Peace Like A River

It was a wide river, mistakable for a lake or even an ocean unless you'd been wading and knew its current. Somehow I'd crossed it... Now I saw the stream regrouped below, flowing on through what might've been vineyards, pastures, orhards... It flowed between and alongside the rivers of people; from here it was no more than a silver wire winding toward the city. - Leif Enger, Peace Like A River

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Labor Day Weekend

On Friday, the family and I will head to Sioux City. We usually do this over Labor Day as I like to attend the Magecon, and indulge my hobby, Advanced Squad Leader. There's always an ASL tourney at the con, and it's about the only time during the year I get to do some serious gaming.

(Lest you think ASL is only for geeks, one of the people behind Multi Man Publishing is Curt Schilling, pitcher for the Boston Red Sox.)

Rhonda's family lives either in the Sioux City area, or Omaha, so they'll come over to the hotel and visit while I'm throwing the bones. The kids are looking forward to the trip, as they get to stay in a hotel and visit the swimming pool.

We'll be back Monday, so no blogging till then. I hope to be able to complete the next Dispatch from the Front then, and have it up either Monday night or Tuesday morning.

The topmost post over the weekend will be the one about relief for the hurricane victims. Contribute what you can.

The loss of the innocents

In this sobering article, it is stated that there are now more abortions in Russia than live births.

Russians, whose lives are shorter and poorer than they were under communism, have more abortions than births to avoid the costs of raising children, reported Tuesday quoting the countryís highest-ranking obstetrician.

About 1.6 million women had an abortion last year, a fifth of them under the age of 18, and about 1.5 million gave birth, said Vladimir Kulakov, vice president of the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences. ďMany moreĒ abortions werenít reported.

I've written before about the monumental demographic problems Russia is facing. As the article reiterates, things aren't getting better.

The average Russian man now dies at 58.8, the shortest life expectancy in Europe and five years fewer than 15 years ago

Every day I am thankful for the two precious children the Good Lord led us to in Russia.

Hanna likes to wear dresses in part so she can pretend she is Tinkerbell, and she throws her arms out and runs around the house as if she were "flying".

Last night after I read the kids their nightly Bible story, John asked "Where is heaven?" I said I didn't know exactly, somewhere beyond the sky. Then John said, "If we stand on the roof, can we reach heaven?"

How many sweet innocents are being lost to abortion in Russia? Or in this country? How many souls are there that we will never get to meet, to enjoy, to wrestle with on the floor, to chase around the yard, to snuggle?

Why is the pro-abortion lobby in this country so eager to fight for the "right" to snuff out these tiny lives?

It is in our nature

Last Thursday, Hugh Hewitt recorded an enlightening interview with Tim Rutten of the Los Angeles Times. This interview aired Monday. (Transcript is here.)

The interview is enlightening because it is yet another sign the mainstream media (MSM) is due for a Reformation.

In speaking of a decline in the LA Times's ad revenues and readership, Mr. Hewitt asked this spot-on question:

Why is it that a monopoly institution, in a city and a state that loves information, can't seem to grow? What's going on?

Why are many consumers of the MSM choosing to get their news from other sources, such as the blogs?

Later, Mr. Hewitt asked Mr. Rutten who he voted for. Mr. Rutten declined to answer:

Oh, I never say that.

Mr. Hewitt again cut to the white bone, and pointed out exactly why these consumers are looking elsewhere for news. He replied:

You see, I know that. And no journalist ever does, because they're not transparent. That's why they're not trusted.

That is exactly right. Consumers are fleeing from the MSM because the MSM has had its thumb on the scale for a long time, and won't admit their worldviews shade the way they present the news.

With more choices, people are acting and going elsewhere to sources they trust and whose biases are known.

I wrote about one way the MSM shades their coverage here. Details are chopped off around the edges that might present a different picture than the one we're allowed to see.

Reader John G. has emailed me some cogent thoughts on the media, and in one email he said:

For facts with no frame are meaningless. Without context, journalism is a farce.

In the days when the MSM reigned supreme, it was all we knew. We assumed the world we saw on the evening news was the world as it really was. We didn't know any better.

With independent sources now, however, we can see the world for ourselves, and what we see is often quite different than the world shown to us by the MSM.

Mr. Rutten doesn't see how one's worldview can affect how one presents that view of the world to others:

TR: There are millions upon millions of individual decisions that go into the production of a newspaper every day. It's a miracle that more of them aren't wrong.

HH: Especially since everyone making them is a liberal.

TR: No, particularly...No, because they're all humans.

The MSM has very much enjoyed its position of preeminence in American culture, and they are reluctant to let go of it. Itís just human nature.

It was the same in Galileo's day. The Church served as arbiter of knowledge, and rejected a Copernican worldview.

But when Galileo put his eyes to his telescope, and saw an imperfect moon, Jupiterís moons, the phases of Venus, he saw Nature as it truly was.

Today, we are looking through our own telescopes now, we see things for ourselves, and we will never again trust the ecclesiastical gatekeepers who once taught us.

Mr. Rutten may not fully understand why the LA Times readership is down, but we do.


Brace yourself, kidlings. It's time for another look at the worldview of the Star Tribune. (The first installment in this series can be found here.)

Newsflash: President takes vacation in August

In the Saturday, August 27 2005 edition of the paper, the Strib ran an editorial cartoon by Don Wright.

(I found the cartoon online here.)

Wright is one of the those compassionate, tolerant liberals who thinks something like this is humorous. For more commentary on what Wright thinks is funny, see this Jay Nordlinger Impromptu.

Out of all the editorial cartoonists on the planet, the Strib just happened to pick this guy for the Saturday paper. No commentary I'm sure on the Strib's editorial bent.

This particular Saturday cartoon showed a cave. A sign above the cave reads "Al-Qaeda HDQ, Osama bin Laden, Commander-in-Chief". A rotund figure in Arab dress, with an assault gun slung over his shoulder, is standing outside the cave, his thumb pointed back towards the cave. This figure is saying "He never takes 5-week vacations!"

I can only assume the Strib thought this cartoon had some editorial value. But, I can only think of two reasons for running this cartoon.

First, the Strib admires Osama bin Laden's work ethic, and the way he rolls up his sleeves and applies himself day after day without rest to the business of dreaming up ways to blow up and murder infidels.

I can't believe the Strib really feels this way about bin Laden. So, that leaves only one possible reason for running this cartoon.

The Strib must feel that bin Laden really is out there relentlessly planning more attacks on the US. And, the Strib must also feel President Bush has been loafing around in August, taking a long vacation, and not paying attention to the vital business of the nation, especially the business of protecting us from bin Laden and Al Qaeda.

Two problems with this, though.

First, the Strib is implying that bin Laden and his gang really are a threat, that the United States ought to be doing something about them. Vigilance is necessary in countering the terrorist threat posed by Al-Qaeda and their terrorist allies.

However, one could be forgiven for being a little confused about just what the Strib thinks the nature of the threat is.

In this May 30 2005 editorial, the Star Tribune says:

As this bloody month of car bombs and American deaths -- the most since January -- comes to a close, as we gather in groups small and large to honor our war dead, let us all sing of their bravery and sacrifice. But let us also ask their forgiveness for sending them to a war that should never have happened. In the 1960s it was Vietnam. Today it is Iraq. Let us resolve to never, ever make this mistake again. Our young people are simply too precious.

The Strib has been clear it thinks the war in Iraq is a mistake.

In this January 14 2005 editorial, the Strib says, in writing of the WMD issue:

Bush can dissemble all he wants about the reasons for war, but the fact remains: He sold the American people on a quick, clean war of necessity. What they got instead was a dirty, protracted war of convenience that day by day is bleeding the American people of both the blood of their sons and daughters and the money from their billfolds.

The word "dissemble" is a gentleman's word for "lie". It's like challenging someone to a duel by lightly and ceremonially slapping them on the face with a leather gauntlet. Not only does the Strib think the war in Iraq is a colossal mistake, it thinks President Bush lied, about a single issue, to get us into Iraq.

What does the Strib think should be done about the terrorist threat?

It certainly thinks the government should be vewy vewy concerned about civil rights. This September 21 2001 editorial was written as the debris of the fallen Trade Towers still smoldered, mind you. Apparently ten days was enough to get over any anger at the murder of 3,000 Americans, and focus again on the Wascly Wepublicans, instead of expressing a strong desire to chase whoever committed those acts to the ends of the Earth.

Do Americans really think well of the 'whatever-it-takes' battle cry?
They shouldn't. There are all sorts of 'whatevers' this country could
but shouldn't embrace to fight terrorism. It could unleash police to
search apartment blocks where immigrants are known to live -- hoping
to root out a terrorist needle in the haystack. It could scrap the
rule that suspects be told of their rights to a lawyer and to remain
silent -- hoping that hapless confessions of terror plots will follow.
It could jail suspicious foreigners for weeks -- hoping that
incriminating evidence might eventually show up. Many Americans
recoil at the thought of such blunt tactics, even if they can't say
why. They sense something un-American about combating terrorism by
scrapping the rule of law. They see the folly of defending the land
of the free by shrinking its freedoms. . . . Even if Congress
subscribes to the 'whatever-it-takes' philosophy, it's not clear this
[recently introduced] legislation should pass. The White House has
made no case that existing law enabled last week's attack or hindered
the ensuing investigation. Nor has it established that squelching
civil liberties is a wise response to the threat of terror. In truth,
forsaking American freedom is precisely the wrong answer to the fear
terrorists sow. It gives them the victory they seek. It flouts an
article of American faith: that just as some sacrifices must be made
in safety's name, others must never be made.

No, the Strib thinks we should put away all those big nasty guns, and just chase after the terrorists with nightsticks.

This post over at Captain's Quarters takes issue with the Strib's desire to let law enforcement carry the banner in this war against the terrorists.

Beyond this, as is typical of the anti-war Left, the Star Tribune editorial board does not explain in any detail exactly how law enforcement and intelligence will deter the kind of people who behead civilians with knives, who drive car bombs into crowds of children, who put nail-laden bombs on passenger trains, who shoot election officials in the street, and on and on.

The second problem is this really is one of the hateful Left's hoary, wheezy, gout-ridden charges. Bush is taking a long vacation! He's not fulfilling his duties!

An August 3 article in the Washington Post puts it this way:

Bush's long vacations are more than a curiosity: They play into diametrically opposite arguments about this leadership style. To critics and late-night comics, they symbolize a lackadaisical approach to the world's most important day job, an impression bolstered by Bush's two-hour midday exercise sessions and his disinclination to work nights or weekends. The more vociferous among Bush's foes have noted that he spent a month at the ranch shortly before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, when critics assert he should have been more attentive to warning signs.

To Bush and his advisers, that criticism fundamentally misunderstands his Texas sojourns. Those who think he does not remain in command, aides say, do not understand the modern presidency or Bush's own work habits. At the ranch, White House officials say, Bush continues to receive daily national security briefings, sign documents, hold teleconferences with aides and military commanders, and even meet with foreign leaders. And from the president's point of view, the long Texas stints are the best way to clear his mind and reconnect with everyday America.


Just as Bush has made these August trips a regular feature of his presidency, so, too, have Democrats made a tradition of needling him about them. This year, opposition politicians are tying his departure from Washington to the CIA leak case that has swept up his top adviser, Karl Rove.


"The Oval Office is wherever the president of the United States is," said Kenneth M. Duberstein, who was Reagan's last White House chief of staff. "With the communications being what they are, the president can communicate instantly with whomever he wants anywhere in the world."

Bush will not return to the White House until after Labor Day, but his staff has peppered his schedule with events to dispel any impression that he is not on duty. He will visit at least seven states, mostly with quick day trips, including New Mexico, where he plans to sign energy legislation into law. He gets off to a quick start this week, with a speech Wednesday in nearby Grapevine, Tex., then he plays host to President Alvaro Uribe of Colombia at the ranch Thursday. His schedule is clear Friday through Sunday.

At some point, Bush told reporters Monday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld will visit for consultations. "I have a busy couple of weeks down there," Bush said.

This charge of neglecting presidential duties to lounge around on the porch is not a new one, but repeating it every year does not make it anymore true.

I want the President to have a vacation. I don't think any of us can truly understand the pressures that go with that job. The President is human, he needs to rest from time to time, and I don't begrudge any President their well-earned vacations.

No, President Bush is not ignoring the terrorist threat. He has kept a busy schedule on this vacation. He is now returning early to Washington to monitor the immense destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina.

The radical Left and the anti-war Left can only point fingers at President Bush, or in this case, thumbs, and criticize. They never make the case for why their ideas are better. They never characterize the nature of the people who want to destroy us. Are they evil people? If so, what actions does that require on our part? If not, then how to explain their deeds?

To the Star Tribune editorial board, I say that President Bush is well aware of the nature of the threat we face. He is well aware of what the people in that cave in that insipid editorial cartoon want to do to us. And this kind of thing isn't going to deter any terrorists, but this will.

Betsy Newmark links to a Dennis Prager column that asks the question I've been asking.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

We still might be able to beam Wesley into empty space

Boing Boing has a story about an Air Force study of teleportation.

(How did the Air Force get designated as the branch of the service that investigates all the weird scifi things? UFOs, this, stargates, etc...)

I say zowie! Since the tech is so similar, it's only a matter of time before we have holodecks! Computer, run program Ken-1, Lusty Space Bimbos of Venus!

(Ken-1 is one of those annoying inside jokes that only, well, insiders understand.)

There are clues in the story, however, that we shouldn't really be rushing out anytime soon to buy stock in Teleport Inc., (A Microsoft Company).

First, there is the obligatory journalism-major itch to add authenticity to the story by stapling a PhD in Astrophysics to it. I've known some PhDs in Astrophysics, having once been on the way to being one myself, and trust me, any of this species willing to be quoted as an authority on teleportation is not someone who should be allowed outside the house without an ankle bracelet.

And indeed my fears were realized only a couple sentences later:

(Not mentioned in the SF Chronicle article is that Davis apparently has also been affiliated with the National Institute for Discovery Science, a private research organization that studies "aerial phenomena, animal mutilations, and other related anomalous phenomena.")

