. For adults, there are options for more mature entertainment.
From the AP and the International Herald Tribune:
Peacekeepers Accused Of Failure In Kosovo
Group says Serbs weren't protected
PRISTINA, Kosovo - In a scathing report, a leading human rights organization on Monday blamed NATO and United Nations police for failing "catastrophically" to protect minorities in Kosovo during ethnic violence earlier this year.
BRUSSELS (AP) ? NATO has agreed to provide extra forces under alliance command to help Greece protect next month's Olympic Games from potential terror attacks, officials said Monday.
Something there is about a convention that lends itself to great quotes from the pundits. A target rich environment? Perhaps. Here's some favorites from day one convention coverage:
First up, three from The Corner:
Best Military-related quote: If you want to get these delegates to applaud a military-related line, tell them men and women need ?the benefits they're entitled to,? the way Hillary just did. Benefits? Entitlement? YEEAAAH!
The "ouch" award: As they say over at the Archives, the past is prologue, Walter Mondale randomly said while being interviewed on the floor by Fox. Rabid Clinton hater me automatically flashed to Sandy Berger stealing papers.
Jonah wins the "groaner" prize: Sure there's dishonesty and spin in Clinton's speech, but that's the norm when his lips are moving.
But Hugh da man: "Unbelievably, Gray Davis is here. He acts as a sort of dementor upon the gathering of otherwise happy delegates and media types. Some folks survive political smash-ups. There was a big party for George McGovern last night, for example, and all the Dems love him. He lost with --in their eyes-- honor. But some, like Gray, had such bad exits that they ought to exile themselves for the good of the general mood.
Glad he's on our side. (Buy the book.)
The DNC Convoluted quote de jour award today goes to white-haired former President Bill (S'cuse me, did he just say he was from N'yaorkansaw?) Clinton:
"Thank you. I am honored to share the podium with my Senator, though I think I should be introducing her. I'm proud of her and so grateful to the people of New York that the best public servant in our family is still on the job and grateful to all of you, especially my friends from Arkansas, for the chance you gave us to serve our country in the White House."
Their opponents will tell you to be afraid of John Kerry and John Edwards, because they won't stand up to the terrorists -- don't you believe it. Strength and wisdom are not conflicting values -- they go hand in hand. John Kerry has both. His first priority will be keeping America safe. Remember the scripture: Be Not Afraid.
Must admit I fealt like a heathen there, because I wasn't sure of the full quote. So I looked it up on Bible Gateway.com. Got no responses to queries for "Kerry/Edwards", but had 26 hits (KJV) for "be not afraid". Since I'm not sure which one he meant I offer a few possibles.
Here's a possible Saddam reference:
Jeremiah 42:11 Be not afraid of the king of Babylon, of whom ye are afraid; be not afraid of him, saith the LORD: for I am with you to save you, and to deliver you from his hand.No - couldn't be. Next up...
Joshua 11:6 And the LORD said unto Joshua, Be not afraid because of them: for to morrow about this time will I deliver them up all slain before Israel: thou shalt hough their horses, and burn their chariots with fire.Which I suppose could mean that the platform will contain some rather harsh threats directed towards the Palestinians... but probably not.
2 Chronicles 32:7 Be strong and courageous, be not afraid nor dismayed for the king of Assyria, nor for all the multitude that is with him: for there be more with us than with himA veiled threat to the Syrians? Probably not what he meant...
Jeremiah 1:8 Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the LORD.Now I've heard some folks make fun of Kerry's face (Lurch, Gomer...), but I don't think Clinton meant to join in... Could it be a New Testament reference? Here's a contender:
Matthew 17:7 And Jesus came and touched them, and said, Arise, and be not afraid.But I'm not looking for Messianic quotes from my candidate. Are you?
Back in the OT we find this:
1 Samuel 28:13 And the king said unto her, Be not afraid: for what sawest thou? And the woman said unto Saul, I saw gods ascending out of the earth.Let's hope not. (See previous.)
Here's a good one:
1 Peter 3:14 But and if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled;Hard to argue that's not a line that would aid the Democrats this year - you just fergit them ol' terrorists -! - but I really hope not...
Maybe this is it:
Ezekiel 2:6 And thou, son of man, be not afraid of them, neither be afraid of their words, though briers and thorns be with thee, and thou dost dwell among scorpions: be not afraid of their words, nor be dismayed at their looks, though they be a rebellious house.
Looks like it's "Is Bush a Criminal?" Day in Mudville. Saddam Hussein says yes, and Michael Moore says yes, so what do the rest of America's Democrats have to say?
Apparently not much, and that's an order! At least according to Andrea Mitchell:
As the Democratic convention gets underway today, the Kerry campaign and the Democratic National Committee are trying to soften any edges that might offend swing voters.
So the word is out: the liberal wing of the party is being told to avoid any harsh rhetoric. That could already be affecting tonight's headliners: last night, Al Gore's speech was basically torn up, according to two sources, and is now being rewritten, presumably to fit more closely with the party line.
Friends, fellow Democrats, fellow Americans, I'll be candid with you. I had hoped to be back here this week under different circumstances, running for re-election.
But you know the old saying: You win some, you lose some. And then there's that little-known third category.
I didn't come here tonight to talk about the past.
In all seriousness, I am deeply grateful for the opportunity you have given me to serve America. I want to to thank you as Democrats for the honor of being your nominee for president four years ago. And I want to thank the American people for the privilege of serving as vice president.
I love this country deeply, and even though I always look to the future with optimism and hope I do think it is worth pausing for just a moment as we begin this year's convention, to take note of two very important lessons from four years ago.
The first lesson is this: Take it from me -- every vote counts.
By the way, I know about the bad economy. I was the first one laid off. And while it's true that new jobs are being created, they're just not as good as the jobs people have lost. And incidentally, that's been true for me too.
