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Your must-read post of the day is via MilBlogger Phil Carter at Intel Dump.
In an age where "Nazi" and "Hitler" are insults hurled with little knowledge of history The Lost Soldiers of Stalag IX-B is a timely reminder of the world of the real Hitler.
Seems like it's getting increasingly difficult for some reporters to hide their contempt for the military (if they're even trying to hide it anymore).
Take Dana Milbank - (please!). Eric Pfeiffer in NRO's Beltway Buzz reports that Milbank's petty attack on Donald Rumsfeld from the front page of the WaPo is now being echoed by other 'journalists' who share his lack of interest in facts:
The BBC?s Katty Kay echoed Milbank?s sentiment on ?Meet the Press? this weekend, adding, ?look at Donald Rumsfeld this week. If ever we saw Donald Rumsfeld back in fighting form this week and giving everybody up on Capitol Hill, Republicans and Democrats alike, a hard time, this was it: refusing to answer questions about Iraq, refusing even really to be very courteous up on Capitol Hill.?
A lie gets halfway 'round the world while the truth is lacing up it's shoes, as they say. My speculation was that Milbank and his superiors at the Post were motivated by the numerous instances of Rumsfeld making reporters look foolish - Pfeiffer points out that Rummy actually trounced the Post a bit in his testimony:
Could his article have been in response to Rumsfeld?s Washington Post critique during his testimony? For the sake of full disclosure, shouldn?t Milbank have mentioned the criticism in his article? More importantly, his editors should have insisted on such transparency.
Milbank is pretending to be ignorant of the fact that Rumsfeld is the first Secretary of Defense to actually be known and admired by the troops. And one of the reasons for that is the fun of seeing the guy verbally bitch-slap reporters like Dana - just by refusing to give anything but straight answers to stupid questions.
But when it comes to contempt for those who serve, Ariana Huffington makes Milbank look like a piker. Here's what she's huffing this week:
The Bush administration will do just about anything to manipulate public opinion. It paid pundits to say nice things. It created bogus - and, according to the controller general, illegal - video news reports. It gave us Gannon/Guckert-gate.
Now, the Bushies are producing their own news network: the Pentagon Channel, brought to you by the Defense Department.
Started last year as an internal public-relations unit, the network is expanding to the general public. Some cable systems, including Time Warner, already carry it, and the Dish Network will soon be beaming the station to more than 11 million viewers.
Defense Department TV execs say it'll be "a mix between CNN and C-SPAN," with military news and lifestyle shows, live briefings and appearances by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
Pentagon Channel programs include "Why I Serve," and "Korea Destinations." Rumsfeld might consider a more realistic lineup. How about: "The Real World: Fallujah"; "Pimp My Humvee" and "Desperate Military Housewives."
"Desperate Military Housewives." heh - that's funny, huh Mrs. G?
The Pentagon Channel may be seen as a threat to the terrorist POV touted by Huffington and her cronies over the past several months, but actually it's a rather harmless collection of brief bits and news stories - and far from being anything new and devious from the "Bushies" it's just the stuff Armed Forces TV has been doing for a while. "Hi mom" shots of the troops at the front, etc. To be honest, it's probably going to elicit more than a few groans from those familiar with AFN work - "they try hard" is a compliment most will agree to. Huffington assumes the ignorant American masses will be brainwashed by this sort of stuff.
Let's try and put some of her fears to rest. "Why I Serve" is simply some brief profiles of individual Soldiers, Sailors, Airman, and Marines who each explain how they ended up in uniform. The reasons run the gauntlet; family tradition, education, escape from home town, etc. Nothing new. "Korea Destinations" gives quick looks at tourist spots in (believe it or not) Korea. Not sure exactly what it is she finds contemptible about all this, but apparently in her mind it must be some sinister Karl Rove plot.
Milbank and Huffington do take feeble steps to hide their anti-military bias. Milbank pretends it's the evil upper echelon of the military that he's attacking, and that the ignorant low level brainwashed minions are people he supports with all his heart. Some day I'd like to hear from Dana and others of his type exactly what rank is the cut off above which troops no longer get their support. Likewise Huffington can pretend President Bush is responsible for the Pentagon Channel and that her contempt is directed at him, not the hard working young GI's who produce the content she dismisses with a sneer but without ever seeing. What she's really calling for is censorship and an end to free speech that isn't my speech - the battle cry of the disconnected left. That attitude has this in common with the Pentagon Channel; there's nothing new there.
A great story found via our first "Open Post" last Saturday. Marine buys trinkets from vendor in Iraq, returns to US, has them evaluated by a university archaeologist, and discovers they are 5000-year old cylinder seals - Iraqi national treasures looted from an archaeological site near Babylon.
What happens next? See here.
Fall in - sound off. Mudville starts the day with an open post. Leave a comment, start a discussion, point out a great news story - whatever's on your mind.
Got a blog post you want to share with the world? Link to this one and your trackback will automatically display below.
In other words - this is where the readers take over the blog. Enjoy.
Dear Mr & Mrs Greyhawk
The fact that so many people, and not just the Sunni sheikhs, now want the piece of the Iraqi action perhaps tells us more about the true situation and future prospects in Iraq than most current news reports. As the old saying goes; victory has many fathers, defeat is an orphan. That the waiting room of the Middle Eastern maternity ward is getting increasingly crowded with paternity claimants is a good - if an indirect sign - that the things in Iraq might be going better than one would think based on the mainstream media coverage.
The new round-up of good news from Iraq is here:
Tried calling - but something funny was going on with the international phone lines. So happy birthday to the lady who's certainly most responsible for the existence of the Mudville Gazette.
The lady who spent her younger years at home worrying about three older brothers off fighting Nazis in Europe and no doubt would have preferred her son hadn't rushed off to Baghdad to fight terrorists in 2004.
The lady that sent brownies for everyone in care packages to Iraq that somehow stayed fresh. (They were everyone's favorite!)
The lady who just got her first PC a few months ago and is now a regular in the comments here.
She's done a few other cool things along the way too. But this being a blog we keep things brief.
Love you Mom. Happy Birthday. See you soon.
Update: No matter what I post there's always a reader who knows more about the topic than I do. "Mom" comments below: "BTW, that was 1 bro in Europe, two in the Pacific, and one in Texas. All Air Force."
I stand corrected!
Okay, the changes to the site are about complete. Your feedback is still welcome, so comment away.
The following changes have been made.
Cosmetic: You might have to look closely. The red and blue are now different shades. Font colors for links have been changed too. Readability is the goal. (Those with problems with font size - this is configurable in your browser.) The Mudville banner at the top is new, but you will see that change routinely.
Still to come: Big changes to blogrolls, other things in right side bar. The pictures aren't going away, but a low bandwidth version of Mudville may become available as a user-selectable option.
Speaking of bandwidth: The speedier load time is a result of adding a very simple line of code recommended by NZ Bear. Compression is the name of the game - not only is the load time faster, but my bandwidth costs are lowered. If you're a blogger, check out the code from Scriptygoddess.
Conceptual changes: Okay, here's where we really made some changes. But since we're all about options - you can ignore them if you want! The overall purpose of these changes is to "open" Mudville and make it more than a place to get two people's opinions. Here's how:
In-line Trackback: Posts from other blogs that link Mudville will be linked automatically from the post they link. Readers are a click away from a second opinion (or a third, or a fourth...)
On-page comment display: Comments are available for viewing right on the front page, just click Show comments here at the bottom of any post.
These changes help fulfill my New Year's resolution to link more blogs more often, and are in line with my idea of what a blog post should be, that is a starting point for a discussion of a topic. In my own conceptual model the blogosphere is a big party with groups forming and breaking and conversations starting and migrating around the room as people move from place to place. Hopefully these few changes will facilitate that aspect of blogging for visitors with or without their own blogs.
With that in mind, each day will begin with an "open post" - anyone can link with a post of their choice or leave a comment on any topic/recent news story. Consider this to be today's "open post" - have at it. Milbloggers, non-milbloggers, big or small, new or blogging for years, don't be shy - consider Mudville as a place to share your thoughts with a few thousand daily readers.
And as another tip for new bloggers, if you haven't visited the above-mentioned NZ Bear and entered your blog into the Truth Laid Bear Ecosystem then now is the time to do it. You aren't "in the blogosphere" if you haven't completed that simple step.
You may notice some changes in the look of the site. We'll let you know when were finished.
How's my load time everybody? Those with dial up should see an improvement.
Update: In-line trackbacks installed. Got a blog? Help test the system - link this post, see if your trackback shows up at bottom. A visit from the Greyhawks will follow. Leave comment if trackback fails.
Lots of new and tricksy things are going on. Notice new commenting and trackback features. This is just a test of the extended entry feature.
But here's a thought - if wishes were horses we'd all wish for cars.
I mean, deep thinking is why you're here, right?
An update from the "Entertainment" section of CNN's website.
Hunter Thompson, famous for "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" and other works of New Journalism, shot himself in the head Sunday in the kitchen of his Aspen-area home. He was 67.
His son, daughter-in-law and 6-year-old grandson were in the house when the shooting occurred.
Anita Thompson, 32, said her husband had discussed killing himself in recent months and had been issuing verbal and written directives about what he wanted done with his body, his unpublished works and his assets.
His suicidal talk put a strain on their relationship, she said.
"He wanted to leave on top of his game. I wish I could have been more supportive of his decision," she said. "It was a problem for us."
"...strain on their relationship... I wish I could have been more supportive of his decision... It was a problem for us..."
In the midst of the happy homecomings from Iraq, this story from Dallas reminds us some are still coming home from other wars.
PLANO ? James Neil Tycz died a hero May 10, 1967, when a hand grenade exploded near his face in Khe Sanh, Vietnam.
Of his seven-member reconnaissance patrol team, only three Marines survived the early-morning firefight with the North Vietnamese army, according to military records. The others were buried under elephant grass on Hill 665, unrecovered but not forgotten.
On Wednesday, over a kitchen table in Plano, Sgt. Tycz's family heard the news they've waited 38 years for: The sergeant's remains ? three teeth ? had been located in Vietnam and positively identified. He was coming home.
"It was a mixed blessing for me," said Phillip Dale Tycz, Sgt. Tycz's brother who lives in Plano with his wife, Ruth.
"I was happy they could find the remains so he could finally be repatriated. But I also knew some of my family would have a very mixed reaction. They put it behind them and didn't want to know anything else."
From 1993 to 1998, teams worked in Vietnam on six occasions in search of the men.
They found circumstantial evidence, evidence of a firefight, but no burial.
A break came in 2003 when a team returned to the hill and recovered several fragments of teeth and bone. Last year, an excavation of the site near the border of Vietnam and Laos was completed.
In all, 31 teeth and tooth fragments were found and used in a Hawaii laboratory to identify the four Marines.
Military officials met recently in Tennessee, Georgia and Washington state with the families of the three other Marines.
"So many people don't realize what the government does for these men and women," Mr. Tycz said Wednesday.
"They don't give up on them."
Sgt. Tycz was 22 when he died. He was awarded the Navy Cross, the Navy's second-highest medal, for his actions on Hill 665.
A live grenade had landed near a wounded Marine. The sergeant moved toward it, picked it up and attempted to throw it back at the enemy.
The grenade exploded after a short distance and Sgt. Tycz fell, critically wounded.
In the coming weeks, his three teeth will be flown in from Hawaii and placed in a container inside a flag-draped silver metal casket. A full uniform will rest alongside it.
Sgt. Tycz's remains will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery, per his family's wishes.
"He will be under full military escort, just like it happened yesterday," said Timothy Nicholson, assistant program director for Navy Mortuary Affairs.
Just a day after he died, Sgt. Tycz's mother received a letter from him. In it, he wrote:
"I had an interruption just now. Our lieutenant passed me the word that we go in at 7:30 a.m. tomorrow. None of us want to go, but that's our job and I pray I will never fail to do it. ..."
Some are still coming home, while others never will. Over 1,800 Americans are still unaccounted for in Southeast Asia. As a veteran of OIF, that number makes me realize more than ever that the claims that "Iraq is another Vietnam" is actually just another instance of the left insulting the veterans of that war.
They've been doing it so long it just comes naturally to them.
The Mrs and I listened to the President's speech at Wiesbaden on the radio in my car. Before the President addressed the crowd Condi Rice was introduced and said a few words. The roar that welcomed her seemed incredible to me.
Mrs G. says:
I want that outfit
Witness, by Amber Frey. #10.
Back in Action, by David Rozelle. Not. On. The. List.
Cpt Rozelle returns to Iraq minus one foot, Frey will never have to work again in her life.
Major K's unit suffers it's first casualty of the deployment. A prayer request, and I'm sure that encouraging comments would be welcome at Major K's blog.
Ahhh.. how sweet to be out of the war zone of Baghdad and back to peaceful, prosperous Europe.
Did you see the New York Times coverage of the protests of President Bush's visit to Mainz? It included this picture:
I Had a conversation with a guy in Iraq who'd been stationed in Germany a few years ago. He found out I was stationed here and told me a story about going to a festival in Hamburg and being warned away from going into a certain section of town where even the police don't go. Years later he learned it was the section of town that the terrorist who planned the 9/11 attacks called home.
The arrest of two terrorism suspects in Germany -- accused of an intricate plot in which one would become a suicide bomber in Iraq -- shows how the still-active group that planned the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the U.S. has shifted its focus to fighting Americans in Iraq, police say.
The Jan. 23 arrest was highlighted by President Bush this week, when he credited German police for capturing "two terrorists plotting to attack American interests in Iraq" during a speech as he began a European visit. U.S. officials say they are pleased with German-U.S. cooperation in combating terrorism.
Since December, three waves of police arrests in about a dozen German towns have turned up evidence of terrorist groups linked to the Sept. 11 attacks and aimed at recruiting suicide bombers and fighters for missions in Iraq, investigators say. In addition to the case mentioned by Mr. Bush, in December police charged three suspects with attempting to assassinate Iraqi interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi during a Berlin visit, and on Jan. 12 police charged 22 others with attempting to funnel fighters to Iraq.
I hope they're serious. "Charged" is a fine first step.
In one possible scenario, within one or two generations the sons of Europe will have their throats slit in the town squares, in the shadows of great cathedrals converted to places of worship for another god, as their daughters don chadors and their parents pray that this will at least free them of the stigma of the "crusader" label.
Others will blame Bush.
Oh, surely that's too horrible to believe! It is indeed, which is what makes it possible. Even likely.
From the February 23 NBC Nightly News:
Iran - Open for Business BRIAN WILLIAMS: Now to an NBC News exclusive, a rare glimpse inside Iran; specifically, an air show attended by some of the world?s leading military contractors.
Who did we find there? Dozens of European companies eager to do business with Iran. NBC News senior investigative correspondent Lisa Myers has our story.
LISA MYERS: The island of Kish, Iran, an air show hosted by Iran for defense and aerospace companies eager to do business with America?s adversary.
Mullahs mixed with Ukrainian generals amid photos of the Ayatollah Khomeini. Iran made its contempt for the U.S. clear. Emblazoned underneath this helicopter in Farsi, "Death to America."
It is generally illegal for American companies to do business with Iran, but NBC News found more than a dozen European defense and aviation firms eager to fill the void.
Some do business with the Pentagon, but were actively selling their wares to Iran.
FRANCOIS LELOUP [Aerazur]: We sell to the Iran Air Force.
ARNAUD CHEVALIER [Auxiliaire Technique]: We do sell many to security people like police.
MYERS: We showed what we found to arms expert John Pike.
JOHN PIKE [GlobalSecurity.org director]: I think that the Europeans would sell their grandmothers to the Iranians if they thought they could make a profit.
MYERS: This is the booth for the French company EADS and its subsidiary, Eurocopter, which has launched a campaign in the U.S. to get a bigger share of Pentagon contracts, featuring these ads wrapping the company in the American flag.
But if this company is so pro-American, why is it ignoring U.S. policy to isolate Iran?
MICHAEL TRIPIER [EADS]: As a European company, we?re not supposed to take into account embargoes from the U.S. Of course, the emphasis here is on the civil helicopters. We?re not offering military helicopters here.
MYERS: Yet, prominent on the company?s video in Iran, a military helicopter.
PIKE: They?re marketing a Navy helicopter.
MYERS: A military helicopter?
PIKE: It says "Navy" in their own promotional video tape.
MYERS: Why would they do that?
PIKE: Oh, I guess they?re hoping Iran?s Navy is going to buy it.
MYERS: EADS says that helicopter just happened to be on the video and that it abides by U.S. and European rules against selling military goods to Iran.
This company, Finmeccanica, recently won a contract to build a new version of Marine One for the president. Yet, here it is, showing off its helicopters to Iran.
PIKE [arms expert]: This company is building the American president?s new helicopter and they?re trying to trade with the enemy.
MYERS: Is Iran an enemy of the United States?
STEPHEN BRYAN [president, Fenmeccanica]: I think they?re our enemy at this point. And they?re behaving like our enemy.
MYERS: Stephen Bryan used to be the Pentagon official responsible for preventing technology from going to countries like Iran. Now, he?s the president of Finmeccanica in the U.S.
[Question to Bryan]: Why would your company trade with a country that you, yourself, call "America?s enemy"?
BRYAN: Because it?s in Europe. They don?t call it the enemy. If it?s a civilian item, it doesn?t threaten anyone. And I don?t have a problem with that.
MYERS: European subsidiaries of NBC?s parent company General Electric have sold energy and power equipment to Iran. But GE recently announced it will make no new sales.
Still, even with the president now pushing hard to isolate Tehran, European allies are likely to continue their role as what one company calls "a reliable partner for Iran."
I'm asked this several times a day: "Are you glad to be home from Iraq?"
I'll let you know when I am.
You may recall the post linked earlier this week regarding Donald Rumsfeld's verbal exchange with Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez during an appearance before the House Armed Services Committee. Others have written about the meeting too. Although he ignored Sanchez' embarrassing performance Dana Milbank used page one ink on the Washington Post to take shots at the Sec Def:
Two dozen members of the House Armed Services Committee had not yet had their turn to question Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld at yesterday's hearings when he decided he had had enough.
At 12:54, he announced that at 1 p.m. he would be taking a break and then going to another hearing in the Senate. "We're going to have to get out and get lunch and get over there," he said. When the questioning continued for four more minutes, Rumsfeld picked up his briefcase and began to pack up his papers.
The chairman, Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), apologized to his colleagues for a rather "unusual" situation.
With the Bush administration asking Congress this month to write checks for half a trillion dollars for the Pentagon, you might think the secretary of defense would set an accommodating posture on Capitol Hill. But, to paraphrase Rumsfeld's remark in December about the Army, you go to budget hearings with the defense secretary you have, not the defense secretary you might want or wish to have at a later time. And Donald Rumsfeld doesn't do accommodating very well.
Asked about the number of insurgents in Iraq, Rumsfeld replied: "I am not going to give you a number."
Did he care to voice an opinion on efforts by U.S. pilots to seek damages from their imprisonment in Iraq? "I don't."
Could he comment on what basing agreements he might seek in Iraq? "I can't."
How about the widely publicized cuts to programs for veterans? "I'm not familiar with the cuts you're referring to."
How long will the war last? "There's never been a war that was predictable as to length, casualty or cost in the history of mankind."
Rumsfeld's blunt manner was seen as refreshing four years ago, but these are different times. A few prominent Republican legislators have called for Rumsfeld's resignation, over his resistance to increased troop strength in Iraq, his perceived disparagement of the armed forces in December and the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal. Yesterday, GOP lawmakers greeted him with doubts on a variety of matters including war spending, death payments and veterans' benefits.
Yet, for a man in need of friends on Capitol Hill, Rumsfeld was both bipartisan and bicameral in his gruff treatment of tough questioners.
More at the link, including some quoted Rumsfeld responses to Senators that would probably draw cheers from any American watching the proceedings. Personal favorite example: Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.) then complained about long-term Army expenses being included in an emergency spending package. Rumsfeld said the matter "really is beyond my pay grade." When Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) observed that there are few positions beyond Rumsfeld's pay grade, Rumsfeld retorted: "Senator, I thought Congress was Article 1 of the Constitution."
Ba-da-bing, ba-da-boom. This sort of candor is part of what makes Rumsfeld the most popular Secretary of Defense in history with the troops. But while Americans would stand and cheer the man, to Milbank this is proof that there's something wrong with Rummy. The proceedings probably further enraged Milbank and his WaPo superiors for no doubt reminding them of the numerous dimwitted colleagues Rumsfeld has exposed over the past several years, and they saw this as a chance to "get even".
But I don't need to defend the man, or even claim that Milbank's page one story was a seriously flawed bit of poorly disguised attack "journalism" - because House Armed Services Committee Chairman Duncan Hunter - who Milbank quoted out of context above - has already done so. The Chairman's response originally was in a letter to the editor of the WaPo, but when the paper wouldn't publish it the committee took the rare step of posting it (pdf file) on their own web page.
House Armed Services Committee (armedservices.house.gov) February 23, 2005
Public Statement By The Chairman Of The House Armed Services Committee
Hunter statement on Secretary Rumsfeld's recent appearance at the House Armed Services Committee and the inaccurate Washington Post coverage that followed
Washington, D.C. - House Armed Services Committee Chairman Duncan Hunter (R-CA) made the following statement regarding Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's testimony on February 16th - and an erroneous Washington Post front page commentary the following day. A letter to the editor of the Post was submitted on the 17th but has not yet been published. In an effort to set the record straight in a timely manner, the letter is being released today.
"The February 17 front-page Washington Post Capitol Hill Journal piece, 'Secretary on the Offensive' was incorrect.
"Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld hadn't 'had enough' when he left my committee's hearing. We had agreed in advance that the hearing would terminate after three hours because the secretary had another hearing commitment. Therefore, the article's suggestion that he got mad and left did a disservice to the truth and to the secretary. Further, Secretary Rumsfeld graciously invited the handful of members in line to ask questions to a private breakfast in the Pentagon in the next few weeks. Hardly the actions of someone discourteous.
"As for his style, the secretary answers questions forthrightly. Sometimes the correct and honest answer is 'I don't know.' Dana Milbank's focus on 10 seconds of exchanges left out the remaining three hours of Secretary Rumsfeld's expansive remarks on numerous complex topics.
"Secretary Rumsfeld is responsible for a war in two theaters, reshaping the 2.5 million defense force of the United States and preparing the nation to meet present and future security threats. His success should be judged on his professional competence, not innuendo. In my judgment, he has done an outstanding job."
It's not just bloggers that won't let reporters get away with "less than accurate" reporting these days. (And if those congressmen start blogging...)
Readers here are aware that military family members aren't just "left behind" in the States when the spouse deploys - they often wait their loved one's safe return in remote locations all over the globe. But every member of the US Armed Forces faces unique challenges when deploying.
Major K dedicates a post to the spouses of Guard and Reserve members, who are often left at home in the states far from any military installation and the support available there. (Are there any in your neighborhood? Are you sure?)
Mustang 23 at Assumption of Command reminds us Don't Forget The Single Soldiers - those who come home to nobody. (And gosh - I hope all the single women out there don't start bugging this guy...)
By the way, these guys are two of the newer wave of military bloggers in Iraq. Visit often.
Most Americans don't know the names, but they know the picture of six young men taken on February 23, 1945. On that date, Joe Rosenthal photographed these men raising the American flag on Mount Suribachi. This photo became the signature image of the U.S. Marines in the nation's most heroic battle -- Iwo Jima.
Daisy cutter has the names of these men and a great post that you must read.
As always Chrenkoff is on top of the situation.
The first lady made several stops while in the Kaiserslautern Military community yesterday. Before giving her speech at Ramstein, she visited about 20 injured servicemembers at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center who were wounded in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.
She was greeted with a packed house in hangar 1 on Ramstein Air base. People were in line for hours before the doors opened a 9:00 am. Brrrrrr that must of been cold since Germany had just received even more powder causing school buses to run an hour late that morning. Would have been there in a heartbeat but my car was in the shop and Greyhawk had to be at work. I hear that the roars of cheers and applause from approximately 2000 troops and family members was deafening. She brought a message of appreciation and support and she conveyed an understanding of what spouses and children of troops go through when they go off to serve.
?All of those who serve in our military deserve our utmost respect." ?And so do those who serve without a paycheck and well behind the front lines: our military families.
?I know a little bit about having your life turned upside down because the person you love wants to serve the country he loves.?
After the speech, Mrs Bush ate a roast beef lunch at Ramstein?s General Cannon Hotel with a group of military spouses.
I would have loved to have been there.
Later in the day she traveled to Wiesbaden. She visited Gen. H.H. Arnold High School and was greeted by cheering students and teachers in a packed auditorium. Apparently she won the crowd over with her congratulations to the football team recent Division I championship and with her familiarization of Arnold High School and it's students. Mrs. Bush gave the seniors a little nod by warning the lower classmen to keep their feet off the Warrior school crest. The seniors erupted in applause.
She gave thanks and encouragement and a bit of advice:
Sounds like she was very motivational to a large group of teenager, a task that isn't easy to achieve as I'm sure many will agree.
In the imagined shadow of the Twin Towers that are no longer there, the students of teacher Alex Kunhardt?s social-studies class at Brooklyn?s JHS 51 send their regards to some soldiers stationed in Iraq:Pfc. Rob Jacobs of New Jersey said he was initially ecstatic to get a package of letters from sixth-graders at JHS 51 in Park Slope last month at his base 10 miles from the North Korea border.
That changed when he opened the envelope and found missives strewn with politically charged rhetoric, vicious accusations and demoralizing predictions that only a handful of soldiers would leave the Iraq war alive.