Teleportation sounds like it might be just around the corner, Tomorrow's Technology Today, and all that, but for a few minor problems:

On one hand, he concluded that "Star Trek"-style teleportation faces enormous obstacles, partly because it would require the development of extraordinarily high-speed computers and would consume mind-boggling amounts of energy. Also, it would encounter all kinds of physics headaches generated by the principles of quantum physics...

Ok, well, besides that, it just might work.

Then, there is the promising research conducted by Chinese geeky kids. Oops, make that allegedly conducted. Allegedly, my dog can fly while singing the entire Gilbert and Sullivan oeuvre.

Also, there is the item that the Air Force dropped only $25k on this little study. To the US government, 25 grand is something you light up to get the grill going. This is not serious money. (Let's not ask why the Air Force is even spending that much.)

In the end, though, I'm like Dr. McCoy. You can throw all the traversable wormhole metric tensors and Minkowski spaces at me you like. I just don't trust that I would be reassembled on the other side in exactly the same way.

How could you ever possibly break all those bonds between electrons and molecules in the body, and get them put back together just as they were? Who knows what would get scrambled in the brain, and what that would do to memories.

I'd probably end up thinking a can of sweet peas was my mother.

Journalists: Missing in action or missing the action?

On his radio program last Friday, Hugh Hewitt interviewed Fred Barnes and the newly engaged Mort Kondracke, the beltway's very own Dynamic Duo of Demosthenesian Dissuasion. (Transcript is here)

The Beltway Boys are among the very best pundits in cable television. Their reasoned, rational debate is a welcome contrast to the yowling scream fests that plague much of political talk today. Their wide-ranging conversation with Mr. Hewitt was no exception.

Among the sundry topics discussed was Michael Yonís nonpareil reporting from Iraq. In comparing his work to the mainstream media, Mr. Hewitt said:

[Yon] believes that the American people are getting the most distorted picture of Iraq possible. That in fact, the war is going very well. The insurgency's getting crippled, but that we don't have journalists over there to tell that story.

In fairness to journalists, Iraq does not yield information easily.

My correspondent in Iraq said this:

Conversely, virtually all reporters in this country are stuck inside US bases, because of the simple fact that if they were to venture out the spies would alert the insurgent/mafia/criminal cells and you wouldn't last the afternoon. Plus, you can't really get good stories done with a hundred US troops around, anyone seen talking to us is immediately marked for suspicion and followup by the bad guys as soon as we leave - this is related to why I always am saying the news you get about the daily stuff going on here is really way off, for 1 because the US mil is only going to tell the media so much and 2 the iraqi sources only say so much.

It's a difficult environment, which makes the work Michael Yon is doing all the more remarkable.

Now, if we can just help Mort Kondracke figure out the difference between John Roberts and Pat Robertson... ;)

Monday, August 29, 2005

Followup to Dispatch from the Front II

I want to post a followup to this morning's post, Dispatch from the Front II. In that post, I shared with you some of my correspondent's perspective on combat.

Here, I'd like to look at perspectives on combat on the home front. How do friends, family members, loved ones, etc... process the realities of combat?

Somewhere in the final mix is an odd blend of hope, reality, denial, anger, prayer, intense interest, support, pride. Military families with loved ones in harm's way form a bond that few others can fully understand.

With me, I find myself almost surprised at the primitive emotions engendered within me. Someone is trying to hurt this person I care about! My instinct is to pick up a club and stand beside him and say to the howling barbarians across the field, if you're gonna mess with him, you're gonna mess with me. It's a return to tribal conflicts. Our clan against your clan. And isn't it surreal that here in the 21st century, with all our technological magic, we are literally fighting tribes in Iraq and Afghanistan!

But, I cannot be there, and so families, friends, loved ones here need to let them go, we need to let them go do their work.

We do so with all the realities of war in the backs, or fronts, of our minds. We know the nature of the work, we know the risks, what's at stake.

And so, we try to be a cheering section, a wellspring of support, so that our soldiers know they aren't forgotten, they haven't been sent in vain. We praise the noble values that drive soldiers to put themselves in harm's way.

We in no way ignore the dangers, that would dishonor their work. It's always there, the thought that the next time we see them might be on the other side of the River. (Yes, that is what the quote at the top of the blog page is about.)

But those things have to be left in God's hands. He knows where our soldiers are, and whatever happens to them is His will, and therefore it is not random chance.

As I said here, we are so proud because they came from us. And the Lord and Uncle Sam willing, they will soon return to us as the heroes they are.

Dispatch from the Front II

Time now for another dispatch from the front. The first one in this series can be found here.

In this dispatch, I'll look at my correspondent's perspective on combat.

For background, do read Michael Yon's latest report, Gates of Fire. Though Yon has written a great deal about the Deuce Four, there are many many units just like that one all over Iraq and Afghanistan, and events such as what Yon describes take place all the time.

First, let me point out my correspondent has given a great deal of thought to what he does, and why. Here, in his own words:

Lest you think I have morphed into some bloodthirsty spawn of destruction... I have had long moments of contemplation regarding this, my current chosen profession. I do not take the duty and responsibility lightly. In all sense legal, moral and ethical, this ugly business of war one can be expected to experience, I have committed to its stark realities. I don't want or seek out some of the more morbid facets of our tasks, indeed it's not as if we are out everyday ringing up another butchers bill.

It is not pleasant or ultimately soul satisfying to cause the destruction of one of God's creations, someone else child.

However, in the course of one's life, we are faced with choices. The power to do good or to commit evil. In the end, we are the good guys in white hats. We are opposed by the most cruel and savage of cutthroats and rascals. By the time the bad guys have become adult enough to choose their own behavior, they made their choices and they must be prepared to face the consequences.

There are always those in our society, for whatever reasons, cannot do the hard grim tasks of defending those who are too weak or unsuitable for mortal combat. After all, who would send the elderly, feeble or young children to battle? Madness. Or worse, target them for death? Well, newsflash, the bad guys here do, every week or day some innocent civilians die. They kill illegaly.

We don't. We follow rules of Land Warfare (US law) and hague and geneva conventions (by and large, some enemy combatants are not afforded parts of those considerations as you know but that issue is in the courts). They most certainly do not follow any standards of decency much less the consensus of armed conflict.

For those who are up to the challenge, such as my fellow servicemembers, we have taken it upon ourselves to confront the forces of evil and bring them their righteous due.

From another thought:

Ah, but such is war. There is nothing new under the sun says the wise man. what has been done before will happen again. You can read about a war a thousand years ago or 50 years ago and they all have chaos, mistakes poor decisions, graft and corruption, and the grunt does the dirty work.

Now, a series of snippets, indicating how oddly routine and worklike the business of war can seem.

gotta go back to work. we are firing off some mortar illum, called in some fast movers, and some big arty fired. fireworks for free. oo aa.

just got off guard and the latest broohaha monitoring. we werent part of it. (isnt it wierd to discuss a firefight in a combat zone in near real time? bizarre, unthinkable just a few years ago, now commonplace for americans)

here i sit at computer m4 across lap, nvgs on neck. a couple guys with rpg took a shot at some brads, they got one bad guy, was still alive when encountered next to his loaded rpg. hes being medevaced. on one hand i hope that @#$% dies tonight, on the other if he can (and should be made to) talk he could yield some intell on his buddies. but most of the shooters are small fry and are cellular so its not that big of deal...if we could get the movers and shakers now that would be something.
some kiowas called in, couldnt find anymore. everyone seems to have gone home.
reconsolidate and reorganize probably same for us.

Well, didnt get shot at today. Yet. Still another hour to go so I shouldn't count the chickens just yet.

3 ieds in 12 hours yesterday and an amusing twist, some friendly fire richochets that whizzed near me and went thru our windows and walls. hmm.
Thus proving the adage that friendly fire most certainly is not.
Some mortars recently and i tried a new tactic, jolly good humor and all, say what, stiff upper lip. Well, my buddy didnt think too much of that.
We could see them launch, We eventually fired back some what become essentially meaningless swats back since they merely hold a tube, fire a few jump in a car and go away long before we even shoot. These clowns here i tell ya.

I hear from K----, they got to have all the fun. got to watch samara get blasted. I heard from so many guys in my old unit where they would just level a house if even 1 ak round came out much less the bigger stuff. That's the only thing those fools understand. and now samara is quiet.

Every single person/vehicle we encounter at some level we are keyed up to blow them away at any moment.

Is it irrational to laugh every time the latest (take your pick) ubiqitous mortar/rpg and occasional rocket miss us? Perhaps they will get lucky and it won't be so funny?
Or why can't they blast the other side of the post where the Iraqi army is?
Oh yeah, they were recently until some of their friends and ours told them to aim a bit more over there cause you are hitting your informants!

(wierd chronicling a firefight in near real time. in the past it took months for a letter to arrive) all right where was i?

Some of the fighting is surreal. These guys are amazing. Brave beyond words.

Getting rifles ready and such. It's amazing how much combat power we have here and yet its ability to be used, as always, is a matter of politics.

The amount of attacks lately has been amazing. They are throwing away the suiciders like confetti on insignificant attacks.

Finally, thinking of Yon's piece again, the perspective of someone who has run through alleys just like that, who has fought beside good buddies just like that.

I cannot say I have seen all facets of the horrors of war, but I have seen some, and there are certainly those who have undergone much much more difficult and savage fighting as have I, however, to be a soldier, a warrior, one should come to terms with the possibilities inherent in this task. I certainly have. It's best that it be done and the sooner the better. preferably at basic training. 5 minutes before a firefight is not a good time.

And the more of combat one goes through, yes, the more matter of fact it becomes. This is 'normal' behavior and reactions according to psychology. That is the nature of the beast, I am afraid to say. Such is war.

You must be ready to kill. Or be killed. And do it, or hesistate. I have seen it. Those who cower at potential danger, shake in fear. Others who relish a fight and revel in its atavistic savagery.

Myself, elation to anger among others. Complete blind all consuming rage at those who seek to deprive my buddies (and myself, but I can say, many if not most are more concerned with the safety of their own buddies rather than oneself when the chips are down, that's normal, indeed, a buddy jumped on me once during a close call, he did it without thinking like a parent would shield a child) of life and limb...and sheer happiness at a chance for payback and resolve towards the bastards who are causing this insane war to be prolonged and who cause so much of the suffering the Iraqis struggle under every day for the past few years.

In some ways (but of course I don't want innocent suffering), I wish for alquado terrorist wackos and their ilk to come out of the woodwork whereever they might be hiding all over the world and just try it, attacks every day like they get away with here. You know why? When those cockroaches come out they can finally be seen and targeted and killed and that type of murderous behavior would so infuriate americans that we would finally realize the grave threats facing us and our childrens safety once and for all and stamp them out like bugs and unleash the full might and fury of our resources.

For those who dont understand these normal human reactions and emotions they can be studied in much greater detail in most psychology texts. I recently read a commentary written by a civilian US cop who has never been in military combat opine that 'a soldier never wishes the death of his enemy and is never happy about his enemys demise' or sentiments to that effect.

I say without reserve. HA!

Human emotion and reactions to mortal combat are varied and sometimes extreme or conversely merciful but truly he has not seen combat soldiers or experienced incoming fire. One of those most highest rush or release of satisfying emotions is the near rapturous joy at the death of those despicable scumbags who were seeking your own destruction. Simple law of the jungle as they say. A bit melodramatic when committed to pen and paper but no less true or deadly real nonetheless.

My correspondent, and tens of thousands just like him, are doing the hardest job of all, that of holding back the darkness that seeks to devour as many souls as it can, and standing in the gap to preserve the freedoms that we enjoy. May God bless them all.

In the next dispatch, we'll look at the nature of the enemy.

(Here is a followup to this post.)

Dispatch from the Front I

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Old Testament trivia

In my look at Yon's Gates of Fire piece, I mentioned that the novel by Pressfield had to do with the battle of Thermopylae, in August 480 BC.

The Spartans and their allies were overrun by a massive Persian invasion force.

It may interest readers of the Old Testament that this invasion was the very one being prepared by King Xerxes in Esther Chapter 1.

Iíll bet Xerxes had no idea he was setting into motion events that would still inspire soldiers 2500 years later.

This invasion was for the most part thwarted in September 480 BC, at the naval battle of Salamis. The Greek fleet dealt a strong blow to the Persian fleet.

Xerxes returned home with a large portion of his army, leaving behind a smaller force.

This smaller force was then defeated in 479 BC, at the battles of Plataea and Mycale.    

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Kid quotes of the day

The moon was high in the sky this morning. Hanna saw it and said "The moon is very far in the sky and I can't reach it!"

I took John over to the park near Bunker Beach this morning. There is a Veterans Memorial there. Hadn't seen it yet, so walked up there. It is reminiscent of a fort, square, with two concrete stockades. There is a tank parked there too.

I told John this memorial is to remember and be grateful for all our soldiers, like in our family. John asked "Are we soldiers?" I said no, and John said "We're not soldiers? We're friends?"

Ah, the minds of children.

Day by Day

I've added Chris Muir's Day by Day strip to the footer of the blog page.

(The End key on your keyboard will take you immediately to the bottom of the page.)

The strip is usually political in nature, but from a conservative viewpoint. And first and foremost, Muir has an excellent wit.

The page will show the current day's strip, so check it daily.

Today's strip is talking about journalists in hotel rooms. To be fair to them, Iraq is not a place where journalists can wander around at will.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Odds and Ends

It's been a banner week here, gals and gents. In the last couple weeks, I've decided to begin the effort to make the blog more visible, to focus more on the writing. On Tuesday, I had my highest traffic day ever. That was exceeded on Wednesday by a small margin.

In the grand scheme of things, it was still pretty small, but a start. Then, on Thursday night Betsy Newmark was kind enough to link to my piece on the Crawford Peace House, and that brought quite a few visitors here, setting another high water mark. Then, this morning, Hugh Hewitt, the godfather of all us bloggers, was kind enough to link to my piece that took a closer look at Michael Yon's tremendous Gates of Fire piece. That sent my hit counter spinning off its spindle. To both Betsy and Hugh, I say thank-you.

