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

Friday, September 30, 2005

Additional information on the death of Azzam

As noted here, Coalition forces had a major success in ending the sorry life of the No. 2 official in al-Qaida in Iraq.

The current issue of This Week In Iraq (available here in PDF) has some more information on the raid. From pages 1 and 3,

Iraqi Security and Coalition Forces, in a joint operation in Baghdad, killed Abdallah Najim Abdallah Muhammad al-Juwari, otherwise known as Abu Azzam, Abu Selwah, and Wissam, the al Qaida in Iraq (AQIZ) Emir of Baghdad, at approximately 4:50 a.m. Saturday Multiple sources including corroborating information from a close associate of Abu Azzam led Coalition and Iraqi Security Forces to the terrorist safe house where the AQIZ leader was hiding.
Upon entry to the apartment, security forces found two women and then took fire from two men in an adjacent room. Security forces immediately returned fire, killing one terrorist and wounding another. The women were unharmed in the firefight.
Recently captured terrorists have said Azzam was as important, if not more so, than Abu Musab al Zarqawi. As Zarqawi continues to run and hide throughout Iraq, Azzam provided both misguided spiritual (false Jihad) and operational direction and controlled all finances for AQIZ. He would allocate monies to the various sub-organizations and personnel within the AQIZ network.
A recently captured AQIZ member reported that Azzam wanted to meet on numerous occasions with Zarqawi, but the most wanted terrorist would not allow it, most likely due to the risk of Zarqawi’s capture. Allegedly Zarqawi stated that Azzam was too important to risk a meeting, according to the detainee.

It's a sign of how effective US and Iraqi intelligence is, and of the threat Coalition forces are able to pose, that these top terrorists feel even getting together for a meeting is too dangerous.

Navy operations in the wake of Rita

The Navy is also involved in post-Rita relief efforts.

Navy Exchanges are providing assistance.

Navy Exchanges (NEX) began distributing health and comfort items, or comfort kits, Sept. 29, free to the many military members and their families affected by hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

These comfort kits are available to people located within the federally declared disaster areas in and around the Gulf Coast.

The hospital ship Comfort arrived in New Orleans.

The U.S. Navy’s Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) arrived here Sept. 28 at the request of the Department of Health and Human Services and Louisiana government state officials.

The ship, one of the largest trauma facilities in the nation, is preparing to act as an emergency trauma center for New Orleans as its citizens begin to repopulate the Crescent City.

During this mission, Comfort will be under the operational control of Joint Task Force Rita.

Interestingly enough, mine warfare ships are supporting recovery efforts.

USS Gladiator (MCM 11), USS Avenger (MCM 1) and USS Pioneer (MCM 9) are conducting unit level training and sonar calibration operations in the Gulf of Mexico.

These ships are on standby to conduct survey operations of the Galveston and Houston safety fairways to help determine if they are free of any storm-related debris and to ensure the safety of deep-draft traffic transit.

“We are looking forward to supporting Hurricane Rita recovery efforts,” said Capt. Jonathan Tobias, commodore of Mine Countermeasures Squadron (MCMRON) 3 and tactical commander for mine warfare assets that previously surveyed the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port (LOOP) and safety fairways of south Grand Isle. “We successfully applied our mine warfare skills in support of Joint Task Force Katrina, surveying more than 250 nautical miles of safety fairways and 35 oil platforms. This was a critical tasking in support of putting U.S. oil production and shipping back into play.”

Other mine warfare ships are also preparing to assist in survey operations should they be called, as well as MH-53E helicopters from Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron (HM) 15. Mine warfare assets standing by to support Hurricane Rita recovery efforts are under the tactical command of MCMRON 1, commanded by Capt. Kevin Scott.

Here is a photo essay about some Marine Life Oceanarium dolphins rescued after Katrina allowed them to escape.

Here is a photo essay about Army medical evacuations.

Austin Bay links to an article that tells how useful Navy communications equipment was after Katrina.

A definition of peace

Peace is when there are no more bad days.

The last couple of days have been bad days. According to this Washington Post article, three car bombs in Iraq have killed dozens of Iraqi civilians.

Other news sources say more than 60 were killed, and dozens injured.

In addition, 5 Marines from the II MEF, 2nd Division were killed by a roadside bomb.

Ramadi has been a volatile area, and the military has not released a lot of information about what is currently going on in Ramadi. The Marines only said the 5 were killed during ongoing combat operations.

Another Marine was killed by small arms fire on the 27th.

These are the days that try our souls. We see vicious murderers kill civilians by the dozens, and we see good American soldiers lost because of these killers. Why do so many good soliders have to be lost to these terrorists?

And yet, we know the answer. We know evil never exhausts itself. Evil is always hungry, it always seeks to devour. That is why we honor those who volunteer to face it, those who are willing to put themselves in harm's way to vanquish this evil.

And so, we mourn our losses, but any day we can stop and appreciate and be eternally grateful for the dedication of our military, that is a good day.

Thursday, September 29, 2005


Once again, I'm going to rely on my fellow sentries to send up a warning.

JunkYardBlog has a post concerning the erroneous reporting on Katrina, and the somewhat surprising fact the New York Times is aware of it.

A great opening paragraph:

If your only source for news is the New York Times, you're always the last to know anything unflattering to Democrats or the press. And when the Times finally gets around to telling you about it, there's a good chance that they're leaving quite a bit out.

The heart of the post, though, is this:

But that sentence I quoted above is as close as the Times gets to delivering any understanding of the actual role the rumors of violence and mayhem played. The rest of the story is devoted to debunking many of those rumors. That's a useful thing to do, if a little late. The rumors should be debunked, and the new ones coming from Nagin and Farrakhan about bombs destroying the levees might deserve a little attention as well. Perhaps the Times will get around to that one sometime next spring.

Additionally, the Times never--not once--addresses the media's role in taking the unverified rumors, reporting them as fact and then using them to smear FEMA and the Bush administration. The Times never examines whether or not the media's own rumor mongering contributed to the loss of a single life (hint: it did). The Times never casts its critical gaze back upon itself or any of the many journalists and pundits who got the story wrong and still get the story wrong.

Power Line has a post on cultural illiteracy, and...

it sometimes reveals a stunning lack of high school-level knowledge of history, science and literature on the part of Times reporters and editors. Today's Corrections include a mind-blowing example of this genre:

"The About New York column yesterday, about an imagined conversation with God at a Manhattan diner, referred incorrectly to the Bible to which the thickness of the menu was likened. It is the King James Version, not St. James."

I'm speechless.

Did these reporters grow up with a Bible around the house?

The MAWB Squad has a sobering post about what the media can do with its editorial power:

Beth at My Vast Right Wing Conspiracy received an e-mail from a Marine in Iraq, which says in part:

"The trick here is to convince the bad guys they have been beat. The idiots at the peace rallies are what’s really hurting since the stated goals of the insurgents is to break down public support for the war in the US."

Take note peace protestors. The troops say you are giving aid and comfort to the enemy trying to kill them. If you really support the troops you will support Victory.

Contrast all this with Michael Yon's latest post. Yon first wrote about a girl named Rhma here (under Days 11-16).

Rhma has a heart condition, and is in need of serious medical attention. Efforts have been made to bring Rhma to the United States. As Yon writes, there is...

a team of good doctors and nurses in New Mexico willing to help Rhma free of charge

However, there have been delays in getting Rhma to the United States.

As it happened, however, the US Embassy staff in Jordan had actually been quietly but persistently putting a great deal of work into getting Rhma to New Mexico.

The confusion and glitches were caused by “little gremlins” such as Rhma’s parents incorrectly filling out paperwork. Computers are computers; there were delays caused not by the staff, but rather resulting from misunderstandings about what needed to happen and when it needed to happen. These gremlins caused the delays, but the moment the Embassy staff realized these issues resulted from communication gremlins, they rectified them and got Rhma on her way.

With the help of Michael Yon, the Deuce Four, and many people working behind the scenes, this girl will get the help she needs.

Folks, this is what kind of nation the United States can be. This is the kind of military we have. As Yon says though,

Perhaps a local journalist in New Mexico will pick up the thread of this story. Many of us would greatly like to follow Rhma’s journey to better health.

Perhaps the media will some day discover the good the United States is doing in Iraq, the millions of lives that have changed for the better because the US military removed a brutal dictator from power. Some day. Until then, I'd be happy if the media simply stopped giving aid and comfort to the enemy.

Hugh Hewitt has a great column at The Weekly Standard about the faulty reporting.
Betsy Newmark noticed the NY Times story as well.
Don Singleton has a roundup on the NY Times story.
Mark Tapscott, too, appreciates what the Yon story says about America.

The Screaming Eagles

The 101st Airborne Division is in the process of deploying back to Iraq. (The Division was last there in 2003). Some advance units have been there since August, and larger units are now starting to deploy, with units going in stages till around November or December.

The colors were cased in a ceremony described here.

The 101st is a storied division. First formed in 1942, the division distinguished itself during WWII. Many people may be familiar with the division from Stephen Ambrose's book Band of Brothers, and the subsequent HBO series.

The Division was involved in much of the most important fighting in the European Theater in WWII. It jumped into Normandy, and in this famous photo, Gen. Eisenhower was talking to soldiers in the 101st as the sticks prepared to board the planes for Normandy.

After the landings,the division saw heavy fighting at Carentan.

In September 1944, the division jumped into Holland as part of Operation Market-Garden, the ill-fated attempt to open a northern route into Germany. The division encountered heavy fighting, but kept their section of the road north to Arnhem open.

In December 1944, the division held out at Bastogne in one of the most famous defensive stands of the war. When the Germans asked the Americans to surrender, the commander of the 101st in Bastogne, Gen. McAuliffe, gave his famous reply, "Nuts!"

And, elements of the 101st took Hitler's "Eagle's Nest" redoubt.

The division also saw action in Vietnam, including the brutal battle of Hamburger Hill.

The division took part in Desert Storm, as well.

This is a link to a Google satellite map of the 101st Airborne Museum at Ft. Campbell, KY. I visited this museum a couple years ago.

The planes in the middle of the image are part of an "open-air" museum showing some of the planes used by the 101st in various campaigns. There is a C-47 Skytrain-Dakota transport plane, which was used in the Normandy jumps, and a Vietnam era helicopter, among the various aircraft. There is also a memorial to the Market-Garden campaign too.

The building across the street to the left (west) of the aircraft, with the small red structure in front, is the actual museum. There are artifacts and displays commemorating all the Division's major actions, including the ones I've mentioned.

The 101st is scheduled to be in Iraq for a year. That's a long time to be in harm's way, away from home, family, and friends. Let's remember them in our prayers as they begin their journey to Iraq.

Some day this museum will commemorate the many brave deeds the Division will perform in the coming year.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

There is no heart at the center of the Arab world

Fouad Ajami is a widely known Middle East scholar, one of the best. He was born in Lebanon, and is of Iranian Shiite ancestry. He has a brilliant column today at, where he elucidates the Sunni-Shiite struggle, and how the situation in Iraq today illuminates the fact there is no pan-Arab brotherhood, there are just petty, despotic rulers.

Here are some snippets, but read it all.

The remarkable thing about the terror in Iraq is the silence with which it is greeted in other Arab lands. Grant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi his due: He has been skilled at exposing the pitilessness on the loose in that fabled Arab street and the moral emptiness of so much of official Arab life. The extremist is never just a man of the fringe: He always works at the outer edges of mainstream life, playing out the hidden yearnings and defects of the dominant culture. Zarqawi is a bigot and a killer, but he did not descend from the sky. He emerged out of the Arab world's sins of omission and commission; in the way he rails against the Shiites (and the Kurds) he expresses that fatal Arab inability to take in "the other." A terrible condition afflicts the Arabs, and Zarqawi puts it on lethal display: an addiction to failure, and a desire to see this American project in Iraq come to a bloody end.
There is a cliché that distinguishes between cultures of shame and cultures of guilt, and by that crude distinction, it has always been said that the Arab world is a "shame culture." But in truth there is precious little shame in Arab life about the role of the Arabs in the great struggle for and within Iraq. What is one to make of the Damascus-based Union of Arab Writers that has refused to grant membership in its ranks to Iraqi authors? The pretext that Iraqi writers can't be "accredited" because their country is under American occupation is as good an illustration as it gets of the sordid condition of Arab culture. For more than three decades, Iraq's life was sheer and limitless terror, and the Union of Arab Writers never uttered a word. Through these terrible decades, Iraqis suffered alone, and still their poetry and literature adorn Arabic letters. They need no acknowledgment of their pain, or of their genius, from a literary union based in a city in the grip of a deadening autocracy.
Zarqawi's jihadists have sown ruin in Iraq, but they are strangers to that country, and they have needed the harbor given them in the Sunni triangle and the indulgence of the old Baathists. For the diehards, Iraq is now a "stolen country" delivered into the hands of subject communities unfit to rule. Though a decided minority, the Sunni Arabs have a majoritarian mindset and a conviction that political dominion is their birthright. Instead of encouraging a break with the old Manichaean ideologies, the Arab world beyond Iraq feeds this deep-seated sense of historical entitlement. No one is under any illusions as to what the Sunni Arabs would have done had oil been located in their provinces. They would have disowned both north and south and opted for a smaller world of their own and defended it with the sword. But this was not to be, and their war is the panic of a community that fears that it could be left with a realm of "gravel and sand."

(One of Ajami's books is entitled The Dream Palace of the Arabs, and is a clear-minded critique of the intellectual bankruptcy in the Middle East. Here is Daniel Pipes's review of the book.)

Austin Bay mentions Ajami's column in the context of a Washington Post article about Zarqawi's role in Iraq.

The skill it takes

In this post, someone left a comment in response to something I said about the skill shown by the troops in the operations conducted in Iraq. The comment read in part:

Skill is correct.

I am amazed at how much has been accomplished with what's been given.

Going from zero doctrine and training to all that's being done is truly amazing.
And...given the numbers of troops we have here it is another stunning display of American adaptiveness and ingenuity.

Given this what would YOU have done? Say a Colonel was given X town/area which included all the roads, bridges,hospitals, sewers, schools, police, army, Power grid and distribution infrastructure, etc etc you name it. HE is suddenly responsible for all that in the midst of chaotic warfare with competing factions and his limited numbers of troops and $. All that dealing with all major and minor infrastructure looted or destroyed in invasion. Add trying to train and new police and army force of dubious ability and loyalty.

I would say the US has received an amazing return on its "invasion investment".

Yes, what would we have done, if faced with the situation, say, a year ago in northern and western Iraq? If you recall, Mosul was virtually overrun with terrorists last November. They attacked police stations, and the police abandoned their stations to the terrorists.

What would you do in that situation? Would you know where to begin? Would you know who to talk to? You're facing a city seething with armed killers. What could you do, and not get yourself killed on the first morning of the first day?

What's more, there are cities like this all along the Euphrates and Tigris rivers. Where do you begin to get a handle on the situation?

This is what I meant when I wrote about the skill shown by our troops. They faced this situation, and today, have achieved stunning successes.

Great skill went into building up this kind of momentum. Intelligence, tactics, weapons, strategy.

But there is far more skill that went into this success, skill in a dizzying variety of disciplines.

For instance, M1 tanks have played a role in this campaign. Can you imagine the skill it took to design and build that tank? The skill needed to design its advanced targeting optics and thermal sights? The tank's armor incorporates depleted uranium. If you were faced with just chunks of uranium ore in the ground, would you know how to retrieve that depleted uranium? Wikipedia describes part of the process:

Milled uranium ore -- U3O8, or "yellowcake" -- is dissolved in nitric acid, yielding a solution of uranyl nitrate UO2(NO3)2. Pure uranyl nitrate is obtained by solvent extraction, then treated with ammonia to produce ammonium diuranate (ADU). Reduction with hydrogen gives UO2, which is converted with hydrofluoric acid (HF) to UF4. Oxidation with fluorine finally yields UF6.

(Security Watchtower actually has a nice little graphic on this process!)

The military in Iraq uses satellite technology, in intelligence gathering and communciations. Do you know what went into developing the technology necessary to make this satellite technology possible? Can you fathom the skills needed to design and build the launch vehicles? Their engines, the necessary metallurgy, the guidance systems, mastering the orbital mechanices? Can you understand the skill needed to build the satellites themselves? To harden them for the orbital environment, to build the communication devices to pass data back and forth to the satellite, to create the complex software controlling the satellite, to design their power sources, to design the attitude control systems?

All of this technology mentioned so far involves computers. Do you understand the skill needed to build computers? How about the semiconductor chips that make up the heart of computers? Do you know how to dope silicon to make it a good conductor? How long would it take you to figure out you could use phosporous or gallium? Could you figure out how to make a transistor? Can you figure out how to make it small enough so that you could fit millions of transistor on a single chip?

The military would be nothing without its vehicles. We take them for granted, but do you understand what went in to designing and building the combustion engine? How about the fuel it takes to run the vehicles? Would you know to get the oil out of the ground, and refine it into usable fuel?

The military rules the skies with its airplanes and helicopters. Do you understand how complex today's military planes and choppers are? Can you grasp the skill needed to build their avionics, their targeting systems? Can you begin to understand the skill needed to build smart bombs with their sensor and control systems? Or the GPS-guided smart bomb?

We could certainly go on, couldn't we. But my point is this. Of all the skill and technology mentioned, how much of it was conceived of and developed in the sick societies that produce these murderous terrorists? Answer: virtually NONE OF IT!!!

The technology race is over. Period. Large swaths of the Muslim world are so far behind the dust has settled. They are behind because they keep their people in darkness. Women are not educated. Men are taught merely to hate Israel and hate the West. Ever try to build something with just hate?

How much better could Muslim societies be if these terrorists used their strength and energy to build up their own societies, instead of destroying?

The skills talked about here were developed because people were free to do so. There was an economic system in place that rewarded such efforts. Societies in the West were free, and so knowledge could be disseminated easily.

The terrorists want to destroy what our civilization has built up, and it is our military standing on the front line, showing amazing skill in defeating the enemy. Those skills, and those skills that created the technology used by the military and in our everyday life, came about because of a great deal of hard work. It is easier to destroy, than to build, and there will always be the work of holding back the evil that seeks to destroy.

Freedom is not free.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Another one bites the dust

According to news sources, U.S. and Iraqi authorities said Tuesday their forces had killed the No. 2 official in the al-Qaida in Iraq.

Abdullah Abu Azzam led al-Qaida's operations in Baghdad, planning a brutal wave of suicide bombings in the capital since April, killing hundreds of people, officials said. He also controlled the finances for foreign fighters that flowed into Iraq to join the insurgency.

Abu Azzam, who an Iraqi government spokesman said was an Iraqi, was the top deputy to the group's leader, Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Abu Azzam was on a list of Iraq's 29 most-wanted insurgents issued by the U.S. military in February and had a bounty of $50,000 on his head.

Here is the CentCom news release.

Multiple intelligence sources and corroborating information from a close associate of Abu Azzam led Coalition and Iraqi security forces to the terrorist safe house where the al Qaeda in Iraq leader was hiding. A combined operation was conducted with the intent of capturing the wanted terrorist; however, Abu Azzam fired on the forces, and their return fire killed the al Qaeda in Iraq leader.

Note the singing "close associate".

According to Captain's Quarters:

The intelligence keeps getting better and better, and the noose grows ever tighter. Zarqawi may replace these positions as fast as we capture or kill the incumbents, but each time that happens he has to use people with less skill and experience as replacements. That means more mistakes, less communication with external units, both of which forces the terrorists to simplify strategy and tactics to remain successful on their missions.

As I mentioned in this post, another senior terrorist was killed in Haditha on Sept 18.

Such operations, which again are related to this larger campaign in the north and west to put pressure on the rat lines following the rivers between Syria and Baghdad, and disrupt terrorist activities ahead of the October constitutional referendum, indicate US and Iraqi intelligence is excellent. As more terrorists are captured, more information is gathered, which leads to other operations, and we are seeing increased momentum.

Bill Roggio in his post at The Fourth Rail says this about Abu Azzam:

While the report indicates Azzam was the chief financier for al Qaeda in Iraq, he has a longer pedigree than just a moneyman. Azzam was a native Iraqi and a member of Zarqawi’s original terrorist group Jamaat al-Tawhid wa'l-Jihad. He was a ruthless al Qaeda commander in the Anbar province who was directly responsible for murdering government officials in the region during the summer of 2004.

When it was believed Zarqawi was on his deathbed last spring, intelligence officials suspected Azzam was one of several candidates to succeed Zarqawi. Of the nine likely candidates, three have been killed - Suleiman Khalid Darwish, another longtime Zarqawi aide and senior member of al-Tawhid wa'l-Jihad, or captured - Abu Talha, al Qaeda’s commander in Mosul and former leader of Ansar al-Islam. Talha’s network in northern Iraq has been all but dismantled.

Azzam was no small player in jihad in Iraq. He was an experienced and ruthless killer, who as a native Iraqi understood the culture and context of Iraq greater than the foreign jihadis in country. His contacts are likely to be top notch. He will need to be replaced, and his replacement will have less influence and experience than his predecessor. Destroying al Qaeda in Iraq is a laborious process, but one that can be accelerated by taking out vital leaders and middle managers.

This Fox News article says US Special Forces were involved.

This article, link courtesy of Balanced News Blog, says:

A US military official said Azzam was killed in a high-rise block in the Iraqi capital after a tip-off from an Iraqi citizen.
Another US spokesman said Azzam had been tracked for some time, and his death was a "significant development".

Again, indications that intelligence is playing a vital role.

Security Watchtower has an impressive roundup of terrorists now enjoying their 72 crystal raisins.

Bill Roggio has more on the pounding the terrorist leadership is taking.

Belmont Club talks about the "oil spot strategy".

Military operations continue in the wake of Rita

The Texas National Guard and Air National Guard have been nobly serving their home state in the effort to bring relief to those in need after Rita.

According to this article:

Rodriguez leads a force of about 16,000 Army National Guardsmen and 3,000 Air National Guardsmen. They are working in the affected areas providing search and rescue, humanitarian relief, security, transportation, communications, medical assistance and debris removal.

According to officials at Texas Gov. Rick Perry's office, the National Guard has helped provide 167 water trucks containing nearly 8.5 million half-liter bottles of water, 60 ice trucks, and 17 refrigerated trucks are staging in Beaumont have been or are being dispatched to impacted areas. More than 500,000 gallons of fuel have been delivered to impacted areas since Sept. 22, including more than 25,000 gallons dispensed directly to over 5,000 stranded motorists, and 154 generators have been delivered to communities suffering power losses, with a priority given to hospitals and medical facilities.

