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Your forward-deployed MilBlogger of the day is El Capitan of Dude, Where's The Beach? - My Hitchhikers Guide to Life. Though he's no longer there, a while back he was deployed to Ganci Air Base, Kyrgyzstan. (Surely all well informed blogospere residents knew we had a base there?)
Here's his post about being there.
MilBloggers - we go everywhere so you don't have to.
Iraq - been there, done that, got the tee-shirt. Now I'm home, safe and sound with my family, something for which I give thanks every day. And almost every day it seems I read something that tells me I beat the odds. Take this story, for instance, depicting a potential crisis emerging at VA healthcare facilities
Mental Disorders Are On The Rise Among Afghanistan, Iraq Veterans
Funding cuts could overburden system
As many as one out of four veterans of Afghanistan and Iraq treated at Veterans Affairs hospitals in the past 16 months were diagnosed with mental disorders, a number that has been steadily rising, according to a report in today's New England Journal of Medicine.
Records show that 20% of eligible ex-soldiers came to VA hospitals seeking medical treatment between October 2003 and February 2005. Overall, 26% of them were diagnosed with mental disorders, say Han Kang and Kenneth Hyams of the VA.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was most common, diagnosed in 10% of patients, followed by drug or alcohol abuse (9%). Seven percent were diagnosed with depression; 6% had anxiety disorders, such as phobias and panic. Many ex-soldiers had multiple disorders, Kang says.
But these are tentative diagnoses. Sometimes they were made by primary-care doctors and not yet confirmed by mental health specialists, he says.
Some frightening numbers, but like the oft-cited suicide statistic (raw numbers are often tossed about, but it's rarely noted that military suicides lag those of similar demographics in the civilian sector) the meaningful data would be how do these veteran's numbers compare to the population as a whole?
Drug or alcohol abuse was diagnosed in 9% of patients. All Americans:
An estimated 17.6 million American adults (8.5 percent) meet standard diagnostic criteria for an alcohol use disorder and approximately 4.2 million (2 percent) meet criteria for a drug use disorder. Overall, about one-tenth (9.4 percent) of American adults, or 19.4 million persons, meet clinical criteria for a substance use disorder -- either an alcohol or drug use disorder or both -- according to results from the 2001-2002 National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC) reported in the current Archives of General Psychiatry [Volume 61, August 2004: 807-816].In other words, the numbers are amazingly similar at 9 percent.
Seven percent were diagnosed with depression. Of the American population as a whole,
Dr. Kessler and his colleagues found that 6.6 percent of adults in America had major depression in a year and that 16.2 percent -- or about one in six people -- were likely to have major episodes in their lifetimes. The rates did not differ based on where people lived but varied for men and women and by income level.Another amazing similarity.
6% had anxiety disorders, such as phobias and panic. America:
As a group, anxiety disorders afflict nearly nine percent of Americans during any six-month period. Symptoms can be so severe that patients are almost totally disabled -- too terrified to leave their homes, to enter the elevator that takes them to their offices, to attend parties or to shop for food.
Leaving PTSD - diagnosed in 10% of patients. The National Institute of Mental Health says PTSD affects about 5.2 million adult Americans. This would be about 2.5 percent of the population based on the conversions used above. You'd expect the numbers to be higher among returning combat vets - but you'd be wrong.
Sharp readers noted that there's another reduction that must be applied to the military totals above. You see, the percentages given were percentages of patients. Repeating:
Records show that 20% of eligible ex-soldiers came to VA hospitals seeking medical treatment between October 2003 and February 2005. Overall, 26% of them were diagnosed with mental disorders.
So only about one quarter of one fifth of all vets were diagnosed with any disorder. Since I took math in college I'll tell you this means only 5% of all vets were diagnosed with anything. So in reality, only 2% (10% of 20%) were diagnosed with PTSD - and this was the most common diagnosis.
If all the various claims above are accurate - and I've no reason to dispute them, the numbers turn out like this:
Percentages of all Americans / OIF and OEF Vets with
PTSD: 2.4% / 2%
Drug/Alcohol abuse: 9.4% / 1.8%
Depression: 6.6% / 1.4%
Anxiety disorders (phobias and panic): 6% / 1.2%
Let's be clear about this: returning vets deserve the best treatment available. Spare no expense! But these numbers for my fellow vets are so low they're stunning, especially in an article headlined "Mental Disorders Are On The Rise Among Afghanistan, Iraq Veterans - Funding cuts could overburden system". While that might be factual, it also appears intentionally deceptive.
Mrs Greyhawk has a new job - shopkeeper!. We've already tried a few items, they look great.
Found via the Photobloggies Awards, a wealth of links to some great photoblogs. (What else?)
Something for everyone, perhaps a welcome diversion for many.
Did the Post change it's tune?
Can anyone provide a quote from a dead tree version of the Washington Post? That would be harder to modify...
Update: The third is here. Is there any point in linking more?
Kathryn Lopez was following this long before it was the story, was deeply invested in it but she never lost her vision or her humanity - I wish I could say that about more people. The cross-every-barrier divide on this event was illustrated quite well at the Corner, where many disagreements were aired but reason maintained.
Individual responses to the killing of Terri Schiavo (I'm somewhat of an expert on killing, this meets the definition) were indeed drawn from that deep well of the human soul where politics doesn't reach. That such a place still exists within so many of us is uplifting, perhaps awareness of it is a positive result of this dark tale.
I mean, any GI will tell you a school bulletin board is no place for a picture of a Marine holding his gun, after all...
(Love the Marine Corps moms - but they gotta get the nomenclature straight :)
Update: Mudville readers are the best! Thanks to Jarhead Dad
Terri Schiavo is dead.
Update: Fox News:
Terri Schiavo died Thursday morning around 10 a.m. EST after her parents had plead with her husband Michael Schiavo to allow them to be at their brain-damaged daughter's bedside in her final hours, a spokesman for the family said.
According to Fox they were denied.
WIESBADEN, Germany (AP) -- A military court on Thursday found a U.S. Army tank company commander guilty of charges related to the shooting death of a wounded Iraqi last year.
Capt. Rogelio "Roger" Maynulet stood at attention as Lt. Col. Laurence Mixon, the head of the six-member panel, read the verdict.
Maynulet, 30, maintained that the man was gravely wounded and he shot him to end his suffering.
The killing was filmed by an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle.
Dear Mr & Mrs Greyhawk It's hard to believe, but it has been one year since Chrenkoff declared the beginning of major combat operations while addressing a small group of close friends onboard the aircraft carrier Australia. Thank you for your support over the past twelve months!
Thank You Arthur for a year of good news.
Army Times reporter, Gina Cavallaro writes about her personal experience on a tragic day in Iraq. A day where she not only witness the death of a soldier but the death of a friend.
This is a column I hoped I would never have to write. It?s about the death of a soldier... <...>
"...Martinez became my shadow, a little brother who watched out for me in the two or three hours we walked through the Tamin area of Ramadi.
Read the whole thing but be for warned take the tissues.
Blackfive featured him here
My Blog is your Blog. Exercise free speech here. Link and comment, if not, certainly check out those who do. I've found so many great blogs that way...
The UN isn't just about Oil-For-Food. Remember Kosovo? Here's the latest on UN efforts to establish a new government there:
23 March 2005 ? The United Nations administrator of Kosovo today welcomed the Kosovo Assembly's election of a new government, following the previous prime minister's resignation and surrender on war crimes charges earlier this month, as reflecting the province's democratic process and the proper functioning of institutions which have shown political maturity within the constitutional framework.
An amazing feat that only took 6 years.
The UN has run Kosovo since the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) drove out Yugoslav troops in 1999 amid grave human rights abuses in the fighting between Serbs and Albanians. Ethnic Albanians in Kosovo outnumber other ethnic groups, mainly Serbs, by about 9 to 1.
Of course, the UN is urging the Serbs in Belgrade to encourage the Serbs in Kosovo to participate in the Government:
The United Nations administrator of Kosovo met with top Serbian leaders in Belgrade today and urged them to encourage Kosovo Serbs to participate in the political process in the province where Albanians outnumber Serbs and other minorities 9 to 1.
No word on whether the government will be legitimate without Serb support.
Meanwhile, in a related story:
An elderly Serb couple were assaulted and severely injured on Monday by unknown attackers in their village in the northwest of Kosovo, police and medical sources in Kosovo said.
The Serbian agency SRNA said the attackers were "a gang of Albanians", though there was no independent confirmation. Attacks on minority Serbs by ethnic Albanians -- and vice versa -- have triggered cycles of revenge in the past.
The victims were identified as Nedeljko and Nevenka Vucic, aged 71 and 73. They were taken to a Serb hospital on the northern side of the divided city of Kosovska Mitrovica.
"Nedeljko had concussion and injuries caused by sharp and blunt objects. His head was severely injured, his ribs were broken. Surgery was necessary for his lungs," doctor Aleksandar Bozovic told Reuters.
"His right ear was cut off and he was stabbed with a metal object in the spine," Bozovic said.
"Nevenka has several cuts on her head and severe injuries to the chest caused by stabs and blows. Her life is endangered. She will undergo further surgery at 2 p.m.," he added.
Calling for the perpetrators to be quickly apprehended and brought to justice, officials in Belgrade and Pristina on Tuesday (29 March) condemned an attack carried out the previous day against an elderly Kosovo Serb couple.
She could probably use some encouragement.
But she's not alone. There's Jim, who bumped into Risawn and recognized her as "the blogger" and who is a blogger himself. He has also just recently arrived there and he has some awesome pics that gives you a real taste of Kosovo. Just scroll to view them all.
"I feel so passionate about this injustice being done, how unnecessary it is to deny her a feeding tube, water, not even ice to be used for her parched lips," he said. "This is a moral issue and it transcends politics and family disputes."
A federal appeals court early Wednesday agreed to consider a petition for a new hearing on whether to reconnect Terri Schiavo's feeding tube.
As brain-injured Terri Schiavo enters her 13th day of starvation in Florida after nearly a decade-long court dispute over her fate, a U.S. Army captain is being court-martialed in Wiesbaden, Germany, and facing 20 years for the mercy killing of a suspected Iraqi terrorist under battlefield conditions.
The Florida state constitution declares unequivocally that in the state of Florida "the supreme executive power shall be vested in a governor ? ." The word supreme means highest in authority. There can be no executive authority in the state of Florida higher than the governor. No state law can create an executive authority higher than highest in the Florida constitution. Therefore no court order based upon such a law can constitutionally create such an authority.
The Pope?s doctors are considering an operation to insert a tube into his abdomen so that he can be fed without having to swallow, according to Vatican sources. It came as one expert said that he doubted that the Pope would speak again. Stefano Ruggiero, Professor of Neurology at Rome University, said: ?He has extraordinary physical robustness and an iron will, but he simply does not have the strength left in his vocal cords.?
(HT to Chris Short)
An open post, with your blogging tip of the day:
Michael from A Day In Iraq was sitting there on top of the tank with his buddy, watching the Iraqi world pass them by and feeling sorry for themselves on Easter. They would much rather be out fighting the bad guys than pulling guard duty. When out of nowhere like angels sent from heaven, two young boys appeared. They had a message to deliver, written on a white piece of paper.
Hat tip to Assumption of Command
Special Forces Alpha Geek - he actually started his blog on return from Afghanistan, but his vacation there is what the blog's about.
I think you'll want to spend some time reading his site. His vacation was probably different than your last trip to Disneyland...
Open Post, with your quick blogging tip of the day.
Fellow MilBlogger James Joyner, who I mentioned earlier today, also offers a regular open post on his blog Outside the Beltway.
I'm not sure what happens if you link an open post with an open post, I fear some sort of extra-dimensional feedback loop that hurls all involved through some sort of hyperspace warp thing - but what's life without risk after all?
Vietnam veteran and author John Harriman returns to Mudville with the fourth installment of his series Warrior to Warrior, letters from a Vietnam veteran to our soldiers in Iraq. See the intro to the series here).
Give Press Credit Where Due
By John Harriman
Dear Warrior . . .
Note to self: If you're going to anoint yourself a press critic, keep both eyes open, not just the one on the right.
I read a cool story Saturday about a kind of "America's Most Wanted" television show in Iraq.
The premise of the show is as plain vanilla as you can imagine, no special effects, no sexual innuendo, no blood-and-guts betrayals--no, wait a minute, that's wrong. The program is all about blood and guts situations brought about by terrorists.
The state-run Iraqi station sits a captured terrorist in a chair and turns on the lights, the camera and the questions. A voice off-camera is that of an interrogator asking questions about how the terrorist chose his profession.
According to the embedded reporter who wrote the story, one Edward Lee Pitt, writing for the Chattanooga Times Free Press, it's all the rage in Iraq. The whole country shuts down every night to watch the program.
What's more, the reporter reports, the program debunks the notion of the motives and origins of the terrorists, although Pitts still refers to them as insurgents. The terrorists reveal that they're not in the killing game as soldiers in a holy war in the defense of Iraq. No, they're in it for the money.
Pitts writes: "The program reveals that insurgents get paid about $200 for setting a roadside bomb, $200 to $500 for a car bomb and as much as $5,000 for detonating a car bomb near a mosque."
Other revelations in the very pro-Iraqi, pro-military story:
? Terrorists are now mainly targeting Iraqis instead of Americans.
? Alcohol, drugs and sex are used as rewards for a successful attack.
? Many terrorists are foreigners, mainly Syrians.
According to Pitts, ordinary Iraqis, incensed by the true nature of terrorists starring in the program, have begun ratting out other terrorists.
In a terrific punchline to his story, Pitts quotes one terrorist who was asked on-camera if he had any advice for young Iraqis watching the program.
"'Let them find a good job,' the terrorist said, according to a translator. 'This is not safe.'"
I mention this story for three reasons.
First, the report is good news for you in the fight against terrorism in Iraq. The program is an extraordinary step in the contest for the hearts and minds of the ordinary Iraqi citizen. People are watching this show in mobs and learning that terrorists are not fighting for them but for their own selfish motives. It's also a nice aside that terrorists are showing signs of getting discouraged.
Second, a U.S. reporter is reporting the story back home. So writers like me who complain about bias in the press ought to give a tip of hat to a positive report from the front.
Third, the reporter is Edward Lee Pitts. He's the guy who planted the question with a soldier from a National Guard unit, the 278th Armored Cavalry, about lack of armor way back when. You boys from the Montana Guard ought to remember because you were in the audience. The question led to the national uproar aimed at Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld over his "You go to war with the army you have . . ." remark.
Personally, I never had a problem with the notion of a planted question. I figured Rumsfeld was a big boy. If he agreed to take questions from soldiers in an open forum, then any question was fair game. True to my expectations, he handled the question very well in his full response. But . . .
The uproar ensued because the other big boys in the game, the national press, took a piece of the full answer out of context and went after Rumsfeld, beating him with it like a two-dollar mule.
But that's old news. The new news?
It's time to give Edward Lee Pitts a pat on the back. I've read some of his other stories. He is given to reporting news on all sorts of positive developments. Saving lives, aiding Iraqi governments, even winning military victories. But this one? This story is priceless.
Good work, Mr. Pitts.
Till next week . . .
God bless you and Godspeed.
John is a veteran of two combat tours in Vietnam and a member of the American Legion. These columns are excerpts from an upcoming book of the same title. His current book, Delta Force #1 : Operation Michael's Sword is a fictional account of the 9/11 attacks and the early days of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Many updates to this post, for those who aren't used to such things here.
Afghanistan, in fact. Here's Firepower Forward - The Cutting Edge of Freedom. From the about info on the site:
Brian is a US Soldier. After 2 years of enlisted service with the 101st Airborne Division, He took an early discharge to attend ROTC and complete his BA in Economics before returning to active duty as a Field Artillery and later an Ordnance officer. After completing his MBA in Finance at St. Bonaventure University, he left active duty in favor of a career with Merrill Lynch. Recalled to active duty as a Reservist in support of Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom, he was offered the reinstatement of his Regular Army Commission. With his former students and soldiers in uniform and in harms way, he accepted the offer, resigned his position with Merrill, and is now serving as the Battalion Executive Officer of the 191st Ordnance Battalion in Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom.
This New York Times article on the tough times faced by Army recruiters has prompted an interesting cross-blog conversation on the topic, conducted by people who know what they're talking about. Start with Milblogger James Joyner at Outside the Beltway:
One suspects George Patton would slap these guys silly with a glove. We've got soldiers in Iraq getting killed by terrorists with IEDs and these guys are having ulcers and going AWOL because they're getting strongly worded memos?!Which brought this response from Jack Army
First, almost all (notice the qualifier) detailed recruiters that I have talked to would rather be in Iraq or Afghanistan. Just to be sure you understand: Soldiers would rather go to a war zone with the potential for death and serious injury rather than be at home trying to recruit more Soldiers. If that doesn't tell you something, then you refuse to understand the difficulty of recruiting duty.Corrie Dauber at Ranting Profs chimes in:
It is interesting, isn't, that as things get better in Iraq, the recruiters' job gets no easier? It's interesting, too, that the Times gets a bit snarky when commanders send emails to the recruiters bashing them for not making quota that don't take the war into account as a factor in their difficulties, but never considers the idea that the coverage of the war might be a factor as well?And Jason Van Steenwyk at Countercolumn
Given the recent circulation scandals (which don't affect the Times, as far as I know, to its credit), the newspaper advertising sales force is going through pressures of its own, and reacting in similar ways.
Update: My own two cents: recruiting is rough duty. Faced with a choice between that and returning to Iraq I'd likely return to the sandbox - guess I'm with Jack on that one. I'm a fan of James' blog - have been for a while, but I wonder if even his contrast between the rigors of recruiting and war was influenced somewhat by media coverage - I know my pre-deployment view of Iraq was, even though I also knew most of that coverage to be sensational and wrong. Which of course supports what Professor Dauber was saying - if I could be swayed a little think how that same media coverage plays in the minds of recruits.
Certainly there's no denying that the military is losing a "demographic group" that once helped swell the ranks. Those folks who joined "for an education" are now seeking opportunities elsewhere.
And make no mistake about it, recruiting is tough duty. I knew an Air Force recruiter - an E6 with over 10 years in service - who burned out at that task in just a couple of years during the late 1990's - long before the war on terror was acknowledged for what it was. Extreme hours, travel, and pressure combined to quickly wear him down, and the experience over all was not a pleasant one at the time nor did it ultimately become a fond memory for him. (Disclaimer, he had volunteered for the duty to get close to home due to the fact a close relative was terminally ill, this certainly didn't help.)
Not everyone experiences the same results. And not all days for recruiters are all bad. Check out what this crew is up to. And consider this Blue State nightmare - your kid goes off to Spring Break with your car and credit card then comes home not only broke and sunburned but with a contract for military service too.
Update 2: An Air Force recruiter sends in this little
recruiting prop beauty (click for high-res):
A cutom-made USAF Bike from the Orange County Chopper crew, making it's debut appearance at the Golden Corral 500. It's complete with Stealth Bomber gas tank, Air Force symbol spokes, F-22 rear views, and a round for an A-10 Thunderbolt's GAU-8/A 30mm Avenger Cannon. Sweet.
Of course, somewhere an Army recruiter is getting chewed for not thinking of this one...
Update 3: I stand corrected (yet again!) by a commenter! Scott T points out: "American Chopper did a pair of episodes (Part 1+Part 2) of building a "Commanche" bike. So the Army's gotten their shot already."
The same link has a POW bike, and you can view both it and the Commanche from multiple angles there.
Meanwhile, on a related note (related to recruiting and manpower, I mean. After all, that was what we were talking about, right?) a couple of stories indicating retension is pretty good for the US GI's in Germany, many of whom are just back from Iraq. Could it be the lack of exposure to American media has left them with some sort of a sense of pride?
Under the headline Army retention rates booming among 1st ID, 1st AD soldiers in Europe comes an analogy I wouldn't have made, but it gets the point across.
Many vow they?re getting out, said Sgt. Maj. William Sharpsteen, command career counselor for U.S. Army Europe in Heidelberg. But soldiers coming out of the desert often are like the pregnant woman who swears she?ll never go through all that pain and discomfort again, Sharpsteen said. ?Then a month after the delivery, she?s talking about having another baby.?Read the whole thing, as a wise man once said.
A companion piece examines the motives for Soldiers deciding to stay or go. Among them:
Spc. Alphonso Rodriguez, 27, of Company C, 1st Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment, plans to transfer to the Air Force, largely because of what he feels are better educational opportunities.In reality that depends more on your actual job than your branch of service.
His switch has nothing to do with Iraq, Rodriguez said. He praised the 1st AD chain of command, adding that he had a first sergeant and noncommissioned officers who ?did everything for troops,? and morale in Iraq was high.
?I love the Army. But I think the Air Force has better educational opportunities,? he said.
I think he just digs the Air Force bike...
Update 4: Funny - after reading informed blog content like the four sites linked above to find this in the Boston Globe. And by "funny" I mean not funny. Parts of this might be truth...
When Richard Nixon abolished the draft a generation ago, he effectively relieved citizens of any obligation to participate in the nation's defense. Military service became strictly a matter of individual choice, one that the Pentagon promoted as a job opportunity.but this is wrong:
As a consequence, the military establishment that emerged by the 1990s as a preeminent symbol of revived national self-confidence and self-esteem was in no sense representative of American society. Its members came not from the suburbs but from the farm and the inner city, not from Harvard but from Prairie View A & M.It's an opinion piece, but in this instance the author is uninformed - or lying. The military is indeed representative of America. I'm from the suburbs, as are many others far as I can tell. Honestly it's not something we care enough about to ask. The reality is that the largest group of those currently serving are from military families.
And Harvard grads must be present to make a group representative of America?
Daryl who? According to the web site, Cagle is "the political cartoonist for Slate.com, the opinion site of The Washington Post. He is a past president of the National Cartoonists Society and his cartoons are syndicated to over eight hundred newspapers".
"Liberals think this case is all about the rule of law. Conservatives think the case is all about morality. Political cartoonists know the case is all about feeding tubes. Feeding tubes are funny. "
Go see if you laugh, as Cagle rounds up the funnies from his fellow cartoonists.
Then maybe we can all agree that Cagle and his buddies are tools.
I've been really torn on this whole situation. On one hand I'm a believer in the courts, I don't like to bypass due process, and I am not convinced that the judges and experts involved are actively working to "murder" Terri. But on the other hand I'm deeply skeptical of the results in this specific case. And also of the Florida law that created this mess, which I hope to see amended. I'm a firm believer to one's right to die IF it is proven beyond a doubt that is their wish. My first problem I have is that I don't feel comfortable that Terri's wishes were clearly proven without a doubt. However I do feel It's unfair to ask Gov. Bush to intervene. I feel for Terri's parents but these people seems to gone over the deep end and really have no right lash out at the Gov. in this manner. Gov. Bush has already asked the state courts for permission to take custody of Schiavo and has been denied.
Which brings me to my second issue. When Michael decided to start seeing another woman. Florida law states, whoever lives in an open state of adultery shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083." Reportedly, punishment for a misdemeanor of the second degree can be up to 60 days imprisonment. Why haven't the courts revoked his guardianship? If a spouse is unfaithful and has gone so far as having children by another woman, that spouse should not be allowed guardianship. He acted as a man that was divorced or widowed and he was neither. These special circumstances do not mean you can have it both ways. You marry for better or for worse, till death or "divorce" do you part. If he wanted to move on with his life, which I can understand then he should had dignified her with a divorce. What I do think Gov. Bush should be doing is working on amending some of Florida's laws that will have some clear stipulations, to guardianship. Marriage alone shouldn't be it.
All these issue aside, I really think that death-by-dehydration as the cause/means of death is a central issue. I also don't personally consider removing food and water from anyone to be an humane or "dignified" means of euthanasia. And that is whats being done, she is being euthanized. It's no longer about her living by artificial means. It's about pulling the plug and letting her die. If this were about keeping her on a respirator then I don't think there would be an issue. If, when they removed her feeding tube, they tried to nourish her by mouth, as the would grant any parapalegic, then the "intent" maybe wouldn't be so obvious. It has been stated by some doctors that if she can swallow her own saliva, which she does then she can probably drink small amounts of fluid. She has been denied this. If she didn't want to be hooked up to tubes, then this wish has been granted, but does that mean they shouldn't try to feed her by mouth?
If we proposed to kill a mass murderer, an enemy combatant/terroist, or even a dumb animal by depriving them of food and water, we would be condemned as inhumane. Whether the law allows this or not seems to me to be irrelevant, and I'm baffled as to how those who argue for the removal of her feeding tube can use that as a defense of the actions taken.
Yesterday Terri was finally allowed her Last Rites by her husband, who a day earlier denied a request from his wife's parents that she be given communion. Which to me seems to show it is about making sure she dies as opposed to being an issue of living with artificial means. Terri just may get some nourishment from wine and a wafer. Not to worry Michael, the Rev. Thaddeus Malanowski said he gave Terri a drop of wine but could not give her a fleck of communion bread because her tongue was too parched. So no nourishment recieved.
And now the inevitable seems will happen and a new battle will begin.
Our favorite poet sends:
The ?No Right Answer? Game (Inspired by ? The Wrong Army,? by Jeff Edwards, USN, Ret., warrior and novelist)
America?s forces have won all their wars,
From Revolution to war in Iraq;
And Lefties don?t point to the Vietnam War,
Where you stabbed winning troops in the back.
No, the truth is we win; we win time and again;
Done it time after time after time.
Doesn?t matter to you, ?cause whatever we do,
We?ve always somehow dropped the dime.
o Lefties our generals just have to be wrong,
Wrong tactics, wrong weapons, wrong forces;
We?re the gang who somehow can never shoot straight,
To hear the mainstream media sources.
Just look at their headlines, view every day?s news,
With their blistering barrages of blame.
To warriors out here at the point of the spear,
It?s those losers? ?No Right Answer,? game.
In this lugubrious game loved by Liberal elites,
There?s just but one rule to enforce:
Whatever we do, in whatever war,
Must naturally be wrong of course.
There is no right answer, no matter what,
Even when our warriors are winning;
There?s always the sly implication we lie,
In the splenetic stories they?re spinning.
In peacetime they charge our forces too large
During wartime they squall they?re too small;
In peacetime they whine we?re spending too much;
But in war, ?Where?s the armor for all??
With consummate confidence they know what?s best,
Puerile pundits so smug and so smarmy,
Pontificate loud to their Liberal crowd,
That we once again have the wrong Army.
Pick a war, any war, or a period of peace;
Field marshals of the media are spinning;
If generals of journalism are so in the know,
Why are genuine generals winning?
So here at the front, harsh home of the grunt,
We ignore their attempts to defame.
The troops know the score, know what this war's for;
They can stuff their ?No Right Answer,? game.
SSGT Russ Vaughn
2d Bn, 327th Parachute Infantry Regiment
101st Airborne Division
?The Wrong Army? can be found here:
Just to let you know that this being Monday morning, the new "Good news from
Iraq" is here, bigger and better than ever. Mind you, the way we're going,
pretty soon the MSM might finally put me out of business...
...but if that happens, thank you for publicizing the series when no one
else would talk about positive developments in Iraq.
The Greyhawks send wishes for a joyous Easter to you and yours. Thanks for stopping by.
From a memo ABC purports to be "Republican talking points" in the Terri Schiavo case: "This is an important moral issue and the pro-life base will be excited that the Senate is debating this important issue."
On this I'm very much inclined to agree with John Hinderaker, who says "It does not sound like something written by a conservative; it sounds like a liberal fantasy of how conservatives talk."
It's an invocation of a liberal boogeyman, you see. Republican Senators pander to a right-wing, Christian, ultra-conservative base - Jesusland. Jesusland was last invoked in strength in the aftermath of the Democrat's November meltdown, a handy excuse for missing the mark, for failing to resonate with voters. Quality of candidates and platforms meant nothing - moral values were the hinge on which the elections turned. Iraq meant nothing to the average voter. The New York Times even went so far as to claim that gay marriage was the only issue that really mattered to GI's deployed there. The drooling fanatics of Jesusland, you see, are running this country. In fact, they are running it into the ground.
The Democrat's embrace of post-election denial was painfully obvious to everyone who saw it. Most observers turned away wincing, hoping to spare them some shred of dignity. Now in the Schiavo case the specter of the Boogeyman of Jesusland rises up again and folks from all over are eager to believe. The left again, of course, but they are eager to believe virtually anyone or anything that trots down the pike under the banner of notBush. But for others there's a different sort of catharsis involved. Having sided with the powers that be for so long they need redemption, they must do something - perform some act of contrition to show they aren't becoming that way. Kicking an imaginary Boogeyman from Jesusland seems like a fine tonic for those who still haven't completely come to accept that whether one is a progressive or an entrenched zealot or something in between has nothing to do with degree of religious faith, any more than one's degree of gullibility does.
Speculation about a 'fracturing coalition' of libertarians and conservatives then follows.
To blame the political abuse of the "religious right" for the prolonging of the drama surrounding Terri Schiavo is to ignore the fact that responses to the case are no doubt the most personal of feelings, coming from some deep well of the human soul where politics can't reach. Whether you're for or against sustaining Terri Schiavo's life is no predictor of your demographic; political, religious, geographic, or otherwise. For most the decision is tough. Perhaps more so for those who'd say "let her die". It's hard for fundamentally decent, caring people to reconcile their humanity with letting someone starve to death, so it helps to create a Christian boogeyman that they can oppose. Starvation is certainly preferable to what the Boogeyman from Jesusland has in store for her, after all.
The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.
Let's run through the big (say, in the top 500 of all blogs) conservative Christian right wing moral majority bloggers for an overview of their thoughts on the Terri Schiavo situation. The real Bible thumpers, the fire-and-brimstone guys that are just as much a threat to our freedoms as Islamic fundamentalists who'd kill us all if they had a chance because religious zealotry in all it's forms is bad - you know, the sorts of characters we all love to hate. Here they are:
Well, that's the end of that list. Like a punch from Mohammed Ali - you wanna see it again? Even though there are now over 8 million blogs listed on technorati none of the top blogs is in that category. Perhaps these people don't have computers yet?
Ann Coulter - someone I've taken to task on this site for other issues - devoted a chapter of a recent book (search inside at the link for Shadowboxing the Apocryphal "Religious Right") to effectively debunking the notion of the powerful religious right. Financially they don't come close to the political contributions of Unions and other professional organizations. And as bloc voters they fail to approach the homogenous activity of virtually any other group you could name.
Meanwhile, the left doesn't get it. Don't believe me? Check the title of this book. God's Politics : Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It. From the book's description:
While the Right in America has hijacked the language of faith to prop up its political agenda -- an agenda not all people of faith support -- the Left hasn't done much better, largely ignoring faith and continually separating moral discourse and personal ethics from public policy. While the Right argues that God's way is their way, the Left pursues an unrealistic separation of religious values from morally grounded political leadership. The consequence is a false choice between ideological religion and soulless politics.
What the left really doesn't get though is that Christians really aren't poorly educated and easily led halfwits duped by a Bible-thumping president into hijacking America. So they're not going to get anywhere 'enlightening the heathen' with God's true word. And for every "religious right" voter there's already at least one member of a congregation across town who'll make that Jesus-as-socialist argument too. Still, this book should appeal strongly to all religious Democrats who didn't know that John Kerry spent every Sunday of last year making political speeches from the pulpit's of America's churches.