Update: Saturday eve. Michael Barone linked to my piece as well. Thank you, Mr. Barone. I have tremendous respect for your work, and I am grateful that you included me in your post.

Especially to those of you who have been stopping by, I say thank-you. I've met several intelligent, thoughtful people already. I know it takes time to find readers, for people to get in the habit of participating in yet another blog. But we'll keep 'er going.

One thing I do here is ask the Left to explain and defend its ideology. I think that's something lots of you are eager to do as well.


I hope you'll forgive me for enabling the word verification when posting comments. I was starting to collect spam in the comments, and this should take care of most if not all of the automatic spambot kind of comments.


I was already planning to do this, but more so after Yon's piece was up, on Monday I'll have another Dispatch from the Front, looking at the experience of combat.


Given time commitments, it looks like my pattern might settle into blood, sweat and tears blogging during the week, and then pretty light over the weekend. School starts up for me in a couple weeks anyway. (School meaning the second year of a two-year masters program in software engineering.)


Here's a fellow who has been around the blogging block! (via Outside the Beltway)


Finally, with the focus this week on events, I haven't mentioned John and Hanna much.

The other day I heard John saying to his mom, "Nobody likes me". Oh man, if that just doesn't puree a parent's heart. I wasn't sure what exactly he meant. He hasn't been around a whole lot of kids this summer, aside from Sue's house. From time to time he plays with kids at Bunker Beach or something. I asked him about it, and he said he wanted to stay home. So, maybe that was his way of saying again social situations are stressful for him, and he likes the familiar security of his home.

Next Thursday morning we'll meet with the school district about what kind of help they can provide for his kindergarten experience.

With Hanna, the bad news is she put her fingers on a hot stove burner and singed them a bit. The good news is she put her fingers on a hot stove burner and singed them a bit. She's learned a valuable lesson and won't do that again. She didn't get burned too bad.

Dissecting Gates of Fire

Again, if you haven't yet read Michael Yon's latest spellbinding report from Mosul, Gates of Fire, do so now. (The account inspired me to post this yesterday.)

I want to take a look at some of the details in Yon's account.

First, Yon says:

On Monday, while conducting operations in west Mosul, a voice came over the radio saying troops from our brother unit, the 3-21, were fighting with the enemy in east Mosul on the opposite side of the Tigris River.

The eastern sector of Mosul is the Kurdish sector. I am not familiar enough with the situation in Mosul to know how often insurgents and terrorists operate in eastern Mosul. It makes sense the Deuce Four would be in west Mosul, the Arab sector, but I would think it would be dangerous for Arab terrorists to operate in east Mosul. The Kurds do not mess around, and are serious about their security. Perhaps someone with knowledge of the area can inform the rest of us?

Second, Yon says:

The only mission I've seen unfold close to what was planned was a B Company raid a few months back. It actually went so close to perfect that we could hardly believe it. The sole glitch occurred when a Stryker hit an IED, but since nobody was hurt, we just continued the mission. In retrospect, it's hard to imagine why I didn't write about it.

Yon says he didn't write about that one, but here, where he talks about "Day 28", Yon describes an IED attack that killed Nick Sayles during a B Company Stryker patrol. Yon also describes an IED attack during a B Company patrol here. (Some background on Mosul at that link as well.)

Third, Yon says:

As a "surge" operation, Lancer Fury is sort of a crocodile hunt, where our people do things to make the crocodiles come out, trying to flush them into predictable directions, or make them take certain actions. And when they do, we nail them. The combat portion of the Surge amounted to a sophisticated "area ambush" that would unfold over the period of about one week.

My correspondent in Iraq had something similar to say once:

Another fun day. I can't explain too much without giving it away but we have been trying to get the bad guys to come out and play and they are not always so obliging. Fooey, we always seem to be reacting on their terms. Well, we do our own offensives as well and that disrupts them and keeps them moving.

Fourth, Yon says:

Five soldiers from ReconóHolt, Ferguson, Yates, Welch and Rossówere moving through moon-cast shadows when an Iraqi man came out from a farmhouse, his AK-47 rifle hanging by his side. Suddenly encircled by the rifles, lights and lasers of four soldiers, the man was quickly disarmed.

Do not gloss over the discipline it takes to be out prowling at night, in Indian country, chasing armed and deadly terrorists, and not shoot a man armed with an AK-47 who appears in a doorway. Yon says Kurilla acknowledged their discipline.

It's all the more admirable considering what Yon said here:

Don't get me wrong, if they see an enemy with a weapon he is dead, no questions asked

Fifth, Yon says:

The sweet and heartfelt message inside ended with--

Please tell our soldiers we care so much for them. --Dan and Connie Lama.

Perhaps this card was a response to what I posted about here.

Sixth, Yon says:

I changed the subject by snapping a photo of CSM Prosser while LTC Kurilla got Mrs. Lama on the Iridium satellite phone. I heard the commander telling this soldier's mother that her son was fine. Daniel just had some soft tissue damage, nothing major. Kurilla told her that he and some other soldiers were at the hospital now with Daniel, who was still too groggy to talk. "Really, Daniel's okay, and don't worry about it when the Army calls you."

This speaks volumes about what kind of leader, and what kind of man, Kurilla is. He is so sensitive to his men and their families, that he tells them not to worry about what the Army says, just in case they say something abrupt like "Your loved one has been shot", and he doesn't want the family to think the coming call from the Army is made because the injured man's condition has worsened.

Seventh, Yon says:

Some Strykers were scouting for the shooters, while others were working details at Yarmook Traffic Circle...Automatic weapons fire started coming from at least two places. Bullets were kicking up the dust, and we got a radio call that troops were in contact at Yarmook Traffic Circle.

Yon wrote about the deadly Yarmook Traffic Circle here.

Eighth, Yon says:

Newcomers, even soldiers, unaccustomed to this level of hostility, can only burden the men with added danger.

Yon tells us this because we are about to find out how.

Ninth, Yon says:

Chris Espindola also shot the man. Amazingly, despite being hit by four M4's from multiple directions, the man still lived a few minutes.

The lack of stopping power in the M4s, and M16s, is a common complaint in both Iraq and Afghanistan. I've heard some tales from Afghanistan of rounds going right through and hardly slowing down some of the Johnny Jihadis, who I believe tend to be, on average, a little scrawnier than their Iraqi counterparts.

Tenth, Yon says:

Kurilla was in the open, but his judo roll had left him slightly to the side of the shop. I screamed to the young soldiers, "Throw a grenade in there!" but they were not attacking.

This is one of the more amazing aspects of combat training. What to do when the bullets start flying. One cannot blame these young soldiers from a human standpoint, but there are things to do to stay alive.

Yon is sensitive enough not to name them, and he doesn't come back to highlight the inaction. Honestly, as Yon indicates, it is a common reaction when soldiers first experience combat. I am in no way judging these young soldiers. If I knew I was going into that situation for the first time, I'd be happy not to wet myself just lacing up the boots.

Yon had this to say here about moving in combat:

I asked, "Did you fire a warning shot?"

They were still chuckling, oblivious we were under sniper attack. But not for long. Soldiers in our Stryker shouted, "Contact, contact, contact!"

A group of soldiers were already running in pursuit of the sniper.

Note the already running, as soon as shots were fired.

Last detail I'd like to look at, Yon says this:

When Kurilla woke in recovery a few hours after surgery, he called CSM Prosser and asked for a Bible and the book: Gates of Fire. Kurilla gives a copy of Gates of Fire to every new officer and orders them to read it. He had given me a copy and told me to read it. In my book, there is a marked passage, which I thought rather flowery. But I have it beside me on the table by the map of Iraq.

"I would be the one. The one to go back and speak. A pain beyond all previous now seized me. Sweet life itself, even the desperately sought chance to tell the tale, suddenly seemed unendurable alongside the pain of having to take leave of these whom I had come so to love."

The book, Gates of Fire, is written by Steven Pressfield.

(This link to Amazon came through GMT Games, a game company with which I have no affiliation, other than as a customer.)

Why might Kurilla, a leader of men, find special meaning in this book?

The book is fiction, a historical novel, but describes the famous battle of Thermopylae in 480 B.C. In a narrow mountain pass, 300 Spartans, led by Leonidas, and their allies held back a massive Persian invasion force. This Spartan force was wiped out.

The book is widely known and regarded in military circles.

It is a brilliant novel. Kurilla must have been touched by the account of Leonidas, and his difficult task of leading men in this perilous situation, one fraught with mortal danger.

In the book, Leonidas says this to his officers:

"You are the commanders, your men will look to you and act as you do. Let no officer keep to himself or his brother officers, but circulate daylong among his men. Let them see you and see you unafraid. Where there is work to do, turn your hand to it first; the men will follow."

Kurilla is that kind of man. He was the first man down that alley.

It is instructive that Yon highlighted the passage he did. The passage is taken from Chapter One. The words are from a character named Xeones. Xeones is the narrator of the novel. He survives the battle, and lives to tell the tale of what happened in that mountain pass.

Yon is that person as well. He sees himself as the one who will witness battle and return to tell others about it. He is the one who brings back to us tales of unbelievable courage. Without him, we would know very little of the courage of the men who put their lives on the line for us. God bless Yon, and God bless our Armed Forces.

Today, there is a famous monument at the site of the battle, and an epitaph on the monument says this:

Go tell the Spartans, stranger passing by,
that here, obedient to their laws, we lie

Yes, Michael, go tell us all of the courage and dedication of those who serve to defend us.

Blackfive says it well, each sentence of Yon's account is packed with life and death.

Thursday, August 25, 2005


How many times have I heard an athlete praised for exhibiting courage? This kind of grandiloquence is especially prevalent in football.

Numerous awards throughout college and professional football list courage as one of the traits they recognize. It is said it takes courage for a player to play with injuries, and to play through pain. It is said a team shows courage in mounting a game-winning drive in the last minutes. It is said a quarterback displays courage in standing in to throw a pass knowing he is about to be knocked silly by a linebacker.

I would humbly suggest we ought to be more careful in the way we use certain words.

The recent movie Saving Private Ryan is one that should be seen by every adult American at least once. The movie depicts the D-Day landings and the kind of action that typified the following days. It is a visceral and brutal homage to the sacrifices made by so many young men in the service of their country.

Scenes at the beginning and end of the movie take place in the American cemetery near Colleville-sur-mer. The cemetery sits right on the bluffs above Omaha Beach, looking down on what was Easy Red sector. The name was half right.

My wife and I visited this cemetery a few years ago. What a solemn experience. After leaving the bus in the parking lot, we passed through a protective ring of trees, and there came upon row after row after row of gleaming white crosses and Stars of David. Nearly 10,000 are buried in this cemetery, which is laid out in the form of a Latin cross.

The grounds are immaculate. The hedges are neatly trimmed, the grass carefully clipped, the water in the reflecting pool clean. The serene beauty of that hallowed place is a seductive contrast to the unspeakable ugliness that laid those men in their graves.

We walked the paths, and looked down on the beautiful beach, and I thought what a debt we owe. So many of my fellow Americans went through such anguish and terror just to stand where I was standing then. And this cemetery represents just one small corner of the war, the casualties from a few weeks of fighting in NW France. How many other battlefields are there? How many other wars have there been in our history? How many other cemeteries are there that hold the remains of soldiers that fought so I wouldn't have to?

As the vivid colors of the present pale into shades of gray, as memories of the deeds of generations of American soldiers gently fade into the past, may we never take for granted the freedom we enjoy in this country. May we always remember the price so many paid for that freedom.

I don't deny it takes willpower and discipline for a football player to limp out onto the field with a sprained ankle and play with the pain. But the next time you are on your comfortable couch and you hear such a performance described as courageous, just remember what happened on a Norman beach that Tuesday morning in June 1944.

After hours at sea, thousands of young men climbed over the side of their transports, and in the pitching seas descended into the landing craft. When the boats reached the shore, the ramps went down, and the world those soldiers knew changed forever.

Many were shot down before they even left their boats. Many drowned in the ocean under the weight of their equipment. Machine guns, mortar shells, and German artillery turned Omaha Beach into a killing field. Bodies and pieces of bodies were everywhere. Those who saw Omaha later that day said they could almost walk across the beach without touching the sand.

But those who survived the initial hell made their way across the beach to take shelter at the seawall and beneath the cliffs. Wet, cold, many of them wounded, without a coherent command structure, the broken bodies of their comrades and brothers all around; those soldiers could have given up. They didn't. In small groups they blew holes in the wire, made their way through minefields, climbed the bluffs and secured the beachhead.

That is courage.

(I wrote this in 1999. I post it here in honor of those serving in our Armed Forces, and in harm's way.)


Here is Michael Yon's latest post, Gates of Fire. It describes the action that wounded LTC Kurilla, commander of the Deuce Four.

Devour it. Inhale it. Don't fight that twisty feeling in your gut as you read about the visceral action, it proves you are still human, and still value human life. Ask yourself what you would do in that situation. In a split second, when lives are on the line, what would you do? Would you run into the face of fire?

It almost makes me want to weep when I contemplate the courage and professionalism of these men. What did this country do to deserve such men serving in her defense?

Some time ago, I wrote about courage, and I'm going to post it here, in honor of LTC Kurilla, his men, and all those like them.

That terrorist, Khalid Jasim Nohe, wants you dead, too. He can't hurt you now, because brave men chased after him on foot, cornered him, ran into a dark room and with their bare hands took him out.

What kind of people do you want speaking for you, defending you? The peace activists I wrote about in my previous post, the ones with their hand circles of dreamy prayer energy? Or men like LTC Kurilla, the men of the Deuce Four, and all those like them in our Armed Forces?

Courage is now posted here.

Michelle Malkin says what I've been thinking, Yon deserves a Pulitzer.
Mark Tapscott also gets it right, Yon is doing the best reporting out there.
Captain Ed has some wise words about detaining terrorists, and keeping them detained.

Our house is a very very very fine house

Among the many attractions down in Crawford at the Sheehan 3-Ring Media Circus is the Crawford Peace House.

A search of the Web Archive indicates this Peace House goes back to 2003. A version of their page from 2003 says the Crawford Peace House "offers a culturally diverse environment for spiritual growth and intellectual understanding that gives hope to humanity by providing peaceful alternatives to war."