They sent letters like this to the soldiers standing between the South Koreans and the nut Kim Jong Il?
Reminds me of my e-mail from a teacher at (ironically) a US school on Yongsan Army Installation in Korea:
"I hope that your children's teachers offer you children the type of education where they see what a close-minded, blood-thirsty individual you are. You are the type of person who will fight for freedom, all right, as long as it is for the freedom of white, American males. Hitler loved people like you."
For which Mrs G received this response from the principal:
I apologize for any inconvenienced that this may have cause you and your family. As I read each email I do not see truth in everything that is alleged to happen in Ms. Pell's class. I will address these issues and concerns with my Superintendent in that she seems to have used her private mailing and email for her responses to your husband. I am not sure of my position legally in respect to these actions but I can assure you that the appropriateness of the connection to the school will be addressed.
Will anyone report that the war is over when the Taliban come out of the hills and join the free Afghan people? Doubtful. The American media have all fled the success of Afghanistan and only one or two reporters remain to document Karzai's bold and effective initiative to entice lower-level Taliban to come in from the cold.
The harsh Afghan winter has limited Taliban attacks against government and foreign troops, and the militants are regrouping to resume their raids after the weather warms, a Taliban spokesman said on Saturday.
The spokesman, Abdul Latif Hakimi, also dismissed reports of Taliban defections to accept amnesty offered by the government of President Hamid Karzai.
In a telephone interview that he initiated, Mr. Hakimi said the elusive Taliban leader, Mullah Muhammad Omar, had ordered that attacks be stepped up once the snow thawed in the mountains, which usually happens in April. He said he had spoken with Mullah Omar by phone on Saturday.
So how's the US Army spending the harsh Afghan winter? Glad you asked. Tell Mullah Omar to keep practicing falling down - we'll be with him when we get the time, and we don't care about the weather.
KHARWAR, Afghanistan ? Members of the Gardez Provincial Reconstruction Team delivered food and blankets Feb. 16 to a village that has been isolated from surrounding districts for the past three weeks due to snow accumulations up to 30 feet deep.
On Feb. 7, the Afghan Ministry of Defense flew a team of Afghan physicians and medical supplies to Kharwar. Since that time, the PRT had made several attempts to reach Kharwar by road and by air to deliver more supplies, but it was unable to reach the district due to the weather.
Finally, on Feb. 16, conditions were good enough for air movement and a team of 13 Soldiers from the PRT traveled to Kharwar via CH-47 Chinook helicopter and delivered several pallets of blankets and food supplies.
Sgt. Mike Wright, a member of the Gardez PRT originally from Company B, 1st Battalion, 168th Infantry Regiment, said he was honored to be involved with the mission.
?We all knew there were sick people in the village, and that people were dying,? he said. ?To help deliver supplies to such a needed environment was an incredible feeling. A lot of us were giving each other high fives after we got back on the bird.?
Wright said when the team was exiting the bird, the snow was deep enough that they would fall down after taking a few steps. In the field where the helicopter landed, he said the snow came to above their knees, and it was very cold and windy.
Spc. Jonathan Walz, also of Co. B, said he was proud to help people who were in need of food and supplies.
?I enjoyed the mission because I enjoy helping and seeing people happy,? he said, ?Plus, it was the first mission like that I ever did.?
Walz said when he jumped off the helicopter, he was in snow up to his waist and still not touching the ground.
The 75,000 citizens of Kharwar District in Logar Province have been completely isolated by the heavy snowfall, and more than 2,000 citizens have become ill with respiratory ailments. Approximately 80 citizens have died within the past few weeks from pneumonia and other complications brought on by the severe weather.
While in Kharwar, the PRT medical officer consulted with the local Afghan physicians to determine additional medical requirements.
The region remains completely snowbound, and despite a large volunteer snow-clearing effort, it will probably be several days or weeks before the district is accessible by ground traffic.
Despite the conditions, Wright said, he loves these types of mission and he would do it again.
?This is a major part of why we are here, to help the Afghan people,? he said. I will go on as many of these types of missions as they will let me. This is probably the most rewarding type of mission there is. I like making people happy.?
The Mudville Gazette. We report, you decide who's clueless.
California Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez (you guess - D or R?) thought she had a solid grip on Rummy's... uh... (well let's just say "turn your head and cough") when she accused him of misleading America with inflated statistics on the number of trained Iraqi troops.
SANCHEZ: And unfortunately, as I said, this committee has had a hard time assessing where we really stand with the Iraqi army as an effective fighting force.
Over the past year, we've received incredibly widely fluctuating estimates of that. And I think you have a real credibility problem on this issue.
Update: Video here.
You've got moonbats...
I've got a theme song for them (click on '1985' at link).
David's Medienkritik is going to stage a pro-Bush, pro-America demonstration during the President's vist to Mainz tomorrow (February 23) and promises to be online "live" from 10 AM until 4 PM. (See clock in right margin of Mudville Gazette for current German time).
I'd really like to attend, to be a part of the event, blog it live, meet the crowd, etc. but German political demonstrations are no place for American GI's.
I'll have to get together with the Medienkritik guys sometime before I leave Germany though. Maybe they'll attend a "bloggers meet up" with all the MilBloggers in Germany, if I ever get it arranged...
But that's for another day. For tomorrow I'll spend some virtual time with them at David's.
"To ensure maximum safety and success at our demonstration, we have received an official permit to demonstrate from Mainz city authorities and will be cooperating closely to secure the event with Mainz city police. Additionally, our rally will not be held in the direct path of anti-Bush demonstrations. Our goal is to show support for stong German-American relations and conduct ourselves in a respectable manner, not to vandalize or trash anything or anyone as the other side may do".
Hope to "see" you there.
Glenn and Helen Reynolds - "fine" - a relative term.
Good thoughts, prayers, and well wishes from our house to yours.
- The Greyhawks
If you recognize both names you're already there. If not, go meet them.
Tell 'em Greyhawk sent you.
'Insurgents' negotiating with coalition forces in Iraq? Perhaps so. But if it's true, lets not question who's negotiating from a position of power. (And don't be deceived by the wording of the Time story - if there's any negotiating going on with the insurgents it's not just the Americans, the Iraqis are in the discussion too.)
If you've been reading Mudville for any time at all you must have gotten the message: the insurgents are on the ropes. Make no mistake about it - they are capable of killing people in large numbers, but their political effectiveness is virtually nil.
As I noted here there has been some post-Iraqi election improvement in media coverage of the ongoing battles with the terrorists in Iraq. But will the trend continue? Will the American media pick up the clues and put the real story together, or will they carry on as described by Austin Bay:
Collect relatively isolated events in a chronological list and presto: the impression of uninterrupted, wide-spread violence destroying Iraq. But that was a false impression. Every day coalition forces were moving thousands of 18-wheelers from Kuwait and Turkey into Iraq, and if the ?insurgents? were lucky they blew up one. However, flash the flames of that one diesel rig on CNN and ?oh my God, America can?t stop these guys? is the impression left in Boston, Boise, and Beijing.
I noticed the same sort of appoach during my time in Iraq - media coverage of each new terrorist attack would include a "laundry list" of attacks over the previous two-week period - ignoring the fact that the coalition often had more victories on any given day than the terrorists did in any two weeks.
CAMP BLUE DIAMOND, Iraq ? Iraqi and U.S. forces increased security operations in and around Ramadi and throughout the Al Anbar Province Feb. 20.
The 1st Marine Division of the I Marine Expeditionary Force and Iraqi Security Forces kicked off Operation River Blitz, which includes a curfew from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. and other measures to enhance security in and around Ramadi.
?We were asked by the Iraqi government to increase our security operations in the city to locate, isolate and defeat anti-Iraqi forces and terrorists who are intent on preventing a peaceful transition of power between the Interim Iraqi Government and the Iraqi Transitional Government,? said Maj. Gen. Richard F. Natonski, commanding general, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force.
The security measures in and around the provincial capital are designed to ensure the safety of the populace by controlling access into the city. Access control points leading into the city will screen vehicles for terrorists and criminals as well as weapons, munitions and materials to produce improvised-explosive devices.
In conjunction with implementing the security measures in Ramadi, increased security operations also began in several cities along the Euphrates River, including the cities of Hit, Baghdadi and Hadithah.
Operation River Blitz is designed to target criminals and terrorists, who have attempted to destabilize the Al Anbar Province by terrorizing the populace through wanton acts of violence and intimidation. The 1st Marine Division of the I Marine Expeditionary Force stands committed with the Iraqi Security Forces in disrupting and defeating the anti-Iraqi forces while providing enhanced security to the people of Al Anbar Province.
Here's more bad news for insurgents:
BAGHDAD, Iraq -- In the battle against insurgents here, two kinds of Iraqi military forces are emerging: the planned units and the pop-ups.
The planned units of the Iraq Army, about 57,000 soldiers strong, are the result of careful preparation this summer between the U.S. and Iraqi commanders. The pop-ups started to emerge last fall out of nowhere, catching the American military by surprise. These dozen disconnected units totaling as many as 15,000 soldiers are fast becoming one of the most significant developments in the new Iraq security situation.
The unplanned units -- commanded by friends and relatives of cabinet officers and tribal sheiks -- go by names like the Defenders of Baghdad, the Special Police Commandos, the Defenders of Khadamiya and the Amarah Brigade. The new units generally have the backing of the Iraqi government and receive government funding.
Troops who might have otherwise joined the regular Iraqi Army are drawn to these units because they are often led by a particularly inspirational commander or made up of people with similar tribal and religious backgrounds. This makes the units more cohesive and potentially effective against the insurgency. "Just show us where to go and we will eat the insurgents alive," an Iraqi in one of these units told Maj. Wales earlier this month when he tracked them down at a long-shuttered Baghdad airport.
The first of these military units, the Special Police Commandos, was formed in September by Gen. Adnan Thavit, the uncle of Iraq's interim interior minister. The unit started with about 1,000 soldiers. When Col. James Coffman, a senior aide to Gen. Petraeus, found them they were occupying a heavily damaged Republican Guard base a few miles from the U.S. embassy. "It was basically 1,000 guys at the time living in a bombed-out building with no electricity, no plumbing and no bathrooms," the colonel says.
Col. Coffman, however, was struck by the unit's arms room, which was stocked with rocket-propelled-grenade launchers, mortar tubes and lots of ammunition. "The weapons were clean and organized," he says. He immediately went on a patrol with the unit and was impressed by both Gen. Thavit and his troops. The soldiers seemed to have a discipline that many of the U.S.-trained Iraqi Army units lacked.
The 63-year-old Gen. Thavit, an intelligence officer in the old Iraqi Air Force, attended military academies in the former Soviet Union and former Yugoslavia. In the mid-1990s he joined a small group of former officers plotting to overthrow Saddam Hussein. In 1996 their plan unraveled and Gen. Thavit was sentenced to life in Iraq's notorious Abu Ghraib prison. Gen. Thavit and his second-in-command, Maj. Gen. Rashid Flayeh Mohammed, were both released by Mr. Hussein along with thousands of other political prisoners and common criminals just before the American invasion. One of Gen. Thavit's former jailers, who gave him food and cigarettes, is now a battalion commander in his new force.
On Col. Coffman's recommendation, Gen. Petraeus visited the Commandos' base and was impressed with the troops. "When I saw them and where they were living I decided this was a horse to back," the U.S. general says today. He agreed to give the fledgling unit money to fix up its base and buy vehicles, ammunition, radios and more weapons.
Meanwhile, chaos in Fallujah:
FALLUJAH, Iraq - When word went out the other day that the U.S. was looking for 250 applicants for a new Fallujah police force, the turnout was so big it nearly turned into a riot as men pushed to get to the head of the line and some fell into concertina wire.
But when it was over, the Marines were delighted.
"They saw the Iraqi traffic cops out there and nothing bad has happened to them," Marine Capt. Shannon Neller said. "That brought them out in droves."
Fallujah has been policed by 1,500 Marines and 2,700 Iraqi troops since the city was retaken - but severely damaged - in an offensive last November to destroy what had become a safe haven for militants and terrorists.
...on my way back to Baghdad from Samawa last week, some Iraqi soldiers and IP men stopped us an handed the passengers-with a nice language-a number of leaflets that urge the people to report any suspicious activities and/or elements and encourage people to report and assuring them that they don't have to fear from being tracked by the thugs.
Few miles later we were stopped by an American checkpoint and they didn't stop us for an inspection procedure, after greeting us they were glad to see that some of us speak English well, one of them said that a coalition point was attacked with mortars and so he was asking us for any information or observations about this attack.
I told them that we're only passers by and we don't know the area very well and I asked if there were any casualties but gladly the answer was "no but we want to gather information about the attackers".
And I also noticed that Iraqi soldiers on other checkpoints started friendly conversations with the people and this is a good indication; searching isn't enough alone, bridging the gaps is what really matters.
Security will not be achieved if the people do not cooperate with the authorities and I think now it's due the time for the people to take bigger role in a nation-wide action against terror.
A few days ago a coalition convoy was patrolling our district and they were stopping every other hundred meters talking to the people and distributing key chains and leaflets that carry secure phone numbers for the people to use in reporting criminal activities and this is a smart idea as key chains are always in one's hands or pocket and phones are a reliable contact route and I think using the internet and e mails for the same task is another option that can be helpful as it's untraceable and people, especially the educated segment use the internet very often and they would feel more secure comfortable that way than with the phones.
I have no estimations about how many people will provide information that way but I feel that the rate has increased after the elections. Moreover, the Iraqi media is also playing a good role in exposing criminals and there are some local channels that broadcast the confessions of arrested terrorists.
The 'insurgents' are indeed in the streets again, but they know their time is running out.
BAGHDAD, Iraq, Feb. 20 - Insurgent attacks to disrupt Baghdad's supplies of crude oil, gasoline, heating oil, water and electricity have reached a degree of coordination and sophistication not seen before, Iraqi and American officials say.
The new pattern, they say, shows that the insurgents have a deep understanding of the complex network of pipelines, power cables and reservoirs feeding Baghdad, the Iraqi capital.
Back from Lebanon to Baghdad with a quick update on fuel situation; the fuel (gasoline in particular) shortage is reaching an end after several tough months. It took me less than 15 minutes yesterday to fill the car with gasoline as there were only 11 vehicles waiting in the line ahead of me. The lines are shorter in all gas stations in Baghdad but vary relatively from one region to another.
...The JOC had a huge screen covering an entire wall, like a movie theater screen divided into ceiling-high panels capable of displaying multiple computer images and projections...
The biggest display, that morning and every morning, was a spooling date-time list describing scores of military and police actions undertaken over the last dozen hours, Examples: ?0331: 1/5 Cav, 1st Cavalry Division, arrests two suspects after Iraqi police stop car"; ?0335 USMC patrol vicinity Fallujah engaged by RPG, returned fire. No casualties.?
The spool went on and on and on, and I remember thinking : ?I know we?re winning. We?re winning because ?in the big picture? all the opposition has to offer is the past. But the drop-by-drop police blotter perspective obscures that.?
Collect relatively isolated events in a chronological list and presto: the impression of uninterrupted, wide-spread violence destroying Iraq. But that was a false impression. Every day coalition forces were moving thousands of 18-wheelers from Kuwait and Turkey into Iraq, and if the ?insurgents? were lucky they blew up one. However, flash the flames of that one diesel rig on CNN and ?oh my God, America can?t stop these guys? is the impression left in Boston, Boise, and Beijing.
Saddam?s buddies and Zarqawi?s klan were actually weak enemies ?"brittle? is the word I used to describe them at a senior planning meeting. Their local power was based on intimidation?killing by car bomb, murdering in the street. Their strategic power was based solely on selling the false impression of nation-wide instability? selling post-Saddam Iraq as a dysfunctional failed-state rather than an emerging democracy.
Read it all. More here later.
Thompson got his start as a journalist in the Air Force, writing for the Eglin Air Force Base newspaper.
His military career ended with a DD.
Update: Several conflicting versions of the end of Thompson's Air Force career are available on line (no surprise there!) I believe the Air Force Times has the true story, and stand corrected:
But well before Thompson chronicled fear and loathing in Las Vegas and in politics, he served two years in the Air Force and was honorably discharged as an airman second class.
According his biographers, Thompson enlisted with the service in 1956 after a judge gave the teenager the option of jail time or the military.
First trained as electronics technician at Scott Air Force Base, Ill., Thompson was assigned to Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., where he landed a job at information services.
Soon after, Thompson talked his way into the job of sports editor for the base newspaper, the Command Courier.
In a September 1956 letter reproduced for his book ?The Proud Highway,? Thompson told a friend: ?In short, we both know I?m no more qualified for a post like this than I am for the presidency of a theological seminary; but here is one major fact that makes it possible for me to hold this job: the people who hired me didn?t bother to check any too closely on my journalistic background.?
Thompson didn?t win many friends among Eglin?s brass and in August 1957 his commander recommend Thompson for early release.
?In summary, this airman, although talented will not be guided by policy,? Col. W.S. Evans, chief of information services wrote to the Eglin personnel office. ?Sometimes his rebel and superior attitude seems to rub off on other airmen staff members.?
What was the most amazing bit of ignorance displayed in Congressman Maurice Hinchey's townhall meeting:
1. His claim not to know what network Dan Rather was on
2. His claim to have evidence, which he denied moments later
3. His absolute confidence that he could say anything he wanted and be worshipped for it
4. The fact that his confidence was justified
Don't understand the question? Go here, listen to the audio. Already heard it? Listen again, tell a friend. It's got to be increasingly difficult for reasonable people to call themselves Democrats in public - and that is not a good thing.
Update: Who? A bit of background info here.
So I've returned to find winter's icy grip has claimed the land - blanketed it in white, misted with fog to gray the horizons and turn the sky to slate.
What can I do but take the camera and go? Those who seek will find signs of Spring in this of course. And that's words enough for now.
At least some are.
Robin Burk, for instance, is covering the Conservative Political Action Conference for Winds of Change.NET as "a private citizen and maybe a "citizen journalist" (if she could figure out what that means), as an academic studying new media trends, and as an ordinary voter interested in national & international affairs". She has an extremely insightful post relating her meeting with John O?Neill and Bill Franke, and coverage of their apppearances at the Conference. A nice coda to election '04. Don't miss it.
Then visit The Word Unheard for a look at the new MSNBC program Coast to Coast - a program that should be of interest to bloggers for reasons the post makes clear. The video linked includes an appearance on said show by none other than Robin Burk, wherein she exhibits abundant knowledge of what a citizen journalist is.
This from Russ Vaughn:
Sergeant Vaughn got a care package today. It?s been almost forty years since I got my last one, a case of twenty-four #2? cans of sliced peaches from my father. Memory fails me now, but I don?t believe I ever asked before he died what it cost to mail that monster, but it must have been a pretty hefty hit in the wallet for a lifelong blue-collar worker. I had happened to mention in one of my rare letters home from Vietnam that canned, sliced peaches were my favorite item in our C Rations even if they were twenty years old. We could date them because the small cigarette packs enclosed with the rations were frequently Lucky Strikes in the old green packages that were phased out in the forties.
In any event, at mail call back in the rear area, the company clerk yells out, ?Sergeant Vaughn! Care package!? and I responded with a somewhat surprised ?Yo!? Stepping front and center I stared with momentary incomprehension at the large, heavily taped and badly battered, cardboard box at the clerk?s feet. He made no move to pick it up and hand it to me; he just grinned and said, ?That heavy sucker?s all yours from here on, Sarge.? As I bent to pick it up, I noticed the silvery glint of the top of a can and a bit of green label through one of the torn corners and awareness dawned: son of a gun, my Old Man had come through for me! In spades!
The box was indeed heavy but it was a welcome burden for a twenty-five year old paratrooper in the best shape of his life; a few months of conducting patrols and operations in the mountains, jungles and paddies of Vietnam had made me a ?lean, mean, Airborne trooper.? When I got it back to my hooch, I cut the top from the box with my jump knife and gazed in awe at twenty-four, count ?em, twenty-four cans, number two and a half cans at that, great big ol? cans of Del Monte sliced peaches. At that moment, I had to be the peaches king of Vietnam. Man, this was even better than the case of Tootsie Rolls my sister had mailed a couple of months earlier.
My unit was on stand down in the rear area at Tuy Hoa air base for a few days and for those few days, I felt indeed like the peaches king of Vietnam. I handed out peaches to my fellow troopers, sharing my good fortune with my brothers, as was our custom. But I must confess, I squirreled away several cans for leaner times. I was constantly peppered with, ?Hey, Sarge, you got any more a? them peaches?? And by occasionally producing a can, I kept that particular query alive for more than a couple of weeks.
I?d forgotten all that until today. Today, Sergeant Vaughn got a care package from a sweet woman in Oregon named Claudia Briggs, a military widow, self-described as ?deaf as a door knob.? Claudia, it seems, had read a poem sent to her by her brother, an Army retiree, a former paratrooper in my old division, the 101st Airborne, who correctly surmised she might share the author?s sentiments. The poem is entitled, ?Fightin? Words,? and I am that author. I had cobbled it together in angry response to the mainstream media?s carping, hypercritical response to a widely broadcast incident in Fallujah, where a reporter had videotaped a young Marine administering a coup de grace to a terrorist. The poem happened to catch the mood of many Americans and was widely disseminated via the Internet and even read on a nationally broadcast talk radio show.
Exhibiting the martial spirit befitting the widow of a career soldier, Claudia decided to do something for the trooper who had written the poem. Those who read my rants on a regular basis are aware that any time I write on a military topic, I sign my work with my military credentials to establish my bonafides to render my opinions on warfare and ground combat. Claudia, seeing my unit designation, somehow missed the Vietnam 65-66 in the last line and assumed a young soldier in Iraq had written the poem. So she set about to send a box of goodies to him as reward. Once she had it all assembled and packaged, she took it to the post office, but they refused to accept it without an APO. She called the Army recruiter in Coos Bay who graciously called Ft. Bragg, home of the 82d Airborne, the last remaining paratrooper division, and my last duty post in 1967. Nope, Staff Sergeant Vaughn?s not here, try Ft. Campbell, that?s the 101st ?s home base. There she was told they could not give out soldiers? APO addresses for security reasons.
Frustrated, Claudia called her ex-paratrooper brother who contacted some of the men he had served with at Ft. Campbell, which had, in fact, been my primary duty station, although forty years earlier. From someone he learned that I was no longer in the service and there was no forwarding address. Now the motto of the Airborne is ?All the way,? meaning you never give up; you never stop moving forward until the mission is completed. Well, Claudia?s brother, even at seventy-five, is still a paratrooper. Somehow, someway, he kept hard charging until he found me and sent Claudia my address. He sensibly advised her to forget about the care package and just send me a card.
Nope, not this determined widow; the box arrived today, and after my initial stunned surprise, left me with a pleasant quandary. I don?t know whether to eat all that good stuff or close it back up and forward it to some young trooper with the 82d Airborne, now serving in Iraq. I sure don?t need all those calories but, dang, I never got a care package from a non-family member; they didn?t do much of that in my unpopular war. So I guess I?ll sleep on it. Or maybe I?ll have a late-night snack. Is this a great country or what?
Thanks, Claudia, I think you would have made one hell of a paratrooper.
2d Bn, 327th Parachute Infantry Regiment
101st Airborne Division
Greyhawk here. Keep it Russ - enjoy it for all the guys who never got one. Russ' story really resonates with me. Even old Greyhawk enjoyed getting care packages in the mail, they were a real morale booster. Even if the box had just a couple items in them it mattered. And everyone in the unit shared - just the way Russ described above.
One of the funniest packages we received contained nothing but individual servings of salad dressing - I can't tell you how many were in that box, but they were great. Believe it or not you really get tired of three huge chow hall meals a day, so a salad is a nice break, and this dressing was awesome. Another great box was a whole case of Slim Jims - those were appreciated and lasted quite a while.
And who sent them? Family, of course, but also complete strangers. Via Soldiers Angels and Any Soldier - I'm sure there are other organizations out there but these had direct contact with Greyhawk and his troops, and I'm forever grateful for their efforts. They've made sure that no GI in Iraq will have to wait 40 years for a care package.
By this point you might be thinking - "gosh, I've just read remarks from a Vietnam vet and an Iraq war vet about how much care packages meant to them... I wonder if I should..."
Yes, you should. Next trip to the grocery store pick up some extra Pringles, nuts, non-perishable snacks, band-aids, and a copy of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition, contact one of the organizations linked above, and make somebody's day.
Marked the arrival of four inches of white powder by walking around the backyard with Roger's camera.
Some sort of photo essay thing will likely result.
Update: If you can't make it to Tampa, visit Jackson's Junction.
Update 2 More Iwo links here
For those who remember and revere World War II, 60 is the magic number.
Six decades have gone by since the raising of the American flag over Iwo Jima, the war's end in Europe and the Pacific, and other pivotal military events of 1945.
Beginning this week, the Department of Defense will honor all of them in a six-month-long salute that includes patriotic fanfare and heartfelt remembrances in a half-dozen cities. There will be swing music, vintage uniforms and the close harmonies of Andrews Sisters impersonators.
Through the end of August, the committee will stage large-scale events in Tampa, Fla., San Antonio, San Diego, Boston, Chicago and Vancouver, Wash.
"We're bringing these commemorations to the veterans, particularly those who may not have the funds or the health to journey elsewhere," said Cmdr. Dunphy. "These cities have the highest concentrations of veterans in the country."
And if you're in the Tampa area looking for something to do...