The Air Force has been doing its part as well:

U.S. Air Force search-and-rescue crews have been combing the Gulf Coast since the afternoon of Sept. 24, and the Air Force's auxiliary volunteer force continues to assist in aerial damage assessment, while a variety of other specialized units continue to meet the needs of the areas affected by Hurricane Rita.
Thirteen HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopters, equipped with pararescue crews from the 920th Rescue Wing at Patrick Air Force Base, Fla., and the 347th Rescue Wing at Moody Air Force Base, Ga., flew 14 search-and-rescue missions, totaling nearly 50 flight hours, Sept. 24. The missions saved five individuals who were stranded, and the crews assisted in six other rescues. These crews will continue to methodically comb the coast today, Air Force officials said.

Members of the all-volunteer Civil Air Patrol, the official auxiliary of the Air Force, have flown the majority of aerial damage-assessment missions in recent days, a total of 42 missions to date concerning Hurricane Rita. They've also assisted with search-and-rescue missions. The CAP is staging 12 aircraft and 20 aircrews out of Dallas Mission Base, in Addison, Texas, and from Stinson, Texas, near San Antonio.

An Air Force U-2 surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft from the 99th Reconnaissance Squadron at Beale Air Force Base, Calif., will return to Beale this afternoon after completing a mission to collect imagery of the affected Gulf Coast.

To accomplish these missions, the Air Force flew a total of 19 missions Sept. 24, for a total of 82 missions flown to date in preparation and response to Hurricane Rita, and planned to fly at least 10 additional missions today in the affected Texas and Louisiana coastal areas.

The Air Force has also flown numerous evacuation missions:

As part of a comprehensive, government-led hurricane-relief effort, the U.S. Air Force evacuated nearly 2,000 Gulf Coast residents from the path of Hurricane Rita Sept. 22.
Officials estimate that more than 1.5 million people fled the Gulf region because of Hurricane Rita. The Air Force evacuated roughly 700 residents who could not or did not escape. Evacuees were flown to one of eight different secure locations via Air Force C-5, C-17 and C-141 aircraft. Lackland Air Force Base, in San Antonio, is housing the greatest number of evacuees, officials said.
The Air Force has flown a total of 61 aeromedical evacuation missions Sept. 23 and 74 aero-medical evacuation missions overall in response to Hurricane Rita. An additional nine aeromedical evacuation missions were planned for today, officials said.

Here are a couple of photo essays:

Lackland Helps Rita Evacuees
Ellington Field Operations

See this site for more news on military operations in the wake of the Gulf Coast hurricanes.

The American mind will be closing in 15 minutes

Victor Davis Hanson, himself no stranger to academia, has a killer column at OpinionJournal today, chronicling the dismal creeping stain of political correctness in American universities.

He starts by recounting Harvard President Lawrence Summers and his misadventure, when he unwittingly tripped and fell and grabbed the live wire of feminist politics with both hands.

At Harvard University, beleaguered President Lawrence Summers challenged notions of "diversity" and paid a steep price. He suggested--off the record, at a conference of the National Bureau of Economic Research--that factors other than institutional prejudice and cultural pressure might help explain the relative dearth of women faculty in the hard sciences at Harvard and other elite universities. If the intent of that mildly provocative, off-the-cuff exegesis was to jumpstart debate among serious thinkers, it proved a big mistake. Within seconds, one tough-minded feminist was reduced to bouts of nausea and swooning, and within hours many were calling for Mr. Summers to apologize, if not resign.

But Hanson tells us of three other university presidents who have been in the news.

The first is Denice Denton of UC-Santa Cruz. (Hanson earned his B.A at UC-Santa Cruz)

One of President Summers's chief critics, Denice Denton, the newly appointed chancellor of the University of California, Santa Cruz, heralded Mr. Summers's public humiliation as a "teachable moment." As one president to another, she objected: "Here was this economist lecturing pompously [to] this room full of the country's most accomplished scholars on women's issues in science and engineering, and he kept saying things we had refuted in the first half of the day."
But Chancellor Denton has her own shortcomings. They do not revolve around mere impromptu remarks, nor have they been trailed by public apologies and task forces. Yet in its own way her controversy goes to the heart of the same contemporary race-and-gender credo that governs the university, enjoying exemption from normal scrutiny and simple logic.

Before her arrival, Ms. Denton arranged the creation of a special billet--ad hoc, unannounced and closed to all applicants but one: Ms. Denton's live-in girlfriend of seven years, Gretchen Kalonji. Most recognize this as the sort of personal accommodation--old-boy networking, really--that Ms. Denton presumably wishes to replace with affirmative action, thus ending backroom deals and crass nepotism.

The second is University of Colorado President Elizabeth Hoffman.

She recently resigned, ostensibly following athletic scandals, but more likely as a result of the uproar over Ward Churchill. We remember him now as the strange professor who compared the 3,000 murdered in the Twin Towers and Pentagon to "Little Eichmanns," supposed cogs in the military-industrial wheel who deserved their fate. The public grudgingly accepted that Mr. Churchill's wartime praise for the 9/11 murderers ("combat teams" rightfully avenging America's murder of "500,000 Iraqi children") is protected free speech. But it could not quite fathom why Mr. Churchill was not summarily dismissed for other sins.

President Hoffman did her best to deflect attention from the Churchill mess by a now-familiar victimization gambit. The scandal was not Mr. Churchill and his remarks but the reaction to them: academic freedom was under assault from--what else?--"a New McCarthyism." At the barricades, as it were, she boasted to her faculty senate that "I was a tiger about speech. There was no way I was going to touch speech." She went on, "We are in dangerous times. I'm very concerned. . . . It's looking a lot like [former CU president] George Norlin being asked to fire all the Catholics and Jews or the McCarthy era. We need to make sure we don't let ourselves go down that path, no matter how much shouting there is from the outside. There are forces that would push us down that path if we let them."

Meanwhile, the media-savvy Mr. Churchill--replete with long gray locks, beaded headband, shades, buckskin and the Native American name Keezjunnahbeh (which means "kind-hearted man"; Ward Churchill is his "colonial" name)--was determined to capitalize on his windfall fame. Indeed, he was undoubtedly grateful, after years of toiling in painful obscurity, that the media had at long last noticed his outrageous behavior. He grasped that he was already eligible for lucrative retirement benefits, which now could be enhanced by a generous golden parachute from the University of Colorado, eager to avoid millions of dollars in lawsuits and more bad press.

The third is Robert J. Birgeneau, the new chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley.

Upon arriving in the Bay Area, he quickly vowed to solve the problems he had found. Surprisingly, these had nothing to do with a decline in academic standards, deterioration in the quality of Berkeley's key departments, or a state funding crisis. Instead, the chancellor complained that Berkeley has fewer Native American, Hispanic, and African-American students enrolled than it should--the campus was only 3% black, 9.5% Hispanic, and 0.4% Native American, in contrast with about 45% Asian-American and about 33% white. (The California population comprises 6.5% blacks, 33% Hispanics, 0.92% Native Americans, 11% Asian-Americans, and 45% whites.) Mr. Birgeneau is obsessed with racial diversity, as determined by percentages and quotas. But as we shall see, the numbers, under closer examination, may make him regret pandering to the diversity industry.

Chancellor Birgeneau blames the apparent statistical injustices on Proposition 209, the 1996 California ballot initiative that forbids the use of racial criteria in state hiring; it passed with the support of 55% of the electorate. In his view, however, democracy ought to defer to elite opinion; thus, to this Canadian academic the state's voters were obviously misguided: "I personally don't believe that most of the people who voted for 209 intended this consequence."

One can learn a lot about the pathologies of the contemporary university from what its presidents say--and don't say. A close look at the data suggests a different picture from the one implied by Mr. Birgeneau's gratuitous lamentations about the lack of diversity. Whites, for instance, are underenrolled at Berkeley: They amount to around 35% of undergraduates versus 45% of the state's population. Given this fact, why doesn't the Chancellor complain about the shortage of whites on campus?

There is more, but Hanson reveals his point by asking a question:

In the end, why should we care about a few high-flying administrators who feel that diversity is the engine that runs the university? Because the U.S. is struggling in an increasingly competitive world in which Europe, China, Japan and India vie for global talent and national advantage through merit-based higher education. They don't care about the racial make-up of the teams that create breakthrough gene therapies or software programs, but only whether such innovations are valuable and superior to the competition.

As our own industrial, agricultural and manufacturing sectors decline, and as we suffer from increasing national debt, trade deficits, energy dilemmas and weak currency, Americans have maintained relative parity largely through information-based technology and superior research--all predicated on a superb system of higher education. At some point, Mr. Summers, Ms. Denton, Ms. Hoffman and Mr. Birgeneau might have wondered what precisely was the system that produced their lavish salaries and great campuses--and what protocols of merit, transparency, intellectual honesty and scholarly rigor were necessary to maintain them.

The signs of erosion on our campuses are undeniable, whether we examine declining test scores, spiraling costs, or college graduates' ignorance of basic facts and ideas. In response, our academic leadership is not talking about a more competitive curriculum, higher standards of academic accomplishment, or the critical need freely to debate important issues. Instead, it remains obsessed with a racial, ideological, and sexual spoils system called "diversity." Even as the airline industry was deregulated in the 1970s, and Wall Street now has come under long-overdue scrutiny, it is time for Americans, if we are to ensure our privileged future, to re-examine our era's politicized university.

Why can't Johnny read, or design semiconductor chips, or program a computer? If Johnny is a white male, maybe it's because he was hopelessly confused his first day of school as a snot-nosed freshman, wondering why he was being accused of oppressing women and p'urt near every ethnic group on the planet, when all he came to do was study math and science.

Others commenting on Hanson's column are acta online, Hampton Stephens, The Pajamahadin, Transterrestial Musings, Hammerswing75

Monday, September 26, 2005

We'll miss him...this much

Don Adams, who will forever be known as Agent 86, passed away at the age of 82.

Get Smart was one of my most favorite shows of my youth. Who will forget the Cone of Silence, the shoe phone, KAOS, Agent 99, Agent 13 crammed into everything from a vending machine to a mailbox, the old triangulation device in the french bread trick, etc...

The Corner had a link to something I didn't know. Adams was in the Marines, and was on Guadalcanal.

Pink Freud

This goofball story out of the University of Iowa, my alma mater (one of them, anyway)...

A University of Iowa law professor said the school is promoting homophobia and will challenge whether Iowa is violating NCAA rules by painting a visitors' locker room pink.
The color was introduced decades ago by former Hawkeye coach Hayden Fry to soften opponents. But recent stadium renovations added more pink items to the locker room, including lockers, sinks and urinals.

Hayden Fry (the thinly disguised inspiration for the Craig T. Nelson TV series "Coach") was a psychology major, and had the visiting locker room painted pink, the theory being the girlie color would turn testosterone-saturated visiting football teams into powder puff girls.

Perhaps this year's team should find a way to sneak into the home team's locker room and paint it pink when Iowa is on the road. Iowa has won its two home games this season, but has been blown out in its two road games, getting stomped by Iowa State and Ohio State.

JunkYardBlog is amused by the story.

Babel Fish at it again

A friend of mine, who works at packaging internet content, such as worship services, in XML for rendering on a worship planning web site and a confirmation curriculum web site, emailed a couple of instances where certain things didn't quite get translated right. A miracle of speaking in tongues might be in order.

The developer I work with just told me he saw a translation from Russian into English of what should have been "the spirit and the flesh," but was rendered as "vodka and meat."

The subject came up when I mentioned that the foot washing rite in Spanish is "Lavatorio de los Pies," which, obviously, Babel Fish calls "Lavatory of the Feet."

I wish they would gum up their mouths

President Bush was criticized widely on the Left for his response, or perceived lack thereof, to Hurricane Katrina. So, as Hurricane Rita approached the Texas-Lousiana coast, Bush went to Colorado Springs and Texas to closely monitor events.

It shouldn't surprise you that for some on the Left, there's nothing Bush could do to satisfy them.

On his radio program last Friday, Hugh Hewitt chatted with the Beltway Boys, that Dynamic Duo of Demosthenesian Dissuasion, about this point.

Hugh said:

HH: Okay. Let me ask you, the president of course, is at Colorado Springs. He didn't want to go into Texas to divert resources. Is he overplaying his hand here? Now he's being accused by Gregory of the White House Press Corps of overplaying, after underplaying, and Gregory was upset about that three weeks ago.

As another example, take this blog. The self-described Liberal Phoenix says:

He’s going to “look” at it? He’s going to “show support for the first responders”? That’s the lesson he learned form Katrina? He needs to “look” more? Please tell me there’s something more than that.
Going down there now is totally inappropriate and can only serve as a distraction to the first responders that he is going to “thank”. He has a job to do, and I only pray that his job is something more important than monitoring, looking, or thanking.

Blogs for Bush has this question asked by a reporter:

After President Bush briefed reporters on his intention to visit the area affected by Hurricane Rita as soon as possible, one reporter yelled, "Sir, what good can you do going down to the hurricane zone? Might you get in the way?"

I'm not sure what Bush could've done to satisfy these people. Perhaps they wanted Bush to lash himself to a tree on the Texas coast like Odysseus, take the brunt of the hurricane right in the teeth, and shout "Don't gum up my ears! I want to hear the siren call of the hurricane! Let it sing to me!"


Power Line takes its own try at standing on overwatch. They take a look at media coverage of Katrina, and wonder why so many things the media reported turned out to be wrong.

* How did so many false rumors come to be reported as fact?
* Do news outlets have any procedures in place to avoid this kind of mis-reporting? If so, why did their procedures fail so miserably?
* To what extent were the false rumors honest mistakes, and to what extent were they deliberate fabrications?
* To the extent that the false reports were deliberate, did the press pass them on through sheer negligence, or did some reporters participate in deliberate fabrication?
* Did the widespread breakdown in accurate reporting stem only from a failure to follow proper journalistic standards, or did it also reflect a deliberate effort to damage the Bush administration by passing on unconfirmed rumors as fact?
* In deciding what stories to report, did the news media consider the likelihood that passing on false rumors would damage the rescue effort?


The Sunday edition of the Star Tribune had one of those articles that gives the Strib its cellar-dweller reputation among conservatives.

It was pure agenda-driven agitprop in favor of homosexual marriage. The article, entitled Hand in Hand, offered nothing more than the story of two retired men who had been a support to each other for years.

Every Sunday morning, as sunlight seeps through the cream and blue church windows, Ken Dedina and Bobby Paula walk from their second-row pew, hand in hand, to take communion together.

The two retired men scurry downstairs a few minutes later, as the singing and services end at All God's Children Metropolitan Community Church in south Minneapolis.
For others in the Twin Cities gay community, Dedina and Paula provide a reason to believe in monogamy and the power of long-term relationships. They've been together 48 years, helping each other through unemployment, diabetes, depression and even a quintuple bypass surgery.

"For a gay couple to stay together since they met in 1957 is pretty unusual, particularly for men of their generation -- they're gems of God," said the Rev. Paul Eknes-Tucker, pastor at All God's Children, where the motto on the church program tells worshippers to "just come as you are."

There's the usual tale of oppression:

The bar they'd visit in the basement of a brownstone in Manhattan required a secret knock and a peephole check before you'd be allowed in. If someone suspicious was at the door, the light over the tiny dance floor would switch on and everyone would split up and sit at tables.

"Homosexuality was an arrestable offense," Dedina said. "The cops could walk right in and do whatever they wanted."

The real reason for this article becomes clear towards the end of the piece:

Having support in an increasingly accepting community has helped Dedina and Paula maintain their relationship for nearly 50 years. But there have been times when they wish the union could be legally on par with heterosexual marriages.

In this metro area of nearly 3 mllion people, how many stories do you think there are of people supporting each other through thick and thin, through illness and hard times? Out of all those stories, how did the Strib settle on a gay couple who wished they could be legally married?

I'll tell you how. The Strib didn't just happen to come across this story and think gee, our readers might enjoy this heartwarming story. No, the far-Left editorial bent of the Star Tribune does not allow passivity. The paper continually pushes its agenda in front of its readers. If the activist Left can push things far enough so that gay marriage is instituted by judicial fiat, they would be thrilled. No need to go through the messy process of persuading voters. But if the activist Left can keep pushing things till voters just give in and say oh what's the harm, then that works too.

Rambix noticed the same article.

Dispatch from the Front VI

In the last dispatch we looked at the various interests at work in Iraq. This time we'll continue with the theme that it is important the US not cut and run at this point.

Howdy. Been meaning to update around birthday time and that didn't happen but time has gotten away from me as usual. Of course, anyone who knows me could hint there is a bit of procrastination involved and they would be correct. But truth be told we have been busy. Nothing like celebrating a birthday with a combat mission in the middle of Mess-o-potamia. Ha. So, buckle in and hang on for some more mindbending freeassociation rambling.

It has and probably will stay at about an average rate of violence for some time, most likely years. The bad guys, whoever they may be in their various factions, are well funded, organized, trained, equiped, recruited and replaced at a fairly constant rate. They arent in their "last throes", at least yet.

So far, they have too much too lose to give in and their incentives to give in are not present despite myriad efforts to get everyone what they want. Too many intractable differences to be settled in a short time and all neat and tidy.

It took years for the early US constitution to be formed by historical events and they were in relative peace. Here, under the given pressures with the factions as diametrically opposed as they are, it is unreasonable to expect them all to just sit down as friends as write up a system of goverance.
To wit:
We the people of the United States,
in order to form a more perfect union,
establish Justice,
insure domestic Tranquility,
provide for the common defence,
promote the general Welfare,
and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

This preamble to the US constitution is quite remarkable in its essence and simplicity, but in the end it really says it all, all it needs to. It embodies what we all want and should have. It's probably what most Iraqis would want. To get the factions of Iraq to sit in peace and agree to the above principles is nice in theory and very difficult in practice outside the safety of the green zone in Baghdad.

That's what a good government is for, stability. In its absence, you get chaos and anarchy (see hurricane katrina hmm.) or say, Iraq.

The genius and miracle of the modern era has enabled an era of Tranquility to exist in unprecedented degrees not previously possible. America's overall GRAND PLAN is to extend peace and prosperity throughout the globe to those areas of instability.

Don't take what you all enjoy for granted. Most Americans just have no idea there is a greater world beyond the good life they enjoy. It was achieved through hard effort and sacrifice. And it is maintained only by the grace of God and human endeavor for without it all that we enjoy can be taken away in a short moment of chaos or disaster or neglect. I also mention the national anthem, the Star Spangled Banner.

Key wrote the first paragraph of the poem (there are 4, I am amazed at how many americans dont know this but then, publice education and society is not what it used to be, unfortunate in some ways. just once, at a baseball game i would like to see the whole song sung, maybe at this years world series?)

You see, as he watched Fort McHenry get blasted by the Brits throughout the night fight, there was doubt about whether or not the Americans could hold out against the attack. The point of the poem was Key himself did not know how it all would end. There was smoke, confusion, explosions, but he kept seeing the flag flying. And it gave him hope. Eventually the Brits gave up and We Won. But it took courage and perserverance.

I could go on and on but I have written before about how short sighted and mistaken it would be for our current national foreign policy and war strategy to be predicated upon a timeline of months to a few short years and a finite amount of war casualties, i.e. America's modern war motto: We only fight 2 years and 3 months and 4 days and 3 hours and 5 minutes and then we all go home or after 3483 kia whichever comes first. Bad idea Yes, there is a time and a place for everything. Sometimes, you have to cut your losses and realize your goals will not be achieved. Us involvement in the vietnam war is a prime example. After years of spinning tires when it became clear the national political and military leadership did not intend to win and conclude the war after thousands of casualities the us backed out.

This is certainly not the time for it now here in Iraq. Overall the strategy is going ok to fair. There are huge implications for premature exit. All have bad ramifications for America. Politically, militarily, diplomatically, economically and from national security perspective, it would be a disaster.

I am not going to debate or explain the whys and wherefores of why we are here now. It's moot at this point and even those political leaders opposed to the invasion (ie france, germany, russia, china etc) realized this and now have to deal with the reality on the ground as it is today. But, I keep emphasizing, those who are in the military now all volunteered for this. Good or bad.

I don't like it anymore than anyone else. There is a big mess here, no doubt. But, it was my choice. Of course an American has a right in the say of how and when we are deployed. But once committed it is best to see it through to its successful conclusion.

Unless we reinvade all over again and rule all these fighting idiots ourselves (which would take a massive army to subdue them all but we all know that is not going to happen) if we just turned tail and run now, what did all those troops get killed and wounded for?! That would not due justice to their effort.

Yes, it's extremely unfortunate. but that's war. It's what happens. I don't want casualties. I wouldn't like it to happen to me or anyone i personally know. But that's the risks. At times, I would just like to leave. Go home to peace and quiet. See my wife and home and family. What could be better than that? Freedom. Peace. Anything and anywhere but here.

Sometimes, I can almost taste it, like a steak you can smell grilling. You can almost savor it even though it is far from your mouth. I look out across a village to a scene out of the bible or some story in arabian nights and it seems so tranquil and serene. But I know, for me and my kind, many of these areas merely holds death waiting for us if we make a mistake or get unlucky.

Well, I can sometimes almost taste the freedom. I crave it. Just the taste and I will be satisfied. How is it that sometimes something is cherished more once its gone? Once a taste of freedom, and you will hunger for it forever. Your thirst for it cannot be quenched. Well, you dont have to have something taken away to hold it near and dear. You can appreciate you have without having it taken away first. But it sure is a lot sweeter once regained.

For someone like Senator McCain and others similar who endured years of torture in prison of war, I can near not imagine what resolve it took for him to endure and triumph. I had enough of the few days of prison training we did. Let me tell you, after that, shall we say, unpleasant experience, being set free to the sound and sight of the American flag was incomparable, near rapturous joy upon release from pure misery. And the knowledge of freedom. pure freedom. It was sweeter than honey.

And don't the good people of Iraq that we fought for and are now dieing for deserve a chance at that? So maybe, one day, we can all live in peace and prosperity like we do now with our once former bitter enemies? Wouldn't that be nice to visit the middle east and have it known for something other than war and bombs and killing?

Well, I say, after stumbles, we have a good plan. Let Iraq stand up and take over. But we have to create and maintain the conditions for which that will be possible. That's simple fact. If we leave too early these iraqis will collapse into a huge civil war. It's going to take more time and resources for them to create stability. I knew that as soon as the rumble to war began it would take ALOT of effort, much more than was being said at the time.