If you click the "How To Protest" button on that 2003 page, you are taken to a page that simply lists some motels in the Crawford area. Apparently when Tom Bodett said he'd leave the light on for us at Motel 6, he meant a peace candle.

Heck, I could become a peace activist if all I had to do is shack up in a motel for a weekend.

The list of motels is below a quote from Margaret Mead. The quote says "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has".

And apparently a small group of thoughtful, committed housekeepers can change all the sheets in these motels. Inded, they're the only people who ever have.

The page does helpfully warn you, too, that your protest might need to be scheduled around Baylor football games.

Ok, enough mirth at the expense of the Crawford Peace House.

Why do I bring all this up? Well, to point out that as far back as 2003, the Peace House was a friend of the activist Left. It should not be a surprise, then, that the Peace House just happened to find itself agreeing with Cindy Sheehan's politics when she came to Crawford.

If you click the Chronicles button on that same 2003 page, you see a list of events from that year, including day of "prayer" on 9/11/2003, where "people from around the world of all faiths have joined together in a sacred circle - an energy circuit of prayer for God's power to flow wherever it is needed, uniting our hearts and minds, to raise the spiritual consciousness of humankind."

Another event that year featured Hadi Jawad, of the Dallas Peace Center, as a speaker. The Dallas Peace Center is affiliated with the Crawford Peace House, and at this page, Jawad is called the "vice president and board member of the Dallas Peace Center". Also, he is referred to as "a board member of the Crawford Peace House". Jawad has been very much present in the various circus acts lately. He is no friend of Israel, and here, Jawad seems to think the US is the one who destabilized Iraq, it being such a stable paradise under Saddam Hussein. Here is a conversation with him just a few days ago, where he talks about the current goings-on in Crawford.

But, see, this is where I get confused. I don't see the Peace House uniting a lot of hearts and minds. Quite to the contrary. Here is an example of what the Peace House was up to in March 2004. (This image came from the Peace House site.) Apparently we're over there in Iraq to colonize the place.

In fact, Sheehan herself and the whole anti-war Left must have missed out on the whole uniting hearts and minds thing, given some of things they have said. (Warning: Link contains some foul language.)

(Update: Kentucky Dan points me to a Citizen Smash story dated September 9, 2004, where activists from the Dallas Peace Center harrassed the family of a fallen soldier. The mother left in tears. Read this:

Peace Activists Harass Gold Star Mother

SGT. CHAD DRAKE was killed in Baghdad three days ago. So when his family learned of a candlelight vigil in honor of our fallen soldiers to be held in their hometown of Dallas, they thought it would be a good way to begin the healing process.

As it turns out, they were wrong.

Drake's mother was "harassed and yelled at, booed and hissed, told her son died for nothing," the message read.

Drake's mother reportedly left the event in tears.

The family attended the vigil because they thought it was meant to honor U.S. casualties. The event was organized by the Dallas Peace Center, which opposes the war.

Anti-war, or just on the other side?

Yep, a lot of hearts and minds were united there.)

Now, I don't begrudge Sheehan and the Peace House their right to disagree with President Bush. It's a perfectly reasonable position to be troubled by all the casualties in Iraq. It is not unreasonable to be against war.

(I am not all gung-ho about war in general, I just see the necessity of it.)

However, I never hear the anti-war Left talk much about the nature of the people we are fighting in Afghanistan, Iraq, and around the world.

Perhaps the good folks at the Peace House are unaware of what the terrorists did in this house in Fallujah. I'm not sure if there is a way to make torture peaceful. Perhaps it was the kind of "intellectual understanding" the Peace House advocated in 2003 that enabled the terrorists to figure out sand could be used to soak up all the blood that resulted from the torture that went on there. Perhaps the only hope the humanity that suffered there had was that they would die quickly.

Perhaps the good folks at the Peace House are also unaware of this particular torture house. Perhaps the men found there, the ones who said "that they had been tortured with electric shocks and flogged with a strip of rubber for more than two weeks", thought the only "small group of thoughtful, committed citizens" they wanted to see was a platoon of well armed United States soldiers.

For it is these brave US soldiers who stand between us and these terrorists. It is our soldiers doing battle with these murderers every day in Iraq.

Yet, Sheehan claims Bush is the "world's biggest terrorist". I am really unsure just what units of measurement she is using, so that Bush comes out ahead of the people who deliberately blow up children.

In the end, it doesn't really matter. Sheehan can be dismissed. The philosophy that guides the Peace House, though, cannot. Until they can explain to me why their can't we all just love one another and get along way would turn these terrorists into fat, docile lumps sitting in their Iraqi barcaloungers sipping goat's milk, I really don't give a flying fig that their "dream is to create beautiful gardens conducive to prayer and meditative reflection, as well as facilities for ecumenical worship and study."

This is a fight to the death. Theirs or ours. It's for keeps. When will the anti-war Left face this evil that is loose in the world? When will they face it and say no, this must be stopped?

There is no persuading these terrorists through syrupy talks of peace. If you sat down in front of them in a protest, like some dusty relic of the 60s, the terrorists would likely rush at you, take you to the basement of some house and saw your head off with a knife. Your final sobs and blood-choked gurgles would be the feature attraction in a macabre snuff film, a favored recruiting tool in terrorist circles. What kind of twisted person takes pride in pointing to something like that and saying to someone else, "Hey, look what I can do!"?

The truth of the answer to that question has already hit home.

One sunny morning in September, 2001, moms and dads and sons and daughters left their houses and went to work, as they usually did. But this wasn't a usual morning. Before the morning had barely begun, many of them, instead of joining hands in some sacred circle to form an energy circuit of prayer, joined hands and jumped to their deaths to avoid the burning upper floors of the World Trade Center.

The terrorists don't care what the good people of Crawford Peace House think. When will the folks camped out in Crawford realize that?

Strata-Sphere comments on Sheehan's return to Crawford.
Betsy Newmark comments the radical Left might be having a negative effect in Democratic politics. (Via George Will)
Mark Noonan at Blogs for Bush also looks at the Left's embrace of Sheehan.
Joe Katzman, at Winds of Change, does not let Sheehan off the hook, in an amusing way.
The Belmont Club has a bang spot-on take on these cancerous terrorists.
The Anchoress wonders how the radical Left will affect Hillary's future plans.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Getting it from both sides

Hard to port, Mr. Sulu.

During the panel segment of Tuesday's Special Report with Brit Hume, Hume said he had received a press release stating some AIDS activists were going to Crawford to join the Cindy Sheehan circus. (Hume did not say who sent the press release.)

Does this not say something about some of the more, uh, red-eyed elements of the Left?

Does this not say that the carnival in Crawford really isn't about a grieving mother? That these lefty groups down there are, dare I say it, capitalizing on a mother's grief for political gain?

What does AIDS possibly have to do with Sheehan and war in Iraq?

Then again, it being a carnival, we've got just about everybody hanging out in Crawford except for Puke and Snot.

Among the folks either there, or who have glommed onto this, is Joan Baez!

Joan Baez! Ah, the glory days of the 60s are here again. When Joan Baez shows up, you know something more than letting a mother grieve in her own private way is going on.

Reverse thrusters. Hard to starboard, Mr. Sulu.

On Monday, Pat Robertson said that the United States should assassinate Hugo Chavez, President of Venezuela, in order to prevent Venezuela from becoming a "launching pad for communist influence and Muslim extremism".


Do we even need to bother acknowledging this a dumb thing to say? It's an even dumber thing for Pat Robertson to say.

Let me say, I am a conservative Christian. I am no Robertson hater, and I'm not a big fan either, I don't pay much attention to him, but sometimes Robertson seems to have the political skills of a potato. He must know foes are lying in wait for him in the tall grass, waiting for him to say something this tinny.

I bring this up, however, to illustrate something about the media. CNN practically went wall to wall with this. This! Pat Robertson! For the love of pete, Robertson ran for President in, what, 1988? Sweet blessed Jane, CNN hears the name "Pat Robertson" and flecks of foam start appearing around their mouths. Look, a Christian figure saying something stupid!! Run with it! No excuse is too thin to commence with Christian flogging. Who, outside of political junkies, even knows who Robertson is anymore?

I wrote about this a few years ago, when Senator McCain was running for President. At the time, I wrote:

Enemies of the religious right continue to make the mistake that the religious right is a homogeneous group, and that Robertson and Falwell speak for them all. The truth is there are a great many people in this country who consider themselves conservative and Christian, and who have no connections whatsoever to Robertson and Falwell. These people, though, hear such attacks as aimed at them personally. McCain's strategy of angering a significant portion of the Republican base is a misguided way to pursue the Republican nomination, and indeed, he has now dropped out of the race.

The national media and the secular world tend to view the religious right as something resembling a grape, a squishy body centered around a nut in the middle, and the only good that comes from it is when it dies and rots.

CNN really couldn't care less about Chavez. And they really don't care that Robertson gave Chavez and his thugocracy down there a chance to take the focus off their strong arm tactics and put it on some minor figure in the United States.

No, CNN put the pedal to the metal and revealed what it really thinks about those Christians. Again.

Note to CNN: Robertson does not speak for all Christians. He doesn't even speak for most Christians. He is not the central brain of the Great Hive Mind that sends all us Christians our preprogrammed instructions for the day. What he said wasn't even particlarly Christian.

What's the difference between these two tales of wackiness? As the Lileks link shows, there are many on the Left who were sick the day the debating team went over the finer points of rhetoric and argument, such as don't use profanity, and don't call your opponent a sick twisted perverted lying sack of Nazi crap. And as the scorecard in Crawford shows, it's all about opposing Bush, because he's one of them Christians, ya know. The American Taliban, and all that.

Whereas on the Right, I'll bet you a shiny new quarter there won't be too many people defending Robertson.

The Left is at its most exercised when it is reacting to the Right's values. The Right is at its most exercised when it is defending its own values.

The Democratic Party and its liberal allies are going to be confined to smaller and smaller blue enclaves unless it develops its own positive message, and figures out if it stands for anything.

(btw, I want history to note that as I write this, I am, in fact, in my living room and in my pajamas.)

Captain Ed is certainly not defending Robertson.
Protein Wisdom runs through Mr. Robertson's neighborhood.
Sister Toldjah is not surprised by too much of the Robertson flap.
Matt Margolis looks at some of Cindy Sheehan's newfound friends.
Hugh Hewitt states these kinds of protests are a relic of the past.
Michelle Malkin reports Cindy Sheehan is going back to Crawford. (Via The Buzz)
Outside the Beltway says Robertson's comments aren't new.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Dispatch from the Front

I'd like to begin another new feature, where from time to time I will share with you some dispatches from the front.

I know someone currently fighting in Iraq, and with his permission, I'll share with you some excerpts of his emails. He's a thoughtful fellow, and I think you'll appreciate hearing the perspective of someone in the thick of it.

Just to avoid any security concerns, I won't name him, I won't say how I know him, and I won't say what unit he's in, or what he's doing there. No need to make things easy for the bad guys, who have access to the Internet too.

The big news from Iraq today was the Iraqi Constitution. Certainly there's a question as to the outcome of this adventure. Will the Sunnis participate in the political process? The Kurds and Shiites have an interest in protecting their advantages, their positions of authority, but what do the Sunnis want? Are they just trying to take as many bodies with them as they can, or do they actually think they might regain power, even though the Kurds and especially Shiites greatly outnumber them?

My correspondent says:

The sunnis first and foremost are complete idiots. By hanging on to the bankrupt dream of the baath party returning, they kept themselves out of any good chances for obtaining a piece of the pie, at least in the short term.

If anything, it's a good thing the us has been here to try and at least give them a fair shake otherwise they would have been crushed over a year ago.

This situation is similar to the collapse of soviets. All the satellites scrambled over to the EU and Nato. And the ruskies were shocked and disappointed. Did they delude themselves? Such poor treatment for so long should really be no surprise to find they want nothing to do with the russians. Likewise, The kurds and shia tribes never again want to entrust their safety and prosperity to the dubious good graces of the al tikriti tribes of this world.

I dont think the arabs are sophisticated enough to look the ground truth of reality in the face and call it what it is. They ALWAYS obfuscate and say everything will be fine. It's not just saddams propoganda that caused baghdad bob to say the ridiculous things he did during the invasion, the entire muslim world thinks this way, ie, muslims all over thought they, iraq, were going to fight hard and long and indeed the sudden collapse so shocked them it caused muslims everywhere to impugn their 'honor'. i know, i talked to alot of diffrerent types about this.

Arabs never say what they mean, many cultures are like this. Bad form and all, or from an anthropology standpoint it's just how a culture does things.

few cultures are like the americans, where we are so harshly abrupt, direct, and to the point and we get right down to business. those traits are valued by us but not always by others.

Ah, the sunnis, last year, many started tentative feelers-steps to see what they could do about coming in from the cold so to speak. rumsfeld and some other generals recently alluded to this in open news about a month ago? there've been many talks. not much fruit borne yet however.

But alot of sheiks and baathists and whatnot realized they might be better off trying it the american way because, lo and behold, these idiot clowns realized; they don't have an army anymore?! Wow, news flash, if they wanted to rise up and dominate the others, well, lets just say I had and still hope they try it because the pesh and southern militias would slaughter them, and that would pretty much take care of 99% of this insurgency. The others got a huge amount of firepower, the pesh even have tanks now, the sunnis got didley and squat. and didley left town.

The 'real' problem is iran and most elite sunnis know it! Its like after ww2 and many nazis expected the us to join forces and fight the russian commies, the 'real' big problem. when it didnt happen(although albeit it did with a cold type of conflict) they were surprised. many baathists should have-could have joined us in the struggle to keep out the greater menace of the influence of the ancient nemisis, the persians. but they didn't.

Now, irony of ironies, the sunnis have been pleading with the us to ensure their voice and concerns are met in this latest debate over the constitution. Ha! If they weren't so busy planning and attacking and causing mayhem then maybe they might have some resources and energy left to build towards a good future. But no.