Note the fire sale price.
Back to the top of the blogosphere's MIA religious right. One could argue the religious right as a massive and coherent political force actually does exist but hasn't reached the level of political savvy or internet sophistication to blog effectively. This of course refutes other myths regarding funding, power, and organizational skills of this group.
But those religious right nuts are on the internet, of course. How else to explain these comments at the Reverend Don Sensing's blog, in response to his post in support of withdrawing Terri Schiavo's feeding tube:
Nice try, Donald. This was a typical moronic post by a typically morally brain dead fool. The more you shit expose yourselves the more us on God's side look forward to the judgment and the metaphorical pulling of all you liberal shit's feeding tube. Good riddance, filth. Christian | 03.26.05 - 12:56 pm | #
Signs of the fracturing coalition? Remarks of a true Christian? No - because that comment is not made by a Christian, regardles of what the signature block says. Like the highly touted memo from ABC, this doesn't sound like a Christian - it's a liberal's fantasy of a Christian.
So where are the real Christians? If you aren't one of them, rest assured that although not a majority there are some within a few hundred yards of you. And Christians everywhere in America are busy this weekend praying. For America, for the world, and for peace for Terri Schiavo and her family. Yes, even for Michael.
And celebrating a season of rebirth, and redemption.
...a fine day to read Donald Sensing's blog. That's true any day though. For those who've never "met" him, he's a career Army officer who retired to become a pastor, and his oldest son is now serving in the Marine Corps. He's a voice of reason in a contentious world, and he's always been one of my favorite reads.
Will build this post throughout the day, with links to the "newly deployed" Milbloggers of OIF III. See how they're doing on Easter, the first "big" holiday of their stay in the desert.
Guys like Dadmanly, who's a First Sergeant in Iraq.
Reverse Retna from the Sandlot He's been having a rough time with his blog while mortar attacks are heard in the background.
Not just Easter, but Dave's birthday! Happy B-day, Dave!
A Day in Iraq seeks forgiveness...
National Guard Experience: it's still winter in parts of Afghanistan
Doc in the Box is homebound...
...Grey Eagle is about to deploy.
Delobius soldiers on
Red2alpha does too.
Major K has plenty to say.
Take a few minutes if you can today, to say thanks to those who are sacrificing to make your world more peaceful this season.
The Mrs. decided that this year the kids were all too old for Easter. Or at least that part of Easter involving a basket with colored eggs and candy and a few other little things. Even when the youngest pointed out that simply stopping such a tradition for all of them in the same year was shorting her more than her older brother and sister the Mrs. seemed steadfast. The other two, she explained, only had the benefit of Easter baskets over the past couple years because of her, after all, and... well... anyway, she wasn't going to do baskets this year and that's final!
Which is how we found ourselves at the exchange last night picking up the things we needed for Easter baskets. The Mrs. hit the candy aisle and picked up a couple little jewelry items while I hit the books and DVD section of the store, where I found this item. I picked it up with a bit of hesitation - the book as I remembered it was a favorite of mine when I was a bit younger than my youngest is now, so I wasn't sure if it would work. Aside from the age-appropriate issue was the question does it still inspire?" It looked to be a made-for-TV movie, after all, so obviously it wasn't going to have the production standards of The Lord of the Rings, or meet the expectations of any for whom those films are now the paradigm of DVD-formatted epic fantasy.
Did I mention it was but a few hours until Easter? Into the basket it went. Fast forward to Easter Sunday. We just watched it, the whole family. That's a middle schooler, a high schooler, and a college guy watching together, along with mom and dad. The story held up well. The combination of science, science fiction, fantasy, and theology built around a female central character was ahead of it's time, and the theme of the ongoing battle between light and darkness played amazingly well today.
Highly recommended - if for no other reason than to entice any younger readers in your world to delve into the books. (This being the first in a series of four.)
This excerpt from the first volume defines the conflict:
Meg looked into the crystal ball, at first with caution, then with increasing eagerness, as she seemed to see an enormous sweep of dark and empty space, and then galaxies swinging across it. Finally they seemed to move in closer on one of the galaxies.
"Your own Milky Way," Mrs. Whatsit whispered to Meg.
They were headed directly toward the center of the galaxy; then they moved off to one side; stars seemed to be rushing at them. Meg flung her arm up over her face as though to ward off the blow.
"Llookk!" Mrs. which commanded.
Meg dropped her arm. They seemed to be moving in toward a planet. She thought she could make out polar ice caps. Everything seemed sparkling clear.
"No, no, Medium dear, that's Mars," Mrs. Whatsit reproved gently.
"Do I have to?" the Medium asked.
"Nnoww!" Mrs. Which commanded.
The bright planet moved out of their vision. For a moment there was the darkness of space; then another planet. The outlines of the planet were not clean and clear. It seemed to be covered with a smoky haze. Through the haze Meg thought she could make out the familiar outlines of continents like pictures in her Social Studies books.
"Is it because of our atmosphere that we can't see properly?" she asked anxiously.
"Nno, Mmegg, yyou knnoww thatt itt iss nnott tthee attmosspheere, " Mrs. Which said. "Yyou mmusstt bee brrave."
"It's the Thing!" Charles Wallace cried. "It's the Dark Thing we saw from the mountain peak on Uriel when we were riding on Mrs. Whatsit's back!"
"Did it just come?" Meg asked in agony, unable to take her eyes from the sickness of the shadow which darkened the beauty of the earth. "Did it just come while we've been gone?"
Mrs. Which's voice seemed very tired. "Ttell herr," she said to Mrs. Whatsit.
Mrs. Whatsit sighed. "No, Meg. It hasn't just come. It has been there for a great many years. That is why your planet is such a troubled one.
"But why --" Calvin started to ask, his voice croaking hoarsely...
"But what is it?" Calvin demanded. "We know that it's evil, but what is it?"
"Yyouu hhave ssaidd itt!" Mrs. Which's voice rang out. "Itt iss Eevill. Itt iss thee Ppowers of Ddarrkknesss!"
"But what's going to happen?" Meg's voice trembled. "Oh please, Mrs. Which, tell us what's going to happen!"
"Wee wwill cconttinnue tto ffightt!"
Something in Mrs. Which's voice made all three of the children stand straighter, throwing back their shoulders with determination, looking at the glimmer that was Mrs. Which with pride and confidence.
"And we're not alone, you know, children," came Mrs. Whatsit, the comforter. "All through the universe it's being fought, all through the cosmos, and my, but it's a grand and exciting battle. I know it's hard for you to understand about size, how there's very little difference in the size of the tiniest microbe and the greatest galaxy. You think about that, and maybe it won't seem strange to you that some of our very best fighters have come right from your own little planet, and it's a little planet, dears, out on the edge of a little galaxy. You can be proud that it's done so well."
"Who have our fighters been?" Calvin asked.
"Oh, you must know them, dear," Mrs. Whatsit said.
Mrs. Who's spectacles shone out at them triumphantly. "And the light shineth in the darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not."
"Jesus!" Charles Wallace said. "Why of course, Jesus!"
"Of course!" Mrs. Whatsit said. "Go on, Charles, love. There were others. All your great artists. They've been lights for us to see by."
"Leonardo da Vinci?" Calvin suggested tentatively. "And Michelangelo?"
"And Shakespeare," Charles Wallace called out, "and Bach! And Pasteur and Madame Curie and Einstein!"
Now Calvin's voice rang with confidence. "And Schweitzer and Gandhi and Buddha and Beethoven and Rembrandt and St. Francis!"
That list was shortened for the movie version though. Jesus did not appear, nor the reference to scripture, though St. Francis, Buddha, and Gandhi all made the grade.
I won't speculate as to motive of those who made an otherwise excellent film, but if you've read the book you know that's another small victory for the darkness.
More to come?
Since its conception as a holy celebration in the second century, Easter has had its non-religious side. Many of you I'm sure know, Easter was originally a pagan festival then turned to be the celebration of the resurrection of Christ with a little help of Christians.
The ancient Saxons celebrated the return of spring with an uproarious festival commemorating their goddess of offspring and of springtime, Eastre. When the second-century Christian missionaries encountered the tribes of the north with their pagan celebrations, they attempted to convert them to Christianity. They did so, however, in a discreet manner.
It would have been suicide for the very early Christian converts to celebrate their holy days with observances that did not coincide with celebrations that already existed. To save lives, the missionaries cleverly decided to spread their religious message slowly throughout the populations by allowing them to continue to celebrate pagan feasts, but to do so in a Christian manner.
As it happened, the pagan festival of Eastre occurred at the same time of year as the Christian observance of the resurrection of Christ. It made sense, therefore, to alter the festival itself, to make it a Christian celebration as converts were slowly won over. The early name, Eastre, was eventually changed to its modern spelling, Easter.
The Easter Bunny is not a modern invention. The symbol also originated with the pagan festival of Eastre. The goddess, Eastre, was worshipped by the Anglo-Saxons through her earthly symbol, the hare.
From the earliest times, the egg was a symbol of rebirth in most cultures. Eggs were often wrapped in gold leaf or, if you were a peasant, colored brightly by boiling them with the leaves or petals of certain flowers.
Easter did not enjoy the status of a popular celebration among the early settlers in America because most of them were Puritans or members of Protestant Churches who had little use for the ceremonies of any religious festivals. The stricter denominations of those times, the Quakers and the Presbyterians, thought that including a white hare in the celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus was somewhat frivolous.
The Easter basket tradition was brought to North American shores by German families in the 1700s, but it wasn't until the period of the Civil War that the message and meaning of Easter began to be expressed as it had been in Europe. Perhaps surprisingly, it was the initiative of the Presbyterians. The post-war scars of death and destruction led people back to the Easter season. They found the story of resurrection as a great source of inspiration and renewed hope.
The German call it Ostern. School children have about three weeks holiday at Easter, and no one works on Good Friday, Easter Saturday and Easter Sunday. Many people eat fish on Good Friday, and on Easter Saturday evening there is often a big Easter bonfire which is very popular. On Easter Sunday families have nice breakfasts together. Parents then hide Easter baskets with sweets, eggs and small presents. Hand-painted eggs decorated with traditional designs are exchanged among friends.
Nowerdays we're beyond pagan superstitions and in these modern times we know that those who hunt Easter eggs are doomed to burn for eternity in a lake of fire.
Guess I'll see you there ;-)
A reporter recently asked me: "Who are the best writers among the MilBloggers?" (Like I'd risk the rage of those who I forgot to mention?)
But I did have an answer. "The best writer of the MilBloggers recently gave it up."
True then, but now he's back.
There's lots more coming from Mudville today, but since I failed to offer one yesterday here's an open post. I'm glad these are working as I intended, sending folks to visit great blogs. Today Mudville is one of your top referrers, tomorrow perhaps you'll be mine.
Wait - wasn't that a song? Tomorrow perhaps you'll be mine?
Your front-line blog of the day is Boots in Baghdad - words and pictures from a National Guard Infantryman in Iraq.
He's been there since November, but he's just started the blog. Are there more American MilBloggers than American reporters in Iraq? There will be soon.
I got up earlier than I wanted and walked the dogs. Big dogs, unruly dogs, so even I at six-four-two-twenty take them one at a time into the woods, der Grauerhawkwald, so they can smell things and do things and investigate. So they can patrol. For who knows what might have happened in the woods overnight, or who or what might have passed through. So wake up, sleepy human, and let's go and see if the hundred acre woods still stands.
Ahhh yes, here it is. But what's that scent? And that one? And that one, and this... wait, wait here a minute by this tree... okay done, that's mine, let's move on, quickly - I smell something just up ahead, something that might need growled at, hurry let's go there - no wait let's go here... never mind that, come here... wait, what was that sound?
That sound was bells. Church bells in the town below, Catholic and Protestant, noting the death of a Jew. One of the few such ever mourned here in Europe, even if mourned only by a few. But although today is a German holiday I doubt many will spend it in church, and even fewer will find time to contemplate theology or the grander things in life, or the wonder of it all. But this morning how those bells did ring, filling the air with sound as I walked the second of the big unruly dogs through the otherwise quiet isolation of the forest. The bells tolled as they had for hundreds of years, since long before the dawn of the age of reason, marking a moment in history two thousand years before.
And I heard it in the setting of the woods, walking a dog, and wondering if perhaps 500 years ago someone was doing the same thing in the same spot at the same early hour - still working out the stiffness of sleep, the slowness of mind and body and spirit. For the air is a bit cold, if not enough to quicken the pace at least enough to keep the jacket on, and the ground and other earthen things are damp. Spring is still a promise held in smallish buds that can only be seen by those looking for them. But today my spirit was warmed and lifted by the unexpected tolling of the carillons for one transcendent moment. Ahhh yes?, it's that day.
Calendar-wise, Spring began this past week.
Now it?s Spring, but the snow is still heavy on the ground, a wet sodden mass that weighs on the world like a sopped quilt. Winter is the only season we?re glad to see go, and it knows it. Winter always leaves with spite and sneers. And still every year it comes back after fall, and we think: how lovely it is.
Aren't we silly people then? Certainly unpredictable. Welcome winter! Then, somewhere between Thanksgiving and Christmas we grow tired of it. The odd thing is that winter doesn't start 'til just a few days prior to December 25. Just about the time we've had enough of it, thank you very much, we have our big pagan Winter festival. Then we focus on survival for a few cold months. We forget to allow time to scrape car windows. We curse the empty reservoir of washer fluid in the rush hour traffic over freshly salted slush. Then we come home from long day's work to a setting sun - and shovel snow.
But now we're putting winter in the rear-view; spring is coming. Those buds will soon open. Soon enough the pretty girls will be unencumbered by those bulky coats and hats and scarves and mittens...
Speaking of pretty girls, do you recognize this one? She's pretty, though she seems stuck in time, trapped in amber in permanent transition between the 80's big hair and '90's natural look. What should we do with someone who refuses to stay currently coiffed?
According to ABC News over half of all Americans want her dead. That's increasingly less believable, in light of recent stories about a certain memo. What seems more likely now is that ABC wants her dead. Or at least wants to profit from the drama for a while longer. (Memo to ABC/WaPo: no, you really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really (times infinity) can't manufacture news stories any more. Okay, just kidding. Really you can, but there will be ramifications if you want them. But have you selected someone to fire yet, "just in case"? A great opportunity for corporate housekeeping might briefly be made available to you, if you want it. It is a Holiday weekend though, so it's just an option.)
We pause now for this public service announcement. Proposed:
No one is allowed to seriously discuss Terri Shiavo without first drafting a living will. The wife and I updated all that just before I went to Iraq. Anyone without such document doesn't get to join the conversation. After all, we'll be discussing you soon enough. By then the option of ultimately snuffing you will be a no-brainer. The question will be how long can we keep you artificially alive while we harvest your organs for auction on ebay? (Maybe Michael Jackson will buy you for Neverland.) Don't worry though - I'm with the government - I've got your best interests at heart.
Far fetched? Here's an old joke: "What's the State vegetable of New Jersey?"
Those who know the answer will recall an earlier tragic case of a patient in similar circumstances. We used to joke about such things. We humans are strange imperfect creatures after all. Now we know this is no laughing matter, we're getting ready to kill someone, and she has the right to die with dignity.
For those who didn't get the joke, here's how far we've come. One night in 1975, 21-year-old Karen Ann Quinlan collapsed after mixing alcohol and Valium at a party. Doctors saved her life, but she suffered brain damage and lapsed into a persistent vegetative state. Her family sued for the right to remove her from life support. Though many would now consider it an 'unenlightened' response to such a situation, the doctor originally declined to take Karen off the respirator due to moral reasons.
At trial, her father requested status as Karen's legal guardian (she was 21). Right to privacy and cruel and unusual punishment issues were also raised. (The claim being that it was cruel and unusual to keep her on a respirator.) The judge ruled against him, but on appeal the New Jersey Supreme Court agreed with Mr. Quinlan?s argument. However, after the respirator was removed Karen continued breathing on her own. The Quinlans placed their daughter in a long-term care facility where she was fed and given antibiotics to fight off infections. She remained comatose for nearly 10 years and passed away in 1985. I don't recall any discussion of withholding food and water. Back in those old days it would have been seen as the same as withholding air, for Pete's sake. The question was never raised. We didn't know any better, you see. Hence the horrible jokes.
Twenty years ago.
Made that appointment to establish the living will yet?
Sorry, I got sidetracked, we were talking about bells. After tolling for quite a long while most of the bells went silent, save for one. It rang three more times, at succeedingly longer intervals. A lone voice through the either, reaching my ears in the wilderness.
Then it fell silent too.
Now the dogs need walked again. We'll have to continue this discussion later. For now, be careful, please.
The open post, and as usual, another entry in the ongoing series "how to be a successful blogger in 10 or so easy lessons". Today's lesson is the blogroll, those lists of great blogs running down the side of every great blog.
Here are some tips for running a blogroll:
Two methods to create a blogroll. 1. Manual - build the links yourself or 2. Use blogrolling.com. With blogrollling you also have an option of their free service or a paid service with more features.
Greyhawk's advice: Use blogrolling's paid option. It's not that much money and it's money spent in the blogosphere (another lesson on that later) and that's good.
Now, as to building your blogroll. Do: add as many fine blogs as you can. Do Not: Simply put Instapundit, LGF, Hugh Hewitt, PowerLine, and Michelle Malkin, and The Corner on your blogroll and stop. Do add those sites, but do not stop there. Add several smaller blogs too. Are you using the open post trackback feature here? Go visit some of the other blogs that do. Have you checked out the Carnivals I directed you to yesterday? I know there are great blogs there, and many would love to exchange links. Blogroll those you like. Leave a comment at their site telling them that you enjoyed your visit and added them to your blogroll. They'll likely be glad to learn that - I know I am when I find a blog that's just linked to me.
Little by little your site visits will begin to creep upwards...
Like they will when you link this open post.
Owen West served with the Marines in Operation Iraqi Freedom. He's now a trader for Goldman, Sachs, and aside from that he finds time to write - and to write well. The Few is the story of one of the heroes of the battle for Fallujah, and my thanks to Owen for sending it here - I'm proud to help tell this story.
Owen writes: "The sacrifice by all the Marines and soldiers in Operation Al Fajr--including those who fought in the April battle--brought extraordinary results. Fallujah has turned from hornet's nest into one of the more peaceful cities in the triangle. Indeed, the excision of the terrorists in Fallujah is directly correlated to the overall drop in violence and the spectacular election."
He's right, of course. Historians will likely see the period between the first incursion into Fallujah and the ultimate finishing of the task as the 'dark days' of the Iraq war. I can't help but echo Churchill's sentiment on a similar occasion - never have so many owed so much to so few.
The path Darrell Carver chose out of his Salt Lake City high school was similar to that taken by other overachieving classmates. He'd married his high school sweetheart when he was 20, had three wonderful kids by the time he was 27, and was leading an elite team for his company by the time he was 28, sating his mild addictions to fitness and hunting when the occasional free hour presented itself.
But Carver followed a calling imbued in just a sliver of the population. On November 20th, 2004, while most of his peers were in office parks earning money with keyboards, Darrell Carver was approaching a tin-plated door in the heart of Fallujah, Iraq, with his rifle stock held firm in the crook of a shoulder tattooed with "USMC" and two terrorists praying to end him on the other side.
Gunnery Sergeant Carver is a member of an elite slice of America that has emerged on the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq: the warrior class. Drawn from across the socio-economic spectrum by an uncommon confluence of duty, adventure, and martial spirit, this all-volunteer cadre has demonstrated that it belongs among history's elite fighting units.
That men like Carver choose to serve in combat arms, a deadly profession in which few transferable civilian skills are gleaned, says a lot about the fabric of the country. Before September 11th, America carried a soft and feckless reputation among its mortal enemies. Beyond low-risk tactics skewed toward technology-cruise missiles, invisible bombers-they concluded that America had no will to fight. Now those enemies are meeting America's core strength: young men with an innate desire to carry rifles for a living.
The ferocity and direction of the attack into Fallujah shattered the enemy's initial defensive plan. It was left to infantrymen like Carver to rip the terrorists out of closets and bedrooms were they had scattered in small packs.
On one side of the doors stood men who believed they would be judged how they lived. On the other lay men who believed they would be judged on how they died. How these two groups of men, who were more alike than different as boys, had traveled tens of years and thousands of miles to kill each other was best answered by the professional philosopher. For a professional warrior like Carver, combat was the natural culmination of moral divergence. A murderous enemy had infected Fallujah. Politicians could not excise them. Marines and soldiers could.
Fallujah had been parsed into familial nicknames. Clearing the Upper West Side had been hard enough, but when Carver's platoon was sent to help the effort in Queens, a particularly nasty corner of the city near the Euphrates that was littered with corpses of Iraqi "collaborators" who had been executed, it seemed as if a terrorist was hidden in every third house, hell-bent on dragging a Marine into the ground with him.
It was "tiring work," as Carver puts it. For most Americans, the office is a cubicle tract where conflict is limited to harsh emails. For a Marine, the office is a smoldering, stinking, ear-splitting arena filled with young men who are trying to kill each other.
The battle was an intensely personal, face-to-face fight inside individual rooms where the screams often muted the gunfire and the crawl spaces muted the American technological edge. This meant that a Marine had to burst into a room with his rifle shouldered, steady his barrel on a concealed target, then break the trigger before the screaming lunatic trying to ambush him could manage an aimed shot and a proper "Allahu Akbar!"
If anything, the madness of it just made the Marines angrier. Everything in Fallujah was upside-down. Religious leaders demanded violence. Stray cats feasted on fallen men. Zarqawi had constructed a torture chamber twenty-five feet away from a small amusement park.
Even the smoke settled strangely. In his first firefight on November 20, Carver charged into a room behind a grenade. The acrid dust had climbed the walls and spilled across the ceiling, broiling in the top half of the bedroom instead of falling. He heard the terrorist shuffle toward his men. Instead of dropping into a firing position that might have exposed him, Carver leapt up into the smog and onto a bed. He ended the threat.
In the second house, the door swung open and there were two terrorists lumbering toward Carver like zombies in some horror movie. He and the other force reconnaissance Marines had honed their shooting skills over hundreds of hours and thousands of bullets. Four bullets did the trick.
The day was an hour old.
The Marine team crept down the hallway of the third house in a human centipede stack bristling with rifles. Carver had moved into point position and now he stood outside another door wondering what the hell was waiting for him inside. Hundreds of doors opened already. Hundreds more to go.
He opened the door with his left hand, keeping his front sight post moving with his eyes. Someone coming out of a closet, firing an AK-47. The flat, booming report reverberated under his body armor. Carver had to shoot the terrorist several times before he flopped onto the spent casings.
Now more firing from behind the door on his left. Two rounds slammed into his thigh and another passed clean through his calf. They felt more like baseball bats than hot needles. Carver wheeled to maintain his balance and center his weapon. Saw smoking holes in the door. Another bullet popped through and smacked his shoulder, ending any hope of remaining on his feet.
It was an enemy grenade that saved him. Without it, Carver would have tumbled inside the room, into the kill zone. Instead the grenade came bouncing out toward his boots, as mesmerizing as a giant wasp, and blew him clear out of the room.
Twenty-one minutes later Navy doctors were plucking dozens of fragments from his body and sewing the four quarter-sized holes. Twenty-one hours later Carver checked out of the field hospital with a crutch in his armpit instead of a rifle and the hazy memory of a phone call to his wife, Holly.
Holly got the call in the afternoon. "Honey I got hurt," her husband told her. Of all the casualty notifications given to family members, a phone call from the wounded warrior is the best. Phone calls from doctors or officers are bad. Doorbells are the worst. Darrell was now one of the twelve thousand casualties in Iraq. One of the lucky ones.
The untold story of war is the burden shouldered by the families. Devotion to their soldiers is well known. But the hidden buttress of an all-volunteer war is devotion to the cause. Families are serving the country every bit as fervently as their soldiers. Without their commitment to the war, second and third deployments to Iraq would be zero sum decisions for soldiers. "If he had to go back (for a third tour), I support him," says Holly. "It is worth the sacrifice of separation to help the people of Iraq."
The costs of the war on terror may not be spread wide, but they are deep. Families like the Carvers are willing to shoulder the costs of the national interest for the lowest risk-adjusted wage in America and zero fanfare. In other societies, warriors are motivated by externalized power. Ours are motivated by internal duty. Geopolitics aside, the country should be thankful that it has cultivated a tiny warrior class that can dominate an overseas battlefield while upholding its best values.
NPR's Talk of the Nation caught my attention on my drive home tonight (AFN AM radio) with a report called Tales of the War at Home that included call-ins from returning vets. I only caught the last few minutes - it sounded like it was an outstanding broadcast and I look forward to the posting of the audio at the above link later.
Update: Audio here.
Living in a small town in Germany means you don't get much 'welcome home' from the locals. (The ones you aren't related to, at least.) My ultimate return stateside will likely be a bit of a low key affair, and that's fine, thanks. Notable comments from the program: many Vietnam vets are ensuring the troops get welcomed home the right way; I had a sense of that going on from comments and emails I get here but it's great to hear additional confirmation.
Later in the program Thomas de Zengotita, author of Mediated: How the Media Shapes your World and the Way you Live in It discussed the book. Hadn't heard of him or his book before, but now it's on my must-read list.
Update: Audio here.
Chapter one of the book here.
Yes it's still being discussed.
The Center for American Progress and the Washington Monthly will host a panel discussion at CAP's Washington headquarters titled "The Draft: Inevitable, Avoidable or Preferable?"
The discussion will feature former Assistant Secretary of Defense Lawrence Korb and MilBlogger
Phil Carter (Intel Dump), and will be moderated by Washington Post columnist Mark Shields.
The Center for American Progress and the Washington Monthly panel discussion on Wednesday, March 30, from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. Should prove interesting, don't miss it
Five US special forces troops have sued the Associated Press claiming it endangered their lives by publishing photos of their unit allegedly abusing Iraqi prisoners, a lawyer told AFP Wednesday.
The suit claims that AP "violated copyright and privacy laws and endangered their lives by publishing photos of them," Huston told AFP.
I have a question or two. The article says the wife of one of the SEAL's
posted pics on her website and that the AP pulled them from there. Now I'm
not defending the AP, but pics posted on the web are not secure. Don't
spouses know this?
Then there's that sticky question with copyright infringement on the web. I wonder if this case will be resolved in court or settled out of court? I'd like to see the copyright decision as it would likely apply beyond this case.
Personally I think the AP is appalling and are just out to smear our military any chance they can get, but I'm not sure there's a case here. But hey - you all can enlighten me.
(Hat tip to Joe Katzman)
And also another installment of "how to be a successful blogger in 10 or so easy lessons". Today's installment: Carnivals! Many moons ago I always submitted an entry to the Carnival of the Vanities - a traveling link-fest used to promote a blogger's personal favorite post of the week. "Traveling" because a different blog would host it every week. The final link at the bottom of each week's canival tells you where next week's will be. So you go to that blog and find the post that gives you guidlines for submissions, follow those instructions, and presto! Glenn Reynolds and lots of other bloggers link the carnival, so a good bit of traffic can flow your way from that source.
Now back to the future: there are lots of carnivals now, for medical blogs, for recipes, for you name it. My advice to you is to visit the Carnival of the Carnivals - it lists them all. See which ones are on topics you write about, find out where the next one will be, and get your post submitted.
Then watch the numbers rack up on those new sitemeters.
(And for those who've requested it - yes, I'm going to compile these daily tips into one weekly post, probably Friday.)
Your blog from Iraq for the day? Well, not there yet, but this soldier is heading that way:
I was a Director of Operations for a Pharmaceutical company when 9-11 happened. I made pretty good money (obviously), but I really questioned what I had done for my country in keeping it and my children safe. My husband had served in the Air Force a decade ago, and we always encouraged our two teenage sons that they needed to serve in the military for at least one enlistment. But, although my husband had served, I felt I could not justify my opinions since I had not served when I was younger. So.... One day I sat down with my husband, told him my feelings, and that I wanted to join the Army at 33 years old. And so the journey began.
How many of you stopped on the word husband for a second?
A Combat Medic With The 101st, A Female Soldier's Story will be a blog to watch in the months ahead.
Dear Mr. & Mrs. Greyhawk
I can only imagine that you get dozens (or more) letters like this every day, so I'll keep it brief. It's just that you've really made a difference in the way I view the world, and I finally felt the need to thank you.
I have no connections to the military, and would have told you a year ago that I was very liberal in my thinking. However, since coming across your blog over year ago, and the world that it led me to, I have tapped into some latent Right tendencies that I never knew existed inside me. (yes, that was scary, but I've since recovered and embraced the conservative within.) I have come to be a staunch & vocal supporter of our Troops serving everywhere (I'm a Soldiers' Angel to two men in Iraq). I have begun to teach my kids what it means to serve. I have, literally, found that everything I thought before was wrong, if I even thought at all. And it all stems from stumbling across your blog while looking for information on how to support our Troops. (I can thank Mrs. Greyhawk for that post that I found. She is my hero.)
Anyhow- I'm not writing to toot my own horn, I am writing to toot yours. You BOTH have given me much to chew on and think about over the past several months, and each link I follow from your site sends me to new ideas and people, and I thoroughly enjoy my daily cruise through Mudville. THANK YOU so much for your service. Most especially your service to our country (and in this I include you both, for I know that families serve just as much as those overseas...), but also for the service you've provided through your blog. You've quite literally opened my eyes.
Thank you guys, I look forward to many more years of my coffee with Mudville.
Best wishes, Happy Anniversary!
Greyhawk here: If it makes you feel any better, I don't see conservative as anything other than a term of convenience these days when "liberals" pretty much describe to a rigid orthodoxy.
But thanks - I don't get that many letters like yours but when I do they're great, and always welcome. The best part? Soldiers Angels - thanks for doing that. Glad we helped you find them. Thanks for stopping by. Thanks for taking the time to write.
Hmmm... coffee with Mudville eh?
Seems like at least once a week this guy puts up a post that's just an obvious attempt to get me to link him, send that Mudslide over his way.
(Sigh) What can I say? Go read.
Update: On a related note, some might ask why should I rail against "reporting" from Iraq like Ed Wong's? After all, isn't it apparent to everyone that the tide has turned, that we're winning? Isn't actual reality starting to intrude on minds that have effectively blocked it for the past couple years?
If your response to reading the above links is "yes, but this represents only a small part of America, a tiny fraction of the anti-war left even" - then I'll agree and tell you I write the things I write to keep it that way.
Those aren't examples of dissent, by the way. Dissent should be based on informed opinion, leading to decisions and actions on a foundation of facts. These people are frightening because they can and will be used by people who do know the facts, and who have their own purpose.
This is just foolishness.
This is just sad.
"We're fighting them on their own ground," he said. "If we don't, they'd be over here."
- John R. Phelps, artist and Vietnam - era Navy vet, on the war that cost his son's life.
Taking Chance, LtCol. Mike Strobl's account of his duty as escort officer for PFC Phelps' final journey home is a must-read.
Marine PFC Clarence "Chance" Phelps was 19 years old when he died. Prior to that his father used him as the model for a WWII Memorial Monument.
Now he's done a painting of his son, one of over 1,300 images of soldiers in an exhibit titled "Faces of the Fallen." It opens to the public Wednesday at Arlington National Cemetery. You can view it here.