To those of you who felt disappointed or angry with the outcome in 2000, I want you to remember all of those feelings. But then I want you to do with them what I have done: focus them fully and completely on putting John Kerry and John Edwards in the White House.
Perhaps the missing part about the future is what the DNC snipped as "harsh rhetoric"?
"Soft edge" Party Plank one (two parts): A: Don't talk about the past and B: Bush stole the election!!!!
The NY Times offers a correction:
A front-page article on July 2 about the opening of criminal proceedings against Saddam Hussein in Iraq omitted two words in a translated comment from Mr. Hussein about the legitimacy of the court. Mr. Hussein said, "You know that this is all a theater by Bush the criminal to help him win his election. " (He did not say just "theater by Bush.") This correction was delayed for a check of various unofficial transcripts.
Wasn't that an old Chevy Chase bit on SNL?
From page one of the Philadelphia Inquirer:
Omar Masood is no religious extremist from the provinces. He is a well-dressed, impeccably coiffed, university-educated 27-year-old who co-owns a computer and video business in Iraq's capital.
As he tells it, his cousin was executed for drawing a political cartoon that lampooned Saddam Hussein's regime. Yet he now calls the fallen leader a symbol of Iraqi pride and reveres the resistance fighters who kill Americans.
"Saddam Hussein made his mistakes," Masood said. "But I can justify to you most of the mistakes."
Most people probably can't relate to the dilemma of having someone who killed your cousin turn out to be an OK guy, but seriously, how can you stay angry at the man depicted in this Newsday story?
There is a small palm tree in a garden surrounded by walls near the airport in Baghdad. An elderly bearded man who has turned to writing poetry and reading the words of God in recent weeks goes out to the garden for an hour and a half in the morning and an hour and a half in the afternoon. He tends to the tree, putting small stones around the base and making sure it has enough water to survive Iraq's midsummer.
When his hour and a half is over, Saddam Hussein goes back to his cell.
Once, he had dominion over all of Iraq. Now, like Voltaire's Candide, he is stripped of all the riches and delusions of his Eldorado; all he has left is a little time each day to cultivate a garden that isn't even his.
No mention of Haiku, but surely he'll be trying his hand at that sometime soon.
Or perhaps political cartoons?
The U.S. Army has long lured recruits with the slogan "Be All You Can Be," but now soldiers and their families can receive plastic surgery, including breast enlargements, on the taxpayers' dime.
Be sure you don't miss the thorough de-bunking from an Army Doc:
I apologize for the anonymity, but as I am a military doc I would prefer to lay a bit low. If you want, I can provide bona fides separately.
However, there are some points of contention regarding the fact impaired New Yorker-via-Reuters story you referenced. I don't have access to the New Yorker article, but have seen it summarized on line. From these, I would like add some facts that make the story pretty dang benign and hardly the shocking waste of taxpayer dollars the spin of the article seems to be. The tenor that Sergeant Baggadonuts and/or Mrs. Major Zotz can just waltz over to the nearest military hospital and get nipped, tucked, vacuumed, or pumped up, is both bogus and irksome. I am a little weary of lies and misdirection regarding the military.
As are we all.
Click through to read the whole thing - and pass it on.
(And kudos to the doc for not using "Mrs Major Yabos" - 'cause I sure couldn't resist.)
The Washington Post apparently thinks you might be wondering what Egyptians think of America:
Arab views of the United States, shaped largely by the Iraq war and a post-Sept. 11 climate of fear, have worsened in the past two years to such an extent that in Egypt -- an important ally in the region -- nearly 100 percent of the population now holds an unfavorable opinion of the country, according to two polls due out today.
Well then, I guess we're screwed.
"In 2002, the single policy issue that drove opinion was the Palestinians; now it's Iraq and America's treatment, here and abroad, of Arabs and Muslims," said James Zogby, who commissioned the report with the Arab American Institute.
And when asked what the United States could do to improve its image in the Arab world, the most frequently provided answers were "Stop supporting Israel" and "Change your Middle East policy."
Wonder no more.
Saddam's people are winning the war
WASHINGTON The battle for Iraq's sovereign future is a battle for the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people. As things stand, it appears that victory will go to the side most in tune with the reality of the Iraqi society of today: the leaders of the anti-U.S. resistance.
Update: Recover here.
KABUL, Afghanistan, July 21 - A former member of the United States Special Forces, charged here on Wednesday along with two other Americans with running their own vigilante war on terrorism, said he had been on a secret mission approved by the Pentagon at the highest level - even as an Afghan prosecutor said the men had maintained under questioning that they had no connection with the government.
Talking to reporters on Wednesday before the court session began, the defendant, Jonathan K. Idema, said that he had been in direct contact with Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld's office "five times a day, every day" and that he had e-mail messages, correspondence and tape recordings to prove it.
We'll be eagerly awaiting confirmation from Seymour Hersh.
In the wake of this entry comes this:
Musicians' Call-Up Is Not Playing Well In Congress
Some lawmakers doubt the necessity
When the Army announced recently that it was going to tap into its rarely used Individual Ready Reserve to fill vital slots for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, top military and civilian personnel said the activation was a proper response to a temporary manpower crisis.
But among the tasks included in the 5,674 jobs deemed critical to the war on terrorism are slots for two trumpet or cornet players, two French horn players, one trombonist, four clarinet players, three saxophonists, one electric bass player, one percussionist and one euphonium player.
Whoops - actually this sounds like a classic Army screw-up - but probably an administrative error vs an intentional action - remind me to tell you about my North Vietnamese buddy soon - but I could be wrong! (Ed note: By the way, didn't we change them to freedom horns? Ans: No, we didn't.)