Good riddance to them I say. We need to control the rise of the shia wackos who want to create a little iran here. But, unfortunately, that's the brits area and they acqueisced long long ago and its quite clear to all involved who quickly consolidated power and the us has much less influence in that region so we can't do much about it in the short term.

the good news, if any down there, is the iraqis are primarily arabs and have some type of national pride so the mullahs in iran have limits (although money buys alot of friends, influence, and intell. just ask the israelis) this was demonstrated in the iran-iraq war. the persians were surprised their shia brothers throughout the muslim world didnt rally to their revolutionary cause, indeed, the entire muslim world actually kind of ganged up on them(at the behest of the saudis who kind of call the shots being caretakers of islam and all) I am continually amazed at how the us media always seem to be a day late and a dollar short. maybe its a factor of my not having time to surf all the alternative outlets but the mainstream continually 'just doesnt get it'.

I always appreciate hearing from my correspondent, but more importantly, I admire and respect the job he, his unit, and all Americans are doing there. We salute them.

In the next dispatch, I want to look at combat, and some thoughts from the viewpoint of both combatant and those of us on the homefront.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Blog Prostimotion

I was talking with a friend of mine today, Paul, about how trying to make one's blog more visible, and find readers, is a whole lot like trying to get one's fiction published, and in front of a readership.

It's been awhile since I bequeathed to the world a new word, so I'll give you one now.


It refers to how trying to get linked on other sites, and getting to know other bloggers, people who don't know you, have never seen you, and who wouldn't be able to pick you out of a field of cabbage is not really promotion, it feels more like prostitution mixed with a little glucose and xantham gum. Hence, prostimotion.

It sums up how you have to tart yourself up, parade around in front of strangers, hoping you'll catch their eye, and that they'll want to sample more of your wares.

Here's a bit of our conversation on promoting one's blog.

Paul: You could just take out a billboard and put your URL on it.

Me: Oh, yeah, I might as well include a photo of myself wearing frilly underthings and my face caked in rouge and makeup.

Silliness aside, I appreciate those of you who do stop by and those who have left feedback.


We're going to start a new feature today, called Dis-Strib-Ute. It will examine, for good or for ill, articles in the Star Tribune, one of our two large local newspapers. I could be dissing the Strib, I could just be paying them a tribute.

Among local conservatives, the Star Tribune is sometimes affectionately known as the Red Star, a clue to its political bent.

Others keep a close eye on the Strib. Power Line has been especially helpful in this respect.

My goal is not to outdo Powerline. T'would be beyond my reach. My goal is the same as the one I have for the rest of the blog, to find points of view that may have slipped by the notice of others.

(Regrettably, registration may be required to view the articles I link to, but I'll provide excerpts.)

Northwest mechanics go on strike

The mechanics of Northwest Airlines went on strike Saturday night. The Strib has had extensive coverage, but not surprisingly, its coverage slants in favor of the striking union workers.

In this article, there were two man-on-the-street quotes from passengers:

A couple returning from New York said they saw no disruptions to their flight: "We were early," said Juliet Glass of Minneapolis. "Totally supportive of the mechanics' right to strike. Happy that we didn't get delayed," said Jeff Lomonaco.


Brancatelli said the company's reports that it is operating normally with replacement mechanics shouldn't be taken at face value.

"They'll say anything if they think they can get away with it," he said.

Now, were there no pro-NWA statements to be found?

The Strib also has had several anguish-and-despair articles, looking at how the strike will affect union workers. To be fair, the Strib isn't the only media outlet that does this. This is standard operating procedure for the media. I think they have templates all ready to go, they just fill in the names. The templates are the standard "how will we pay for health care?", "what will we do for salary?" angles.

Here's just a sample:

A retired Northwest pilot who now owns about 300 apartments in Minneapolis, Hansen said he usually hires university students, "but I'm acutely aware that these people are going to have to make their first COBRA payment on the first of September" -- referring to their monthly health insurance premiums.

Here is another:

Like many Northwest mechanics, Ross Hunter, 53, has spent the past two years getting his personal finances in order. He paid off his auto loans and his credit card debt, and each month he contributed a small amount of his pay to an emergency cash fund in case a layoff or strike occurred.

Hunter also has several Harley Davidson motorcycles that he could sell "as a last resort," he said, in case he runs short on cash. "Northwest has been laying people off for the past four years, so we've had lots of time to prepare for this," he said.

Mark Herboldt, 39, a lead mechanic at Northwest, is among those who plan to find other work during the strike. In June, he got his general contractor's license. His plan is to spend mornings walking the picket line and afternoons renovating houses.

However, nowhere in the Strib's coverage will you find an in-depth look at the issue from the perspective of Northwest's management. What are the difficulties of running an airline in today's environment? What are the realities?

Political Talk-show radio ratings down in the Twin Cities

This is an interesting article. Here's the gist of it:

Many Twin Cities listeners are switching the dial from political talk radio to sports oriented shows.

Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh has lost 43 percent of his Twin Cities audience between the ages of 25 and 54 in the past year. Sean Hannity lost 63 percent of his local audience.

At KSTP-AM, which carries both syndicated programs, "we're weighing where these shows fit for us in the future,'' said Todd Fisher, the station's general manager.
KFAN's afternoon lineup of Dan (Common Man) Cole, Chad Hartman and Dan Barreiro post audience gains of 24 to 32 percent. But on KSTP, Limbaugh's show, which had 7.6 percent share of listeners between 25 and 54 in spring of 2004, had 4.3 percent this spring. The numbers for the Sean Hannity show dropped from 6.3 to 2.3 percent. Ratings for Joe Soucheray's popular "Garage Logic,'' which airs after Limbaugh's show, also dropped.

Now, it is a sad commentary on the Strib's reputation that I can't trust if I'm getting the whole story from the paper. For instance, are Limbaugh and Hannity up in other demographics?

Still, I'm sure the article does reflect a significant trend in the area. My comment is this: The reason I don't listen to much political talk radio anymore, if any, is that the blogs have taken over that niche for me. I can get the information and analysis I enjoy from the blogs, and in a convenient way. I have a day job, and usually am unable to listen to the Limbaugh and Hannity programs, while the blogs are just waiting for me on the Web, whenever I can get to them. Perhaps this is a factor in the change in talk radio.

Belly up to the bar

I meant to say something about this a few days ago.

An infrared study of the galaxy indicates the Milky Way galaxy (our galaxy) probably has a well defined bar.

This is pretty big news! While there have been indications before, to confirm it is a big discovery.


The list will be familiar to anyone who has spent any time around the New Testament: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, Self-Control. If we donít run across Paulís description in Galatians 5:22-23 of the fruits of the Spirit in Christianity 101, we certainly pick them up the next semester in Christianity 102.

However, Iíd guess most of us gloss over the last one in that list. The first eight we have no problem with. Of course they are the result of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Such attributes of the Christian character bubble up from within, and only by the Spiritís transforming power do we become a wellspring from which these same characteristics of God pour forth out of us. But self-control? What is that doing in the list?

If asked about self-control outside the context of a discussion of the fruits of the Spirit, our inclination would not be to describe it as something that bubbles up from within. Rather, we might blindly assume self-control is something that is imposed from without. Largely through our own strength, we clamp down on our sinful tendencies with sheer willpower. It is control of the self, after all. Inside each of us there is a howling beast in a cage. It hurls itself at the bars of the cage, it rages at us, screams for release, and we had better do all we can to keep the door of that cage shut.

There is another way in which self-control is set apart from the other fruits. The first eight fruits imply a relationship with someone or something beyond ourselves. Their promise can only be fulfilled in another. We love someone else, we are patient with someone else, we are kind to someone else, and so on. Joy and Peace are buffers against the constant incoming pressures of a fallen world. Self-control, on the other hand, is utterly inward-looking.

The question remains then, why is self-control mentioned as one of the fruits of the Spirit? Are we sure it wasnít tacked on to the end of the list by some guilt-ridden scribe in a cold Byzantine scriptorium?

Some authors and commentators on this passage state the inclusion of self-control in the list of spiritual fruits means the Holy Spirits assists us as we work to master control of ourselves. I believe that view to be in error because it still leaves us as the agent of change. This view says we may get a helping hand from the Spirit, but in the end we still must wrestle ourselves to the ground and coerce our will from without.

Otherwise, why would any of the other fruits be any different? We wouldnít think that we could imprint a spirit of love on ourselves. We wouldnít think that we could just make ourselves patient and kind with a little kick from the Holy Spirit. Such changes can only come from being renewed by a holy God.

Instead, I believe that self-control is a fruit of the Spirit precisely because we cannot do it on our own. We are ultimately powerless against that beast in the cage. The truth is there is no lock on the cage. We may push against the door with all our might till our muscles tremble with the strain, but we are puny, and the beast is free to swat us aside and open the door and leave when it wishes. I believe the fruit described as self-control is not a type of power but is really just another term for the New Creature Paul talks about in II Corinthians 5:17.

Let me start by making an assumption. Hold on, I hear you saying. You canít base an argument on assumption. Itís like trying to get a circus elephant to stand on a Styrofoam cup. You cannot rest one on the other. You could simply assume the moon is made of cheese, and then argue the reason the moon shines milky white in the night sky is because it is really just a giant hunk of camembert.

Fair enough, I say. But I donít think Iím going too far out on a limb when I say Iíll assume the Holy Spirit didnít make a mistake by inspiring Paul to include self-control as one of the fruits of the Spirit. Though different from the other fruits self-control may seem, it is there for a reason.

Yet another distinguishing characteristic of this fruit is that the Greek word behind what is translated as self-control, or temperance in some translations, is not used elsewhere in the New Testament much at all. The word, egkrateia, is used in Acts 24:25 in describing what Paul witnessed to Felix about, and it is used in II Peter 1:6 where Peter describes, step-by-step, how we might attain the grace and peace God intends for us. This Greek word comes from a root, egkrates, that is used in Titus 1:8 to describe a leader in the church.

These few passages are thin gruel on which to feed notions that we develop self-control on our own with helpful hints whispered to us by the Holy Spirit.
The key to understanding why self-control is a fruit of the Spirit lies in understanding the work of the Spirit. As is made abundantly clear in the New Testament, (see Ephesians 2:8-9 for instance), we in no way bring about our own salvation. Paul writes in Titus 3:5-6 that our salvation flows from Jesus Christís sacrifice on the cross through the working of the Holy Spirit, who was sent by the Father, and the work of the Holy Spirit is to make us new creatures. This passage speaks of transformation and renewal. We are reborn, we were dead in sin but are now alive in Christ.

Just what is it that is being renewed and transformed? It is our sinful nature. In describing to Nicodemus what it meant to be born again, Jesus himself said in John 3:5,6 that only those born of the Spirit can enter the kingdom of God, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. In other words, we cannot change our fallen natures by ourselves. Only the Holy Spirit can do that.

At the beginning of Romans 12, in verses 1 and 2, the great hinge in Romans where Paul proceeds from his great doctrinal discussion to application, Paul says therefore, we are to present ourselves as living sacrifices, holy. In the Old Testament, animals presented for the sacrifices were to be pure, without defect, the best. And so, in verse 2 Paul says we remain pure and holy by not conforming to this world, and we can only do that by, there it is again, transformation and renewal.

Paul is describing this very process in Galatians 5 where he talks about the fruits of the Spirit. In 5:16, Paul says to walk in the Spirit so that we do not walk in the flesh. In verse 17, he says the flesh and Spirit war against each other. In verse 18, he says we are to be led by the Spirit.

How do the flesh and the Spirit war against each other? Verses 19 through 21 describe how wicked we can be in our sinful state. These are the works of that raging beast within us. It is at this point, then, where Paul says ďbutĒ. But here are the fruits of the Spirit.

Have you followed me through all the dot-connecting? In our sinful state, we are exceedingly wicked. We cannot possibly hope to save ourselves or to change ourselves by ourselves. Only the Holy Spirit can change our hearts and make us a New Creature. What comes from being renewed? The fruits of the Spirit, one of which is self-control.

Therefore, self-control might be something of a misnomer. It is not really about us simply trying control our selves and doing the best we can with the help of the Spirit. Rather, this means we are a completely different person. Instead of a ravenous, raging, sinful beast in our heart, there is the peace and warmth of the Spirit of God. We are no longer slaves to the sinful life we led before. It holds no attraction for us anymore.

Itís as if Satan shows us an overflowing outhouse pit and asks us if we want to dive in. As New Creatures, we are reviled and disgusted by such a prospect, and it is now the most natural reaction to recoil from it. That is self-control! It is a completely different viewpoint on what is desirable, what is attractive. That which seemed right unto us before is now repulsive. Rather than trying to hold in the beast that wants to get out and embrace the sin, we now stand secure in the arms of the Spirit and we say no, we are no longer tempted by the decay and rot of sin.

Seen in that light, it now makes perfect sense that self-control is listed among the fruits of the Spirit. Like all the others in the list, self-control is something that becomes a part of us only when the Spirit renews us, cleans us out, and puts it there. When we are transformed like this, our old nature, that beast Iíve referred to, is put away, and we now reflect the nature, the personality, the characteristics of God Himself.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Context or Cnntext?

Do you know why AM and FM radio signals sound so different? Why FM sounds so much richer than AM? Aside from with one the amplitude is modulated, and with the other, the frequency is modulted, the key to the sound difference is how much bandwidth is used around the carrier signal. For an AM channel, the bandwidth used can be as low as 5 kHz. With FM, a channel can typically use 20 kHz around the carrier signal? Why is this important? Because the human ear has a range of about 20 kHz. Therefore, FM reproduces close to all the sounds a human ear can hear, and so has a much richer sound. We hear all those low bass notes, and shrill high notes. Since AM has a lower bandwidth, it doesn't reproduce the lower and higher sounds that make up a rich sound, the sound of the world we live in, which is why AM has that certain sound.

Have you ever noticed in cast photos in a theater review in a newspaper, where the cast is close together, how goofy the people often look? They have exaggerated expressions, they are contorted in odd positions. It does not look the least bit natural. Yet, when we go see the play in person, the cast doesn't seem at all odd. This is because the photo is not showing us everything. We don't see the entire theater, we don't see the cast in relation to the theater. The cast seems so much smaller when in the theater, and so their expressions and movements are appropriate to that scale, whereas in these kinds of photos, they are all we see, and things are magnified beyond their intended context.