The exhibit opens March 23, 2005 in the Women In Military Service For America Memorial at the gateway to Arlington National Cemetery and will be on display through September 5, 2005. It features over 1,000 portraits of America?s fallen heroes, representing those who have been lost through November 11, 2004. More than 150 American artists are working from previously published photographs to create the images. Personnel for whom photographs are not available will be individually identified and represented by service-appropriate silhouettes.
Well-known Washington portrait artist Annette Polan, inspired by the newspaper photos and the stories that accompanied them, conceived the project and recruited the artists. Polan explains that portraiture is a time-honored way to pay meaningful tribute to the dead. She quotes Vincent van Gogh who believed that portraits are a way into the heart and soul of the subject. ?I would sooner paint people?s eyes than cathedrals, for there is something in the eyes that is lacking in a cathedral, however impressive it might be.?
The artists are contributing approximately 10 portraits each in a variety of media including drawing, painting, sculpture, relief, collage and textiles. Many of them report that they have been profoundly moved by the experience and that, in the words of one, ?the soldiers behind these faces are family now.?
Brigadier General Wilma L. Vaught, USAF Ret., President of the Women?s Memorial Foundation and Honorary Chair of the exhibit, comments that "We are enormously proud to have been chosen by the organizers to host this extraordinary exhibit. It is an honor to share our remarkable site and to pay tribute to the men and women who, while serving their country, lost their lives in Afghanistan and Iraq."
A 16-year-old boy who killed nine people and then himself on a Minnesota Indian reservation was wearing a bullet-proof vest when he chased a teacher and fellow students into a classroom and gunned them down, FBI said.
Monday's rampage by Jeff Weise -- the worst U.S. school shooting since the 15-death Columbine massacre in 1999 -- appeared to have been planned, investigators said. The spree left seven wounded, five of whom were still being treated in hospitals.
I'm confused, why would he wear a bullet proof vest if he was planning on killing himself?
According to Hugh had Weise not turned the gun on himself, he would never have been eligible for the death penalty because of the recent Supreme Court decision.
Apparently, Weise, may have been investigated last year in connection with a shooting threat to the school, according to posts made on a Nazi website.
On April 19 2004, he posted to the talkboard: "By the way, I'm being blamed for a threat on the school I attend because someone said they were going to shoot up the school on 4/20, Hitlers birthday, and just because I claim being a National Socialist, guess whom they've pinned?"
The Libertarian National Socialist Green Party,on whose messageboard Jeff Weise posted one year before shooting people at his Minnesota high school, today refused to wring hands over a "tragedy," instead pointing out that such events are to be expected when thinking people are crammed into an unthinking, irrational modern society. According to the LNSG, the school shooting itself is not our failure; society is our failure, and the school shooting is a symptom. We knew [Weise] briefly through 34 posts he made on the forum," said LNSGP forum administrator Atem. "He expressed himself well and was clearly highly intelligent and contemplative, especially for one so young." Weise participated in the forum in part because, unlike "white nationalist" or "white power" movements, the LNSG embraces all races as part of its vision of world nationalism. His statements on the site reflected a frustration with the populist politics and materialistic arrogance of modern society.
Aldous Huxley-"At least two thirds of our miseries spring from human stupidity, human malice and those great motivators and justifiers of malice and stupidity, idealism, dogmatism and proselytizing zeal on behalf of religious or political idols."
A federal appeals court refused early Wednesday to order the reinsertion of Terri Schiavo's feeding tube, denying the latest emergency request by the severely brain-damaged woman's parents to keep her alive.
A panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals said in a 2-1 ruling that the parents "failed to demonstrate a substantial case on the merits of any of their claims."
Pinellas Park police and Pinellas County Sheriff's deputies arrest Lana Jacobs, of Columbia, Mo., for attempting to bring Terri Schiavo water Tuesday afternoon March 22, 2005 at the Woodside Hospice in Pinellas Park, Fla.
Seems some just don't get it.
President Bush states that in extraordinary circumstances we should always err on the side of life (March 22). Given this hypothesis, how can the death penalty ever be justified in a purely circumstantial-evidence murder conviction?
There is a difference between the death of an innocent and the death of a convicted killer.
HUNDREDPERCENTER gives his perspective on Terri Shiavo's case.
Open post and another of my lessons on "how to become a top blogger in ten or more easy lessons".
So you've started a blog, and mastered the art of trackback and are using the open post features like this one to publicize your site. Now, how will you know how effective your efforts are?
Get a hit counter - a little string of code you add to your page that allows you to see who's visited. Sitemeter is the blogger's "industry standard" - we'll discuss that more later this week.
I also really like the Onestat sitemeter - it can't be beat. Click my onestat link in the sidebar (the round symbol below the sitemeter visit numbers). Check the features. Test drive. Once you're on the onestat page note the pull down menu in the upper left corner area, and the listed options below it. Get one, they're free.
Get one of each, in fact. They tell you how many visits you've had and they also tell other bloggers how many visitors they've sent your way. Don't get obsessed about either number - your visit numbers will likely be small initially, I know mine were. But they are of interest to anyone who's serious about blogging. Let's face it, we're in this to communicate, and these are simply letting us know who we're communicating with.
Another option you might try is the on-screen referral log. I have that too, you'll find it farther down the right side bar. I often use the bloglist there to find new sites I hadn't seen before.
Last important note: be sure to put the hit counter code on your main page template and all archive templates too. At least 40% of visits here come to individual pages from links from other bloggers. I know a few bloggers who are getting a lot more visits than they think they are, because they don't have hit counters on individual archive pages.
That's all for now. Post is open. Link, trackback, comment, etc. Put those hit counters to work.
Vietnam veteran and author John Harriman returns to Mudville with the third installment of his series Warrior to Warrior, letters from a Vietnam veteran to our soldiers in Iraq. See the intro to the series here).
DON'T FORGET THIS
By John Harriman
Dear Warrior . . .
You've a lot to remember when you go to a combat zone.
All those lessons of your training, the tactics, policies and SOPs. The tasks, skills and standards on which the army has tested you in preparation for the ultimate soldier's test.
At first you'll focus on trying to remember all that. Be prepared for an awakening.
When you get to Iraq, you'll have to re-learn much of your training and forget much of your learning. That's because training, no matter how realistic, can never quite duplicate the real world of a combat zone.
As in the Vietnam era. The army sent many of its officers and noncoms to Jungle Warfare School in Panama before shipping the men to Vietnam. We lived in the jungle for two weeks, swam rivers, rappelled, ate exotic animals, ran an evasion survival course, built stick shelters and got used to the heat of day and cold of night. If you did swim, rappell and evade well enough, they gave you the patch of the "Jungle Expert."
When I got to Vietnam, I never swam a river, never rappelled, never evaded anything but malaria and never ate a monkey. In fact I never did any of the things I trained for except swelter by day and shiver by night.
As to the Jungle Expert patch, some sixth sense warned me against wearing it on my uniform. Saved me a lot of ridicule from the veteran warriors of a far more hostile jungle than Panama's.
Other things to remember are soft skills. You have to soak up so many new things. The culture of Iraq. The differences in religion. The ethnic variations among Iraqis. The sects, the unfamiliar names, the languages. Soon you'll come face to face with all the exotic sights and sounds and find that, even with all the indoctrination, the gaps in learning are huge. It's a fascinating thing, a new culture, but too much to learn in a hurry.
So you'll be glad to hear that, with all the things you have to remember, there's only one thing you must never forget.
Simply hold to this one thing. It's a guiding principle. Stick to it as you face new situations, and you cannot go wrong: Never forget that you represent more than yourself. You are not only a member of your family. You are not only a citizen of your town, your county, or your state. No, you represent all of us, all of America.
Your enemy in Iraq must see you as America the brave, America the resolute, America the professional and America the deadly force in a relentless pursuit of a world safe from terrorism.
The noncombatants in Iraq must see you as America the fair, America the compassionate, America the humane, America the civilized.
What you show those people of you, will be all they know of our country.
So, make it your best. For the time that you are there, you have an incredibly difficult mission and a serious responsibility. You take up the torch from every generation of veterans who went before you, wearing the uniform as caretakers in the name of America.
We veterans of earlier wars know it, and we entreat you to come home safe and sound. And we beseech you, above all other things. Do not forget this. You are more than the guardians of our nation. You are more than the promise of our country. You are more than the hope and the courage of America.
You. Are. America.
God bless you and Godspeed.
John is a veteran of two combat tours in Vietnam and a member of the American Legion. These columns are excerpts from an upcoming book of the same title. His current book, Delta Force #1 : Operation Michael's Sword is a fictional account of the 9/11 attacks and the early days of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Your GI blog of the day is from Afghanistan, and if you can't read there are pictures.
Schiavo appeal denied by judge
Rules against request to restore feeding tube
A federal judge early Tuesday morning refused to order the reinsertion of Terri Schiavo's feeding tube, leaving the fate of the severely brain-damaged Florida woman unresolved.
The federal law President Bush signed to prolong Terri Schiavo's life in Florida appears to conflict with a Texas law he signed as governor, attorneys familiar with the legislation said Monday.
TAMPA, Fla. - Armed with a new law rushed through Congress, the attorney for Terri Schiavo's parents pleaded with a judge Monday to order the brain-damaged woman's feeding tube re-inserted. But the judge appeared cool to the argument.
U.S. District Judge James D. Whittemore has seen fallen preachers, a motorcycle gang leader and a crusading Cuban ballplayer in his courtroom before becoming the latest member of the bench to be drawn into the Terri Schiavo right-to-die case.
Angered by the latest political developments in Washington, Michael Schiavo said Saturday that it isn't just the Florida governor who should visit his wife to learn about the case.
He said U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, who is leading a charge to extend Terri Schiavo's life, is a "little slithering snake" pandering for votes.
ABC News deceptive in Terri Schiavo poll?
63% support removal of her feeding tube, but survey said she has 'no consciousness'
An ABC News poll reached the surprising conclusion that a majority of Americans think Terri Schiavo's feeding tube should remain out so she can be starved to death, but the question posed by the news network portrayed her as having "no consciousness" and being on "life support," rather than an awake, responsive patient with a feeding tube.
One year for MilBlogger, Easongate founder, and all around fine writer Bill Roggio. Visit the Fourth Rail and say well done!
Your open post. And also another installment of "how to become a top blogger in ten or more easy lessons" (to find lesson one in the series you'll have to find the secret link somewhere in the entries below.)
In response to many questions I'm posting "How to do trackback". The easiest way is to link a blog post to the 'permalink' below, and your blogging software does it automatically. This doesn't work for everybody. If you are using blogspot, for instance, there are no automatic trackbacks. This leaves a couple options.
Blogspot recommends Haloscan's free service. A lot of big bloggers use this option.
But here's a quick fix that's just so cool you'll probably want to try it just to see it work. Wizbang's Standalone Trackback Pinger. (I used it yesterday just for fun.)
To use it, first click the 'trackback' option below. You'll find this entry number there:
That's the one you'll want to enter in the first box on the Trackback Pinger. (Note: it is not the url you link too! The url to link to is the 'permalink' below) The other enties should be self explanatory.
Wizbang does open posts too, by the way. Those interested in publicizing their blog should take advantage of the opportunity. (Great posts there too, if you've never been...)
That's it - trackback!
The post is open - Mudville is yours.
Your GI blog from Iraq tonight is Steven Kiel. He's been in country for a while, but it's been a while since I've linked up with him.
Steven's a good writer, but he can't read, so he's looking at the pictures.
This CENTCOM news release is short, factual, and to the point.
24 TERRORISTS KILLED DURING ATTACK ON COALITION FORCES
BAGHDAD, Iraq - At approximately noon today, 24 terrorists were killed and seven wounded when they attacked coalition forces on the outskirts of Baghdad. Six soldiers were injured during the attack.
All in all a bad day for terrorists, as any sane reader will agree. But Edward Wong's New York Times story on the event isn't short, factual, or to the point. It's repulsive in it's entirety, but I wanted to bring the following paragraph here for special attention, to capture it and preserve it in all it's glory:
Details about the Salman Pak ambush were vague, but the audacity of the insurgents, on the second anniversary of the start of the American military campaign that toppled Saddam Hussein, showed that the guerrilla war still burns fiercely here, long after President Bush proclaimed major combat operations over and despite a high turnout among Iraqis in the Jan. 30 elections. As the violence persists and as the winners of those elections continue to haggle over a new government, the optimism from the vote is quickly fading among ordinary Iraqis.
Among the first loud explosions I heard in Iraq, some few weeks after arriving, were the car bombs that killed scores of children at the opening ceremony for a new sewage treatment plant. At the time I remember thinking I was close enough to hear the booms, but fortunate to be too far away to hear the screams. Thus my revulsion to suddenly "hear" someone like Wong cheering loudly for the creatures who did it.
When I say journalistic malpractice or criminal negligence in reporting I'm talking about things like Wong, who also distorted Kevin Sites comments regarding the Marine shooting of a terrorist in Fallujah to make the story sound like outright murder. Prior to the attack on Fallujah Wong's contribution to the cause was a piece describing Ramadi as the real terrorist stronghold.
Those who disembowel aid workers and turn victims of Down's Syndrome into 'suicide bombers' have no greater champion than Ed Wong.
But there's a new air of desperate urgency in Wong's plaintive wails. The days when the Wongs of the world weren't righted are coming to an end. America's GIs are returning home to tell the truth about our war, to counter the poison spread by Wong and others like him - to expose them as useless relics of a bygone day.
The latest example comes to us via Chrenkoff and Polish Immigrant. It's one of the local news stories you're going to see repeated with different names and faces in home town papers all across America.
Soldiers from the war in Iraq are returning and telling their stories, and two of them have returned to their native Forest Grove in recent days.
Dave Farrin, a lance corporal in the Marines, and James Gibson, a staff sergeant in the Army, have returned much the same young men as when they left, for which their families are tremendously thankful. They have come through the fires of war with their physical health and spirits intact.
They share other important similarities. Both men believe the war has received unfair coverage in the American press. This disappoints them more than it angers them because they believe that the good things accomplished by the USA far outweigh the bad.
As far as the soldiers are concerned, they say the war has overwhelming support.
Farrin came through nine months of combat in some of the Iraq war's toughest battles, Fallujah and Najof. He seems not just calm but serene.
"David came home like the guy I sent there," Kim said. "I feel blessed, very blessed.
As for experiencing war for the first time, Farrin said, "I was not nervous. We had a lot of training before we left." And anyway, "a lot of stuff doesn't bother me."
What did bother him was the picture of the war given to the American public.
"The people in Iraq love us," Farrin said. "The people doing the fighting are from outside Iraq. Syria, Turkey, places like that.
"When we would go outside the gate, all the people would come running up to us and say, "Mister! Mister! Take my picture!" They gave us peace signs and thumbs up. They tried to give us food."
While "news travels real slow" in Iraq, Farrin did not like what he heard.
"They don't see all the good stuff," he said. "They just cover the fighting. It was kind of weird. It seemed like they were trying to screw up the military."
"Every time I was in a firing engagement it was surreal," Gibson said. "You would think it was something else, then you would realize what it actually was. Then your training took over. You were reacting before you knew what you were doing. Our unit was very well trained.
"We dealt with a lot of roadside bombs. We were in the middle of the Sunni Triangle on Highway 1, which everyone has heard so much about. There was small arms fire and ambushes."
But the primary mission for Gibson's unit was rebuilding the country. It was such a gigantic task that he felt he was sometimes working a 24-hour day.
He said, "Our unit alone spent millions to build schools, irrigation facilities, city council halls, roads, and rebuilding the Iraqi army so they can take over the war. In over a year I didn't expect them to make half the progress they did. It's amazing how these guys came in and went about building a better Iraq."
Gibson's greatest moment was Jan. 30 - election day in Iraq.
"Watching thousands upon thousands of people coming to vote made it all worthwhile," he said. "Seeing all those people lined up to vote was amazing."
It was this day and other days of progress in Iraq that cause Gibson to take issue with coverage of the war.
"I don't think people back home are getting the full picture," Gibson said. "There has been a lot of focusing on negatives. We could do 500 missions with the Iraqi army and 499 of them could be successful, and the only thing covered would be the one that went bad.
"People don't see the new schools opening, the two or three toy and supply drops every month, people getting clean water. This has been a very successful mission. One that 99 percent of the soldiers are supporting. It is being spun like everyone doesn't want to be there."
Seems like it's time for Ed Wong to come home too.
What's in your home town paper? I think you'll find these guys live near you too. Look and see, check on line and if you find a story with an actual interview of returned OIF vets leave a link in the comments or send me an e-mail.
Let's welcome Ed home. Let's tell him he's wrong.
Speaking of Soldiers returning home telling their stories, if you're one of those troops you might want to check out the One Soldier's Story project (Transparency alert: Mudville advertiser).
Update: The blog entries are advice to the aspiring writer. Current topic is how to handle dialogue. Soldier, MilBlogger, or just someone interested in writing - the site will be worth your visit. Check it out.
Da Goddess was a huge player in the San Diego rally, but you won't hear the whole story on her blog. For a more complete picture read Joe Gandelman's description at Dean's World, here discussing Smash's pledge to keep the message positive and not attack the opposition:
Did his group keep his word? Yes, they largely did, although there were some notable moments of friction covered here by conservative blogger Brendon Steinhauser. But there was someone there working hard all day to make sure they stayed on message.
Her name: Joanie, aka Da Goddess.
"This sign is out," she said, going through placards, and pointing to one saying "MORONS" (actually, I could use that sign to picket any event involving Congress or for either political party, but that's my personal bias...). Her 8-year-old boy "Little Guy" played in the background.
"We don't want any of these snarky signs. We want them to be POSITIVE," she told some people. Smash had planned on having 50 people but 60 showed up. "I'm going to go through these signs and make sure they're not swiping at anyone..."
And she did.
Kudos to Joanie.
Both she and Joe give even more credit to 21-year old Army specialist Christine Alkire of Fallbrook, home on leave from Iraq and standing with the counterdemonstrators. Here's her answer to the question why was she there?
"I like what I do," she said, standing directly across from a San Diego Police car that made sure there were no conflicts as some police on horseback formed across the street where the anti-war demonstrators were gathering. "I'm supporting all of my brothers and sisters who are over there right now."
She motioned to across the street to the costumed character of the Iraqi woman dramatically walking around, carrying a big limp doll that was supposed to be a dead baby.
"These people don't know what they are talking about. See that woman holding what's supposed to be a dead Iraqi child? That's a bunch of crap. I was on one of the biggest U.S. coalition bases. We were not in such a great area and we TOOK CARE OF Iraqi children, and grown ups alike. We have a section in the Army called G-5, civil affairs. They're the ones who go out there and deliver the school supplies, the started the water running, and make sure it's purified. We went out with them a couple of times and the children love us. The women love us and the people love us.
"So that's supposed to be an Iraqi woman? I don't like when they act like they're supporting us ? but they're not."
Suddenly she's interrupted. A grey haired woman who looks in her mid-60s asks when the peace demonstration will start. Alkire polite tells her it's across the street and that her group "supports the troops."
Here, last week: But now all the vets of Operation Iraqi Freedom II are coming home. Home to tell the truth about their war. Home to counter the garbage that's been trumpeted by those back here claiming to speak for them for all these months... it will be increasingly difficult not to tell America the full truth when their sons and daughters, husbands wives and neighbors come marching home.
Like Spc Alkire.
It's not surprising that the anti-Iraq demonstrators choose the iconic mother-with-baby to dramatize their odd view of the world. There's a well known quote from William F Buckley to the effect that we'd be outraged to see a young man shove an old lady, but that we might be understanding were he pushing her out from in front of an approaching bus.
What reporters and/or editors have been pedaling for at least the past year vis Iraq is the "man shoves old lady" story - with or without a mention of the bus in paragraph 19 - but invariably noting the number of incidences of old-lady-shoving that have occurred since President Bush declared an end to major conflict in Iraq.
Their defense seems to boil down to "well, without our watchdog function people would be shoving old ladies indiscriminately". Mudville readers can make up their own minds about that.
Or read this Army Times' reporter's blog:
There seem to have been many photos early in Operation Iraqi Freedom of soldiers surrounded by Iraqi children, handing out candy to them, shaking their hands or patting them on the head.
Lately there seem to be fewer, perhaps because the media covering the ongoing events in Iraq can only stray so far from the safe areas without fear of being abducted. Of course, it hasn?t been the safest environment for the soldiers, either.
With all the images of spectacular car bombs, transfer of authority ceremonies and political activity, there isn?t as much time or space for the smaller touches. In fact, I can?t even count how many times I?ve gotten an earful from soldiers of all ranks about the negative coverage of events in Iraq.
The past couple of days I went on dismounted patrols with the infantrymen and tankers of 1-64 Armor in the 3rd Infantry Division, who are back in Baghdad after 18 months at home.
Out on the streets in these impoverished areas east of the Tigris River, they are like Pied Pipers, leading a trail of dozens of children behind them within minutes of arriving in a neighborhood.
I don?t think it?s because they are special soldiers, even though their mothers would say they are. I think it?s just because they are soldiers. Period. The children go absolutely bananas over them and get so close to them in such large numbers that it almost gets scary.
It?s a mixed blessing for the soldiers. While they know the presence of the kids in such large numbers can lower the threat level, and the kids sometimes tell them where the bombs are planted, the little ones are relentlessly curious, exceedingly friendly and have no clue about personal space. It can try anyone?s patience.
I can tell you when the stories of children stopped appearing in the American press - the exact moment when the approaching bus vanished from the 'man shoves lady' stories from Iraq. It happened when contractors were killed in Fallujah.
But that's a discussion for another day. And it should be noted that not all media sources are created equal. Here's another one of many great stories I've linked in the Philadelphia Inquirer this past weekend:
On the second anniversary of the Iraq War, Wileczek, Vey, Collins and hundreds of their comrades across the region have returned to families and jobs - while still mentally processing life-and-death experiences thousands of miles away.
Many say they have learned to appreciate the commonplace: sleeping in their own beds, driving their own cars, shopping in stores, eating home-cooked meals, cutting the grass, even flushing toilets.
Others have expressed gratitude to spouses who held families together while they were away. And some said they had gained insights about themselves, the war, the news media and Arab culture.
Nearly a half-million U.S. troops have been deployed to Iraq the last two years. About 1,500 have been killed; more than 11,000 have been wounded, and 5,400 of them returned to duty.
Many of the vets recall having mixed feelings about the duty in the beginning.
"I watched it on TV when it started and wished I could have been there," said Wileczek, a Gloucester County husband with four sons, ages 1 to 6. "You train for many years and want to put your skills to the test, but I didn't want to leave my wife and kids."
He and other members of the New Jersey Guard's Third Battalion of the 112th Field Artillery left on a midnight plane from McGuire Air Force Base on Feb. 22, 2004. They had been pressed into service as provisional military police.
"There is one day I can never forget - Mother's Day," Wileczek, 27, said. "My team and another - six of us - were attacked by over 100 insurgents for more than two hours."
He said they had entered a "black hole for radio communications" in the dangerous Sadr City section of Baghdad and could not call for help.
"All the Iraqi police left, and the ones that didn't run hid in a back room," he said. "We had a half-hour of ammo, tops, when all of sudden the cavalry showed up. I said, 'Thank God.' Help had finally come. Once the helicopters and Bradleys [armored fighting vehicles] were there, the insurgents scattered like roaches."
Wileczek, who reenlisted for six years while in Iraq, said he appreciated "everything so much more now. My wife. My kids. The things I have in this country - just being able to flush a toilet."
"I'm not bothered by lines in the supermarket," he said. "I'm bothered by ungrateful people who don't realize what they have here and think the government owes them something.
"And I'm irritated when I see news media showing only the negative - not the times when Iraqi children were sitting on our laps or the times when the police stations were getting rebuilt."
These young and not so young American's will be coming home. Speaking at meetings, at schools, in the public squares.
Ending a monopoly.
Be prepared to listen.
President Bush signed emergency legislation sent to him by Congress early Monday to allow Terri Schiavo's parents ask a federal judge to prolong their daughter's life, capping days of emotional debate over who should decide life and death.
"In cases like this one, where there are serious questions and substantial doubts, our society, our laws and our courts should have a presumption in favor of life," Bush said in a statement after signing the bill.
The fate of Terri Schiavo once again was in the hands of a judge early Monday following an extraordinary, day-long political fight over the brain-damaged woman that consumed both chambers of Congress and the president.
This judge is taking his time. It's been 36 hours since her tube was removed.
Schiavo contradicts himself in Larry King interview
Michael Schiavo gave contradictory stories about whether disconnecting his estranged wife from feeding tubes was his wish or her wish in a Larry King interview on CNN<...>
Asked why he has persisted in his decade-long effort to end his wife's life despite the wishes of Terri Schiavo's parents and others who love her, Schiavo said: "Because this is what Terri wanted. This is her wish."
Shortly after saying his determination to end Terri's life was about her wishes, Schiavo changed his story in the King interview. Asked if he understood her family's feelings, he said: "Yes, I do. But this is not about them, it's about Terri. And I've also said that in court. We didn't know what Terri wanted, but this is what we want. ..."
The White House said Monday that an extraordinary law allowing a federal court to intervene in the Terri Schiavo case was narrowly tailored and not intended as a precedent for Congress to step into battles over the fate of seriously disabled or terminally ill patients.
NRO's Andrew McCarthy has hit the nail on the head
If somebody put a pistol to [Terri] Schiavo's head and pulled the trigger ? you know, to give the "dying process" a little nudge ? would the shooter be guilty of murder under Florida law?" Well, given that we've had no small amount of propaganda from right-to-die activists about the purported humaneness of letting Terri wither and die, why doesn't someone just shoot her ? or at least administer the procedure employed to execute in capital cases. It would, after all, be quicker and thus more humane, right?
It is not being done because its crude blatancy would too obviously spotlight that what's happening here is cold-blooded murder.
Kate Adamson has experienced such a pain and and is fighting for Terri.
But Dr. Linda Emanuel, says it's a peaceful way to go, I'm betting it's not a voice of experience.
It can take up to 14 days before someone can die without food or water which they'll experience kidney failure then heart failure. Yeah, that sounds peaceful.
Terri's husband insists that this is Terri's wish, but even if she wished to not live in this state, she never said she wanted to die this slow death.
Ether Zone have some strong opinions but maybe the compelling affidavit of attending nurse Carla Sauer Iyer has something to do with it.
RedState.org has an essay by Robert Johansen. It contains some illuminating details.
As I watched the debate I was apalled by a few of the Democrat's statements. It didn't seem to matter that someone's life was on the line at that very moment and that time was of the essence. They all seemed to worry about the cost of caring for Terri and where that money would be better benefited.
This should never have gone to congress, congress has other important issues to contend with but it seems the courts failed Terri. The Supreme Court denied Terri's family's request for a federal review of what had happened in the state courts. The Democrats argue that this is just a political football and that congress had no business debating this issue. But aren't the checks and balances of our government why this should be debated?
Rep. Mel Watt, D-N.C., chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus seemed to make this an issue of race. He argued why we were spending 5 million dollars to keep this woman alive when there a black children going to bed hungry every night. "Where was our compassion for them?" But when a white woman needs assistance congress rushes to make a bill. I can't quote him exactly but these were the words he used.
In a separate interview Rep Watt said Bush's speech paid little attention to education and other issues of concern to blacks.
"It's quite apparent this president lives in world just totally removed and unappreciative of the challenges millions of African Americans experience every day," Watt said.
Speaking just three blocks from the governor's office, Dean told a crowd that he was ''appalled'' by Bush and Republican lawmakers' move last month to overturn a court order and keep Terri Schiavo from dying after living for 13 years in a vegetative state.
''I'm tired of people in the Legislature thinking that they have an MD when what they really have is a BS,'' Dean, a physician and former Vermont governor, said to thunderous applause from about 200 lunching at the Capital Tiger Bay Club, a bipartisan group of Tallahassee movers and shakers.
Now time for the press spin:
Republican leaders, eyeing an opportunity to appease their radical right-wing constituents, convened Congress over the weekend to shamelessly interject the federal government into the wrenching Schiavo family dispute.
The Guardian's Bush intervenes in right-to-die case
...The case has once again exposed the deep cultural and religious divides in the US, pitting Christian conservatives against right-to-die activists and stirring debate about how far the government should play a role in personal family matters.
And this cannot pass without conducting a poll.
Americans broadly and strongly disapprove of federal intervention in the Terri Schiavo case, with sizable majorities saying Congress is overstepping its bounds for political gain.
The public, by 63 percent-28 percent, supports the removal of Schiavo's feeding tube, and by a 25-point margin opposes a law mandating federal review of her case. Congress passed such legislation and President Bush signed it early today.
Funny - I get dozens of emails asking if I'll link a post. The answer is yes! In fact, I've never failed to link a fellow blogger who wants a link. How do I do it? Simple - I set up open posts like this one on a daily basis here to ensure that everyone who wants will get a link from Mudville. Simply link your post to this one via some line at the bottom to the effect of "Linked to Mudville's open post" and like magic your track-back will appear below.
Unless you're not the sort of blogger who links to other people's posts. In that case, you're out of luck. I can't help you. No one can.
Comments are open too. Mudville is yours. Enjoy.
Two blogs from Iraq. Both ask questions appropriate for this day.
The first is from an Iraqi citizen.
It has been now two years since the United States, UK and other countries invaded our nation. It has been two years since Iraqis have had to live with daily violent attacks and rampant terrorism. It has been two years since our nation began being turned upside down. It has been two years since the road to democracy began.
Two years is about 730 days. In those days what have I seen. My eyes have seen more than I had ever hoped, more blood, more death and more pain, then I ever imagined or hoped I would have seen.
In those days I have seen the worst of humanity, the animal that lives in all humanity, the ability of humanity to destroy at will others, and rob the life given to others by God almight himself.
So you ask me, Husayn, was it worth it. What have you gotten? What has Iraq acheived? These are questions I get a lot.
The next from a soldier there:
After lunch I pulled together my soldiers and several other troops from other shops and hammered through the briefings. I spent a good hour covering all the issues and then turned off the slides and happily transitioned back to mission. A few minutes later the shop emptied and SPC Frances slowly approached my desk and asked permission to ask a question. I agreed, pushed my paperwork away, and leaned back in preparation for another SAT question. As I waited for the question SPC Frances started fumbling for words, only managing to get out ?you don?t have to answer?. I patiently waited until he finished, and then told him to fire away. When he finally managed to string together the question I was shocked by the blunt impact of the words. The flicker of pain came not for the content of his question, but from its unspoken implications. What SPC Frances said as he sheepishly stood before my desk staring at the floor was ?Sir, you?re like, ummmm, you know, really smart. And you?re doing this when you could ummmm, you know, so many other things. Don?t you wish you were, ummm doing something better??.
The answers await you at the links.
Ev'rywhere I hear the sound of marching, charging feet, boy
'Cause summer's here and the time is right for fighting in the street, boy
Well then what can a poor boy do
Except to sing for a rock 'n' roll band
'Cause in sleepy London town
There's just no place for a street fighting man
Hey! Think the time is right for a palace revolution
'Cauce where I live the game to play is compromise solution
Well then what can a poor boy do
Except to sing for a rock 'n' roll band
'Cause in sleepy London town
There's no place for a street fighting man
Hey! Said my name is called disturbance
I'll shout and scream, I'll kill the king, I'll rail at all his servants
Well, what can a poor boy do
Except to sing for a rock 'n' roll band
'Cause in sleepy London town
There's no place for a street fighting man
Street Fightin' Man, by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, 1968.