Meanwhile, Tampa hosts the first of the Defense Department's urban commemorative events Saturday, set to recall that moment at 2 a.m. on Feb. 19, 1945, when Navy guns opened up the island of Iwo Jima, which eventually provided a vital link in the U.S. chain of bomber bases.
Under heavy Japanese fire, 100,000 Marines struggled through the volcanic ash of the tiny island about 650 miles southeast of Tokyo. The conflict that ensued resulted in 26,000 casualties and almost 6,800 deaths.
The American flag was raised by members of "Easy Company" upon 550-foot Mount Suribachi over Iwo Jima four days layer. A photograph that captured the moment has since inspired millions and become the most reproduced photo of all time, said James Bradley, author of the 2000 best seller "Flags of Our Fathers."
Mr. Bradley's father was one of the six Marines of the 28th Regiment, 5th Division, who raised the flag.
"History turned all its focus, for 1/400th of a second, on them. It froze them in an elegant instant of battle: froze them in a camera lens as they hoisted an American flag on a makeshift pole," he wrote.
The Tampa event will include Iwo Jima veterans, members of all military services and the Merchant Marines, the U.S. Navy Band and a host of political and press dignitaries.
"It's clear we're remembering not just the people, but the ideas and lessons learned that help assure freedom continues to flourish around the world — much as the soldiers of today are doing in the Middle East," said retired Army Lt. Gen. Ed Soyster, executive director of the World War II 60th Anniversary Committee.
Maybe Berlin will have an event I can attend this year...
Hands down, is "unrelenting auto-marginalization."
High five to Tom Maguire for coining it in a great post.
In his first official action as DNC Chair, Howard Dean belittles the US military:
"Defense is a lot broader than swaggering around saying you're going to kick Saddam's butt," Dean said Thursday, drawing cheers from the crowd in this city that overwhelmingly voted Democratic last November.
Swaggering and empty boasting - I think we can all agree that's embarassing behavior.
Meanwhile, Scott Ritter, after filing his first al-Jazeera commentary:
This completes Mudville's annual Scott Ritter post for 2005.
Back in Action is now at #16 in sales at Amazon. Great to see it - hopefully it's going up!
But not the way you think.
I intended Targeting Journalists to be a starting point for a discussion bridging a gap between media and blogs on the issues raised by Eason Jordan at Davos. That post featured my online dialogue with Jules Crittenden - but one GI talking with one reporter means little unless it sparks more discussion and examination. That's why it's gratifying to see a Mudville link in the Christian Science Monitor piece asking the question Did US military target journalists in Iraq?
The answer is "no" of course, but the issue is one that won't go away. Regardless of the number of questions answered, the fact that there were questions will be the focus of much reporting on this topic.
Update: Communication is the key to understanding, of course, even in the internet age. After all, if people simply communicated better they might not be so surprised upon discovering that their long-held prejudices are unfounded, that their opinions are based on bad information or the limitations of their background and experience, all of which tend to inculcate an excessive eagerness to accept claims like "soldiers target journalists" as gospel without too much deep thought on the issue by the individual.
Guess what Mary Beth Sheridan, a reporter from the Washington Post, learned when she was embedded with our troops in Iraq?
That they are not, in fact, "blood-thirsty maniacs."
I found that out the other morning at a Columbia Journalism School First Amendment breakfast. The topic under discussion was "reporters as citizens," and Sheridan was on the panel.
In fact, she said, they were "really decent people." And even "sweet." Of course, after being shot at they were eager to shoot back ? a military attitude that seemed to surprise her.
That was reported by Myrna Blyth in NRO, but what I found more interesting was her description of the broader topic being addressed by the "breakfast club"
These First Amendment breakfasts are held about once a month, and when there is a superstar journalist, or the topic is full of buzz, they are fairly crowded affairs. But on this Tuesday morning, there were plenty of extra croissants to go round.
The moderator, as usual, was lawyer and Columbia journalism professor Floyd Abrams, and he started the proceedings with a couple of personal anecdotes. First of all, he recalled his most famous First Amendment triumph, the "Pentagon Papers" case. He described Chief Justice Warren Berger's dissenting opinion, which he quoted in part, as a "whine." Then he went on to tell a long anecdote about a Fred Friendly panel, sometime in the past, that included Peter Jennings, Mike Wallace, and a wounded Vietnam veteran.
Abrams recalled that Friendly, as he often did, presented the panel with a hypothetical scenario that there was a civil war between the northern and southern sections of an unnamed country, with America helping the southern forces. An American journalist, to his surprise, was invited to go on patrol with the northern forces. While on the mission, the journalist realized the northern forces intended to attack a group of Americans. What should the journalist do?
Too bad the crowd was thin when journalistic ethics was the theme - I guess most don't need the lesson. Where do they find such dull topics for discussion? ;)
Glenn Reynolds (and Jay Nordlinger) asks when Jon Stewart joined the winning team. Though some indications are that Stewart may have been unfairly quoted, a "we" watch might be an interesting feature. Anyone know of other examples?
Meanwhile The Daily Show recently explored the world of Blogs.
That's CNN reporting on why blogs are way more interesting than CNN.
The Washington Post - you heard it here twelfth.
(Warning - following links not completely "family safe")
Ted Hitler weighs in for part two.
Atrios and Kos get mentions - so that might be an indication of which blogs are frequented by the Daily Show staff. Not surprising, though generally the main difference between Kos, Atrios and the msm seems to be foul language in comments sections - otherwise they're ideological peas in a pod.
On the other hand the best Daily Show quote this week was the description of Howard Dean's assumption of the DNC chair from Terry McAuliffe. Stewart called it "The peaceful transfer of no power."
From Glenn Reynolds. No doubt your prayers and well wishes will be appreciated.
I'll echo Capt Ed, who hopes hospiblogging isn't the next big thing. Mrs G is an asthmatic, although Germany has been good for her. (We suspect the radiator heating vice forced air/ductwork has a huge part in that) She generally spent a few days in the hospital with every change of climate/season in previous places we've lived.
Sincere wishes for a speedy recovery to the 'Insta-Wife' from the Greyhawks.
More GIs soon coming "home" to Germany from Iraq
No parades, little thanks from the locals, but a lot of celebration. We might have to arrange some kind of MilBloggers in Germany back from Iraq gathering.
By the way, Red Six got some last minute action on the way out the door:
The other day, we were escorting the deputy governor to Baqubah when a guy pulled up to us and blew himself up in his car, while trying to take us out. Hilarious! He only managed to kill himself. The BEST part is that his jackass terrorist friend was videotaping it and Al-Jazeera aired it, reporting that a bomber rammed the deputy governor and 3 Americans died. Our only casualty was a slightly cracked windshield. And he didn't ram us, he pulled off on the shoulder and detonated. Does Dan Rather work for Al-Jazeera? If anyone can tell me where to find that video clip on the internet, a lot of us in my company are curious as to whether they taped it while hiding in a certain village.
And while Red Six's up front coverage of the battle for Fallujah is historic - blog coverage from the front lines of the war on terror - now he takes it to the next level, presenting a movie made with his fellow soldiers - a "collage of carnage" as he calls it, and it's unlike anything you've probably ever seen. There are a few movies coming in the near future that will attempt to tell the "real story of the war in Iraq from the viewpoint of the GI" - but they won't come close. The middle man is no longer needed, if you want the real story the GIs are perfectly willing to provide it.
There were a handful of milbloggers in Iraq the first year, a couple dozen the second. Whatever year three might bring we'll have live coverage from the folks who are living it.
When I needed a laugh in Baghdad these guys were there with original stuff, 24/7.
Just letting them know they were "entertaining the troops". Thanks guys.
A progress report - the war isn't over - I'm home from Iraq, but will forever feel a connection to that land. Looking back I'm in awe of the resilience and progress of the Iraqi people; in the earliest days of my tour an event like the one Bill Faith alerted me to seemed like the sort of thing that was years from being possible.
I?d just finished reading your ?Failure Stew? post, which included the quoted headline ?Top Iraq Rebels Elude Intensified U.S. Raids," when I got an email from Haider about a couple that got caught...?The Iraqi Government announced the arrest of two former high-ranking individuals from Saddam?s secret police (Mukhabarat). The Iraqi security forces arrested Sabah Noory and Riadh Noory in Baghdad and charged them with terrorist attacks in and around Baghdad and further charged them with supplying and training terrorists in Felujah as well as providing them with weapons?.
When Saddam?s secret police caught some one, they did not arrest them nor did they charge them. They killed them on the spot, or took them to be tortured or brought the victim?s family to be tortured in front of them or just killed all but one as an example. Now these same former criminals and current terrorist are given the full benefit of the law. Arrested, charged and interrogated under Red Cross supervision.
There's more at Bill's, of course. And while that "full benefit of the law" is true, there are a few incidents where the police aren't readily available. That doesn't always favor the terrorists though - in fact it could be their worst nightmare. Take for instance this report about a crowd of Iraqis who noticed a likely suicide bomber in their midst and didn't take time to call the Red Cross:A CROWD of Shiite Muslims marking a religious ceremony spotted a suspected suicide bomber amongst them and, fearing he might blow himself up, beat the man to death, Iraqi police said today.
The incident occurred in the western Baghdad neighbourhood of Bayaa, a largely Shiite district, where residents were celebrating Ashura, a religious ritual honouring the martyrdom of Imam Hussein, the grandson of the Prophet Mohammed.
The police said the crowd spied a man mingling amongst them who appeared to be wearing a vest strapped with explosives, like those used in suicide bombings.
"They attacked him and beat the man to death," a police source said, adding that security forces had been powerless to prevent the mass onslaught. It was not clear if the man had actually been planning a suicide attack.
The times they are a changin' in Iraq. But rest assured one thing hasn't changed - Reuters won't make any effort to distinguish between this sort of violence and the carnage the bomber could have created. All violence is bad, after all.
The days of vigilante justice may be brief too, as more Iraqi police officers take the streets:ADMIRING a man-sized cardboard target he had just perforated with bullets, Nasir, 18, said: ?If anyone tries to kill me now, I?ll kill them first.?
In three days time he will find out if his confidence is well placed, when together with 264 fellow police officers he returns to Samarra in the heart of the Sunni Triangle, having completed a two-week survival and weapons training course with US troops in Tikrit.
Under-equipped and under-trained the beleaguered Iraqi police were routed from Samarra by insurgents last autumn. A token force was reinserted in December, but found itself unable to conduct the simplest patrol. ?I?ve lost so many friends in the police I?ve lost count,? Nasir said. ?The worst time was during the fighting with the Mujahidin in the autumn. Some of us were shot by the insurgents then the Americans bombed our police station by mistake and killed 16 more.?
Casualties amongst the Iraqi police have been phenomenal. Between January and September last year 750 officers were killed on duty, while hundreds more police recruits were killed by suicide bombings. The figures from September to the present are not available, but coalition insiders believe at least 500 more have died.
But the tide is turning. And the US is still at work too:U.S. raids netted 53 suspected insurgents across Iraq on Tuesday, as U.S. and Iraqi forces sought to end the frequent bombings and ambushes taking a high toll on Iraqi security forces.
U.S. and Iraqi troops swept through Latifiyah, 25 miles south of Baghdad. They detained 35 suspected insurgents, a spokesman for Iraqi national guard forces in the area told the Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
West of Baghdad, the 256th Infantry Brigade from the Louisiana National Guard detained 10 suspects during a four-hour operation that concluded before dawn Tuesday, U.S. Central Command said in a statement. Soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division brought in three suspects after raids in central Baghdad just before midnight Tuesday.
That sort of thing has been going on for months - but what's new is that a major American media organization actually reported a coalition success. This was the first time I was able to provide links to coverage like that from somewhere other than the CENTCOM home page - so maybe the tide is turning in another front of the war on terror too.
Meanwhile the Washington Times reports the priorities of the man likely to be Iraq's first elected prime minister.Soft-spoken Shi'ite leader Ibrahim al-Jaafari emerged yesterday as the top contender to be Iraq's first freely elected prime minister, having promised an all-inclusive government whose first priority will be to quash the insurgency.
"The Iraqi people are varied, and the government should reflect that variety," the Dawa party leader recently told The Washington Times, reaching out to Shi'ites, Sunnis, Kurds, and Christians and other non-Muslim groups.
Leaders of the Shi'ite-led coalition that won Iraq's Jan. 30 elections agreed in principle yesterday that Mr. al-Jaafari would be its candidate to serve as the nation's chief executive.
The coalition still will have to strike a deal with other parties to secure the two-thirds majority needed to name a government, but analysts saw little chance that it would be denied its choice of prime minister.
Interviewed last week at his offices in Baghdad's fortified green zone, Mr. al-Jaafari said the nation's Sunni minority would be represented in the new parliament, but he drew the line at those thought to be behind the bloody insurgency.
"Those who did not participate in the elections but do not kill, we must win them over and open the door of government, and they will participate and help us in writing the constitution," he said.
"Others, if they committed criminal acts, we should deal with them by law," said Mr. al-Jaafari, a gray-bearded 58-year-old physician who spent most of the 1980s as an exile in Iran and Britain.
"Nothing can be done without security," he said. "We will surround the insurgents and use intelligence and new techniques to deal with them."
The new prime minister also faces the tricky question of when to ask the U.S. forces to leave " one of the Sunni insurgents' major demands.
"There is no thinking right now of troops leaving," Mr. al-Musawi said. "We believe we still need them. When we are able to build our institutions, I think there will be another discussion about it."
As for the insurgents - their story is being told too. But in another first here's a report indicating they might not be as popular or successful as many would have you believe:An increase in truck hijackings, carjackings and kidnappings around the southern approaches to Baghdad suggests to some intelligence officials that insurgents are running out of money.
Soldiers on the front lines also believe that militants are strapped for cash and turning to crime to pay for the insurgency.
Many criminal ambushes are occurring just south of Baghdad as vehicles, particularly gasoline trucks, head toward the capital. One hot spot for hijackings is the major roadway that runs between Baghdad and the town of Salman Pak, where officials suspect much of the stolen fuel and other goods end up.
Salman Pak is a wealthy Sunni town that Lt. Bryan Suits describes as "the Saddam regime's Palm Beach," and one that has little American presence. He said the highway from the town of Jisr Diyala, just outside Baghdad, to Salman Pak is littered with the burned-out carcasses of fuel trucks that are first drained of their contents to sell on the black market.
Suits, the information officer for the Washington National Guard that has been assigned to the area for the past year, said an average of one 35,000-liter truck is ambushed each week, and the gas sold for $1 or $2 a liter.
He believes the cash is used to pay for roadside bombs and for Iraqis to plant them. The insurgents are also expected to make cash payments to the families of rebels who are killed.
"They are not in it for the money," Suits said, referring to the crime wave. "But without the money, they're not in it," he added, referring to the war.
The intelligence officer for the area, Capt. Jeffrey Schwab, agreed with Suits. "There is definitely an upswing in criminal activity and it's an indication that they are running out of money," he said.
In Washington, a Defense Department official confirmed that insurgents were facing a cash crunch. He said wire transfers of money from outside Iraq have been traced to guerrilla cells and cut off by the U.S.
Lt. Brandon Jackson, who regularly runs patrols around Jisr Diyala, also believes the enemy is finding it harder to finance its operations and pay fighters, although he uses a different measure.
"There are a lot less attacks," Jackson said while scanning rooftops along the torn up road south of Jisr Diyala. "We haven't had a good fight on our hands since August, although we still hit an occasional IED.
There's abundant reason for optimism for those who've chosen to back the winning team. And there's plenty of room on the bandwagon for those who want to join. The war isn't over but victory is inevitable.
For the rest of you take heart - you'll always have the NY Times.
For tangible support while "over there" to Soldier's Angels. Everyone in camp got a Christmas gift because of this organization, and that's just a small element of what they do. The wounded warrior efforts are outstanding, and I can't praise this group enough. Lots of folks have asked me "What can I do for the troops?" This is my first answer.
Not everyone in the world thinks I'm a bigotted, sexist, close-minded, blood-thirsty, illiterate, white American male beloved by Hitler who didn't do very well in school and has a hard time passing a pt test. In addition to Mrs Greyhawk and my mother the following people had nice things to say about me during my visit to Baghdad, and for that I'm eternally grateful.
My heartfelt thanks to
Michael Ledeen (and K J Lopez and the whole Corner crew!)
Smash - the inspiration to all MilBloggers - who is of course kidding about hanging it up. (By the way I was awaiting transportation at the time you posted that and had plenty of time to spare.)
It's great to find myself linked and quoted by these folks, but I can honestly add that I got as much a morale boost finding a link and a quote at even the smallest blogs out there. It mattered to me and you have my thanks. I'll do everything in my power to track you down, link you, and hammer your servers as best I can. (Or you can save me a bit of effort and send an email.)
The blogosphere is many things, including an ongoing conversation. At its best an exchange of information among folks who seek knowledge, truth, enlightenment, a broadening horizon, insight into other opinions or a view beyond the immediate world of their daily routine. I'm glad to be a part of that. All those who left comments or emailed encouragement are appreciated more than you imagine.
The key word to me in the above is "ongoing". The past is just foundation for the future, the best is yet to come, yadda yadda yadda insert additional cliches here. There are many enemies in the ongoing war on terror, and I'll get around to "targeting" them all eventually. Hope you're along for the ride.
Fear not, O Jacob My servant,' declares the LORD, 'And do not be dismayed, O Israel; For behold, I will save you from afar And your offspring from the land of their captivity. And Jacob will return and will be quiet and at ease, And no one will make him afraid.
- Jeremiah, 30:10
With some blasts from the past.
Jimmy Carter - the attack sub.
1985. Launch video by clicking that same thing in the link. Those my age will laugh. We've already had our big chill. A few years younger and you might be outraged to see your golden years ridiculed. Younger still and you'll have to ask your parents for help (though my kids liked the song a lot - in fact they showed it to me.)
Update: Was this the straw that broke the camel's back for George?
I'm not entirely happy with the idea of audio/video blogging. One of my favorite things about the blogosphere is the chance it offers to evaluate an idea purely on merit, and not on the sound of the voice of the presenter or the even more shallow looks. (See network TV news for an example of the shortfalls of this.)
That said, having heard this lady on the radio I must say - you have got to start audio blogging because you have a great voice (not to mention a fine mind and a lot of original ideas)!
When video blogging becomes realistic you're going to be a hit at that too.
You can always be proud that you made it on content first.
He stared across the counter with unmistakable look in his eyes. The guys voice cracked a little when he repeated himself.
"We can't allow anyone to fly in to Iraq without body armor."
"I just flew out of Iraq without body armor" He replied, calmly.
Another guy behind the counter stopped pushing his broom and joined the conversation. "The rules are you can't fly into Iraq without body armor" To this day that guy has no idea how close he came to flying into Iraq without an airplane, much less body armor, and with a broomstick rammed up his
"We have armor you can use sir" Said the first guy, saving his partner's life, and sparing himself from having to finish sweeping with another broom.
A few hours later he found himself flying to Iraq, a 4-sizes too small flak jacket under his seat, in the company of one hundred GIs making their first trip in. They were cool, not nervous - they seemed more bored than anything, though a few were excited about their first ride on a C17. He checked his watch. The sun would rise before they landed and be well up in the sky when they took off again. Balad Air Base was one of the many places the inhabitants unofficially called "Mortaritaville" due to the number of shoot and scoot insurgent rocket and mortar attacks. Night would be better, but a jet-powered big bird was probably safe.
But if the plane was shot down there was one thing he could count on. If a pillow fight broke out as the big bird plumetted earthward he could don that flak vest and be protected from the sharper feathers.
It didn't happen. No one so much as reared back with a pillow that trip. They landed safely. Everyone else got off, he spoke with the crew.
"I'm flying on to Germany with you guys"
"Yes sir. But we need you to leave the plane while we do our stuff..."
"No problem" he said. He got off the plane and on the bus for the 200 yard ride to the pax terminal. There he held back outside and spoke to the lady who met them at the plane and seemed to be in charge.
"Hi. I need to get back on the plane. I'm going to Germany, but they said I had to get off first..."
"You need escorted back out? Come on let's go." She started walking back to the plane. He followed.
"I don't know if they want me back this soon..."
"It's okay," she said. "Let's go."
She had an Eastern European accent but he couldn?t place it. "Where are you from? I can't place the accent."
"Romania" She replied. Iraq was a magnet for non-timid souls from all over the world. That was something many folks never saw, the international face of the Coalition. They arrived at the plane. "Go on in." She said. He almost got a foot up on the first step when the sirens went off.
"Alarm red." She said, matter-of-factly. Meaning mortar rounds or rockets might have landed somewhere on the base.
"Are we supposed to hit the ground?" He asked.
"No." She replied, walking. "Come on we have to go in to the nearest building."
He looked. It was 200 yards away. "Can we make it before the all clear sounds?" He asked.
"Oh yes. We'll stay red for a little while. This is an every morning thing."
They had a nice walk back to the building. A truck came to the plane and picked up the crew and took them to a building in another direction. "See?" She said. "Everyone must go inside the nearest building."
It made perfectly good sense to him, in an absolutely senseless way.
They got there while the sirens still warbled. In the foyer he met a group of folks that were going to fly out on the same plane. Balad was home to the largest military hospital in Iraq, and the flight out was going to be a medevac taking the wounded to Ramstein for transfer to Landstuhl. The all-clear sounded, he rode with them back out on the ramp, then stayed out of the way as the ambulances delivered the other pax and they were loaded on their stretchers into the plane.
He'd traveled all night on little notice. Had a bag full of wet clothes. Had hours of travel ahead of him. A great trip compared to the ride these guys were getting.
Its all relative.
The jet engines fired up again, and he left Iraq for the second time in 24 hours.
He called her from the pax terminal. This was the scary part, he hadn't had time to let her know he was coming so he decided to go for the surprise attack. Would she be there? She answered.
"Hey... you busy?"
"Where are you?" But he knew from the tone of voice that she knew.
"Pax terminal at Ramstein." He said. "And I've got laundry that needs done..."
An amazing email received today:
Captain David Rozelle lost his foot when his Humvee ran over a land mine in Iraq. But after months of agonizing surgery, physical therapy, and the emotional hardship of losing a limb, he has been declared "Fit for Duty" to command his men on the ground in Iraq and will be deployed back in March. In his spare time he runs triathlons, snowboards, downhill skis?all with a prosthetic.
Wow! We've linked a few books here before but rarely do we really push one. But in a world where "Support the troops - bring them home!" has become a rallying cry for so many misguided and uninformed individuals I think I'd really like to see Capt Rozelle's book move far enough up the bestsellers list to where it can't be ignored. Wouldn't it be awesome to have a big display of this volume greeting every visitor to Books a Million, Barnes and Noble, or the bookstore in the local Mall?
I know our copy is on the way.
More from the Rocky Mountain News - an excerpt from the book - his wife's part of the story:
At about eight and a half months pregnant, I was waking up early in the morning. I was up that morning watching the news before the Saturday morning cartoons came on. I always liked having cartoons on the television on Saturday mornings. It distinguished the day from the weekdays to me. It was about 8:30 a.m. when I heard the doorbell. . . .
With 18-month-old Forrest Rozelle on her lap, Kim Rozelle sat on her couch, thinking back to the pain that her husband refused to allow anyone else to see.
"He had some real lows, which is understandable - he'd just lost part of his body," Kim Rozelle said.
"He had his moments when he'd get upset and cry. He was most upset that he couldn't (pick up) the baby. That was his biggest disappointment."
She looked down at the boy who was born two weeks after his father returned from the war, the toddler who still treats his father's fake leg as a plaything.
"David said, 'What is Forrest going to think of me without a foot?' I said, 'Well, he's not going to know any different. He may grow up wondering why he has two feet instead of one.' "
Their relationship - and his recovery - has been punctuated by similar conversations, along with plenty of good-natured razzing.
"He goes out all day and he shows what a Superman he is and then he comes home and goes (she assumes a whiny baby voice), 'Oooh, my stump hurts. Could you rub it?' "
If they're both sitting on the couch, Rozelle knows not to ask his wife to fetch him a beer. He knows he'll get The Look instead.
"I'm pretty good at the tough love thing. I have a lot of sympathy for him, but I'm never going to pity him," Kim Rozelle said.
"I never have and I never will."
Captain and Mrs Rozelle, thanks for your service and our thoughts are with you!
A review of this post from last November might be in order prior to proceeding.
Back already? Great. As I've noted here before I always appreciate feedback from those with first hand knowledge of stories I mention here. So I was glad to see these comments appear on the piece linked above:
The reason why she posted it is because a girl said "I dont care about the war in Iraq" so she posted it to increase awareness, to the students of SAHS
Posted by: anonymous at January 18, 2005 09:07 AM
Hello, I'm a student at SAHS, and I wanted to tell you that your post gave us all a good laugh in class today.
Ms. Pell didn't post the death count on her door to say that our parents might be next. She posted it because a girl had said that she didn't care about the war in Iraq because she was in Korea and it didn't affect her. The count is there to remind us that it -DOES- affect us.
The way you interpreted the toll hadn't even crossed my mind until this blog entry was shared with us. I had always thought of it as a way of reminding us that the war can still have it's effects on us, even if we're in Korea. I'm pretty sure that's how most of the students interpreted it as well.
Posted by: SoNyA at January 18, 2005 12:30 PM
Great comments, but they don't change my view, I'm a parent of DODDS HS students myself, and I'm in Iraq, and I want them focused on their school work while in school, not thinking about dad. The bit about reading Mudville in class was interesting though. Like most instances of folks wandering in to comments threads months after the post and seemingly not at random, I suspected someone had googled their own name and followed the link here. I forgot the whole thing til I received this email a couple of weeks later.