At this point, you're wondering why I am talking about any of this. You're wondering because you have no context in which to set this discussion. Let me give you the context, and this will make much more sense.

On Friday, Power Line had a terrific article that perfectly summed up the problems we conservatives often have with the mainstream media (MSM). Take a look at the article.

It takes a different view of the media circus that surrounded Cindy Sheehan down in Texas, a view you have not seen in the MSM. The article shows supporters of President Bush, people who do not agree with what Sheehan was doing near Crawford, Texas.

The reason the MSM never showed you any of this is because they had an agenda. This was the anti-war Left's dream come true. A mother who had lost a son in war. As Maureen Dowd wrote, who could have more moral authority than that? Or so thought the anti-war groups that glommed on to Sheehan. What a perfect stick with which to beat Bush, and his Iraq policy.

And since the MSM largely agrees with these groups, they aren't going to show you anything that takes away from the message that Bush is wrong and the world's biggest terrorist. (Warning: this link has some foul language.)

The problem is this, the media is not giving us the entire context. Like with AM signals, or cast photos in theater reviews, important details are chopped off on all sides, and without them, it is impossible for us to fully understand the great matters before us.

Instead of using a mother's grief, why not take a look at what we're accomplishing in Iraq, how things might have different had the US not invaded, what things might be like with a democracy in Iraq. Look at why it is important to stay in Iraq, and not cut and run, as Sheehan wants us to do.

Yesterday I received an email from someone I know in Iraq who had just heard about the Sheehan mess. He was upset that some are suggesting we should just abandon Iraq and bring everyone home now, with the job still undone. Here are a few excerpts:

What I do have a very personal interest in this debate is thus: Premature drawdown/evacuation/withdrawl/cut and run of US troops that have already been committed to battle and war. I am extremely incensed that, as a volunteer, i ASKED for this job and so did all the rest in some fashion or another. the risk of combat was there before they raised their right hand and swore to defend our country and constitution and obey orders of our leaders) I am expected to be willing to hang my butt out in the cool iraqi breeze to get blown off in combat but then to have to face the possibility [we might] cut and run before finishing a stated task to accomplish, well, that just fires me up like you would not or can not ever know unless you have been in similar circumstances. How galling! All I, and most others, ask is for support and to have our sacrifice count for something.
In conclusion, America, don't send me to war or allow it to happen as a voter if you are just going to get cold feet a year or two or three into a hard and difficult circumstances. I want to know my risks might pay off for someone else someday.

Have you heard that sentiment expressed from anyone interviewed around the Sheehan camp? No, the MSM refuses to put everything in context. Good things are being accomplished in Iraq. Why doesn't the MSM present this side as well? Why does the MSM keep chopping off bits and pieces of the stories we see and hear?

Sachi, posting at Captain's Quarters, wonders who Sheehan speaks for.
Dr. Sanity examines some of the attitudes on the Left towards soldiers.
Vox Taciturn reminds of something else we don't hear much about.
Betsy Newmark has another reminder that the anti-war Left, the ones who supposedly "support our troops", don't really think about what their message says to our soldiers.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Sailing into the weekend

Ah. Let's close out with some lighter blogging, shall we?

One day this week when I dropped the kids at Sue's house, I had the air conditioner on, and when we got out of the truck, John saw condensation dripping underneath from the AC. He said "Are you running out of gas? Is it leaking?" Heh.

Last night I was going into the bathroom, and John ran in ahead of me, so I went back out and waited. Hanna saw that and said "Do you have to go, or you'll pee your pants?" Hee.

Often Hanna will say "Don't be clue!" I think she means "cruel", though!

I got the jungle mowed tonight. Took it over to the compost heap. Now ready to tackle the weekend with the kids. Good night, Cleveland!

Update: Saturday morning we went to the Como Park Zoo. Hanna especially liked seeing the animals, some up close. We saw the Sparky show again. And of course, went on some carnival rides. The kids just loved that.

As always, best advice is to get there pretty close to 10 am, when it opens. If you don't, good luck finding parking in the park on beautiful Saturdays like this.

Update II: Saturday evening, after supper, we put the kids' bikes in the van and went over to Pioneer Park, that forested area just off of Main Street, NE of us. They've paved the central path through, (all the other trails are still dirt) so we thought we'd walk through and the kids could ride their bikes. Well, we got to teh back of the park, at the point where we turned around, and John started crying. He said he was scared of the forest. (We were in a ways, and could only see trees). He rode back to the van ahead of us. He went all the way to the van, left his bike there, and walked back in till he ran into me, still crying. Bless his heart. I suppose something else related to his orphanage/sensory issues? A very unfamiliar place left him unsettled? He just wanted to go home, to something familiar.

And Iran, Iran so far away

In recent days there have been signs there might be an effort underway to prepare a foundation for possible action against Iran at some point in the future. Whether this action is military, economic, or diplomatic remains to be seen.

Iran is a charter member of the Axis of Evil. A hallmark of President Bush's policy since 9/11 is to wage a global war against terrorists, and Iran sits at the heart of the terror world. There will be no lasting success in the Global War on Terror unless Iran's support for terrorism is dismantled.

(By Iran's support, I mean the support from the regime in power in Iran. Much of the population in Iran yearns to be free, but they are kept in thrall by brutal tactics.)

However, very little has been done directly in confronting Iran. Military action is problematic, because the US military is stretched so thin in Iraq. Units are on their second and third deployments. Guard and reserve units are overtaxed. Non-combat units find themselves filling combat roles. The US cannot undertake a major military campaign in Iran at this time.

Now, with word that troop drawdowns are being contemplated in Iraq next year, perhaps the Bush Administration is starting to send signals to Iran that those troops might visit Iran, since they're already in the neighborhood.

(Intel Dump looks here at the usefulness of having bases in the region as part of the effort to confront Iran.)

What are those signals?

In his State of the Union address earlier this year, President Bush said "And to the Iranian people, I say tonight: As you stand for your own liberty, America stands with you."

These were not idle words. President Bush is well aware of the awful mistake his father made, when he indicated support would be forthcoming for the Shiites in early 1991 if they rebelled against Saddam. The Shiites rebelled, and US forces sat by and watched Saddam's goons slaughter the Shiites. President Bush surely would not want to make a similarly empty promise.

Recently there have been two reports of Iranian weapons being intercepted coming into Iraq. One shipment was intercepted by American forces, the other in British-controlled territory.

In fact, in the first story, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld revealed that Iranian arms have been found in Iraq on more than one occasion in recent months.

Why are we hearing about this now? Because this is one way to put pressure on a nation. By publicly stating 'we know what you're doing, Iran, and you know that we know', the US is putting down a stake in the sand, one everybody can see, and implying action might be taken if Iranian opposition continues.

In the Guardian article, there is this hilarious statement. "Iran has repeatedly denied any involvement in the insurgency or party politics in Iraq."

This is an utter, bald-faced lie. Iran has been deeply involved in Iraq. The invaluable Michael Ledeen has written about this (see here and here).

But why tell the lie? Who is the intended audience? Not the US government and military. Iran knows these entities are well aware of Iran's involvement in Iran.

No, the lie is said to give cover to the pathetic diplomatic negotiations between Europe and Iran, negotiations that feckless Europeans want to undertake in an effort to get Iran to stall its drive for nuclear weapons. Iran goes along with this diplunacy, and drags its feet, in an effort to buy time. By at least publicly appearing to be a good citizen next door to Iraq, the Iranian regime allows European diplomats to say look, we can work with Iran here. And all the while Iran's nuclear arms program continues. Tick tick tick.

Time magazine had a recent article on Iran's meddling in Iraq. It is a must read. The article recounts detailed plans Iran has made as far back as 2002 to affect events in Iraq.

(Hat tip to the valuable RegimeChangeIran blog.)

The article says some information in the article came from "a U.S. military-intelligence document obtained by Time". An interesting question is just how did this document come to be in the possession of Time. Was it leaked to Time, as part of an effort to ramp up the pressure against Iran?

Also, Time spoke to "a senior U.S. officer", and "military intelligence officers". Just how did these sources come to be available to Time? Were they deliberately allowed to speak to Time?

There's more. On August 12, President Bush said that "all options are on the table", if Iran doesn't bow to pressure and halt their nuclear program. Again, such phrases aren't used carelessly.

At an August 9 DoD press briefing, Rumsfeld said, about weapons coming into Iraq from Iran, "ultimately, it's a problem for Iran". Also, he said troop drawdowns could depend on whether Iran is "going to be helpful or unhelpful".

Again, pointed words to put Iran on notice. It matters what is said in public, because it indicates what you are willing to commit to. I hope much stronger things are being said in private, in tony salons in Washington, New York, and across Europe. But, in diplomacy words mean things, and public utterances are instructive.

However, there is a danger in this. The biggest club in the galaxy does you no good if everybody knows you will never use it.

Iran has been committing acts of war against the United States since 1979. Then, revolutionaries took our embassy, held hostage our diplomats and citizens for 444 days, and we did very little about it. (Never mind President Carter's failed mission with 8 helicopters.) What kind of message did that send? What kind of country allows its people to be held like this, with no response?

The message is: we're weak and vulnerable.

(Have you ever wondered why the Soviet embassy wasn't attacked? Perhaps because Iran saw signs of Russia's resolve, and their preparations for an invasion of Afghanistan, which would come a month later?)

And indeed, in 1983, Iran, through its client agent Hezbollah, blew up 241 of our Marines in Beirut.. This was not President Reagan's finest hour. America's response was to withdraw from Lebanon. What kind of message did that send? What kind of country allows its soldiers to be murdered like this, with no response?

The message is: we're weak and vulnerable.

Iran was involved in the attack on the Khobar Towers in 1996, an attack that killed 19 Air Force personnel.

While covert action was taken, another message was sent. The United States will not act publicly and militarily against Iran in response to these acts of war.

There are other examples of Iran's involvement in terrorism. Iran is named in the Axis of Evil for a reason.

President Bush and the United States government have now put a lot of chips on the table. If Iran calls our hand, will we respond with force? At this point, we have to. Over the past 25 years, we've already given Iran, and Al Qaeda, too many reasons to think we won't stand up to them. We cannot capitulate in this war against the terrorists. They will not stop. They have stated, explicitly, they want us dead. When will we believe them?

The Fourth Rail has no illusions about Iran's nature.
The Belmont Club correctly worries that the anti-war Left may have already made it impossible for the US to use military force against Iran.
Austin Bay points out a defensive capability is also useful.
Captain's Quarters looks at the inept European diplomatic effort.
Michael Ledeen has another excellent piece on Iran.
Hugh Hewitt links to a warning that things can get even worse in Iran.
The Counterterrorism Blog points out Iran is gathering its allies.
Michelle Malkin links to an article about the recent rocket attack on a US Navy ship. One wonders if Iranian weapons were used. (HT: Terrorism Unveiled)
Austin Bay links to a Strategy Page article that also wonders if Iranian weapons were involved.
California Conservative looks at diplomatic options.
Dan Darling has more excellent work, this one on Iran's involvement with Al Qaeda.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

The Twinkies

Just how good is Johann Santana? True, his current season might not be quite the equal of last year's Cy Young season, but he is the rock of the pitching staff.

He pitched last night, taking a 5-0 lead, and 4-hit shutout into the 9th inning. He gave up a home run to lose the shutout, but got the win. A much needed outing from Santana, as the night before, the Twinks and ChiSox went 16 innings, with both sides using all their pitchers. (Twins won 9-4). So, the Twins needed Santana to put in a lot of innings to give the bullpen a rest, and he delivered.

What's particularly admirable is that in Santana's last outing, August 12, Santana shut out Oakland 1-0, in a 3-hit shutout.

I still think the Twins don't have a chance for the wild card. (And don't let the fact the Twins just won 3 straight against the ChiSox make you think they have any kind of shot at the division!)

The pitching is good, but the offense is horrible. They couldn't swing their way through a sparse thicket of dry spaghetti noodles. And in one of the more disappointing aspects of Gardy's teams, the Twins continue to make awful base-running mistakes.

Well, you know my motto. We'll always have '87 and '91.

(What, you didn't know I like baseball? See here!)

The Gods must really be crazy

Some scientists have put forth the idea that wild African animals could be relocated to open spaces in the United States in an effort to preserve them.

As George Will would say: Well.

The article details some inherent flaws in the idea. Don't look for this to happen anytime soon. But it did get me to thinking.

Today, environmental leftys in the American west happily side with predators such as coyotes and wolves against ranchers who lose cattle and sheep to the predators.

But, if America turned into the Serengeti, it would only take one case of little J. Timmy Smythe-Worthington III going out to the backyard to play and getting carried off by a lion before the left would have an abrupt change of heart and suddenly feel it would be ok to control predators.

It all depends on whose ox is being gored. Or eaten.

On the up side, if large swaths of America became the Serengeti, wouldn't that make everyone living there Bush People?

In the Bullpen has some thoughts on the idea.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Did the Wall put us in danger?

As Captain Ed reports here, people in a position to know were keenly aware of the dangers of reducing the visibility of intelligence throughout the government.

A "wall" had been put in place, putting restrictions on how intelligence could be shared between law enforcement agencies and federal intelligence agencies.

This "wall" was certainly a reaction to the furor over the siege of the Branch Davidians in Waco, Texas, in 1993. There was concern that the involvement of federal troops might have violated the Posse Comitatus law. Though the FBI and BATF were the agencies running things on the ground, military units provided some support and logistics to the siege. (Under the rubric of "drug assistance". A little dodgy, if you ask me, and was part of the furor.)

A 1999 GAO report (PDF) concluded the support was legal, citing several statutes in Appendix II, starting on page 26. One statute cited explained "Section 1004 of the National Defense Authorization Act of 1991 authorized the Secretary of Defense to provide the support of active military units for the counterdrug activities 'of any other department or agency of the Federal Government or of any State, local, or foreign law enforcement agency.'" Another statute cited is the Reagan era 1981 law codified 10 USC 371-78.