Like the engine of a '64 VW Bug that song still sounds great after 40 years, eh Moondoggy? Speaking of hearing marching charging feet boys...
All around the world this weekend demonstrations marked the anniversary of the Iraq war. From London to New York, San Francisco to Sydney, Chicago to Athens, the smell of protest was on the breeze and thousands of feet were on the march, as citizens of the world went out to rail at... well, uh... who knows what exactly. The injustice of it all, perhaps. And the war! Yes, certainly we can all agree that war is bad! And we can demand... well.. we can demand, uh... stop the war! No more blood for oil!
But at least one city seems determined to steadfastly refuse to get with the program - Baghdad, Iraq:
Iraqis March On Jordanian Embassy BAGHDAD - Shiite demonstrators raised the Iraqi flag over Jordan's Embassy yesterday after more than 2,000 people marched through Baghdad demanding an apology for the alleged involvement of a Jordanian in a suicide bombing that killed 125 people.
The protest - the largest in a week of mounting anger - came two days after the leader of the clergy-backed United Iraqi Alliance claimed during Iraq's first National Assembly meeting that neighboring Jordan was not doing enough to prevent foreign fighters from slipping into Iraq.
Even though tremendous forward strides towards freedom have been made there it looks like the people of Baghdad are a bit too busy to stop and join hands with "the global community" today.
And if citizens of Iraq think Jordan isn't doing enough then what would they think of the few diehard former regime loyalists in the American media who urge the terrorist forces to just hang in there a little longer. "Success is within your grasp" they cry, "the US is almost defeated." In page one headlines the Washington Post declares Two Years Later, Iraq War Drains Military. Not to be outdone and ever-eager to claim the crown as the most "jihaddi-friendly news source in America" the Miami Herald's front page cries out: Two Years Later, U.S. Bogged Down In Iraq. "The guerrilla conflict is grinding away at the resources of the U.S. military, there's uncertainty over the fitness of the all-volunteer force, U.S. troops are stuck in a grinding war..." those quotes just from the first paragraph of each page one 'news' story. In each case 'grinding' is apparently la word du jour, indicative of early AM coffee-break-inspired prose.
Al Jazeera could not raise the hopes and spirits of future suicide bombers higher than these American newspapers. But off shore the world becomes even more bizarre; and on bizarro world the war's toll is just now starting to hit home. In fact, today's front-page headline in the International Herald Tribune screams just that: U.S. Toll In Iraq War Starting To Hit Home. For years, apparently, Americans have been ignoring events there.
...But antiwar activists, even one who said that organizing against the war "can feel like stirring concrete with an eyelash," point to tangible changes: Scores of local communities have voted to demand that U.S. troops come home. Small protests are staged weekly. And military recruiters have had increasing difficulty in attracting enough recruits.
More potential good news for terrorists debating that tough personal choice between med school and Mosul. But according to the story the word isn't getting out! People everywhere are blissfully ignorant of the growing "stop the war" movement. Who's fault is this international ignorance? According to the IHT, the blame lies with the media, who've failed to rally the world to The Cause.
"The media isn't doing the job, and this is one reason why people in Europe don't know about the very extensive antiwar movement that exists here," said Joseph Gainza, the Vermont director for the American Friends Service Committee.
(No statements from actual Vermont Guard members accompany the piece.)
But where there's life there is hope! Though off the front pages, where the headlines don't scream from kiosks for the attention of passers-by, some papers run identified opinion pieces like this one in the NY Daily News:
...Those of a more sensible persuasion will today, two years after U.S. troops started whooping their way toward Baghdad, recognize how profoundly better a place the world is on its way to becoming. This at the very least being a corollary result of Washington's bold stroke to take matters into its own hands, regardless of what this and that faintheart thought about such rude unilateralism.
Or this piece from the New York Post, that actually cites a rival:
The liberation of Iraq ? and perhaps the transformation of the Middle East ? began two years ago today.
It's been a long, oft-tragic process, but Operation Iraqi Freedom is paying off.
Even The New York Times has noticed.
"Prominent officials," the Times wrote yesterday, "were saying early on that overthrowing Saddam Hussein would shake up the hidebound, undemocratic regimes in the Middle East and free the natural democratic impulses of Arab and Islamic regimes." And, adds the paper, "this rationale may still hold up."
So take heart, those of you who were inspired by the example of the people of Baghdad or disgusted by the behavior of those who march against them.
And be familiar with these numbers from the Philadelphia Inquirer - even if they aren't front page news:
The best way to note this second anniversary simply may be to present some numbers about Iraq that have accumulated since March 19, 2003 - the good and the bad. Iraqi Olympians in 2004: 31.
High-ranking Baathists on the most-wanted deck of cards now in custody: 44 of 55.
Iraqis registered to vote in the Jan. 30 election: 14 million.
Iraqis who voted: 8 million.
U.S. troop strength: 155,000.
British troop strength: 8,000.
U.S. soldiers killed in combat: 1,520.
Iraqi forces killed since June 2004: an estimated 1,342.
Iraqi civilian deaths: 17,053 to 30,000.
U.S. soldiers wounded in action: 11,285 (as of March 10).
Bombings with multiple casualties: at least 219.
Foreign nationals kidnapped: 189, with at least 33 killed.
Estimated number of insurgents: 18,000.
Schools renovated: 3,100; 263 under construction.
Children enrolled in primary school: 3.6 million in 2000; 4.3 million in 2003/2004.
Telephone subscribers: 833,000 prewar; 2.6 million now.
Internet subscribers: 11,000 prewar; 140,293 now.
Daily oil production: 3 million barrels prewar; 2.1 million now.
Average daily hours of electricity nationwide: 8
Nationwide unemployment rate: 28 to 40 percent.
U.S. funding in Iraq: more than $300 billion.
Blood-curdling cruel dictators removed: 1.
No matter what I write about, there's a reader who knows more.
Ray at Shared Daily was at the Fayetteville demonstrations.
Update: I'm no analyst, but the approaching column in this imagery does not appear to be more than a couple hundred strong.
That's from Ray's photo collection, with the
counter-protestors pro-Iraqi forces in the foreground as the protestors approach the lines. (Registration - meaning giving an email address - is required to view photos.)
Update 2: The Freepers were the driving force behind the pro-Iraqi demonstrations this weekend, and they've filed after-actions reports too. Pictures are also available.
Fayetteville (see the hot pink MOAB!)
I've asked this question earlier here this weekend - what exactly are the protestors protesting? I thought I might know the answer, and seeing this confirms it:
Think this doesn't represent the American left? Although this fine example of California womanhood was accompanied and supported by only a handful of die-hard anti-Iraqi forces they included Democratic Conressman Bob Filner in their number.
This photo brought to you by Citizen Smash, who lead the counter-protest (no - lets call it the pro-Iraq demonstration) in San Diego.
A couple years ago when he was Lt Smash and I was at 'home' in Europe I checked his page for news from the front. A couple months ago when I was in Baghdad I always looked to Smash for the latest from that front. In both cases the news from Smash was always victory, a morale builder, a welcome lift.
Funny - the media tries to sell the Fayetteville demonstrations as 'veterans and families protesting the war.' I Haven't heard that said about Smash's crew in California yet.
In a break with tradition at the 156-year-old news cooperative, the AP will now offer two different leads for many of its news stories, the organization confirmed Wednesday.
"The concept is simple: On major spot stories -- especially when events happen early in the day -- we will provide you with two versions to choose between," the AP said in an advisory to members. "One will be the traditional 'straight lead' that leads with the main facts of what took place. The other will be the 'optional,' an alternative approach that attempts to draw in the reader through imagery, narrative devices, perspective or other creative means."
Those thinking either version will be a reasonable presentation of straight news should abandon hope right now.
An example of the differing leads:
MOSUL, Iraq (AP) A suicide attacker set off a bomb that tore through a funeral tent jammed with Shiite mourners Thursday, splattering blood and body parts over rows of overturned white plastic chairs. The attack, which killed 47 and wounded more than 100, came as Shiite and Kurdish politicians in Baghdad said they overcame a major stumbling block to forming a new coalition government.
MOSUL, Iraq (AP) Yet again, almost as if scripted, a day of hope for a new, democratic Iraq turned into a day of tears as a bloody insurgent attack undercut a political step forward.
On Thursday, just as Shiite and Kurdish politicians in Baghdad were telling reporters that they overcame a major stumbling block to forming a new coalition government, a suicide attacker set off a bomb that tore through a funeral tent jammed with Shiite mourners in the northern city of Mosul.
So why are they doing this? The given explanation is that The new initiative is in response to requests from many editors who want to be able to offer readers "something fresh so they will want to pick up the newspaper and read a story, even though the facts have been splashed all over the Web and widely broadcast."
For the benefit of any AP customer/editors who might be reading this: that might not be the only reason that readers aren't picking up your paper...
All over America this weekend hundreds of demonstrators braved the spring weather to protest the second anniversary of the war in Iraq. Their efforts ended in failure, however, as early reports indicate the anniversary occurred on schedule.
Undeterred by reality, crowds estimated from "hundreds" to "more than 1,000" hit the streets of Pittsburgh, San Francisco, New York, and Chicago.
Where have all the flower people gone?
To Fayettenam, son, Fayettenam
The "big" demonstration this weekend was to be in Fayetteville NC, home of Ft Bragg and the 82nd Airborne. To maximize turnout, various (ahem) 'national groups' were providing interstate transportation to the site. The concept that a large and vocal anti-war element thrives in the shadows of Bragg needs reinforcements from the 'reality-based' community, you see. Hence, free bus rides!
Officers estimated 2,500 protesters attended the rally that went on for much of the afternoon. Chuck Fager, the director of Quaker House who helped organize the rally, put the total at 4,800.
If you want a reasonable estimate of marchers at such rallies, take one-tenth the number the organizers claim and one-half of the police estimate. Actual reality will be somewhere in that range. For this event that means 500-1200, a figure supported by photographic evidence:
Meanwhile, counter-protestors were traveling too, including Vietnam veteran Jim Szakmary
Jim Szakmary said war protesters spat on him when he returned home from Vietnam in 1969.
He doesn't want the same thing to happen to the men and women fighting in Iraq.
Memories of his own homecoming brought him to Fayetteville, where he and about 200 others offered a counterdemonstration to Saturday's anti-war rally at Rowan Park. Szakmary said he wanted soldiers to know that someone stands behind them.
It was important enough to him to drive 11 hours from his home on Long Island, N.Y. He arrived in Fayetteville about midnight, he said.
''After the 10th hour, I was really regretting it," he said.
Three cheers and a tip of the hat to guys like Jim. As one of his fellow counter-protestors noted:
''We learned from Vietnam. No one answered their protests then," said Lynn Huber, a chapter chairwoman for the Old North State chapter of the Free Republic.
But how can you answer the... grotesque giant puppets!!!
Chapel Hill's Paper Hand Puppet Intervention put on a short show before the protest march. Using large puppets on stilts, the performers depicted two tyrants oppressing several people. The puppets, some as tall as 10 feet, were grotesque caricatures of humans. There was no dialogue and the action was punctuated by a single drum. In the end, the people rose up against the tyrants.
No one expects The Giant Puppets!!!
Protesters were treated to a variety of food at Rowan Park. On the anti-war side, vendors sold hot dogs, french fries, chicken curry and several vegetarian dishes.
The counterdemonstrators ate sandwiches.
Perhaps inspired by the giant puppets, at least one chicken curry-munching peace activist was driven over the edge at the sight of the sandwich-eating warmongers:
Police reported one arrest. Rann Bar-On, a speaker at the rally and an Israeli activist who runs the International Solidarity Movement in Durham, was charged with resisting a police officer. Police said Bar-On jumped the fence at Rowan Park and was headed toward counterdemonstrators across the street when they stopped him.
Think the foodrage idea is far fetched?
Some on the Rowan Park stage were colorful, including a troupe of men in drag. And some of the speakers did not have a connection to the war in Iraq at all, including an organization that led a boycott against Taco Bell.
Minions of the evil Burger King, no doubt.
But regardless of your lunch preference, the one thing demonstrated by both sides is that it's great to be in America, where (enraged peace protestors notwithstanding) such small public gatherings can be held without fear of government reprisal.
Though in most of the Middle East, you need crowds like this one before you can really feel safe raising your voice.
Meanwhile, in yesterday's NCAA tournament action, Gonzaga, Wake Forest, Oklahoma, and Boston College all lost in upsets.
Guess there will be some long bus rides home.
Whoever you are,
Or not. I don't care.
"All the decades of deceit and cruelty have now reached an end. Saddam Hussein and his sons must leave Iraq within 48 hours. Their refusal to do so will result in military conflict, commenced at a time of our choosing. For their own safety, all foreign nationals, including journalists and inspectors, should leave Iraq immediately."
Andrew Olmsted, 19 Mar 2003, Stateside: It would appear that the liberation of Iraq has begun.
Greyhawk, 18 Mar 2003, Germany: A united world could have, just maybe, brought down Saddam without firing a shot. We will never know. 19 Mar: We'll never know what a united world could have achieved... the UN could not agree on anything, the situation degenerated, and here we are. Status quo was not working. The French were too desperate for oil and trade at any cost. Well-intentioned Americans were led into the streets by Communists (and others) with an agenda. The media distorted the split. Many in America and abroad thought they could manipulate the situation to their personal gain. They miscalculated. The fire is lit.
Pontifx ex Machina, 18 Mar, undisclosed location: Rolling out the gate, the guard gets a quick ?hook-em, horns? sign as we weave through the barricades. Then we?re off, cruising through the desert in a battered-up SUV. On the eve of war, only one thing passes through our minds: is there going to be any appropriate music on the radio?
Lt Smash, 19 Mar, undisclosed location: Read the President's speech today. The clock is ticking.
Chief Wiggles, 22 Mar, Kuwait: The war started Wednesday morning for us right after the president gave a speech to the American people that lasted about 4 minutes. We were all very anxious for this whole thing to be either over or get it on its way.
Will, 22 Mar, en route: I am going to Baghdad to personally shoot that paper hanging son of a bitch!
Lt Smash 20 Mar, undisclosed location:
From: Public Works Department
To: Saddam Hussein
Subj: BLASTING OPERATIONS IN YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD
Sgt Stryker, 20 Mar, Stateside: Iraq to File U.N. Complaint About Attack
Primary Main Objective, 30 Mar, undisclosed location I Dare Kofi to Come Get Me.
"We are now acting because the risks of inaction would be far greater. In one year or five years, the power of Iraq to inflict harm on all free nations would be multiplied many times over. With these capabilities, Saddam Hussein and his terrorist allies could choose the moment of deadly conflict when they are strongest. We choose to meet that threat now, where it arises, before it can appear suddenly in our skies and cities. The cause of peace requires all free nations to recognize new and undeniable realities.
"In the 20th century, some chose to appease murderous dictators whose threats were allowed to grow into genocide and global war. In this century, when evil men plot chemical, biological and nuclear terror, a policy of appeasement could bring destruction of a kind never before seen on this earth. Terrorists and terror states do not reveal these threats with fair notice in formal declarations. And responding to such enemies only after they have struck first is not self-defense, it is suicide. The security of the world requires disarming Saddam Hussein now.
Photo: Baghdad, Iraq April 2003 - present
"As we enforce the just demands of the world, we will also honor the deepest commitments of our country. Unlike Saddam Hussein, we believe the Iraqi people are are deserving and capable of human liberty. And when the dictator has departed, they can set an example to all the Middle East of a vital and peaceful and self-governing nation.
"The United States with other countries will work to advance liberty and peace in that region. Or goal will not be achieved overnight, but it can come over time. The power and appeal of human liberty is felt in every life and ever land. And the greatest power of freedom is to overcome hatred and violence, and turn the creative gifts of men and women to the pursuits of peace. That is the future we choose.
"Free nations have a duty to defend our people by uniting against the violent. And tonight, as we have done before, America and our allies accept that responsibility. Good night, and may God continue to bless America."
The above was yesterday's headline, of course. When Italy was going to withdraw from Iraq. What will today's be?
LONDON -- Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi backtracked yesterday, saying a commitment to begin withdrawing his country's 3,300 troops from Iraq by September was subject to change and could be postponed.
"It was only my hope. ... If it is not possible, it is not possible. The solution should be agreed with the allies," Mr. Berlusconi said after his remarks on Tuesday created consternation in Washington and London.
GERMANY PARTNERS WITH IRAQ, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES FOR TRAINING
BAGHDAD, Iraq -- An agreement between Iraq, Germany and the United Arab Emirates to jointly train Iraqi military forces is clearing the way for the preparation and equipping of an Iraqi engineering unit.
The agreement, signed during German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder?s March 4-5 visit to the UAE, has Germany supplying instructors and equipment such as graders, bulldozers, 20-ton cranes and cement mixers to the unit, which will consist of 250 Iraqi trainees. The UAE will cover the expenses for the trainers, trainees and interpreters, according to German Embassy officials.
Bruska Noori Shaways, Secretary General of Iraq?s Ministry of Defense, and Lt. Gen. Hamad Mohammed Thani Al Rumaithy, chief of staff of the UAE Armed Forces, represented their respective countries in the agreement.
Germany and the UAE have previously cooperated in the training of Iraqi troops. In November 2004, 122 Iraqi personnel were trained to operate, repair and maintain 100 Daimler-Mercedes five-ton trucks that Germany sold to the UAE. The UAE paid to transport the trucks to Iraq, along with the expenses of the German trainers, translators and Iraqi trainees.
Germany has also been involved in helping to train Iraqi civil police, providing about a dozen high-level trainers last year to teach 431 Iraqi police officers the fundamentals of crime scene investigation.
More recently, 30 Iraqi police officers are going through a four-week personal protection training program led by eight German instructors. That training is designed for Iraqi police officers who will be protecting Iraqi politicians.
The same group of Iraqi police officers will continue with a course on hostage rescue techniques, with training provided by UAE police. Germany will provide radios, some weapons, ammunition and other equipment for the training, which will be conducted at a UAE facility.
We here at Mudville are aware of our readers interests (for the most part) so we wanted to make sure you die hard fans knew Monty python has gone to Broadway. The silly and hilarious movie "Monty Python and the Holy Grail," has finally hits the stage, complete with hollow coconuts, chopped-off soldiers' limbs ("arms for the poor") and very serious men dressed up as women.
Spamalot was written by Eric Idle and it includes the jolly ol' hit "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" from "The Life of Brian." It also includes songs "Brave Sir Robin" and "Knights of the Round Table", so this makes Spamalot a broadway musical.
"The new musical stars Tim Curry (The Rocky Horror Show, "Clue") as King Arthur, David Hyde Pierce ("Frasier," The Heidi Chronicles) as Sir Robin, Hank Azaria ("The Birdcage," Sexual Perversity in Chicago) as Sir Lancelot, Christopher Seiber (Into The Woods) as Sir Galahad, Michael McGrath (Wonderful Town) as Patsy et al., Steve Rosen (The Golem) as Sir Bedevere and Sara Ramirez (A Class Act) as The Lady of the Lake."
Most bloggers know that the missing link between edible spam and electronic spam is Monty Python.
This is well overdue and we'd love to see this. If they can take this show to Gr. Britian we Greyhawks may get a chance to see this.
By the way, the Mrs' rather cryptic comment below regarding email should be translated thusly: email is out. Not sure when it will be restored. Comments might be a better way to reach us in the meantime. (But we don't have email to respond.) This is no problem to those seeking links to posts as Mudville's in-line trackback feature will display any post you link to this one anyhow.
Update EMAIL IS BACK UP!
There must be a signal that goes out to all spammers that e-mail is out somewhere and so they fill your incapcitated inbox until you return.
Had over 1200 emails sitting in our inbox, 90% of them were spam. We will answer email ASAP, bare with us.
Glenn Reynolds has your must-read post of the day. In fact I'm tempted to call it your blog from Iraq of the day too. Check it out, it looks like one that will be updated frequently.
Stop by here later as I'll update this post too.
Update: Note the reference at the link to emails home, etc. That point grabbed me. For several months while I was in Iraq I felt I had a second mission - not to be over dramatic but nearly as important as my official one (though my priorities were always straight). That second-level effort was to counter the doom and gloom reporting that was being sent out from the various hotel rooms in Baghdad for re-writes on international desks in newsrooms in London, Melbourne, New York, Washington, LA, and points between.
Stop and think about that for a minute. The troops at the front had to counter the negative (and non-factual) reporting of America's media. Don't just read these words - really, think about the ramifications. America's media had let it's readers/viewers down. By design or by incompetence there was never anything in major media to indicate that Iraq's elections would be anything other than a dismal, bloody, and catastrophic failure. Overall they were guilty of incredible ignorance or unpardonable crimes.
Go read this.
You might have some idea why I believed the Iraqi elections would be every bit as successful as they were.
Then try these posts - one per day for the week prior to the Iraqi elections. If you read them when they originally went up, try reading them now with the benefit of hindsight, and see what you think.
I wasn't the only voice, of course, but I'm proud Mudvile became a place for others to sound off too. While I was still in Iraq I posted a story about action involving John Lucas' son. In no time flat Mr Lucas had emailed clarification and additional details he'd heard from his son. (Note this is the same John Lucas mentioned in Glenn's post)
Most of the last year's msm stories of Iraq should be acknowledged as the finest examples of journalistic malpractice in history.
But now all the vets of Operation Iraqi Freedom II are coming home. Home to tell the truth about their war. Home to counter the garbage that's been trumpeted by those back here claiming to speak for them for all these months. A great example is this response from a Vermont guardsman to the headline grabbing stunt pulled by the left in that state.
Likely the main stories of returning vets you'll see from that same msm now will be of GIs coming home and killing their wives. Guys who's wounds have left them struggling. Guys who can't adjust, guys who wake up screaming...
Some will even be true. But it will be increasingly difficult not to tell America the full truth when their sons and daughters, husbands wives and neighbors come marching home.
Try your Irish luck with this bit o' good craic and good fun. How many Leprechauns can you find in de logo? Hint: Don't count the Irish bloak
With your answer leave a link to a post that you may be having.
De Greyhawk's luck isn't fair today, email is down and that's no malarkey .
"Beannachtaí ®a Fé©¬e Pá¤²aig duit" (pronounced Ban ack tee na fayla Pawd-rig ditch)
(Happy St Patrick's Day!)
Those that be guessing that lucky # 13 be guessing correctly.
The Greyhawks luck be fairin better today. EMAILS BACK UP!
I hit 20 years active duty (and 2 years blogger duty the same week) and got this from Russ Vaughn. I'm honored.
Ol' Hawk's put in twenty
And to most that is plenty,
Enough for a man to retire.
But ol' Hawk he's still slogging,
Him and the Missus hard blogging,
Holding the feet of the world to the fire.
So we say bless you Hawk,
For all your rough talk,
And taking us all through the loops.
While back home Missus Hawk,
Keeps us walking the walk,
On our mission of backing the troops.
Some things about this blog are just so awful I cringe.
That was Mudville, two years ago today. The author had no idea what he was doing, knew about 5% of what he should know about blogging, html, or just about anything else for that matter. Small wonder he rarely saw 50 visits a day. He was me, of course.
I did have this bit of wisdom up though:
The liberal view in the liberal vs. conservative debate can not survive the immediate "printed" media that is today's web.
Think about it. In Nazi Germany Hitler could address the masses without fear of another opinion. In communist nations of the later 20th century (and in American universities to this day) a few stooges in the rent-a-crowd to lead the cheers at the appropriate moments ensured minimum dissent from the hive-mind. In American TV debate a moron can chant catchy slogans (It's the economy, stupid! Where was George? If it don't fit, you must acquit!) and be declared "witty" by the media...
...Once a liberal puts feeble arguments in writing in a place where feedback can be delivered immediately and read by the same people reading the original argument then their comments can be exposed for the thoughtless drivel and nonsense that they are. When all parties can review and reflect (and re-read for accuracy) both sides of an argument, the logical, reasoned, and moral side will generally win the day. In 21st century American politics, that side is invariably the conservative side.
I'd use other terms than liberal and conservative now - I don't believe they're properly applied in this context or most other current uses - but that's another topic for another day. But I'd say that the above quote has pretty much been borne out by the blogosphere of the past couple years.
Still, most of the old entries on Mudville seem so awful to me that I often considered deleting them, just to save anyone the pain of accidentally reading one. Then I realized I should leave them up, to inspire any aspiring blogger out there. I'll bet a nickel you're already better than I was back then, and I'm willing to prove it.
Tip one: Promote your blog. Use open posts when they're offered. Like now, for instance. This is your open post, link and the trackbacks will magically appear! Or use html in the comments (if you know how - the guy linked above didn't) to point us somewhere exciting.
It's Delobius - your GI in Iraq blogger-of-the-day.
He's pondering water sports these days... and offers one of the best milblogger quotes ever:
Clearly, as you can see in this picture, Iraq is a quagmire, much like Vietnam.
We first mentioned the auction of the "Pentagon" flag last week, in Mrs G's dawn patrol post, cautioning "read the story carefully". Those who did so know that the flag touted as a "Pentagon" flag was actually said to have been flying from a crane near the Pentagon on September 11th, 2001, and not from the Pentagon itself on that day. Today Mrs G linked this brief update detailing that the flag had sold for $317,000. Debra Burlingame, whose brother piloted the plane that crashed into the Pentagon was quoted as being upset when she heard that someone was auctioning off a flag that allegedly survived the terrorist attack.
I've said this before - I'm a free market guy. Cash wise any item is worth exactly whatever someone will pay for it. In regards to this flag any cash value question has been answered. And three cheers for David Nicholson, the seller, who is apparently motivated by cancer - our prayers for a recovery.
Beyond that, if proven authentic, is a flag that flew on a crane near the Pentagon a sacred American relic? Apologies to the relatives of the fallen, but no. And I'm willing to bet that Mrs Burlingame was given selective facts on the "Pentagon flag" by the Washington Post reporter and then quoted. I sense an attempt at a manufactured story here.
But as this now much longer story makes clear, there may be a real story too. Questions as to whether the flag even flew on September 11th have been raised. In fact a certificate of authenticity written on the letterhead of the construction company has been revoked.
Looks like there's a lot to sort out, but as far as discouraging future auctions of bones of the saints, threads from the robe, and shards of the one true cross the best thing that could happen would be a sucker paying big bucks for something that turned out to be less than what he thought it was.
A relative of a 9/11 victim, perhaps also fed incorrect information by the Post, gets the story exactly wrong, comparing a flag that may or may not have flown on a crane near the Pentagon on 9/11 to a real symbol of America:
Tim Sumner, whose brother-in-law, Lt. Joseph G. Leavey, was killed on Sept. 11, said the sale was "kind of like if during March 1945 you were selling the flag that was raised over Iwo Jima. We're still in this war. Maybe if it were 60 years later it would be different, but it feels like blood money."
You might not want to mention that to the Marines.
Nicholson was unapologetic. "I'm dying of cancer," Nicholson said. "When anyone can walk in my shoes with what I've got, I don't care who they are -- they'd sell the flag."
The controversy "really killed my auction," Nicholson added. "It would have brought a lot more" money, part of which would have increased the contribution he plans to make to cancer research.
Expect more updates.
What did I tell ya UPDATE!
The winning eBay bidder who pledged Monday pledged to pay $371,300 for an American flag that allegedly flew over the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001, has told the seller he is not convinced it's authentic and will not honor the sale.
There's a lot to question about the sale of that alleged Pentagon flag. The Washington Post and others did articles on it yesterday but none of them are getting this story near enough to accurate.
David Nicholson has stated that the flag was found in one of ten box of debris from the Pentagon crash site. If so, he was illegally in possession of ten boxes from a crime scene that may also contain human remains. Nothing of a number of the victims aboard Flight 77 (including two small children) and in the Pentagon have been found .
The Faccina Construction Company supervisor, Peter Elliott, who gave Nicholson those boxes wasn't authorized to take debris from the Pentagon site and he also was working as an auctioneer in training for Nicholson at the time. Nicholson was convicted for stealing $50,000 worth of clothing in 1988 and did a year of a 15 year (reduced to 7) sentence. Elliott gave Nicholson a signed certificate of authenticity on Facchina letterhead but Facchina says they didn't have a crane at the Pentagon on 9/11 (Nicholson is advertising it as the flag on a Facchina construction crane on 9/11), Elliott was reprimanded for using their letterhead for that certificate, and Facchina can not vouch for the origin of the flag. On March 8, 2005, Facchina asked eBay to pull the certificate from the ad and to inform potential buyers that Facchina could not vouch for the flag's authenticity. eBay did not comply.
Nicholson has the names of the 184 Pentagon and Flight 77 victims displayed across the bottom border of what he's selling. None of the NOK authorized him to include their family members names in the sale. Not only is this a violation of eBay's own policy but it is also a violation of California (where eBay is) civil code 3344 and 3344.1 which calls for punitive damages is such cases. Nicholson refused to remove those names when asked to do so by 9/11 family members.
On March 11th and 12th, eBay VP of Communications Henry Gomez was contacted by several 9/11 family members about both the unauthorized use of the names and the questions of the flag's authenticity. eBay continued to ignore their own policy and California law. The sale closed with the names still on the sale item. Gomez says eBay does not authenticate items for sale.
The winning bidder has now refused to pay the $371,300 winning bid. The flag is going back on sale today. As of this moment, he is asking for a first bid of $25,000 with zero takers. The 184 names are still across the bottom and Nicholson even mentions them in his new ad. In this morning's Washington Post, they quote Nicholson as threatening to go after Elliot and Facchina (for monetary damages) if the flag now brings less than $100,000.
This isn't the last eBay, Nicholson, and Elliott are going to hear about this from 9/11 family members. Did I mention the flag and ten boxes of debris allegedly came from crime scene and may contain human remains and 9/11 family members did not authorize Nicholson to use those 184 names in his sale? Yes I did.
It's Midnight in our world and time for bed. Handing Mudville over to all you for an open post. Enjoy.
...is Mustang 23 who is wishing his mom a Happy Birthday.
Go visit and give a shout out to Mustang Mama at Assumption of Command.
On top of the ransom, this has to be seen as quite a bonus by the downtrodden jihaddis.
I guess it's update day in Mudville, where we never say 'move on'.
Spc. Azhar Ali was killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq. We first reported on this fallen American hero last week when we noted his family was having trouble securing passports needed to travel to America from their home in Pakistan for his funeral. Today Newsday reports that...
The family of one of the soldiers killed earlier this month by a roadside bomb in Iraq has secured passports and visas from Pakistan and can move forward with plans to lay the fallen soldier to rest, according to two elected officials yesterday.
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Queens City Councilman John Liu intervened with domestic and Pakistani agencies to cut through the red tape.
Once again, Kudos to those who made it happen.
Meanwhile back in DC, a story about the Washington Post's ridiculous page one attack on Donald Rumsfeld reappears on the pages of US News. We first saw this one last month, noting that the chairman had to post a letter to the WaPo editors on the committee's web page when they refused to publish it. We followed up once already, making this a follow up to a follow up.