----- Original Message ----- From: Michelle Pell To: email@example.com Sent: Sunday, January 30, 2005 10:37 PM
This morning at 10:00 a.m., my son-in-law, the father of my soon-to-be 1-year-old gorgeous and "mixed" granddaughter, boarded a plane for Iraq. He follows a path similar to one taken by by Marine grandfather, who lost his leg in his first battle at Beleau Woods, my mother and my father, who were both Marines (as was my FEMALE cousin), my boyfriend, who was one of the first people into Iraq, and several of my very beloved students and friends.
As he is in the air, I am in the midst of planning my school's second walk-a-thon. The first was for the benefit of children whose parents were killed on 9-11. We raised $22,000 for that one. This one, in which our goal is to raise a minimum of $50,000, is for scholarships for the children of U.S. military personnel and civilians killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Perhaps not quite at patriotic as someone who advertizes himself as someone with the "tendency to rough language or behavior on the part of the site owner," and one of the "rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf," while sitting at his computer penning ill-spelled poison, disrespectful misogynistic drivel, and comments taken out of context, the usual way ignorant people operate.
I read your "blog" regarding my comments in the Stars and Stripes to my students. They thought you are as ludicrous as I do. They fully know my intent, because we discuss "my door of horror" and its purpose. In fact, one of the students, who doesn't even have me for a class, has added to the door, pictures of Marines killed in the war. Marcos, an Hispanic, wants to join the Marines the minute he graduates. The door is a memorial, a prayer, not a reminder to our students that they may soon "be orphaned." I believe in prayer, too, just not your variety. I grew up that way and saw how people like you pray and then actually behave in real life. I found the hypocrisy disgusting.
I hope that your children's teachers offer you children the type of education where they see what a close-minded, blood-thirsty individual you are. You are the type of person who will fight for freedom, all right, as long as it is for the freedom of white, American males. Hitler loved people like you. Of course, like you, I am strictly judging you by your comments, not by actually knowing anything about you or your motivations. And, of course, like you, I am taking everything you say out of context without knowing anything about you. The difference is is that I am actually literate. In fact, aside from judging you to be a bigot, a sexist, and someone who probably didn't do very well in school at all, I would further judge you to be someone who has a hard time passing a pt test. Why don't you "ping the wife" about this one? She is probably happiest when you are not pinging her at all. (I am quite sure you will use whatever comments in here that you want as long as they are out of context.) Most sincerely, Michelle Pell
Followed immediately by a few more comments on the original post:
I'm a student at SAHS, and this post sucks.
Posted by: somebody at January 31, 2005 12:00 PM
Wow. ...you, sir, are a thundering moron.
Have a nice day.
Posted by: yours_truly at February 1, 2005 11:51 AM
I'd have to guess Ms Pell is using Mudville as some sort of teaching aid in her classroom, but I'm still glad my kids aren't taking that class.
Interesting that the only hate mail I ever received in Baghdad came from a school on an Army installation.
I got lots of email and stuff since I started riting here. One is about a Nigerian man's widow who first I thot was hiting on me but actually turnsd out she wants to get my help with sumthing. I'll let you all know how it comes out. I don't want to give 2 many detales rite now but lets say i dont think i'll need that golden parashoot after all, teddy boy.
And hear is one other email i got:
We have created a new blog called "War, Truth and Videotape" with the purpose of trying to obtain the release of the tape from the WEF in Davos.
We have a great team, which includes: N.Z. Bear, Blackfive, Rony Abovitz (who broke the story), Mike Krempasky from Redstate, Peter from Slublog, Brian Scott, Rodger Morrow and Charles Goggin.
The media wants to claim we bloggers are head-hunters after the Eaosn Jordan's resignation. We believe this question can be easily answered by taking a look at the tape.
You no what a good video i'd like to see releesd is the movie "JFK by Oliver Stone". It is one of those movies that relly shapes the way you think about the world. It is the true story about how Nixon killed JFK.
You mite no i have a hot new gurlfrend Sharon Stone. If she is related to Oliver Stone I might be his cousin in law or something. I hope she wasn't his wife - how akwerd wud that be? My favert director reladed by marredge to my hot gurlfrend. I dont have any idea how to find out if they are reladed or not tho.
Greyhawk says: Here at Mudville we always do our best to help journalists who've been destroyed by the blogosphere to get their careers back on track. (see this for example) Continuing that proud tradition we present "Eason's Gate" - an occasional column by a former executive with a major television news network. Take it away Eason!
Hi. This is caled Easons Gate cause its like a dorway or gate into my mind. Furst i want to thank Grayhawk for giving me this opertunity. I'm not a writing jernalist, im a TV jernalist but he sed i could write here and hed have one of his kids chek the speling. So now i have a job and a hot gurlfrend so thats not bad.
Heres wuts on my mind:
Have you notised that bloggers are jurks? I have. I have imunidy here tho. That meens no one will repeet me.
Well the big story is Michael Jackson. He's not guilty, that shud be obveeus to anybuddy with haf a brane.
I got a email that sed i had a virus, but i also got a email that sed i won teh lotery so today is not gud or bad.
Last cause my hands hert frum riting i shud say you people shud pay more atenshun to the story about this gay guy asked Bush a kwestchun. The Daily Kos (it rimes with hose) is my best website i will give it a prize. It is a grate place to go find truth. It gets the Jordaner Prize for truth on websites.
Also last I should warn the Tulsa World. Dont go their, girlfrend. Dont go their.
Update: Well, i gess I could have used this news last week. Crap.
Esquire wasn't available in the Exchange when I looked today. I'm spending the 3 bucks.
Side note - in an earlier post I speculated his agent might have had him remove his archives from his site. He emailed and assured me that it was his decision - and not that of the Army, his publisher, or anyone else - to remove the contents.
Can an unemployed news executive start life over with a fading Hollywood star? If this NY Daily News report is accurate, coverage of Eason Jordan will move from the blogs to the National Enquirer:
Former CNN exec Eason Jordan - who abruptly resigned amid a storm of controversy over his claim that U.S. soldiers had allegedly targeted journalists in Iraq - has a new bombshell. A blond one.
Word is that Jordan is dating Sharon Stone.
I'm told that the 46-year-old movie siren hooked up with the 44-year-old news executive during the World Economic Conference in Davos, Switzerland.
The night after Jordan made his career-damaging remarks during a Jan. 27 panel discussion (he has since backed off, telling CNN staffers he does not believe troops acted with "ill intent"), the two were seated next to each other at an intimate, star-studded dinner at the posh Hotel Derby. The 50-guest dinner was graced by Angelina Jolie and hosted by CNN founder Ted Turner, with Columbia University Economics Professor Jeffrey Sachs.
Apparently sparks flew between Jordan and Stone, because the following week, I'm told, a lovestruck Jordan was excitedly referring to the actress as "my girlfriend."
Said a Lowdown spy: "He was psyched!"
I wonder if he knows he resigned? And hey - maybe the cable network E! could use a guy with Jordan's credentials?
The latest chapter in the legal history of torture is being written by American pilots who were beaten and abused by Iraqis during the 1991 Persian Gulf War. And it has taken a strange twist.
The Bush administration is fighting the former prisoners of war in court, trying to prevent them from collecting nearly $1 billion from Iraq that a federal judge awarded them as compensation for their torture at the hands of Saddam Hussein's regime.
The rationale: Today's Iraqis are good guys, and they need the money.
The case abounds with ironies. It pits the U.S. government squarely against its own war heroes and the Geneva Convention.
Many of the pilots were tortured in the same Iraqi prison, Abu Ghraib, where American soldiers abused Iraqis 15 months ago. Those Iraqi victims, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld has said, deserve compensation from the United States.
But the American victims of Iraqi torturers are not entitled to similar payments from Iraq, the U.S. government says.
"It seems so strange to have our own country fighting us on this," said retired Air Force Col. David W. Eberly, the senior officer among the former POWs.
The case also tests a key provision of the Geneva Convention, the international law that governs the treatment of prisoners of war. The United States and other signers pledged never to "absolve" a state of "any liability" for the torture of POWs.
Former military lawyers and a bipartisan group of lawmakers have been among those who have urged the Supreme Court to take up the case and to strengthen the law against torturers and tyrannical regimes.
"Our government is on the wrong side of this issue," said Jeffrey F. Addicott, a former Army lawyer and director of the Center for Terrorism Law at St. Mary's University in San Antonio. "A lot of Americans would scratch their heads and ask why is our government taking the side of Iraq against our POWs."
I can say I'm glad I'm not judging this one, but it will certainly be an interesting story to watch.
The Washington Posters have figured out how to report the American military sucesses in Iraq they've ignored over the past year - label them as failures!
BAGHDAD, Feb. 14 -- Intensified military raids in Iraq over the past few months have significantly battered the ranks of mid-level insurgents but have scored few gains against the 30 or so most wanted rebels, according to senior U.S. military officers here.
The headline reads "Top Iraq Rebels Elude Intensified U.S. Raids"
The "insurgency" is led by cowards. They fled Fallujah, leaving hundreds behind to die for their cause. If that's "elusive" by WaPo standards then they are "elusive" indeed.
Our victory in Fallujah has had enormous consequences, first of all because the information we gathered there has made it possible to capture or kill considerable numbers of terrorists and their leaders. It also sent a chill through the spinal column of the terror network, because it exposed the lie at the heart of their global recruitment campaign.
You need no more than the first line of the WaPo piece - quagmire, long way to go, struggling, desperation, - can we still call that "news"? Reading Roger and Michael you see the difference between forward looking, real news and same old song and dance.
Old media culture is a stew of failure and despair; we can hope they'll change the diet, but even in the age of the internet their menu is seemingly carved in stone.
Rowan Scarborough, in The Washington Times, reports on a Marine officer accused of murder:
To Lt. Pantano, the two Iraqis who came toward him despite his order in Arabic to stop were mortal enemies. Booby-trapped suicide bombers are killing Iraqis by the score and some have even feigned surrender in order to get close to U.S. soldiers. But the Corps views it as murder and filed charges against him Feb. 1.
On April 15, commanders dispatched Lt. Pantano's men to a house believed to hold insurgents and weapons. The Marines found bomb-making equipment and were removing it when two Iraqis tried to speed away in a sport utility vehicle, according to Lt. Pantano's account.
The Marines stopped the SUV by shooting out the tires, apprehended the two and placed them in flexible handcuffs. After setting up a security perimeter, Lt. Pantano took off the cuffs and had the two search the vehicle as he supervised. If it was booby-trapped, the Iraqis, not Marines, would pay the price.
It was at this point that the Iraqis stopped searching and moved quickly toward Lt. Pantano.
"They start talking in Arabic and turn toward him as if they are going to rush him," Mr. Gittins (his attorney) said. "He says, 'stop.' (in Arabic) They don't stop and he kills them. He didn't know what they were doing but they weren't listening to him. He was in fear of his life and he killed them and that?s what we do to terrorists who don?t listen to orders, It?s a combat situation ? kill or be killed,? Mr Gittens said.
Of course it turns out that they were unarmed and there were no weapons in the car. Lt. Pantano states he did not know that at the time. Pantano reported this event to his superiors and continued to serve in combat in the area for an additional 3 months.
Prince Pundit posts excerpts from Pantano's performace report. These will read differently to military insiders than to those that are unfamiliar with the key words and phrases used.
?Lieutenant?s Pantano progression as a young platoon commander and leader has been impressive.? he has dedicated himself to subordinate development resulting in the weakest platoon becoming one that is often the Company?s main effort. With a calm demeanor that speaks of confidence, Lieutenant Pantano has led his platoon into urban combat in Latafiyah, and he has also conducted convention operations in Falluja and Zaidon Province, Iraq. He is a proficient communicator, who should be promoted with peers. A proven warrior, Lieutenant Pantano is a Marine that I would proudly serve in combat with at any time.
His Battalion Commander, the reviewing Officer then noted:
?Concur with RS (Reporting Senior). Lt Pantano?s performance during the reporting period has been noteworthy and established his reputation as an accomplished infantry leader. His actions during the fighting in Falluja and Al Zaidon highlighted a solid understanding of tactics and an ability to anticipate the enemy. Leads form the front always and balances his aggressive style with true concern for the welfare of his Marines. Exceptional communication skills for a 2ndLt. Organized, aggressive, focused and driven. Ready for increased responsibility. Retain, promote and assign to challenging assignments.?
Pantano's lawyer says that the investigation was prompted by a complaint from an enlisted man that he refers to as "disgruntled".
There are several unanswered questions. Is a Marine officer being second guessed for a split second decision that he made to protect his life and the lives of his men? Why is General Richard Huck pressing charges when, at the time of the incident, it was investigated and cleared? Why did he let Lt Pantano stay in the field and only bring charges upon his return to the US? This happened in April 2004. Why did General Richard Huck wait until February 1, 2005? And who is this "disgruntled? enlisted man? Is he disgruntled or an eyewitness?
We have one side of this story and I hope for the sake of our military and for this Marine that this becomes a clear cut case with no grey areas. If not, one thing is certain, the line drawn in the sand will become less visible to our troops. These sort of charges could set a new precedent for our troops that could leave them confused and less productive and possibly get them killed.
Pantano?s mother has established a web site Defend the Defenders.org with all the details. There is a great deal of information posted as well as supporting comments from fellow Marines and their families. Unfortunately getting to it has been very difficult since the site has exceeded its allotted bandwidth. I suppose in a way that is a good sign. Here is a cache page of Defend the Defenders.org and here's their latest news.
Don't miss (retired) Lt. Col. Allen B West, comments on this at Opinion Bug. He's a highly-decorated U.S. Army officer who coerced an Iraqi into providing information that foiled a planned attack on U.S. soldiers and also faced court martial for his actions.
For an opinion close to mine, read Lex.
Other bloggers covering the story:
D'ya think it's easy for the Mrs to slap together the Holiday logos we use 'round here? No way. Take the Valentines Day example.
You can't just send these little guys into a combat zone without fitting them for level 4 armor and a DCU-style helmet. Then you gotta make sure their skin isn't too pale for desert life, and that they cast shadows, etc. etc.
Mudville - it's deep.
The Boston Globe has the only example I've seen of msm acknowledgement of the Eason Jordan story (vice the "bloggers are headhunters" story appearing now that will soon be followed by the "climate of fear" series - if not the stone-cold wall of silence.) It's an Op-Ed by Cathy Young from Reason, but it's the closest I've seen to a mainstream site agreeing that a story exists, and that it should be told.
One minor quibble with a small point - but it's one that's appeared in several forums:
One oddity is that, so far, no one knows exactly what Jordan said. No videotape or transcript of his remarks has been made public, apparently because the forum's rules forbid it -- though pressure to release the video was mounting when Jordan quit.
If an event has a video and an official blog can anything be off the record? If some sort of academic immunity was in effect, I'd really like to hear why a video camera was running at this event. We're they worried about people taking more than their fair share from the complimentary buffet?
At Captain's Quarters - Ed Morrisey's Mrs (aka the First Mate) has undergone a pancreas transplant. All seems well at this time, but your thoughts and prayers will no doubt be appreciated. Visit, comment, wish them well.
As a walkin' talkin' GI Joe, along with free dental care and a chauffeured stretch Mercedes with wet bar I also have access to Early Bird - the Pentagon's news service that provides transcripts of network news broadcasts. The Monday edition rounds up the entire weekend's worth of news. Curious, I looked for "Jordan" throughout the transcripts - all conveniently provided on one page of text-only html. Results are below - draw your own conclusions.
ABC THIS WEEK ABC TV
9:00 AM FEBRUARY 13, 2005
Interview with James Baker
MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: I was reading the passages of your book about the peace process and it certainly seemed that you thought Mr. Sharon was unhelpful while you --
MR. BAKER: Well, in those days, he was. In those days, he was very unhelpful because he was the Housing Minister and every time the American Secretary of State went to Israel or to the region to negotiate peace between Arabs and Israelis, he would announce the creation of a new settlement. But he sits in a different chair now.
MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you think he's changed?
MR. BAKER: I do.
MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: How so?
MR. BAKER: Well, I think that he would like to be the Prime Minister who brings peace to his people, and 85 -- or you take a poll in Israel, 80 percent of the Israeli body politic are extraordinarily tired of being a nation perpetually at war. They want peace. They look at their borders and they know that they see that the only really secure borders they have are the borders they have with the nations that they've negotiated peace with, Egypt and Jordan.
CBS EVENING NEWS CBS TV
6:30 PM FEBRUARY 12, 2005
MITCHELL: In Iraq today, officials said that the final tally from last month's elections will be released tomorrow.
Still, it was a day of violence across the country. At least 20 Iraqis are dead after three separate car bombs attacks. Nine insurgents were killed in a lengthy battle with U.S. troops in Mosul. There were no U.S. fatalities.
In Kirkuk, police say they are "hot on the trail" of Jordanian militant Abu Musab al Zarqawi, the most wanted man in Iraq. CBS News correspondent Kimberly Dozier has more on the unrest in Iraq.
then later in that same broadcast:
MITCHELL: CNN executive Eason Jordan resigned last night over remarks he made at a panel discussion in Switzerland last month. Some participants say Jordan implied that U.S. troops had targeted journalists in Iraq. Jordan says that was not what he meant and that he's resigning to "prevent CNN from being unfairly tarnished by the controversy."
"That's all folks".. as a famous stuttering pig once said.
Update: Okay - so the stuttering pig was wrong. Just occurred to me - the only network to cover the Jordan story was CBS - the last "victim" of Blogswarm. I repeat my initial comment - draw your own conclusions.
"Afghanistan opened its new military academy to their first class of cadets recently. Thought you might enjoy these photos, passed along by a US officer who's there for a few months. The Afghans visited academies in a number of countries before deciding to model theirs on West Point."
See them all here.
Oh, and sorry about that headline. Couldn't resist.
If you're paying attention, you know that the Army is rotating large numbers of troops in and out of Iraq. This means lots of milbloggers headed home, and more "setting up shop" downrange. One of the first of the latest generation of MilBlogs in Iraq is Dadmanly - and now you can say you were one of the first visitors to his blog. Wish him well.
Dear Mr & Mrs Greyhawk
If Iraq does pull through, the signs of slow and gradual progress were always there to see. I have been chronicling them in this series for nine months now, and when majority of Iraqis defied threats and cast their ballots of January 30, I was not surprised; the successful election was not a bolt out of the blue but a culmination of a year and a half of hard work by millions of Iraqis and citizens of the Coalition countries. To use Churchill's formulation, the election, of course, is not the end or even the beginning of the end, but hopefully the end of the beginning.
Here's the latest - post-election - good news from Iraq:
Thanks, as always, for helping to spread the news.
(Continuing a story begun here.)
A hundred days had made me older
since the last time that I saw your pretty face
A thousand lights had made me colder
and I don?t think I can look at this the same
But all the miles had separate
They disappeared now when I?m dreaming of your face
I?m here without you baby
but you?re still on my lonely mind
I think about you baby
and I dream about you all the time
- 3 Doors Down - Here Without You
"I'm getting a sandwich. You want anything from Subway?"
"No thanks. I need to get back to the shop."
"Well, thanks for the ride. Oh, hey, don't forget my level 4 in the back..."
"Your armor? Yeah, I'll turn it in to supply, no sweat."
Funny - one of the previous times he thought he was on his way home he'd turned his armor in, only to have the flight cancelled, so back to supply to get another set he went. Joy joy.
"Safe trip back." He said, starting the truck.
"Yeah - Have a safe tour." Then louder as the truck backed out. "The time passes man - just keep busy, don't count the days."
Beneath a million stars he waited in the line that stretched outside the Subway doors. Struck up conversations with others waiting. Always tricky to ask if they were headed home. If the answer was "no" then usually the question came back at you, and he felt like a jerk for saying "yes". So the answer became "hope so" instead - a nod to the unpredictability of flights out. Hell, there was a joke going around the shop. He was Ulysses - his war was over but he just couldn't get home.
Philly steak and cheese, chips, Snapple. The last supper in Iraq, he ate it on a picnic table under the stars. He wandered back in to the pax terminal. It had been an hour since they said the bag drag would happen in five minutes, so now this a good time to see how far out it was now. "Hey - I'm checking on bag drag..."
"Oh, yeah... right. The flight to al Udeid. Um, yeah, we'll get that going here real soon; uh... we'll call shortly..."
"Ok, thanks" He smiled. Half hour. Back to his book. The one he was reading, not the one he was writing. A couple chapters later the call went out, he stacked his bags on a pallet with the others. Figured it was safe to strike up the "going home" conversation with those guys who were stacking their stuff out there too.
"How long were you here?"
"Just a month. Medical problems - I'm being shipped back stateside."
Damn. He thought back to the trip in, a conversation with another guy waiting on the same plane. He'd said he was coming back to Iraq.
"This your second tour?"
"No. I was just sent home for a couple weeks. A day after I got here my brother killed himself."
There were a lot of stories being written in Iraq, and most were a lot worse than his.
"Well" he said to medical problem guy, "if you're leaving Iraq, a C17 in the middle of the night is the only way to fly."
A few minutes later they were called to the bus, and the bus took them to the plane, and the plane took them up into the night sky.
Just before takeoff, this over the speakers: "Hello and welcome aboard C17 airlines, you're non-stop service to Qatar. We're taking off shortly and if insurgents don't shoot us down immediately after launch we should make it in just a couple hours..."
He laughed. But some of his fellow passengers looked around nervously under the glow of red cabin lights. He noticed they were wearing armor and helmets - required by regs, he thought, though he wasn't wearing any - and also carrying their weapons. Whatever.
A half minute later, different voice: "Uhh... our apologies. That was a stowaway. We'll be off in a minute and on our way to al Udeid. Please sit back, relax, and enjoy your flight."
The thrust was pretty strong - there was some consideration given to those insurgents after all - and the climb was steep. Always a bit of a pain when strapped in to jump seats facing sideways in the plane, but that was a minor discomfort compared to some places he'd been recently. This beat hell out of a C130, he thought, apologizing to all herc crews everywhere. The plane leveled out, the ride was smooth. He had no idea how long he might be stuck at al Udeid, but no matter how you looked at it with every mile they flew in exactly the wrong direction he was moving closer to home.
On the ground at al Udeid: "Would you like a ration card"
Ration card meant beer ration. "Yes. I hope I never get to use it, but sure." Man, if he was going to be here long he'd have to remember to get that load of damp laundry out of the bag and into a dryer soon...
"Okay, here. Any questions we can answer for you?"
"Where's the pax terminal? This place has changed a lot since I passed through last..."
"Right next door"
At the pax terminal: "I know the answer, but I'm going to ask anyway. Any flights to Germany tonight?"
"No. Well... wait. We've got one going to Germany, but it stops at Balad first. C17 flight... after that nothing on schedule for the next four days..."
Balad meant back to Iraq. "Get me on it."
"We'll try... the rotator just came in and we've got a lot of folks going in to Iraq. By the way, do you have armor? We can't allow anyone to fly in to Iraq without body armor."
More to come...
Well wishers are encouraged to visit Roger L Simon and spread cheer. (Even in hospital the guy's thinking up witty headlines!)
Warning! this is from an as-yet unverified AP report:
LONDON -- Two people vomited, two wet their pants, another suffered signs of hypothermia -- all for the cameras -- after volunteering to spend 48 hours locked up in cages and subjected to sexual humiliation, forced nudity and sleep deprivation allegedly like prisoners at Guantanamo Bay.
A British television station plans to air "The Guantanamo Guidebook," a program that re-creates some alleged techniques used at the U.S. prison camp for terrorist suspects.
Sounds like a big hit, though not everyone in Europe believes that pants wetting is "must-see TV":
"Your program may have undesirable effects of acclimatizing the audience to the use of torture. The real issue is, how do we make an end to impunity for torturers," said Brita Sydhoff of the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims in Denmark. The group represents 200 rehabilitation centers for torture victims.
The methods used on seven volunteers included religious and sexual humiliation, forced nudity, sleep deprivation and extreme temperatures, Tim Carter, the show's producer and director, said Wednesday.
Rumor has it there are several clubs in London where patrons pay to receive such treatment. Perhaps some will sponsor the broadcast.
The program is one of four planned for British viewers during "torture week":
A broadcast date for "The Guantanamo Guidebook" has not been announced, but Yad Luthra, a spokesman for Channel 4 in London, said it is one of four programs dealing with torture planned for a one-week period in the next month.
Carter said television stations in other countries have expressed interest in the show, but none has bought the rights.
The other programs include a documentary by Clive Stafford Smith, a lawyer for Guantanamo detainees, that explores the issue of whether torture ever works when used on terrorism suspects.
Perhaps forcing them to watch hours of television might get them talking?
A report from Colorado:
GJ soldier dies trying to save girlDonations were accepted on behalf of the bereaved. The story above is from the Google cache of the Grand Junction Sentinal's coverage of the event - the actual page is no longer available. Why? Because virtually every word of it was a lie.
Mr. Fixit, as Spc. Jonathan Kenney was so appropriately called, embarked last year on a great undertaking.
The 31-year-old soldier who liked to tinker with cars and recently moved to Grand Junction left behind his family to serve in Iraq.
It wouldn't be a quick fix, but the man who loved to fix things died trying.
On Saturday, he stepped in front of a young Iraqi girl, one of many children caught in a crossfire in Baqouba, Iraq.
A bullet struck his heart, killing him instantly. He was less than two months into his deployment.
Kenney, a posthumous recipient of the Purple Heart, will be buried Saturday in Des Moines, Iowa.
He and his wife, Amber, recently purchased a home in the Grand Valley. The couple met at Metro Church of Denver and would have celebrated their sixth wedding anniversary on Valentine's Day.