(and it was a bit disengenuous to suggest otherwise by our leaders -but would the plan have sold if we were merely promised more blood, sweat, toil and tears? Oh yeah, by the way, years of analysis indicates ancient rivalries will surface and a huge struggle for power will erupt and it will take near a half trillion dollars or more (we are near a quarter trillion right now) and years of settling the squables before it all comes out in the wash. So, are you with me America? Sound of crickets. I wish for once, though, a politician would just say it straight)

Yes! It's frustrating! I know, I am here living and dealing with it every day. Working with these iraqis is like herding cats or a three ring circus of clowns. But an American trait should be sticking it out through thick and thin. All those who are married know that. Who wants only a fair weather friend?

In the next dispatch, for a little change of pace, we'll look at the type of rounds (bullets) used widely in the US military.

Dispatch from the Front I
Dispatch from the Front II
Dispatch from the Front III
Dispatch from the Front IV
Dispatch from the Front V

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Creating the Iraqi Army

In this post, Bill Roggio mentioned Operation Sayaid, which is now getting underway. Part of this plan calls for the Iraqi 7th Army Division to provide permanent security in the region.

This is the only way the US will be able to extricate itself from Iraq with hopes of leaving behind a nation able to stand on its own, if the Iraqi forces are able to perform security functions by themselves.

This Iraqi 7th Division trained under the II Marine Expeditionary Force.

This photo shows some of the Division in training. This photo is from CentCom, and the caption read:

Iraqi army recruits assigned to 3rd Battalion, 1st Brigade, 7th Division, participate in a practical application exercise on entering and exiting a convoy during hostile fire at the Eastern Fallujah Iraqi Camp, located on Camp Fallujah, on July 26, 2005.

I emailed the II M.E.F. to ask about how this 7th Division was formed, and if the makeup of the division might have an impact on its security mission, given it will be operating largely in the Anbar region. This area is largely Sunni, and in general I wonder if significant numbers of Shiite troops operating in Sunni areas might pose difficulties. Iraq will see success only if they can get past these sectarian differences, at this enough to see the Iraqi Army as a national army.

A Major with the Public Affairs Office of Multi-National Force - West emailed me back. This was his reply:

Thank you for your interest in Iraqi Security Forces.

The Iraqi Army, as you may know, is a national (and secular) army, designed much like our own services.

Soldiers are recruited and assigned to units and deployed to areas that they are needed. Recruiting continues and the ISF is striving to ensure that the population of Iraq is well and equally represented in their armed forces.

As I mentioned earlier, all the units are secular and are designed to reflect the make up of the population: Shiite, Sunni and Kurd. Therefore there will be more Shiite than Sunnis and Kurds simply because the country is predominantly Shiite. The 7th Div will be located and operating in Al Anbar province and is a mixed unit.

After speaking with our liaison to the ISF, we are seeing that the units in our area of operation are not only performing, but they are having success. Just as the Marines send forces anywhere and we adjust to work with the local population and gain their trust, the Iraqi Army has done and continues to focus on doing that.

For instance, a commander of one of the units is a Sunni, he will assume command of units that are a widely mixed. Conversely, another commander is a Kurd who has an XO that is Sunni and a chief of staff is a Shiite.

Finally, as a commander speaking to my new Marines in the past, I've explained our Marine Corps, (and now the Iraqi military) like this:

Units are like orchestras. You need many of people with all kinds of backgrounds. Some are violins, some are tubas and we even have some triangles and bells, but the resulting sound is one that can move people and inspire greatness. In our case, our concert hall is anywhere we deploy and the ISF is expected to be employed in the same manner.

Historically, you can even look at the civil war or many other wars where units came from different geographic locations with different backgrounds in the US and were able to mix and achieve success. This model is intended to help establish national unity as well.

From my own experience here now and from 2 years ago, it is common to see people from all backgrounds living in the same neighborhoods. One house will fly a Sunni flag and their neighbor will fly a Shiite flag. Despite what may be reported, I find Iraq to be a religiously tolerant nation.

Hope this helps explain your questions. Thanks for your kind wishes as well!

The Iraqi Army has seen encouraging success lately, for instance in Tal Afar. It is encouragin if mixed units can work together and perform the tasks necessary to rebuild Iraq, and provide security for their fellow countrymen.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Telling the whole story

In the previous post about the military's significant involvement in hurricane relief efforts, John posted a terrific comment with some of Victor Davis Hanson's thoughts on what the media choose to report on during these storms.

For all the media's efforts to turn the natural disaster of New Orleans into either a racist nightmare, a death knell for one or the other political parties or an indictment of American culture at large, it was none of that at all. What we did endure instead were slick but poorly educated journalists, worried not about truth but about preempting their rivals with an ever more hysterical story, all in a fuzzy context of political correctness about race, the environment and the war.

Let ghoulish CNN file suit against the government to film all the bloated corpses it can find. Let a pontificating PBS "NewsHour" conduct more televised roundtables with grim-faced elites searching out purported national racism. But few any longer trust a frenzied media whose reporters and commentators continually prove as incompetent as they are disingenuous.

Was it too much to ask reporters to look to history to judge this recovery against other past disasters here and abroad? Could they have strived for accuracy instead of ratings — and at least made sure that the images from their cameras did not refute their own predetermined scripts?

I linked to that page listing numerous military operations related to Rita and Katrina because it struck me just how little I'd heard about these operations in the media.

I do often question the media's reliability, but I should say the I think print media is usually light years better than the broadcast and cable tv news networks. The TV media are usually after the shocking emotion-laden images, and they could care less about telling the complete story.

I watched some of the TV coverage late last night as the hurricane approached the coast, and no matter what channel I was on, it mostly consisted of the typical shot of some poor correspondent standing in the wind and rain commenting about how bad the wind and rain was. For 45 minutes that's all I heard. At one point, the camera panned over to Shepherd Smith on FOX, but he wanted the camera to stay on some business sign, as the wind was starting to peel it away. Oooh, gripping.

Some of the channels kept saying landfall could come at "any time", even the eye was still 40 miles out. Gotta hype, gotta hype. Three buildings in Galveston caught fire, and that's all I heard about for 40 minutes. I figured maybe this hurricane isn't going to be too bad if the only thing they can find to beat to death is three burning buildings.

Why not tell the stories of these military personnel and the work they are doing? Tell the story of the Iwo Jima, what they've been doing since Katrina, and their sortie to escape Rita? Or all of these operations, conducted by 72,000 troops? Did you know that many were involved?

Yeah, I know why we don't see these kinds of stories on TV. Because this isn't nearly as exciting and gripping and heartpounding as this.

The military's humanitarian mission

If you didn't think the military has enough to do with operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, plus its ongoing presence in South Korea, Germany, England, Guam, etc... plus sailing every ocean on the planet, the military is playing a significant role in the aftermath of Hurricane Rita, lending a helping hand to relief efforts.

This web page, Military Support in the wake of the Gulf Coast Hurricanes, has the details.

This story details the complex Air Force, Air Force Reserve, Coast Guard and National Guard operations. For example,

The Air Force evacuated 16 F-16s and one C-26 from Ellington Field, in Houston. Six F-16s and the C-26 were evacuated to Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M.; five F-16s to Fort Worth, Texas; two F-16s to Atlantic City, N.J.; two F-16s to Tulsa, Okla.; and one F-16 to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.

Two C-5 Galaxy aircraft with the 433rd Airlift Wing at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio are poised to assist with the evacuation of areas in Hurricane Rita's path, including Houston and Beaumont, Texas. The 433rd also sent a five-member aeromedical-evacuation command-and-control team to Beaumont to stand ready to operate a medical-evacuation control point from that location. The team initially responded to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

The Air Force has five C-17s, six C-130s, three C-5s and two contingency-response groups on three-hour alert.

Here is a hi-res photo showing U.S. Air Force personnel preparing an empty recruit house for evacuees of Hurricane Rita at Lackland Air Force Base.

At Scott AFB, where my brother-in-law is stationed, Air Mobility Command has been involved with evacuations.

On Sept. 21, AMC began positioning key personnel and resources throughout the Gulf Coast area in the event the storm delivers another devastating blow to that region.

The command also began airlifting patients and other evacuees from the path of the hurricane.

On two missions Sept. 22, C-9 and C-130 aircraft were used to transport more than 100 patients from Beaumont, Texas, and Port Arthur, Texas. According to AMC officials, the command was expected to evacuate between 1,700 and 2,000 patients from that area alone.

On Sept. 23, Col. Jeff Franklin, a senior controller with the Tanker Airlift Control Center here, said the command only had a few hours left to transport the remaining evacuees. "Were chasing the clock," he said. "The weather is getting real bad, real fast. We only have two and half to three hours to move these people."

He said the command is planning additional missions using C-17 aircraft from the 97th Air Mobility Wing (Altus AFB, Okla.), and the 62nd and 446th airlift wings at McChord AFB, Wash.; a C-141 from the 445th AW at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio; as well as C-130s from Little Rock AFB, Ark., C-5s from Lackland AFB, Texas; and various other active duty, Guard and Reserve aircraft.

According to a McChord AFB press release, a C-17 assigned to the 313th Airlift Squadron (446th AW) there departed the base Sept. 22 en route to Travis AFB, Calif., to pick up 400 patient litters and 800 cargo straps. The crew is delivering the equipment to Beaumont where it will be pre-positioned for possible use in evacuating non-ambulatory patients. McChord AFB officials said another C-17, from the 62nd AW, departed the base today in support of Hurricane Rita operations.

This page lists many many operations associated with Rita and Katrina.

Yet more reasons to appreciate our hardworking, dedicated military!

(btw, in her post on Michael Moore's website dated Sept 16, Cindy Sheehan said of those military units providing aid and comfort in hurricane-ravaged New Orleans:

I don't care what flag a person salutes: if a human being is hungry, then it is up to another human being to feed him/her. George Bush needs to stop talking, admit the mistakes of his all around failed administration, pull our troops out of occupied New Orleans and Iraq, and excuse his self from power.

Occupied New Orleans?!? The radical Left really are useful idiots at times, as they remind us what their bankrupt philosophy is capable of.)

Friday, September 23, 2005

Does a manic Iran worry you?

Michael Ledeen has another sui generis column in Iran up at NRO today. Ledeen has been one of the very strongest voices warning us of the nature of Iran's rulers. In the opening sentences of the column, Ledeen says:

It was obvious from the outset that no good could come from these talks, because Iran will not abandon its nuclear program and neither the Europeans nor the Bush administration are prepared to do anything serious about it. The sham nuclear negotiations were in large part a way of avoiding what should be the central issue: Iran’s central role in the terror war against the West.

Ledeen has been skeptical of our government's ability to respond:

As I predicted after the elections, the regime is now showing its fangs, both at home and abroad. I have no doubt that the professional analysts in the State department, the intelligence community, and the National Security Council are presenting a soothing interpretation of these events, arguing that there is a new "administration" in Tehran, and it will take a bit of time before they tone down their rhetoric and come to terms with reality. But this assumes that the Iranians are capable of understanding reality, and that we are capable of understanding them. The record to date suggests both assumptions are false.

The mullahs are altogether capable of deciding that events are now running strongly in their favor, and that they should strike directly at the United States. They look at us, and they see a deeply divided nation, a president who talked a lot about bringing democratic revolution to Iran and then did nothing to support it, a military that is clearly fighting in Iraq alone, and counting the days until we can say "it’s up to the Iraqis now," and — again based on what they see in our popular press — a country that has no stomach for a prolonged campaign against the remaining terror masters in Iran, Syria, and Saudi Arabia.

In many of his other columns, Ledeen has urged the United Stated to foster regime change in Iran, to support dissidents and those in Iran who want to be free. His closes his column this way:

Lacking any defined policy, we can only judge the president and his aides by their actions, and there aren’t any, aside from the occasional speech or offhand remark at a press conference. The mullahs see that, and treat it with the contempt it deserves. We are currently indistinguishable from the Europeans, who run whenever the Iranians snarl at them.

This is not a war on terror, it is paralysis at best, and appeasement at worst. The hell of it is that it is costing thousands of lives, and will cost many more until the terror masters are destroyed, or we surrender. Those words were inconceivable for many years, but it is a sign of our present fecklessness that they are now entirely appropriate. We can still lose this war. And we cannot win it so long as we are blinded by our potentially fatal failure of strategic vision: we are in a regional war, but we have limited our actions to a single theater. Our most potent weapons are political and ideological, but our actions have been almost exclusively military.

Our main enemy, the single greatest engine in support of the terror war against us, whether Sunni or Shiite, jihadi, or secular, Arab or British or Italian or Spaniard, is Iran. There is no escape from this fact. The only questions are how long it will take us to face it, how effective we will be when we finally decide to act, and how terrible the price will be for our long delay.

In childhood we all learned about the silly ostrich who stuck its head in the sand when danger was near. We can look away, but the problem of Iran is not going away.

Tick tick tick...

In Search Of... III

It's time for another installment of In Search Of... These are some of the more amusing web searches that have stumbled across my blog. (The previous installment is here.)

-use the bible mystically
-sesame Street balloon on a stick
-Book Peace like a river by Leif Enger what is the first chapter about
-can you give me 5 ideas about peace is like
-he went in his pants
-Why it is that when we travel West we need longer time to adjust to jetlag than when we travel towards East
-Cartoon outhouse measurements
-a picture on a plate with 2 women going across the river with the caption of I'll show you across the river
-send free indian magazine to iran
-christian wackiness
-pga tour network hot xm girls
-how the harold hecuba did you do that
-sweet life itself even the desperately sought chance

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Thursday wrap-up

Friday (tomorrow) is a school day for me, so will be pretty quiet. I left you with some extra posts to pick up the slack.

In the event I end up one of the final five in this week's Hugh Hewitt blog of the week fest over at Radioblogger, I'll put up a post linking to where you can go vote for *ahem* whichever one you choose.

As John commented, remember the folks of Texas and Louisiana in your prayers this weekend. Some hard times may be headed towards some folks.

Have a good weekend, one and all.

Just what lesson did Iran learn?

Tigerhawk links to a yahoo news article about Iran's ceremonies marking the start of the 1980-1988 war with Iraq.

The news articles says:

"We have always said we want friendly relations with other countries," said President Mamhoud Ahmadinejad, addressing his first military parade since taking office last month.

"(But) those who decide to misuse our nation's honor and dignity and want to test what has been tested in the past, should know that the flames of the nation's wrath are very hot and destructive," he added.

Ahmadinejad said Iran's enemies had learned a lesson from the eight-year war during which Iran and Iraq fought each other to a standstill and hundreds of thousands were killed.

"Iran's enemies understood that the nation is very serious in defending the country's security, integrity, and the achievements of the (1979 Islamic) revolution," he said.

What lesson did Iran learn from that bloody war with Iraq? They learned the value of having a hammer ten times bigger than your opponent, so that your opponent will think twice about attacking you. Iran wants nuclear weapons to have some weight to throw around.

Tigerhawk says:

Iran's president, Mamhoud Ahmadinejad, said today that Iran "[has] always said we want friendly relations with other countries." But how can he square this with "Israel should be wiped off the map" and tramping America "under our feet"? He can't, and we can't. As he was speaking his own military was showing him to be a liar.

Neither the press nor Western diplomats seem to have pointed out Mamhoud Ahmadinejad's barefaced lie. Neither the press nor the West say anything because they think of these guys as line-drawing leaders of a cartoon country, and they do not want to strengthen the American case for confronting Iran. Indeed, under current circumstances, even the United States may not want to strengthen that case for fear of boxing itself in to another showdown with no support from the Europeans. The result is that the Iranian head of state can flap his gums all day long about Iran's desire for "friendly relations" and why one of the most energy-rich countries on earth needs peaceful nuclear power and nobody even raises an eyebrow when his own military -- not some alleged student demonstrators but the Iranian army -- calls for the destruction of two countries that Iran attacked first (the United States Embassy in 1979 and Israel via Hezbollah).

Tick tick tick...

Success one terrorist at a time

Al Qaida in Iraq Emir killed in Haditha

Coalition forces raided a terrorist safe house in the city of Haditha Sept. 18, resulting in the death of Shehab Hamed (aka Abu Ali), a known al Qaida in Iraq senior military Emir, and the capture of another terrorist.

Abu Ali has been identified as the senior al Qaida in Iraq military Emir of al Qaim and was responsible for all terrorist operations in the al Qaim area, to include directing, planning and executing VBIED, IED and mortar attacks against Iraqi security and Coalition forces.

Coalition forces believe that Abu Ali recently assumed the role of regional al Qaida in Iraq military Emir responsible for all regional terrorist operations for the group in the al Qaim and Haditha areas along the Euphrates River Valley. Abu Ali recently moved from al Qaim to Haditha where he was killed.

Coalition forces capture driver of key al Qaida leader

Coalition forces captured Abdul Ghafur Yahiyah Abdullah al Abdullah (aka Abu Nur), a known terrorist who served as a driver for two key al Qaida in Iraq leaders, in Mosul Sept. 6.

Abu Nur originally worked for the Abu Musab al Zarqawi-led terrorist organization while in Tall Afar for about 10 months. He was later sent to assist with terrorist activities in Mosul by a leader within the Tall Afar-based terrorist network in early 2005. Abu Nur admitted to joining the al Qaida in Iraq terrorist network approximately 18 months ago.

For the past eight months until his recent capture, Abu Nur drove Sa’eed Ismael Mustafa (aka Abu Shahed), the Emir of West Mosul who was captured Sept. 5 -- one day prior to Abu Nur’s detention. Abu Nur also drove for another key terrorist leader who is still at large and his name is being withheld for operational reasons.

Abu Shahed was captured along with Taha Ibrahim Yasin Becher (aka Abu Fatima) during a Sept. 5 raid. Abu Fatima was the Emir of Mosul and al Qaida’s top leader in the city’s network at the time.

All we are get lost

Byron York has a delicious account of the rather pathetic Cindy Sheehan "protest" in D.C.

But on this day the clients were having a hard time getting to the media. Fletcher explained that the buses had been held up by Capitol Hill police while officers performed routine searches for weapons and explosives. They'd be arriving soon.

But 15 minutes passed, then 30, then 40, and still no Sheehan. Finally, after another call, Fletcher said the problem was not, apparently, the searches, but that the cops would not allow the buses to roll right up to the base of the Capitol grounds. Instead, they would have to stop at Third Street, across the Reflecting Pool from where everyone was waiting. So the camera crews made their way over there, to wait a bit longer for the shot of Sheehan stepping off the bus.

But when the buses arrived, they weren't buses at all. Instead, the "Bring Them Home Now" bus tour — the "o" in "Now" was a 60s-style peace sign — consisted of three rented recreational vehicles, each with perhaps ten or twelve people on board. That was it.
"Kiss the bumpers, man! Kiss the bumpers!" [Fithian] yelled, signaling to the RV drivers that they should inch their vehicles directly behind one another. "The banner! The banner!" she shouted as Sheehan and her supporters began to walk toward the Capitol without first unfurling their "Bring Them Home Now" sign. "Move back! Move back!" she ordered photographers as they closed in on Sheehan.

As they walked, the small group began call-and-response chants. "WHAT DO WE WANT?" they yelled. "TROOPS HOME! WHEN DO WE WANT IT? NOW!" Every now and then, they chanted "NO MORE BLOOD FOR OIL!" and "NOT ONE MORE!"

This is not to feel sorry for Sheehan and her meager little bleat. Oh no. When you stake your soul to the shifting sands of false truths, anger politics, and hate, don't be surprised if you slip and fall face first in it.

Betsy Newmark links to an article that shines some light on the cockroaches, I mean, organizations behind this protest.


Belmont Club analyses a terrific post from Chester where he compares a Time Magazine article with some DoD briefings.

The Time article uses phrases like these:

"elusive and inexhaustible enemy"
"success" is "elusive"
"inexhaustible enemy emboldened by the US presence"
"gradual . . . erosion" in public support
"millions of Iraqis will vote on a constitution that threatens to further split the country"
"beleaguered US mission in Iraq"

Col McMaster used phrases like these:

"The enemy . . . is the worst of the worst in terms of people in the world."
"no better enemy for our soldiers and Iraqi army soldiers to pursue and defeat"
"our troopers were very aggressive"
"we pursued them very effectively"
"gain access here by a very good relationship with the people"
"they can't hide in plain sight anymore"
"there's a permanent security presence here"
"the enemy is denied that area"

Col. Brown used phrases like these:

"desperate situation for al Qaeda and the insurgents in Mosul"
"sources we have inside the al Qaeda network . . . have . . . informed us of that"
"population clearly understands they want freedom . . . they are sick and tired of
the terrorists"
"the government has really improved their legitimacy"
"the Iraqi forces are getting better"
"the situation improving on a daily basis in Mosul"
"normalcy has come back to the city"

Sigh. Read all of Chester's piece, it's terrific.

Belmont Club adds this:

It's possible that the author, Michael Ware, has a certain point of view and he is certainly entitled to it. The problem I had, reading it, was with the who, what, where, when of the narrative. What really happened at Tal-Afar? Let's consider the battlefield metric of casualties. How many enemy troops died? Ware's answer is found in two places, suggestive, atmospheric and devoid of particulars.
The only thing that will matter in the long run is not which opinion was better expressed, but which of these two stories was true.

The mainstream media has not done enough to tell the complete story of the progress being made in Iraq. It is left to terrific bloggers like Belmont Club, Chester, and Bill Roggio to try and piece the story together from their living rooms.

To that end, Chester refers to a flash presentation put together by Bill Roggio, Marvin Hutchens, and Steve Schippert. It can be found here.

It points out the various operations conducted recently in northern Iraq as part of the larger campaign to put pressure on the terrorists, as I wrote about earlier.

There is so much the media could be doing here. These operations can be a confusing string of names and places, but there is an opportunity to tell the story to the American public, to inform us of the plan US and Iraqi forces have, of the skill they show in carrying out these operations, of the success we are seeing.

MOBster Shakedown

I recently got myself added to the Minnesota Organization of Bloggers, a.k.a the M.O.B. I've been getting to know some of those blogs, so thought I'd link to some good posts around the MOB. Read them and I won't break your legs.

Northern 'burbs blog - Ron has a thoughtful series on evil going.

Psycmeistr - His son recently graduated from AIT, and will eventually be in Iraq.

Rambix has had some nice posts on crime in Minneapolis. See here and here.

The Night Writer has some interesting thoughts on the fog of clarity.

The Patriette is thinking of her husband as he deploys to Iraq with the MN National Guard.