But there's always someone out there looking to spoil the opportunities for patriotism from the symphonically inclined:
"This call-up of French horn players, among others, is just the latest consequence of the Pentagon's outrageous and inexcusable poor planning," Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Calif., says. "Average Americans continue to pay the price for the Pentagon's failure to do what it should have: adequately plan for the right number of active-duty troops in Iraq and refuse to deploy National Guard and Reserve members at length while breaking promises about when they will return."
That's not me, that's not ScrappleFace, that's directly from the USA Today story. Like I said above...
You're a First Sergeant, deployed to the Stan for at least a year and your three year old son back home is in need of diagnosis for a truoublesome lump on his chest.
How do you pass the time?
By accomplishing your mission and caring for your troops, of course.
I linked to a great post from the Stryker Brigades a couple of days back. Today I (and Blackfive) got this e-mail
Thanks to both of you for linking to the "Heroes" entry. I wanted to let
you know that in an interesting twist, Ben Stein visited our site and left a
"What an awesome letter about awesome guys. Please tell me what I can do to honor these amazing men and women.
What can I send them, for example?
It's legit. I put him in touch with the soldier's parents, so hopefully he
can connect with Dave, the CPT that wrote the email. No need to update the
entries, just wanted to give you a heads up.
I agree Todd - there's no need to update when a new post is in order.
Here's the Stryker's link with Ben in the comments section.
Update to this non-update: A quote from the original Ben Stein composition:
We put couples with incomes of $100 million a year on the covers of our magazines. The noncoms and officers who barely scrape by on military pay but stand on guard in Afghanistan and Iraq and on ships and in submarines and near the Arctic Circle are anonymous as they live and die.
I am no longer comfortable being a part of the system that has such poor values, and I do not want to perpetuate those values by pretending that who is eating at Morton's is a big subject.
There are plenty of other stars in the American firmament. The policemen and women who go off on patrol in South Central and have no idea if they will return alive. The orderlies and paramedics who bring in people who have been in terrible accidents and prepare them for surgery. The teachers and nurses who throw their whole spirits into caring for autistic children. The kind men and women who work in hospices and in cancer wards.
Think of each and every fireman who was running up the stairs at the World Trade Center as the towers began to collapse.
Now you have my idea of a real hero.
Last column, I told you a few of the rules I had learned to keep my sanity. Well, here is a final one to help you keep your sanity and keep you in the running for stardom: We are puny, insignificant creatures.
We are not responsible for the operation of the universe, and what happens to us is not terribly important. God is real, not a fiction, and when we turn over our lives to Him, he takes far better care of us than we could ever do for ourselves.
Do yourself a favor, take some time and read the whole thing here, and the Stryker entry linked above.
For the last two weeks, I have been subjected — along with my wife, Valerie Plame — to a partisan Republican smear campaign. In right-wing blogs and on the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal and the National Review, I've been accused of being a liar and, worse, a traitor.But the good folks at National Review say
Tim Graham: Joe Wilson's borrowing a page from Richard Clarke's drama-queen routine. Who called him a "traitor"? I suppose someone in the blogosphere did, but it doesn't have the whoomp of the Los Angeles Times or New York Times, where he hangs his columns out. I never called him a "traitor." I don't think the Wall Street Journal called him a "traitor."Which, if true, means that Joe is a... mistaken.
Cliff May: "Certainly, I never called him a traitor."
Googling (as of this posting) Joe Wilson Liar Traitor returns 2,020 results - but cutting the responses down to those in the "News" category returns one. (Yep, that one.)
Perhaps Mr Wilson feels that The Christian Science Monitor is part of the conspiracy?
I've been plowing through 196 pages of a report on prewar intelligence-gathering on Iraq that few Americans will ever read.Now keep that key 16-word quote from the President in mind as you ponder this Joe Wilson support piece from the Philadelphia Inquirer
Sandwiched between the US Senate Intelligence Committee's report earlier this month, and the 9/11 commission's report due to be released Tuesday, is the official British report on the accuracy of the intelligence that they gathered on the eve of war to assess the threat posed by Saddam Hussein.
The British commission is as sharply critical of many of the MI6 spymasters' flawed conclusions as US investigators have been of the CIA's. But there is one striking departure: The British commission, chaired by Lord Butler, suggests that there is more substance to the story of Iraqi efforts to buy uranium from Africa than has hitherto been suggested. The British report says evidence "was not conclusive that Iraq actually purchased, as opposed to having sought, uranium." But it documents visits by Iraqi officials to the uranium-exporting nation of Niger, and says that British intelligence from several sources indicating that the purpose was to acquire uranium "was credible."
This conclusion has political implications. On Sept. 24, 2002, British Prime Minister Tony Blair told the House of Commons that "Saddam has been trying to buy significant quantities of uranium from Africa, although we do not know whether he has been successful." On Jan. 28, 2003, in his State of the Union speech, President Bush said: "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa." The Butler commission concludes that both statements were "well-founded."
So it still boggles the mind that the White House included the discredited reference to Iraq and African uranium in the State of the Union. Maybe Iraq did want to purchase African uranium, but there's still no solid evidence to back this up.In other words - you can't prove anything! So there - neener neener neener.
Hope the whole thing is clear now.
The daily al-Sabah newspaper Wednesday had quoted sources as saying three missiles armed with nuclear warheads were discovered in a trench near the city of Tikrit, the hometown of ousted Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.
A U.S. military spokesman in Tikrit told United Press International that the report was untrue.
Confused? Don't worry, the UN weapons inspectors are returning!
Iraq's new government has asked U.N. weapons inspectors to return to the country, the head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog said Tuesday.
''The return of U.N. inspectors to Iraq is an urgent necessity; not to search for weapons of mass destruction but to write the final report about the nonexistence of (such) weapons ... in Iraq, which will enable the lifting of sanctions,'' Mohamed ElBaradei, director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, told reporters in Cairo.