These subtleties were generally lost on the public, though, and the political upheaval following the Waco siege was enormous.

The Posse Comitatus Act dates to the post-Civil War Reconstruction era, was intended to prevent Federal troops from acting as law enforcement officers. It arose out of a concern for Federal troops being present during elections in former Confederate states.

I mention this because the Branch Davidians were related, if in an indirect way, to a larger separatist movement. A history of this movement is beyond my reach, but such groups got a fair amount of attention in the 1990s. "Militias" were much in the news.

Going back further, one such group literally called themselves "Posse Comitatus". This group refused to recognize the authority of the federal government. In fact, they didn't recognize the authority of any law enforcement agency higher than county sheriff. As such, Posse members refused to pay taxes, they didn't recognize the obligation to get drivers licenses. They wanted a return to the gold standard, and didn't recognize the Federal Reserve. They saw themselves as "sovereign citizens".

This group became known nationwide when one of its members, Gordon Kahl, his son and a few others, resisted arrest and killed two federal marshals near Medina, North Dakota, on February 13, 1983. Kahl fled to Arkansas, where he was killed in a shootout on June 3, 1983, A local sheriff was also killed in that engagement.

(Ironically, the governor of Arkansas at the time was Bill Clinton. Did this and the Waco siege play a factor in the decision to put up the wall?

The first brick in the wall came in a March 1995 memo. Then, the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City happened in April 1995. The wall was then strengthened in a July 1995 memo. Again, were strong restrictions related to a fear of enflaming radical domestic parties with federal involvement?)

The Clinton Administration did not erect this wall solely out of a desire to assuage the sensitivities of these separatist groups. As was typical of President Clinton, there was a desire to avoid confrontation, to not ruffle feathers, to hide our eyes from what was going on in the world and pretend the danger wasn't real. The wisdom of that strategy become apparent on September 11, 2001.

Austin Bay calls for some presidential leadership on this issue.
Vox Taciturn has a summary here, and commentary here.
Patrick Ruffini comments on Clinton's fighting qualities.
The Anchoress is seeing pointillism where it doesn't belong.
Strata-Sphere points out the MSM is paying attention.
GOP Bloggers wonder if this will affect Hillary and her presidential hopes.
The Jawa Report has strong words for the Clinton Administration.
Right Wing Nut House has some thoughts on the military involvement at Waco.
Mark Tapscott looks at Gorelick's role in creating the wall.
Captain Ed takes another look at Gorelick's role.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Scientists are hardly the new priesthood

Over at NRO, David Klinghoffer has an account of a Smithsonian scientist, Richard von Sternberg, who is experiencing the wrath of his peers because he dared to publish something in a journal these scientists didn't agree with.

The article in question touches on Intelligent Design. One of the questions the paper looks at is why so many new body types appeared in a geologically short period of time, the so-called Cambrian Explosion. With no obvious ties to earlier forms, the paper suggests there may have been a Designer at work.

My point here is not to discuss the merits of ID, but rather to highlight this is hardly a rare case of "scientists" attacking people who hold ideas they don't agree with.

One of the hallmarks of the scientific process is that an hypothesis is put forward, the evidence is discussed, weighed, verified by others, or not, but in the end a debate takes place, and a consensus is arrived at concerning the validity of the hypothesis.

In this system, there should be no topics that are off limits. If an idea is wrong, it will become apparent as the evidence is discussed. Healthy debate is the foundation of science. Without it, erroneous conclusions can be reached.

Yet, as this story highlights, scientists are remarkably close minded when it comes to ideas that threaten their own tightly held beliefs. This is one of the things that surprised me the most as I walked the halls of scientific academia.

The public is often presented with the image of scientists as a priesthood, possessors of numinous knowledge. When panels of scientists are trotted out to the public at venues like NASA press conferences for various space exploration missions, I just shut the tv off. The public never gets a glimpse at the biases these people might have. One topic that particularly makes me want to throw bricks at the tv is the study of water throughout the solar system. Invariably, when you see these press conferences talking about water on Mars or some such place, a scientist will opine that the discovery of water may lead to signs of life on these other bodies.

The public never sees how this same scientist would react if faced with a differing opinion, one that says just perhaps we should closely examine the idea that if we pour a glass of water on the dirt, suddenly gardenias and mountain lions will leap forth. I promise you there will be no willingness on the part of this scientist to examine his or her beliefs.

(I should add, in this context, by examining one's beliefs I mean one should be willing to defend them.)

Certainly, at the bottom of it all is a refusal on the part of these scientists to acknowledge God, as Klinghoffer's article touches upon. Jesus knew this long ago, when he said in Mark 13:13, "You will be hated by all because of My name".

When I was in Iowa, I saw a similar scientific attack up close. This didn't involve God, or a belief in an Intelligent Designer, but it was a case of scientists refusing to foster an open debate on a controversial topic because it was something that went against firmly held beliefs.

In 1986 and 1987, Lou Frank, who was and still is a scientist in the University of Iowa Department of Physics and Astronomy, published papers postulating the existence of "dirty snowballs".

Frank and his colleagues were studying ultraviolet photos of auroras around the Poles. They noticed dark "holes" in the photos. After a great deal of work, they couldn't find any evidence that these holes were artifacts, or noise, and concluded they must be real.

Evidence of water vapor was found around these holes, and after more work, Frank published his paper saying the cause of these holes might be icy comets striking the Earth's atmosphere at a very surprising rate.

Granted, it was and still is a controversial idea, because these comets would need to be as big as a house in some cases, and would be striking the upper atmosphere at such a rate most other people believed these dirty snowballs would've been noticed long ago.

In 1997, Frank published data that seemed to support the existence of these dirty snowballs. Many did not consider the data conclusive, and many scientists believed the holes really were artifacts, and not real.

True, many scientist did engage in legitimate debate, and tested the evidence. But many scientists were downright vicious to Dr. Frank. Nobody was threatening to kill these scientists' families or anything, yet they reacted in remarkably personal ways.

I lost track of this debate after I left Iowa, so I'm not sure where things stand today, but the episode was just more evidence for me that scientists do not have a monopoly on the competition for Most Valued Members Of The Human Race. Far from it.

(Others commenting on the Klinghoffer article are ID The Future, Abednego at the Parableman blog, Telic Thoughts, Teleological, and Espresso Roast.
The Evangelical Outpost also has some related thoughts.)

In Search Of... II

It's time for a second installment of a new feature, In Search Of... These are some of the more amusing web searches that have stumbled across my blog. (The inaugural installment is here.)

kids getting tickled
can hf band used in remote control explosion
east coast agents looks headshot
the poopy river
janitor milking a woman story online
hanna's bum dance
What does Robert Wagner say about Samantha Smith
what is count on sesame streets obsession with counting called
quiet time on the patio
young and the restless recaps from may 22-26 2005
mp3 liverpool milan istanbul

Monday, August 15, 2005

The truth in fiction

It is not uncommon for some people to eschew fiction in favor of nonfiction. They say fiction is just made up, why spend time with something merely imagined, when one could read nonfiction, and learn about the real world, about things that really happened.

Such sentiments, however, miss the fact that the best fiction really is talking about the real world. It is simply real life with the names changed to protect the innocent, real life with the serial numbers filed off.

The best fiction involves us in the lives of characters who struggle with things we can identify with. In following the lives of these fictional characters with interest, we're really asking ourselves, what would I do in that situation? Or, we recognize situations from our own lives, and the empathetic connection is like healing balm.

In reading fiction we're not really reading about other people, we're reading about ourselves.

I write science fiction and fantasy, mostly because I appreciate the wide range of stories that can be told in those worlds. The worst of science fiction, though, forgets to tell us much about who we are. Star Trek is notorious for this. Star Trek would frequently try to bludgeon us over the head with what it is like to be human, oblivious to the fact that telling us that they are going to tell us what it's like to be human is not the same as showing us.

When I write, I have in mind a human story. There may be gee whiz space bangy things involved, but at the core of it, a human being is experiencing something we can identify with. The story I really want to tell is about people do. Science fiction is often called the genre of ideas, and to me that's a pejorative term. Who cares if the story is about what happens to space pencils when zapped with time exploding rays.

It's more important to use fiction as a way to explore who we are, the complicated beings that we are.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

This blessed union

Well, my employer and its union are still in contract talks. The deadline has come and gone, no agreement yet, but, at least they are still talking.

As such, hooray!, I didn't have to go work at 7 am this morning. Current word is to at least plan on going to work as normal on Monday, and see where things are at then.

I did still get up at 5:45 am this morning. Why? Because the hotline they have set up to give us information was, uh, not helpful. Because, this morning, the last message was at 12:05 am, five minutes after the contract expired, and said only they were still talking. Ok, so.... does that mean we still need to report in the morning? C'mon people, let's be clear! That hotline has one and only one purpose, to tell us what to do when the deadline came and went. Argh.

Here's why I don't like unions. They are mostly a me-first group that would willingly hurt their employer. They don't seem to understand the nature of the work relationship.

The employer wants to get some work done and succeed as a business, so they hire employees. They pay the employees, and in return the employees give their time and work. A simple arrangement. The business does not exist as a welfare program for the employee.

So, if the employee doesn't like the terms of the arrangement, they can just go somewhere else and work. If enough do so, eventually the employer figures out they need to improve what they offer. The free market at work. What employer wants employees that are out for themselves, who would hurt the company? Always amazes that the law lets workers do this sort of thing. This is not the 1930s. It's a different world. Unions can be such a drag on a company.

Vox Taciturn can't figure out unions, either.


Sometimes when we try to figure out a book on tape or something that both John and Hanna want to listen to, we'll ask them, and pick one both can agree on. I'll ask Hanna what she wants, as I don't want her to feel she has no say. However, sometimes she realizes she has great power then. If she says no to something she knows John wants to listen to, she can irritate him, so sometimes she'll veto a choice just to poke at John, even though it's something she'd like. Ah, kids!

Saturday, August 13, 2005

From out the wilderness

Well, had a rather nice time of Norwegian camping. Just about ideal weather. Not too hot, not too cold. Built a nice fire last night, cooked some hot dogs, roasted marshmallows, the kids went swimming. There were almost no other people at the lake.

Then, we came back home for the night. My throat is still sore, it was going to be a little cool overnight, so wanted to get a good nights rest indoors. Which I did, slept like a log. Was nice to be able to take a good shower in the morning too, and we all piled back into the van in the morning and went back. Rhonda cooked us up some good eggs and bacon. I made another good fire, since we had bought two stacks of firewoods.

We brought Ellie with us in the morning, but she was rather scared of the fire, so she spent much of the morning underneath the van.

There is a little talk back at the camp tonight on raptors. We might head over there and see if the kids like that.

As of this writing, my employer's union still hasn't agreed to a contract. Strike deadline is tonight. Grrrr. I'm betting I gotta work tomorrow. Grrrr.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Those who ignored Able should be caned

Michelle Malkin has a good roundup of sources talking about Able Danger. If you haven't heard about this yet, you should sit down.

A military intelligence unit, apparently working with open sources, actually fingered Mohammed Atta by name, and three of his accomplices, as belonging to an Al Qaeda cell inside the US, in...1999.

Vox Taciturn also has some thoughts on this here.

Was this information passed on? No. Why the heck not, you ask? Because the Clinton Administration prevented such intelligence from being shared around the intelligence community.

Read through the roundups, and we'll talk some more later. Just a couple thoughts.

It does make one wonder if the documents Sandy Berger was so eager to steal had the words "Able Danger" written all over them.

Finally, I just want to ask again, for the 62,345,541st time, of all those who supported Bill Clinton, who laughed and danced when he swept the Evil Republicans out of office 1992, who stood by him through thick and thin, who claimed his perjury was a private matter, that it had nothing to do with the public Bill Clinton, I just want to ask if you'd like to reconsider all that.

Are you sure what a man is like in private has nothing to do with what he's like in public, and what kind of administration he might run? (And yes, conservatives were asking these questions back in 1991.)

I've said before, if character is what you're like when nobody is looking, integrity is what you're like when everybody is looking. I would humbly suggest the two are very much related.

Plowshares into swords

Over at the Fourth Rail, Grim has an interesting post about weapons and grand strategy.

The article also links to Michael Yon's terrific post, which I linked to on Wednesday, and also to another insightful post at the Belmont Club.

Grim looks at the kinds of weapons and tactics that might be employed, on both sides, in the war against terrorists.

In his post, Wretchard says IEDs are "symbols of asymmetrical warfare", and compares them to bombers and submarines, other fearsome weapons that might have instilled a psychological fear in the enemy, above and beyond the actual physical threat they posed.

As I said in the comments for that post, though, I think the analogy between weapons like bombers and subs, and IEDs breaks down a bit in this sense.

Large-scale military weapons such as bombers and subs tend to be used by military personnel in uniform. They tend to operate out of bases separate from civilian populations. The terrorists employing IEDs tend to be contained within Iraqi civilian populations. If they are foreign, they do stick out to native Iraqis, but they look concealed to us, and the Iraqis are not motivated to help us find them if they are cowed and terrorized, believing they are in danger if they help US forces.

IEDs are not an effective strategic weapon. They will not have an effect on the US military campaign. But, they can still affect Iraqi attitudes, they can still foment civil war, and neutralizing them will take different tactics than those needed to neutralize the latest and greatest bombers and subs.

In planning how to counteract bombers and subs, you generally assume you are dealing with something you and see and touch. (With your eyes, or a radar screen, etc...) You contemplate attacking in an environment far removed from civilian populations. For instance, you would attack a sub with a torpedo in the remote depths of the ocean, not in the middle of Manhattan.

With the terrorists and IEDs, it is difficult to "see" your target. The terrorist hides amongst the civilians, the IEDs are concealed, though the US has developed some amazing technology to deal with them.

Also, by "strategic weapon" I meant in the large-scale, military sense. Clearly IEDs are dangerous, clearly they have an effect at the tactical level. Clearly the terrorists have a "strategy" in using them.

However, the terrorists will not achieve a military victory across the theater (at the "strategic" level) simply by killing US soldiers a few at a time with IEDs. IEDs will not push the US military out.