Their last communication, according to family spokesperson and Homefront Heroes president Phyllis Derby, was a voice message Amber left for her husband: "And if this is you, Jonathan, I love you."
Jonathan Kenney leaves behind his 3-year-old son, Joshua. The couple was expecting a second child in May.
Kenney graduated from high school in Iowa City, Iowa, where he lettered in football. He pursued any number of sports, baseball and basketball included, in his free time.
Amber Kenney graduated from Grand Junction High School in 1988. She and Jonathan moved to the Grand Valley to be closer to her family. Jonathan Kenney worked for Grand Junction Chrysler Jeep Dodge.
Kenney served three years in the U.S. Army before joining the Colorado Army National Guard. He served with the 1-44 Air Defense Artillery Battalion, the same unit his wife would have served with. She was finishing up her training at Fort Bliss, Texas, when she learned of her husband?s death. As sole surviving parent of Joshua, she was honorably discharged, Derby said.
Jonathan Kenney is survived by his mother and stepfather, three brothers and one sister.
He will be buried next to his twin sister, who died at birth.
GRAND JUNCTION, Colorado (AP) -- A woman concocted a heartbreaking story of how her soldier husband died a hero in Iraq -- and then admitted the story was all a hoax.
"I think I need some serious counseling," 24-year-old Sarah Kenney told The Daily Sentinel newspaper on Wednesday editions. "This is the most serious lie I've ever told, but I've been caught in many lies."
The touching story of how Spc. Jonathan Kenney took a bullet meant for an Iraqi child on January 29 was reported by a score of Colorado media after a news release was sent to them by the nonprofit group Homefront Heroes.More details, none of them are good.
In reality, there is no record of a soldier with that name dying in Iraq. Sarah Kenney is married to a man named Michael Kenney, and he is neither currently in the military nor serving in Iraq.
Phyllis Derby, founder and president of Homefront Heroes, said Kenney convinced her group the story was true. The account of the fictitious man's death was then released to local media.
"I would have never thought in a billion years that she was lying to me," Derby said. She said the donations on behalf of the fictitious soldier would be returned.
Sarah Kenney, the woman behind the tale of an imaginary soldier killed in Iraq, said she just wants it to all be over.Husband and wife both emphatically agree that they weren't motivated by money.
"I think I need some serious counseling," 24-year-old Sarah said Tuesday at her singlewide in Candlewood Trailer Park. "This is the most serious lie I've ever told, but I've been caught in many lies."
Wearing Moose Country 100.7 T-shirts, Sarah Kenney and her husband, Michael Kenney, 30, relayed the events of the past week leading up to Sarah's admission she never had a husband serving in Iraq.
She admitted there was no Spc. Jonathan Kenney who died trying to save Iraqi children and that dozens of other details she relayed to Homefront Heroes, the local support group for soldiers' families, were untrue.
Mesa County District Attorney Pete Hautzinger said he had convened a team of investigators headed by his office to look into the hoax and determine whether any laws were broken.
Relatives of Sarah Kenney confirmed she had a long history of lies, and Sarah's grandmother said she was particularly worried for Sarah's son Joshua - one of the truths Sarah weaved into her fictitious tale about the heroic death in Iraq.
It all started with a friend, Sarah Kenney said in explanation while swaying back and forth in her living-room rocking chair, while Michael paused his video game to listen.
Sarah said she met a woman named Nicole Sission (a second time, she spelled the name Sissions) while she and Michael were employed with StarTek in Grand Junction.
Sarah said Nicole was a co-worker who hadn't heard from Jonathan since he was deployed to Iraq.
StarTek officials confirmed the Kenney couple's employment with the technical-services company but could not confirm the employment of a Nicole Sission.
"I looked through all the names in the database, and no Sission," said StarTek human resources manager Katie Plunkett.
Plunkett said the system includes all employees' names since the company's inception five years ago.
"All the details I told to Homefront were from Nicole," Sarah Kenney said. "It may be something she just pulled out of her head."
Sarah said Nicole was "gone" and that all her phones were "turned off."
There is no phone listing for a Nicole Sission in Mesa County.
Sarah said she didn't know Nicole's husband's name, or even if he was really Nicole's legal husband.
"His first name was Jonathan, so that's where I got that name, but I didn't know his last name," Sarah said. "I just hope he's still alive."
Sarah said the husband was in Iraq and that Nicole had wondered if he was alive or dead. Sarah said Nicole thought her going public with the story would bring Nicole some sort of closure.
That's when Sarah, using the false name of "Amber", approached Phyllis Derby, Homefront Heroes president, with the story.
"Amber" was the "first name that came to mind," Sarah said.
Sarah told Derby it was her husband in Iraq that had died and wove an elaborate series of supporting material, such as family history and burial information that later proved to be untrue.
Greg Merschel, a former U.S. Marine who volunteers for military causes, said Sarah delivered a photo by hand to his office, telling him it was her husband, Jonathan Kenney.
Sarah said Tuesday she did not provide a photo to Merschel or Homefront Heroes and had "no idea" how the photo was supplied.
"I thought it was weird to see the photo in the newspaper," Sarah said. "I have no idea how it ended up there."
Michael Kenney said the picture in the newspaper, a cropped mug shot of "Jonathan," looked an "awful lot like a guy I was in training with."
Michael Kenney said he had served in the U.S. Army at Fort Hood, but that statement could not be confirmed by Army officials Tuesday.
The photograph, when shown in its entirety, revealed Michael Kenney sitting two seats down from the alleged "Jonathan" in military uniform.
When approached with that information about the photo Tuesday, Sarah said that photo of her husband's training class had disappeared from their home about five months ago, around the time she was friends with Nicole.
Michael Kenney said he didn't know the "truth" of the story until Monday night, when Sarah admitted she had lied to Homefront Heroes and the public.
Michael Kenney said that when he first heard about the dead soldier he thought it was his cousin, but had no confirmation until he learned the entire tale was concocted by his wife.
"I'm not mad at her, but it was something that hurt me," Michael Kenney said. "I'm thinking I should have done something to keep it from happening, her helping her friend like she did. That's what you get for sticking your neck out for a friend."
Sarah Kenney has long been unreliable, said her grandmother, Syb Hayden, but unlikely to come up alone with a story such as the one she told about her "husband" in Iraq.
"There is no way she could come up with this alone," Hayden said. "If Sarah can imagine and concoct a story like that, she needs to be at Random House. The two of them, though, could concoct anything you want to hear."
Sarah Kenney has long been manipulative and convinced a series of counselors, who were paid for by her great-grandparents, that they, not Sarah, were the problem, Hayden said.
Sarah Kenney said she only hoped her friend would find out if her husband was alive or dead from going public with the story.
She wasn't sure how telling the tale of her friend's predicament as her own would accomplish that fact, but hoped it would help.
Michael said he had never met Nicole, then later recalled that he had met her once when she visited him at his work.
When asked if she had received any monetary compensation from the story or had hoped to, Sarah Kenney said no.More details on the fictitious Jonathan and Amber Kenney from Denver TV:
"That's not at all what I was in it for," she said. "I wasn't going to have anything to do with the money that was raised. Let that money go back to the community or back to whoever donated it."
Sarah and Michael both work in the fast-food industry.
"We make a good living; why would we do that?" Michael said.
The Kenneys were said to have purchased a home near Grand Junction, after meeting at a church in Denver. It was reported that they would have celebrated their sixth wedding anniversary on Valentine's Day.GI's "shot in the heart" through armor and "honorable discharges" for a spouse issued in a matter of hours after an event like this are just two of the more obvious questions that should have been raised in the original story. But the number of even more easily verifiable claims (place of employment, names of individuals) that weren't verified is astounding. Given the extremely poor record for fact checking often displayed by the media these days it's surprising that even more people don't take similar advantage of reporters eager to "get a story".
He wandered into the laundry tent hopeful. Hopeful that the washer had run a full cycle and that a functioning dryer would be available to finish the task. Opening the washer it looked like his first wish had come true. Little victories - ya gotta love 'em. He walked to the other side of the tent where the dryers were, past the tables heaped with clothes that other patrons had dumped there when they got tired of waiting for the owners to come get their stuff out of the dryers. An amazing number of people just walked away from the dryers for hours. He couldn?t figure it out. But laundry etiquette was established; anything found dry in a stopped dryer was fair game for the next guy to toss on to the tables if need be. Sure enough, the first three dryers he tried were full of long-dried clothes; some were still putting off heat but others were as cold as desert night.
The third was empty though. Well, almost. He pulled an inch of lint from the trap, tossed it in the trash, moved his stuff to the dryer and turned it on. He checked his watch. Five PM, the timer was set for an hour. With any luck he'd come back then and his clothes would be dry. If not, he'd move them to another dryer and try again. That would not be good though; he needed to be at the passenger terminal by 7:30 with bags packed to try and catch the first of two planes out tonight. No sweat, plenty of time.
Better call though, he decided. Twice over the past few days he'd shown up a the terminal and had that rug yanked from under him. "Sorry - no seats" and "sorry - flight cancelled". Since he'd packed up everything but a two day supply of clothes he'd found himself doing laundry twice when he thought he'd already done his last. He looked at any trip to the laundry tent as a little defeat now - the last one was supposed to be the last. He headed for the rec tent and the nearest phone. As he left another guy entered and made a big show of being angry that someone had dumped his stuff on the table. He shut him up with a stare down, without saying a word.
"Why do you do that to them?" Asked the-voice-in-his-head-that-was-the-young-guy-he-used-to-be. "Shut up." He responded, but he walked away smiling. "I'm getting out of here tonight" the young voice thought. "Shut up" the older voice repeated, but the smile stayed.
First call: busy. He dialed right back, busy again. He waited a ten count and this time got through. "Hey, I'm checking on that C17 flight to Al Udeid, wanted to verify roll call time..."
"Roll call is eighteen hundred hours."
That was less then one hour out. "They moved it up?"
"I don't know. All I know is it's at eighteen hundred hours."
Crap. Clothes in the dryer, rest of the stuff packed at the tent, weapon locked up at work...
"What about the second one?"
"There is no second plane."
"Was it cancelled - no never mind. If I'm on the flight when's bag drag?"
"Right after roll call."
"All right, thanks."
Sheeeezzz... Okay, if he could get his weapon, then get a truck to take him to the sleep tent and get his bags, then get to the laundry to pull his stuff out of the dryer (maybe dry enough...) then race to the pax terminal, he could maybe get there in time for roll call, then if he got a seat he could wait and hope the plane landed okay and on time...
Or just say screw it and wait til whenever. No, gotta move, gotta say bye bye Baghdad...
Besides, he was halfway to work already.
He walked in. Heads turned. "You still here?" The question was a joke, of course, he'd been awaiting space available travel out for so long they had a routine. "No." was his part, and he delivered the line deadpan. He turned to the guy that was his replacement. "Spare a half hour? I need a driver."
"No problem." he said. "Pax terminal again?"
"Yup." By this point he'd unlocked the gun cabinet and pulled his cased weapon. "Withdrawing my weapon" he announced to the armorer. "Maybe for good. But don't take it off the inventory yet - you'll jinx me."
"I took it off last time."
"See what I mean?" He pulled vehicle keys. "I'm taking the truck."
He tossed the keys to his driver. "We've got a little over half an hour but first I've got to get my gear at the tent and some stuff out of the dryer. In other words - it's 106 miles to Chicago, we've got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark and we're wearing sunglasses."
"Never mind. Let's just hit it." Damn replacements didn't know squat.
He made it on time. He had a bag half full of damp clothes, but he made it with a few minutes to spare. Now, of course, it was time to find out the flight was cancelled, or there was no room....
"You're on" said the young Air Force troop at the counter.
"You mean I'm booked? I'm getting on that plane?"
"Cool. Where do you want my bags?"
"Oh. Hold on to that, we need to get a forklift over here. We loaned ours out and it's not back yet..."
"Half hour maybe?"
"Oh, no. Less than that sir. Maybe five or ten minutes."
He nodded, but bet himself it would be over an hour before they were ready for bag drag. "I'll be outside."
He wandered out of the "terminal" - a ramshackle structure little more than a tent. Out on the ramp the C-130s screamed and helos came and went with staccato roars. Baghdad International Airport, the sun had just gone down, and hopefully he wouldn't see it rise in Iraq again. A few yards away stood a Subway Sandwich shop. The smell of baking bread was drifting over, and he was going to get some. The line was 30 deep, but he had time.
More to Come...
Bill Faith, with news of progress:
Iraqi security forces foiled a trap set for a local security patrol by 40 terrorist in the village of Abu Mustafa south of Baghdad. After a confrontation between the two sides, the terrorists fled to a near by school. The Iraqi security forces among other forces pursued the terrorists and surrounded the school.
Read the rest here.
(Referenced section begins approx 33:45 point in video.)
Left in comments of this post:
Unfortunately, Ms. Swiney did not write about the things you are mentioning. She wrote the commissary story only. When you read "Over the years I've talked a lot about military spouses..." and the rest is a verbatim copy of my article "The Difference" which has appeared in many papers and two book collections. In April, it will be published in "Chicken Soup for the Military Wife's Soul." Paige's story is good. I don't know why she felt she needed to copy mine. In any case, it is a hearfelt tribute to not just my spouse but to all military spouses. I did want you to know who really wrote it though...
Steven A. Arrington, Colonel, USAF (ret)
Thank you sir! We'll always offer credit where due, and obviously you deserve much. When I first read the piece I thought it sounded like a compilation of several different sources, and as the commenter immediately after you noted that's exactly the case.
Col. Arrington, I believe that you have been more a victim of internet mutation than malicious intent (both pieces well written, and true):
Posted by Max Bremer at February 9, 2005 02:44 PM
The link provided by Mr Bremer reveals the original piece by Ms. Swiney, which credits you for your work.
What I find interesting is not only did the blogosphere's "self-correcting feature" work swiftly in this instance, I also learned of an awesome military spouse website I was previously unaware of and a great looking book coming soon.
Thanks to the awesome readers of the Mudville Gazette for making sure the truth is told!
More voices like this one need to be raised.
When Condoleezza Rice's confirmation as secretary of state was opposed by 13 Democratic Senators, it did not imply that she was singularly unsuited to serve in the President's cabinet.
It meant that the Democrats in Congress were determined to be brutally partisan ... at a time when our country is at war, and we need to show our enemies a unified and relentless determination to defeat them.
Instead, those thirteen votes had no effect except to encourage our enemies that if they just go on killing Americans long enough, there's a party in America that will vote against continuing the war.
The message is clear: The Democratic Party puts politics ahead of unity, victory, and the safety of our troops. And that makes a Democrat like me furious with my own party's childish, selfish, dangerous behavior. It's time for Democrats who are sick of such shenanigans to speak up and repudiate these clowns.
The Democratic Party isn't the private property of the lunatic Left.
It's time for us moderate Democrats to take the party back.
A few short years ago discussions of "ethics" in journalism seemed to center around some form of the question "Do journalists have a responsibility to report unbiased truth even if the impact of such reporting is negative/harmful?" The more cynical modern version might be "Do journalists have any obligation to tell the truth if it doesn't fit their personal/corporate agenda?" Or perhaps the more existential query "Is anything really true?" is more to point. Regardless of how the question is asked, most Americans perceive a problem with journalistic ethics today, part of which is traceable to a failure on the part of journalists as a profession to adequately define their answers to the older questions, to develop a real and tangible set of professional ethics.
This post will examine that hypothetical downward slide in journalistic ethics, but first, a bit of an illustration of how the blogosphere "works" is in order. (It satisfies the ethical requirement to reveal my sources, you see.) While visiting the Easongate blog today I learned that NZ Bear has a page devoted to tracking blogs covering the Eason Jordan. His page lists blogs that have reported on the story from largest to smaller. I bet myself a nickel I'd find something interesting at a site on the bottom of that list, and won that bet when I visited Values Voter and found a transcript of a panel discussion from a Columbia University-hosted symposium on Ethics in America.
The format is a moderated discussion of hypothetical situations. In this case from October 1987 the moderator presented a question to Peter Jennings of ABC and Mike Wallace from CBS. (Update: video here. Referenced section begins approx 33:45 point in video.)
Moderator: You are safely traveling with an enemy unit as a foreign war correspondent. As fate would have it the enemy unit you are traveling with is about to ambush an American unit.
Jennings: As a reporter you have to make the decision going in that there is a possibility that you may come upon an American unit. My feeling is that, as a reporter, you have to make that decision before you went. And that if you are in, you are in. I would live in fear of coming across an American unit.
Moderator: So if you made that decision you would then film the enemy unit shooting the American unit?
Jennings: (Long pause - thinking) No - I guess I wouldn't. I'll tell you now what I'm feeling rather than the hypothesis I drew for myself. If I were with the enemy I would do what I could to warn the Americans.
Moderator: Even if it means not getting the live coverage?
Jennings: I don't have much doubt it would mean my life. I'm glad this is hypothetical. I don't think I could bring myself to participate in that fashion, by not warning the Americans. Some other reporters may feel otherwise.
Wallace: Some other reporters would feel otherwise. I would regard it simply as another story I was there to tell.
Moderator: Enemy soldiers shooting and killing American soldiers? Could you imagine how you would report that to the American people?
Wallace: Yes, I can. (Talking down to Jennings) Frankly, I'm astonished to hear Peter say that. You are a reporter. Granted you are an American. But you are a reporter covering combat. And I'm at a loss to understand why, because you are an American; you would not cover that story.
Moderator: Don't you have a higher duty as an American citizen to do all you can to save the lives of American soldiers rather than this journalistic ethic of reporting the fact?
Wallace: No. You don't have the higher duty. You are a reporter. Your job is to cover what is going on in that war. I would be calling Peter to say, "What do you mean you're not going to cover the story."
Jennings: I think he's right. I chickened out. I agree with Mike intellectually. I really do. And I wish at the time, I'd made another decision. I would like to have made his decision.
During the next few minutes of discussion Wallace attempts to strengthen his position by likening the battlefield situation to that of a murder in a major city. Through ethical analysis he concludes that if he had prior knowledge a murder was about to occur he would report it to the authorities to prevent the action. He then tries to transfer this analysis to the ambush situation on the battlefield and further confuses himself in terms of his initial response.Googling for the full text of the event I was unable to find the original post on topic, but did discover the Google cache. Turns out the transcript above was actually included in a paper presented at The Joint Services Conference on Professional Ethics (JSCOPE) - "an organization of military professionals, academics and others formed to discuss ethical issues relevant to the military. The Conference meets each year in late January in Washington, D.C., to present and discuss academic papers."
Wallace: Now I'm going back and forth as I sit here. It's a hell of a dilemma to be in. Now I don't know what I think.
The linked paper is titled "Understanding Our Odd Bedfellow: The Trouble with Professional News Media Ethics - A Military Perspective", by Maj Kent Cassella, U.S. Army, and is of obvious applicability to our discussion of the current state of affairs regarding media coverage of the military. The entire document is well worth a read, but I'll highlight this passage:
Most professional journalists and those that study the journalism profession agree that journalists must be concerned about the elusive concept of truth. But most are also quick to suggest that there are different ways of defining and operationalizing that term, and whether other ethical concepts may be equally or more important. This results in the profession being divided between two general schools of thought. The first school focuses entirely on truth as both a necessary and sufficient condition for ethical performance in the media. The other suggests there are additional elements that must be considered, specifically, the concepts of accuracy and fairness (Gordon, 1996: p. 81).(On a side note: one can see a degenerative twist to the "accuracy and fairness distinct from truth and objectivity" school of thought in an early CBS response to the "Rathergate" forged Guard documents: "Fake, but accurate.")
The First School. Many hard-nosed reporters, in both print and electronic media, come at ethics from a mainly deontological or principle-bound perspective. A dominant principle for them is the presentation of a truthful, unbiased, and thorough account of an event. They believe that it is not only their professional duty to do this, but also their ethical duty (Gordon, 1996: p. 99).
The first school of thought believes that truth precludes any need for further ethical concerns in journalism. The key thought in this argument is that "truth telling is a first principle, to the point where if choices must be made, truth must be given primacy over any other ethical concerns." (Gordon, 1996: p.82). Following this key thought of truth as a "first principle" as fully as possible, journalists follow the spirit of Kant's categorical imperative. Ultimately, this argument concludes that everything starts with an emphasis on truth - which certainly should include some context as well as "unelaborated fact." If proper attention is paid to truth telling as a key ethical principle, the other ethical concerns will resolve themselves (Gordon, 1996: p. 83).
The Other School. The second news media school of thought revolves around the central idea that the social value of journalism requires high-quality practices reflecting ethical considerations that go beyond truth and objectivity and more toward accuracy and fairness. It argues that many journalists are wrong having accepted the concept of truth as a compulsory deontological standard and not as a consequentialist standard. The key thought is that if the media are, as is traditionally held, surrogates for the citizens in a democracy, providing information that is necessary in order for the citizenry to make valid and reliable decisions, then even standards of truth higher than those of the courtroom may be inadequate. Hence, the truth alone is not sufficient for the journalist to claim to be acting ethically (Gordon, 1996: p. 91).
Instead of relying solely on the concept of truth this school of thought suggest that journalists must meet two other aforementioned standards or factors, interwoven with but distinct from truth and objectivity - accuracy and fairness (Gordon, 1996: p. 95). They define fairness as the act of keeping an open mind, of the reporter or editor suspending individual judgement until enough information is available so that judgments or decisions validly can be made. It is impartiality, but not ignorance. The media are not merely a conduit, and have the responsibility to assess the validity or truth of the information they disseminate (Gordon, 1996: p. 96).
Major Cassella's paper is from August 2001; an academic discussion of journalistic ethics from pre-9/11. This is what makes it all the more jarring in a post-9/11 world - not four years later we are seeing evidence of a "third school" from an established media source - if not an outright abrogation of any established concept of journalistic "ethics". I'm referencing Eason Jordan's casual remark regarding US military members "targeting" journalists, of course, but such behavior on the part of an individual doesn't define the failure of a profession.
However, the response of CNN to the event does.
In a few short years we've gone from reporters discussing their individual responses to hypothetical situations where they admit to a willingness to forfeit American soldiers' lives for a "true" story, to a real situation wherein an executive for an American-based international news organization is alleged to have accused soldiers of intentionally killing journalists.
One might argue that the earlier behavior of journalists in expressing their willingness to let Americans die could conceivably lead to an event where a soldier would kill a journalist intentionally (or at least be more inclined to shoot first and ask questions later) but in fact, that's not the case.
Returning to the dialog from the ethics panel discussion at the opening of this paper - following the exchange between Peter Jennings and Mike Wallace the moderator turns to Colonel George M. Connell, United States Marine Corps, and asks his response to the dialog he had just heard.Yet another reason why military members invariably score much higher than journalists in opinion polls of perceived "trust". In fact, the example of Eason Jordan claiming "targeted journalists" may actually be projecting his own mode of thinking on a sort of person for whom such thought is not only contemptible but antithetical to everything they believe in.
Moderator: Colonel Connell, I can see the venomous reaction you are having in hearing all this.
Colonel Connell: (Angrily) I feel utter contempt. Two days later they (the reporters - Jennings and Wallace) are both walking off my hilltop and they get ambushed and they're lying there wounded. And they're going to expect I'm going to send Marines up there to get them. They're just journalists. They're not Americans. Is that a fair reaction? You can't have it both ways. But I'll do it. And that's what makes me so contemptuous of them. Marines will die going to get (grippingly) a couple of journalists.
What would happen if Eason Jordan were to provide the names and what circumstances he could surrounding the 12 journalists he's alleged to have claimed were murdered by American soldiers? That we can answer, without resorting to hypotheticals. Exhaustive investigations would follow. Military members aren't without sin, after all. To claim otherwise would be foolish. Here, some very real examples from last month:
Army Spec. Charles A. Graner Jr. was convicted Friday of abusing Iraqi detainees at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison in the fall of 2003. He was the first soldier to be tried on charges arising from the scandal, in which naked detainees were photographed in sexually humiliating positions alongside grinning soldiers. Seven other soldiers were charged in the scandal: Four have pleaded guilty, and three are awaiting trial.The US military doesn't tolerate the behavior Eason Jordan described at Davos. In fact, careers have ended for transgressions significantly less grave. Lying, for instance, is an offense that will get you kicked out of a Service Academy before your career even really begins.
Army 1st Lt. Jack Saville is awaiting a March trial on charges of involuntary manslaughter and aggravated assault in the death of an Iraqi who is alleged to have drowned after soldiers forced him into the Tigris River. Co-defendant Sgt. 1st Class Tracy Perkins was convicted on Jan. 7 of two counts of aggravated assault, obstruction of justice and assault consummated by battery in the same incident, which took place in January 2004.
Army Staff Sgt. Cardenas J. Alban was convicted Friday of murder and sentenced to a year of confinement for the alleged mercy killing of a severely injured Iraqi teenager. Alban is the second soldier convicted of shooting the wounded 16-year-old as U.S. forces battled an uprising in Sadr City in August. Staff Sgt. Johnny M. Horne Jr. pleaded guilty and was sentenced to three years in prison.
The Navy's top SEAL is deciding whether a SEAL lieutenant should face court-martial for assault, maltreatment and conduct unbecoming an officer for his handling of detainees at a U.S. military base in Iraq in 2003. Prosecutors said the lieutenant, who has not been identified, posed in degrading photos with a handcuffed and hooded prisoner who died a short time later. In all, nine SEALs and one sailor who served with them were implicated. Two received Article 32 hearings, one is awaiting court-martial and the rest received nonjudicial proceedings known as captain's masts.