The First Ring has an interesting post about Russian politics.

Kiihnworld found an amusing Marine Corps slogan.

Freedom Dogs looks at escalating property taxes around the metro area.

After the storm

Some troll-nasty storms came through the north metro area of the Twin Cites last night. Strong winds, hail, lots of rain. Gusts up to 80 mph were recorded, tennis-ball sized hail in spots. Lots of trees down, power out, some damaged homes in spots. One man was killed when a tree limb fell on him

Lots of traffic lights still out this morning, so traffic was a bear. I took a lot of back roads though and made pretty good time. I saw a number of big trees toppled over, a couple of them on top of cars.

Our house escaped the worst of it. Just pea-sized hail, Rhonda said there was 3 inches of rain in the gauge, and the oak trees in the back yard dropped enough sticks to build a battleship.

The power went out at the house for 15 minutes or so, and that scared John. Before the storm arrived, Hanna said we should go downstairs and watch the storm and play Go Fish. Heh. The last time a storm came through, that's we did, watch the weather coverage on tv and played Go Fish and the couch, so Hanna was thinking hey, that's our normal storm routine!

Very rare to have storms this strong this late in the year. But as bad as they were, still not much compared to hurricanes, and Rita is bearing down on Texas.

Update on Iraqi Armed Forces

As I mentioned in a previous post, the Iraqis are slowly building up their own armed forces. Still have a ways to go, yes, and they may not be capable yet of handling security in Iraq on their own yet, but they have progressed far far beyond where they were a year ago. Here are a few details on their progress.

According to this State Dept progress report (PDF), dated September 14, the Iraqi army numbers 86,400, and police and other Interior Ministry forces number 104,300.

In this issue (PDF) of Scimitar, the official publication of Multi-National Force - Iraq, there is a story on page 2 telling of a ceremony in Najaf, where security control of that city was handed over to Iraqi forces.

The story right below that one tells of the progress MNF is making, and highlights a number of terrorists killed or captured, including Abu Zayd, the al-Qaeda military emir of Mosul.

This issue (PDF) of This Week in Iraq tells of the key role played by Iraqi forces in Tal Afar. The article on page 1 says:

The Iraqi-led operations included more than 11,200 Soldiers from the 3rd Iraqi Army Division, Ministry of Interior forces and the U.S. Army’s 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment. The operation resulted in the death of more than 150 terrorists, detention of 427 terrorists, and discovery of 53 weapons caches. Additionally, security forces discovered an improvised explosive device-making factory, a cave used to hide people and equipment, and concealed observation and sniper positions. The Iraqi Forces put an end to the acts of terror being carried out against the citizens of Tall Afar, said Maj. Gen. Khorsheed Saleem Al-Doski.

This lengthy document (PDF) by Anthony Cordesman, called a rough draft, is dated August 5 2005, and looks at Iraqi Force Development.

The document explains that there is still work to be done, but there are good signs, particulary in Iraqi recruitment:

Manpower quality was improving, but there were ongoing questions about motivation and loyalty. Recruiting and retention standards were being raised, as were the standards for promotion. Vetting was being improved overall, although reliable personnel data were often lacking a war-torn society. In cases like the police, screening examinations adapted from Western police vetting and testing methods were also being applied for the first time in Iraq’s history.

Recruiting did not become a problem in spite of daily insurgent attacks on Iraqi forces. Insurgents stepped up their attacks on the military and security forces after the election, and singled out Shi’ites for attack in events like the religious festivities surrounding the Shi’ite holiday of Ashura. Even so, the US Department of Defence issued an update on February 16, 2005 that stated that between 8,000 and 10,000 Iraqis had shown up at an airfield in southern Iraq to join the army in one day.

At the OpinionJournal website on Wednesday, Jalal Talabani, President of Iraq, had an editorial that anyone interested in Iraq should read.

Talabni begins:

There is no more important international issue today than the need to defeat the curse of terrorism. And as the first democratically elected president of Iraq, I have a responsibility to ensure that the world's youngest democracy survives the inherently difficult transition from totalitarianism to pluralism. A transformation of the Iraqi state and Iraqi society is impossible without a sustained commitment of soldiers from the United States and other democracies.

Talabani goes on to highlight the progress has been made, and points out Iraqi forces are making progress, and he closes with his gratitude for America's help:

If we keep progressing at the present rate, Iraqis may be able to take over many security functions from foreign forces by the end of 2006. That is not a deadline, but it is reasonable aspiration. During my visit to the United States, I was fortunate to meet relatives of some of the brave troops serving in Iraq. They were staunch, and I want their loved ones to have to serve in Iraq not a moment longer than is necessary.
Without American forces, the vision of American leadership and the quiet fortitude of the American people, Iraqis would be almost alone in the world. With its allies, the United States has provided Iraqis with an unprecedented opportunity. Iraqis have responded by enthusiastically embracing democracy and volunteering to fight for their country. By giving us the tools, your troops help us to defend Iraqi democracy and to finish the job of uprooting Baathist fascism.

Finally, let us not forget the nature of the enemy. This MNF-Iraq press release tells of an incident where terrorists used children as human shields. One child died.

Betsy Newmark mentions an important issue, that of the Shiite-Sunni tensions in the Iraqi forces.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005


In this edition of Overwatch (the initial installment is here), I want to point you to something Mark Tapscott brought up today. Tapscott has at least once before publicized the work of Jayna Davis. Davis is an investigative reporter from Oklahoma City, and ever since the bombing of the Federal Building there in 1995, Davis has built up a case for Iraqi involvement in that bombing.

Davis has written a book entitled The Third Terrorist about her investigation.

In his post today, Tapscott asked Davis to provide a summary of her evidence.

Davis says of her investigation:

In detailed affidavits, these witnesses confidently identified eight specific Middle Eastern men, the majority of whom were former Iraqi soldiers, colluding with the Oklahoma City bombers, Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols.

All of these suspects immigrated to the United States following the Persian Gulf War, ostensibly seeking political asylum from the tyranny of Saddam Hussein. However, my investigation revealed they were, in fact, false defectors - not outspoken dissidents as they had claimed.
Nearly two dozen Oklahomans have signed sworn affidavits in which they accuse these ardent Saddam supporters and ex-enemy combatants of aiding and abetting McVeigh and Nichols during critical stages of the bombing plot.

The most incriminating testimony centered around one man - Hussain Hashem Al-Hussaini. Al-Hussaini not only fit the FBI's physical description in the official arrest warrant for John Doe 2, but according to veteran law enforcement officials, was a dead ringer for the government's profile sketch of the elusive suspect.

I bring this up to say most of the mainstream media (MSM) has virtually ignored Davis's work.

Let me say I have not read Davis's book, and I don't have any vested interest other than as a concerned citizen, but I've read enough of her work to say she raises some serious questions.

I am not a particularly conspiratorial-minded person, but like with any conspiracy, I say if the conspiracy is so patently false, than asking a few question ought to expose that fairly easily. If there is no truth to the allegations, the false charges should fall apart quickly.

Davis raises important questions about what our government knew then, and about what it knows now. As Americans, wouldn't we want to know if our government avoided looking into allegations that another nation committed an act of war? Why are agencies of the US government so uncooperative with Davis?

Isn't this the job of the media? What is the harm into looking into Davis's work and saying either she is full of beans, or that there might be something to her work?

(Note: Much of Davis's summary seems to be taken from this FrontPageMagazine interview.)

Here is a Frank Gaffney column summarizing Davis's work.

The master strategist

In the days following 9/11, there was prevalent talk of how Bin Laden would've had everything "gamed out", and would be ready for any US response. Just for starters, he surely would be expecting a move against the Taliban, and surely would have something frightening up his sleeve.

This comment from Juan Cole, a rather infamous opponent of Bush's policies in the Middle East, is typical of what was being said then.

Bin Laden had gamed out the aftermath of 9/11 and understood that the US might well try to partner with the Northern Alliance against the Taliban and al-Qaeda, and he wanted to reduce the military effectiveness of the NA by eliminating its most talented strategist, Massoud.

The talk was unsettling, as there was a real sense of fear in what was being said. The awful attacks were made worse by the apparent fact we had been attacked by a genius, for only a genius would have and could have executed such attacks, and such a genius would always be one step ahead of us no matter how we responded.

The talk got to the point where it almost seemed like we had no chance. Even if we had found a way to parachute ninja penguins behind enemy lines, Bin Laden, that old wily master gamer, would have had a response waiting for it.

As George Will would say...Well.

I want to give a summary of events that have taken place as a direct result of 9/11. I'd be willing to bet you a couple of goats and a camel that Bin Laden didn't count on all of this happening when he blew open that Pandora's Box.

1. The murderous Taliban were removed from power with extreme prejudice. Al Qaeda lost their safe haven and training facilities.

2. Pakistan, the Taliban's patron, has cooperated with the United States in this War on Terror, and has arrested many terrorists. True, Pakistan does try to play both ends at times, but US pressure has secured valuable help from Pakistan.

3. Al Qaeda's top leadership has been decimated.

4. Saddam Hussein's murderous regime in Iraq was forcibly removed with extreme prejudice. Al Qaeda is denied support, and the world would never have to worry about Hussein ever acquiring weapons of mass destruction.

5. Of the 55 most wanted figures in Hussein's regime, only 11 are still at large.

6. Saudi Arabia has cracked down on terrorists within its borders.

7. Syria has withdrawn its troops from Lebanon.

8. Libya has decided to dismantle its weapons of mass destruction.

9. In the Phillipines, the terrorist group Abu Sayyaf is under pressure.

10. Malaysia has been an ally in the war against the terrorists.

11. The United States has established a military presence in Central Asia.

12. Relations with France and Germany have been put in a new light, and the United States has begun withdrawing troops from Germany.

These are only some of the monumental changes in the world that have occurred as a direct result of 9/11, and President Bush's decision to prosecute a global war on terror.

For much more information on the progress in this war, see this White House document. It describes attacks against terrorists and terrorist organizations, a myriad of international operations, domestic operations, efforts to stop terrorist financing, and more.

And let us never forget so much of the hard work in this war is being done by our brave military. How can we thank them enough?

Did Bin Laden really have all of this gamed out before 9/11? Hmm, I don't think so. But if he did, it's a game he lost.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Cervantes and the novel

This speech by writer Carlos Fuentes, entitled "In praise of the novel", was given at the Literature Festival Berlin, on September 6.

Fuentes talked about Cervantes' place in literature, looked at larger questions that fiction and literature can address. Fuentes acknowledged the enduring voice of Don Quixote.

Don Quixote was a big bestseller when it first appeared in 1605, and has continued to sell ever since, whereas William Faulkner was definitively a bad seller if you compare the meager sales of "Absalom, Absalom" (1936) to those of the really big-seller of the year, Hervey Allen's "Anthoy Adverse", a Napoleonic saga of love, war and trade.
Some writers achieve great popularity and then disappear forever. The bestseller lists of the past fifty years are, with a few lively exceptions, a somber graveyard of dead books. Yet permanence is not a wilful proposition. No one can write a book aspiring to immortality, for it would then court both ridicule and certain mortality. Plato puts immortality in perspective when he states that eternity, when it moves, becomes time, eternity being a kind of frozen time. And William Blake certainly brings things down to earth: Eternity is in love with the works of time.

I don't agree with Fuentes and his take on reality. The nature of reality and truth is a topic for another time, but I believe the most powerful fiction affects us precisely because it is a snapshot of reality.

Religion is dogmatic. Politics is ideological. Reason must be logical. But literature has the privilege of being equivocal. The quality of doubt in a novel is perhaps a manner of telling us that since authorship (and thus authority) are uncertain and susceptible of many explanations, so it goes with the world itself.

Reality is not fixed, it is mutable. We can only approach reality if we do not pretend to define it once and for all. The partial verities proposed by a novel are a bulwark against dogmatic impositions.

Fuentes does understand, though, the power of the novel:

Enter your own self and discover the world, the novelist tells us. But also, go out into the world and discover yourself.
I find, in all great novels, a human project, call it passion, love, liberty, justice, inviting us to actualize it to make it real, even if we know that it is doomed to fail.

This is what I was getting at when I wrote about patterns. In literature we see patterns we can overlay onto our own lives, and suddenly things make sense, we see meaning in the events of our lives.

Steyn on Germany

Folks, if you ain't readin' Mark Steyn, you ain't readin'.

In his Telegraph column, Steyn looks at the recent elections in Germany, and what the results might mean.

Steyn highlights the problems Germany is facing:

Germany is dying, demographically and economically. Pick any of the usual indicators of a healthy advanced industrial democracy: Unemployment? The highest for 70 years. House prices? Down. New car registration? Nearly 15 per cent lower than in 1999. General nuttiness? A third of Germans under 30 think the United States government was responsible for the terrorist attacks of September 11.

While the unemployment, real estate and car sales may be reversible, that last number suggests the German electorate isn't necessarily the group you'd want to pitch a rational argument to.

Steyn is not hopeful that Germany will change for the better anytime soon:

According to recent polls, 70 per cent of Germans want no further cuts in the welfare state and prefer increasing taxation on the very rich. In April, only 45 per cent of Germans agreed that competition is good for economic growth and employment.

In other words, things are going to have to get a lot worse before German voters will seriously consider radical change.

Lately Europeans have used Hurricane Katrina to say socialism is the better way, that capitalism just leaves a bunch of greedy savages fighting each other for available resources. Yet, Steyn correctly points out that those living under these European socialist systems are exceedingly greedy themselves:

Guardian and Independent types have had great sport with America over the last couple of weeks, gleefully citing the wreckage of New Orleans as a savage indictment of the "selfishness" of capitalism.

The argument they make is usually a moral one - that there's something better and more compassionate about us all sharing the burden as a community. But the election results in Germany and elsewhere suggest that, in fact, nothing makes a citizen more selfish than lavish welfare and that once he's enjoying the fruits thereof he couldn't give a hoot about the broader societal interest. "Social democracy" turns out to be explicitly anti-social.

And I haven't even mentioned the story whose headline was "Frenchman lived with dead mother to keep pension."

Just read him. I'm going to give up blogging.

Iran in a velvet glove

This Times article tells of increased violence in the British-controlled sector of southern Iraq. Some are convinced that Iran is behind the upswing in attacks.

The violence that erupted on the streets of Basra yesterday was the result of a simmering struggle between British forces and the increasingly powerful Shia Muslim militias active in southern Iraq.

Attention has been focused on the Sunni Muslim insurgency against US-led forces further north, yet the British have been facing a sharp rise in attacks from an increasingly sophisticated and deadly foe.

There are strong suspicions that the bloodshed is being orchestrated with weapons and encouragement from Iran.

It is possible Iran's increased hostility is a response to British pressure on Iran's nuclear program.

British officials are convinced that Iran is implicated in the upsurge in violence and suspect it may be connected to Britain’s hardening position against Tehran’s nuclear programme. Britain has been working closely with Iran over the past two years to reach a compromise. But with the victory last month of the hawkish President Ahmadinejad, Iran has hardened its position.

Britain is now actively lobbying to have Tehran referred to the UN Security Council, where it could face sanctions.

I've said it before, I'll say it again. Iran was named in the Axis of Evil for a reason. They are subtle. They will not act openly, but they are masters at working in the shadows, orchestrating violence to help achieve their goals. Unless Iran is confronted now, dealing with them once they acquire nuclear weapons becomes problematic.

Tick tick tick...

Success in Iraq

On Monday, I posted about the elections in Afghanistan, an historic occurrence that you probably didn't hear much about.

Here, I'd like to look at the successes in Iraq you haven't been hearing much about, if anything.

Much information is available, and accessible to you, but the MSM is not doing the task of collating it all and presenting it to you. This is something the blogosphere excels at, and indeed, Bill Roggio at The Fourth Rail blog has been doing tremendous work tracking US military operations in western Iraq.

For example, Roggio has been following the operations in the Anbar Province and Tal Afar. These operations have been joint efforts between the US military and Iraqi forces.

This graphic (via Belmont Club) illustrates the location of various operations. In commenting on this graphic, Belmont Club highlights the various operations involved.

One of the main goals of these operations is to put pressure on the rat lines that run from Syria to Baghdad. US and Iraqi forces seek to interdict supplies, money and reinforcements traveling these routes. From the graphic, you'll see two main lines follow the Euphrates and Tigris rivers, and towns along those rivers.

What are these successes?

Here is a DoD press briefing given by Army Col. McMaster, commander of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment. It is well worth reading, for it gives a lot of information on successes in Tal Afar, and important town between Mosul and Syria.

Belmont Club comments on the briefing here. Wretchard writes:

Several things stand out. The first is that despite the enemy's use of IEDs, snipers, mortar teams, boob-trapped buildings and the fortification of a dense urban area, Coalition forces swept through it like #$#@ through a goose. And this appears to be due, in part, to a creative form of battlefield shaping founded on unspecified and better sources of human and technical intelligence. Enemy delaying actions did not work. Attempts to evade and relocate did not work. Traps were sprung. Fighters trying to blend into the crowd were found. The enemy decided to defend its remaining enclaves in the city because they were out of moves.

Dan Darling at Winds of Change comments here and here. Darling writes:

Given what a gold-mine of information this is, I'm quite surprised more notice hasn't been paid to it, particularly given how potentially volatile an area Mosul is. Wonder why that could be...

One thing you haven't heard much about is the vast improvement of the Iraqi forces. They have performed well in these operations. A year ago, Iraqi forces were, shall we say, inept. They were famous for their "spray and pray" approach to the firing their weapons. US instructors have worked to teach them fire discipline. A person I talked to a year ago said an Iraqi soldier took three shots at a target, missed wildly, and said "Something must be wrong with the gun". This US instructor took the gun, put three rounds in the target, handed it back, and said "It's not the gun". Iraqi forces have come a long way, but most Americans don't know about the progress that's been made.

In this 9/17 post, Roggio writes:

Coalition forces captured Abu Fatima al Qaeda's latest commander of Mosul, as well as Abu Shahed, one of the organizations commanders during a meeting. Fatima was the organizations' leader for only 12 days prior to his capture. The Emir of Mosul for al Qaeda has been a tough position to hold.

This link tells of some terrorists apprehended in Mosul.

Chester has an excellent, and somewhat humorous, look at these various captures, and other successes.

These captures indicate excellent intelligence, and the ability to operate in these places. The fact Abu Fatima only lasted 12 days before getting captured is not sheer luck.

US and Iraqi forces have made tremendous progress in northern and western Iraq, yet our media has been virtually silent on these successes. The awful bombings in Baghdad get vast attention, just as the terrorists want. Certainly, we ought to pay attention to these bloody bombings, as they illustrate the nature of the enemy, but let's not overlook the fact the terrorists are under great pressure.

There is a lot of reading here, I know. I haven't included nearly all the details contained within. But it is worth keeping up with. In particular, follow The Fourth Rail, and dig back through past posts there. There is a ton of information there explaining operations in the last few weeks.

Let me finish with this. In this letter, a terrorist writes to Zarqawi to complain about the deteriorating situation. This terrorist, Abu Zayd explains the pressure they are under.

Abu Zayd informs in his letter to the "Sheikh" that, "This is a clarification of what has become of the situation in Mosul, and it is no secret to you the noticeable decrease in the attacks carried out by the Mujahidin, from not long ago when Mosul was in the hands of the Mujahidin…" Abu Zayd continues by listing the multiple reasons why the "Mujahidin" have been less effective recently.

Abu Zayd claims that the Mosul Emirs are incompetent; attacks lack diversity; suicide bombings are focused more on quantity and not quality; those who are in the network are disobedient; a legitimate organization in Mosul does not exist; collaboration between the Emirs is lacking; "Muslim money" is squandered on petty expenses; numerous security violations occur; "inaccurate and blurred" updates to the Sheikh are reported; and foreign fighters endure "deplorable" conditions to include lack of pay, housing problems and marginalization.

This pressure is a direct result of US and Iraqi action.

As Roggio writes here, Zayd was later killed, and replaced with a driver. That's how much pressure the terrorists are under. Their competent people are being killed off, and they are reaching to the bottom of the barrel.

Today, Multinational Forces-Iraq stated that three more senior al Qaeda commanders in the Mosul region have been detained, based on intelligence from local Iraqi citizens. Captured were Abu Muhammad, “a terrorist battalion commander for Al-Qaeda in Iraq in Mosul”; Abu Shayma, “a cell leader under Abu Muhammad”; and Abu Abd al Karim. Karim was the driver for the recently killed Abu Zayd, the former Emir of al Qaeda in Mosul, who succeeded Abu Talha (the commander of Ansar al-Islam prior to its official merger with al Qaeda), after he was captured by the Coalition. The succession is dizzying.

Celebrate our amazing military!

Monday, September 19, 2005

I Pledge

The Jollyblogger has an excellent post on the recent decision from a California (where else?) judge declaring the Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional in public schools. The post has links to some good debate.

This matter has not escaped me. I have been mulling this over, and I am starting to plan a multi-part series on the larger topic of the separation of church and state.

This will be coming in the next several weeks. I need to do some thinking on this, and organize my thoughts.

Till then, I'll leave you with the version of the Pledge the courts say we can teach to our school children, having already established that teaching them to honor their parents, and not to steal, lie, or murder is also beyond the pale, and just one step this shy of turning kids into jackbooted brownshirts.

I pledge fanatical devotion to Cindy Sheehan
And to the ACLU for which she stands
Two nations (or so says John Edwards)
Under no particular Amorphous Self-Defined Spirituality (and if you hold to none that is okay fine too)
Divisible into two camps: we tolerant, educated moderates, and those frothing Jesusland denizens,
With our liberties threatened daily, especially our library habits those Patriots want to broadcast to the world,
And, ideally, Shrub herbicide for all

Blackfive recounts a touching moment watching his son recite the Pledge, and urges us to protect the Pledge.

Abortion in America

David Savage of the LA Times has a sobering article about the origins of the Roe v. Wade decision.

Savage illustrates how Harry Blackmun's private papers, released to the public last year, "tell the little-known story of how Roe vs. Wade came to be".

It is the story of a rookie justice, unsure of himself and his abilities, who set out to write a narrow ruling that would reform abortion laws, not repeal them.

It is also the story of a sometimes rudderless court led by Chief Justice Warren Burger. On the day the ruling was announced, Burger said, "Plainly, the court today rejects any claim that the Constitution requires abortion on demand."

Blackmun proposed to issue a news release to accompany the decision, issued Jan. 22, 1973. "I fear what the headlines may be," he wrote in a memo. His statement, never issued, emphasized that the court was not giving women "an absolute right to abortion," nor was it saying that the "Constitution compels abortion on demand."