Someone somewhere is keeping this story alive...
It was a classic Washington story. According to a Page 1 Washington Post story, short-fused Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld had about had enough of pesky members of Congress during a recent hearing of the House Armed Services Committee. So he cut his testimony short, went to lunch, and headed to an afternoon Senate hearing. "Donald Rumsfeld," said the paper the GOP loves to hate, "doesn't do accommodating very well." Loaded language? Some inside the paper thought so. Worse: Committee Chairman Duncan Hunter said the story wasn't right. Seems there was a deal to let Rummy leave early. Hunter wrote the Post, but the paper didn't run the letter. So when Rumsfeld appeared before the panel again last week, Hunter explained, "You did precisely as we agreed to." Rumsfeld thanked Hunter for the "very accurate explanation." Then he added, "I wonder if it will appear in the Washington Post. Probably not." It didn't.
I'm biased, but it seems to me Mrs G finds the top stories first these days. That's why it's called Dawn Patrol - you have to get up waaaay early to get there ahead of the Mrs. ;)
Here's another great story Mrs G caught this story this morning. It's a follow up to something I mistakenly thought was finished, and most recently mentioned here. The infamous "Healing Iraq" case (referenced as such because the blog Healing Iraq first reported the story, and the blogosphere made sure it didn't die).
A West Point-trained infantry officer faces at least nine years in prison after pleading guilty Monday to multiple charges surrounding a 2004 incident in which two Iraqi civilians were forced to plunge into the Tigris River. 1st Lt. Jack Saville said he knew from training at the U.S. Military Academy that it was wrong to participate in the punishment of the two curfew violators, one of whom drowned, according to family members.
Greyhawk instantly updates the update! That version of the story is gone, replaced by this at the same link:
An Army platoon leader was sentenced today to 45 days in prison for his role in forcing Iraqi civilians into the Tigris River at gunpoint.
Army 1st Lt. Jack Saville also must forfeit $2,000 of his military salary per month for six months, military judge Col. Theodore Dixon ruled.
Saville faced 9 1/2 years in prison after pleading guilty Monday to assault and other crimes in one incident and being convicted today of a lesser assault charge in a separate case.
Reading from a prepared statement during the sentencing phase of his trial, Saville apologized.
"I desperately wish to remain in the Army," said Saville, whose family is from Tappahannock, Va. "It has given me more than I could ever imagine."
He will be allowed to remain in the Army.
What's this? Someone else trying to cash in on the sacred and holy wreckage of the Trade Center?
Standing in bright sunlight filtered through the dirty windows of a giant self-storage warehouse in Queens, N. Y., Kevin Sudeith unfurls one carpet after another, unleashing a cloud of wool fibers and mothball fumes. He lines them up along the windows, the better to reveal their colorful patterns and bizarre motifs.
At first glance they look like the rugs woven for hundreds of years by the tribal peoples of Afghanistan. But instead of traditional abstract motifs such as water jugs, chickens, blossoms and horses, these rugs depict tanks, paisley-shaped helicopters, jets, hand grenades and Kalashnikov rifles.
Swordsmen on horseback had been the most martial images found on tribal rugs, up until the Soviets invaded Afghanistan in 1979. But the invasion gave Afghans an abrupt introduction to modern warfare. As Afghan men rose up to fight, women (for nearly all rugs are woven by women) began weaving these new sights into their rugs.
One of the earliest examples in Sudeith's collection shows mujahedin on horseback throttling to death red-horned devils representing Soviet soldiers. Along the rug's border runs a procession of Soviet tanks.
But in more recent times the focus changed:
After Sept. 11 Sudeith was convinced his war rug business was over. But just six months later the entry of U.S. forces into Afghanistan brought a new wave of interest. Sudeith's problem suddenly became supply.
For nearly two years after the terrorist attacks he couldn't get any rugs at all from Afghanistan. After trade resumed, he found a whole new genre of war rugs had arisen. On woolen fields where Soviet weapons used to appear now stood U.S. armaments. A $400 rug shows an F-16, an Abrams tank and the slogan "Heat to War." Others, clearly made for sale to Americans, proclaim death to terrorists and "Long live U.S. soldiers."
The most disturbing pieces commemorate the World Trade Center attack. One has planes labeled American and United crashing into the towers, but also features a white dove carrying an olive sprig in is beak ($600). When Ronald O'Callaghan, another dealer, first saw a WTC attack rug, he says, "I told my suppliers I never wanted to see another one of those again." (He's since changed his mind and is selling them.)
Here's one example:
And who are the suppliers? I guessed this as soon as I started reading.
Most dealers buy rugs by the bale, but Sudeith has a more intimate operation. Three of his current buyers are U.S. Special Forces operatives on the ground in Afghanistan. Sudeith pays one man double his costs, sending checks to his stateside wife. Another consigns rugs, getting paid when they're sold. The third receives costs plus a cut of profits. There are also a half-dozen native suppliers.
More examples here. Note: We at the Mudville Gazette can not vouch for or endorse the linked site!
(Big hat tip to CaliValleyGirl who's site will be a daily read from now on!)
US News and World Report says the Swift Boat Vets are back
The gang that brought us the anti-Kerry Swift Boat Veterans for Truth have a new campaign headed to TVs this week: pushing national standards for driver's licenses. The stated goal: Stop terrorists from getting the ID. The ads, sponsored by the Coalition for a Secure Driver's License, are meant to back legislation on Capitol Hill. Starting this week, a scary ad from the GOP firm Stevens Reed Curcio & Potholm, producers of the Swift Boat ads, appears in Washington. Why them? "These guys can really capture hearts and minds," says a coalition executive.
Nothing new on the vet's web site.
No mention on the Stevens Reed Curcio & Potholm web site either.
Update: For the record, I admire the Swift Vets, but if this story pans out it's a mistake. The power of the group was in their relationship to Kerry - they had first hand knowledge and a sense of duty. That was an example of catching lightning in a bottle - it won't happen again.
Karaoke night! Link, and your trackbacks will appear as if by magic! Comment - to include html if you wish. The mike is open, the floor is yours.
In the mail, Viet-vet John Harriman's latest book Delta Force #1 : Operation Michael's Sword. (Thanks John).
John's latest column in Mudville is here.
The opening chapter of Delta:
Delta Force?Operation Michael?s Sword A novel by John Harriman The Berkley Publishing Group, New York, December 2004 Opening Scene excerpt used by permission of the author
0846 Hours EST, September 11, 2001 ? Over New York City
AS ARMY CAPTAIN CONNOR TYLER sat in a row to himself aboard United 411 in a steep climb, 48 minutes late, from LaGuardia to Las Vegas, he saw a jet strike the North Tower of the World Trade Center.
One moment Tyler is folding his six-five athletic frame across two seats as his flight soars out from runway 31, up and into a brilliant morning, the sun flashing gold off two million facets of the city. Crisp light, stark, clean, geometric beauty. One moment he feels warm, confident, centered, intent. Like any man on the way home. To his wife. To set things right with her. And Brendan. Just to hold him. God bless a baby, a son, a Brendan. He has only to think his name to smile.
The next moment a speck streaks across the film of one of his pewter-gray eyes. His smile freezes.
He cannot blink away the speck and sees it is not a speck, after all but an airliner in a slalom through the skyline glitter of Manhattan. Not above the buildings but among them. The aircraft dips its wings one way, then the other, slashing through the Lego forest. An aircraft in trouble? Maybe out of control? About to ditch in the harbor? His smile flags. He senses danger. He wants to call out a warning. But to whom?
He cranes his long neck, pressing one cheek to the porthole to look back and beneath the wing, feeling his pulse pounding in his throat. His smile a grimace. The plane. It?s not falling. Not out of control. Not trying to miss.
He leans hard left, lending his body language to the craft below, straining against his seat belt, urging the runaway pilot, ?Turn, turn??
Tyler flinches from the window, his hair whipping across his face.
As the plane slams into the rhinestone tower, striking a spark, blooming from a speck to fire. As the explosion punches through and out the other side, a gorgeous lethal orange blossom inferno. As first a groan escapes his chest, then a whisper. Oh, dear God.
?Oh. Dear. God.? He peels strands of hair from his eyes.
To see the fuel fire belching through the glass walls. Flames engulfing the top floors of the tower. An Olympic torch of glass and steel, smoke and fire. Beauty of an ugly, awesome kind. His stomach clenches.
He smells the hot fuel fumes in the wind blown up by the blast. Hears the whoomp, a gentle sound, for all its fury. Feels first heat on his face, a hot wind, then a chill as a cold wind blows back to the epicenter. He hears the shrieks of the dying, shrieking until?
What? No, that can?t be. Different fire, different nightmare. It used to visit him every night, but he hasn?t had it for months. Till now. But?
That was a dream, too. Wasn?t it? What he just saw? Okay, what he was thinking? A few seconds ago? Okay, there was that warmth inside, that certainty, the confidence of knowing he?d made a decision, a right decision. There was that. A bit of hangover, yeah, that, not a sick hangover, but a solemn one. And the guilt for wronging Amy. Sinning yesterday, a dark chocolate sin?he remembers that, but today he?d make it right. Yesterday he?
A jetliner just flew into the World Trade Center? He looks out the porthole. Yes, a few seconds ago.
Dear God. There is no yesterday.
John described the book to me as "the story of how our men put aside the rules of war after 9/11 and went into Afghanistan to kick ass. By the way, it's not a sermon kinda book. It's a fun read. A few belly laughs. A few pokes at the press and Penta-politics. A few places to make you think."
An airplane book, in other words. Especially if the plane is a 130.
Blackfive responds to critics. Personally, I think he's fabricating the whole story, and he's the one who made the comments demanding the release of his fm 180, just so he could write this post and get me to link to it.
But I'm too smart for him!
(With apologies to Forrest Gump, who seems like a good guy.)
Is it possible to support the war but not the troops?
BAQUBAH, Iraq ? When Pfc. Chase McCollough went home on leave in November, he brought a movie made by fellow soldiers in Iraq. On his first night back at his parents' house in Texas, he showed the video to his fiancee, family and friends.
"Don't need your forgiveness," the song by the band Dope begins as images unfurl: armed soldiers posing in front of Bradley fighting vehicles, two women covered in black abayas walking along a dusty road, a blue-domed mosque, a poster of radical cleric Muqtada Sadr. Then, to the fast, hard beat of the music ? "Die, don't need your resistance. Die, don't need your prayers" ? charred, decapitated and bloody corpses fill the screen.
"It's like a trophy, something to keep," McCullough, 20, said back at his cramped living quarters at Camp Warhorse near Baqubah. "I was there. I did this."
On the bases where Benson and McCullough live, the Army regularly searches soldiers' quarters for drugs, alcohol and pornography as part of what it calls health and safety inspections. But searching personal laptops would infringe on soldiers' privacy, said Capt. Douglas Moore, a judge advocate general officer with the 3rd Brigade Combat Team at Warhorse. Besides, if this brand of filmmaking breaks rules, they're of a different kind.
"It's in poor taste," Moore said, "kind of sick."
McCullough was surprised that his favorite video was disturbing to his loved ones back in Texas.
"You find out just how weird it is when you take it home," said McCullough, whose screensaver is far more benign, showing him on his wedding day.
Brandi McCullough, then his fiancee and now his wife, said she had walked in as he was showing the videos to friends who were "whooping and hollering."
The 18-year-old was shocked by images of "body parts missing, bombs going off and people getting shot."
"They're terrifying," she said by phone from Texas. "Chase never talked about anything over there, and I watch the news, but not all the time. I didn't realize there was that much" violence.
She also wondered why anyone would record it.
"I thought it was odd ? a home video," she said. "People getting shot and someone sitting there with a camera."
McCullough said his father, a naval reserve captain, had told him, " 'You know, this isn't normal.'
His (McCollough's) roommate, 30-year-old Sgt. Benjamin Bronkema from Lafayette, Ind., said he was surprised no one had tried to sell the movies yet.
"If I had a copy of it, and MTV called, I'd sell it," he said. The videos are no different than what's on screen at the cinema, showing glorified violence, he added.
"It's no more graphic than 'Saving Private Ryan,' " he said. "To us, it's no different than watching a movie."
Several bloggers discovered they could bring hundreds of thousands of visitors to their websites by posting insurgent beheadings - snuff porn. Their justification was that "the truth needed to be told." Perhaps this will be the next "big thing."
In another video, made by members of the Florida National Guard, soldiers are shown kicking a wounded prisoner in the face and making the arm of a corpse appear to wave. The DVD, which is called "Ramadi Madness," includes sections with titles such as "Those Crafty Little Bastards" and "Another Day, Another Mission, Another Scumbag," came to light in early March after the American Civil Liberties Union obtained Army documents using the Freedom of Information Act.
James Ross, senior legal advisor for Human Rights Watch, called it "disturbing that soldiers are making videos like that." But he added, "It doesn't mean that it's necessarily a violation of the Geneva Convention."
The Geneva Convention instructs that remains of deceased shall be respected and not "exposed to public curiosity," Ross said. "It's not putting heads on spikes and things like that. To argue you can't photograph [a body] would be a bit of a stretch."
Several websites sell footage from the war.
"Militants fight in the streets of Baghdad, looting, lawlessness," is how clips are advertised. A Las Vegas-based company offers $50 and $100 clips that include older footage of Saddam Hussein, Jessica Lynch, aerial bombardment and "sooooo many bombs." The site also advertises video showing an Iraqi fuel truck being destroyed by U.S. bombs during the invasion in March 2003.
Let's give an unnamed GI the last word:
Another specialist, who wouldn't give his name, said the bloody videos disgusted him.
"I wouldn't watch them, and the people I work with wouldn't watch them," said the specialist, stationed at a base near Mosul in northern Iraq. "I don't think it's proper."
He compared the violent videos to those made by insurgents showing beheadings.
"You bring yourself down to their level," he said. "Why would you do that?"
Hmmmm.. what's the pay?
Seriously though, Blackfive has a great round up of milblogger links today (and the explanation for this post's title).
Including a link to CaliValleyGirl who has a list of milbloggers in Afghanistan. Just what I've been looking for!
Dear Mr & Mrs Greyhawk
Is the situation in Iraq getting better? It's not really up to me to answer that question, but I can try to answer another one: is reporting from Iraq getting better? To find out, I decided to look back at the past installments of the "Good news" series and do a little count. For the sake of simplicity I started with Part 6, which happened to be the first one to be also published by the "Opinion Journal". When printed out, that July 19, 2004 edition of "Good news from Iraq" is 10 and a half pages long, and contains links to 71 "good news" stories. Since then, the length of each installment has fluctuated, but the overall trend has been up. So much so that the "Good news from Iraq" you're reading now is 23 and a half pages long and contains 178 links to "good news" stories.
The same trend in evident in my "Good news from Afghanistan". The first installment published by the "Opinion Journal" (and second overall in the series) of July 26, 2004, was 6 and a half pages long when printed out and contained 55 links. The latest one, number 10 of March 7, 2005, is 19 pages long and contains 124 links.
Either there is more and more good news coming out of both Iraq or Afghanistan, or the reporters are getting increasingly optimistic about the situation there, or both. Whatever's the answer, it's good news.
And here's the latest good news from Iraq:
Winds of Change
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I think just about everyone in the blogosphere will want to congratulate this guy and his bride to be.
The blogosphere would not be what it is today without him.
The Dive Blog with photos and a link collection on the USS San Francisco, a topic I just haven't had time to address.
Wow - Doc put up a whole big list of links to MilBloggers in Iraq. (And their wives at home.)
And today Dave gives us some photos of something I dreaded almost as much as rocket attacks.
Update: It occurs to me that some readers probably don't realize that it rains in Iraq. Weather systems move in from the Med from time to time, and at times the rain is heavy (obviously). The dusty, sandy ground turns to a pasty substance that sticks and clumped in your boots, and generally life gets a bit more miserable.
Without looking at a weather report I'll guess it's getting hot there now too. Most folks don't realize that at latitude 30 north Baghdad actually gets fairly cold in winter, with lows around freezing (yes, I know, in Minnesota that ain't cold) and highs barely out of the 40s.
Bottom line is that the image of Iraq as a hot desert isn't completely true, as Dave has so aptly shown.
Hurry, be the one to put Sean over 150,000 visits. And enjoy his reports from the front while you're there.
So the Marines can't park in your lot? Or at least, those that drive 'foreign' cars - whatever that means. Perhaps it's those Hondas made in Ohio. No two states share mutual animosity greater than Michigan and Ohio - at least in November. I know because I lived in Ohio briefly. I've lived in a lot of states. A lot of countries, for that matter. I'm a proud member of America's armed forces, you see, though I'm writing here only for myself.
I'm a little disappointed to find that your dislike of Ohioans is exceeded by your dislike for the military. Disappointed, but not surprised - I can actually understand the situation. Venture on to any US military installation in the world and note the lack of American cars. GI's have to stretch a few dollars a long way, and quality is important. Most GIs stationed in Europe pick up factory-fresh Audis or Beemers or Saabs or Volvos, downgraded to American specs, at their first opportunity. Check the parking lot of any stateside base and you can spot the folks who haven't been to Europe - they drive Hondas. Speaking of Hondas, forget about Japan. Troops there drive old Japanese spec'd vehicles that they 'inherit' for a few thousand bucks from the previous GI owner. Likewise the few folks authorized to drive in Korea pass 'kimchee clunkers' down through the ages. Right or wrong, 'American' vehicles have a global reputation for being trash on wheels. That so many of our country's 'unofficial ambassadors' choose to travel the world's autobahns in local product reinforces the concept. I understand your bitterness, but even though you don't get a lot of military customers it's probably not a smart PR move to 'drive off' the last few loyal GI drivers of your vehicles.
By the way, here's a thought about that "Bush bumper sticker" business. I know it's politically expedient for you folks to support the Democrats, but have you ever noticed who "buys American"? It ain't the "Blue Staters". They wouldn't be caught dead behind the wheel of an SUV, and you don't sell much of anything else. Go out and see how many Kerry stickers you can find on an American car.
Yes - John Kerry has a big ol' gas guzzler himself, we know there are exceptions to the rule. But the following advice would hold whichever candidate you support. Thanks to American GIs you're free to support the candidate of your choice, but you might want to downplay the 'anti' side of that coin, okay?
Apologize to the Marines. You're not going to take my advice, I know. I've been around long enough to harbor no illusions about that. (I'm so old I remember when "Honda' meant motorcycle!) Likely we'll simply acknowledge that you don't like us - and we don't like you.
Guess we'll have to get by without you somehow.
Meanwhile, tantalyze me with job offers. Convince me to "retire".
WTH? I understand the underlying idea ? wow, I was so confused it felt like my head exploded ? but, well, WTH? Isn?t this just a rather . . . inelegant metaphor for what happened?
(If you understand the title you're my age.)
Your blog from Iraq this morning is run by an American civilian. Dave's Not Here provides a slightly different POV than you're likely used to from the Baghdad area. And I do mean view - Dave's got some great photos up. (As of this writing mostly in archives which you can find from the links on the right sidebar at his site.) Saw one with the purple-tinted evening sky in the background that just took me back those many weeks...
Okay, just got back from the Exchange, where I picked up a copy of Mad Max. (Important note to fellow
parents dads: reason for purchase was one of my children said they'd never heard of it. My kids are all teenagers! Don't let this happen to you.)
But I digress. Okay, just got back from the Exchange, where I picked up a copy of Mad Max. Within minutes of arriving home I find this at my buddy Blackfive's site (make sure to click the video link there.)
Need I say more? Mudville readers are smart enough to make the connection.
Back later, I'm going to the commissary now - stocking up on canned goods.
Here's a great post from an English-language Belgian blog with a translation of a news article about what it was like to fly into Iraq with Italian communist journalist Giuliana Sgrena (hint: dental work sans Novocain). Found that via The New Editor, who I found via Mudlinks.
Welcome to today's Mudlinks. Got a hot blog entry? Link your posts to this one and trackbacks will display automatically. No blog? Use comments to direct us to something of interest or just say what's on your mind.
If Friday is the last day of your work week, then happy Friday to you. If it's not the last, Happy Friday any way. We'll be posting all weekend - that's almost like work.
OK, actually it's fun.
Hey Sean, here's another item that might be of use to returning GIs. Our good friends at Soldier's Angels forwarded this email. I've never heard of this group until now but they sound like they're worth checking into.
Hi my name is Jenny Cussen and I work for a company called RecruitMilitary. I would like to thank you for helping soldiers and their families coming home from their service. We are in the business of helping the soldiers and veterans also. My firm is absolutely committed to finding rewarding jobs/careers for every current and former military veteran for FREE. We currently have over 72,000 military veterans registered with us actively seeking employment. Please consider linking to our website so your visitors can gain awareness of what we have to offer.
Thank you for your time and thanks again for your support of our military!
An anti-war group using dead Marines to promote their agenda has caught the attention of the relatives of the fallen
Mothers of Marines and soldiers killed in Iraq are gearing up to protest a traveling exhibition that they say disgraces their sons? names.
The ?Eyes Wide Open? exhibition has traveled through more than 50 cities since its debut in Chicago more than a year ago, but it wasn?t until late February that many mothers discovered their sons? names were being used in the exhibit.
Organizers say the exhibition is meant to honor the fallen and show the human cost of war, but the mothers say its anti-war message is one their sons would not have agreed with.
?I know that Jason did exactly what he wanted to do. ... I know that he would never ever want his name associated with an anti-war demonstration, especially not one that seems to bash the military,? said Sharon Westbrook of San Angelo, Texas, whose son, Pfc. Jason Poindexter, 20, died in Ramadi, Iraq, on Sept. 12.
?My son helped make history. He was part of that, and I?m proud of that,? she said.
?He wouldn?t have liked it at all,? she said.
Sharon Cortez McLeese, whose only son, Lance Cpl. Justin McLeese, died Nov. 13 in a battle in Fallujah, found out about the exhibit when a woman who had visited the show phoned to tell McLeese she had been praying over Justin?s boots.
Taken aback, McLeese looked at the Web site. She says the site?s literature portrayed Marines in Fallujah in a negative light.
?Justin was a proud, strong Marine. He would have never wanted to be associated with this,? she said.
McLeese said she respected the right of the organizers to put on their display but that they should have been more sympathetic to the wishes of the families involved.
?My take in the whole thing is we should have been asked if we wanted to participate. It?s attached to an agenda that our sons would not have been for in a million years,? she said. ?The minute they put my son?s name on it, it becomes personal.?
Read the whole thing. If you know any survivors of fallen heroes you may want to point them to this group's web site to see if their relative is also being used. They will remove the names of those for whom a family member sends a written request.
The display is traveling the nation and is currently in California.
Posse Incitatus has lost an old friend and the Army has lost a brave and dedicated Medic.
Captain Sean Grimes was killed in Iraq Friday by a roadside bomb.
He was a good friend in those years, and reading his obituary, we felt an even greater sense of grief for having lost track of him over the years. The world is diminished without him.
Vietnam veteran and author John Harriman returns to Mudville with the second installment of his series Warrior to Warrior, letters from a Vietnam veteran to our soldiers in Iraq. See the intro to the series here).
I know Mudville readers well enough to say you're going to enjoy this. And I am really looking forward to more.
Courage, soldiers, courage By John Harriman
Dear Warrior . . .
Dan Rather signed off from his final broadcast as anchor of the CBS evening News the other with the word, courage. He said it to en-courage, if you will, families of victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, tsunami victims, the oppressed, journalists, you, the men and women in uniform in Iraq fighting terrorism, and who knows who else, maybe former draft dodgers still too scared to come home.
Sad to say, there's a whole other, darker side to his use of the word. Back in 1985 Rather took to signing off his news broadcasts with the mysterious "courage" for a week or so. Critics of Rather began to criticize him anew because it didn't seen to make much sense. It had no context.
Fast-forward to 2004 and the CBS 60 Minutes debacle over suspect documents used to discredit President Bush's National Guard service. After the documents were exposed as likely forgeries, Rather came under fire from his colleagues for continuing to defend the story. The gist of their commentary was that Rather should display courage and admit the broadcast was wrong. They mocked him with the word. Columnist William Safire actually wrote, "Courage, Dan."
So it's not inconceivable that Rather signed off his final broadcast using courage to get into the face of his critics to mock them back. In other words, "Now if you criticize my use of the word, courage, you criticize tsunami victims, 911 families, and our troops in Iraq. Go on, I dare you." Like that.
Which, to me, is a snide, petty shot that cheapens courage. It offends me personally because I met courage once.
During the Vietnam War, one of the shorthand terms used by antiwar activists, especially those in the press, was the name of a town: My Lai, pronounced ME-lie. In a most despicable criminal act, soldiers of the Americal Division under command of one Lt. William Calley herded civilians into ditches and began to shoot them down.
Anti-war activists, including those in the press, still cite the incident as proof that American soldiers were war criminals. Some say that all of us committed atrocities.
That false accusation is one of the reasons many Vietnam veterans rose up against John Kerry in the most recent presidential campaign. He was one of those who made such claims.
But what goes unreported in nearly every use of the shorthand term, My Lai, is an act of courage that goes beyond simple heroism to an act worthy of the Medal of Honor. By which I mean honor in its highest sense, even if not in the face of an enemy.
An army warrant Officer helicopter pilot by the name of Hugh "Buck" Thompson was flying overhead of the incident that day. He saw what was going on. He reported the incident over his radio. And then he did something that should force every man and woman in uniform into deep reflection.
Buck landed his helicopter. He got into the face of men who were killing innocent people in whatever frenzied state of mind possessed them. And he personally put a stop to the infamous My Lai massacre.
Of course, the deep reflection that I mentioned is this: "Would I have had the courage to do what Buck Thompson did?" He might well have died in the very ditches where the Vietnamese died, killed by their same bloodied killers.
"Could I ever muster that level of courage in myself?" It's a question for all soldiers, in all wars. That includes you. It's a question that defines the term, courage, at every level. It's a term that keeps new My Lais from happening.
I'm proud to say I knew Buck. He was a captain when I met him, and a long-time Army neighbor of mine in post housing at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. Truth be told, he was a bit of a rake, a Gus McRae-type straight out of "Lonesome Dove." He was a heavy smoker, hard drinker, fabulous storyteller. You know the type--once he got going on a story you never knew whether it was a joke or the truth until he got to the punch line. Every tale was a journey.
But the one tale he never told was that of his own courage at My Lai. That news leaked out of his wife Joyce's mouth under the influence at one of the neighborhood blended Margarita sit-arounds.
I had heard about the pilot who stopped the killing at My Lai. From the moment I knew this was Buck's story, I was awestruck. From then on, the word, courage, to my mind, was defined by Buck Thompson's action that day. Compared to him, I don't know even the meaning of the word.
And, dang it, neither does Dan Rather.
Till next week . . .
God bless you and Godspeed.
John is a veteran of two combat tours in Vietnam and a member of the American Legion. These columns are excerpts from an upcoming book of the same title. His current book, Delta Force #1 : Operation Michael's Sword is a fictional account of the 9/11 attacks and the early days of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Your deployed MilBlogger of the day is Navy Corpsman Sean Dustman of Doc in the Box. By clicking the link you could be the one to help him achieve a great milestone. (You'll see when you get there.)
This is Sean's second OIF deployment, it's about to end, and he's got some great advice for folks getting ready to come home (or those recently returned home) here. Don't miss it.
Hey Sean (and anyone else who knows any home-bound GI's) don't miss this opportunity to be on TV.
The Student Privacy Protection Act is a piece of legislation that will never see the light of day, even though (or perhaps because) California Democratic Congressman and DNC vice chair Mike Honda is sponsoring it. Invoking the traditional Democratic myth of a right to privacy the purpose of the bill is actually to limit military recruiters contacts with potential recruits. Some Republicans label this as yet another backdoor attempt by Democrats to re-institute the draft.
Honda and Michigan Republican Congresswoman Candice Miller (hmm.. is it surprising that a Michigan congresswoman opposes Honda?) appeared on Hannity and Colmes to present their arguments.
The transcript follows. As I said, the bill will not become law - it's but another noisy distraction from the kiddie table. But pay attention to the question that Honda refuses to answer, and ask yourself why?
HANNITY & COLMES MARCH 8, 2005
Bill Proposed to Prevent Army Recruiters at High School
SEAN HANNITY: Some colleges have banned military recruiters from their campuses for decades now. But should military recruiters also be kept away from high school students?
A controversial new bill is aiming to do just that. The Student Privacy Protection Act will require parental notification for recruiters who want to contact high school students.
But what would be the consequence of this legislation?
Joining us now, California Democratic Congressman and DNC vice chair, Mike Honda. He's sponsoring the legislation. And Michigan Republican Congresswoman Candice Miller.
Mike, let me begin with you. We're at war. We need -- we have limited resources for our military. All this is is a contact thing. And you want people to have to opt in to even be contacted by the military.
Doesn't that, sir, show a lack of respect and appreciation for the military, that you're doing everything you can do with your bill to make it harder for them to do their job recruiting on the ground? Why would you want to do that while America is at war, sir?
REP. MIKE HONDA (D), CALIFORNIA: Well, Sean, let's make one thing clear. This bill doesn't prohibit the military from coming onto campus.
What it does do is return parent prerogatives back to the parents regarding their child's privacy issues, something that existed before No Child Left Behind. So all I'm doing is returning the proper protocol.
HANNITY: That's not -- no, no, no, no. Because the impact of your bill is going to be far more severe than that. But sir, if you have your way, it's going make the military's job harder.
HONDA: No. The only thing it does, Sean -- the only thing it does is says that if a recruiter wants to contact a child, they have to get parent permission first.
You're a parent, aren't you?
HANNITY: That's correct, sir.
HONDA: Don't you want parents -- don't you want -- you have -- for you to have that prerogative before anyone accesses your child's information?
HANNITY: You see -- you see, I think -- my instincts tell me that you've got another agenda here.
HONDA: You can assume that, but I don't have an agenda.
HANNITY: I don't know -- you know what? I don't have enough time in this segment. But I bet you do have. Let me ask you, do you think our military is a force for good in the world today, sir?
HONDA: That's not the issue.
HANNITY: Do you think our military is a force for good, yes or no?
HONDA: The issue is this: do parents want the right to be able to release information to third parties at schools? Children are required and they're mandatorily sent to school.
HANNITY: I got that.
HONDA: They have to be there.
HANNITY: I'm going to ask you again.
HONDA: It has nothing to do with the Army. It has to do with whether parents have -- don't make it what it's not.
HANNITY: I think you have another agenda. And...
HONDA: I don't.
HANNITY: Here's my -- sir -- wait a minute -- sir -- sir, here's my question. Do you think the United States military, sir, is a force for good in the world, yes or no?
HONDA: I'll get back to you.
HANNITY: Tell our audience.
HONDA: This is about...
HANNITY: Yes or no, sir. Yes or no.
HONDA: You want to talk about the bill, let's talk about the bill.
HANNITY: You have another agenda, don't you?
HONDA: I don't have another agenda.
ALAN COLMES: Congressman Honda, it's Alan Colmes. Let me get Congresswoman Miller in here, and I welcome you both.
Congresswoman Miller, why should -- why should the school give any personal information -- by the way, I agree with Congressman Honda. They shouldn't allow recruiters on campus. This is a privacy issue. Why should the school, without parental consent, give personal, private information to anybody?