Marine Maj. Clarke Paulus was convicted in November of dereliction of duty and maltreatment in a case stemming from the death of an Iraqi prisoner who was dragged out of his holding cell by the neck, stripped naked and left outside for seven hours in June 2003. Paulus, who commanded the Marine detention facility Camp Whitehorse in southern Iraq, was dismissed from the service.
Marine Sgt. Gary Pittman was sentenced to 60 days of hard labor and demoted to private after being convicted in September of abusing inmates at Camp Whitehorse. He was cleared of two other charges, including abusing a 52-year-old Iraqi man who died in custody.
Army Capt. Rogelio Maynulet faces court-martial in Germany for allegedly shooting and killing a man who was gravely wounded when U.S. fighters opened fire on his vehicle south of Baghdad. A fellow officer told a preliminary military hearing that dispatching the wounded man was "the compassionate response" on Maynulet's part.
Earlier in the linked paper, a discussion of the panel discussion:
This brief exchange highlights a recurring problem the news media profession has in dealing with complex ethical situations. When a case such as this is presented to a media ethics seminar for discussion, the students usually argue passionately without making much headway. Analysis degenerates into inchoate pleas that the (victims) deserve mercy or into grandiose appeals to the privilege of the press. Judgments are made on the evocative, expressive level - that is, with no justifying reasons. There seems to be no agreed upon ethical framework for the practicing journalist or editor to use in such instances. As a result, too often communication ethics follows such a pattern, retreating finally to the law as the only reliable guide (Christians, 1995: p.2).The media now faces an ethical crisis - one they must address if they wish to remain viable. For something else has changed since 2001 - an alternative has risen. And the rise of the blogosphere is nothing if not further evidence of the existence of this crisis in media ethics. For the record - I think blogs and traditional media can coexist. But as I've demonstrated repeatedly here, milbloggers and Iraqi bloggers have done a far better job of reporting ground truth from Iraq, and such superiority is possible elsewhere too. The bottom line is that blogs are here to stay - the survivability of the mainstream media is still debatable, at least for now.
The lack of a prescribed framework poses a significant problem for the media professional attempting to deal with tough ethical issues. More importantly, the lack of prior preparation, in terms of considering possible complex ethical issues and painstakingly thinking through them prior to being confronted by them, leaves the journalist in a dangerously vulnerable position of unpreparedness (2).
Upon closer review of the virtues to which media professionals profess one can conclude that this lack of preparedness results from the very ideals upon which the foundation of the profession is built. Although the belief in a free press is sincere and of critical importance to a democratic system, it often plays tricks on the media's thinking about ethics. Ethical principles concerning obligation and reckoning do not find a natural home within a journalism hewn from the rock of negative freedom (Christians, 1995: p.28).
Update: Sarah at Trying to Grok writes "Hawk, I have written about this PBS series numerous times, called "Ethics in America: Under Orders, Under Fire". I would highly recommend that you watch it when you return from Iraq. The full series can be found here.
(The episode referenced above can be found here.)
Yup - today is yet another anniversary of Mrs G's 29th birthday. No matter how many such anniversaries pass I'll always treasure them. I mean her. I'll always treasure her. Everything about her including her birthdays even if she doesn't officially have them any more.
I can imagine her now getting slowly up out of her chair and limping slowly over to the computer. That's what she does this time everyday before her nap time. So hurry, you've only got about an hour or so before she gets there and remembers how to log on and stumbles onto this website and sees this post! Add your condolences to the comments below - tell her how sad it is to be separated from a hubby who obviously loves her, blah blah blah etc.
Also if anyone has ideas for a present or a card or something I could get her just let me know.
Happy Birthday Mrs G, I love you thiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiis much.
Update: Oh yeah! Flowers! Chicks dig flowers!
John Lucas of Knoxville Tn., emails to clarify events surrounding the resue of Egyptian hostages by US soldiers. I've added links to the text below, otherwise, since Mr Lucas' son was one of those soldiers involved in the rescue, we'll let him take it from here:
The Reuters report that you posted on the kidnapped Egyptians who supposedly escaped on their own from the trunk of a car is not accurate. I know, because my son and his platoon freed them and captured two (not one per the Reuthers report) of their kidnappers. The Egyptians may be slow to give credit to the U. S. Military for rescuing its citizens. The truth is that a hostage was not freed by the kidnappers. An article describing it appears in today's Knoxville News Sentinel.
It began when my son, leading a patrol, saw a suspicious car. They pulled it over, captured two of the three kidnappers and found two Egyptians bound and gagged in the trunk. Interrogation of the two prisoners let to intel re the location of the other two hostages and another US unit raided that location and freed them.
There is much more to this story, but I wanted you to know that they were not "released" but were rescued as a result of a heads-up effort by U.S. soldiers.
Here is what went unreported. I asked my son why they had not just shot the two who ran away (one of whom was chased down and captured). I thought that perhaps the Rules of Engagement prevented them from shooting them, since they had not been shot at first. He told me, however, that the ROE did permit them to shoot, but he never gave them a "fire" command because the street was too crowded and he was worried that they might hit civilians. So, instead, they chased them down. As a result of that decision, civilian lives were spared and all 4 hostages were rescued. It's a great example of good decision-making, good fire discipline, and concern for the people. But, not the sort of thing the media seems to want to report.
Thanks for the heads-up sir! I always appreciate it when those with close knowledge of events contribute to the discussion. I really can't guess whether Reuters is guilty of slanted reporting or sloppy reporting, either way it says a lot for their credibility. Likewise since the story appeared in the LA Times I can't tell whether their editors gave it a "once over" prior to publishing. Your son's story is a great one - time was when competing newspapers would be falling over one another trying to get the "exclusive". Now a few sloppy paragraphs poorly fact-checked seem to be the best we can get from the "pros".
For those who missed it, here's how Reuters reported the story in the LA Times as Mr Lucas referenced above:
U.S. forces in Iraq stormed a house in Baghdad on Monday and freed two of the four Egyptian telecommunications engineers who were kidnapped Sunday, the head of their Egyptian parent company said.
Naguib Sawiris, chairman of Egypt's Orascom Telecom, said U.S. troops raided a villa, possibly in the mainly Sunni Muslim district of Adhamiya, and freed the two. The other two managed to escape on their own from a car they had been locked in, he added.
Not even close.
Kudos to you and your family, Mr Lucas. Enjoy that upcoming R & R, I hope your son returns soon, safe, and proud.
Update: For balance, this email from reporter Jules Crittenden (who did his own time as an embed in the invasion of Iraq). He makes points with which I sympathize:
Greyhawk, I hate to be in a position of defending anyone in this crappy, thankless profession of mine, but all of us are only as good as the available information. Regarding the Reuters report, it looks like they were given bad information from someone they could reasonablly expect to be an informed source...the Egyptian media company exec. We don't know whether they tried or were able to confirm anything with the military. Trying to nail down fast breaking news and crosscheck from a variety of sources on deadline can be difficult and problematic, and conditions are not always ideal. Theoretically, that's why newspapers come out daily, so what was missed or messed up the day before can be fixed today. It would be nice if we could sit on everything and do exhaustive reports every time, but then it wouldn't be news any more. Regarding editors in LA, it's not clear whether they had a reasonable opportunity to know there was a problem with the wire copy.
Absent evidence of purposeful manipulation, we have to give Reuters the benefit of a doubt. If I've missed that evidence somewhere in the postings on this, then disregard the above.
Thanks again for a great site.
(Note: in an earlier version of this post I refered to Jules as a Marine vet - that was my mistake, he's never claimed any veteran status and was quick to contact me and point this out. Sorry Jules!)
U.S. forces in Iraq stormed a house in Baghdad on Monday and freed two of the four Egyptian telecommunications engineers who were kidnapped Sunday, the head of their Egyptian parent company said.
Naguib Sawiris, chairman of Egypt's Orascom Telecom, said U.S. troops raided a villa, possibly in the mainly Sunni Muslim district of Adhamiya, and freed the two. The other two managed to escape on their own from a car they had been locked in, he added.
"All four are free," Sawiris said by telephone from Algeria. "The Americans caught one of the kidnappers."
No word on how many reporters may have been targeted and killed during the raid by young soldiers who were poorly disciplined.
Meanwhile, looks like the Association of Muslim Scholars may have succeeded in getting a hostage released too:
Giuliana Sgrena, a 56-year-old reporter for the Communist daily Il Manifesto, was kidnapped near Baghdad University.
A group calling itself the Islamic Jihad Organization claimed to have kidnapped the woman and gave Italy 72 hours to withdraw its troops from Iraq. But it made no threats to kill her nor said what would happen if its demands were not met.
"After the judicial committee of the Jihad Organization interrogated the Italian captive Giuliana Sgrena, it has been found that the Italian captive is not involved in spying for the infidels in Iraq," the group said in a statement posted on a website that frequently carries messages from Islamic militants.
"In response to the appeal made by the Muslim Scholars' Assn., we, in the Jihad Organization, will free the Italian captive in the next few days," the statement added.
More on that group (the Association of Muslim Scholars - not the terrorists or communists) here.
The Pentagon has responded to Eason Jordan, issuing strict guidance to reduce targeting of journalists by troops:
Under the new guidelines, U.S. troops will first offer journalists an opportunity to throw down their cameras and notebooks and approach with hands raised.
Michael Totten relates a conversation with Ahman Al Rikaby, former Director of Radio Free Iraq and current Director of Iraq's Radio Dijla:
At one point, apropos of something I can't remember, Ahman said to me: "I can tell you in one sentence how my country feels about your country."
"Really?" I said. "Can you really boil it down to one sentence?"
"Yes," he said. "And it is this: Thank you for coming, now please leave and take us with you."
I laughed because it seemed totally contradictory and totally right.
It does indeed. Read it all.
These guys aren't military, but some used to be, and they're certainly targeting Eason Jordan. Lots of links to be found there. Enough to bring forth the truth? Time will tell.
Sweet! The Chicago Tribune reports the sort of story that should be more common:
Fifty Marines got a special thank you for their service from the NFL's Cleveland Browns--a free trip to Sunday's Super Bowl.
The Browns donated 50 tickets along the 50-yard line to the football championship between the Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots for Marines who have served or will serve in Iraq or Afghanistan.
Some of the tickets, which cost $500 and $600 each, were passed out to stunned Marines on Friday at Camp Lejeune. Tickets also were given out at Parris Island training base in South Carolina, Reserve Command in New Orleans and Central Command in Tampa.
"I've been pinching myself all day," said Lance Cpl. Tony Agosto, 22, a heavy-equipment mechanic from New York. "I feel like a kid on Christmas Day."
Some folks might be concerned about exposing Marines to violence, but I say it's fun to watch football! Three cheers for the Browns!
What's wrong with this paragraph from a Miami Herald Editorial (I'll make some parts bold, italicized, and underlined as a subtle hint):
Lt. Gen. James Mattis should have gotten more than a slap on the wrist for bragging about how much fun it was to shoot enemies in Iraq. ''Actually, it's a lot of fun to fight. . . . It's fun to shoot some people,'' the three-star general said at a San Diego conference. ''You go into Afghanistan, you got guys who slap women around for five years because they didn't wear a veil,'' Gen. Mattis added. ``So it's a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them.''
Iraq, Afghanistan... whatever! Guess those "raghead countries" are all the same to editorial writers in Miami. The writer goes on to point out that the military already has enough of an image problem due to high rates of domestic violence among troops, thus has no business insulting the Taliban for slapping women around.
It's time for another Mudville mini quiz on current events. (See our previous here.) Don't worry - it's easy. Most blog readers will do well on this test, I'm sure. But then, get a non-blog reading friend to take it too. Compare your results, and if they do poorly, ask them if they think it matters. Or at least, matters more than the upcoming trial of Michael Jackson. If nothing else, you might get an interesting water cooler or email discussion going.
Here are the questions. In each instance, simply provide the source of the quote. Answers will be found below, with links to full details:
1. Iraqis were forced to vote or else their food rations would be withheld!
"'Two of the food dealers I know told me personally that our food rations would be withheld if we did not vote,' said Saeed Jodhet, a 21-year-old Iraqi student who voted in the Hay al-Jihad district.
Several Iraqis said before the election day that they were afraid they could be denied their monthly food rations if they did not vote. Thus they decided to sign voter registration forms to be able to get their food supplies.
According to analysts, this raises concerns about tactics used by the U.S.-backed Iraqi interim government in an attempt to increase voter turnout."
2. Donald Rumsfeld: The mastermind behind 'terrorist attacks'
"The Bush administration has consistently stated that the United States of America is under a threat of attacks from "terrorists".
Washington could very well be right...But from who precisely?
If and when attacks that target the U.S. occur, they will be instigated under the orders of Donald H. Rumsfeld, the American Secretary of Defense."
3. US troops are targeting and killing journalists in Iraq
"Twelve journalists who had not only been killed by US troops in Iraq, but they had in fact been targeted. He repeated the assertion a few times, which seemed to win favor in parts of the audience (the anti-US crowd) and cause great strain on others. "
4. 9/11 Victims were "little Eichmanns" who deserved what they got:
"The [Pentagon] and those inside comprised military targets, pure and simple. As to those in the World Trade Center: Well, really. Let's get a grip here, shall we? True enough, they were civilians of a sort. But innocent? Gimme a break. They formed a technocratic corps at the very heart of America's global financial empire--the 'mighty engine of profit' to which the military dimension of U.S. policy has always been enslaved--and they did so both willingly and knowingly. If there was a better, more effective, or in fact any other way of visiting some penalty befitting their participation upon the little Eichmanns inhabiting the sterile sanctuary of the twin towers, I'd really be interested in hearing about it.""
5. Christians control congress and want to destroy the environment to hasten Christ's return:
"Remember James Watt, President Ronald Reagan's first secretary of the interior? My favorite online environmental journal, the ever-engaging Grist, reminded us recently of how James Watt told the U.S. Congress that protecting natural resources was unimportant in light of the imminent return of Jesus Christ. In public testimony he said, "after the last tree is felled, Christ will come back."
"...millions of Christian fundamentalists may believe that environmental destruction is not only to be disregarded but actually welcomed - even hastened - as a sign of the coming apocalypse.
"...we're not talking about a handful of fringe lawmakers who hold or are beholden to these beliefs. Nearly half the U.S. Congress before the recent election - 231 legislators in total and more since the election - are backed by the religious right."
1. Iraqis were forced to vote or else their food rations would be withheld! - al Jazeera
2. Donald Rumsfeld is the mastermind behind 'terrorist attacks' - al Jazeera again!
3. US troops are targeting and killing journalists in Iraq - Eason Jordan, Chief News Executive of CNN.
5. Christians control congress and want to destroy the environment to hasten Christ's return: Former PBS "news" man Bill Moyers in his newspaper column.
How did you do? How did your non-blog reading friends do?
How do you think citizens of other countries would score?
These sorts of comments play well to an international audience - bear in mind that Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 was enormously popular overseas. In fact, some of these quotes were specifically "targeting" an "international" audience; in the pre-internet, pre-blog days they would have received very little stateside attention outside of a few select venues.
Recall the day immediately after 9/11, when many raised the loaded question of "why do they hate us?" The answer seems clearer with each passing day.
Had a request for a look at the various site logos used here. Here they are...
This was in my email from a man who was a "former Navy pilot who spent the better part of 1967 and 68 on Yankee Station off VietNam (three month turn around between deployments)" I want to thank him for sharing this tribute but I want to thank him mostly for his time in service.
*By Paige Swiney
It was just another harried Wednesday afternoon trip to the commissary. My husband was off teaching young men to fly. My daughters were going about their daily activities knowing I would return to them at the appointed time, bearing, among other things, their favorite fruit snacks frozen pizza and all the little extras that never had to be written down on a grocery list.
My grocery list, by the way, was in my 16-month-old daughter's mouth, and I
was lamenting the fact that the next four aisles of needed items would pass by while extracting the last of my list from my daughters mouth, when I nearly ran over an old man. This man clearly had no appreciation for the fact that I had 45 minutes left to finish the grocery shopping, pick up my 4-year old from tumbling class and get to school, where my 12-year-old and her car pool mates would be waiting.
I knew men didn't belong in a commissary, and this old guy was no exception. He stood in front of the soap selection staring blankly, as if he'd never had to choose a bar of soap in his life. I was ready to bark an order at him when I
realized there was a tear on his face. Instantly, this grocery isle roadblock transformed into a human.... "Can I help you find something?" I asked.
He hesitated, and then told me he was looking for soap.
"Any one in particular?" I continued.
"Well, I'm trying to find my wife's brand of soap."
I started to loan him my cell phone to call her when he said, "She died a year ago, and I just want to smell her again."
Chills ran down my spine. I don't think the 22,000-pound Mother of all Bombs could have had the same impact. As tears welled up in my eyes, my half-eaten grocery list didn't seem so important. Neither did fruit snacks or frozen pizza. I spent the remainder of my time in the commissary that day listening to a man tell the story of how Important his wife was to him -- how she took care of their children while he served our country. A retired, decorated World War II pilot who flew over 50 missions to protect Americans still needed the protection of a woman who served him at home.
My life was forever changed that day. Every time my husband works too late or leaves before the crack of dawn, l try to remember the sense of importance I felt that day in the commissary. Some times the monotony of laundry, housecleaning, grocery shopping and taxi driving leaves military wives feeling empty -- the kind of emptiness that is rarely fulfilled when our husbands come home and don't want to or can't talk about work. We need to be reminded, at times; of the important role we fill for our family and for our country.
Over the years, I've talked a lot about military spouses..how special they are and the price they pay for freedom too. The funny thing is; most military spouses don't consider themselves different from other spouses. They do what they have to do, bound together not by blood or merely friendship, but with a shared spirit whose origin is in the very essence of what love truly is.
Is there truly a difference? I think there is. You have to decide for yourself. Other spouses get married and look forward to building equity in a home and putting down family roots. Military spouses get married and know they'll live in base housing or rent, and their roots must be short so they can be transplanted frequently. Other spouses decorate a home with flair and personality that will last a lifetime. Military spouses decorate a home with flare tempered with the knowledge that no two base houses have the same size windows or same size rooms. Curtains have to be flexible and multiple sets are a plus. Furniture must fit like puzzle pieces.
Other spouses have living rooms that are immaculate and seldom used. Military spouses have immaculate living room/dining room combos. The coffee table got a scratch or two moving from Germany, but it still looks pretty good. Other spouses say good-bye to their spouse for a business trip and know they won't see them for a week. They are lonely, but can survive. Military spouses say good-bye to their deploying spouse and know they won't see them for months, or for a remote, a year. They are lonely, but will survive.
Other spouses, when a washer hose blows off, call Maytag and then write a check out for having the hose reconnected. Military spouses will cut the water off and fix it themselves. Other spouses get used to saying "hello" to friends they see all the time. Military spouses get used to saying "good-bye" to friends made the last two years. Other spouses worry about whether their child will be class president next year. Military spouses worry about whether their child will be accepted in yet another school next year and whether that school will be the worst in the city...again.
Other spouses can count on spouse participation in special events...birthdays, anniversaries, concerts, football games, graduation, and even the birth of a child. Military spouses only count on each other; because they realize that the flag has to come first if freedom is to survive. It has to be that way. Other spouses put up yellow ribbons when the troops are imperiled across the globe and take them down when the troops come home. Military spouses wear yellow ribbons around their hearts and they never go away. Other spouses worry about being late for mom's Thanksgiving dinner. Military spouses worry about getting back from Japan in time for dad's funeral.
The television program showing an elderly lady putting a card down in front of a long, black wall that has names on it touches other spouses. The card simply says, "Happy Birthday, Sweetheart. You would have been sixty today." A military spouse is the lady with the card, and the wall is the Vietnam Memorial. I would never say military spouses are better than other spouses are. But I will say there is a difference. I will say, without hesitation, that military spouses pay just as high a price for freedom as do their duty husbands and wives. Perhaps the price they pay is even higher. Dying in service to our country isn't near as hard as loving someone who has died in service to our country, and having to live without them.
God bless our military spouses for all they freely give.
God bless America
Ms Swiney has brought some things to light I never thought of before but are so true. I have bought curtains in large sizes and for many windows, just in case. I carry the tool belt and handle the finances in the household. I've said goodbye to many friends and tend to not get as close as I did on our first tour. My kids have been thru many schools and have mastered saying goodbye, although they've found that they're not losing friends but adding new ones. And yes many birthdays and holidays have been celebrated separated from my husband and our extended family. But there is a plus side, military families travel the world and get to experience things that most Americans will never experience and in doing so, have learned not to take little things like freedom for granted.
I never felt different than other spouse but do find myself doing things differently or explaining to non military friends the where's and whys. But I must add that after 911 I have a new found respect for the spouses and family members of the police department and fire department. We may be separated occasionally from our spouses and aside from war time do not face fear, but the spouses of our fine police and fire department face fear day in and day out, in and out of war. So I'm humbled by them.
Update: (From comments)
Unfortunately, Ms. Swiney did not write about the things you are mentioning. She wrote the commissary story only. When you read "Over the years I've talked a lot about military spouses..." and the rest is a verbatim copy of my article "The Difference" which has appeared in many papers and two book collections. In April, it will be published in "Chicken Soup for the Military Wife's Soul." Paige's story is good. I don't know why she felt she needed to copy mine. In any case, it is a hearfelt tribute to not just my spouse but to all military spouses. I did want you to know who really wrote it though...
Steven A. Arrington, Colonel, USAF (ret)
Thank you sir! We'll always offer credit where due, and obviously you deserve much. When I first read the piece I thought it sounded like a compilation of several different sources, and as the commenter immediately after you noted that's exactly the case.
Col. Arrington, I believe that you have been more a victim of internet mutation than malicious intent (both pieces well written, and true):
Posted by Max Bremer at February 9, 2005 02:44 PM
The link provided by Mr Bremer reveals the original piece by Ms. Swiney, which credits you for your work.
What I find interesting is not only did the blogosphere's "self-correcting feature" work swiftly in this instance, I also learned of an awesome military spouse website I was previously unaware of and a great looking book coming soon.
Thanks to the awesome readers of the Mudville Gazette for making sure the truth is told!
Dear Mr & Mrs Greyhawk
Not many people do. As Kim Hart of the "American Journalism Review" reports, there are hardly any Western journalists left in the country.
As the old riddle goes, if a tree falls in the forest and no one's there to hear it, does it make a sound? Or more importantly, if a country like Afghanistan is getting back on its feet and there's no one to report it, does it actually happen? As far as the people of Afghanistan are concerned, thankfully yes; as far as the rest of the world, all too often the answer is no. That's why it's so important that the stories of Afghans - and those who are helping them - be told.
Thanks for helping spread the good news and keep the balance.
Kudos once again to Mrs G for outstanding work on what's sure to be a one-day only logo. Awesome.
J. K. Rowling to US Army: "I'll get you my pretty, and your little dog too!"
Lawyers acting for J K Rowling are heading for a legal battle with the US army over a training manual that features characters similar to those in the Harry Potter books and films.
They are examining whether the publication, which has been distributed to soldiers at US army bases around the world, breaches copyright rules. Harry Potter?s intellectual property is owned by the author and the images are owned by the film company Warner Bros.
The magazine, The Preventive Maintenance Monthly, includes a cartoon character called Topper, a boy wizard, who attends Mogmarts school of magic. Harry Potter, Rowling?s boy wizard creation, attends the Hogwarts school of magic.
In the magazine, army officials are given a lesson from Professor Rumbledoore and his staff, a name strikingly similar to Rowling?s Professor Dumbledore. Other characters in the magazine include professors McDonagal and Snappy, and a Miss Ranger. The Harry Potter books feature professors McGonagall and Snape and Hermione Granger.
?We have shared the information about this magazine with Warner Bros and I am sure that I will speak again with them shortly,? said Neil Blair, Rowling?s lawyer.
?I do not believe that we or they were approached about this. As you would expect, both J K Rowling and Warner Bros take protection of their property rights very seriously.?
A spokesman for the American defence force said: ?Each copy of our magazine is reviewed by our legal office.
?After reviewing this copy they judged that we were doing nothing wrong and that these characters were in parity use.?
The Sunday Herald has more details on the upcoming duel, and unlike the Times appears to be familiar with the term parody:
Preventative Maintenance Monthly has also featured ?parodies? of Dr Dolittle, the Twilight Zone and the Lone Ranger ? the character of Sergeant Half-Mast was created by the illustrator Will Eisner, who died last month, aged 87. Crunk said: ?Over the years we have shown lots of well-known cartoons, any number of things that our readers find familiar and will respond to.?
A US Army spokesman said: ?Each issue of the magazine is reviewed by the aviation and missile command legal office.
?After reviewing this particular issue the legal office concluded that there was nothing done that was impermissible and that the illustrations were clearly in the scope of parody and that, therefore, there was no need to seek permission from JK Rowling.?
Parody is protected under the first amendment in the US, and under a ?fair use? principle as long as it is done for ?humorous or satirical effect?. Courts have defended parodies of other works as long as they have an educational purpose, which Crunk believes this cartoon has.
Preventive Maintenence Monthly is actually more like a comic book than a magazine. Perhaps Army Legal could use a similar training aid - Preventing Law Suits Monthly. But all is not lost, rumor has it that the League of Army Warlocks (LAW) is curently at work in the Pentagon's North Tower on a counter-spell called "Riddikulus", details of which are highly classified.
"It's still a bit unstable at this time." Said an Army Spokeswitch.