In reality, the court did just that.

Savage asks the right question:

How did Blackmun and the Supreme Court produce such a broad ruling on abortion, while professing to do no such thing?

Court scholars and law clerks from the Roe era say there is no single explanation. Some say Blackmun naively thought that doctors would perform abortions only for medical reasons.

"He was thinking of this in the medical framework of Rochester, Minn. He imagined abortions would be performed by a family physician or in a hospital," said historian David J. Garrow, the author of a scholarly history of the abortion-rights movement.

The justices did not foresee the full impact of the ruling or the backlash it would set off, said Georgetown University law professor Mark V. Tushnet, who was a clerk for Justice Thurgood Marshall when Roe was decided. They focused on striking down the Texas-type laws that outlawed all abortions, he said.

"All they wanted was to get those laws off the books," Tushnet said. "They were not thinking long-term with an overall vision."

See if you can get through the article without throwing something through a window.

Then, when you've calmed down, see if you can make it through this NY Times article. Did you know that:

More than 25 million Americans have had abortions since the Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton in 1973. Often kept secret, even from close friends or family members, the experience cuts across all income levels, religions, races, lifestyles, political parties and marital circumstances. Though abortion rates have been falling since 1990, to their lowest level since the mid-1970's, abortion remains one of the most common surgical procedures for women in America. More than one in five pregnancies end in abortion.

(The rest of the article isn't any easier to get through.)

One in five. 25 million abortions.

What happened to "safe, legal and rare"? Did the pro-abortion crowd figure eh, two out of three ain't bad?

The Parableman blog has some related information.

Why we fight

You may have missed it, in between Emmy talk, and Bush ordered spaceborne-lasers to redirect Katrina straight into New Orleans talk, but Afghanistan just saw another successful round of elections. Free elections.

Afghanistan's first parliamentary and provincial poll in thirty years passed without major incident on Sunday, with a high degree of voter participation, election officials report.

"The election was held in a peaceful manner…there was also a high level of political awareness and participation amongst the Afghan people," Bimillah Bismal, chairman of the Afghan-UN Joint Electoral Management Body (JEMB) said as polling booths closed across the country.

As Americans, we should applaud the hard work, the deadly work, done by the US military, diplomatic corps, the NGOs, the Afghans themselves, and others, who have worked and sacrificed to help freedom take root and grow in Afghanistan.

An American Forces Press Service article illustrates the resolve of the Afghan people. And isn't it edifying to see that purple finger again?

"I am not afraid to go and vote. I want to vote. It is how we can fight this terrorism. I want to be able to choose who represents me in our government," said Saifullah Haqmal, an Afghan student from Khost province. "I think it is important for everyone to participate in the vote for national and local parliament. This election will bring a bright future for us."

Enemy efforts to disrupt the elections proved to be insignificant, with no reports of effective attacks against polling stations.

Captain's Quarters noticed the high voter turnout:

Our last national election elicited a 60% turnout, considered extraordinarily high over the past few decades. Americans did not face the credible threats of violence that voters in Afghanistan faced yesterday, either. According to some political leaders, a handful of long lines induced Americans to forego their right to vote, "disenfranchising" themselves. Afghanis went to the polls even though they had been threatened with death for doing so.

Can anyone doubt that democracy has taken root in Afghanistan, and that its appeal truly crosses all cultural and economic lines? People willingly face death for the right to control their own nation and the leaders who have power over them. Only hope accounts for the massive march to polling stations in the face of fear, and only an honest democracy brings that hope. Contrast this with the wan response to the rigged Egyptian election, which only attracted less than 20% of eligible voters despite a lack of any threats of violence. People know the difference.

(Recall this dispatch, talking about what it means to participate in democracy.)

Why are these elections taking place, in this country, where not that long ago women were executed in public? Could it be because of the hard work done by US soldiers, such as the ones in this photo essay? Celebrate them!

Shot in the Dark anticipates the Lefty response.
Bill Roggio looks at the violence that did, and did not, happen.
Austin Bay links to a Ralph Peters column that notices the lack of attention.

Dispatch from the Front V

In this dispatch, my correspondent looks at the various interests all competing in Iraq, and their motivations.

I shall make you aware of how you recieve your news. All news you get is limited. There is not and has not been the safety to roam about if you are a Westerner for some time now, over a year. All major western news organizations employ locals or arab types and their identities are secret or pseudonyms. That ought to tell you all you to need to know about the situation here without me blabbing on but I digress.

Therefore, you should realize there is a whole lot of other stuff going on in this area that you will probably otherwise never hear about anyway because there isn't a news source that would get to the story anyway. Now there are arab type news like alarabiya or aljazeera but you don't watch that most likely.

For example, there is a LOT of violence in local areas that you will never hear about, criminal gangs, kidnappings for ransom is big business and revenge killings etc. You must remeber right before the invasion saddam let ALL prisoners out of the prisons. That was several hundred thousand people.

Can you imagine that happening in the US? We have like 2 million criminals, I know most are there on minor drug offences but there are thousands of violent monsters who if let loose will cause a lot of mischief, ergo the situaton here.

I am constantly amazed at how little US news seems to be able to grasp the situation here and explain it in a simple coherent manner. In a nutshell(although it is much more complex), there are 3 main factions who are causing violence/fighting.

1. Former Baath party/Saddam regime elements. Most are sunni arabs from the tribes linked to these groups. They percieve the invasion as unjust and illegal and they think they are fighting a righteous war of liberation against the hated American occupiers. They could be called nationalists - although they dont speak for all iraqis, namely shia tribes and kurds. Some may or may not have islamic motivations. Many of their clerics preach jihad against the US as justified. This constitutes 95% of who the US troops fight from day to day. The vast majority of their attacks are against military targets (not civlilians) like US troops and Iraqi police, government and army units(which are now mostly made up of shia arabs and kurds) and any one else percieved to be "collaborators" with the Americans.

They regularly catch and assasinate local interpreters and others working with or for the US. (This has prompted many workers to be imported from outside iraq to be employed by the US like filipines, africans, india, eastern europe - thus taking away jobs and money from iraqis who would otherwise be eimployed)

2. Criminal gangs-see above. Some work with the other groups. It is complicated. They do big business especially since they figured out they can capture journalists from france, italy and filipines and some other countries and get paid MILLIONS in cash for their release. The US and some other countries usually doesn't allow this so many of our citizens captured were sold to alquada groups for $ and then used for alquada political purposes since there wasn't any money to be made for ransom.

3. Jihadists. Most are not Iraqi, some are, many are linked to alquada (which is very hard thing to define and explain to a nonexpert) groups, all all have some type of violent islamic interpretations motivating them. The do 99.9% of the suicide bombings and they do not care who they kill since their clerics give them absolution and justification fatwas to do it. They are about 5% of who we and the iraqi army fights. But they get about 85% of the headlines in the news.

Now, I had explained the main groups in this country and what they want.

Neighboring countries all want something too...

Israel - Their intel is some of the best here. It benefited them to have an old enemy taken out by their friends in the US. Remember, Israel has been attacked by Iraq about 3 or 4 times in the past 50 years, the last in 1991 (iraq tried during the invasion of 2003 but didnt get far at all)

Turkey - They do not want the Kurds to have their own national state or country. They have been the most forceful of all the countries with Kurd populations. In and after the invasion they invaded northern Iraq several times and fought kurdish forces, eventually the US forced them out but their agents still work here to promote turkish interests. US-Turkish diplomatic relations have been severely strained over the Kurd issue. Of the iraqis, they helped the US fight saddam in this war and the kurds feel they should be rewarded for sticking their necks out for US interests. The issue is complicated because Turkey is a NATO ally and it also wants to join the EU. They actively try to thwart and Kurd attempts at gaining power or autonomy.

The sunni ottoman turks were the most recent of the ancient rulers of this region and as such they are the ancient enemies of the arabs and persians. By their system of government, they ruled the provinces of iraq by putting arab sunnis in power, as such sunni arabs have ruled this region for the past centuries. Now can you start to see why the sunnis are fighting like mad against the US plan for this region?

Syria - It is ruled by the communist type arab Baath party just like Iraq once was. They promote and aid iraqis in their fight against the US. They aid foreign terrorist jihadi groups.

Saudi and Iran - the kingpins.

Saudi - A brutal monarchy, you can't vote. A king rules all (isn't that amazing this is still around in the 21st century?!) Furthermore, the US supports these monarchies when we were founded on the principles that are in direct contradiction to the philospy of a monarchy?! -(there are good reasons for it but they are extremely complicated) The ruling family is sunni and they do not want to see a shia dominated government next door, especially one that is seen as being puppets of the Arab's ancient enemies, the Iranian Persians.

The sunni-shia thing is kind of like Catholic-Protestant. The issue about who got to dominate in terms of political and religious power was settled in the 7th century, mostly here in Iraq south of Baghdad. Ever since, the sunnis dominate political power and sheer numbers of members in islam. Remember though, the exceptions are Iraq where shias outnumber other sunnis, and Iran where shia persians outnumber all other groups and they are also in political power.

The US invasion is allowing, by last years vote, for a shia dominated arab government to take power, basically for the first time since the 7th century(way oversimplified) Have you ever wondered why most of the 9/11 terrorist were saudi? The saudis are the source of the vast majority of $$$ for much of the terrorism in the world. Those are ugly facts the US government suppresses in the media. Now it may not be the "saudi govt" per se, who funds these bad guys, but the reality is there are huge numbers of wealthy saudis, some connected to the royal family and who are well known to others including the US govt and others, that give lots of $ to bad guys. How? The US and others buy Billions of $ every week in oil, some of this money eventually ends up to the bad guys. The 9/11 commission, under pressure, tried to suppress these hard realities.

Iran - The key question. The Persians are closest of all middle eastern muslim coutries to getting a nuclear weapon.

Ever since the 1960s when the Israelis got nuke weapons, all muslim countries have tried to acquire them. Egypt, Libya, Syria, Iran, Iraq etc.

(Pakistan was and is the only and first muslim majority country to acquire nuke weapons but that was mainly to counter their old enemies the Hindu Indians.)

Iran, through luck or by plan, had its old enemy Iraq and saddam taken out by the americans (Iran and Iraq fought a huge WW1 type war in the 1980s. The US and Saudis backed Iraq in order to retaliate against Iran for their Islamic Shia revolution in 1979, remember Iran was the number one US ally in the region under the Shah.) Since we all know the US is a bit busy with the insurgency, Iran feels it has little to worry about in terms of a US invasion to deal with its nuclear weapon ambitions. Iran, however, could still experience a US=led 1999 Serbian aircraft bombing campaign in order to get it to comply with US demands to disclose and disarm its weapons program.

Now, where does this leave us?

Some say we are fighting in Iraq so we don't have to fight at home in the US.

Hmm, it's a bit more complicated. We are not going to face Iraqi sunni nationalists fighting to kick out the Americans attacking Iowa. We might have to deal with Islamic wacko terrorists attacking something in Iowa, that is true. But they can come from any place that an Islamic wacko can come from, which is a whole lot of countries. (Including US allies Egypt and Saudi, see 9/11)

Oil you say? Yes, it's a fact of life that 80% of the world's energy is supplied by oil. Much of it from this region. If there were no oil here, the middle east would most likely be ignored in much the same way it was ignored for 500 years after sailing ships made the Silk Road to China and Indian obsolete.

But the main thing that I see Pres Bush doing, and others who think like him, is taking the lead in promoting change in this region. Besides oil, what has come out of this region since WW2? A whole lot of violence. The middle east does little to contribute to the greater good of humanity like modern medicine, travel, finance, technology etc. They do export a lot of terrorism.

There are many and very complex reasons for all this. I am not going to debate them here. A final thought.

We are trying to get a government in Iraq on its feet, stable peaceful and prosperous. It might be these things someday and those are good goals. I dont think we should cut and run. A friend passed along a sentiment that, "after the first US casuality, we invested too much to their sacrifice to not finish the job." A noble sentiment.

It's time for the majority of peace loving Iraqis to take responsibility, and we are helping them do that. It's slow and frustrating at times but you don't send a message to our enemies that we are leaving on day X of year X since all they have to do is wait until the day after that to keep fighting.

You beat them by resolve and commitment.

Is Iraq and the war and invasion worth it? I am here to do a job. That's for you civilians to debate. I follow orders and move out. I have an opinion and can vote but my sentiments are immaterial. If you can't square with you should not volunteer to join the US military.

In the next dispatch, we'll look more at the importance of completing the task in Iraq. It is imperative that we not cut and run at this point.

Dispatch from the Front I
Dispatch from the Front II
Dispatch from the Front III
Dispatch from the Front IV

Sunday, September 18, 2005


Though they make it so easy sometimes, this edition of Dis-Strib-Ute does not cast a critical eye on the Strib. I wanted to point out a couple of heartwarming stories.

The first concerns the deployment of significant numbers of the Minnesota National Guard to Iraq.

As this article says:

More than 2,500 Army National Guard members from communities around Minnesota are in the midst of a busy blitz of similar final preparations as they set their civilian lives aside and begin mobilizing this week for what is expected to be at least 18 months of active duty. It's the Minnesota Guard's largest overseas deployment since World War II.

The article puts a human face on the deployment by focusing on one Guard member, Becky Gerboth. The article follows her around as she settles affairs here, and prepares for departure. One little detail to take care of was getting married:

Two weeks ago, with deployment fast approaching, Gerboth married her high-school sweetheart, Sean, in an elaborately planned ceremony at a Roseville country club. The couple then departed for a quick honeymoon in Hawaii. They returned on Friday. On Monday, she will leave to eventually be deployed to the Middle East, where she will head a Guard unit of communications specialists.

Such deployments are not easy on Guard members and their families:

Heather Muster appreciates Malcolm's situation. As part of this Guard deployment, Malcolm will be replacing her husband -- another Guard physician who put a fellowship on hold when he went to Iraq. It was his second deployment.

"There are things about deployment that the public knows very little about," said Muster, who also is a doctor. "The long-term impact on income, marriage, mental health, public attitude, employer discrimination and other topics is rarely mentioned."

So, as the Minnesota Guard prepares to deploy, we say a heartfelt thank-you for their dedication and willingness to serve. God's blessing to one and all.

The second item comes from a Nick Coleman column. (pause while dentures are spit out all over the country) Yes, you read that correctly. Which is why I wanted to mention this. This may never happen again. (For those not familiar with Strib columnist Nick Coleman, browse through Power Line's posts on him. The fellas regularly take to their keyboards and turn Coleman into tahini paste.)

Coleman devotes today's column to a woman named Diva.

Diva's real name is Bernice, but she likes Diva better.

She has a beauty shop on E. Lake Street in Minneapolis called Diva's Hair Studio, and if you curse while at Diva's, she will fine you $1. She does not allow swearing in her shop, which is on the block where, at 15, she turned her first trick and became a prostitute.

That seems to her like something the Lord must have wanted. After she cleaned up, eight years ago, Diva had dreams of having her own beauty shop.

But when she looked at the empty store at 710 E. Lake, she didn't want to rent it because it was near the corner where she had become a hooker. Then, with a shock, she realized that it was the very same place she had been seeing in her dreams.

"I couldn't believe it," she says. "This is where my life of misery began. But I am able to witness, to tell people how God brought me out. I pray and lay hands on people up and down this street. I talk to the fellows about the Lord and invite them to church. These are my people, and I love my people. But if I weren't in the Spirit, I'd be afraid. There are some hard-core people out here."
She is 43 and talks frankly about her life as a hooker -- the drugs, the drinking, the violence -- and the years of being "a horrible parent" to her kids: Michael, 20, and Bennisha, 18.

"I was a stripper, I was a hooker, I carried pistols, I smoked dope, I snorted coke," she says.

"I did it all."

Including this: In 1983, she hit a john over the head with a hammer. The guy went to the cops, and Diva pleaded guilty to assault and did six months in the workhouse.

That was 22 years ago, but it still shows up on her record. A dead weight from the past that can prevent a person from getting a job, a loan or an apartment years after they have cleaned up.

How did Diva turn her life around?

Diva's act changed when her heart did: after a friend she used to hook with took her to church.

"I was at my breaking point," she says. "Death was all over me, and I kept feeling that I was going to die if I didn't change. I knew there had to be a better life. So two days before my 35th birthday, I gave my life to the Lord and the Lord delivered me from dope, from alcohol, from the prostitution.

"And I never looked back."

There was one brief lapse, early on, when the drugs caught up with her. But she recovered, finished treatment, went to school, got her beauty license and set up shop on Lake Street.

I can't for the life of me figure out why Coleman would write about how the power and love of God can change lives. But I'm glad he did. There are many people like Diva in tough neighborhoods in the Twin Cities, but God can help them too.

Diva says:

"I am a happier person," she says. "I have my life, I have peace, I have joy, I have compassion, I have understanding. This is the best life I've had.

That is a changed person. God can do the same for any of us. If we just let Him.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

The Trojan horse has already been rolled through the gates

On his program last Friday, Hugh Hewitt interviewed Frank Gaffney.

They discussed the terrorist plot recently uncovered in a California prison. This plot, which has received scant attention in the mainstream media (MSM), shows that terrorists are concealed among us, like the Greeks hiding in the Trojan Horse.

Mr. Gaffney says:

they envisioned [attacks] against Israeli targets, specifically, the Israeli Consulate in Los Angeles, the El Al counter, I believe at LAX, several synagogues, and then it was said several National Guard facilities as well.

Mr. Hewitt wonders:

Well, I think, I can't really fathom how the Los Angeles Times has not publicized this.

Mr. Hewitt referred to an article by Daniel Pipes. There, Mr. Pipes gives details of the plot. However, Mr. Pipes writes:

If not for the lucky break of a dropped phone, the jihadists probably would have struck.

Are we simply hoping we don't fall victim to future attacks? As they say in the military, HOPE IS NOT A COURSE OF ACTION!

Pipes refers to a Gaffney article. There, Mr. Gaffney describes how terrorists are being recruited in the prisons. Mr. Gaffney closes with this:

The alleged New Folsom State plot had better rouse us out of our stupor. Like other Western democracies, this country is at war with Islamofascists at home, as well as abroad.

Gaffney wrote here:

If we fail, however, to speak truthfully to the public about the threat both the Muslim world and the West face from our common foe, and to enlist citizens in waging this war fully and effectively, then our only hope may shortly be to ask that God save us.

Do you see the MSM picking up the colors to warn us of the threats that still exist?

If Cassandra were reading the Times today, she would never get worked up enough to warn Troy about accepting the Wooden Horse. She would never know it was there.

My annual Britney Spears mention

Slate, Aug. 19, 2005

In Touch reports that Spears "will deliver her baby in a special pool filled with 1,000 one-liter bottles of specially blessed Kabbalah water—costing a whopping $3,800!" And according to Us Weekly, the pop star may name her baby boy Preston, "an English moniker that means 'dweller at the church.' " Spears' husband, perennially unemployed former backup dancer Kevin Federline, is also getting spiritual: He was spotted by Star clutching a copy of Deepak Chopra's The Book of Secrets. The caption? "Kevin: deeper."

imdb, September 15, 2005

Britney Spears' dreams of becoming a mother have finally been realized - the pop superstar gave birth to a baby boy yesterday afternoon. According to American magazine Us Weekly, the 23-year-old singer welcomed her first offspring into the world shortly before 1pm on Wednesday at California's Santa Monica UCLA Medical Center. Spears and her dancer husband Kevin Federline, 27, arrived at the hospital with a police escort shortly before 6 am and medical staff whisked the star into a birthing suite, reports the publication. According to hospital sources, Spears, who reportedly started experiencing early labor contractions on Friday, was wheeled into a delivery room at about 12.15 pm and within minutes she had delivered via Caesarian section with Federline by her side. While the newlyweds - who will celebrate their first-year wedding anniversary on Sunday - have yet to announce the name of their offspring, sources say they had planned to call the child Preston Michael Spears Federline. The child is Federline's third - he's also the father of daughter Kori, three, and son Kaleb, one, with ex-girlfriend Shar Jackson. In a recent interview with Elle magazine, Spears made very specific predictions about the arrival of her child, saying, "I have a feeling I'm going to have an operation. I don't know why. But I hope so. I don't want to go through the pain..."

Mm-hmm. I have this vision of a tired, thin guy with a scraggly beard in a room somewhere, surrounded by heaps and piles of water bottles. He's just got done individually blessing 1000 bottles of Kabbalah water. Someone comes in and says "Never mind, Miss Spears has decided to go with a C-section." The guy just pauses for a moment, and says "Crap".

Friday, September 16, 2005

Friday wrap-up

Tomorrow (Saturday) is a school day for me, so will be fairly quiet here. Classes alternate between all day Friday one week, and all day Saturday the next week.

Monday I'll have up another dispatch from the front.

My correspondent in Iraq sent me a link to this story. It's a Reuters story, so that should be reason enough to at least turn your radar on.

The story is headlined "Iraqi insurgents hit back hard despite US attacks". Here's a snippet from the article:

The U.S. military hails its latest offensive in Iraq as a great success, but militants have captured the headlines with a bloody wave of attacks in Baghdad and a blunt declaration of war on majority Shi'ite Muslims.

My correspondent points out, though:

Don't know if it's intentional but... The choice of headline phrase could imply some type of insurgent response somehow proportional or in equal measure under the rules of land warfare...

HOWEVER they are committing mass murder against noncombatant civilian innocent nonbelligerents. I don't know how they fail to mention this. It should be standard bold face in every headline. In some insane way the aljazeera mentality has taken over as if they are waging some righteous cause. Ok, if they want to fight a perceived "occupation" against military targets I will give them that. But murder of defenseless civilians is hardly courage or bravery. Those jihadi fighters are less than men.

On Tuesday, I'll have some more thoughts on how we don't always hear the full story coming out of Iraq.

Have a good weekend, one and all...

Factions, Fury, and Foolishness

In The Federalist #10, Madison laid out his argument for a republican form of government. Madison acknowledged that many "factions" would exist in the nation, and would compete against each other, but Madison argued a republican form of government would not let any group gain absolute power over a minority. Factions would have to compromise with each other.

In defing a "faction", Madison wrote:

By a faction I understand a number of citizens, whether amounting to a majority or minority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adverse to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community.

What gives rise to these "factions"?

As long as the reason of man continues fallible, and he is at liberty to exercise it, different opinions will be formed. As long as the connection subsists between his reason and his self-love, his opinions and his passions will have a reciprocal influence on each other; and the former will be objects to which the latter will attach themselves. The diversity in the faculties of men from which the rights of property originate, is not less an insuperable obstacle to a uniformity of interests.