REP. CANDICE MILLER (R), MICHIGAN: Look, it's not privacy issue.
COLMES: Yes, it is.
MILLER: In fact, the first and foremost responsibility of the federal government and the members of Congress, quite frankly, is to provide for the national defense. That is in the preamble of our Constitution.
And I do agree, I think there's another agenda at play here. I think this is a back-door effort to reinstitute the draft, quite frankly.
COLMES: Let's talk about the issue at hand here.
MILLER: Because this is a direct assault on our military. There's only certain outcomes. You can weaken the military or you'll have to reinstitute the draft.
COLMES: You want to change the conversation. We are talking about a simple issues of recruiters on high school campuses and whether or not a high school has the right to give privacy -- private information to the Pentagon without the parental consent.
Why wouldn't you, as a parent, want to at least give consent to anybody before they give your child's personal, private phone number and address to anybody?
MILLER: Every young man by the time they reach the age of 18 has to be registered with the Selective Service.
COLMES: In high school.
MILLER: And quite frankly, most of the states...
COLMES: I don't have a problem with that.
MILLER: ... if not all of them, are already giving that information to the Selective Service by the time these kids are applying for their driver's license, when they're 15 or 16.
The way that the American military can stay the foremost, best equipped, the strongest...
COLMES: That's not the issue.
MILLER: ... most lethal fighting force in the entire world...
COLMES: That's not the issue.
MILLER: ... is to make sure our recruiters are able to have access to the younger Americans here.
COLMES: Nobody is saying they shouldn't have access.
MILLER: And an all volunteer army is very important.
COLMES: Congressman Honda, the issue here is a privacy issue.
HONDA: I have no problem with a voluntary army. You're trying to make it something it isn't. This is all about do parents have the right to be able to say that recruiters or any third party have access to children's private information? And I say parents should have that right. Right now...
MILLER: Why are we demonizing these recruiters? Why would you try to demonize the recruiters? What are they going to do: mislead them or lie to these kids?
HONDA: Congresswoman, if you heard what I said...
MILLER: These recruiters have to be able to have access.
HONDA: When you heard what I said, that my opening statement at was, this is not about prohibiting recruiters on campus. They could come on campus, and they will come on campus.
HONDA: They've been coming on campus since I was in high school.
COLMES: Congresswoman Miller, let me ask you about the No Child Left Behind... (CROSS TALK)
MILLER: If an individual wants to serve their country.
COLMES: Hold on, guys.
MILLER: And if they want to continue to protect democracy and freedom, if the kid doesn't want to, all they can say is no.
COLMES: Congresswoman, the No Child Left Behind Act requires schools to give recruiters access or they don't get funded. Isn't that a problem for schools?
MILLER: Not a bit. They don't have to take the federal money if they don't want to. I do not think we should be demonizing these recruiters. These recruiters are out on the frontline.
HONDA: In your district -- in your district, Congresswoman...
HANNITY: Thank you guys.
HONDA: ... would you...
HANNITY: Is our military a force for good? Yes or no.
HONDA: I say you're off the subject. This is about parents...
HANNITY: I say you have another agenda.
MILLER: It's about reinstituting the draft.
HANNITY: Thank you for being with us.
Lets review the number of time he refused to answer:
HANNITY: ...Let me ask you, do you think our military is a force for good in the world today, sir?
HONDA: That's not the issue. (ONE)
HANNITY: Do you think our military is a force for good, yes or no?
HONDA: The issue is this: do parents want the right to be able to release information to third parties at schools? Children are required and they're mandatorily sent to school. (TWO)
HANNITY: I got that.
HONDA: They have to be there.
HANNITY: I'm going to ask you again.
HONDA: It has nothing to do with the Army. It has to do with whether parents have -- don't make it what it's not. (THREE)
HANNITY: Here's my -- sir -- wait a minute -- sir -- sir, here's my question. Do you think the United States military, sir, is a force for good in the world, yes or no?
HONDA: I'll get back to you. (FOUR)
HANNITY: Tell our audience.
HONDA: This is about... (FIVE)
HANNITY: Yes or no, sir. Yes or no.
HONDA: You want to talk about the bill, let's talk about the bill. (SIX)
The only reason I can imagine for the vice chair of the DNC to refuse to say "yes" is because his honest answer would be "no".
We need help groups like the one below are coming in fast and furious, I got 20 of these in last 3 days, please put a call out for adopters, http://soldiersangels.org
And say that any guy who is willing to request panty liners and vagisil for his female soldiers SHOULD GET IT! (and a special good guy award too)
Date Entered: 3/6/2005
We are a medical unit supporting 16000 soldiers and civilians. Our unit is based in San Antonio TX and have active National Guard and reserve soldiers from all over the country. We live in buildings in ply wood rooms with 220 and some 110-volt electricity.Some have acquired beds some still sleep on cots. We have acquired some tools and wood to improve our living conditions.We remolded a 15000 sq ft building and made semi private two person rooms for 107 of us. I went around the hospital and asked soldiers what they wanted or needed and the following is the list: things to decorate the wards and living areas art supplies and party favorites for the holidays air fresheners Uniden two way radios that are blue and black in color and have a red boost talk button. Snack foods moon pies beef jerky cheese nips chewy granola bars raisins trail mix DVD movies hygiene products battery operated hand tools framing hammers speed squares tape measures carpenters pencils 16 penny nails 1? sheetrock screws hand soap magazines (popular mechanics and popular science) mouth wash sports equipment dove body wash (place duct on the cap) stick deodorant big blow up swimming pool Tupperware containers (medium and large) electric fans mach 3 razors large trash bags toilet paper dandruff shampoo white ankle socks flat toe nail clippers coffee cups with lids pillow cases hair clippers alarm clocks memory sticks for cameras small vacuum cleaners sunglasses bath towels and wash cloths facial tissues (box) twin size sheet sets (old or new) febreeze sunglasses frisbees.The females of the unit have asked for pumice stones manicure kits eyebrow tweezers (the good kind) vagasil power panty liners summers eve wash.
Mrs G got busy with site design, so your open post arrives in the evening today. Got a hot blog entry? Want readers? Link your posts to this one for trackbacks - they'll display automatically. No blog? Use comments to direct us to something of interest or just say what's on your mind.
Someone's making a show about America's real idols! In the email, from one the show's producers:
LOOKING FOR EXTRAORDINARY HOMECOMING STORIES A TLC show is looking for stories of military personnel who will be going home between now early May. We are looking to film compelling and unique reunions back in the USA with families, friends, or fellow platoon friends sent home early for medical reasons. The show is not about politics or the atrocities of war. It's a positive documentary show that hopes to evoke smiles, tears and empathy from the American audience. We are really looking for AMAZING stories. We have already shot a few including: a father who has never met his newborn child; a family that left up the Christmas tree until the whole family could celebrate together. We are now looking for more AMAZING UNIQUE stories. Please get in touch if you are about to head home and would like to be part of the project or let me know if you know of someone else's story. Contact: (Meri) firstname.lastname@example.org
She also adds these details:
The Learning Channel (TLC) is scheduled to premiere "Operation Homecoming" on Memorial Day. We are working alongside Terry Mitchell from the Office of the Secretary of Defense and Public Affairs Officers of the Armed Forces. "Operation Homecoming" personalizes our Soldiers' emotional homecomings and celebrates their individual stories of strength, courage, anticipation, and finally, reunion. The show begins with a brief introduction to our returning soldier, through the eyes of his/her loved ones with interviews, photos and home video. The pace quickly marches forward with the extraordinary anticipation that the soldier's family members feel right before a husband, father, daughter, son, wife or mother return home from an (average) year of active duty. The soldier is met and escorted home by our crew, and we hear for the first time his/her eager and grateful anticipation. Each hour will showcase three homecomings, with the reunions at home, between the soldier and his/her family. In each hour we will try and have a strand that links the stories: whether it's a special hour with soldiers who are meeting their children for the first time; mothers returning home; or soldiers who are coming home on a surprise timetable. I know that the schedules change often and are quite unpredictable - for that reason our production schedule is quite short so that we're ready to go when we get notice of an arrival. So any early leads and as many stories you can help us find as soon as possible - all the better! We really want to do the best we can for our returning soldiers and make these homecomings as memorable for them as we can. We are filming at present and will be continuing through early May.
Sounds awesome - I'll see what I can do ma'am. (Heh - we left the Christmas tree up at haus Greyhawk this year too. Took it down just a couple weeks ago.)
Here's the email again: email@example.com
Garance Franke-Ruta in The American Prospect
...Jordan... was brought down not by outraged citizen-bloggers but by a mix of GOP operatives and military conservatives.
Certainly there were some citizen-bloggers involved in the anti-Jordan effort. Easongate founder Bill Roggio, 35, is a computer-software analyst in Medford, New Jersey. His blog, The Fourth Rail, demanded that CNN release the video- or audiotape of Jordan?s comments in Davos. Roggio started Easongate.com on Saturday, February 5, with a couple of right-wing and military blogosphere buddies, Michigan-based Brian Scott (of The Blue State Conservatives) and Josh Manchester (of TheAdventuresofChester.com). Like Roggio, Manchester served in the military, leaving active duty as a U.S. Marine only recently. Scott, a Republican and member of Right to Life of Michigan, started his blog to further his dreams of becoming a conservative talk-radio personality.
As Easongate got cooking, the trio quickly reached out to ?BlackFive,? a former paratrooper and prominent military blogger in Chicago who declined, in an e-mail interview, to reveal his surname (his first name is Matt). Blackfive brought in Cheryl, a 48-year-old advertising sales representative from southern California who asked me not to use her last name; she gave the group pro bono marketing services and helped to set up a database of CNN advertisers to be contacted. The team even tried to get an active-duty military officer to join their clique. The officer declined.
Ahem - that was me, and my non-participation brought the total number of military members involved in Easongate to zero. Now let's review: "Jordan... was brought down not by outraged citizen-bloggers but by a mix of GOP operatives and military conservatives." I suppose in some minds "former military = military", but in that sense we could likely refer to a lot of Prospect writers as McDonalds fry chefs. A correct statement would be "Eason's charges brought quick response from a small group of veterans who were eager to discover the truth."
My reason for declining to participate is simple: as the project was ramping up I was returning from Iraq and wouldn't have time. But I confess this excuse also released me from having to make a real decision whether or not to get involved. Honestly I still wouldn't have joined in, and my reasons should be obvious. One, as a military guy it's hardly surprising that I'd respond "no we don't" when I'm being accused of murdering journalists. It's more effective to let others with a less obvious personal stake fight the battle. Two, my involvement would open the project to specious charges that it was being run by the military.
Which is basically what the author of this poorly executed bit of tripe has done any way. In essence she's leveled yet another unfounded charge against the military, and a correction and retraction would be appropriate.
I was recently interviewed by a reporter for another national magazine (that project is still in the works, so I won't reveal names) who asked me "Do you take any personal credit for the demise of Eason Jordan at CNN?"
I didn't take the bait. I told him that "credit would be the wrong word. The whole bloggers 'got' Jordan thing is media spin, most bloggers didn't want Jordan, they wanted the truth, and didn't get it. But the spin facilitated a round of media stories about the "climate of fear" that blogs are imposing on mainstream media." I stated that prior to hearing about this Prospect piece, which coincidentally contains the most flagrant example of climate of fear reporting yet:
But there?s another a key difference between the effort against Gannon and conservative blog firestorms: The targets of the liberal blogosphere are conservative activists; the target of the conservative blogosphere is the free and independent press itself, just as it has been for conservative activists since the ?60s
Ahhh the '60s - that halcyon heyday of conservative activism...
Actually, the truth is that based on eyewitness accounts Jordan got away with making an unfounded accusation of murder. All any blogger wanted was the truth, if no left wing blogs joined in the demands, then that is to their discredit - if not an indication that they endorse Jordan's position.
Here's a good comparison - an example of a blog-related investigation into a crime. Last year an Iraqi blogger told a story on his site about a distant relative his family had told him was thrown into a river by US troops. According to his story the guy drowned and no one was investigating. Glenn Reynolds linked the post and a huge uproar followed. But the story sounded so outlandish, so implausible, that a lot of bloggers were waving red flags on their sites. But the result of all the attention was a military investigation, and it found that this seemingly outrageous story was true. They had dumped the guy into the river. When that was discovered the same bloggers who previously cried foul immediately posted things to the effect of "I was wrong and I admit it". Both Glenn Reynolds and I followed this story to it's conclusion. I could provide a lot more links than these; but the bottom line is that this is a story where justice was served, in large part due to blogs. (For the record Instapundit, Healing Iraq, and Chief Wiggles much more so than Mudville).
And that's what was sought in the Jordan affair. What did he really say? Can he support it? Are troops targeting and killing journalists? Or is this the sort of thing that a major American news organization's executives routinely utter without expecting anything but nods and winks in response? Murder is a damned serious charge, but instead of an investigation we got a resignation.
The moral? CNN doesn't put the same emphasis on truth and justice that the US military does.
But this brings us to part three, and let's see how many can make it through this tough lesson.
Turning our attention to a different case - I received this email today:
Subj: Letter to Pres. Bush, Armed Services Senators & the U.S. Marines
Since it is too late for Due Process to be applied to the 1500 plus deaths of U.S. Marines in Iraq, it certainly is not too late to apply same to Lt Ilario Pantano who, under the UCMJ, is likely to be charged with the murder of 2 suspected Iraqi insurgents.
Lt. Pantano is a combat veteran of both the 1st Iraqi war and the present one, including spending 8 months in the Sunni Triangle and the battle of Fallujah. He gave up a lucrative career to fight for America and the family he left behind, twice.
The prisoners he was overseeing during an SUV stop, adjacent to an arms cached house, turned into an attempted flight by the 2 insurgents, who has been talking to each other in arabic. When ordered to STOP, they continued to move in front of him. Not knowing whether his life was in danger Lt. Pantano shot both insurgents dead.
There is no such thing as an unarmed Iraqi insurgent. When someone is willing to give up their own life to kill you, at any cost, the description of unarmed becomes a negligible factor.
Due Process must be forthcoming; however, the benefit of any doubt must also be given to Lt. Pantano, with the regard to be given anyone in a combat zone, that has been under fire for months.
The charges against Lt. Pantano should be dropped, both for his sake and for the sake of all American military personnel that dedicate themselves to both repaying and repelling any and all, both past and present, dangers to America s and the worlds FREEDOM.
President Bush, although you have not spoken directly to this matter, it is my hope you will make your wishes known and, if necessary, based on the events described above, and your rank as THE COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF of the Armed Forces choose to have any upcoming charges against Lt. Pantano dropped, and or he be pardoned.
It's part of a growing web swarm supporting Lt Pantano. On the surface a noble cause, but I'll decline to get involved, thanks, other than to pass on these facts.
Ilario Pantano had everything going for him, great career, wife, friends.. then on 9/11 he gave it up to rejoin the Corps.
Sgt. Daniel Coburn, a 10-year veteran with service in Panama, Haiti, Bosnia and Kosovo - says Pantano shot two detainees in the back.
The individual who sent me that email wasn't there.
There's an effort to mobilize blogs to support Pantano, but those who rush to defend one of the two men are by default accusing the other of a rather heinous crime - murder, or the false accusation thereof. Sound familiar? Here are elements of the Jordan case and the Healing Iraq case all rolled together. Once again, I'm glad I'm not the judge. But this story has differences from the previous two. In this case the wheels of justice are already turning. A mob will not resolve it, the military justice system will.
Trial-by-blog will not replace the rule of law. Blogs will ensure that.
Blogs can do positive things. More information is good - and people now have a tremendous number of ideas at their fingertips. But the reality is that bad ideas are out there with the good (see the TAP article above for one example, or the email that calls for actions that would reaffirm the paranoid delusions of it's author for another), and often many people are willing to embrace them without much second thought.
Thankfully, we bloggers have blogs to point out our mistakes.
Your new blog from Iraq today is 365 and a Wake Up (it's never too early to start the countdown, I guess).
Be sure to read this post about checkpoints. This guy's got 'tude. (I mean that in a good way...)
Sarah's husband is home from Iraq! I'm very happy for my neighbor here in Germany. It's been a very long awaited homecoming. Glad to see he's arrived safe and sound.
Now as soon as you all get reacquainted, we need to get together for some bier and schnitzel.
Found in comments:
Greetings from Mudville-Yes such a place does exist, it is a neighborhood of Holliston Ma. and was nicknamed at Town Meeting on March 17, 1856 by the local Yankee population, to put the Irish of the town in their place. The author of "Casey at the Bat", E.L. Thayer had relatives who owned a woolen mill just down the tracks. We'll be 149 years old in a few days-Happy Paddy's Day to all------the mayorPosted by Bobby Blair at March 8, 2005 07:26 PM
Well sir, thanks for stopping by - it's truly an honor!
Though perhaps not surprisingly, the story is not without controversy...
(By the way, for those who never read it, the poem is below the 'fold'.)
Casey at the Bat
by Ernest Lawrence Thayer
The outlook wasn't brilliant for the Mudville nine that day:
The score stood four to two, with but one inning more to play,
And then when Cooney died at first, and Barrows did the same,
A pall-like silence fell upon the patrons of the game.
A straggling few got up to go in deep despair. The rest
Clung to that hope which springs eternal in the human breast;
They thought, "If only Casey could but get a whack at that?
We'd put up even money now, with Casey at the bat.
But Flynn preceded Casey, as did also Jimmy Blake,
And the former was a hoodoo, while the latter was a cake;
So upon that stricken multitude grim melancholy sat,
For there seemed but little chance of Casey getting to the bat.
But Flynn let drive a single, to the wonderment of all,
And Blake, the much despisè¤¬ tore the cover off the ball;
And when the dust had lifted, and men saw what had occurred,
There was Jimmy safe at second and Flynn a-hugging third.
Then from five thousand throats and more there rose a lusty yell;
It rumbled through the valley, it rattled in the dell;
It pounded on the mountain and recoiled upon the flat,
For Casey, mighty Casey, was advancing to the bat.
There was ease in Casey's manner as he stepped into his place;
There was pride in Casey's bearing and a smile lit Casey's face.
And when, responding to the cheers, he lightly doffed his hat,
No stranger in the crowd could doubt 'twas Casey at the bat.
Ten thousand eyes were on him as he rubbed his hands with dirt;
Five thousand tongues applauded when he wiped them on his shirt;
Then while the writhing pitcher ground the ball into his hip,
Defiance flashed in Casey's eye, a sneer curled Casey's lip.
And now the leather-covered sphere came hurtling through the air,
And Casey stood a-watching it in haughty grandeur there.
Close by the sturdy batsman the ball unheeded sped?
"That ain't my style," said Casey. "Strike one!" the umpire said.
From the benches, black with people, there went up a muffled roar,
Like the beating of the storm-waves on a stern and distant shore;
"Kill him! Kill the umpire!" shouted someone on the stand;
And it's likely they'd have killed him had not Casey raised his hand.
With a smile of Christian charity great Casey's visage shone;
He stilled the rising tumult; he bade the game go on;
He signaled to the pitcher, and once more the dun sphere flew;
But Casey still ignored it and the umpire said, "Strike two!"
"Fraud!" cried the maddened thousands, and echo answered "Fraud!"
But one scornful look from Casey and the audience was awed.
They saw his face grow stern and cold, they saw his muscles strain,
And they knew that Casey wouldn't let that ball go by again.
The sneer is gone from Casey's lip, his teeth are clenched in hate,
He pounds with cruel violence his bat upon the plate;
And now the pitcher holds the ball, and now he lets it go,
And now the air is shattered by the force of Casey's blow.
Oh, somewhere in this favoured land the sun is shining bright,
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light;
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout,
But there is no joy in Mudville?mighty Casey has struck out.
Meanwhile, Powerline notes that the article is, well, incoherent (that's my word, not theirs.)
As the father of two daughters, husband of the blogfamous Mrs G, son of my mom, brother of my sister, etc. etc. I wish the TAP story didn't remind me of this quote - but it does.
Wait - I'm not a sexist pig. Proof? Kevin Drum's post brings the same quote to mind.
"Lately even the harshest critics of President Bush have been forced to admit maybe he?s right about freedom?s march around the globe. What if we are watching an example of presidential leadership that will be taught in American schools for generations to come? It?s an idea gaining more currency."-- Brian Williams, NBC Nightly News, 8 March
The prosecution: That's wrong, but only because history isn't taught in schools any more. Still, the NBC news crew deserves expulsion from the Loyal Order of News Reporters, and worse. I hereby call for shunning at the toniest parties and relegation to less desirable tables at certain hot spots around town.
The judge: Surely they aren't guilty of such a heinous transgression?
The prosecution: Your honor, I have video...
The defense: Objection!
The judge: Silence. Let's watch television!
Judge: (To defense) You disgust me.
(Transcript below fold.)
Update: I tend to agree with what Andrew Sullivan tends to agree with here. (And maybe the post immediately below it too. Can anyone set my mind at ease about the second one?)
NBC NIGHTLY NEWS MARCH 8, 2005
BRIAN WILLIAMS: Lately even the harshest critics of President Bush have been forced to admit maybe he?s right about freedom?s march around the globe. What if we are watching an example of presidential leadership that will be taught in American schools for generations to come? It?s an idea gaining more currency.
Tonight NBC News chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell takes on the question.
ANDREA MITCHELL: Elections in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Palestinian Territories; pro-democracy demonstrations in Lebanon; local elections, at least for men, in Saudi Arabia. Is this an historic turning point, like the fall of the Berlin Wall? And if so, should George Bush get the credit?
DANIELLE PLETKA [foreign policy expert]: President Bush has changed the order of our priorities in the Middle East and has put questions of political and economic reform to the long hand for liberty and democracy. He put those issues at the forefront; that has made a big difference.
MITCHELL: Even some of the president?s critics are rethinking the war in Iraq. Jon Stewart joked about it.
JON STEWART [The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, January 31]: What if Bush is the president ? ours -- has been right about this all along? I feel like my world view will not sustain itself and I may ? and, again, I don?t know if I can physically do this ? implode. [Laughter]
MITCHELL: In fact, the Bush team is getting grudging respect in "old" Europe from opponents of the Iraq war. The German news magazine Der Spiegel wrote: "Now it seems that true freedom of expression and democracy are evolving from that wrongful war. If that?s the case, then there?s good reason to cheer."
Even some Democrats agree.
SEN. CHRISTOPHER DODD [D-Conn.]: So each case, each country, I think there are different motivations; but certainly the president?s policies, having shaken things up in the Middle East, have been part of that dynamic.
MITCHELL: Other experts say the Middle East was poised to move toward democracy and George Bush just got lucky. Most notably, Yasser Arafat?s death last November led to new Palestinian leadership and peace talks with Israel.
And, skeptics say, Lebanon?s divided opposition only came together because of the assassination of former president Rafik Hariri.
SHIBLEY TELHAMI [Middle East expert]: There was tremendous momentum before the Iraq war toward reform in the Arab world.
MITCHELL: Whatever the cause, no one is questioning the powerful appeal of democracy as Arabs see their neighbors voting for the first time.
Andrea Mitchell, NBC News, Washington.
MilBlogger Brian from The Jump Blog has been in and out of the hospital and he's not happy, but you can't blame him. He has a rare form of emphysema called Alpha-1 anti-tripsyn deficiency and it's been no picnic. Here's a history of his illness.
He's completed a project he's been working on, a project that I find pretty awsome, and my son agrees. It's a tribute to the troops; I can only describe it as Blackhawk Down meets Halo. It's called "Takedown" and you'll find it here. Be sure to watch the outakes after the credits.
He has a few other projects in the works as well that I'm looking forward to seeing completed.
I'm linking this again, because I don't want it overlooked in the lengthy entry below.
Do not miss Major K's post.
The original squad lost a close one, but the 21st century Mudville Nine looks unbeatable - and they haven't even begun spring training yet. Power hitters all - and today they're making the opposition look like minor league wiffleball wannabees. In today's lineup:
Hugh's on first (and he's leading off too). Honorary MilBlogger Hugh Hewitt weighs in on the TAP article, and finds a disturbing example of doublethink on the part of the author. The blogosphere, the freest 'press' in history, will shut down the free press. Can anyone provide a lucid explanation for this thinking?
What we have from TAP is propagation of a myth - the myth that America is a nation of ignorant buffoons, poorly educated and easily led. The NASCAR crowd, you know.
Or is it the symphony crowd? Tom Paine.com interviews journalist/author Chris Hedges:
TomPaine.com: When a country prepares for war and goes to war, there are changes in that country's politics and culture. You write that a myth emerges -- a seductive myth as leaders spin out a cause. You write that a patriotism, a "thinly veiled form of self-worship appears." What do you mean by this myth, this cause, this patriotism and what you then say is an intoxicating result?
Chris Hedges: Well myth is always part of the way we understand war within a society. It's always there. But I think in a peacetime society we are at least open to other ways of looking at war. Just as patriotism is always part of the society. In wartime, the myth becomes ascendant.
Patriotism, national self-glorification infects everything, including culture. That's why you would go to symphony events and people wave flags and play the "Star Spangled Banner." In essence, it's the destruction of culture, which is always a prerequisite in wartime. Wartime always begins with the destruction of your own culture.
Once you enter a conflict, or at the inception of a conflict, you are given a language by which you speak. The state gives you a language to speak and you can't speak outside that language or it becomes very difficult. There is no communication outside of the cliches and the jingos, "The War on Terror," "Showdown With Iraq," "The Axis of Evil," all of this stuff.
So that whatever disquiet we feel, we no longer have the words in which to express it. The myth predominates. The myth, which is a lie, of course, built around glory, heroism, heroic self-sacrifice, the nobility of the nation. And it is a kind of intoxication. People lose individual conscience for this huge communal enterprise.
Because Americans are ignorant bufoons, poorly educated and easily led, and need guys like Chris to show them the truth. Or do they? A former NY Times reporter, Hedges was interviewed to promote his book War Is a Force that Gives Us Meaning.
Now batting second: MilBlogger Benjamin Blatt, with a letter to Chris Hedges
Sadly, although your version of events in 2002 has you standing ?on rooftops with young Marine radio operators who called in air strikes? watching the Marines who ?were called in to push the Iraqis (out of Khafji),? your story just does not pan out.
Read the whole thing.
Speaking of the NY Times, here are some excerpts from today's letters to editor:
How to express the rage and shame half of our country feels for the policies of those in power? The disgust over the senseless, ironic killing by poorly trained troops of a brave Italian who saved the life of another brave Italian? And the disgust over the killings of innocent Iraqis that occur daily?
When will the disgrace to our own country come to an end?
The real question is, How many Iraqi citizens are shot by G.I.'s for speeding toward checkpoints, and how many of these shootings are not reported in the newspapers?
Imagine similar scenarios involving thousands of Iraqi citizens, and the reluctance of the Iraqis to embrace their American occupier-liberators becomes understandable.
Had enough yet? Batting third, Craig A. McNeil, a soldier writes the NY Times
I spent 2004 as a soldier in the Sunni Triangle.
We soldiers were painfully aware that shooting people who are not hostile undermines our standing with the Iraqi people and that tragedies like the shooting of Giuliana Sgrena's convoy undermine the coalition.
How, then, could we even consider shooting at vehicles apparently operated by civilians? Because suicide car bombers have an unfortunate habit of behaving like innocent civilians - right up to the point where their vehicles explode.
I left Iraq on an Air Force cargo plane carrying an aluminum box with the remains of one of my brothers or sisters in arms.
Every moment of every day for the last two years, Americans in uniform have to choose whether to pull the trigger. On many occasions soldiers have made the wrong decision and earned either a Purple Heart or an aluminum coffin - or both.
Any suggestion that military leaders don't agonize over how to balance our need to defend ourselves from madmen with our desire to protect innocent Iraqi civilians is, at the very least, foolish.
Bases loaded. Nice set up for the clean up man, and Major K knocks this one out of the park. Don't miss it.
And the hits keep coming:
Bases loaded again! Here's the pitch, from the uncredited Army Times editorial on MilBlogs:
The blogosphere is an unruly place crowded with writers who sound like the loud mouth at the end of the bar who spews beery opinions on everything ? or worse, with writers gushing drivel as boring as someone recounting last night?s dream.
For those of us who make a living editing, blogs are an affront, substituting enthusiasm for talent. But for those charged with running the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the blogs of soldiers must be terrifying.
That was the pitch - and the hit is a quote attributed to Mark Twain found on the side bar of MilBlogger Brogonzo's site: "I am not the editor of a newspaper and shall always try to do right and be good so that God will not make me one."
Ouch! - pitcher hit by line drive. Let's get an ice pack on that.
Batting ninth, Jonah Goldberg wraps up the entire discussion:
But as a whole, I think liberalism is rusty and atrophied. Liberalism ? by which I mean the political Left in America and not ?real liberalism? or classical liberalism ? has very little to offer.
It?s strange. The words conservative and liberal are obviously very old, but their meaning has drifted over the years. As late as the 1950s even most conservatives spoke favorably of the word ?liberal? ? including Senators Robert Taft and Joe McCarthy. Meanwhile, conservatism wasn?t really a political outlook at all ? as we understand these things ? until the fifties. Before that, liberalism?s meaning was in flux and I?m not sure this is the venue to get into all of that. I think the Right became associated with change for the fairly simple reason that the liberal pendulum went about as far as America wanted it to. Somewhere C.S. Lewis writes about how a man who takes a wrong turn in the road is not ?progressing? by continuing in the wrong direction. Hence, a man who walks backward to where he took the wrong turn is in fact heading in a ?progressive? direction. It?s a limited metaphor because life isn?t nearly so static. But conservatives are on the side of change because they are the ones who understand that heading in the wrong direction isn?t progress.
And if that point doesn't apply to everything linked above (okay, except the Army Times bit), I'll eat my boonie cap.
I will claim an exception to this quote regarding tired cliches from the same interview with Jonah:
Another cliché ¡t the top of my list: ?I may disagree with what you have to say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.? Uh, thanks. But who really cares.
The exception I claim is for all MilBloggers - but though I may disagree with him I will indeed defend to the death his right to say it. ;)
Zeyad of Healing Iraq is going on hiatus, possibly for good
I have a few priorities in my personal life that I would like to take care of, maybe afterwards I will write again, I don't know. In any case I will mention it here.
Your open post. Got a hot blog entry? Want readers? Link your posts to this one for trackbacks - they'll display automatically. No blog? Use comments to direct us to something of interest or just say what's on your mind.
I think I could introduce another MilBlog from Iraq every day this year. Here's Michael at A Day in Iraq, his days there have just begun.
And welcome to any other Army Times readers who wander through. Kudos, thanks, and a tip of the Kevlar hat to author Joe Chenelly, who got the MilBlogs story right.
If you're new to the world of blogs - what you see is what you get. Individual entries on whatever topic the site owner chooses, arranged in a big stack with the most recent on top. The hyperlink is the crucial feature; many of the things written here will not make sense unless you actually click the link and read the referenced item. You will find Mudville is made up of a mix of posts, some that are little more than pointers to other spots on the internet (usually blogs) and others that are something more in-depth. These are usually written by me or my lovely wife, but often we have visitors who contribute too. (Yes - that was a link to a recent example. Here's another.)