The inspectors will be sent in the next few days, ElBaradei said.
So don't worry, they'll sort the whole mess out. But when, exactly, will they arrive?
The inspectors, who would continue their work to ensure that Iraq adheres to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, would leave as soon as safety arrangements had been made, agency spokeswoman Melissa Fleming said from IAEA headquarters in Vienna, Austria.
Outstanding! However, hopefully they're aware of this related story:
...the United Nations has been unable to secure enough troops to protect a U.N. contingent headed to the country to help with elections and rebuilding.
When the U.N. Security Council voted six weeks ago to authorize a protective force, it expected contributors to step forward. But countries have balked at taking part in a force expected to include 1,000 troops and several dozen bodyguards. Diplomats said many nations were hesitating because of the dangers — including a wave of kidnappings — and costs as well as the continuing unpopularity of the U.S. invasion.
"It's a difficult problem for these countries, especially at a time when other countries [with troops in Iraq] are pulling out, or planning to leave ahead of schedule," a U.N. diplomat said. "Discussions are continuing. So far no one has stepped forward."
(Note: the LA Times piece quoted above actually began with "In another setback for U.S. efforts in Iraq, the United Nations has been unable to secure enough troops...)
Or "If Wishes were Horses we'd all Wish for Cars"
From chaos theory to a movie theme to a possible title for the upcoming 911 commission report. According to the WaPo
The final report by the commission investigating the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks details as many as 10 missed opportunities by the Bush and Clinton administrations to detect or derail the deadly terrorist hijackings, but the panel stops short of saying the attacks should have been prevented, according to government officials and others familiar with the document.
The report, to be released publicly tomorrow, includes a list of 10 "operational opportunities" that the government missed to potentially unravel the Sept. 11 plot, said a government official who has read the document. Six of the incidents listed came during the Bush administration and four were during the Clinton years, this official said.
But the nearly 600-page report acknowledges that many of the opportunities were long shots and that others would have required a lucky sequence of events to alter the outcome, said sources who declined to be identified because the commission wants the document kept secret until its release.
After all, the movie was demonstrably profitable, and a DVD can be bought for 20 bucks or so, and rented for less. That's certainly less costly than the 911 inquiry that (assumingly, the report isn't released) refrained from developing "speculative fiction" scenarios in detail beyond that in the final paragraph quoted above.
My personal favorite is this one, because it includes this excerpt that has stuck in my mind for some time:
Mohammad Atta was a confused young man, his aspirations torn between the houris of the Koran and the showgirls of the Las Vegas Strip. He had not yet reached the last stage of his personal jihad. Perhaps, if left free, he would have resolved his inner conflict on September 11, 2001, and that resolution might have been one that we Westerners would not have understood or approved. Nevertheless, there is nothing that he could have done to a small number of New York-bound airplane passengers that would have been more shocking to the American sense of justice than what George W. Bush's, Richard Cheney?s and John Ashcroft?s American government did to him and his comrades.?
Of course, fiction aside, we can only speculate that the real 911 commission had all possible info...
(Hat tip Instapundit for some of the above links)
I suppose it's true crime day in Mudville - the entry below followed by this blurb for a documentary about teenage lesbian satanist killers.
Found this e-mail on returning home today:
My blog partner and myself (Seven Inches of Sense) are trying to get the word out about the murder of his son in hopes of finding new information.
Burke O'Brien, was murdered in New York, shot through the heart, in front of 75-79 Orchard Street on January 12th 2003.
The murder goes unsolved to this day.
The ABC documentary series, NYPD 24/7, will feature solely Burke's case during the July 20th airing. It is the only one in the series that remains unsolved.
We are trying to get as many of you big boys of the blogging world as possible to post something about the case and the ABC broadcast. The only real hope of solving this case is someone coming forward with new information. And you just never know where it will come from.
Also included was this link to a post from Michele at A Small Victory with more details.
"In life, as in baseball, it's the number of times you reach home safely that count"
Score one more for me.
Traveling again. At journey's end I'll have much to say. In the meantime, here's a must read from the front lines via the Stryker Brigades.
My upcoming return to Germany includes 4 lovely hours Monday afternoon at JFK.
Any suggestions on what to do for four hours in that vicinity will be appreciated.
Finished Hugh Hewitt's new book. Didn't want to recommend it until I did so - haven't time now for an in-depth review but have to say it's a must read and a must read now. Given it's focus on strategies for the upcoming political campaigns it should be obvious that this isn't a book you want to delay reading.
You won't find it at Wal Mart or most major chains - but that plus Blogs have made it a top seller on Amazon.
Some folks claim that there's no such thing as bad publicity. If that's true, then there must be exceptions to the rule.
The family of U.S. Air Force Maj. Gregory Stone was shocked to learn that video footage of the major's Arlington National Cemetery burial was included by Michael Moore in his movie "Fahrenheit 9/11."
Maj. Stone was killed in March 2003 by a grenade that officials said was thrown into his tent by Sgt. Hasan K. Akbar, who is on trial for murder.
The movie, described by critics as political propaganda during an election year, shows video footage of the funeral and Maj. Stone's fiancee, Tammie Eslinger, kissing her hand and placing it on his coffin.
The family does not know how Mr. Moore obtained the video, and Miss Gallagher said they did not give permission and are considering legal recourse.
She described her nephew as a "totally conservative Republican" and said he would have found the film to be "putrid."
And this follow-up from July 16:
Outrage from across the country after Inside the Beltway wrote this week about the family of U.S. Air Force Maj. Gregory Stone being shocked to learn video footage of the major's Arlington National Cemetery burial was included by Michael Moore in his movie "Fahrenheit 9/11."
The mother of the major labeled Mr. Moore a "maggot that eats off the dead."