The Founding Fathers suffered no illusions about the nature of humanity. They viewed government as a brake on our baser instincts. Madison writes:

The latent causes of faction are thus sown in the nature of man; and we see them everywhere brought into different degrees of activity, according to the different circumstances of civil society. A zeal for different opinions concerning religion, concerning government, and many other points, as well of speculation as of practice; an attachment to different leaders ambitiously contending for pre-eminence and power; or to persons of other descriptions whose fortunes have been interesting to the human passions, have, in turn, divided mankind into parties, inflamed them with mutual animosity, and rendered them much more disposed to vex and oppress each other than to co-operate for their common good. So strong is this propensity of mankind to fall into mutual animosities, that where no substantial occasion presents itself, the most frivolous and fanciful distinctions have been sufficient to kindle their unfriendly passions and excite their most violent conflicts.
No man is allowed to be a judge in his own cause, because his interest would certainly bias his judgment, and, not improbably, corrupt his integrity. With equal, nay with greater reason, a body of men are unfit to be both judges and parties at the same time;
It is in vain to say that enlightened statesmen will be able to adjust these clashing interests, and render them all subservient to the public good. Enlightened statesmen will not always be at the helm. Nor, in many cases, can such an adjustment be made at all without taking into view indirect and remote considerations, which will rarely prevail over the immediate interest which one party may find in disregarding the rights of another or the good of the whole.

The inference to which we are brought is, that the causes of faction cannot be removed, and that relief is only to be sought in the means of controlling its effects.

In short, we form ourselves into factions, we can get heated in our passions, and it is not a good idea to assume we can be objective in deciding matters where our passions are involved. This is why Madison says the causes of faction cannot be removed, but the effects can be controlled, through a republican form of government.

I bring this up to say as it was then, it still is today. We form our political factions based on our beliefs and interests, and we still view each other with "mutual animosity", and we still are "much more disposed to vex and oppress each other than to co-operate for [our] common good".

However, there are some worrisome aspects of the behavior of some of today's factions.

A textbook example of this took place in New York on Wednesday night. Christopher Hitchens debated George Galloway, principally over the war in Iraq.

For those not familiar with these two combative combatants, Hitchens was a far-Left Lefty, and in many respects still is. His views on religion are not particularly attractive. However, 9/11 so moved him, he became a supporter of strong action, such as the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. His former colleagues on the Left have never forgiven him for this.

Galloway is a fool. I'll just let Hitchens himself describe Galloway for you. If you think Hitchens, as his debating opponent, is biased, let me say Hitchens didn't begin to scratch the surface in this column. As a brief example, Galloway has been accused of taking money from Saddam Hussein in the Oil for Food scandal.

You only need to know Galloway is an odious man, a man who has praised the insurgents in Iraq, and has said...

Two of your beautiful daughters are in the hands of foreigners - Jerusalem and Baghdad. The foreigners are doing to your daughters as they will. The daughters are crying for help, and the Arab world is silent.
It's not the Muslims who are the terrorists. The biggest terrorists are Bush, and Blair, and Berlusconi, and Aznar, but it is definitely not a clash of civilizations. George Bush doesn't have any civilization, he doesn't represent any civilization
Most of the children, most of the schools, most of the buses, were bombed by the United States. Let's keep this clearly in perspective: Most of the children who died in Iraq were killed by George Bush, not by Zarqawi. Most of the schools that were wrecked, buses that were bombed, hospitals that were destroyed, lives that were taken, were taken by George Bush, not by Zarqawi.

This is background to the debate Wednesday night. Hitchens and Galloway. One of these men is hated by the Left, and one of these men is cheered by the Left. Do you find it troubling that Galloway is the one cheered by the hateful, anti-war Left?

A number of bloggers were there in person, and have provided captivating accounts of the debate.

Tigerhawk's account is here. I'll just pull out some of the passages about Galloway and the crowd's reactions to him

Galloway banged away at the idea that the cited threats were themselves the consequences of British and American foreign policy. But for American support for Saddam (his atrocities were "mostly in the 1980s, when he was the closest friend of the United States") and the Afghan resistance to the Soviets (who grew up into al Qaeda and the Taliban), these threats would not exist. The Arabs hate the West because of Anglo-American support of Israel and the corrupt dictators of the region. The most massive lefty applause of the evening came when Galloway demanded a reversal of our policies toward Israel.
Most of the rest of the debate was taken up with expansive rhetorical flourishes, mostly from Galloway and mostly involving red meat for the audience. Ms. Katrina popped up again and again, and Galloway did not miss his chance to skewer Hitchens for his comparatively mild criticism of Cindy Sheehan (the mere mention of whom triggered wild applause, which is more than a little creepy, if you think about it).

Oxblog has another account of the debate here. Again, I'll give you some of the passages about Galloway and reaction to him.

People like Hitchens are content to fight to the last drop of other peoples' blood. (applause) Parliamentarians should have been wisely against American independence because the country one day would be ruled by Pat Robertson and John Ashcroft and didn't pick up dead bodies in New Orleans (because the few competent people there were trying too hard to find living ones). Galloway was for Irish independence. Hitchens was apparently in Bloomsbury and slobbering in opposition to it. Funny, neither of them looked quite that old. So he should also be for the right of the Iraqi people to be free and against the foreign people who invaded them. my God, this man should've been a logic professor. Fallujah! (crazed applause)

Douglas has another account of the debate here. Again, I'll give you some of the passages about Galloway and reaction to him.

Galloway prattled on about Ireland for a bit but said that the fundamental questions was, "Are you with the foreign occupation of Iraq or are you with the right of the Iraqi people to be free and to resist the foreign armies who have invaded them!" Applause.
"And it was all for a pack of lies." The thousands American dead and wounded were "testament to the folly of Cheney and Bush and the neo-con gang..."
(Heavy applause.)
"...scarcely a sentient being who believes that the war in Iraq was either necessary or just." Then "...our two countries are the biggest rogue states in the world!"

This same blogger had a telling comment about something he heard before going into the debate:

While I was waiting on line out in the street an argument broke out behind me. An old man who was hard of hearing was going on about Manuel Noriega and then about the marshes in Iraq, saying that during the UN sanctions Saddam cleared them in order to have more arable land: "that's why he did it! He was trying to grow food!" I suffered his presence for you, dear readers.

Folks, just what goes into creating a human being who believes Saddam Hussein drained the southern marshes to grow food, rather than to wipe out his Shiite enemies living there?

Folks, what kind of people cheer Galloway? What kind of people cheer the idea that Iraq has been invaded and Iraqis have the right to resist, not allowing that the majority of Iraqis want to be free? What kind of people cheer the idea that the US is the biggest rogue nation in the world?

The Belmont Club said this of the debate:

Hitchens opposes Al Qaeda because of his Leftist beliefs; Galloway supports Al Qaeda in despite of them; and to the traditional socialist this can only be explained by the inducement of cash. That was Hitchen's wider and subliminal reproach to the audience: what manner of men would pay to hear to George Galloway?

Could Madison possibly have had factions like this in mind when he wrote Federalist #10? Or has something changed for the worse?

These don't seem like arguments over whether or not to raise a tax. These are arguments over what is right and what is wrong, over what is good and what is evil.

Is it not troubling that so many seem to praise deeds done in the name of evil?

Jesus said in Matthew 24:12 (NIV):

Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold

The Apostle Paul wrote this in II Timothy 3:2-5 (NIV):

People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.

In this form of government is it possible to have nothing to do with such factions? How does one combat such ugliness in our fellow countrymen? I regret I am not smart enough to know the answer to that question.

More debate accounts from Alcibiades, Kesher Talk, Atlas Shrugs, Exit Zero, Alex Massie, and Kimberly Strassel
MOBster stalwart Fraters Libertas has debate reactions here and here.
MOBster Freedomus Caninus would have stopped the fight.
Austin Bay talks about the lambasting of "terror’s Lord Haw Haw".

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Deep theological discussions

Lately for their Bible stories at bedtime, John has wanted to pick out the stories about the crucifixion, and Jesus being put in the tomb. The stories talk about Judas and his "bad idea", and there's a picture of soldiers guarding the tomb.

Tonight we got to talking about whether the soldiers were strong. Hanna asked if Goliath could stop the soldiers, and John asked "Can Batman stop Judas?"

Uh, well, yeah, I mean, no, I mean... a little help here? :)

And the Left's response to this is...?

Iran offers nuclear technology to Islamic states

I'm open to listen to any argument as to why European diplomacy would be any kind of deterrent on the Iranian nuclear program.

I'm open to listen to any argument as to why saying pretty please would be any kind of deterrent on the Iranian nuclear program.

I'm open to listen to any argument as to why apologizing for every American wrong ever committed would be any kind of deterrent on the Iranian nuclear program.

I'm open to listen to any argument as to why raw power isn't the only thing that brutes and murderers understand.

Tick tick tick...


I'd like to begin another new feature, one I'll call Overwatch. Actually, it's nothing all that new. I've taken a look at our wonderful mainstream media (MSM) on occasion before.

In this feature from time to time, I'll simply spotlight instances where the MSM doesn't, shall we say, quite live up to its task of informing the public in an objective manner, or, doesn't inform them at all.

This item is taken from the September 19, 2005 issue of the Weekly Standard, its 10th Anniversary issue.

The Scrapbook column describes an August 31 New York Times op-ed by Francis Fukuyama, in which Fukuyuma did provide some criticism of the Bush Administration for its policy in Iraq. (Fukuyama is no flaming liberal, by the way.)

However, as the Scrapbook says...

But far more surprising was the Times's astonishing misrepresentation of Fukuyama's views. For the Times graced his op-ed with an incendiary "pull quote"--a quotation in larger type set off in a box in the middle of his article--that read in its entirety: "President Bush's strategy on Iraq is un-American."

Striking. Fukuyama, however, neither used the word un-American nor wrote anything that could be appropriately summarized that way.
The Times has yet to apologize to Fukuyama or to its readers. You might say that its strategy on editing is unprofessional.

How does that old saying go? With media like these, who needs enemies...

Odds and Ends

Books I finished up reading this week

Spice by Jack Turner - Excellent history of the spice trade. Lots of insightful anecdotes of how a good chunk of history (e.g. voyages of Columbus and Magellan) was directly related to the spice trade.

Blink by Malcolm Gladwell - Excellent and very readable book about the power of our minds, how our brains process information so quickly

Gilead by Marilynne Robinson - This book has gotten rave reviews, and indeed, the prose is top notch, there are sublime moments where Robinson captures emotions and thoughts in exactly the right way. Ultimately though, the novel was disappointing. The main reason is my chief gripe with a lot of modern fiction, there wasn't much of a plot. There wasn't a strong narrative thread to pull me through. Lots of little slices of life strung together. Plus, the book did not have chapters, it was just one long script, so there weren't places where I could stop and take a breath.


The kids have been enjoying Disney's The Rescuers book lately. I just noticed last night though, the head of the Rescue Aid Society is called "Chairman Mouse".

Is that someone's private joke? A deliberate nod to Chairman Mao?

The book is a Commie plot to indoctrinate kids and turn them into little Commies!

The important things

It's funny how when your four-year old daughter looks you in the eye after climbing up a series of metal playground bars all by herself and says in all seriousness "I can do that now and I wasn't scared cuz I'm big!", and that's what's most important to her at that moment, and it's a big deal to her, how all the petty problems of the world, like bloviating US Senators or blaming Bush for Hurricane Katrina, just fade away into meaninglessness...


In W. H. Auden's poem September 1, 1939 (which can be read here), the last lines read as follows:

Defenceless under the night
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere,
Ironic points of light
Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their messages:
May I, composed like them
Of Eros and of dust,
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair,
Show an affirming flame.

Yesterday I wrote about Victor Davis Hanson. One of the reasons I admire him is because of the way he does not flinch in the face of the browbeating he receives from questioners at his public appearances.

In this day and age, it is vital to stand up for truth. There are so many who will look you in the eye and say the sun rises in the west, they will say black to our white, they ascribe the most vile of motives to political differences, they gleefully seek the destruction of those who hold what we might call traditional values.

I admire people like Hanson because they are willing to climb out of the foxhole and expose themselves to attacks for what they believe. I admire people like Michelle Malkin, who press on though they regularly have the worst bile and hatred seep into their email inboxes. (WARNING: this link to one of Malkin's posts contains some extreme profanity. I link to it to show what our "political opponents" are capable of. There are so many more examples.) Others, like Hugh Hewitt and La Shawn Barber, are not shy about making their faith a basis for their political beliefs, and that inspires me.

Like Auden wrote, in all this darkness it is necessary that we be lights flashing our messages, though we are beleagured.

In Philippians 2:15 (NIV), the Apostle Paul wrote:

So that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe

I have a master's degree in Astronomy, and as such, this verse always catches my eye. To me, it means this:

Think of a star hanging there in the black of space. It is very clear where the star ends, and where the emptiness of space begins. There is a sharp boundary.

Paul is saying that when the world looks at us Christians, it should be immediately obvious where we end and the world begins. We should not blend into the world, and be indistinguishable from the world.

As a Christian, I want to stand out like that. And as Auden wrote, in the political arena, I want to be one of those affirming flames flickering in a darkened landscape.

This is what keeps me eager to enter into the arena and facing the howling mobs across the sandy ground.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Mum's the word

As Jonathan Adler points out over here at Bench Memos, Senator Biden wanted Judge Roberts to answer some specific questions about his views on certain issues.

Most people seem to agree that Roberts is correct to hide behind the skirts of "well, that issue might come up before the Court". Adler says to answer might create an ethical problem:

More broadly, seeking to get judicial nominees to disclose their views on specific subjects — when it is clear that the answer to those questions will affect individual senators’ votes on the nominee’s confirmation — creates a context in which a nominee’s specific comments could be seen as a pre-commitment or promise to approach cases in a particular way should they be confirmed. This is what creates the ethical conundrum for nominees — and what differentiates answers given to senators in a confirmation hearing from a nominee’s prior writings.

I agree that it would be wrong to answer questions about specific cases, or specific situations that could and do arise in cases, but, as I wrote about here, I think judicial nominees should answer questions about general topics. For instance, do you think Roe v. Wade was correctly decided, given past precedents and your views on strict interpretation vs. judicial activism?

I wanted to come back to this issue, because the Roberts hearings have irked me again, and when I'm irked the rest of you have to suffer as well.

This is, in essence, a job interview, and in what other job interview are you not allowed to ask the prospective candidate how they would perform certain criticial functions of the job?

I don't agree that it would create ethical problems to answer general questions. We're looking to nominate a judge, we should be able to sound out their philosophy on how they would perform their duties.

Conversation this morning

We had a few minutes this morning before it was time to head Hanna to Sue's house, and John to kindergarten, so I let them watch Baby Galileo to relax them a bit.

This one from the Baby Einstein series is about astronomy, the sun moon planets stars galaxies, etc...

At one point John asks:

John: Do people live on Neptune?
Me: No, people only live on Earth. Neptune is very far way.
John: Do Grandpa and Grandma live on Neptune?
Me: No, Grandpa and Grandma do live far away, but it isn't as far away as Neptune.
John: Neptune is past Grandpa and Grandma's house?

Heh. It takes us about 9 hours to get to Grandpa and Grandma's house, and John knows it is far away. Since Neptune is also far away, Grandpa and Grandma must live on Neptune! You can't argue with logic like that!

Suffering the slings and arrows

One of the good things to come out of 9/11, if I can think of it that way, is that I discovered Victor Davis Hanson. He is a classicist, a military historian, a California farmer, and in my opinion, there is no writer out there today with a better sense of why this war against the terrorists is necessary, combined with a clear understanding of the fortitude it will take to finish this war.

In addition to his writing, he does his share of public speaking, and interacting with the public. On his website, there is a transcript of an online Q&A session he did September 6 for the Outlook section of the Washington Post. That transcript can be found here.

Many of the questions were emblematic of the kind of thinking that can be found among the anti-war Left. The questions show the stark lack of coherent argument I often find on the Left.

Hanson is well practiced at fielding such questions, as his answers show. Let me provide you some examples.

Washington, D.C.: As a graduate student in history at the American University here in Washington, D.C., I wonder how you as a historian can rationalize your methodology which argues that Iraq is not analogous to Vietnam? How can you premise your entire argument for American involvement in Iraq on lies: Lies of weapons of mass destruction, and lies of links to Al Qaeda? Just as our involvement in Vietnam was based on the failed paradigm of the "Domino Theory," our involvement in Iraq is based on a failed oil based Middle East policy dating back to 1950's and the ouster of Iranian Premier Mohammad Mossadeq by the CIA. The United States and this administration has abused its power, and it is showing in the streets of New Orleans.

Victor Davis Hanson: Let me address "lies" for a second. To believe that the U.S. deliberately lied about WMD rather than mistakenly privileged that casus belli over the other 27 writs for war passed by the U.S. Senate, one would have to believe that the Clinton administration and most Democratic senators were lying all during the 1980's and during the debate over their war resolution in October 2002, that European intelligence was lying, that Arab governments who warned about tactical use of WMD were lying, and that U.S. commanders in the field who ordered their soldiers to wear protective gear in unbearable heat were part of the lie as well as was their own independent military intelligence. So no, I think it is peril to keep chanting "lies" and leads nowhere. It reminds me of what they said about Lincoln when he signed the Emancipation Declaration and supposedly introduced a new reason for the war other than saving the Union.

This is a topic too large to tackle here, but as Hanson points out, it is a common theme among the anti-war Left to say President Bush "lied" to get us into Iraq. I have yet to see, however, any proof from the Left that the Bush Administration knew there were no WMDs in Iraq, but said just the opposite. (To my humble way of thinking, that would be the definition of "lie".)

The US government, as well as other governments, had reason to believe WMDs would be found in Iraq, and poor intelligence is not the same as falsehoods. I also believe the complete story hasn't been told yet, as we don't yet know how much of Iraq's WMD program was spirited away to Syria.

On Hanson's part, he is correct to point out to this graduate student of "history" (the youth might consider reading other sources other than what he/she has latched on to) that there were many reasons for going into Iraq, all outlined in public. The Bush administration, wisely or not, chose to highlight the WMDs for the public. As was proven after the fact, the Bush administration was right to think the public as a whole wouldn't grasp some of the more subtle arguments.

Here's another question and reply:

Toronto, Canada: If the Bush regime cannot handle the devastation caused by hurricane Katrina what reason is there to suppose that they know what they are doing in Iraq?

Victor Davis Hanson: You tip your hand by the use of "regime" to refer to an elected government. You seek perfection and thus give no exemption to human frailty and thus think we cannot be good. Katrina was the worst natural disaster in our history; the Mayor did not order an evacuation when asked to by the federal government, the Governor is paralyzed into inaction. And yet, the federal government is finally mobilizing, but given a storm, levee break, and a corrupt state political culture it is difficult. As far as Iraq — we have made several mistakes from not securing the borders, to Paul Bremmer’s too frequent public exposure, to disbanding the army, and on and on. And yet what startles is that here we are with a constitutional debate, Saddam scheduled for a judicial trial not a firing squad, and millions of voters in Iraq of all places. If you read what Arab newspapers are saying about the U.S., it is not anymore than we support corrupt dictators nor are intellectuals berating us for cynicism, but now it is our misplaced idealism and naiveté that riles them — and that itself says quite a lot.

As Hanson says, the use of the word "regime" speaks volumes about that person's worldview.

Washington, D.C.: Your response to the question regarding "lies" is reminiscent of the Bush administration's calling those who disagree with the war "unpatriotic." Please address the poster's contention, namely, that a flawed methodology leads to flawed results, and in this case, a flawed policy. No Lincoln metaphors, please.

Victor Davis Hanson: Here we go again. I called no one unpatriotic at all. I did point out how the allegation that mistaken intelligence could hardly be deliberate lies, given the numerous foreign and domestic, friendly and hostile, states that came to the same independent conclusion. You did not read either what I wrote: there were 20 some reasons the Senate voted to authorize war with Saddam. Read what John Kerry and Hillary Clinton said on the floor of the Senate. All were legitimate. So the policy of removing a dictator with a long history of war with the U.S., attacking regional states, genocide, and state-sponsored terror was rational, not flawed in a post-September-11 world. And despite our lapses we are seeing the dividends in both the Middle East in general and inside Iraq.

The claim of being called "unpatriotic" is another common script.

Chicago, Ill.: It is great to have all this intellectual analysis, but the reality is we are losing. You can stipulate and postulate all you want Mr. Historian, but the reality on the ground is we are losing. The reforms you cite in Egypt and Lebanon are laughable and reveal you as a partisan — there are absolutely no reforms taking place in Egypt except for the lip service the President there pays and Lebanon is as dangerous as ever. My question to you is how long will this war go on and what constitutes winning?

Victor Davis Hanson: Again, the sarcasm leads nowhere and tires. We are not losing. Two-thirds of Iraq are secure. The Sunni clerics for the first time are urging their people to vote, though to do so is in defiance of the death sentence announced by the al Qaedists. Anyone who thinks Syrians out of Lebanon, under investigation for assassination by of all people the U.N., and Egyptians writing things in newspapers impossible a few months ago is nothing is simply not looking at the facts.

Winning? Very simple. When the constitution is ratified, an Iraqi army can keep the peace, and the terrorists find no sanctuary. We are seeing such a model in Afghanistan, which we should remember was liberated 18 months before Iraq.

I love that "and tires". But better is what Hanson points out, there have been significant changes in the Middle East as a direct result of the US presence in Iraq.

Stewartstown, Pa.: It seems to be that a central point has been left out of discussions about Iraq. The U.S. doesn't have a right to attack other nations and remove their leaders just because it thinks that doing so will make the world "better off." Other nations have a right to their governments — even if those governments are nondemocratic. The U.S. — and any other country — only has a right to attack a nation that poses a clear and direct threat. Iraq was not endangering the United States. Even if Saddam had WMDs, why would he use them against the U.S.? The Soviet Union was an enemy of the U.S., and had WMDs, but didn't use them.

Why do the rights of other nations never seem to be considered in U.S. foreign policy? If America can invade whatever nation it likes, why can't Germany, Japan, and others do the same?