You can contribute too. Click the "comments" link at the bottom of any post and sound off. Agree, disagree, add your own voice. On typical weekdays anywhere from 4,000 to 10,000 people stop by here, sometimes as many as 20k+, so your voice will be 'heard'. That bit about 'rough language' at the top is not for real though, this is a family site so please keep it PG. I'm not responsible for the opinions expressed in comments - I don't delete people just because they disagree with me. This is free speech central.
I'll do a few more posts introducing folks to blogging this week, as well as the usual stuff. In the meantime, the post at this link is the one referenced in the Times article, the one the Seattle Band has recorded for their upcoming CD. It's the note I left the kids when I deployed to Iraq last year. (I'm home now.)
Some other recent posts of interest include my interview with filmmaker Michael Tucker, who's movie Gunner Palace had it's debut last weekend, and my conversation with Jules Crittenden, reporter for the Boston Herald, about the incident at the Palestine Hotel during the Thunder Run. Jules was there when two reporters were killed by a round fired from an American tank.
For some classic Mudville, here's a personal favorite. The Warrior Caste looks at military families and traditions.
But if you read only one thing while you're here, please make it this.
Thanks for stopping by - come back soon for more of my "Intro to Blogging 101" in which I'll link you to some of my good friends from all around the world. I'll have that post up shortly.
We gotta lot of little teen-aged
Who do anything we say
We got a genuine indian guru
He?s teaching us a better way
We got all the friends that money can buy,
So we never have to make up rhymes
And we keep gettin? richer,
But we can?t get our picture
On the cover of the...
Sorry ladies, none of those pretty faces is mine.
But yes, I was interviewed for the stories.
Here (and in an upcoming post I'll reveal how you too can make blogmillions!!!)
Since a recent post, I?ve been talking to schools, universities, youth groups and churches about Iraq. My message is always the same? pray for the soldiers, good things are happening and never get reported, know that this war is just and that the people we fight do not represent Islam; they represent evil. Sometimes, I receive standing ovations. Other times, I have kids picking their noses, just waiting for the bell to ring
I don't have groups like that I can speak to in Germany, but via Mudville I can speak to you and say this: go read it all.
It's not a "right" story or a "left" story. It's a story about 150,000 young men and women who are black, white, hispanic, asian, republicans, democrats, independents, gay and straight and perhaps socialists who are sacrificing life and limb for the current Commander in Chief (doesn't matter if we agree or disagree with him -- they are there dying) -- and they have been accused of nothing short of murder....
By the way, yours truly was mentioned in that TAP article too - just for fun I'll give readers a while to find the reference and post an update later.
Vietnam veteran and author John Harriman is writing a weekly column for Montana newspapers, Warrior to Warrior, letters from a Vietnam veteran to our soldiers in Iraq, telling them "what to expect based on the experience of those who already went through an unpopular war". John contacted me and offered to share these columns with readers here.
This is awesome - given the readership here and the nature of blog communication I realized Mudville can be a place where Vietnam vets, Iraq vets and those from other wars can connect - anonymously even - share experiences and advice, and maybe get help they need for issues about which they otherwise might not speak up.
Enough of my words - here's John Harriman's introduction to the project:
Dear Warrior . . .
Ten years into my Army career, my three children ran out the door to meet me after work. "Daddy!" "Dad!" "Dude!" I figured they wanted money.
But no, they had questions, questions no combat veteran ever wants to hear from his kids.
"Daddy, were you in Vietnam?"
"Yeah, Dad, what did you do in the war?"
"Dude, did you kill any bad guys?"
My answer was brief. Yes, I was in Vietnam. You want some money? Here, go buy an ice cream.
They got the ice cream. I got to grapple with their questions for 30 years.
Fast-forward. To today. And I finally have a good answer: My dear children. It does not matter so much that I went to Vietnam. It does not matter what I did in the war. What matters is that . . .
I am the war.
Yes, I was in Vietnam. And, yes, I was in a war; and when I came home the war was in me. It has shaped me ever since in the way that I see the world, my family, my community, my friends, politics, the media, my God and all the rest.
So it is with all veterans.
You always remember the big moments in your life. The day you met the love of your life. The birth of a child. The death of a loved one. But few things in your life will shape it like a war.
Every veteran of combat can vouch for my saying war will change you. Most veterans would also agree: When you come back from Iraq, you will be your war.
Not to fear. This forging of your future is nothing to dread. Rather, something to prepare for. It will happen, and you will live it. We older veterans can help you see it coming, although most of the veterans of the country's past wars do not talk much about their combat.
Too bad. I might have learned something from them before I went to Vietnam. And I might be able to teach something now that I am back.
So. Against that tradition of silence, I have decided to speak out to you.
I will write to you, a letter a week, passing along some insights from previous veterans and previous wars. Some tips, some bits of advice, maybe a war story, along lots of encouragement and all my prayers and the prayers of other veterans and your fellow citizens.
I ask veterans to write notes to me, tips and thoughts I might include in my letters. And I'm asking the national veterans organizations to print a request to contribute wisdom to pass along to you.
Until next week, God bless and keep you.
Sir, thanks for your service - which obviously didn't end when you hung up the green suits!
Your open post. Got a hot blog entry? Want readers? Link your posts to this one for trackbacks - they'll display automatically. No blog? Use comments to direct us to something of interest or just say what's on your mind.
Easongate "news" from the Amercan Prospect:
...Jordan... was brought down not by outraged citizen-bloggers but by a mix of GOP operatives and military conservatives.
Certainly there were some citizen-bloggers involved in the anti-Jordan effort. Easongate founder Bill Roggio, 35, is a computer-software analyst in Medford, New Jersey. His blog, The Fourth Rail, demanded that CNN release the video- or audiotape of Jordan?s comments in Davos. Roggio started Easongate.com on Saturday, February 5, with a couple of right-wing and military blogosphere buddies, Michigan-based Brian Scott (of The Blue State Conservatives) and Josh Manchester (of TheAdventuresofChester.com). Like Roggio, Manchester served in the military, leaving active duty as a U.S. Marine only recently. Scott, a Republican and member of Right to Life of Michigan, started his blog to further his dreams of becoming a conservative talk-radio personality.
As Easongate got cooking, the trio quickly reached out to ?BlackFive,? a former paratrooper and prominent military blogger in Chicago who declined, in an e-mail interview, to reveal his surname (his first name is Matt).
The time has come for me to stab Blackfive in the back and reveal his true identity - his real name is Matt (drumroll build to crescendo) KarlRove!!!!
Read Matt's response to TAP here.
By the way, is that the first time "prominent" has been used in reference to a military blogger? Time for new mess dress Matt! You know henceforth that is the only way I can refer to you -"prominent military blogger Blackfive".
Meet RED2ALPHA - the latest MilBlogger from Iraq. I would expect the numbers to grow possibly into the hundreds this year.
A lot of folks will compare this guy to CB at My War. I hope Red's not using real names, else I'm afraid we won't be enjoying his posts for very long...
(Hat tip to Toni, via Mudlinks)
The girls of Lebanon seemed spontaneous (well, I've got my suspicions about a couple of the latest...), but now I'm sure Karl Rove is attempting to control events in Kyrgyzstan. A plane load of Hooters Girls has been dispatched - presumably to entertain the troops:
"They were very professional and went the extra mile to ensure that the troops were taken care of," says Lt. Kyle Moe, deputy commander of Manas Air Base in Kyrgyzstan.
(Via Cry Freedom, from this morning's Mudlinks)
Like all such events in the past, The War on Terror will produce it's share of stories - some tragic, some comic, all amazing. Many will be the tale of the fallen hero - but here are three that show that the story rarely ends there:
More than two weeks after he was killed while pulling fellow soldiers from a burning vehicle in Iraq, the body of Army Staff Sgt. Jason Hendrix remains caught in a legal limbo created by a battle between his divorced parents over who has the right to bury his remains.
Renee Amick wants her 28-year-old son buried near her home in Freedom (Santa Cruz County), near where he was born and raised and spent his first two years of high school. She has obtained a temporary restraining order keeping his body in California and has enlisted the help of her local congressman, who questioned top Army brass on the matter this week.
Russell Hendrix of Claremore, Okla., believes his son should be returned to the state where he graduated from high school and enlisted in the Army more than a decade ago to lie beside the remains of his grandfather, a Marine. The elder Hendrix has gone to court to be named administrator of his son's estate.
I wonder if anyone asked the guys in his unit if he ever expressed a preference? Arlington National Cemetary, anyone?
Red tape is keeping the mother and siblings of a Queens soldier killed in Iraq from coming to the U.S. from Pakistan to bury the war hero.
The agony of National Guardsman Azhar Ali's family has been compounded by harassment they've been getting in Pakistan because the soldier fought for America, said City Councilman John Liu (D-Queens).
And kudos to Senator Clinton, who's also taking action.
Finally, one Mrs G linked earlier:
Twelve-year-old Sidney Kamolvathin lost her mother to cancer in 2000 and her father to a heart attack in 2003, and then her only sibling headed off to war.
Sidney and her 21-year-old brother, Alain, had been living apart since their parents died, she with a guardian in New Jersey, he with relatives in Ozone Park in Queens.
Alain departed for Iraq last fall, saying his combat pay and the money he saved on living expenses would allow him to buy a small house when he returned. He promised they would soon be able to live together again.
"His whole goal - and everything he did - was geared to gain custody of his sister," a cousin would tell a reporter.
When he was able, Alain telephoned Sidney, the voice of the only surviving member of her immediate family crackling over the line. He had originally joined the National Guard at the urging of his father, who surely did not foresee he would follow his wife to an early grave and his son would be calling his orphaned daughter from a war zone.
In December, Alain's vehicle was hit by an improvised explosive device. He was not hurt badly enough as to be sent home, although the injury was serious enough that Sidney reportedly told friends at school her brother would be getting a Purple Heart.
On Jan. 16, Alain's vehicle overturned into a drainage ditch in Baghdad. He was killed along with another soldier from the 1st Battalion, 69th Infantry Regiment of the New York National Army Guard, the renowned "Fighting 69th."
At the funeral, the honor guard handed Sidney the folded flag that had covered her brother's coffin, but military officials subsequently ruled that she was not eligible for the survivor's benefits that are due the spouse and children of a soldier killed in action.
There's got to be a lot more to that story - I hope we eventually hear it.
Your open post. Got a hot blog entry? Want readers? Link your posts to this one for trackbacks - they'll display automatically. No blog? Use comments to direct us to something of interest or just say what's on your mind.
Dear Mr & Mrs Greyhawk
Just to let you know that the next round-up of under-reported good news from Afghanistan is here:
You might also find of interest these two of today's stories:
The world media buries a good news story - again:
The British Muslim establishment flexes its political muscle:
Here's sort of an odd story - but one I'm sure Trek fans will be glad to hear:
A campaign to save Star Trek spin-off show Enterprise says it has received a $3m (?1.6m) donation from anonymous figures in the space flight industry.
The spokesperson said it would take just under $30m (?15.7m) to pay for a new series and they were trying to raise as much as it took to allow a broadcaster to keep the series alive.
At risk of derisive comments - I confess I've never seen the show. When I was but a young Hawk I actually watched the original Start Trek in it's first run (There - I've said it.) I saw a couple episodes of the Next Generation, but never had the time or inclination to be a fan. I've never seen any of the later series - I've got nothing against them, I'm just not much of a TV guy I guess.
By the way, one hundred bucks is too high a price for a season of any TV show on DVD. But at that price point I'd think the profits could help keep the new series on the air without resorting to charitable donations.
And therein lies the point I was heading for at the start. I'm a free-market guy, and strongly believe you've got a right to spend your hard earned cash however you please. But in a world full of (insert your own definition of misery here) aren't there perhaps some more deserving causes...
Here's how to do it right. Kathryn Lopez says
I?m told that last night on The Amazing Race, one of the contestants, Ron Young, a former POW in Iraq, announced that if he wins, he will give his prize money to disabled vets. I?ve never watched the show, but I?m for his team!
Cool. Here's Ron's bio from the Race site:
When Ron?s helicopter was shot down in Iraq, he was captured, interrogated, held captive and later rescued by the United States Marines. Following his rescue, Ron returned home and was introduced to the reigning Miss South Carolina. The two have been an item ever since. Ron is very competitive and admits he?s a thrill seeker. He currently works as a motivational speaker.
He's probably pretty good at that.
A better re-cap of Ron's story can be found here. Don't miss it. (Iraq War News - the blog run by the founder of Soldiers Angels, is a treasure trove of Iraq war history. Awesome.)
It's Sunday. Hope yours is fine and dandy.
Your Sunday open post. Got a hot blog entry? Want readers? Link your posts to this one for trackbacks - they'll display automatically. No blog? Use comments to direct us to something of interest or just say what's on your mind.
And it doesn't have to be heavy, or world shattering or urgent. It can be something easy like Sunday morning. Movies, music, books, gardening... whatever.
Who knows what Mudville readers might find incredible?
I first saw this movie in Baghdad. A pirated version, made by a guy wth a video camera in a theater. I'm looking forward to seeing the real thing next week.
Kudos to Mrs G for lots of behind the scenes work on site design, etc. and another fine logo.
My quote of James Wolcott's sputtering claims about spitting on Vietnam vets elicited more comments than any other aspect of yesterday's interview with Michael Tucker. That doesn't surprise me, but it certainly made me realize the issue deserved some space of it's own here.
Wolcott on spitting:
No matter how many times this urban myth gets debunked, it's dug out of the closet yet again and dusted off to condemn the antiwar movement and an ungrateful America. It's the sort of thing one expects from rightwing talkshow/columnist hacks, but I thought Ken Tucker was brought better than that.
I've heard this sort of thing before from the gang at the kiddy table, and though grown ups find the exercise silly we could possibly do their young minds some good by investigating the claims. This Slate piece from 2000 is the source of Wolcott's prodigious knowledge of the life experiences of every Vietnam era vet:
Although Nexis overflows with references to protesters gobbing on Vietnam vets, and Bob Greene's 1989 book Homecoming: When the Soldiers Returned from Vietnam counts 63 examples of protester spitting, Jerry Lembcke argues that the story is bunk in his 1998 book The Spitting Image: Myth, Memory, and the Legacy of Vietnam. Lembcke, a professor of sociology at Holy Cross and a Vietnam vet, investigated hundreds of news accounts of antiwar activists spitting on vets. But every time he pushed for more evidence or corroboration from a witness, the story collapsed--the actual person who was spat on turned out to be a friend of a friend. Or somebody's uncle. He writes that he never met anybody who convinced him that any such clash took place.
While Lembcke doesn't prove that nobody ever expectorated on a serviceman--you can't prove a negative, after all--he reduces the claim to an urban myth. In most urban myths, the details morph slightly from telling to telling, but at least one element survives unchanged. In the tale of the spitting protester, the signature element is the location: The protester almost always ambushes the serviceman at the airport--not in a park, or at a bar, or on Main Street. Also, it's not uncommon for the insulted serviceman to have flown directly in from Vietnam.
Shades of Winter Soldier - the left is eager to believe that American troops like John Kerry and his cronies slaughtered babies with wanton abandon, but dismisses the thought that any of their class would waste a drop of precious phlegm to welcome the sick brutes home.
Speaking of which, the piece then quotes Rambo - oddly enough the movie that more than any other is a definitive compilation of many "real" urban legends about 'tripwire' Vietnam veterans; those homeless masters of the art of the kill.
Appropriately the piece concludes with a thinly disguised bit of literary spitting on Vietnam veterans - who we all know are murderous baby killing bastards after all:
Lastly, there are the parts of the spitting story up that don't add up. Why does it always end with the protester spitting and the serviceman walking off in shame? Most servicemen would have given the spitters a mouthful of bloody Chiclets instead of turning the other cheek like Christ. At the very least, wouldn't the altercations have resulted in assault and battery charges and produced a paper trail retrievable across the decades?
The myth persists because: 1) Those who didn't go to Vietnam--that being most of us--don't dare contradict the "experience" of those who did; 2) the story helps maintain the perfect sense of shame many of us feel about the way we ignored our Vietvets; 3) the press keeps the story in play by uncritically repeating it, as the Times and U.S. News did; and 4) because any fool with 33 cents and the gumption to repeat the myth in his letter to the editor can keep it in circulation. Most recent mentions of the spitting protester in Nexis are of this variety.
As press crimes go, the myth of the spitting protester ain't even a misdemeanor. Reporters can't be expected to fact-check every quotation. But it does teach us a journalistic lesson: Never lend somebody a sympathetic ear just because he's sympathetic.
In spite of the gratuitous and pathetically wimpy "of course we can't prooooove anything" disclaimer this sort of thing is accepted as incontrovertible proof by the Wolcotts of the world. And undoubtedly if he has readers they don't bother to even follow his link - his word that there is something that proves his claim is all these sorts of people need. Poorly educated, easily led as they say.
Here's Wolcott's bottom line - the point he really wants to make, and the obvious reason he needs that spitting stuff to be a big fat lie. It's this business about the troops being innocent - merely pathetic victims of the Darklord Bush, you see. We need to stop that talk now; these guys are stormtroopers, don't you know.
No one wants to "bash the troops," but excusing their behavior as the hothead reaction of "kids who happen to have guns" "blowing off steam" and "luckless souls" makes them sound like the juvenile delinquents in fifties dramas and sociology, not bad, just misunderstood--products of a sick environment.
Nice try - embracing the nature/nuture claim from the right. Guess he's not familiar with the Abu Ghraib trials. Or the less press-worthy (no pictures) murder trials currently ongoing. No one's "being excused" for anything.
"No one wants to bash the troops, but..." Great preface to some troop bashing. The spit fest is coming.
Just be careful you don't end up spitting on your computer screen.
Update: How could I fail to mention a book I brought with me to Baghdad - B. G. Burkett's definitive work Stolen Valor : How the Vietnam Generation Was Robbed of Its Heroes and Its History. He recounts his own welcome home in the prologue:
At the dinner hour, the airport restaurant was half empty. I threw down my duffel bag, sat, and tried to catch the waitress's eye. "Miss, Miss," I said. The waitress, a woman in her thirties, was only a few feet away. But she pointedly ignored me and began waiting on people who had come in after me.
Finally a younger waitress came over. "Oh, don't mind her," she said. "She's got this antiwar thing. She won't serve anybody in uniform." The second waitress rook my order, brought me the food, and I put the other woman's rudeness down to a personal quirk.
After eating, I sat at the gate and waited for the plane. When they called the flight, to my relief I was one of the standbys who made it aboard.
After I found a seat, the man next to me said, "Oh, you're stationed at Fort Dix?"
"No, I just got home from Vietnam," I said.
"Oh, a big war hero?" announced the man across the aisle. He had obviously been on the plane from a previous leg, nipping at those little bottles of Jack Daniel's. "Hey folks, we've been sitting here on the runway waiting on a big goddamn war hero." I grimaced but said nothing. It was May 1969. I had been back un the United States fewer than twenty-four hours after serving a tour of duty in Vietnam as an ordnance officer. First the waitress and now this.
The guy refused to let up. "Hey bucko, you spent a year killing women and children, "he said. "Make you feel like a big man, did it? You got your drugs with you , you f*****g pothead?" The entire flight continued that way. For more than an hour, he constantly needled me. I knew if I decided to take the guy out he was dead meat. But punching him would have confirmed all of his prejudices, I refused to do that.
What made me most angry was that no one on the plane said anything to him. None of the other passengers defended me. I felt like a pariah. If I had been a veteran of World War II, coming home after serving my country, somebody would have slugged the guy.
As I stood up in the aisle after the plane landed, the idiot continued his goading, his voice following me long after I waked off the plane. It aggravates me still. That personal insult was directed thousands of times in thousands of ways toward the men and women who served in Vietnam. In the decades after the war, the negative attitudes and assumptions of those times unfortunately became cemented in the American psyche.
No spitting there.
There will be a Army Times cover story about a few Milbloggers including myself coming out March 7th.
A three-page special on military blogging. I'm looking forward to it. More details at the link.
Update: Following the link in comments at the site, looks like Mudville got a mention in Army Times too...
At first I was upset about this blog trend, but then I realized I had heard it wrong.
- E. Latella
Update: Meanwhile, in an under-reported story, Saudi Arabia tells Syria to get out of Lebanon.
Crown Prince Abdullah, who has effectively ruled the kingdom since King Fahd suffered a stroke in 1995, told Assad to start getting Syrian forces out of Lebanon soon or face deeper isolation, according to a Saudi official quoted anonymously by the Associated Press. The Reuters news agency quoted an unnamed Saudi official saying: "They know what they should do. They should withdraw immediately. This is what we told them, and this is what the whole world is telling them."
I actually almost feel sorry for Bashar. I don't think he really wanted to play the role he's in now. I hope that he manages a soft landing for the Ba'athist regime, transitioning to a free country without bloodshed, but I doubt his father's cronies, who remain very much a force, will make that easy.
I hear Paris is nice in the spring.
Update 2: Do the Saudi's sense it all beginning to slip out of their control? Does it matter what they think? Are they acting in anything other than desperate self-preservation mode? Acting on a lesser of two evils?
Wait - I just realized I've failed to add the obligatory "not gloating yet" disclaimer:
It?s too early, in fairness, to claim complete victory in the American-led struggle to bring peace through democratic transformation of the region. Despite the temptation to crow, we must remember that this is not Berlin 1989.
Actually the fall of the East German dictatorship knocked Germany back a few steps, creating a significant financial burden on the west and driving a shift to the political left from which the country still hasn't recovered.
In that regards the Middle East has an edge - petrodollars that for years have lined the pockets of a few could go a long way towards moving the region forward. Imagine a best-case scenario; that oil revenue in the hands of democratic governments instead of a few playboy sheiks, funding medical research instead of trips to Monte Carlo... no wonder oil pipelines are a main target of terrorists in Iraq. The flow of money is the last thing the die-hards from all over the region want to see in Baghdad. Their own populations might catch glimpses of improved lifestyles - might start getting ideas. A Mideast renaissance could follow. They've certainly been living in dark ages long enough.
I've always wondered how they pulled it off so long - living in palaces while convincing the masses that they lived in houses made of camel shit because the US is Satan. Maybe they only fooled a sad few, and perhaps having them die in suicide attacks wasn't the best use of limited resources.
Your Saturday open post. Got a hot blog entry? Want readers? Link your posts to this one for trackbacks - they'll display automatically. No blog? Use comments to direct us to something of interest or just say what's on your mind.
(And Major Mike - you should thank Cyndy for bringing you to our attention in this forum!)
This one's my favorite.
Via comments in an Open Post I meet Major Mike, retired Marine in Beaverton, Oregon. I think that's reason enough to visit his blog, but you'll also find stuff like this:
To veterans?don?t let the MSM use you and your families as you go through your difficult re-habs. They are not doing it to honor you, they are doing it to sell newspapers and air time. Don?t let them drag you and your honor down to their level?insist on a trade?your story for additional, positive coverage of our troops and their heroic efforts in the field.
To the MSM?wise up?good news does sell. Compelling stories of troops in combat sells print. Get the clue. Quit using our vets and their horrific injuries to sell your tripe. Balance your coverage or get out of the business.
But he also has this to say:
If a piece is posted on a blog and nobody reads it?is it really published? I admit I have become increasingly frustrated by the low number of hits on my site, so I took a few days off to feel sorry for myself and contemplate my blogging future. I love the medium, and the latitude to publish on subjects that I want to write about, but if I am not gaining ground with readers, I have to question the value of my time spent at the keyboard. Which I did, and I am still struggling with the question as to whether or not there is a need for my blog, and the types of things I enjoy writing about.
A retired Marine on the Left Coast - in one of the bluest of blue states. That's a guy worth encouraging. Do me a favor - go make his sitemeter scream. Ask him to join the MilBlogs Ring. I'll write up a post for this weekend for all the other Mike's to make sure this never happens again. (Hint: taking advantage of Mudville's daily Open Post is one way.)
The phrase Iused to title this post was one used derisively in old war movies, dierected at that guy in the unit who complained about anything and everything.
But the Chaplain really is the guy to go to, as Fr Wes points out in this comment left on this post
THANK YOU for the reminder to folks about Chaplains. In addition to the training we have and confidentiality standard we operate under, I would like to offer two to other observations.
1) Unlike psychiatrists who are often hospital-bound, Chaplains operate more like field medics or corpsmen, trying to go out among the guys in the field as much as possible. Army Chaplains especially operate this way, being tied to specific battalians that are deployed in the field. Air Force Chaplains work at the Wing level, but they get around a lot.
2) Many Chaplains are "2nd carreer" clergy, having prior service in enlisted or line officer ranks. A number of us have direct combat experience.
These factors make a Chaplain especially approachable because we have lived or do live directly with the guys we serve, more so than most physicians, and often readily relate to what folks are going through. We've "been there."
We also get to help folks with the spiritual side of things, and you would be amazed at the power of God when it comes to healing deep or old wounds.
One last note about PTS. Some recent research suggests that the folks who see ugly stuff but manage to get home without being messed up are the same folks who could clearly justify what they were doing, or at least resolve any mistakes and move on. I get ticked off at the moonbats because the soldier swayed by the leftist rhetoric comes home feeling like a criminal and ends up with PTSD. I believe the moonbats of Vietnam and today have messed up a lot of buddies because of this.
Thanks again for the plug Greyhawk! Best regards to your wife. You two have an AWESOME marriage!
Chaplain, Air National Guard
Thank you sir - and thanks for what you do. I've known so many guys who benefitted so much from a half hour talk with the Chaplain. So many these days insist the military must spend tons of money on 'outsourced' help for those who just need someone to talk to.
If you've got a blog and a few readers you can be certain about one thing: someone reading your site will know more about any topic you write about than you do. I see that as a good thing, which is why I've made efforts to bring commenters and trackbacks onto the front page this past week and will continue to do so from here on. Best idea I ever had.
FORT DRUM, N.Y. This time will be different. When they cross into Maine Friday afternoon aboard a bus full of war-weary soldiers, Staff Sgt. Patrick Labrie and Sgt. 1st Class Herb Wiley will look at the young faces pressed against the glass and marvel at how times have changed.
Meet two grandfathers of the 133rd. Labrie and Wiley are among the battalion's handful of gray-haired veterans who more than 30 years ago served in Vietnam and came home to a reception that was, in reality, no welcome home at all.
That's your must-read for today. Don't miss it.
In the comment thread from the original post I found a couple of my now all time favorite Mudville comments:
Greyhawk, there'd be a helluva lot more of us Vets of the Southeast Asian War Games if only the Corps needed 58 year old Lance Corporals in the Rifle Companies. I can't chase the bastards like I used to anymore but I'd bet I could still put an M-79 round within a couple of feet at 300 meters.
What we need are a few Old Fart Brigades to act as the anvil in the classic hammer and anvil operations. Truck us all someplace and have you youngsters chase 'em into us. We'd hold our positions because we don't have the legs or the wind to run away. We'd probably kill too many of the sumbitches, though, especially if they hit our anvil at nap time, we'd be pissed. I'm also pretty sure that making any prisoners listen to us complain would be considered torture by the Libs.
'Course they'd have to bring back C-Rations for the laxative effect and our piss calls would have to be three times as often and four times as long.
There's also the problem of having so many of us married for so long that there'd be too much competition to see who gets to throw himself on the grenades.
That was signed 'Peter' - he's been around here a while and always great to hear from him.
The comment thread earns the title of best of the year so far. Anyone know anything about this?:
I would like to hear more about the 50+year old woman who is 4'11. She is in the reserves and was called to active duty. One of the news shows on ABC,CBS or NBC was interviewing some of the guards that were reactivated. This woman was interviewed. She was anxious to serve and was going back through the basic training to get into shape (although she looked pretty fit to me). I didn't hear what her first tour of duty was. Anybody see the program? Have any info about her??
But for folks who know the blogosphere I should also point out this from the same thread:
For a real pilot, nothing beats air time. They're only alive when they're flying. Posted by Steven Den Beste at March 2, 2005 08:35 PM
Good to hear from you sir. And thank you for a lot of inspiration.
A Vermont Guardsman Responds to this post on the anti-war activists hijacking of Vermont town meetings. The following is a comment signed GreyEagle06:
I am a Vermont Guardsman and have been for the past 17 years. I can only give my perspective. What I will say is that the people who supported the demand to withdraw from Iraq in these towns don't reflect the opinions of the troops who we have deployed and some who have returned. Our soldiers are proud of their service and did their duty. They are proud of what they have accomplished, both in Iraq and in Afghanistan. Last June I attended the funerals of three Guardsmen who were killed in action. Without exception all three families were proud of their loved one's service and sacrifice. All three families had met one another through the family support net program and attended the funeral services for their new found friends' loved ones, in spite of their own grief and pain. I learned to love and hate Toby Keith's "American Soldier" from those funerals. Each family had that song played during the services. That says an awful lot. That is also reflective of how most of the troops and their families feel. When the unit returned from theater last week, I know two, if not three, of the families of our fallen soldiers were there to greet their loved ones' comrades as the got off the jets at the return ceremony at the VTANG airbase. That was at 0500 and in the front end of a snow storm that day. That says an awful lot too.
The majority of our soldiers here are from the rural areas of the state and these area are predominantly conservative types who like their guns, hunting, fishing, snowmobiles and four wheelers. I know this for a fact as I had commanded one of the armor battalions in the most rural area of the state. The people behind the so called peace resolutions are pretty much from what I call the bohemian proletariat. They are trust fund babies. They have come from MA, NYC, NJ etc. They brought their liberal politics with them. This influx of liberals have moved up into Vermont since the late '60s. Since many do not have to work for a living they need things to do, like get active in the local politics, and have taken it over. I realize that I will get some flak but in the town where I live, about half the population of 2500 do not have to work. The very liberal speaker of the Vermont House is also from my town (go figure). These people are not the true Vermonters.
If people look back in history, Vermont, Maine and NH were the only three states who voted against FDR in the presidential election of 1940, and that was after 8 years of the New Deal! If you dig back farther, the Vermont Brigade had a reputation in the Army of the Potomac similar to the Jackson's Stonewall Brigade. These were the ancestors of our troops, no exaggeration.
So if you take a swipe at Vermont-please do not slight the troops. We are as disgusted with the stupidity and ignorance and anyone with good sense.
Last point, one of our young officers who did a tour in Afghanistan stood up in the town meeting on Tuesday and told the crowd in attendance what he and our troops did there and the good that was being accomplished. He even spoke to what was going on in Iraq and the good being done there and how our guys feel about it. He was given a standing ovation and the town voted down the resolution. I couldn't believe it as it was my town. I guess you could call say it was a good demonstration of information operations.
Sir, I salute you and all the other proud sons and daughters (and parents and others!) of Vermont. Thanks for your service and for taking the time to set the record straight!
A judge and a lawyer with the special tribunal that will try Saddam Hussein and former members of his government were shot and killed Tuesday by gunmen outside their home here, Iraqi officials said.
It was the first time a member of the tribunal is known to have been assassinated, though a number of criminal and civil judges have been killed here in recent months.
The judge, Parwiz Muhammad Mahmoud al-Merani, 59, was killed a day after the Iraqi special tribunal announced the first charges in the approaching trials of former senior officials in Mr. Hussein's government. His son, Aryan Mahmoud al-Merani, 26, who also worked at the tribunal as a lawyer, was killed with him, according to officials at Iraq's Interior Ministry.