If the US does retreat because of the effect of IEDs, it will be a political decision, not a military one.

Michelle Malkin has some related thoughts here.

Is Google biased?

Google has been accused of bias from time to time against conservatives. (See here and here as well.)

I was looking for incidents in Iraq where terrorist actions led to the death or injury of children, for yesterday's post. I searched Google Images for "Iraq children casualties", and found something interesting.

There were 29 results. (None of them were photos I linked to yesterday.)

Of those, the sites that contained the various photos broke down this way:

Sites that said incident of injuries were the fault of the US: 8
Sites that were otherwise anti-US policy: 7
Other non-Iraq related sites: 7
Sites with general Iraq news: 6
Sites that said incident of injuries were the fault of the terrorists: 1

Yes, of those 29, only 1 photo was in a story talking about an incident where a suicide bomb or something caused injury to children. Compare that against 15 that were on sites actively opposed to US policy, or actually blaming the US, such as incidents where US bombs caused civilian injuries.

Is this indication of bias? I don't know how Google ended up finding these 29 images, but was interesting, nonetheless.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Innocence means a lack of knowledge of evil

On the way home last night, Hanna was in a singing mood, and belted out the tunes, tunes she made up on the spot. We drove by a big irrigation sprinkler watering one of the sod farms, and Hanna started singing "Oh, there's a sprinkler, it's watering, watering...". Heh.

The other night as we were tucking John into bed, Rhonda asked him how he felt about certain situations. He said "I have fear in here (and he tapped his chest), can you help me get it out?"

As a parent, when you hear that, don't you just straighten your spine a little and vow to move heaven and earth to take that fear away from your precious child? Don't you want to take the child in your arms, hold them close, and promise them nothing will ever ever hurt them?

I've noticed when you become a parent, you start to have a sense that you belong to a community of parents. You are aware that other people's children are as precious to them as yours are to you, and so you watch out for other children while they play. You stand a little taller and look about, wary, like a goose watching out for its young.

So, it is all the more incomprehensible to hear about incidents such as the recent one in Baghdad, where a terrorists deliberately made for a bunch of children crowding around some US soldiers hoping for some candy, and blew up his murderous bomb.

What kind of sick person would deliberately harm children? What has happened to them, that instead of having the same instinct I have to protect children, these murderers have no qualms about destroying children? Why do we not recognize the great evil loose in the world when it is staring us right in the face?

This incident is hardly a rarity. These bloodthirsty terrorists do not value human life, let alone the precious gift of children, as evidenced here, and here, and here and here and here and.... I don't even want to go on. There are so many more.

Again I salute the brave members in our Armed Forces for standing up to these murderous animals, these terrorists who kill and maim children. These soldiers who say to the terrorists, "You are coming for us, you are coming for our children, you are coming over the hill, but you are going to find me waiting for you, and you are going to live only long enough to regret it." God bless our soldiers, I say. It is all I can say, because only God has the resources to reward our soldiers as richly as they deserve.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Yes, we absolutely care

Here is another fascinating piece from Michael Yon. In the piece he mentions that some soldiers wonder if we here back home care about what is happening to them. Here is much of what I emailed Mr. Yon in return.

Yes sir, absolutely we care. Please tell every soldier you come in
contact with that countless Americans think about our good troops there,
we pray for them, we cringe at the delivery of every morning paper,
hoping there weren't more American casualties in the previous day. Even
one American soldier is too much to sacrifice to these murderous

Yes, we care. They are our heroes. I know one of them rather well.

We take so much pride in our soldiers because we know they came from us. They are us. At one point, they were little boys riding bikes through our streets, tossing footballs, swinging out on ropes over slow moving rivers. And then, they volunteered for a job that would put them in harm's way, and this society trained them, took their courage, lit a match to it, and turned them into the most lethal fighting force the world has ever seen.

They aren't the cousins of some dictator given the only weapons in the
country, they aren't robots. They are Americans, the best of America,
and we care deeply about what happens to them.

Here is something I wrote some time ago, for me it's what I think of
when I see our troops in action.

We wish we knew what we could do for our troops, how can we best support
them. What do the troops say?

Whatever we can do for our troops, let's do it. They are over there for us. Whether it's contributing to charitable funds for the soldiers and their families, or writing letters to local newspapers, participating in political campaigns, whatever it is, let's be so committed that soldiers will never have to wonder if we care about them.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Happy Anniversary!!!

Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad! Congratulations on Number 40!! (My abject apologies for not talking to you on the 6th.)

A big milestone! Here's to 40 more!

Monday, August 08, 2005

Odds and ends

Another morsel from the Spice book. As I mentioned before, in the Middle Ages meat was associated with wealth. Bread was associated more with the poor, but even in bread class distinctions were present. Turner says "the English expression 'upper crust' dates from medieval times, when the quality of bread served in the hall varied according to rank. On account of medieval baking techniqies, the best bread came from the top of the loaf, and so was served to the "best" people".

Tom Purtzer won the 3M Senior PGA event here. He barely rolled in a par putt on the last hole to preserve a one stroke win. And just like last year, Craig Stadler had a lengthy eagle putt just go by the hole to finish a stroke back.

Now comes the post-tourney letdown, as all trappings of the spectacle, such as grandstands and tv towers, are dismantled. We now hunker down in preparation for the oncoming winter. Booooooooo.

John and Hanna liked seeing the Sanyo blimp that hovered overhead to provide tv coverage. Sometimes it came fairly close to the house.

I have to go to work to relax? Strange.

Whew, busy weekend. Enjoyed some fabulous weather, so Saturday went to Bunker Beach for awhile. Sunday's schedule was packed to the gills. I helped with communion at both services, and we had the preschool room for the first service too. I'm doing a sunday school class this month, I manned a registration desk after the second service. (Jeremiah Gamble was here again, and we always enjoy him, so we brought the kids in the sanctuary with us. They did pretty good.)

After all that, we went over to a park near Bunker Beach and had a picnic lunch. Then went swimming. And in the evening, went over to Rhonda's friend's house for a scrumptious supper. John did so very well playing with Kyle.

I see long time ABC news anchor Peter Jennings passed away from lung cancer. He was often part and parcel of what went into making the charge that the media has a liberal bias, but I wouldn't wish cancer on anyone. Sad for his family.

Rained cats and dogs here this morning on the drive. I got drenched getting John and Hanna out of the truck at Sue's house. In ominous portents, I saw road construction stuff on 35W, north of 694, sitting by the road ready for use. One sign said "left two lanes closed". Eeek. Sounds like that stretch of road is about to become a major headache.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Behold the face of the Left

Drudge has posted an item that has jaws dropping all over the country. The NY Times has been looking into the adoption records of John Roberts, nominee to the Supreme Court. (His two kids are adopted from Latin America, according to reports.)

Is anything off limits to these leftys? Prying into a family's private adoption records? For what purpose? What does that possibly have to do with his qualifications to sit on the Supreme Court? Tell me this isn't some sleazy attempt to try and find some problem with the records, like whether they really bought the kids on the black market or something. If the NYT wanted to do a nice little story on the kids, they could just go to the Roberts and ask. Or, if there is a credible allegation that there are irregularites with the adoptions, that laws were bent, even that would be one thing.

But, Brit Hume reports that the Times was indeed on a mere fishing expedition.

Michelle Malkin has reactions here and here as well. (In the second one, from this post you'll recognize that "Reader Jeff K." is me!)

Hugh Hewitt has a roundup of other reactions here.

Obviously, as an adoptive parent, I'm just a wee bit sensitive to the matter. I am thrilled to talk about our adoption stories, and how we came to find our two precious children in Russia. But, the adoption records are nobody's business but our own. It is up to us to decide who we share that with. For a newspaper to dig into those purely for political purposes, as part of a smear campaign against someone with whose politics they don't agree, is just beyond the pale.

Here's another danger in this. It is up to the parents and the parents alone to decide what they tell the kids about their adoption, and when. What if the paper published information the Roberts didn't want to have out there yet, what if the kids at some future date found this information in the public domain, rather than from their parents in a loving, supportive context? What in the hey gives the NYT the right to usurp one of the most important duties of an adoptive parent, that of sharing with the children where they come from?

Outrageous. I wrote to the public editor at the NYT, and received a stock reply they have been sending out. It reads:

Dear Reader,

Thanks for writing to us.

While the public editor does not usually get involved in pre-publication
matters, Bill Keller, the executive editor of the paper, told us that he
would not stand for any gratuitous reporting about the Roberts's children.
He said that as an adoptive parent he is particularly sensitive about this

In addition, a senior editor at the paper wrote, "In the case of Judge
Roberts's family, our reporters made initial inquiries about the adoptions,
as they did about many other aspects of his background. They did so with
great care, understanding the sensitivity of the issue. We did not order up
an investigation of the adoptions. We have not pursued the issue after the
initial inquiries, which detected nothing irregular about the adoptions."

Joe Plambeck
Office of the Public Editor
The New York Times

Note: The public editor's opinions are his own and do not represent those
of The New York Times

Great care and sensitivity, my eye. There is no soul in the heart of a lefty, just a cold stone that would happily trample through a family's most private business simply because they want to preserve the "right" to murder unborn infants. It's a wonderful world we live in.

Gliding into the weekend

Hanna likes to bait John, in a playful sort of way. She'll get some toy that she knows he might like, she'll tell him "Say 'I want that toy'". And he'll say it, and then she'll say "No, you can't have it." She's a little minx.

The other night as I was saying good night to John, I asked him what he was going to dream about, and he thought for a moment, then said "I'll dream about having fun with you." Awwwwww, sniff. Last night then, he said he'd dream about having fun with Mommy.

Still looking at options for John and school this fall. A possibility is kindergarten at a public school, so he could get some special assistance from the school district. Apparently we live in a good district for that sort of thing. There'd be bus questions though, how he'd get on and off the bus. If we did that the kids might go to Jessica's house, as her kids go, and they could all go on the bus as a group. So, they wouldn't go to Sue's house in that scenario. I'd hate to see that happen, Sue has been so good to us. They would probably still go to Sue's once in awhile.

Another option is no school at all this year, just take some of the pressure off him by having him wait another year. We'll know more after talking to the school district, which will be soon I hope, and John has an appt at the OT clinic next Tuesday.

Rhonda went by the school yesterday. It's in a residential neighborhood, west of 65 and south of 109th. The kids went with. John seemed to like the big playground. Hanna brought a black dog or bear or something they got from a rummage sale. She told the gals at the school that it was a Dalmatian. Well, being all black it didn't look much like a Dalmatian, so Hanna said it was covered in soot. (In 101 Dalmatians, the dogs hide themselves by covering themselves in soot.)

An interesting article here on the humble apple.

And finally, a little Middle East humor.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Food in the days of yore

Couple more interesting tidbits from the Spice book...

In the middle ages, fruits and vegetables weren't eaten very much. Fruits were seen as "moist" and "cool", and thought not to go very well with the body's natural heat. Turner writes "Throughout the medieval period pears, apples, peaches and other moist fruits were viewed with suspicion, as 'meates that breed ill bloud'. For the same reason, long after its introduction from the Americas the juicy tomato was viewed as dangerous, ripe with the seeds of madness."

Vegetables were thought to be worthy only of the poor and animals. Meat was a sign of privilege, because the land needed to raise the meat implied wealth.

Also, "cooking was more a medical science than an art". In an era where medicine was somewhat primitive, and hygiene was nowhere near as well understood as it is today, diet played a big role in health practices. "Medical theory held that all foods diverging from the temperate ideal risked causing a humoral imbalance; that is, illness." Cooks were part physician, then.

In fact, Turner says "there is a distant echo of this past in the modern term 'recipe', which originates with the medical precepts of the Salernitan school, the most widely read medical textbooks of the Middle Ages. These were written as a series of formulae beginning with the Latin injunction 'Recipe', that is 'Take...'"

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Let's go for a walk

The spacewalk to snip some pieces of fabric from the underside of the Shuttle seems to have gone well. Always amuses me though all the talk that the tiles are oh so sensitive, such care has to be taken not to bump them during the walk, etc...

The tiles protect the Shuttle during reentry, and keep the astronauts from becoming well-done pot roast. Seems to me you that you don't want something like that, something that will endure the violence of a *rocket launch* and the heat of reentry, to be "sensitive".

The tile are some amazing technology. I remember a demo in high school, someone came to give a talk about the Shuttle. They took a blowtorch, got a tile red hot, put the blowtorch down, and just about immediately, put his hand on the tile. It was cool enough to touch. That's how quickly the tiles can dissipate heat.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

It's August, the start of winter

While up in Minot, Hanna learned the term "copy-catting". I think she heard Cousin Nick say it. She likes to say that now, except she pronounces it "catty-catting". When she says it, she draws out the first syllable, and it's somewhat cute. "Stop caaaatty-catting me."

I took John over to the lake last night. It was a warm evening, and he swam for awhile. Weren't many people there at all. John found some boys to play with, and they seemed to like playing with him, too. John is so very social, he likes playing with other kids and won't hesitate to join other groups. Sometimes though other kids aren't as willing to play with strangers, but thankfully these boys were nice. They started carrying each other on their shoulders, and of course John didn't hesitate to climb up on their backs. But again, they let him.

Should be pretty warm the next couple days, temps near the mid-90s. Rhonda will probably take the kids to Bunker Beach today.

This week the 3M Senior PGA golf tourney comes to town, just a few blocks south of my house. Always fun to see the hubbub around the course, with all the grandstands and tv towers going up, the bustle and activity around the groundskeepers buildings just off of Radisson Road. (You know it's tourney week when dozens of golf carts are parked there.) Arnie is going to be here, so his big blue semi truck has been here for a few days now. Later, we'll see all the corporate jets flying in and out.

The excitement that comes with the word tournament makes me think of the days gone by, when knights gathered at jousting tournaments. However, behind all the glitz, all the corporate suites set up to cater to bigwigs and their guests, it does all seem rather pointless. There's nothing much at stake. It's just a golf tourney, one of many. The seniors show up, hit some golf shots, we all ooh and ahh, and everybody goes home. Nothing has changed, our lives have not been altered for the better.