Victor Davis Hanson: You too did not read carefully my other posts. Read the casus belli that the Senate passed. It included violations of the 1991 armistice accords, genocide, assassination attempts on a former U.S. president, links with terrorism (their writ not mine), etc. And read too the critique at the time: in October 2002 it was that Saddam did not have WMD (even the Left believed that), but that the Bush administration was using a "shot gun" approach and trying to throw too many reasons on the wall to see which would stick. The worry over WMD was not that he would attack the U.S. with Iraqi forces but twofold: 1) he had used them in the modern age, so had no moral qualms, 2) he was a host to terrorists, among them one who had tried to blow up the World Trade Center in 1993.

The anti-war Left wants to accede large swaths of US authority to the United Nations. Yet, these same people never talk about how Saddam Hussein violated countless UN resolutions. These violations were among the reasons cited for the invasion. What good is it to hail the power of the UN, if there will be no effort to back up the UN's authority with consequences for flagrant disobedience?

Charlotte, N.C.: I read today that we bombed two bridges inside Iraq. Don't you generally blow your own bridges in retreat? What does that say about or efforts in Iraq, that we cannot secure or hold these bridges?

Victor Davis Hanson: Actually, you just as often do not blow bridges in retreat, unless you plan on never returning. As I understand it, we blew them to cut off the insurgents not escape from them. In this war there are no fronts, neither London, New York, or Madrid. Victory comes not just from safe territory, but from defeating and discrediting an ideology, and that's what we are doing.

Bill Roggio at The Fourth Rail has been doing tremendous work documenting the US campaign in western Iraq. Hanson points out what Roggio has written about, some bridges were destroyed to box the terrorists in. This questioner betrays a common ignorance of military matters among the anti-war Left.

One last one from this transcript:

Phoenix, Ariz.: To suggest that "even the Left" believed Iraq had WMD is a bit misleading. Democratic politicians went along with the U.S. party line. People in other countries were not so sure. The lists of misdeed by Iraq you list, while impressive, could easily be listed for Israel who we know has WMD. Can Saudi Arabia or Turkey or Egypt just launch war on Israel because they may feel threatened? And you never answered a basic question — how long will this enterprise take and how many lives lost. Its funny how the most strident supporters of this war sit in academia, government or corporate offices — no sacrifice, plenty of gain.

Victor Davis Hanson: This is an absurd letter. We don't worry about WMD in France or the U.K. or Israel, because they are under control of elected and constitutional governments. That is why we worry less about Russia's arsenal, even with its present government, than during the Soviet era. No one knows how long any war will last; but in terms of past ones from WWI to Vietnam, we have waged a war that has tried to minimized the costs in lives. I have not gained off the war, and wrote far more books before than after September 11. Your comment reminds of my farming neighbors who when we all were going broke said no one had the right to comment on agricultural policy unless they grew food. I added that according to his crazy logic — nor eat it either unless they were on the tractor all day long.

Another mystery for me. The anti-war Left's moral scale is a sliding one. They cannot fathom a world where true evil exists, and the difference between a democracy and a brutal dictatorship.

One of Hanson's books is entitled An Autumn of War, and contains a collection of columns and essays he wrote in the wake of 9/11. Chapter 20 is entitled War Talk, Listening to America. Hanson describes this chapter as a "melange from the dozens of actual inquiries I have encountered since September 11".

Hanson describes general types of people that ask questions at his talks, or in venues such as described above. The way Hanson describes these archetypes is a spot-on description of many on the anti-war Left, and how just about anything other than facts and logic are used as debating tools.

The Pacifist - The question is rarely presented as a question, but rather as a quite heated and very unpacifistic rant--with ample references to little-known foundations, books, and the questioner's own high-minded efforts and programs

The Voice of Moral Equivalence - Like the pacifist, the moralist offers no realistic plan of action to deal with September 11, but wishes to force you to concede that you are in fact a murderer like the Taliban

The Europeanist - The questioner is soft-spoken and sometimes condescending, typically highly educated, well-traveled abroad, and a denizen of either coast. In a live setting, clapping usually follows his question

The Anti-American - Full of all sorts of false knowledge, strange, but unsupported and fascinating "facts" and conspiracy theories; usually his voice breaks into pained stammering by the fourth minute of the question

The Military Alarmist - Usually half-educated, he has culled the Internet for bits and pieces about Alexander the Great and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan

The Islamist - Usually a visitor from the Middle East who mentions Israel in the first ten seconds of a very, very, very, long nonquestion

The Advocate of the Palestinians - Usually on a student visa, he raises the word "Israel" after second two, and thereafter every third second, until minute five of the question. Questioner usually announces that he is a moderate, but then proceeds to prove by voice and tone that he in fact is hardly moderate at all

The Frightened - Often refers to kids, suburbs, work--as if he or she alone as such concerns

The Academic - Usually a professor of English, sometimes of political science or government, in his/her mid-fifties--their long questions require a very short answer

The Oil Conspirator - Prefaces questions with odd bits of information about redwoods, the ozone layer, and far-distant pipelines with strange names

The Ignoramus - Most often a student activist, and the most interesting of all the questioners, since he reveals instantaneously the erosion of the American educational system during the last three decades--arrogance coupled with ignorance proving a fatal combination

What that man must go through.

He provides sample questions that these people ask, and provides his usual brilliant answers. All of his books are worth reading.

Others linking to the VDH transcript are:

Newsbeat 1

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

First Day of School Redux

And today, it was Hanna's turn to take those first steps into the wide world. She started preschool today, having just turned 4 last Thursday.

Here she is leaving the house, all excited about what lies ahead.

Leaving the house

Arriving at the front door of the preschool, which is in a Lutheran church. She is almost always bubbly and happy, and just brightens up our lives.

Arriving at school

She's a little less sure about staying behind by herself, but John seems eager to have her go, as he is opening the door in the background. Sounds like she did enjoy her day, though she did need to unwind a bit at home, and let her emotions out a little.

Growing up so fast

Let my people go

Michelle Malkin has an interesting post, pointing out how in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, there is a tendency for minorities to refer to others in their particular ethnic group as "my people".

There is certainly nothing wrong with identifying with your heritage, with where you come from, but is it healthy to divide ourselves into separate camps, especially at a time when it is most necessary to work together?

From this starting point, it is too easy to lapse into victim status. "My people" and I huddle together because we are oppressed. "My people" were slaves 150 years ago, therefore I am oppressed now.

Is it not a way to get beyond the hurts of the past, to move from "my" to "we"? We are one nation, we should promote brother with brother, sister with sister.

Relatives of mine, who I obviously have never met, lived in Russia, and the Communists under Stalin took their land and sent them to Siberia.

Am I a victim? Should I demand that Russia compensate me to redress past wrongs?

The German-Russians that make up some of my ancestors are, in a sense, "my people", but so are the people hurting in Louisiana and Mississippi and Alabama. Especially my fellow Christians. And it doesn't matter what color the skin. When I choose to include someone in the category I think of as "my people", I've taken a big step towards living well with them.

View From Minnetonka has another example of separateness.

Slouching towards a confirmation

Monday was Day 1 of the John Roberts confirmation hearings. President Bush has nominated Roberts to replace Rehnquist as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

As Mark Tapscott points out, Matt Margolis and Tom Goldstein were live-blogging the hearings on Monday.

Tapscott says the ability to analyze statements made in the hearings in almost real time is "an important illustration of one of the Blogosphere's least appreciated and exercised powers".

For example, Margolis wrote this about Senator Ted Kennedy's statement:

Kennedy: "the central issue before us ... is whether the supreme court will sustain the gains of the past..." Says the people have the right to know that the government is promoting their interests... not special interest... And Teddy is one to talk? I love how Democrats pretend that they are against judicial activism and legislating from the bench... it really is amusing... On the hearings, Kennedy says "We have only one chance to get it right." So... expect some ridiculous questions from Kennedy.. He just said "The senate was not intended to ber a rubber stamp for a president's nominee to the Supreme Court, and, as George Washington himself found out it has not been. Judges are appointed by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, and it is our duty to ask questions on great issues that matter to the American people and speak for them. Judge Roberts, I hope you will respond fully and candidly to such questions, not just to earn our approval, but to prove to the American people that you have earned the right to a lifetime appointment to the highest court in the land." Kennedy says there are many serious questions about Roberts.. including his views on equal opportunity... Give me a break. Accuses the administration of not letting the Senate have full access to Roberts' record... "We can only wonder what it is that the administration doesn't want us to know." Ugh!

Margolis has Kennedy's entire statement here. In his statement, Kennedy said this:

In particular, we need to know his views on civil rights, voting rights and the right to privacy, especially the removal of existing barriers to full and fair lives for women, minorities and the disabled.

From the start, America was summoned to be a shining city on a hill. But each generation must keep building that city.

Even in this new century, some Americans are still denied a voice at the ballot box because of their color, denied a promotion because of their gender, denied a job because of their age, denied hope because they are gay or denied an appropriate education because they are disabled.

By mentioning a "right to privacy", Kennedy is of course alluding to abortion, but what was that remark about people being denied a voice at the ballot box because of their color?! Is anyone, of any color, denied the right to vote because of their skin color?! No!

Kennedy may be slipping in the old lies from the 2000 election about "disenfranchised blacks" in Florida, or newer lies from the last election, about "disenfranchised blacks" in Ohio.

The Democrats are shameless. The Supreme Court is their last ditch, and they intend to fight for it.

Senator Leahy was no less shameless. He managed to connect Roberts and Hurricane Katrina!

Today, the devastation, despair facing millions of our fellow Americans in the Gulf region is a tragic reminder of why we have a federal government, why it's critical that our government be responsive.

We need the federal government for our protection and security, to cast a lifeline to those in distress, to mobilize better resources beyond the ability of any state and local government -- all of this for the common good.
But if anyone needed a reminder of the need and role of a government, the last two days have provided it. If anyone needed a reminder of the growing poverty and despair among too many Americans, we now have it.

And if anyone needed a reminder of the racial divide that remains in our nation, no one can now doubt we still have miles to go.

I believe that the American people still want and expect and demand the government to help ensure justice and equal opportunity for all and especially for those who, through no fault of their own, were born into poverty.

The activist Left has come to cherish the Supreme Court, because in that institution, they can enact agendas they could never get past voters.

Robert Bork wrote about the steady leftward march of the Court in his book Slouching Towards Gomorrah. Chapter 6 of that book is entitled The Supreme Court as an Agent of Modern Liberalism.

Bork, of course, was a victim of the Left's scorched earth policy of defending their toehold on the Courts, and the charge was led by the same Senator Ted Kennedy.

In this chapter, Bork takes us through a long list of Court cases, showing how the Court has steadily moved away from a strict interpretation of the Constitution, to an activist, policy making role. Bork writes:

In its cultural-political role, the Court almost invariably advances the agenda of modern liberalism. That is to say, the Justices, or a majority of them, are responsible in no small measure for the spread of both radical individualism and radical egalitarianism.

Of the source of this leftward drift, Bork writes:

This is a philosophy, or mood, that cannot be derived from the Constitution. It is approved, however, by a group we have just discussed, the intellectual class. That class has distinctive attitudes, well to the left of the American center...It will not have escaped the reader's notice that judges belong to that class and so absorb its viewpoints and predilections naturally.

Bork discusses a number of cases where suspect reasoning is applied, but of Roe v. Wade, Bork says:

Roe is nothing more than the decision of a Court majority to enlist on one side of the culture war.

Of the pockmarks in our society as a result of the Left's attacks on the Court, Bork writes:

The effects on law and democracy have been horrendous. It is impossible for a Court that views itself as a political and cultural institution as much as a legal institution to make reasoned decisions whose principles it will adhere to in the future. The Court will change the Constitution as politics and culture change. The reasons given in one opinion are often little indication of what will happen in the next case. Since a cultural Court acts without guidance from the historic Constitution, the Justices could produce a coherent jurisprudence of individual rights only if they could construct and agree upon a systematic moral philosophy. Moral philosophers have been unable to agree on such a philosophy; it is preposterous to suppose that a committee of lawyers could.

The activist Left is not the least bit concerned if the Court changes the Constitution. In fact, they count on it.

Yet, they do not consider the inherent moral dangers that arise when a people decide to cast off the chains that moor the ship of state to a solid philosophical anchor, and let that ship drift out in the currents of opinion.

Bork writes:

Any more serious efforts to limit the powers of the courts will run into the familiar refrain that this would threaten our liberties. To the contrary, it is now clear that it is the courts that threaten our liberty--the liberty to govern ourselves--more profoundly than does any legislature.
It is the judiciary's assumption of power not rightfully its own that has weakened, indeed severely damaged, the constitutional structure of the nation. It has been the judiciary, and not its critics, that has misled the public as to the role of judges in a constitutional democracy.

Bork concludes the chapter with this thought:

The upshot is that the democratic nation is helpless before an antidemocratic, indeed a despotic, judiciary. The American people, seem, at the moment, to be submissive and without the political will to reclaim the liberty that is rightfully theirs.

I am a little troubled that Roberts has been quoted as saying he doesn't have "an overarching, uniform philosophy". And any conservative hears the name Souter whispered in their nightmares. We will not truly know what kind of Justice Judge Roberts will make until he starts casting votes.

But with the Roberts nomination, and his next nominee to the Court, President Bush has an opportunity to stem the tide. Let us hope and pray these two picks begin to reverse the damage Judge Bork so clearly wrote about.

Betsy Newmark takes a look at some lighter moments from the day.
Professor Bainbridge realizes the opening statements are theater.
Captain Ed at CQ says the WaPo put "too much stock in the moderate tone taken by most Democrats".
JunkYardBlog points out the ACLU is among the forces arrayed against Roberts.
Poliblogger wonders if such hearings are really necessary.
Hugh Hewitt links to a couple of lefty columns showing they don't quite understand Roberts, and the fact they are not in charge.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Rulers of Rubble

The Washington Post reports here on the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, a withdrawal that is now complete.

The first paragraph gives us a hint as to the sensitivity and solemn acceptance of responsibility we might see from the Palestinians in coming days as they exercise their newfound control of Gaza.

The last Israeli soldiers in the Gaza Strip left Monday morning, officially ending Israel's nearly four-decade presence here and marking the start of the Palestinians' most ambitious attempt at self-rule. Before dawn, thousands of jubilant Palestinians poured in to the settlement areas, celebrating and setting fire to some of the synagogue buildings deliberately left intact by the departing troops.

Burning synagogues. These are not the actions of a people ready for statehood.

This picture says it all for me. It is taken from the site, and the caption there said:

Palestinians celebrate atop the rubble in a Jewish settlement that was evacuated and bulldozed by the Israelis. (AP)


A Palestinian rejoices that he is now king of a pile of rubble. Who is there among the Palestinians to tell this youth that you do not create a new and better way of life by destroying, you do so by building? And that you do not build by tearing down your neighbor's house and using his bricks, you build by creating your own bricks?

The Israelis had their reasons for withdrawing, as this article and links there point out. But now that they are gone, the Palestinians will have nobody to blame but themselves for conditions in Gaza. It's their rubble now. Will they be content to dance on it, or they will clear it, and build something lasting in its place?

Six Meat Buffet looks at the religion of peace at its finest.
Power Line links to an article that describes more destruction.
Mark Kilmer observes such people are hard to respect.
La Shawn Barber correctly points out the MSM won't play up this destruction much.

Dispatch from the Front IV

This dispatch dates back to just before the Presidential election last year. My correspondent's thoughts on the importance of valuing the freedoms we have are especially relevant at this time we remember 9/11.

On the eve of election, I find it sadly ironic that I find myself in the midst of a massive undertaking of a foreign policy initiative; enable a democratic voting process to take place in a land and by a culture that has never had it and for some who are desperate to achieve what others casually take for granted, and yet in my own country voter turnout is often less than half of eligible citizens. How odd is that?

Well, whatever your views, I would hope that each of you exercises your precious rights tomorrow and votes. Cherish your freedoms. If you haven't paid attention, each vote counts more than ever since many precincts outcomes were decided by a mere hairbreadths.

If you think you don't have much say, think again. Or try this on for size, give up your citizenship and immigrate to one of these countries in this region. HA! You get a dictator for life supported by a brutal security forces rivalling nazi efficiency. You get ZERO say in anything about everything. Remember that ridiculous "vote" saddam had just before the invasion in 2003?

They had something like 99% turnout. Amazing. I've asked some iraqis about it, I mean, I asked do you really think you were fooling anybody? We all know that there was no "choice", one guys name was on the "ballot". The answer was simple. If you didn't vote you were going to be killed or beaten by the secret police.

Such a massive difference in the way of life between modern first world nation states with stable governments and prosperous economies. The sensibilities and attitudes one acquires or develops living in such conditions really don't either prepare you or allow one to deal with a situation like living here in an effective manner. This extends to many aspects like business or politics. Which leads me to my main point. A story like that is like a fairy tale, a myth, doesn't/didn't/can't happen. It doesn't compute for someone like you or I. We simply cannot imagine it. There is nothing in our life experience to compare it to.

I mean, name a time, anytime, you lived in a lowgrade constant fear for your life and safety because of what some secret gestapo police might do to you? More importantly than all this abstract, academic platitudes, the immediate concerns revolve around the current war, ie everyday survival, day to day security. Which is, of course, very controversial because of a number of issues.

Whatever and however those are resolved, I think most would agree that some type of acceptable outcome is what we all support, yes?

Well, there's the rub. How do you go about it? There is a very extremely massive ultra complicated chaotic situation here. That much is evident and quite clear by now, yes?

Insurgencies in the 20th century almost never or are not won by brute military force. Why? Because they have been waged by third world nations against the first world nation states and these entities because of vastly different cultures and sensibilities mentioned above do not wage war like, say, it used to be done in ancient times.

How would the Roman empire have dealt with an uprising? The same way that the despotic rulers of any number of countries in this region even into the present day have always done it. By slaughter and killing any who oppose them.

You see, the peoples in this region have not evolved culturally, politically, economically, socially or scientifically or in some ways the most important, religiously, in the same way that others in the modern developed world have done. As such, they are not constrained by such trivial details like respect for human life and property.

Cases in point; The govt of iraq was taken over by the Baath political party and saddam did have opposition but any uprising never lasted for more than a few months. Why? He and his henchman killed. A lot. And when whoever opposed him had enough or there weren't any more left of them, it stopped.

This type of event is alien to a modern American's sensibilities. It is incomprehensible. It's like talking about quantum physics, nobody can understand or fathom what you are saying, it's all greek. Well, just like other areas, the mass graves are now being unearthed.

Try this on for size. The Baath party of Syria faced an uprising in the early 1980s. Their dictator Assad attacked 2 villages and killed every living thing, people young and old, didn't matter, animals trees whatever and had the towns burnt down and bulldozed flat. Gone. The baathist dictator has never had a serious challenge since.

Now unless you are interested in international affairs such occurrences as these events pass most people by. However, i am briefly trying to paint a picture in a small albeit simplified way of how things are done and thought of in this region.

Many iraqis are amazed, some disgusted, that the US with all its power hasn't, cannot or will not subdue this insurgency. Many blame america for the daily chaos and lack of security. Some would have/and do expect the US to blast the insurgents. The attempts at appeasement after last springs drag americans thru the streets rampage then invade/ withdraw debacle made the insurgents and people of Fallooja out to be victorious heroes of the resistance in the eyes of the regions muslims and or citizens who "drove out" the despised americans. If this comes as a shock to you watch aljazeera network or something other than the standard us media fare, like german, french or british media outlets.

The US tactic of negotion was/is seen as "weakness". The people and various and many groups opposing US forces in iraq are not playing silly games and dancing around a maypole here. Yes, I know there are complicated reasons for the opposition but what I am accurately explaining is that such people here don't have a sense of trying to get what they want thru (peaceful) political means. The concept is like outer space to them.

They are trying to gain power the way it's always been done, by force. See, the social, political, religious and economic institutions and methods that citizens of developed nations too often take for granted, that process took centuries to arise! You all remember the boring history class, dark ages, renaissance, enlightenment, industrial revolution blah blah blah yada yada yada?

Therefore, it's a bit of a stretch to expect that this process of achieving a nice peaceful stable situation will happen in the span of a few short months?! You cannot just kick in the door to this country, kill who knows how many of their people and plunk down some foreign notion of a jeffersonian democratic republic and expect it to be understood much less taken seriously.

The centers of gravity that must exist for a nation to function have been cowed, co-opted, threatened and are under weekly, literal fire.
It's textbook. Classic. These groups have done their homework. They are waging an effective campaign. Just look at the weekly assasination death toll. government, civic, security apparatus, from a wide variety of agencies are/have been targeted.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that if the guy in office just got killed then you either need more and better security or you need to cut a deal. (which is of course the aim of the insurgents and that is precisely what has happened. you play ball or get deepsixed) As a practical matter, it is impossible for a government to provide security for each and every employee of every agency. (even if one does have "security", whatever that is) The nature of a successful killing dictates that the insurgents are either going to use a simple bomb, find a easier target, just get more guns than yours and ambush, or find a method to get their way-kill or intimidate your family. This is the daily, hard, facts on the ground truth.

The US govt has no hope of "winning" this conflict militarily. Why? We are not going to resort to the brutal methods of mass slaughter that could end the uprising in the short term but lose the lasting goals. The key here, as in all insurgencies, is for the affected population to refuse the haven and base of support that an insurgency requires. Will that happen? Remains to be seen.

Yes, it would be easy to just belly up to a bar and spout some ignorant diatribe about nuking this place into glass and pump the oil out by robots but that has no basis in reality and doesn't really advance to a meaningful solution. That being said, there are quite a few tribes in a lot of areas in this messed up dungpile of a country that I would gladly blast.

I don't mean to sound macabre, melodramatic or to frighten you into paranoia. Your odds of being in a terror attack are astronomically low. Like hit by lightning low. like 0.000000000000000001% low. (ok, so its a bit higher if you live in iraq and happen be a us soldier, whatever) So don't worry. Keep things in proper perspective. However, if you should ever be confronted with a choice, and you do have a choice, fight.

Enough of this rant. I hope to leave you on a positive note. I think all of you generally are healthy, are relatively safe and sound such as the case may be, and you enjoy all the blessings of liberty that life in america affords.

That kind of life doesn't happen by chance or accident. There are reasons for such prosperity. Cherish it, don't take it for granted. Preserve, protect and advance our precious freedoms. Go vote.

miss ya'll. as always, thanks for all your support, letters, packages, prayers, etc!

In the next dispatch, we'll take another look at the factions/powers involved in this terror war.

Dispatch from the Front I
Dispatch from the Front II
Dispatch from the Front III

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Remembering means we never forget

Do you all remember where you were four years ago today? I'm sure you do. I was in Astrakhan, Russia, as I wrote about here.