"If the family wishes to seek a suit against Michael Moore ... I will donate $100 toward legal fees and will solicit my friends to do the same," promises Manny Gagliardi of Arlington, Texas.
"Mountain States Legal Foundation was founded in 1977 by the late Joe Coors," writes William Perry Pendley, foundation president and chief legal officer, of Lakewood, Colo. "It has litigated many cases, including many against President Clinton's abuses. Could you forward MSLF's information to the family of the Air Force officer whose burial was used without permission by Michael Moore?"
Given that Mr McCaslin has included that bit of correspondence in his follow up I'd speculate that the family might be pondering the offer.
While there may be very few "fence sitters" remaining on the issue of Michael Moore's credibility, there's still no reason not to shine a bright light of truth on the murky world Moore presents in his films.
Not to mention his actions are simply wrong.
Should you wish to contact Mr McCaslin to encourage him to continue to pursue this story he can be reached at 202/636-3284 or email@example.com.
If the Mountain States Legal Foundation does join this effort, expect to see press releases on their web site.
Perhaps I was wrong in a previous post regarding military recruiting difficulties, accordi-ing to this there may be problems after all:
There's a great job out there awaiting an accordion player. The catch: six weeks in boot camp.
The Air Force is looking to replace the accordion player of its band's Strolling Strings music ensemble; the last one retired two years ago. So far, the search has been fruitless.
So, since the accordion players aren't coming to the Air Force, the Air Force is going to the accordion players. Sgt. Bockenek is recruiting at the 66th annual American Accordionists Association festival this week in and around Boston.
She is looking for more than an accomplished musician.
"They have to be under age 35, they have to fit our weight and fitness requirements, and they have to be able to get a security clearance," she said. "We are looking for someone who's not just qualified to do the job but who fits the parameters of the United States Air Force."
Security clearance? Yes - they'll be playing the secret songs.
An' a one, an' a two...
... this "Restore Honesty" website by the now-discredited Joe Wilson is mostly of comedic value now. But wait, there's more -- scroll to the bottom and you'll see that it's "Paid for by John Kerry for President, Inc." Quite an embarrassment.
As long as we're discussing Kerry embarrassments burried in stories on page A47 of the local news, here's a surprising bit from Reuters via the NY Times:
Senator John Kerry, whose campaign demanded to know on Wednesday whether President Bush had read a crucial intelligence assessment on Iraq, did not read the document himself before voting to give the president the authority to go to war, aides later acknowledged.
Whoops! Actually, seems all around like "no way to run a country" - but we are talking about busy people here, right? Of course, no one actually claims anywhere whether the President read it or not...
The Kerry campaign stepped up the attack on Wednesday, sending out an e-mail message with the headline, "Did anyone in the White House read the full National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq?"
Certainly a follow-up e-mail will explain all.
Almost missed this! The always-insightful Fred Shoenemen has authored a book on his experiences in Panama (during the invasion, mind you, not MTV Spring Break weekend) and has shipped said volume off to an agent. So if you're a publisher or otherwise in the industry, you may want to check this out. (Note to such folks: The Blogosphere sent Hugh Hewitt's book into the top 10 on Amazon.)
And if you're a combat vet, you may want to check this out (same link):
...if there are any veterans out there who'd still like to a look, email me and I'll send it to you. I'd especially like feedback from former Infantrymen/Airborne infantry/Rangers/Marines/SEAL's -- basically, anyone with experience at the squad level in a combat arms unit.
Let me emphasisze, that's Fred's offer, not mine! Go visit Fred!
An unedited story from a soldier in Iraq:
The temperature was way over 100 today and my PLT had a patrol in the afternoon, which I was supposed to go on, but my Squad LDR told me I had to stay back because the Command SGT Major wanted to talk to me at 13:00. That's not good. That usually means you fucked up and are on your way to an article 15 and some extra duty. I racked my brain on what I could have possibly done wrong out here, I couldn't think of anything that I've done recently that could have possibly gotten me into trouble. What I found out at 13:00 was that the Command SGT Major, who is pretty much the top of the food chain in the NCO ranks here, wanted to present me an award (!) for, as he said, "Going above and beyond what is expected of me here in Iraq." He said my PLT selected me for this award, because they wanted me to be recognized for all the hard work I've done out here. And he presented me a Command SGT Major Award Coin (Note: A coin is not a big deal, it's not a medal of honor or anything like that. It carries the came weight as say, a "thank you" card) and shook my hand. I thought that was kinda cool. I've been out here busting my ass doing a thankless job and I'm being recognized for it and thanked by higher. That was a huge moral boost for me today.
You gotta love it - because that's the sort of hero America loves - the guy that doesn't even have a clue that he's a hero.
I had an interesting conversation with a non-military relative here in the States the other day. He may have briefly forgotten what I do for a living, and I can't give a direct quote now, but the gist of his (inaccurate) comment was that the military is having a tough time recruiting these days, and that they are seeking and accepting increasingly less qualified candidates, and generally lowering standards for enlistments.
A concern for us all if true, but as I have seen no evidence of such I have to wonder if I had heard a recitation of a new talking point. Seems likely to me (more so than his unsupported claim) that if the troops are generally in favor of what's going on in the world these days, then it might behoove certain elements in our society to depict said troops as something other than the heroes they've been depicted as recently.
Or stated differently, lets say those who have been proclaiming "Support the troops - bring them home!" are realizing the troops aren't supporting them. What can they do? They can claim the troops are different now.
There was a time when service in U.S. military was honorable and professionally rewarding. But because of politicians who use the military to pump up corporate profits instead of defending us, that was a long time ago. Americans with personal integrity should boycott the volunteer military and discourage everyone they care about to do the same. "They come from parts of the country where jobs are hard to find," an acquaintance condescendingly excuses the enlistees. Whatever happened to personal responsibility? I'd rather sleep under a bridge, eating trash out of a Dumpster, than murder human beings for Halliburton.