Three men drove up and fired automatic weapons at the two men around 9 a.m. as they stood outside their family home in Adhamiya, a largely Sunni Arab neighborhood that has been a center of insurgent activity.
Reading this story reminded me of Ramsey Clark's explanation of why he's decided to rise to the challenge and be a member of Saddam's legal team:
International law requires that every criminal court be competent, independent and impartial. The Iraqi Special Tribunal lacks all of these essential qualities. It was illegitimate in its conception ? the creation of an illegal occupying power that demonized Saddam Hussein and destroyed the government it now intends to condemn by law.
The United States has already destroyed any hope of legitimacy, fairness or even decency by its treatment and isolation of the former president and its creation of the Iraqi Special Tribunal to try him.
Meanwhile, Reuters reports that a group of Iraqi scientists has completed some specialty training
Surrounded by the tiny skulls and bones of children, Iraqi scientist Iyad labors under armed guard to unearth the grim truth from a mass grave.
Bent double and wiping the sweat from his forehead, he works meticulously to remove the dirt caked on the skeletons.
But this is no grim atrocity site in an Iraqi desert -- it's Dorset, a genteel southwest England county known for its rolling green hills and picturesque villages.
Iyad is one of 33 Iraqi scientists who have been trained in Britain to dig up the hundreds of thousands of bodies thought to have been dumped in mass graves across Iraq during the rule of Saddam Hussein.
Crews have excavated two grave trenches, and officials say there could be as many as 12 in the general area. Kehoe said the bodies were apparently bulldozed into the graves.
"Unlike bodies that you've seen in many mass graves -- they look like cordwood -- all lined up," he said. "That didn't happen here. These bodies were just pushed in."
The first trench contains the remains of women and children, and the second contains the remains of men only. More than 100 bodies have been found from the first location and a similar number from the other.
Officials say it is enough to determine a pattern for the killings.
Kehoe said the victims appear to be Kurds, based on the dress and the personal belongings found.
He believes they were probably killed in early 1988, though it might have happened in late 1987.
Many of the victims wore multiple layers of clothing and carried small personal items like jewelry and medication. One child was found with a ball in his hand.
The women -- four or five of whom were pregnant -- and children appear to have been killed with a single small caliber gunshot to the head.
Some of the women were blindfolded, but Kehoe says 95 percent of the men were blindfolded and had their hands either tied to the man next to them or tied behind their back. Al-Hatra is in Nineveh province, the location of Mosul and Tal Afar.
That's a report from a US investigation of a mass grave in Iraq. The return of the Iraqi team to their home land will be welcome - the exhuming of the bodies has been a slow process made more so by the refusal of many European nations to lend their expertise:
Kehoe said his team has removed 120 bodies from a trench believed to contain as many as 300 bodies.
He said that because of limited funds and resources, his team can excavate only one mass grave at a time. European teams who worked on Bosnian mass graves are not helping because of their concerns that Saddam could face the death penalty, he said.
To be fair and balanced we'll toss in another Ramsey Clark quote here:
Finally, any court that considers criminal charges against Saddam Hussein must have the power and the mandate to consider charges against leaders and military personnel of the U.S., Britain and the other nations that participated in the aggression against Iraq, if equal justice under law is to have meaning.
No power, or person, can be above the law. For there to be peace, the days of victor's justice must end.
DUMMERSTON, Vt., March 1 - It began as a garden-variety Vermont town meeting.
The people of Dummerston - or at least the 120 or so who braved a blistering snowstorm - voted Tuesday to give $300 to a meals program for elderly shut-ins, to spend $93,500 on a dump truck and plow, and to grant tax-exempt status to the Green Mountain Camp for girls.
But then they turned their attention halfway around the world.
In a debate that echoed in at least 50 other Vermont towns holding their annual meetings this week, Dummerston passed a resolution asking the State Legislature to investigate the impact of National Guard deployments on Vermont's readiness for a natural disaster or other emergency. The measure, which also asks Congress and the president to "take steps to withdraw American troops from Iraq," was part of a new effort by antiwar activists to take the debate over the war down to a distinctly local level.
Hard telling whether America will comply with Vermont's demands - in light of recent events I'd guess it's not likely. Still, of the Vermont towns that voted on the issue the vast majority agreed: surrender is America's only option.
"This shows that the antiwar movement is different for this war than it probably has been for every war before," Mr. Lems said. "What these people are demanding is accountability, and they have this incredibly strong message - their sons, their daughters and their parents in some cases have had their lives torn apart by the war. It's probably the most powerful message we have right now."
In results available Tuesday, 39 Vermont towns, including Dummerston, passed the resolution, 3 defeated it, 3 tabled it, and one town's vote ended in a draw.
The White House, which has Mudville's comment section available below, has thus far refused to respond.
Who captured Saddam's half brother? Did Syria turn him over to gain some small favor in the eyes of the world? This NY Times correction clouds the issue:
A front-page article on Monday about the capture of a half-brother of Saddam Hussein, who has been accused of helping to finance the insurgency in Iraq, misattributed the report of his transfer to Iraqi custody. That information, depicting the capture as a Syrian action, came from Iraqi officials and from an American scholar with contacts in Syria, who said he had been informed of the transfer by Syrian officials in Damascus. The account did not come directly from Syrian officials. (Yesterday, a senior Iraqi official said the man had been captured by Iraqi and allied forces, not by Syria.) (Go to Article)
Curiouser and curiouser...
I haven't heard much Tsunami news lately, and wasn't sure if the military was still involved in the recovery. They are, as I found out reading this story in the Phuket (Thailand) Gazette that explains that they are still using American seamen to clean Phuket up:
US seamen aid cleanup
The United States Ambassador to Thailand, Ralph Boyce, was in Phuket yesterday visiting sailors from the US Navy who were helping in the post-tsunami clean-up.
Some of the 1,200 sailors, in Kamala for three days to clear wrecked buildings and other debris, joined Ambassador Boyce in delivering to Thai students food, clothes, books and cards made by American schoolchildren.
Ambassador Boyce told a press conference aboard the USS Blue Ridge, the command ship of the US Seventh Fleet, that while the Thai government had said it did not need direct financial aid, the US Navy was happy to provide practical help in restoring the environment.
I'm always glad to hear about military folks doing good things around the world. But I was a bit concerned for our young sailors when I noticed the Phuket Gazette had a Queer News section. I immediately looked into it to see if this was the sort of place we'd want our troops exposed to, and these are some the stories I found:
RAWAI: A Patong bargirl swallowed a Frenchman?s diamond ring after he refused to pay her and a friend for services rendered after an all-night menage-a-trois in Rawai.
Chalong Police received a complaint from a 62-year-old Frenchman identified as Mr Patrick, who fingered Tawan, a 28-year-old bar girl, as the jewelry-gulping culprit.
PATTAYA: Four innocent bystanders were injured by ricocheting bullets when a bagman for a Pattaya loan shark opened fire on his mobile phone.
Witnesses to the slaying of the mobile phone said the man, identified only as ?Woot?, was seen at about 3 am yelling into his mobile phone on the ground floor of Niran Condo on Soi Arunothai.
He then hurled the phone down onto the sidewalk, pulled out a .38 pistol and fired six times it at the offending device.
I don't know if the Sailors will be required to spend any time in the sorts of neighborhoods where this stuff goes on. Hopefully they'll be careful, and no one will get hurt.
Very few GI's will wear the campaign ribbons these guys will. Some Vietnam vets are also serving in Iraq:
The seasoned pilot was recalling a different war in a different place. "Every time we went in, we went in hot," he remembered. "You were fighting your way in and fighting your way out."
The pilot, Chief Warrant Officer James G. Freeman, was 23 when he began flying Huey helicopters in the Vietnam War in 1970. His missions with the 116th Assault Helicopter Company often involved dropping into a battleground to unload soldiers after helicopter gunships had "prepped" the zone with a torrent of rockets and machine-gun fire.
"There were a lot of bullets flying down there," Mr. Freeman recounted dryly during an interview. He was seated in a trailer on the airfield at Forward Operating Base Speicher, an American military base near here and his home for the next year while he is deployed with the 42nd Infantry Division of the New York National Guard, based in Troy, N.Y.
Mr. Freeman is now 58, with wry creases spraying from the corners of his eyes and a penchant for menthol cigarettes. As a member of the Guard, he has been deployed for events including the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, N.Y., and relief and recovery missions after the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, the crash of T.W.A. Flight 800 in 1996 and the attack of Sept. 11, 2001.
Now, 34 years after his yearlong tour of duty in Vietnam, Mr. Freeman is back in another war.
He is one of five helicopter pilots from the New York National Guard who flew Hueys in the Vietnam War and who have been deployed as Black Hawk pilots in northern Iraq with the 42nd Infantry Division. The five pilots, all together, flew thousands of combat hours in Vietnam and survived being shot down several times.
And they're a little disgruntled too. But not for those reasons usually falsely attributed to Vietnam Soldiers. These guys want more action.
In this war, however, they say their responsibilities have kept them largely earthbound, as younger pilots rack up the flight hours. And they are not very happy about it.
"I'd rather be flying," grumbled Chief Warrant Officer Thomas McGurn, 57, one of the pilots who is at Base Danger helping to coordinate daily aviation schedules for the brigade. "This is kind of a bummer."
Read it all. A great story about some real heroes. As a side issue, I note the irony that some Vietnam vets might finally get the welcome home they deserved - but only because they still serve in Iraq.
Hey - who's this guy Chrenkoff think he is? Last week he interviewed Michael Ledeen and this week he's talking to Victor Davis Hanson.
I'll be over there investigating further. You might want to come too...
Your open post - trackback your blog here, comment, etc.
Mudville is your town too, after all.
Comes from John Hillen in the National Review Online
I went to a presentation by a young Marine infantry lieutenant last week about the platoon he led in the assault on the insurgents in Fallujah a few months ago. It was fascinating stuff for us military types ? acronyms were being slung with abandon. Some points were particularly worth noting and sharing:
*The intensity of combat in Fallujah: Of the 46 Marines in this lieutenant's platoon, 20 were evacuated for wounds during the three days of fighting and only four emerged completely unscathed.
*Some 20-odd insurgents were captured by his company during the battle, but there was not a single Iraqi amongst them.
Incidentally, some sophisticate tried to prompt the young officer into musings on how he and his Marines felt about the mission in Iraq and our purpose there...
Rest at the link.
But this being Tuesday, in the best tradition of FM radio, you get a twofer from Hillen/NRO:
The Washington Post business section (rarely read in this one-industry town) had a piece yesterday on the extraordinary failure of the federal government to comply with a 1999 law requiring the government to award 3% of its contracts to firms owned by disabled veterans.
As you might expect, not a single department has even come close to complying ? with two of the worst offenders (and biggest contract granters) being The Pentagon and The Veterans Administration! ? languishing at .18 and .41 percent respectively.
Women- and minority-owned businesses fare much better- their quotas are much more stricktly enforced than the disabled Vet?s.
Read all of both.
Some are unbroken...
Ukrainian AN-225, the world's largest aircraft,
delivers election materials to Baghdad
The Iraqi V
The Lebanese V
The Cedar Revolution
Others will fall.
Update (A minor point of blog history, and major thanks): the central image in this series - the AN-225 - was taken by yours truly in January '05 at Baghdad International Airport using a Canon G2 camera donated by Roger L Simon.
(And thanks Glenn!)
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Tuesday offered to help Lebanon hold free, fair elections and hinted at the possibility of international security assistance if neighbouring Syria withdraws its troops.
Speaking after the collapse of the Syrian-backed Lebanese government on Monday, Rice and French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier repeated a United Nations-backed call for Syria to withdraw its 14,000 troops from Lebanon.
Exciting times indeed. Let's pray for a peaceful transition of power. A reminder of Mudville's motto:
The Mudville Gazette is the on-line voice of an American warrior, who prefers to see peaceful change render force of arms unnecessary. Until that day he stands fast with those who struggle for freedom, strike for reason, and pray for a better tomorrow.
For most of my life Beirut has been synonymous with violence. To imagine a peaceful revolution changing this part of the world is even more miraculous than the events in Eastern Europe a few years ago.
Update: Anyone know the phone number for CNN?
They'd probably give some sort of reward for someone tipping them off to the news from Beirut - apparently they are completely unaware as of now.
Guess the place has really gone downhill since Eason Jordan left...
When does leave no man behind stop mattering?
When the chartered plane carrying them to Utah from Fort Carson, Colo., had no room for a few of their comrades, the 30 Army Reserve soldiers of a Utah National Guard unit opted for an all-night bus ride rather than leaving two or three members behind to find their own transportation home.
"They deployed together and they wanted to come home the same way," said Master Sgt. Gary Younger. "If they couldn't get the whole unit on board, then it wasn't worth it to them."
The Christian Science Monitor has a good one too. The story of the first homecomings for elements of the 1st Cav.
It's been a long road home for soldiers from Fort Hood's 1st Cavalry Division. They said goodbye two Christmases ago, and lives have changed in the meantime. Babies have been born. Siblings have graduated. Parents have retired.
In all, the entire 1st Cavalry Division - some 17,500 soldiers - will be coming back by April. Their homecomings are especially sweet because these ground troops saw some of the roughest fighting in some of the most dangerous cities in Iraq.
"Standing on the field today are our latest heroes," says Col. Aundre Piggee during his brief ceremony remarks. "We say, 'A job well done, and welcome home.'"
Finally, the soldiers are dismissed and their family and friends rush the field, planting kisses, snapping photos, and crying like the day they were born.
Each day, a similar scene is replayed here as military planes touch down one after another on the central plains of Texas. The patriotic fervor and pride reflected in the crowds is further evidence that Americans are standing behind their troops and, to some degree, the war.
The story illustrates that some things change with time:
Indeed, many here say they understand the mission of the United States and support it - unlike 30 years ago when troops returned home from Vietnam to a very angry and fractured nation.
"There is much more of a sense of pride than there was in Vietnam, and that means a lot to these soldiers," says Dave Swavey, who was a teenager when the Vietnam War ended.
Mr. Swavey and his wife, Tricia, are resting in the shade and waiting for their daughter, Sgt. Natausha Judge. In the past 14 months, they closely followed news reports and sometimes heard explosions or gunfire in the background when they were talking to their daughter.
It was unnerving, says Mr. Swavey, "But if there's anybody you want over there, it's her. She's strong." In preparation for her daughter's homecoming, Mrs. Swavey has pasted every article that mentioned the 1st Cavalry Division into a binder along with photos of her grandson from the past year. At their Dallas home, a friend has tied 100 yellow ribbons around front-yard trees. They plan to head straight out for Mexican food, Natausha's favorite.
While some things will never change. And those things are the stresses that every returning GI will feel. My personal toughest spot in transitioning so far has been a fairly sleepless night just before my first day back at work. I can tell you exactly what was bugging me - I was leaving behind a situation where what I was doing was front page news, was directly shaping the history of the world, was sometimes dangerous and sometimes exciting. But that was over now, and I was returning to something a little less intense, a lot more like a nine-to-five office job - a lot more routine. I have no doubt what I prefer (probably exactly the opposite of most sane people!) but duty is duty and I'll be fine.
We are sitting through a multitude of soporific briefings. The longest is of course our day 2, our ?Don?t beat your wife or girlfriend or kids while drinking all the beer in Schweinfurt and contemplating killing yourself? day. We receive chaplains brief on combat stress and strains in our lives.
Like me they're in Germany - and surrounded by family, friends, and brothers-in-arms who've been through much of what they have.
But other folks are having tougher times. Sminklemeyer was In Iraq for 365
It?s the same nightmare every time? I?m in the town of Avgoni on an operation. We?re moving through the woods. Then shots are fired. A soldier next to me is hit in the neck. I try to help him, but it?s hopeless. He?s lost too much blood as he goes into shock. In the dream, I can feel somebody watching me even as the medics move and a platoon secures a perimeter for a helicopter. The kid is young, maybe 20, and I just look into his lifeless blue eyes while the medics move him to the evacuation point. I feel like I?m invisible and nobody in the dream seems to recognize me or realize I?m standing there with a camera and an M-16. Everybody leaves. And then I am back at the Palace, where again I feel invisible. At my desk is a CD with Arabic writing. I pop it into my laptop, and it?s a video of me.
I?m standing over the dead soldier just looking at him. There?s a rustling in the bushes and I look toward the noise? I?m staring directly into the camera. Somebody is speaking in Arabic and strangely, in the dream, I understand it. The people behind the camera simply say ?we?re watching you.? Then, the barrel of an AK comes into the frame pointing right at me? this is when I wake up.
He's getting help.
I?ve never been to a shrink before, but I?m not ashamed or afraid. I just don?t want to deal with it 10 years from now. I survived a war, and I?m going to make damn sure I survive peace.
And there's a message there for anyone coming home - and I applaud him for sharing it. (You can offer encouragement here.) That step forward took at least as much guts as daily operations in Iraq, a courage of a different sort. If you or someone you know isn't adjusting well to the home front lifestyle, get help. It's there for you and no one will think less of you for seeking it. If you really aren't comfortable speaking to medical folks or those in your chain of command, see the Chaplain first. Even if you aren't the same religion these guys are trained counselors, they can help you or find someone who can, and they are one of the few people you can talk to who aren't required to tell your chain of command everything you say. Likewise if you're a relative of someone who seems to be having a hard time coping but who won't seek help, visit the Chaplain and let them know your concerns. Do not wait! Do not become a statistic!
The folks returning from Iraq have accomplished great things, at great personal cost.
Initially, the 1st Cavalry Division was scheduled to come back before Christmas 2004, but were asked to stay through the Iraqi elections to provide security. That request took the hardest toll on the families, says Swick.
But for many of the soldiers, it was the most meaningful time of their entire deployment, he says. On Jan. 30, "Iraqi people were literally dancing in the streets after they voted. That personified more than anything what we were doing there."
And that was a great way to close out the tour of duty. Mission accomplished - job well done. Hold your heads high and don't let a tragic postscript spoil the happy ending.
Here's the answer to the question we started this with: When does "leave no man behind" stop mattering?
Found via trackbacks on open blog posts:
Recognize the location? Is it Baghdad? Beirut?
Follow the link to the full collection.
Guilt can only weigh on a person's mind for so long before they crave the act of purgation; to get the weighty feelings of shame and responsibility out of the mind - or at least the guilty parties attempt to find some kind of peace if they cannot rid themselves of a screaming conscience that implicates and indicts its possessor.
That said, perhaps some readers will understand why my friends and I rip yellow ribbon "support the troops" magnets off of cars or wherever people have affixed them. By ripping off these ribbons, we find a way to deal with our guilt, as though with each ribbon swiped we take back a life that was taken by this senseless war started by our senseless president and those who support him.
Lots of great stuff to be found at My View.
Two posts caught my attention at Amendment XIX. The first was the story of the Lt Dan Band, featuring a well known celebrity who really does support the troops. The second is simply some great advice for those who are going off to basic training/boot camp..
Finally - for now - here's a great post from Michael at i-magery.com - I'm eagerly awaiting part two.
Welcome to today's open post. Your results may vary.
Chrenkoff reports on the under-reported good news from Iraq, Mudville presents the rarely reported military successes in the War on Terror.
And yes, the bad guys have some success too. A car bomb has killed 125 people gathered for an opportunity to join the police force in Hilla. CNN mentioned this quickly then switched to an update on the Michael Jackson trial.
But we won't. In spite of the attacks on recruits an ever-increasing number of Iraqis are stepping forward, willing to risk all for their nation's future:
BAGHDAD, Iraq - The Iraq Police Service this week graduated 1,993 new police officers from basic police training courses in Sulaymaniyah and Baghdad. Completing the 8-week training courses were 259 police recruits from the Sulaymaniyah Regional Police Training Center and 1,734 recruits from the Baghdad Police Academy. The Baghdad class included 46 female police recruits.
The basic police training program is designed to provide fundamental and democratic policing skills based on international human rights standards to the students in preparation for assuming police officer responsibilities. The program consists of academic study of general policing topics combined with a strong focus on tactical operational policing skills.
To date, more than 25,000 police recruits have completed the 8-week training course developed for new recruits. An additional 35,000 police officers have completed the 3-week Transitional Integration Program (TIPs) course that provides officers with prior experience a condensed version of the longer basic police training course.
The new officers will immediately report for duty and take up their assignments at their respective police stations throughout Iraq.
Meanwhile, with little to no fanfare, Operation RIVER BLITZ continues, as US and Iraqi forces, increasingly aided by citizens of Iraq, keep the pressure on the terrorists in al Anbar Province:
Iraqi and U.S. forces continued increased security operations by raiding a mosque, detaining 17 suspected insurgents and seizing several weapons caches throughout the Al Anbar province as Operation River Blitz rolled on for a fifth day.
Those detained Feb. 24 bring to 104 the number of suspected insurgents detained since Operation River Blitz began Sunday.
In Haqlaniyah, Iraqi soldiers from the Freedom Guard Battalion, Iraqi National Guard, and U.S. Marines from Regimental Combat Team-7, 1st Marine Division, conducted a joint raid on a mosque that produced six detainees and insurgent propaganda at approximately 12:30 p.m. The Freedom Guards cleared the mosque as U.S. Marines provided security outside.
North of Ar Ramadi, a local civilian directed a U.S. Marine combat patrol to an improvised-explosive device, which consisted of four 105 mm artillery rounds that were daisy-chained together in a brown bag hidden underneath a pile of leaves at approximately 10:00 a.m.
At approximately 11:15 a.m. in the central portion of the city, insurgents shot an Iraqi citizen in the abdomen when they fired a rocket-propelled grenade and small arms fire at U.S. Marines. The Marines provided medical treatment to the injured civilian after immediately returning fire at the insurgents, who fled the area.
In southern Fallujah, an Iraqi civilian guided a U.S. Marine patrol to a weapons cache, which consisted of one 82 mm mortar round, seven 57 mm rounds, three 23 mm rounds and one 30 mm round at approximately 1 p.m. Earlier in the day, another Iraqi civilian guided another U.S. Marine patrol to a weapons cache in the southeastern portion of the city that consisted of one missile warhead, 100 pounds of TNT and one 120 mm mortar round.
U.S. forces detained 11 suspected insurgents and seized several weapons caches during operations throughout other areas of the Al Anbar province Feb. 24.
Insurgent propaganda and materials to make improvised-explosive devices were also found with the weapons caches.
The seizure and subsequent destruction of the weapons cache disrupts anti-Iraqi forces? ability to launch attacks against Iraqi and U.S. forces and civilians.
The 1st Marine Division of the I Marine Expeditionary Force stands committed with the Iraqi security forces to disrupt and defeat anti-Iraqi forces while providing enhanced security to the people of Al Anbar province.
Gen. Adnan, as he's known, commands a force of about 10,000 men. He formed the commandos last summer, when security here was spinning out of control, at the urging of his nephew, the current Iraqi minister of the interior. He has a tough-guy resume: a former member of Hussein's military intelligence service who was imprisoned in 1996 after he joined a U.S.-backed coup plot. One look at him and you know he is not a man you'd want to antagonize.
His police commandos are drawn from all over the country, and they include a mix of the country's religious and ethnic groups. A majority are probably Shiite Muslims, but Gen. Adnan, a Sunni, looks pained when I ask for an ethnic breakdown. "I don't care who's Shia, who's Sunni. I want only a good soldier who will fight for his country. I don't want anyone to ask that question, Sunni or Shia. We are all officers."
The commandos next moved into Mosul in mid-November, after local police there had been shattered by the insurgents. Coffman accompanied them into battle. On Nov. 14, he and the Iraqi commandos were caught in a well-prepared ambush. They fought for more than four hours; four of the commandos were killed and 38 wounded, but they held their ground. Coffman was shot in one hand, but with the other, he kept firing his M-4 rifle and then, when he ran out of ammunition, an Iraqi AK-47.
Coffman was still wearing a heavy bandage on his hand when we visited Adnan's headquarters. His thumb and two joints were shattered in the Mosul fight. U.S. military doctors tried to evacuate him to Germany, but he refused. The Iraqi general looks over at his American adviser and says he's a brave soldier. "In the Mosul battle, he stood shoulder to shoulder with my men." It's obvious he could not pay a higher compliment.
That's what success will look like in the training and advisory effort that is now the centerpiece of the U.S. military strategy in Iraq: Soldiers who have confidence in each other and are successful in battle. Coffman is a tough officer, but there's a lot of emotion in his voice when he says: "Our guys stayed and fought."
Elsewhere in Iraq, a "gang busting Chicago Cop" now brings his expertise to the hunt for insurgents:
MAHMOUDIYA, Iraq -- Jim Roussell and the Marines he works with broke the Abu Ali cell of the Iraqi insurgency in much the same way he caught gang leaders on Chicago's West Side.
In the so-called Triangle of Death, where insurgents kidnap and kill along the highways that connect Baghdad to the south, the Marine reservist and Chicago police sergeant is using the investigative skills he honed over years of pursuing street gangs such as the Four Corner Hustlers, the Conservative Vice Lords and the New Breeds.
He sees familiar tactics in his current assignment. Iraq is a world where the enemy hides in plain sight, using street names to cloak his identity and intimidation to protect it.
"The thing they're most afraid of is for us to know who they are and where they sleep at night," said Roussell, a chief warrant officer 5 in the 2nd Battalion, 24th Marine Regiment, a reserve unit with headquarters on the Northwest Side. "They're not so much afraid of airplanes and artillery."
Many of the most effective techniques against those insurgents are more familiar to Roussell's old colleagues in the Chicago Police Department's Austin District than Marines drilled in taking ground from the enemy and defending hilltops.
This is a good point to pause and turn our attention to those who paid a high price for this progress. While some severely wounded troops are returning to combat, most are not. Fortunately some American companies recognize these folks are extremely desirable employees
Army Capt. Lonnie Moore lost his right leg and -- he thought -- his career last April when his convoy was ambushed on the road to Ramadi, in central Iraq. The injury led to some dark days in Walter Reed Army Medical Center as Moore, 29, began his recuperation and contemplated life outside the military.
Within months, however, he had received job offers from a munitions company, an information technology firm, and the Department of Veterans Affairs itself. And that's without sending out a ré³µmé®Š
"People tend to seek us out," Moore said of the veterans, particularly those who have been injured, returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. "They know we'll be an asset to their companies, and that we're not going to let our injuries stand in the way. . . . Everybody I've known that's gotten out, they're not having a hard time finding jobs."
Let's hope that trend continues, and that more companies recognize the proven qualities of veterans - wounded and otherwise. These are the sorts of people who make things like this happen, after all:
Doctors Fix a Hole in Iraqi Girl?s Heart
PETER JENNINGS: In Portland, Maine, today, a five-year-old Iraqi girl named Noor Abd Al-Hady Hassan had successful surgery to fix a hole in her heart. She got there because of the efforts of a 115th Army Engineering Group, which is now deployed in Iraq. And some of you may remember we named them as our Persons of the Week last Friday.
A pediatric surgeon, Reed Quinn, performed the operation. We are told Noor is doing so well she was able to talk to her dad after the surgery.
That from ABC World News Tonight, 24 February.
But will Vermont surrender?
Meanwhile, not far from Maine, a group of "activists" has found a way to encourage the terrorists who are fast losing all support in the Middle East. Huntington Vermont is a town with "no diners, one church, two general stores, and 1,800 people":
The closeness of the war, coupled with the state's penchant for taking on social causes, helps explain why a group of activists has gotten enough signatures here and in some 50 other Vermont communities to place resolutions about Iraq on the agendas of their Town Meetings, a New England ritual as local as tapped maple trees and as old as the American Revolution.
On Tuesday, one-fifth of Vermont towns will consider what role the Vermont National Guard should play in the war, and whether American troops should be withdrawn.
Foes call the resolution so much "poppycock," and complain activists have hijacked an annual event they say is better suited to debate on snowplows and school roof repairs. But to supporters, the war in Iraq is the essence of town business: It's about the men and women who live, work, and raise families in the community.
Even as debate continues over whether the resolution is antiwar propaganda or a legitimate community concern, many say the state's Town Meeting resolutions - the most widespread referendums about Iraq to date - foreshadow grass-roots initiatives emerging around the country.
Given the overwhelming bad news for terrorists in Iraq this week the story from Vermont couldn't have come at a better time - their spirits were desperately in need of lifting. Perhaps their struggle will be prolonged - maybe even long enough for American judges to do what Jim Klimanski calls "their duty". Jim's a lawyer, representing soldiers impacted by stop-loss who don't want to deploy, and he recently appeared on PBS News Hour:
JIM KLIMASKI: Stop-loss requires a declaration of a national emergency or war. There is no war declared against Afghanistan. There is no war declared against Iraq.
LEE HOCHBERG: The Army says the need for stop-loss continues.
BRIG. GEN. SEAN BYRNE: It does inconvenience a certain portion of the population, but we are a nation at war.
LEE HOCHBERG: Three of the soldiers claim they weren't just inconvenienced, but defrauded.
SPC. DAVID QUALLS: What this boils down to, in my opinion, is a question of fairness.
LEE HOCHBERG: On a recent leave from Taji, Iraq, near Baghdad, 35-year-old Spec. David Qualls said he enlisted with the Arkansas Guard in 2003. It was supposed to be a one-year trial through a program called Try One. The Guard promotes Try One on its web site.
ADVERTISEMENT ON WEB SITE: Veterans who have served in any branch of the military have additional options available to them, including a try one program. This allows a veteran to serve for only one year on a trial basis before committing to a full enlistment.
JIM KLIMASKI: That's what the contract says, real clear. Try it for one year, see if you like the Reserves or the National Guard, it fits with your schedule. And if you don't like at the end of one year, you are gone. However, all of those people who signed up under that program discovered that it was a fraud.
SPC. DAVID QUALLS: I tried my one, and you know, I completed and served that one year. Actually I've served five months past my one-year obligation, and I feel that it's time to let me go back to my life.
LEE HOCHBERG: Under his stop-loss order, Qualls has been sent back to Iraq. The Army recently offered him a $15,000 bonus to reenlist. He says, since he was going to have to serve more time anyway and since his deployment has left him in debt, he took the money and committed to six more years.
His lawyer says he'll nonetheless keep pressing all eight court challenges hoping to void all of the original enlistments as fraudulent. Four other soldiers have been released from stop-loss duty, for administrative reasons after they sued. Some military watchers say examination of the Army's use of stop-loss is overdue, but few are expecting a broad court ruling that restricts the Army.
EUGENE FIDELL: Judges historically have said, "Look, it's not for us to run the Army."
LEE HOCHBERG: Eugene Fidell founded the Washington-based National Institute of Military Justice.
EUGENE FIDELL: You're never going to get federal judges to say, "Look there really isn't an emergency. That the president's determination that we really need these people in the interests of national security is unfounded or misguided." I just cannot see federal judges doing that.
LEE HOCHBERG: Lawyers for the soldiers, though, say with more angry soldiers considering legal action, change could come soon.
JIM KLIMASKI: Eventually the matter will build up to the point where the courts will recognize their duty and the law changes.
Klimanski has filed an appeal with the Ninth Circuit Court, most recently notorious for banning the Pledge of Allegiance from American elementary schools.
We're winning - don't doubt it for a minute. Despite the best efforts of those who'd gleefully snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.