Rowling, meanwhile, has countered by displaying a GI Joe doll called "Special 'Ops' Rummy" that she claims is "voodoo enhanced, and I can stick a pin in it and make Don Rumsfeld dance like a nasty little monkey."
Developing, as they say.
The troops are returning from Iraq:
Three U.S. Air Force C-17s ferried home about 300 more troops from Iraq on Friday, said Spc. Rebecca Sharpton, a 1st Infantry Division spokeswoman.
The flights prompted happy homecomings at several 1st ID bases in northern Bavaria decorated with posters and yellow ribbons.
Nearly 12,000 Big Red One soldiers deployed to Iraq last February, making up the largest single slice of the Tikrit-based Task Force Danger, which patrolled a large and dangerous area north of Baghdad.
The task force commander, Maj. Gen. John Batiste, had hoped to send some troops home as early as December when their replacements from the 42nd Infantry Division, 3rd Infantry Division and many National Guard and Reserve units began arriving in the Middle East.
But after an upswing in violence that began in late October, the Pentagon decided to keep all but a few support troops in place for their full tours of 12-13 months through the critical national elections Jan. 30.
With those elections now completed, troops are returning home steadily. Division planners expect at least eight more planeloads of troops in the coming days, and returns will be almost continuous through mid-March.
Stars and Stripes with the "real story" of hostage John Adam:
Special Ops Cody isn't a regular GI, and he's no ordinary Joe. Special Ops Cody is a star.
The $39 action figure apparently kidnapped in an insurgent hoax to drum up American alarm has done well for himself: He's selling on eBay anywhere from around $100 to more than $230, and he's even scarce to be found downrange.
According to AAFES headquarters in Dallas, the exchange shipped 3,864 of the toys overseas in winter 2003, and deployed another 2,292 last September. Most were shipped to Iraq and Kuwait. But only about 20 percent of those are the African-American version.
According to the exchange, Cody is scarce in the field as well. An AAFES spokesman, Maj. David Accetta, was able to find one, and only one, Caucasian Cody at the Camp Liberty store outside Baghdad. According to Dan Tompkins, the vice president of AAFES operations in Iraq, it isn't clear whether the platoons of Cody figures were bought because of the hostage crisis or simply because of an earlier Christmas rush.
If there are any Cody troops in the field, they will not be brought back to base but allowed to remain expeditionary.
"We will not pull them off the shelves," said Debbie Byerly, an AAFES spokeswoman in Germany.
But she doubted there'd be any left.
"I'd buy one if I could," Byerly said.
Hugh Hewitt is a guest on the The Chris Matthews Show on Sunday. Hugh will alerts the panel to the Eason Jordan story. This will make for some interesting conversation. Dont miss it.
The videotape of the Jordan remarks will be shown by MilBlogger SisypheanMusings soon!
Tina Brown, praising Hillary Clinton in the Washington Post, comes very close to connecting the dots on Iraq:
Even reporters on the ground in Iraq could hardly believe what they were living through as they watched the power of an idea transmute into the living, breathing form of black-clad women, Marsh Arabs and throngs of Kurdish mountaineers festively making their way to the polls. The father of a young reporter who has spent most of the last two years in Iraq shared with me his son's e-mail from Baghdad. "We journalists are all sitting round and asking each other how we missed what's clearly a far deeper drive for political and societal change than we realized. It is a measure of our isolation here -- and also, I think, a measure of how the violence and humiliation of the occupation has masked people's very genuine feelings."
The same is true of most Americans. Prof. Fouad Ajami, a Middle East expert, explains the phenomenon. "The election gave Americans the chance to bond with Iraqis again," he told me on the phone. "The problem has been that we didn't see enough gratitude from the Iraqis. We lost faith, and now suddenly Iraqis were doing this very American thing. They have recovered their country's dignity. America loves to see this kind of innocence. Who can be indifferent to the beauty and drama of Iraq's history?"
Apparently the above referenced folks don't read MilBlogs, which should even be available in finer Baghdad hotels. The countdown to the elections that ran here was actually making exactly this point about journalists being out of touch. Should that quoted journo wish to make the final leap, it's more accurate to say that the much feared terrorists kept most reporters from discovering that "far deeper drive for political and societal change" that Iraqis expressed so well - and so unsurprisingly - on election day.
But overall the piece reflects a positive trend - that of many opponents of the war beginning to evaluate their positions - perhaps their very concept of the world today. Little clues in the text, however, lead me to believe the result will be an opposition to progress in Iraq from a different direction. On the plus side, note the author's response to an email attempting to put the election success in a "positive" perspective for the left:
Sure enough, my first e-mail of the day was a copy of a mass mailing from a gloomy progressive brainiac that included a 1967 New York Times article headlined "U.S. Encouraged by Vietnam Vote: Officials Cite 83% Turnout Despite Vietcong Terror."
But in spite of the dismissive recounting of this episode, real progress won't come until the "Iraq is Vietnam" crowd is no longer labeled "progressive" without using scare quotes.
I might be guilty of nit-picking there, but read the final paragraph, which comes close to a rational conclusion, then veers wildly:
That's why among Democrats there's a lot of quiet soul-searching going on. Every Bush hater you meet in New York is engaged with an inner struggle of how much to let go of the past. They are like wives midway through marriage therapy designed to reconcile and foster a new beginning with a feckless husband who has perpetually let them down. Hillary Clinton knows what that feels like better than anyone else. Which is perhaps why she has the discipline to hang tough, befriend the enemy and leave revenge to the future.
"Leave revenge to the future" - what a fine way to mend fences.
Wonder how Bill feels about that?
(Another tip of the boonie hat to The Corner)
(Sorry, couldn't resist that one).
As the real Oil For Food scandal begins to boil, another group is eager to prove that the US is just as bad as the UN. "What group?" you ask, "The EU? The Arab League? The World Socialist Party?" No.
Democrats on the Senate's Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations are looking into whether the United States or other countries were told that Iraq was trading oil with neighboring countries in violation of the sanctions, a minority investigator said. The minority staff will also look specifically into the shipments from Khor al-Amaya, the investigator said, speaking on the condition of anonymity, citing a committee policy prohibiting staff members from giving on-the-record interviews.
Bush administration officials have not explained why they did not stop the exports from Khor al-Amaya, but they were fully aware of Jordan's oil trade with Iraq. Both the Clinton and Bush administrations repeatedly notified Congress that they were waiving U.S. restrictions on assistance to Jordan and Turkey for importing Iraqi oil in violation of sanctions, according to documents supplied by congressional investigators.
Jordan has relied almost entirely on Iraqi crude since the 1991 Persian Gulf War, when its main oil supplier, Saudi Arabia, cut off shipments because of Amman's support of Hussein. After the war, the government of Jordanian King Hussein asked the Security Council for an exemption from the trade sanctions.
The 15-nation council "took note" of the request and then largely ignored Iraq's exports of discounted crude to Jordan outside the oil-for-food program.
The oil trade "was certainly a technical violation of the sanctions," said James Placke, a former deputy assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern and South Asian affairs during the Reagan administration and a retired Middle East analyst at Cambridge Energy Research Associates. "Jordan, to its credit, notified the council, but the council didn't act."
Placke said most of the oil was trucked across the Iraqi border to Jordan's refinery in Zarqa, about 30 miles north of Amman. But several weeks before the United States invaded Iraq in March 2003, Jordan began loading massive quantities of oil from Khor al-Amaya. "They could see they were likely to get caught in an oil squeeze," Placke said.
Before the invasion, the Jordanians contacted several international brokers to hire tankers willing to ship Iraqi crude from the Persian Gulf, according to Preston Carter, a broker who participated in the trade. During the war, Jordan hired scores of tankers to store crude at sea in the gulf, according to a spokesman for Tankship Transport Ltd., the Bahamian-based company that owned one of the ships.
"As far as I'm aware, there was nothing surreptitious or secret going on, and none of the [tanker] owners were trying to hide," said Carter, the managing director of London-based Petrian Shipbrokers.
Sounds like a case of need, but certainly whether something fishy was going on or not, the Dems will find an answer. The full story is here, but don't miss Austin Bay's coverage of the real story here.
Bushitler continues to advance his plan for world domination:
PORT-AU-PRINCE - U.S. troops are returning to Haiti to build schools and provide medical care in a humanitarian mission that comes nearly a year after President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was ousted, officials said Wednesday.
The mission will draw about 1,000 troops from the Army and Navy over a three-month period, said Lt. Col. James Marshall, a spokesman for U.S. Southern Command in Miami.
The humanitarian effort is part of the New Horizons program, an overseas training exercise in which troops carry out missions in Caribbean and Latin American countries.
What a thug.
Meanwhile, Ted Kennedy, still breathless from declaring that Iraq is Vietnam and that US Troops are are problem, not a solution, now says America must send lots more armor over here immediately for the troops to bring home immediately.
Massachusetts swells with pride.
The Associated Press reminds us that it's not just Coalition military and Iraqi citizens risking all in Iraq:
At least 232 employees of private contractors have been killed in Iraq while working on U.S. military and reconstruction contracts, according to a quarterly report to Congress.
Often overlooked, their contribution and sacrifice is no less deserving of honor and respect.
The Washington Post reports that Sunni Clerics Offer their "cooperation" with the new government in Iraq:
Leading Sunni Muslim clerics who boycotted Sunday's elections said Wednesday that they would "respect the choice of those who voted" and work with a new government, even though they considered the election invalid.
Didn't Barbara Boxer say the same thing right before the Condoleezza Rice confirmation hearings?
The statement, issued by the Association of Muslim Scholars, contained renewed criticism of the election but appeared to suggest that the influential Sunni group wants to be included in the formation of a new government. Ballots from Sunday's vote, which are still being counted, are widely expected to show light turnout in Sunni-populated areas and result in correspondingly low Sunni representation in Iraq's new National Assembly.
Actually, the Association of Muslim Scholars has been given much credence by the press, with statements like this appearing frequently in election coverage:
The clerics' withdrawal from the election had threatened to undermine the legitimacy of the vote. Their decision, and threats aimed at Sunnis by opponents to the ballot, sharply dampened turnout in some Sunni areas.
But this group has been reported on here previously, last October in fact, first here and then a follow up here. This "influential group" needs a little more exposure from the media, in addition to the current fawning coverage they receive.
For instance, perhaps paragraphs like these shouldn't be buried quite as deeply as they are in this story:
The clerics said the expected low Sunni turnout confirmed their position that the election, held while foreign troops were in Iraq, was illegitimate. "We make it clear to the United Nations and the international community that they should not get involved in granting this election legitimacy, because such a move will open the gates of evil," the statement said.
Speaking of gates of evil,
Meanwhile, a statement purportedly made by Osama bin Laden's top deputy, Ayman Zawahiri, said holy war, not "rigged elections," was the only path for reform in Islamic nations, the Associated Press reported. The written statement, said to have been the transcript of a taped speech by Zawahiri, first appeared on several Internet sites Tuesday.
As much as we troops would like to be home and the Iraqi people would be happy if we could leave, I know of no one here in Iraq who embraces the concept of "exit strategy". In fact, the word is deserving of little but scorn, and is used exclusively by those whose natural tendency is to expect defeat. Just hearing the phrase tells you all you need to know about whoever utters it.
The Wall Street Journal lays the smackdown on 'Exit Strategy' Democrats:
Every so often, an American politician takes an unpopular stand for the sake of what's right: Think of Gerald Ford's pardon of Richard Nixon. Frequently, he takes an unprincipled stand for the sake of what's popular: Take Richard Nixon's price controls. Sometimes, even, he does what's right, which also happens to be popular: Ronald Reagan's bombing of Libya.
Only in the rarest of instances, however, do politicians take positions that are both unpopular and unprincipled. That is where the Democratic Party leadership finds itself today on Iraq.
Mr. Kerry: "No one in the United States should try to overhype this election.... It's hard to say that something is legitimate when a whole portion of the country can't and doesn't vote."
Mr. Kennedy: "While the elections are a step forward, they are not a cure for the growing violence and resentment of the perception of American occupation. ... The best way to demonstrate to the Iraqi people that we have no long-term designs on their country is for the Administration to withdraw some troops now..."
Minority Leader Reid: "We need an exit strategy so that we know what victory is and how we can get there. ... Iraq is clearly important, but there are so many bigger threats to our national security..."
So what is the Democratic Party's message on this inspiring exercise in Iraqi self-determination? First, that the election's legitimacy is questionable. Second, that its effects will be minor. Third, that America's presence in Iraq is doing more harm than good by generating terrorism and anti-Americanism where none previously existed. Fourth, that the U.S. has better things to do. Fifth, that American sacrifices in Iraq are best redeemed not by victory, but by the earliest feasible departure.
As a matter of policy, this is a manifesto for irresponsibility. Just as the postponement of elections would have been a gift to the insurgents, a timetable for withdrawal now would amount to a concession of defeat. The Iraqis certainly know this, with interim President (and Sunni Arab) Sheik Ghazi al-Yawar saying Tuesday that it is "complete nonsense to ask the troops to leave in this chaos and this vacuum of power." The claim that the U.S. has become a force for occupation only validates the Al-Jazeera hypothesis that the terrorists are engaging in a legitimate exercise in "resistance."
What is more astonishing, however, is the Democrats' political tone-deafness. In their indictment of Administration policy, the Senators always take care to add a few words of tribute to the American soldier. But what's the point of praising his courage when only a fool would want to be the last man to die for a mistake?
For the record, I prefer to stand with "Victory Strategy" Iraqis any day.
The Iraqi people are up in arms through the political groupings, new army, N.G. and various security forces and are suffering the greater part of the sacrifice. Despite all the snags and faltering, these forces are getting bigger and stronger and should be supported and nurtured until they can bear the full responsibility; this is the only viable ?exit strategy? available. In fact, we do not like this phrase, for what is required is a ?victory strategy?. This war must be fought to the bitter end, and there is only one outcome acceptable both to us and to you: Total and Complete Victory. Anything else is completely unthinkable.
Let's take up that battle cry.
The blogosphere polices it's own, as they say, and what you're seeing is a fine example. "Political Teen" might come back, but I think you'll see a couple other bigger blogs fade.
Apologies aren?t needed here ? behavior change is.
Update 2: A lesson for all from a commentor at Cheese and Crackers
The Washington Times provides details of the moment I wondered about during the State of the Union, the story behind the hug between an Iraqi woman and the mother of a fallen Marine:
The powerful moment, a snapshot of the sacrifices Americans have made to free Iraq from dictator Saddam Hussein, came near the end of the president's address as he introduced the parents of Sgt. Byron Norwood of Pflugerville, Texas.
Sgt. Norwood was killed Nov. 13 by sniper fire during the assault on the terrorist stronghold of Fallujah, Iraq.
"His mom, Janet, sent me a letter and told me how much Byron loved being a Marine, and how proud he was to be on the front line against terror," Mr. Bush said in the hushed House chamber.
He quoted Mrs. Norwood's letter.
"When Byron was home the last time, I said that I wanted to protect him like I had since he was born. He just hugged me and said: 'You've done your job, mom. Now it's my turn to protect you.'"
Choking back his emotion, Mr. Bush said: "Ladies and gentlemen, with grateful hearts, we honor freedom's defenders, and our military families, represented here this evening by Sergeant Norwood's mom and dad, Janet and Bill Norwood."
The parents stood and acknowledged the thunderous applause.
Just then, Safia Taleb al Suhail, who was seated one row in front of them in the balcony guest box of first lady Laura Bush, turned and reached up to Mrs. Norwood. The two embraced as the applause grew to a crescendo.
The president, visibly moved, looked up from the podium as the seconds stretched to a full minute ? the longest applause of the evening.
As the women broke their embrace, they became momentarily tangled. Mrs. Norwood reached down to the cuff of Mrs. al Suhail's sleeve and untwisted her son's dog tags, which she had worn to the address. They had become caught on a button.
The moment followed the president's praise of Mrs. al Suhail, the leader of the Iraqi Women's Political Council, who had flown to the United States after voting Sunday in Iraq.
"She says of her country, 'We were occupied for 35 years by Saddam Hussein. That was the real occupation. Thank you to the American people who paid the cost, but most of all to the soldiers,'" Mr. Bush said.
"Eleven years ago, Safia's father was assassinated by Saddam's intelligence service. Three days ago in Baghdad, Safia was finally able to vote for the leaders of her country ? and we are honored that she is with us tonight," the president said.
Mrs. al Suhail stood and held up an ink-stained index finger ? voters had their fingers dipped in purple ink to prevent multiple voting. As she waved to the crowd, she held up another finger, making the peace sign.
Betraying the age of the author of the story, who might not recognize the Victory sign from WWII. But peace follows victory, so both will one day apply to Iraq.
Continuing a tale begun here.
So, what did I get for having attended the National Hurricane Conference? I got something any military member dreads - I became the dreaded SME. Subject Matter Expert on all things hurricanic. Thus designated I found myself at an American Meteorological Society conference, a meeting of utmost and obvious importance to meteorologists but which had little attraction for me. But I follow orders, and if ordered to "go forth and see if this is worthwhile" then I go. So once again I found myself wandering about exhibits and in and out of sessions and through poster presentations and having a wonderful time. Two things stand out in my memory of the event. The first was a guy begging in the streets claiming to be a Vietnam veteran, at least, that was his story when I passed by him in uniform. I remember this because the exact thing happened at the Hurricane Conference - a guy saw me in uniform in the street outside and began hitting me up for spare change because he was a Vietnam veteran. Both were lying - they weren't old enough.
But the second was an unusual response to a presentation. A young guy - probably a grad student, but my memory isn't keen on that point - explained the results of his study on new sensing equipment used by the National Weather Service. A bit of background here. During this time period the National Weather Service was undergoing Modernization and Restructuring, which was a nifty term applied to replacing humans with computers. This was a time when Doppler radars were being installed nationwide, and new, high resolution weather satellites were about to be launched. These were very expensive toys, and the Weather Service made a small deal to acquire them. They closed several offices and consolidated operations into larger offices with greatly increased geographical areas of responsibility. At most of the locations that were closed, automated Weather Observing systems were installed. Now this young whippersnapper was standing before the assembled lions of meteorology and telling them that according to his research, the new sensors were reading temperatures warmer than the systems they replaced.
"Hmmmm... " thinks I, "These guys are really going to embrace this. After all, it could be used in building a case for not eliminating all these jobs, even though Al Gore wants to re-invent government and these losses will be part of it!" I was, of course, dead wrong. In fact, the reason I remember this particular presentation at all is the scorn, contempt, and derision that followed. For those who've never had the joy of sitting through such an event, speakers follow a rigid timetable, say what they must in an allotted time, then entertain questions, comments, and general discussion. Usually these are constructive and good natured, regardless of agreement or disagreement with the speaker. This is especially true when the guy sweating at the lectern is a student or a young guy trying to make a name for himself - but not in this case. Given the reaction of the crowd, one might of thought that the speaker had advocated lowering the age of consent to seven and demanded custody of the children of all in attendance. Although a few stood to point out that he might have a point, the vast majority dismissed him with great contempt and declared his methodology flawed.
Something you must understand about these sorts of presentations: given the amount of time allotted, it's virtually impossible to provide all possible support for your hypothesis, so some benefit of doubt is generally accorded the presenter. Usually, that is. But this hapless young man was ripped and shredded and sent packing. I had never seen anything like it. In fact, I can recall neither this man's name or the title of the paper he was presenting; at the time the only thing I found notable about it was the ferocity of the response. Much later it would become clear to me why. In those days global warming fever had yet to grip the nation, and I did not realize that this man was seen as a threat to the goose that was expected to lay a lot of golden eggs.
Recall my flash of insight I explained in our last episode; there is a small pie of federal money available to fund research of any sort, and meteorologists compete for their slices with professionals from a lot of other fields of study. This global warming business was going to give them a leg up - if we don't get this money, people will die! It was only later (perhaps on hearing that the hottest days ever in the history of the world had occurred in the 1990s!) that I realized the full picture of what I'd witnessed that day.
Don't get me wrong - global warming is something deserving study - but here's the point that can't be avoided: any study that indicates that global warming isn't really a problem is a threat to further funding of global warming studies. (And thus a threat to the livelihoods of those who were responding to that presentation those many years ago.)
An important distinction must be made here. AS in many other fields, meteorologists are divided into two camps - research and operational. The vast majority of those who attend Conferences of this sort are from the research side of the house, and they we're threatened. There's no other explanation for the response, Galileo couldn't have been treated more poorly when he proclaimed that the earth revolved around the sun. I have no idea whether the guy's study was valid or not, at the time it didn't seem that important anyway. But what is undeniable is the response was one that refused to accept any possibility that his results were anything but flawed, and that didn't jive with my notion of what science was supposedly all about.
But next time you're attending a conference somewhere and some guy comes up begging for quarters, if he looks too young to be a Vietnam veteran he just might be the guy I saw talking about variations between different temperature sensors that day.
Give him a dollar or two for me.
More to come.
Condi’s in Europe mending fences – will Iran be discussed? Can diplomacy succeed post-Iraq elections? Interesting thoughts on the topic here.
Awesome post from Smash. The original Blogger from the Sandbox is rightfully proud.
The best coverage yet of the State of the Union is here (drink alert).
By the way, is anyone else concerned that the future of Social Security will include inputs from people who were barking like dogs during the speech? Just curious?
Omar confirms a story I'd have rather learned was false:
I strongly believe that terrorists are cowards but the cowardice you?re going to see in this story is just exceptional.
The suicide attack that was performed on an election center in one of Baghdad's districts (Baghdad Al-Jadeedah) last Sunday was performed using a kidnapped "Down Syndrome" patient.
Eye witnesses said (and I'm quoting one of my colleagues; a dentist who lives there) "the poor victim was so scared when ordered to walk to the searching point and began to walk back to the terrorists. In response the criminals pressed the button and blew up the poor victim almost half way between their position and the voting center's entrance".
The only response I could give would be unprintable. Sadly, the "Freedom Fighter" talk will go on in some quarters.
TEN MONTHS AGO Kos's ascendancy seemed hardly pre-ordained. On April 1, 2004, Kos responded to the savage murder of four American contractors in Falluja by writing, "I feel nothing over the death of the mercenaries [sic]. They are there to wage war for profit. Screw them."
At the time of this outburst, Kos was using his blog as a platform to create advertising revenue and to establish credibility for a political consulting business. His outburst threatened to destroy the budding project.
Immediately Kos' foils in the conservative blogosphere demanded that the politicians who advertised on Daily Kos remove their ads and disassociate themselves from both the site and its proprietor. One of the first to heed this call was Texas Democrat Martin Frost. His campaign noted its departure from Kos's site by saying, "There is no place for these disgusting remarks in this nation's discussion on foreign policy." Other campaigns followed the Frost campaign's lead and it seemed like Kos might have been in trouble.
But then something funny happened. While politicians distanced themselves from the site, Kos's fans stayed put. A quick glance at Kos's traffic figures for April of 2004 shows no drop-off in the wake of Moulitsas' controversial comments. And since the eyeballs remained, politicians soon returned. Political advertisers who had left were replaced in short order by other office seekers. At first it seemed the entire affair might ruin Kos; in the end it was, as he put it in an interview with the New York Times, nothing more than a "blip."
Actually, that's almost right. In fact, the "screw them" event is what actually propelled Kos to the top of the blogosphere (though he was close before that) and therein lies the fundamental problem with Kos' "success" - the lower he goes, the more readers he attracts. And how does this large number of "page views" translate into "clout"? Invariably those pols who Kos supports fail - from Dean in the primaries to Kerry in the general election. In fact, of 15 candidates Kos 'supported' (if the price was right) in the last election, all 15 lost.
More Kos facts: Kos was one of the blogs touting the faulty "exit polls" during the last election. The end result was a great opportunity for mainstream media to bash blogs for not fact checking, being quick to publish questionable material as facts, etc. etc. - a big hit to the credibility of blogs in general.
The bottom line is that Kos' readers (and you can pick a random post and read their comments to get familiar with them) are really not the movers and shakers of this world. I believe Hugh Hewitt has made this point repeatedly, if not specifically about Kos, that your "influence" as a blogger is measured by who your readers are, not how many readers you have.
And I'd note that as far as numbers, that "page view" statistic is misleading. Kos readership is made up of a core of around 5-6 thousand readers* (and I'm probably being generous here) who visit his site 20-40 times a day. Why? They're checking in repeatedly to see the evolving comment threads - this is the big attraction at the Daily Kos. A "community" has been built there over time, one I'd speculate replaces actual face-to-face human contact for a lot of his readers.
That Barbara Boxer finds the number of page views at Daily Kos attractive speaks a lot for the in-depth research ability of Democratic powers that be. Those numbers do not translate into political success, in fact the evidence mounts that the opposite is true.
Last, note that I'm in favor of what's good for blogs, and I will repeat here my support of the two-party system - with a re-invigorated and robust Democratic Party as one of the two, but Kos is increasingly poison for both.
*In support of this number I offer a recent e-mail exchange I had with a fellow milblogger. He mentioned that a couple recent links to his site from Kos had resulted in about 500 visitors to his blog. This guy wasn't complaining, he was just surprised at the low number. I offered two possible explanations in response, neither of which speak well for the Kos crowd. One, the actual numbers are low, as stated above, and two, most of Kos' readers are quite willing to take whatever he says as gospel and don't actually follow the links he provides. I've seen this phenomenon with a few left-wing blogs that link here from time to time. The comment thread at the linking site has more comments from more people than numbers of visits I got from that link. All of them are quick to agree with whatever the linker said though - and that's troubling. That said, by all means don't take my word for it, go visit The Daily Kos and see for yourself exactly what I'm talking about when I do a post like this.