Until military service becomes less of a scam, no one should sign up. Those who have should not reenlist.
Who will defend the United States if attrition shrinks the volunteer armed forces? If we're attacked by a foreign power, as we last were in 1941 at Pearl Harbor, Americans will line up to volunteer. World War II, won six decades ago by a storied generation of draftees and volunteers, was fought to defend American freedom. But we haven't fought an honorable war since.
Get the message? It's Ted Rall's latest screed. (Via Michele - and don't miss her commentary here) Ted's a creepy sort of guy, of little consequence, and most Americans would rightfully dismiss him as a member of the extreme and loony left, and not mainstream.
Think about the Seattle area -- Bainbridge Island to be exact -- and you think scenic views and liberal-minded tolerance.
At least the killer views are still there.
The bucolic island's deep reputation for civility got a gut check this week during the annual Grand Old Fourth of July celebration.
That's when Jason Gilson, a 23-year-old military veteran who served in Iraq, marched in the local event. He wore his medals with pride and carried a sign that said "Veterans for Bush."
Walking the parade route with his mom, younger siblings and politically conservative friends, Jason heard words from the crowd that felt like a thousand daggers to the heart.
To understand why the reaction of strangers hurt so much, you must read what the young man had written in a letter from Iraq before he was disabled in an ambush:
"I really miss being in the states. Some of the American public have no idea how much freedom costs and who the people are that pay that awful price. I think sometimes people just see us as nameless and faceless and not really as humans. ... A good portion of us are actually scared that when we come home, for those of us who make it back, that there will be protesters waiting for us and that is scary."
On the Fourth, Jason faced his worst fear.
It was such a public humiliation -- home front insult after battlefield injury.
(Via Chief Wiggles)
Did I mention talking points?
Here's apologist Kevin Dwyer, executive director of the (presumably Bainbridge Island) Chamber of Commerce:
Dwyer added: "I believe (Jason's) mom when she said her son was called 'a murderer.' But I'm sure it wasn't so much directed at the kid as it was the president. A soldier with a sign represents that."
An interesting echo of this quote from Rall:
"When Bush launched an illegal war," a European reader wrote to Time magazine after the Abu Ghraib scandal broke, "he created an atmosphere that led some Americans to believe that anything goes. Please, America, don't blame the soldiers. Blame Bush, and hold him responsible in November."
The left is struggling with itself as it stumbles towards blaming the troops, a subset of the population it desperately wants to believe supports them. (Some do, most don't.) But that desperate lefty cling is starting to slip. The tidal shift was first hinted at here, followed by a flood of Abu Ghraib coverage. Ironically, it's the Abu Ghraib story that prevents the left from turning all-out against the troops. For now they need the accused of that crime to be hopeless victims, and they need the administration to be the real bad guys.
But they are getting tired of waiting for the troops to revolt.
They don't want to accept that the troops might actually support the mission in Iraq, but they are beginning to prepare quotes for that moment when they can no longer deny it.
The blogger at Fear and Loathing generally leaves politics out of his posts. Here, for instance, is a conclusion to a recent entry:
I had to pull radio watch in the War Room last night, and somebody left a copy of the April edition of People Magazine there. So on radio watch, I read how Survivors Rob and Amber are in Love, Kelly Osborne is in Rehab, Omaarosa has a suprising past, and how Reese Witherspoon and hubby Ryan Phillippe bought a house in Los Angeles for 4.9 million. And you know what, after reading that magazine, for a split second, I was glad I was here in Iraq, and not back in America.
Hopefully he'll never have any more serious reasons to feel that way.
Cpt Patti's return home from Iraq got me thinking. A few months ago there seemed to be 24/7 coverage on television, newspapers, magazines, and blogs of the announcement and impact of the extension of many GI's tours in Iraq. Countless relatives were shown, upset and teary, having just received the news that their loved ones were not coming home next week after all.
Has there been similarly extensive coverage on the happy homecomings for these troops? How about interviews with them to see how they feel about what they've accomplished - and the cost of that accomplishment?
I may have missed the stories - TV hasn't been my top priority while on leave - but I suspect the images and voices of the returning heroes from Iraq have not been amplified by national media coverage.
Please correct me if I'm wrong.
AFTER 427 days...she's HOME!!!
Cpt Patti, of course - home safe and sound.
And the don't miss post is here.
Welcome home Cpt Patti!
The Lions Club has given itself a new mission: helping Iraqis receive adequate health care.
It is time for service-minded individuals to chip in where "the government just can't seem to get started," says Emory Harmon, 87, a retired postmaster from Greenbelt and Lions Club member since 1955.
Harmon has faxed Iraq's ambassador-designate, Rend Rahim Francke, to propose establishing a Lions Club chapter in Baghdad. Harmon said the president of Lions Clubs International, Clement F. Kusiak, of Linthicum, Md., has also sent a fax promoting the idea to Iraq's Washington embassy from the headquarters in Oak Brook, Ill.
Researchers say Boy Scouts have been active in Iraq for decades, with some placing the establishment date at 1921. Troops were repressed under Saddam Hussein's regime, however, and are only now getting re-established.
So... how are you spending your Bastille Day?
We had an IED Sweep for a mission this after noon. An IED (Improvised Exploding Device) Sweep is when we drive around town for hours until we hit an IED speed bump, or until one of us visually finds an IED along the road. No lie, that's how we find IEDs on IED Sweeps out here, we drive around until one literally blows up on us or if one of us visually finds one. Today was a successful sweep, we found 3 rocket launchers, two of them with rockets in them. We found them right there next to the road, not even hidden, in front of a playground.
Bonjour! Hope your Bastille Day is a happy one. For all the latest on the country that made beheading chic, be sure to stop by Merde in France, and No Pasaran!. These blogs and David's Medienkritik keep me in touch with Europe as I enjoy my vacation here in the good ol' USA.
If arguments were water, Iraq would be the deepest well on earth. Here are a few more bucket loads:
When the 15-member United Nations Security Council legitimized the US-imposed interim government in Baghdad in June, the five-page unanimous resolution carried a provision little publicized in the media: the lifting of a 14-year arms embargo on Iraq.
The Security Council's decision to end military sanctions on Iraq has triggered a rush by the world's weapons dealers to make a grab for a potentially multimillion-dollar new arms market in the already over-armed Middle East.
Visions of shady characters dancing in your head? Or perhaps dollar signs?
At first read this doesn't sound like a high priority item (arguably perhaps even indicative of a complete lapse of sanity), but in a world where arguments are plenty and water is limited, weapons other than squirt guns are in the hands of many. So given sovereignty and a government that is not a threat to its people or its neighbors this is an unavoidable (albeit debatable) step along the way.
As are the responses from partisans of every stripe:
"The flow of weapons to Iraq will not improve the security situation in Iraq, nor will it make the country safe from outside threats or an external invasion," said Naseer H Aruri, chancellor professor (emeritus) at the University of Massachusetts. "With 140,000 US military personnel, 20,000 from the so-called coalition of the willing and another 20,000 contracted civilians, Iraq remains occupied and denied effective sovereignty," said Aruri, author of Dishonest Broker: The US Role in Israel and Palestine.
"Purchasing weapons at this time, therefore, is more relevant to the needs of the occupier relating to the suppression of armed opposition, and consolidation of US hegemony. Moreover, it is not appropriate for the interim government, a subcontracting agency for the United States, to go shopping for arms as numerous arms exporting countries compete feverishly for contracts," he told Inter Press Service (IPS).
Since late last year, Iraq has purchased 50,000 handguns from Austria, 421 UAZ Hunter jeeps from Russia and millions of dollars' worth of armored cars from Brazil and Ukraine, along with AK-47 assault rifles, 9mm pistols, military vehicles, fire-control equipment and night-vision devices.
The biggest single deal was a $327 million contract with a US firm to outfit Iraqi troops with body armor, radios and other communications equipment. The contract has been challenged by two non-US firms that lost out on the bidding process.
The decision by the CPA to purchase the handguns from the Austrian gun maker Glock late last year evoked a strong protest to the Pentagon. "There are a number of US companies that could easily provide these weapons," Representative Jeb Bradley, a member of President George W Bush's Republican Party, said in a letter to US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, "Why were other firearms companies, namely American companies, passed over?" he asked.
Perhaps the water analogy wasn't the right one - this may be more like fuel for a fire. But bearing in mind that this is a result of the lifting of a UN ban, it will be interesting to see the spin that various pundits might place on this issue - or who might ignore it.
Update: Problem resolved.
And look for the Chief on NBC Nightly News Thursday!
A person? Not this time - a shipping company is holding 30,000 dollars of Operation Give's money hostage. Click here for the full story, and see if you can respond to Chief Wiggle's call for help.
Thoughts on Michael Moore, from a GI in Mosul, Iraq:
What I'm going to try to do out here, to show people what its really like, and to get an opposing view point is I'm going to get several of my Iraqi friends that are interpreters for us here, drag them into my room, set up the laptop, show them the movie and film them watch the movie and shoot a short documentary on their thoughts and reactions to Michael Moores biased movie. And maybe get small little interviews with people in my Platoon. Maybe do the same thing. I think I'll call my documentary: FAHRENHEIT 7.62 (7.62 is the caliber of ammunition the AK47 fires) I'll keep you guys posted on how that goes.
He's a military blogger, and here's the entry that excerpt came from. If you think as I do that his film is a worthwhile idea you may want to consider leaving an encouraging comment.
And you'll certainly want My War - Fear and Loathing in Iraq in your favorites and on your blogrolls.
I'm with family for a wedding - posting will be light for a few days. However, just received an advance copy of Hugh Hewitt's latest: If It's Not Close, They Can't Cheat: Crushing the Democrats in Every Election and Why Your Life Depends on It. I haven't read it yet, but certain hints in the title lead me to believe that Hugh might be leaning Republican this year.
This may be a fun volume to have around, as the members of my extended clan represent virtually every point along the political spectrum. (I've had Richard Clarke quoted to me as a reliable source at least twice today.) I'll follow up with reactions to Hugh's book later.
(No perma-link yet available to Hugh's post directing you to sales points. Click here and scroll)
Where does The West begin in America? The Mississippi? The Rockies?
Or does The West begin at that point where sunsets become something spectacular enough that man-made fireworks are somewhat shamed for this brief display; where people take notice and cameras are grabbed and pictures are taken; though those images are once again just imperfect attempts by man to capture and hold some essence of creation, some pale ghost of the wonder of the original?
Arrived safe and tired, another journey's end.
More to come.
Wandered in to a local bookshop to pick up the third volume of Michael and Jeff Shaara's civil war series, on the way out via a casual glance another book caught my eye. The Best Military Science Fiction of the 20th Century. I haven't read much science fiction in the past several years, but on opening the volume I found this quote:
"It is well that war is so terrible- otherwise, we would grow too fond of it."
From Robert E. Lee, upon seeing the carnage his army had unleashed on their opponents at Fredericksburg. Which of course, was recounted in the first volume of the Shaara series. That many strange coincidences meant I had to buy the book.
I'm traveling today anyhow and will welcome the diversion.
Almost bought a Roger Simon book, but decided to order it via his blog instead. Seemed the right thing to do.
And remember, if you've got an Independence Day photo blog feel free to link it in the comments of the post below this one.