Finally, a word on outbound links in general, A better measure of the "influence" of a blog might be the number of people that a site can send elsewhere in the internet. A link from Glenn Reynolds sends thousands, but nothing near the 100,000+ visits he gets a day. Links from LGF rival that number, as do those from Hugh Hewitt, The Corner, James Lileks, and a few other blogs. But a bit further down the scale in "hit counts" you'll find Mudville, with a significantly lower (by more than an order of magnitude from Instapundit) number of daily visits. Still a stand-alone link from here (as opposed to a link in a post like this), even without a boost from additional inbound links to the post in question, can send over one thousand visitors to the linked site. In fact, many blogs can send 1000-plus. These numbers, while harder to track than site visits, probably would graph a bit more linearly than the "page view" numbers (with a steep curve at the top and a long tail) generally accepted as a measure of success of blogs today.
Cruising through Austin Bay's blog today for his insight on Iraq (and there's lots of that there - Col Bay was here, after all) I found this post - which I must admit caught me off guard. But there's something about music and the military, I've rarely met a military person that wasn't a knowledgeable fan of one sort of music or another. And a pretty amazing number are actually talented musicians in their own right, as I witnessed in a recent talent show held right here in the camp I'm at.
Anyhow, for music or military, Austin Bay's blog is a daily must read.
A public service announcement to my fellow deployed troops: Today is Groundhog Day. Just wanted to make sure you hadn?t lost track of time.
Repeat: Today is Groundhog Day. Just wanted to make sure you hadn?t lost track of time.
Roger is right, this sort of stuff may be dismissed by most Americans who see the utter absurdity of it, but it plays very well to an international audience eager to believe that the US is the Great Satan, or something by which their Nazi forefathers might not look so bad in comparison.
I, of course, target journalists all the time. But I use words - the same weapons they do, so all's fair.
Update: Speaking of targeting journalists, in my humble opinion Iraqi and Military bloggers provided the real story of the elections in Iraq, as journalists wrote excuses why they were too frightened to be out on the streets. (So I suppose we could be accused of violating some sort of union rules, or guild rules, or something...)
Here, the coverage of the Iraqi elections from military bloggers. CNN couldn't touch this.
Mudville's countdown to the elections was actually my look at what was going on compared to what was being reported in the media, and ended with my prediction of success:
Eight - Delivering the ballots
Seven - Fighting back against the insurgents, the story the media doesn't tell
Six - Pre-election rhetoric from the media and some American politicians
Five - Democracy comes to Iraq from Ukraine
Four - How to identify a defeated foe, and how the media treats them
Three - Is the left really opposed to democracy in Iraq?
Two - A GI's daughter speaks up.
One - Good vs Evil, and who's on which side
Americans Blogging election day in Iraq (This is the good stuff):
Cigars in the Sand - Note this links the entire January archive with tons of separate posts and photos from election day.
I Should Have Stayed Home... - Once again, the entire January archive.
Around Iraq & Around the World - Mrs G provided a great collection of links.
Iraq Speaks - How can I offer my comments on this day when there are so many poets in the cradle of civilization?
The Day After
We're not targeting journalists - we're just leaving them in the dust.
Are bloggers journalists? The answer is an emphatic "No".
NEW YORK, Jan. 31 /PRNewswire/ -- G.P. Putnam's Sons is publishing the personal experiences of twenty-eight-year-old U.S. Army soldier Colby Buzzell. His book, My War, will offer uncensored stories that bring home the chilling realities of war. Buzzell's incisive reportage and brutally honest take on the war were first filed as entries in a web log, My War, that he created as a way to tell the world about what was really happening in Iraq. Buzzell's book will delve further into his personal experiences as a 20-something soldier in the line of fire. World and audio rights to My War have been acquired by David Highfill, Senior Editor, G.P. Putnam's Sons, from literary agent Heather Schroder at ICM. Putnam will publish the book in hardcover in fall 2005, with a paperback edition to be published by Berkley in 2006.
Many speculated that the Army had forced Buzzell to close his blog down. Seems more likely his agent did.
Trying to Reason With Hurricane Season or How I learned to Stop Worrying and Ride Out the Storm
Yesterday I sent you to read Diplomad's account of the incubation of global warming at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, and indicated I would continue the story by telling you of it's viral spread through the United States. Here you say "What the heck are you, Greyhawk, a GI in Iraq, going to tell us about Global Warming?" Glad you asked.
Even though it often seems like it, I wasn't always in Iraq. In fact, through most of the middle 1990's I was fortunate to be stationed at a military installation on the coast of Florida - Eglin Air Force Base, to be specific, certainly one of the finest military posts in the world. But being on the coast there was a little problem with hurricanes. Yours truly was a member of the hurricane rideout team, a small group of individuals who would shelter on base during any hurricane while saner folks sought higher ground - the theory being that we might survive and begin immediate recovery procedures once the winds died down to something that wouldn't create damage resembling nuclear devastation. Recall that Hurricane Andrew had destroyed Homestead Air Force Base and much of Miami in the early part of the decade and you'll appreciate just how seriously we viewed the task.
In that capacity I found myself at the 16th Annual National Hurricane Conference in New Orleans, LA in 1994. This conference draws city managers, disaster preparedness folks, first-responder types, power company reps, insurance agency people, legal eagles, meteorologists, university and government researchers, the military, and of course a legion of vendors offering products that will improve your chances of surviving a hurricane or recovering from same.
Military folks showing up at such conventions are often seen as some alien life form, this in spite of the fact that a large majority of attendees are in some form of government service. Many of these folks are veterans, of course, so the distancing is not universal, but it is noticeable. This has absolutely nothing to do with my story, but it puts you into my frame of mind at such events: ghostly observer floating around taking mental notes of the goings-on. Likewise much of the real purpose of these things is for reps to meet vendors and lay the groundwork for possible mutually beneficial deals and as I wasn't attending as any sort of purchasing agent or contracting official I couldn't play that game either. I had a wonderful time wandering about the exhibits and popping in and out of sessions, not to mention after hours wandering in the French Quarter, which was perhaps surprisingly empty given that a fairly large convention was ongoing. Or perhaps not surprising - maybe it was the quaint smell of vomit and filth, maybe the 4-dollar beer in tiny cups (1994 dollars, of course, which was even more considering my 1994 pay) - but I digress.
The whole thing was capped off by THE SPEECH from Dr William Gray. Dr Gray is a fine man and a highly respected Professor of Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University. When you hear about the forecast of the number of Atlantic hurricanes expected in the upcoming year you are hearing the result of the work of Dr Gray, and each National Hurricane Conference ends with THE SPEECH from Dr Gray (disclaimer: I'm not sure whether this tradition continues but it was certainly the case 'back in the day') wherein he announces his latest prediction.
I was familiar with Dr Gray's work before attending the conference, I respect his efforts tremendously and likewise value his forecast. But I was caught off guard (warning: confession of my own naiveté follows) as he approached the end of his speech and noted the disparity in funding for hurricane research and earthquake research, with a definite call for increase in monies for hurricane studies. Looking around the room at the various media types gathered - Dr Gray's prediction is worth a day's headlines in America's hurricane coast - the light bulb came on over my head. Funding, baby - it's all about the funding. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that; next time a hurricane strikes a country without a modern meteorological service and a basic communications infrastructure note the death toll.
But here's the essence of the light bulb that flashed over my head at that moment. You see, much university level research (and thus much research done in the US) must be funded. And if it's something like meteorology, for which advancements in pure science don't translate well into huge corporate profits when compared to many other fields, then it's up to Uncle Sam to keep a steady cash flow going your way. And if you want that cash flow maximized, it might help to try convincing someone that if you aren't fully funded then people will die! (Here - give it a try.)
Now this "people will die" aspect is true when it comes to hurricane research, but hearing it in the context I did was a real eye-opener. Here's coverage of essentially the same speech delivered a couple years later:
The 1995 hurricane season - the busiest in 60 years - should not be considered a fluke, the nation's leading hurricane forecaster said Friday. Instead, William Gray warned, it may be a blueprint for the future.
``I think there may be trouble in the future,'' Gray told the closing session of the 18th annual National Hurricane Conference. He said people don't realize how few hurricanes have hit the Atlantic coast in the past quarter-century.
Gray said there is mounting evidence that global climate changes will cause a return to busier hurricane seasons, like those of the late 1940s, the 1950s and the early 1960s.
Forty-one hurricanes hit the mainland of the United States from 1940 through 1959, according to the National Hurricane Center in Tallahassee, Fla. In 1995, there were 11 hurricanes, five of which struck the U.S. mainland.
``We've been in this lull, this natural climate lull, that appears to be driven by the ocean circulations,'' Gray said. ``And that likely will be changing. And if it changes, we're going to see more landfalling category 3, 4 or 5 storms,'' the most powerful of hurricanes.
Gray, a Colorado State University professor of atmospheric sciences, fears that governments and coastal residents are ill-prepared for an extended period of heavy hurricane activity, an increase that could last for decades.
``Ominous things could be happening in terms of hurricane-spawned damage,'' Gray said. He noted that coastlines today are nothing like they were in the years soon after World War II. They have been built up dramatically, becoming home to millions.
Gray, forecasting for the season ahead, called for money to finance a national hurricane response program.
``I understand the earthquake people have a $50 million to $60 million -a-year program,'' he said. ``Well, we need it more!'' Gray said. His remarks drew strong applause from among the 1,500 conference participants.
``Hurricanes have killed more people and done about three to five times more damage than the earthquakes,'' Gray said. ``But the earthquake people get more money. How is that so?''
It's completely practical and absolutely essential; given the platform and the spotlight Dr Gray would be almost criminally negligent not to make the pitch for additional funding for hurricane research. And I came away from that conference thinking this: "You know the problem with meteorologists is that other than hurricanes and tornadoes they just don't have enough big sexy stuff that could be considered life-or-death important and really rake in the big research bucks."
Of course, I hadn't heard much about Global Warming yet.
And that concludes part one of our story.
GI Joe has been taken hostage! Quick - call the Power Rangers!
I know a lot of you bastards are laughing about this out there, but Joe and I go way back, to before I joined the military. We're about the same age, but it seems like he's always been on duty, except for that >brief break in the '70s when he joined the Action Squad, or whatever that wimpy civilian outfit was called. Anyhow, it was Joe that taught me the importance of lifelike hair and kung fu grip, and I'm telling you this now: as God is my witness, I'm bringing him out.
Wish me luck.
By the way, I think a lot of you are dismissing this because he's a black GI Joe and not a white doll. That doesn't fly in this war, buddy. The color of your plastic doesn't make you any less of a man. It's what's inside that counts, and that Joe has heart. Look at his face - that's defiance, without a speck of fear.
I will not see this man sent to meet his maker like this.
I'll keep you updated. Greyhawk out.
b>Update: More here
Nicholas Cademartori, aka The Questing Cat, has authored a piece for The Guardian on his Iraq service titled "I want to look back and be proud"
Full story here, in which the author requests "Any way, the link to this site is below, check it out and maybe leave a nice comment. I have a feeling I'm in the lions den over there...;-)"
Some sample comments on The Cat's piece at the Guardian:
Yeah right. And when Allawi is appointed supreme Bush ass kisser to continue running Iraq as has been planned all along you will still not get it. You still wont see the little girl with her legs blown off. If you get back in one piece you wont spend one day caring for the guys in the va hospitals who will never come out. You rah rah guys should be forced to spend one year caring for the wounded Iraqi,s and GI's before you are allowed to write anything. Comments posted by: ron at January 31, 2005 02:22 PM
I suspect the ballot papers in the boxes are exchanged to ensure that the winners are pro-Americans. Nothing is impossible when you can even cheat the whole world that Saddam had WMD. Don't you think so!! That is the work of CIA maybe.
Comments posted by: dodi at January 31, 2005 03:39 PM
I wonder how much Bush's Department of Defense had to pay this guy to put a positive spin on his opinion. Can anyone say "propaganda?"
Comments posted by: Teri Smith at January 31, 2005 05:15 PM
The elections are now over. Now the Iraqis must stand up to make a unanimous motion to charge King George Bush,Blair and Saddam as war criminals.The three of them are guilty for their heinous actions for causing deaths to thousands of innocent Iraqis.
Comments posted by: oliver twist at February 1, 2005 03:08 AM
A leopard will never change its spots. So a liar is always a liar. Knowing how ignorant and naive the American people are, they can be easily manipulated by a liar and a trickster like Bush. So, at the end of the day those who lie most will win the race.
Comments posted by: tom brown at February 1, 2005 03:15 AM
Real Clear Politics posts images of front pages of some major American dailies. More than a few folks probably never see more than this of the papers as they pass by kiosks selling them. Being in Iraq (and in Germany when I'm not) I don't see these at all, so the glaring omission is fairly stunning to me. Maybe the home front folks are more used to this.
Blackfive with a must read post from a GI photographer who was in the infamous Baghdad neighborhood Sadr City for the elections:
It was late morning and our first trip was to a polling site where a suicide bomber had blown himself and two IHP into pieces (literally). I videotaped as they put the pieces into bags to be carried off. I think this was, without a doubt, the most disgusting thing I have ever seen. But I handled it like a troop- separating myself from the gruesome scene by way of my camera lens.
As they carted the men's body bags away, Iraqi people filed back in to continue voting. How about that?
She's Air Force, but certainly you all were reading that with a female voive in mind, right?
And yes, the "must-read" has been applied a lot lately - but this is an historic week for the world, so expect more.
From I Should Have Stayed Home:
TJ and I had the opportunity to meet today with the Iraqi government official in charge of the development and execution of the nationwide election security plan. Over the past months, he has worked tirelessly on a comprehensive plan incorporating all security agencies in Iraq. As the world saw today, it was a success. For obvious reasons, we will not release his name or his exact position in the government. Here's the short but exclusive interview, only minutes old, straight from Baghdad, with the man who made it happen. Or, as he would say, one of the team.
One of the questions:
Q. What went wrong and what went right today?
A. For me, our plan was executed very well. We deployed our forces well, and had good coordination and communication. But there were problems with identification systems and badges. There were also media problems.
Quite a scoop for a blog. Read it all.
"In the nine days we spent in the country, the troops weren't inclined to talk politics. The Bush administration need not pass down talking points to the young men and women we encountered. Most of them knew that reporters are a form of foreign life, and they treated us appropriately."
Answer: Peter Jennings.
Later Pete proves that the military is a world he cannot expect to understand:
Finally, on almost any patrol, one realizes that the soldiers are very much alone in a world they cannot expect to understand.
The culture is simply out of reach without the language.
I believe they call that projecting, Pete, but psychology is a world I cannot expect to understand. I don't speak their lanquage, you see.
But anyone can dress up like GI Joe:
AND so the "looming Iraqi election fiasco" joins "the brutal Afghan winter" and "the brutal Iraqi summer" and "the seething Arab street" and all the other junk in the overflowing trash can of post-9/11 Western media fictions. The sight of millions of brave voters emerging from polling stations holding high their purple dye-stained fingers was so inspiring that, from America's Democratic Party to European protest rallies, opponents of the war waited, oh, all of three minutes before flipping the Iraqis their own fingers, undyed.
"No one in the United States should try to over-hype this election," warned John Kerry yesterday before embarking on the world champion limbo dance of Iraqi election under-hyping.
He has a point. One vote does not a functioning democracy make. To be a truly advanced, sophisticated democracy you need an opposition party that knows how to react to good news by sounding whiny and grudging and moving the goalposts. "The real test is not the election," he declared, airily swatting aside 8 million voters. "The real test is..."
WHO WON the Iraqi elections? The formal counting won?t be over for days. But the result?s already clear. Iraq won. And who lost? Well, a full list would take up all this column, but, for starters, I would say that the people who seemed a little glum yesterday morning include Saddam Hussein, Robin Cook, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, George Galloway, Osama bin Laden, Douglas Hurd, Bashar al-Assad, Menzies Campbell, Jacques Chirac, BBC News and Current Affairs, Robert Fisk and Sean Penn. On Sunday Iraq enjoyed freedom. And enjoy seems to be the mot juste. Iraqis celebrated their chance to vote, revelled in it, embraced it. But for Robin, George, Douglas, Menzies, Jacques, Sean and those who joined them in opposition to the Iraq war there can?t be any great cause for celebration, can there? For none of this happened in their name.
Women in an Arab nation taking their place as free individuals alongside men, their voices and votes at last given equal weight. But not in your name, Robin. The Kurdish people, victims of chemical attack, ethnic cleansing, savage repression, at last voting to take their equal, respected, place in a new Iraq. But not in your name, George. The Shias of the south, after years in which their culture was marginalised, their lives held cheap, their faith mocked and their relatives tortured, now, at last, assuming a share of power in their own land, through the ballot box. But not in your name, Douglas. And an Arab nation, defying the racist stereotypes of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office?s camel corps, shows itself not just ready but enthusiatic for democracy. It is a victory for the principle that human rights can have a universal application. But not in your name, Menzies.
Just as the Spanish Civil War and the Cold War compelled people to take sides between democracy and oppression, so the Iraq war forced a choice on us. All of us. It was a choice that became inevitable after the events of September 11.
It has become a commonplace to assert that America squandered the world?s sympathy by going on to tackle Iraq after dealing with Afghanistan. But to wage war on Afghanistan without going farther would have been to squander something far more valuable, the moral high ground. Any old nation bent on revenge would have settled on Afghanistan. And left it there. But a nation determined to tackle the real root causes of terror had to go on. Because it is only by securing a decisive shift towards democracy across the region that the misery of the Middle East?s peoples can be relieved, and the threat to the rest of us brought to an end. Victory in the War on Terror depends not just on the elimination of regimes which sponsor terrorism, but on the nurturing of democracy?s roots in the hills of Kandahar, the banks of the Tigris and beyond.
A public service announcement to my fellow deployed troops: Tomorrow is Groundhog Day. Just wanted to make sure you hadn?t lost track of time.
Repeat: Tomorrow is Groundhog Day. Just wanted to make sure you hadn?t lost track of time.
Less than an hour before the Iraqi polls closed, correspondent Jim Maceda was reporting on MSNBC that some voters were so afraid that they asked if they could sneak in the back of a polling station. At almost the same moment, CNN's Jane Arraf was interviewing a man who was proud to talk about his vote in front of a camera.
Later on Sunday morning, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was declaring the election process "better than expected" on "Face the Nation," one of four Sunday shows she dropped by, while Sen. John Kerry was cautioning on "Meet the Press" that "no one should overhype this election." President Bush went before the cameras at 1 p.m. to declare the elections a "resounding success," and most newspaper front pages trumpeted his assessment yesterday.
"Iraq has become part and parcel of American domestic politics, and subject to all the tricks of the trade of American politics," said Kenneth Pollack, an Iraq expert at the Brookings Institution's Saban Center. "Condi, the president -- the administration was definitely out there trying to turn it into something bigger. It was a very good day -- though it may be irrelevant in the long term -- but it could have been catastrophic."
That makes two elections in the past four months that John Kerry thinks are not to be "over hyped". It boils down to this: Democrats, who have had months to convince themselves that the American elections really don't reflect the level of support they have in this country (and thus don't mean much), are clearly (and predictably) stating that the Iraqi elections are equally insubstantial. Denial ain't just a river in Egypt, it's a big part of the Tigris, Euphrates, and Potomoc rivers too.
From the same column, Donatella Lorch, a onetime foreign correspondent for Newsweek, NBC and the New York Times, explains why most American reporters don't really understand Iraqi thinking:
"What we've missed out on is Iraqi thinking," said Donatella Lorch, a onetime foreign correspondent for Newsweek, NBC and the New York Times, because "our reporters on the ground are so constrained. As a westerner, you can't go out and visit Hassan on the fourth floor of his apartment for dinner and find out how he's feeling. It's not a pleasant job, being a reporter in Baghdad," said Lorch, who directs the Knight International Press Fellowships.
Translation: "We were too terrified of the 'insurgents' to go out and learn that the Iraq people aren't that terrified of the 'insurgents'". I'm not sure who "we" are that she mentions, but I've gained some insight into Iraqi thinking via the blogs many Iraqis run - and that includes many who are anti-US.
One of the biggest changes in politics in my lifetime is that the delusional is no longer marginal. It has come in from the fringe, to sit in the seat of power in the Oval Office and in Congress. For the first time in our history, ideology and theology hold a monopoly of power in Washington.
Theology asserts propositions that cannot be proven true; ideologues hold stoutly to a worldview despite being contradicted by what is generally accepted as reality. When ideology and theology couple, their offspring are not always bad but they are always blind. And there is the danger: voters and politicians alike, oblivious to the facts.
He goes on to explain the threat to humanity that Christians represent, then segues into this:
So what does this mean for public policy and the environment? Go to Grist to read a remarkable work of reporting by the journalist Glenn Scherer - "The Road to Environmental Apocalypse." Read it and you will see how millions of Christian fundamentalists may believe that environmental destruction is not only to be disregarded but actually welcomed - even hastened - as a sign of the coming apocalypse.
As Grist makes clear, we're not talking about a handful of fringe lawmakers who hold or are beholden to these beliefs. Nearly half the U.S. Congress before the recent election - 231 legislators in total and more since the election - are backed by the religious right.
Forty-five senators and 186 members of the 108th Congress earned 80 to 100 percent approval ratings from the three most influential Christian right advocacy groups. They include Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Assistant Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Conference Chair Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, Policy Chair Jon Kyl of Arizona, House Speaker Dennis Hastert and Majority Whip Roy Blunt. The only Democrat to score 100 percent with the Christian coalition was Sen. Zell Miller of Georgia, who recently quoted from the biblical book of Amos on the Senate floor: "The days will come, sayeth the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land." He seemed to be relishing the thought.
And why not? There's a constituency for it. A 2002 Time-CNN poll found that 59 percent of Americans believe that the prophecies found in the book of Revelations are going to come true. Nearly one-quarter think the Bible predicted the 9/11 attacks. Drive across the country with your radio tuned to the more than 1,600 Christian radio stations, or in the motel turn on some of the 250 Christian TV stations, and you can hear some of this end-time gospel. And you will come to understand why people under the spell of such potent prophecies cannot be expected, as Grist puts it, "to worry about the environment. Why care about the earth, when the droughts, floods, famine and pestilence brought by ecological collapse are signs of the apocalypse foretold in the Bible? Why care about global climate change when you and yours will be rescued in the rapture? And why care about converting from oil to solar when the same God who performed the miracle of the loaves and fishes can whip up a few billion barrels of light crude with a word?"
Because these people believe that until Christ does return, the Lord will provide. One of their texts is a high school history book, "America's Providential History." You'll find there these words: "The secular or socialist has a limited-resource mentality and views the world as a pie ... that needs to be cut up so everyone can get a piece." However, "[t]he Christian knows that the potential in God is unlimited and that there is no shortage of resources in God's earth ... while many secularists view the world as overpopulated, Christians know that God has made the earth sufficiently large with plenty of resources to accommodate all of the people."
No wonder Karl Rove goes around the White House whistling that militant hymn, "Onward Christian Soldiers." He turned out millions of the foot soldiers on Nov. 2, including many who have made the apocalypse a powerful driving force in modern American politics.
I've seen comments on the abrasiveness (to use a kind word) of Moyers' attack, but what many are failing to note is that what he's doing is suggesting a moral equivalence between evangelical Christians and Islamic fanatics. Although the al Qaeda crowd are the other shoe that doesn't fall in Moyer's discussion, savvy lefties hear it loud and clear. Don't dismiss this, I've seen folks make that comparison straight faced and earnestly - the Christians are wanting to bring about rapture and armegeddon much the same as the jihadis are trying to restore the caliphate, etc. etc. This is a fundamental distortion of Christian theology, which states that the second coming will happen on God's timetable, thanks, don't listen to anyone who tries to tell you exactly when that might be, but be ready for it at any time. And though a few Christians might have picked a specific date (and therefore distorted their own scripture) it's Moyers who's truly distorted the issue.
But since this gives left wing idealogues an opportunity to condemn Americans as no better than the terrorists who flew planes into the World Trade Center they jump at the chance. This is denial of the real world around them, but it meshes nicely with their world view - or their theology if you prefer, and you'll not get them to change their minds on issues of their religion. I've said this before and it bears repeating here, the modern left is poorly educated (note this has no relationship to duration of that poor education), exceptionally gullible and easily led.
At least, Bill Moyers seems to think so.
A Christian perspective here ? along with more evidence that Moyers is simply rehashing (if not plagiarizing) a long running leftist meme and a great debunking of some of Moyers ?facts?.
This man would have taken the oath of office as President of the United States.
Ward Churchill quits - sort of:
DENVER, Colorado (AP) -- A University of Colorado professor who provoked a furor when he compared victims of the World Trade Center terrorist attacks to Nazis has resigned as a department chairman but will retain his teaching job, the university said.
In an essay written after the September 11 attacks, Ward Churchill said the World Trade Center victims were "little Eichmanns," a reference to Adolf Eichmann, who organized Nazi plans to exterminate Europe's Jews. Churchill also spoke of the "gallant sacrifices" of the "combat teams" that struck America.
The essay attracted little attention until Churchill was invited recently to speak at Hamilton College, about 40 miles east of Syracuse, New York. Hundreds of relatives of September 11 victims have protested the appearance. Hamilton College President Joan Hinde has said that "however repugnant one might find Mr. Churchill's remarks," the college was committed to his right of free speech and would not rescind its invitation.
And he might have gotten away with it - if it weren't for those durn
Update Ward Churchill Responds: "Eichmann is someone who, after all, killed no one. He made the trains run on time."
Sounds vaguely familiar...