Southbound - more later from Dixie
IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen United States of America,
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. -- That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity.
We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.
Samuel Huntingtonv William Williams
Charles Carroll of Carrollton
Robert Treat Paine
Thomas Heyward, Jr.
Thomas Lynch, Jr.
Richard Henry Lee
Thomas Nelson, Jr.
Francis Lightfoot Lee
Landstuhl is an American military installation near Kaiserslautern and Ramstein Air Base. It is the largest U.S. hospital outside the United States and, in many cases, the transit point for wounded troops between Iraq and Afghanistan and the United States. About 10,000 casualties from Iraq and Afghanistan have been treated at Landstuhl.
Several times a week, buses drive up to the emergency entrance with people who got sick or were wounded or injured in Iraq or Afghanistan. Chaplains are on hand.
Indeed they are, and this Independence Day weekend if you're interested in helping those Chaplains help those troops who've given so much, visit Soldiers' Angels.
An update from Glenn on the drowning of an Iraqi citizen first noted by Zeyad. A terrible event, tragic and horrible beyond all words. Must note, however, the linked Reuters piece alternates paragraphs of this story with bits of a report on mistreatment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, and elsewhere. Not really the same story, except that both involve Soldiers, and although both are examples of the Army seeking justice rather publicly when it's own are accused of crimes, the press seems intent on spinning it otherwise.
Hopefully justice will be swift and true. Sadly, I expect the search for "smoking gun memos" from Secretary Rumsfeld authorizing the tossing of Iraqis into rivers to follow.
Update to the update: This Denver Post article might be the original source of the Reuters piece. It tries to tie the story to the prison abuse cases too, through a connection with other Ft Carson troops charged with manslaughter in a separate case. All of which are inexcusable and reprehensible, and related in the sense that all murders that occur in your town are related.
That tenuous connection wasn't enough for Reuters, who folded this story into it too.
The 4th of July is the anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, an incredible act of courage committed by patriots in the early days of the American Revolution. As if by divine providence, this week is also the anniversary of the most significant days of the Civil War. The battle of Gettysburg was fought from the 1st to the 3rd of July.
It's pure coincidence that as I enjoy my leave, a vacation trip that will take me from Yankee country to the heart of Dixie, I brought along a copy of The Killer Angels, Michael Shaara's outstanding fictionalized account of those three days that shaped our nation.
He's retired from the Navy, but the Navy's loss is the MilBlogs gain. Add Snugg Harbor to your blogrolls - should be a routine port of call for all who sail the blogosphere.
By the way, it's great to see the forward strides Blogger is making - comments, trackback, permalinks - anyone who's ever considered starting a blog should certainly try them out.
Freedom Week continues.
Shortly before we moved to Germany I was able to actually use one of the oldest jokes in the book on my kids. We were discussing holidays in Germany.
"Do they have Christmas?"
"The Fourth of July?"
"No... they go right from the third to the fifth."
Without hesitation, and I was able to remain straight-faced throughout my delivery, and even as they retaliated.
All of which serves as introduction to this bit from Diggs (who's somewhere in the Middle East) - another must read as Freedom Week continues.
Read the whole thing. I don't think I'll spoil it by repeating his conclusion:
Take some pictures of your town's fireworks and send them to a soldier you know over here from your town. Let them know that back home, people still ooh and ahh when something blows up in the sky, and the kids wait happily in anticipation of the next one.
It's a great memory to get back in its proper place.
I'll do that, and I'll also photoblog whatever show I see. And I'll invite anyone who's willing to send me shots of fireworks wherever they are and I'll post those too. (Just include a mention of location.) And any fellow bloggers who want to do their own post will get a link here too. We'll put on a blogospheric fireworks display for the world.
And if you want to do more for the troops - the wounded in Landstuhl from Afghanistan and Iraq, be sure to visit Soldier's Angels (and bloggers: add a link on your Independence Day post).
Incidentally I've seen American Independence Day fireworks on three continents and perhaps six states - I'm likely a fair judge of such - and the show we saw in Germany last year was spectacular.
But it will be good to see the sparks fly in the good ol' USA this time.
Update: Let's expand this - not just fireworks, but whatever you are doing this Independence Day weekend, blog it. We'll swap links, and if you don't have a blog or can't post photos, send them here (greyhawk-at-mudvillegazette-dot-com and greyhawk-at-europe-dot-com please use both). Even the things you might find boring will provide a "taste of home" (or a glimpse of real America) to folks over seas, troops and others. Leave a comment (include blog url if you have one) here if you'll participate. We'll create a big interlinked "day in the life" of America for all the world to see.
Here's an example: kids at picnics. Who doesn't love that?
Simply amazing (and kudos to the LA Times for covering this story from "flyover country")
The last Vietnam War POW flying for the U.S. military has called it a career, reluctantly retiring after 44 years in uniform.
Maj. Gen. Edward Mechenbier, who reached the Air Force's mandatory retirement age for his rank at 62, was honored at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton. Mechenbier spent six years in a Vietnamese prison after his fighter was shot down.
"If we didn't have an age-limit law, Gen. Mechenbier would not step down," said Gregory Martin, commander of Air Force Materiel Command.
Update: More here. Coverage of one of the General's last official missions. Must read.
For some at least.
I've stopped shaving over the past couple weeks of my leave - something I've done about three times over the past 20 years - but this has me reconsidering my decision:
Other outlets are reporting the story without the use of secret password for admittance to MoveOn.org meetings, focusing instead on Hussein's "defiance"
Washington Post: Hussein Appears Defiant
As Saddam's trial progresses and he repeats the slogans of the many other critics of the Iraq war it will be interesting to see their response - or lack thereof. Their comfort level should at least be a bit low right now, something akin to the itchy feeling that accompanies my growing beard...
Or perhaps not.