Do you remember how you felt that day, and in the days to follow? Did you feel rage? I did. Do you still feel rage? I do.

When I read Mark Steyn, I usually feel like throwing away my keyboard, as he always says things so much better, but in his column today, he said what I've often said, that 9/11 wasn't a "tragedy". It was an act of war. People planned to commit those acts of murder. Steyn writes:

It wasn't a "tragic event" or even one of a series of unfortunate events. It was an "attack," an "act of war." I sat at the lunch counter with a guy who'd tuned out the same station on the grounds that "I never heard my grampa talk about 'the tragedy of Pearl Harbor.' " But, consciously or otherwise, a serious effort was under way to transform the nature of the event, to soften it into a touchy-feely, huggy-weepy one-off. As I wrote last year: "The president believes there's a war on. The Dems think 9/11 is like the 1998 ice storm or a Florida hurricane -- just one of those things."

In the Strib today, an article on the 9/11 remembrances was headlined "It's beginning to feel like Sept 10 again". Well, we can thank the media for a lot of that sentiment. They haven't gone out of their way to remind us of the horrors, nor talked with us about the proper response to such acts.

Read Michelle Malkin's post, and see if you remember seeing anything like that in the mainstream media. Do we recall what was lost that day? The families that would never again be whole? Do we forget that evil men plotted to come to this country, and force someone's loved one to make a choice between burning to death, or leaping 100 stories to their death? How can our response to that be anything other than annihilation of those who are still seeking to do the same to us again?

Currently, the mechanics for Northwest Airlines are on strike. It is an acrimonious strike, as such things usually are. Northwest is trying to save huge amounts of money in labor costs, and understandably, the mechanics want money to grow on trees, and their attitude is that if they were going to lose their jobs anyway, they will try to hurt Northwest Airlines as much as they can.

Dennis Sutton, vice president of AMFA Local 5 in Detroit, is quoted in this article as saying:

"We'd rather just keep picketing against Northwest Airlines," said Sutton, who represents 450 mechanics and cleaners who work at Detroit Metropolitan Airport, Northwest's largest hub. "All we can do is try to make their lives half as miserable as ours are."

In this article, Mylo Mitzel, a Northwest mechanic for 26 years, is quoted as saying:

"They can have their scab operation, and go to hell, rot in hell. That's what they deserve," Mitzel said.

This is not much different than the attitude the hateful Left has for President Gush and his conservative policies for the response to 9/11. They are so far gone in their hatred, that they would rather see President Bush, and the country, suffer the consequences for a feeble response to terrorism, rather than see President Bush succeed in his policies. It has come to that.

In Genesis 18, Abraham asked God to spare Sodom if only ten righteous people were found there. I know more than ten people can be found in this country who are aware of the importance, the need to chase these terrorists to the ends of the Earth and strangle them where they lie if necessary. Yet, it feels as if too many hold tight to their gumdrops and lollipops way of looking at the world, and hope that drippy talks of peace are enough to hold back our enemies. Wasn't 9/11 enough to tell us that is sheer folly? What more do we need to suffer?

Blogs for Bush has a roundup.
Captain's Quarters has a good remembrance.
Hugh Hewitt remembers the cost of resisting evil.
Betsy Newmark also urges us to never forget.
Mr. Snitch has a link to a very poignant remembrance of those who were lost.

Saturday, September 10, 2005


Hmm, it's Saturday. Must be time for another ridiculous Don Wright cartoon in the editorial pages of the Star Tribune.

In my last Dis-Strib-Ute, I wrote about another Wright cartoon the Strib chose to run. That post has additional info on Wright.

Today, the Strib ran this Wright cartoon.

It shows President Bush, FEMA, Homeland Security and Congress all reading "My Pet Goat".

This book, "My Pet Goat" was the one President Bush was reading to that Florida classroom on the morning of 9/11. The book has achieved almost mythical status among the hateful Left, as they use it as just another wet noodle cudgel with which to beat up President Bush. Their complaint is that upon hearing about the attacks, President Bush didn't immediately leap up, start screaming "We're all gonna die!" in a panic, getting all the kids terrified, and knocking over tables, chairs, children and teachers in a mad dash to run from the room. Instead, President Bush sat there for another several minutes, in order not to do all of the aforementioned. The hateful Left never explains just what President Bush might have accomplished had he left the room immediately, instead of a few minutes later.

And so, Wright is saying that the President and various government agencies cluelessly read a silly book while grave events were taking place, and didn't give their full attention to the hurricane disaster.

Michael Moore mentioned the "My Pet Goat" myth in his lunatic fever dream documentary "Fahrenheit 911".

Dave Kopel put together a masterful denunciation of all the lies in Moore's waste of celluloid. It can be read here.

In a section entitled "Bush on September 11/Cheap Shot", Kopel addresses the issue of the book.

First, Kopel points to a New Yorker article that says the book President Bush was reading wasn't, in fact, called "My Pet Goat". It was entitled "Reading Mastery 2", and "My Pet Goat" was an exercise in that book.

Kopel goes on to say the people actually in the room at the time were grateful President Bush didn't create a panic.

What Moore did not tell you:

Gwendolyn Tose’-Rigell, the principal of Emma E. Booker Elementary School, praised Bush’s action: "I don’t think anyone could have handled it better." "What would it have served if he had jumped out of his chair and ran out of the room?"…

She said the video doesn’t convey all that was going on in the classroom, but Bush’s presence had a calming effect and "helped us get through a very difficult day."

Kopel correctly points out:

Moore does not offer any suggestion about what the President should have done during those seven minutes, rather than staying calm for the sake of the classroom and of the public. Nor does Moore point to any way that the September 11 events might have turned out better in even the slightest way if the President had acted differently. I agree with Lee Hamilton, the Vice-Chair of the September11 Commission and a former Democratic Representative from Indiana: "Bush made the right decision in remaining calm, in not rushing out of the classroom."

Bill Sammon wrote a detailed article in the Washington Times explaining the events in the room. Bush's Press Secretary at the time, Ari Fleischer, had written on a back chalkboard "Don't say anything yet".

Kopel then points to an account claiming a Middle Eastern person purporting to be a journalist said they had an interview with the President, and referred to a Secret Service agent by name. With all that going on, is it not perfectly understandable that the President and his staff paused for a short time in that classroom before removing themselves and heading out to shape the response to those terrible acts?

The hateful Left cares about none of this. They are so far gone in their Bush Derangement Syndrome, that they drag out "My Pet Goat" at any occasion, no matter how inopportune.

Once again, says something about the Strib's editorial bent that they think such cartoons are appropriate commentary.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Special days

Happy Birthday, Hanna!!!!!! Yay, four years old today! Such a big girl. You brighten up our days with your laughter, pretending to be Tinkerbell, playing with your dollies, keeping track of things... we're so grateful you are part of our family!

John's first day of school went well. He enjoyed it, and wants to go back, which is a good sign. His favorite thing, though, was playing tag in the after school program. Chase is his most favorite game.

This morning we had the meeting at the school to talk about John's IEP. We heard encouraging things, and we appreciate their willingness to help him. His teacher did say John did have some moments where he needed help staying on task or attending, and the principal stopped in to observe, and saw similar things. But, they saw his positives too, and I think they have some good ideas to help him.

Friday (tomorrow) is my first day of school, too. I begin the second of the two-year MSSE program at the University of Minnesota. Gads, I'm not ready for all that again.

So, blogging will be pretty light tomorrow, and over the weekend. I'll have a few things, but Monday we'll have another dispatch from the front.

Have a good weekend, one and all...

Tending our own patch of ground

While on our trip over the Labor Day weekend, we stopped at a rest area for a break. The person who was apparently the attendant for the rest area was an older man, dressed in typical farmer clothes. Suspenders, cotton button-up shirt, and the ubiquitous ball cap, which is almost always branded with some feed, seed, or farm implement company.

He moved slowly, as the aging do. He walked with the backs of his palms outward, like a man trying to swim standing up, and he walked gingerly, as if walking across warm coals.

He was trimming some apple trees planted near the main building.

I'm sure most people whizzing by on the road had no idea this man was trimming trees, nor would they probably care very much. It was a small patch of ground, surely people in the next county over, or the next state over, had no idea this man existed, let alone that he was tending to his apple trees.

And yet, the man went about his work. He didn't stop working because people far away probably weren't interested in his labor. It wasn't a task that would bring him the adulation of kings. He was simply tending to the patch of ground for which he was responsible.

This really is a picture of our system of government. We push as many decisions as we can down to the level closest to where we live. Whether the municipal or county level, if necessary the state level. We reserve for the federal government the larger questions of defense, interstate commerce, relations with other nations, etc...

This is why the mendacity of some on the Left who say President Bush is responsible for all suffering in the wake of Hurricane Katrina is so frustrating.

There was, and is, a large role for local and state authorities to play in the relief efforts after the hurricane. These authorities had their own patch of ground to tend to, and it has become clear that some failed in those efforts.

The Radioblogger has the transcript of a Hugh Hewitt conversation with FOX reporter Major Garrett, who broke the story that the Red Cross was prevented from getting supplies to the people in need at the Superdome.

HH: You just broke a pretty big story. I was watching up on the corner television in my studio, and it's headlined that the Red Cross was blocked from delivering supplies to the Superdome, Major Garrett. Tell us what you found out.

MG: Well, the Red Cross, Hugh, had pre-positioned a literal vanguard of trucks with water, food, blankets and hygiene items. They're not really big into medical response items, but those are the three biggies that we saw people at the New Orleans Superdome, and the convention center, needing most accutely. And all of us in America, I think, reasonably asked ourselves, geez. You know, I watch hurricanes all the time. And I see correspondents standing among rubble and refugees and evacuaees. But I always either see that Red Cross or Salvation Army truck nearby. Why don't I see that?

HH: And the answer is?

MG: The answer is the Louisiana Department of Homeland Security, that is the state agency responsible for that state's homeland security, told the Red Cross explicitly, you cannot come.

HH: Now Major Garrett, on what day did they block the delivery? Do you know specifically?

MG: I am told by the Red Cross, immediately after the storm passed.

HH: Okay, so that would be on Monday afternoon.

MG: That would have been Monday or Tuesday. The exact time, the hour, I don't have. But clearly, they had an evacuee situation at the Superdome, and of course, people gravitated to the convention center on an ad hoc basis. They sort of invented that as another place to go, because they couldn't stand the conditions at the Superdome.

How is this a failure of the federal government? As Captain Ed has asked, how can the federal government be blamed for the City of New Orleans not following its own evacuation plan?

We have to be responsible for our own ground. We take care of our own. We don't push off our duties onto far-away people, and we don't blame them when we fall down in our duties.

Captain Ed also has some thoughts on this Red Cross story.
Betsy Newmark has some comments as well.

The problem of suffering

In the comments for my Did God cause Katrina? post, someone posed this question:

What would you say about an omniscient, omnipotent god in control of everything who allows/causes elderly people, children and "the least of these" in our society to suffer, drown, dehydrate, starve, suffocate to death.

Not an easy question, and certainly not the first time in human history it has been asked.

Rather than digest that entire question all at once in this post, let me touch on a few points, and relate them to the previous post.

First, even the Bible says that not every calamity that happens is a result of someone's wrongdoing. From Luke 13:4,5 (NKJV)...

Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem?

I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.

And, John 9:2,3 (NKJV)...

And His disciples asked Him, saying, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?"

Jesus answered, "Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him".

Why, then, does God allow such misfortunes to come upon us?

To ask this question in an accusatory tone, one that carries with it the assumption that God should've prevented a disaster like this, is to fall prey to what God knew we are prone to, as He indicated in that verse I included in the last post, Job 40:8 (RSV)...

Will you even put me in the wrong? Will you condemn me that you may be justified?

We want free will. We do not want a God that coerces us into obedience. Yet, we also want God to save us from ourselves, or to save us from the fickle fortunes of Fate. In this we are like adolescents, who want the privileges of adulthood but not the responsibilities. Or, we are like pre-school children, who do not the understand the implications of what they ask for, they only know they want something now.

Can we say there were no human decisions involved in the aftermath of the hurricane? The decision to build and live in an area below sea level, protected only be levees? The decision not to put all those school buses on the road to evacuate people? For those that were able to leave, the decision to remain in the city? The decision not to have the National Guard move in as soon as the storm passed?

Is God to be blamed for all these decisions?

In the previous post, I included the examples of Habakkuk and Job for a reason. They wondered why God allowed misfortunes to happen, but in both cases, God did not tell them why.

It's a hard lesson for us, but it is not an accident. God's primary concern in hard times is not that we fully understand the reasons why bad things happen.

Surely a precious, innocent child is not responsible for decisions that decide their fate. So why would God allow suffering to come upon them?

I'm afraid I'm going to disapoint the person who left that comment, and say we are not always meant to know. Since we cannot know everything, it is not our place to blame God for misfortune.

No, God is most interested in our response during hard times. Are we willing to, yes, say "I don't understand", but simply trust that God will make "all things work together for good to those who love God" (Romans 8:28)? That is faith in action.

Update: Hugh Hewitt has a new blog effort, One True God Blog, and Question #2 there deals with the issue of suffering. Check it out.

Northern 'burbs blog examines whether good can come from natural evil.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

In memorial

I mentioned once before the Veteran's Memorial at Bunker Hills Regional Park.

There is a stone monument at the memorial commemorating three WWII Medal of Honor winners from Minnesota. I thought I would record their deeds here. (The text is taken from the Medal of Honor website.)


Rank and organization: Private First Class, U.S. Marine Corps Reserve. Born: 24 November 1925, Chicago, Ill. Accredited to: Minnesota. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving with the 8th Amphibious Tractor Battalion, Fleet Marine Force, in action against enemy Japanese forces on Peleliu, Palau Islands, on 5 October 1944. Unhesitatingly volunteering for the extremely hazardous mission of evacuating a wounded comrade from the front lines, Pfc. Kraus and 3 companions courageously made their way forward and successfully penetrated the lines for some distance before the enemy opened with an intense, devastating barrage of hand grenades which forced the stretcher party to take cover and subsequently abandon the mission. While returning to the rear, they observed 2 men approaching who appeared to be marines and immediately demanded the password. When, instead of answering, 1 of the 2 Japanese threw a hand grenade into the midst of the group, Pfc. Kraus heroically flung himself upon the grenade and, covering it with his body, absorbed the full impact of the explosion and was instantly killed. By his prompt action and great personal valor in the face of almost certain death, he saved the lives of his 3 companions, and his loyal spirit of self-sacrifice reflects the highest credit upon himself and the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his comrades.


Rank and organization: Private First Class, U.S. Marine Corps Reserve. Born: 22 November 1925, Columbia Heights, Minn. Accredited to: Minnesota. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while attached to the 27th Marines, 5th Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces during the seizure of Iwo Jima in the Volcano Islands, 8 March 1945. Filling a gap in the front lines during a critical phase of the battle, Pfc. LaBelle had dug into a foxhole with 2 other marines and, grimly aware of the enemy's persistent attempts to blast a way through our lines with hand grenades, applied himself with steady concentration to maintaining a sharply vigilant watch during the hazardous night hours. Suddenly a hostile grenade landed beyond reach in his foxhole. Quickly estimating the situation, he determined to save the others if possible, shouted a warning, and instantly dived on the deadly missile, absorbing the exploding charge in his own body and thereby protecting his comrades from serious injury. Stouthearted and indomitable, he had unhesitatingly relinquished his own chance of survival that his fellow marines might carry on the relentless fight against a fanatic enemy His dauntless courage, cool decision and valiant spirit of self-sacrifice in the face of certain death reflect the highest credit upon Pfc. LaBelle and upon the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life in the service of his country.


Rank and organization: Private, U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, 4th Marine Division. Place and date: Namur Island, Kwajalein Atoll Marshall Islands, 1-2 February 1944. Entered service at: Minnesota. Born: 28 August 1924, Anoka, Minn. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving with an assault battalion attached to the 4th Marine Division during the battle of Namur Island, Kwajalein Atoll, Marshall Islands, on 1-2 February 1944. Putting up a brave defense against a particularly violent counterattack by the enemy during invasion operations, Pvt. Sorenson and 5 other marines occupying a shellhole were endangered by a Japanese grenade thrown into their midst. Unhesitatingly, and with complete disregard for his own safety, Pvt. Sorenson hurled himself upon the deadly weapon, heroically taking the full impact of the explosion. As a result of his gallant action, he was severely wounded, but the lives of his comrades were saved. His great personal valor and exceptional spirit of self-sacrifice in the face of almost certain death were in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.

Also, there is a tank parked near the memorial. I believe it is an M-47 Patton tank. (See here as well for some photos)

First Day of School

It's funny how these milestones in life just rush at you like a freight train. It's like they are forced on you, whether you want them or not. Though you wish you could stand in front of time and say Stop!, time rushes around you like lava flowing around a rock. It is inexorable, relentless, it washes over us and carries us along.

Today is John's first day of kindergarten. He was a little nervous. Hopefully he'll be able to adjust to the new surroundings and new expectations.

Here is our special little guy in line this morning.

In line at school

His teacher is on the right, kneeling down.

John's teacher

And here, leaving him behind, in the care of the cruel world. Fare well, big guy. There's an exciting life ahead of you!

On his own

Farewell, Bob

Bob Denver has passed away at the age of 70. An AP account of his life and career can be found here.

Bob will forever be known as Gilligan, and along with Monty Python and the classic Warner Brothers cartoons, Gilligan's Island formed a significant chunk of the foundation of my sense of humor.

I became a fan of the Dobie Gillis show as well, and I'll always remember Bob's "You rang?" and "Work?!". But, I'll always remember Gilligan's orange shirt and floppy hat the most.

Though the show was panned by critics, and even some of the actors were initially chagrined to be a part of the show, Gilligan's Island is and will always be a classic.

There is a sweetness to the show, a belief in goodness at its heart. There were never any real villains on the show, with the exception of Jonathan Kincaid. There weren't mouthy, sullen teenagers. None of the swill of today's society. Skipper and Gilligan were each other's buddy, not each other's boyfriend. As appealing as Ginger and Mary Ann were, romance was never any more torrid than Gilligan and Mary Ann naively playing victims to Mrs. Howell's matchmaking plans.

There were great moments. Who can forget these classics? The voodoo dolls, Wrongway Feldman, the pancake syrup/super glue, Gilligan as witch doctor Watubi, the Japanese soldier, the air force missile, Gilligan's war drums, Gilligan as the Howell's adopted son, G-I-Double L-I-G-A-N spells Gilligan and I promise you dis, dat, and de udder ting, the camera NASA thinks landed on Mars (with bird people?!), Gilligan as human radio receiver, Bingo Bango Bongo and Irving, the Mantis Carni bug, the WWII mine, roomus degloomus, the silver robot that walks to Hawaii, everyone being allergic to Gilligan, the lack of citrus fruit and Jack in the Beanstalk, the glowing meteor, Gilligan as Dracula, A Russian spy who looks like Gilligan, radioactive vegetables, the incomparable Phil Silvers as Harold Hecuba (do not forget, stay out of debt!), Boris Balinkoff, Secret Agent 014, the Jekyll and Hyde episode (Fresh fish!), Lord Admiral Gilligan fighting off pirates and tossing swords (Ho! Ho! Ohhhh.), the bowling ball, Scorpio 6 and SOL instead of SOS, the Kupaki (the foundation of my nickname to some at Carleton), Mary Ann believing she was Ginger (boop-boop-bee-doo!), Meanwhile on another island, and Gilligan as the White Goddess in high heels.

Memories that will last forever. Thank you, Bob. I hope you are home at last on that eternal tropical island.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Chief Justice

Sequestered as I was over the holiday weekend from the real world, I was rather surprised to hear upon my return that Chief Justice Rehnquist had passed away, and that President Bush had nominated John Roberts to be CJ.

To me, it would seem more natural to make the Chief Justice someone who has been on the Court for awhile. While Roberts is quite familiar with the Court, having argued a number of cases there, he hasn't been in on the many closed door meetings over the years, where the business of deciding cases is done.

My choice for CJ would be Justice Thomas. Never mind having the chance to nominate the first black chief justice, Bush missed an opportunity to make a safe choice. Thomas is a confirmed, proven conservative, an originalist.

With Roberts, we just don't know for sure, do we. (Every conservative hears the name "Souter" whispered in his nightmares.)

Roberts was a bold choice to replace O'Conner. Now, Roberts is going to take a reliably conservative seat, and Bush still needs to replace the O'Conner seat. We're back to square one with all the arguments about how a moderate must be nominated to replace the moderate O'Conner.

All indications were that Robert would get through the nomination process to replace O'Conner. Now, the pro-abortion Left will get to reload all of its vitriol and unload at whoever the next nominee will be.

As a P.S., let me say Rehnquist has served admirably over the years, but I am disappointed that he did not resign from the Court, especially as his illness progressed.

Does it really serve the country well when you're carried out feet first, still wearing your robe?

As I wrote about here, there is nothing sacred about being a Justice. It is one of the functions of our system of government.

Where is the honor in hanging on long enough to die in office?

Did God cause Katrina?

The Radioblogger has transcribed some remarks made by Jesse Jackson Jr., where Jackson seems to blame God for the disaster left behind by Katrina:

I hope [President Bush] will stand on a pile of rubble. And he will look up to the heavens and say to God, "You're responsible for this. And soon you will hear from us."
God is responsible for this. And in His own time, He will reveal why.

What is the Christian response to horrific events like this hurricane? Is it fair to blame God? Is it fair even to ask if God causes such events?

New Orleans has long held some notoriety for its corruption. Did God allow the hurricane to strike the city as punishment for corrupt people who showed no signs of mending their ways?

The hurricane struck a wide area, though. Hundreds of thousands of people were affected. Were they all corrupt? Surely there were committed Christians among the dead and displaced? Why would God allow a disaster to befall the faithful just to punish the wicked?

If we don't believe there is a God, then such questions are pointless. However, if we do believe there is a God who is interested in human affairs, who acts in our lives, who seeks a relationship with us, then what would be our basis for dismissing a priori any notion that God might have a hand in disasters? Are we so sure of our understanding of God's ways that we deem it beyond the pale even to consider the possibility God could allow, or even bring about, suffering on this scale?

After 9/11, Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson opined that God may have permitted the attacks as a response to a condition of moral decay in this country. As a representative example of the reaction to Falwell and Robertson, William F. Buckley called this an "ignorant misapplication of Christian thought." There was no consideration, even among conservatives, of even the remotest possiblity that Falwell and Robertson were in the vicinity of the truth.

(Falwell and Robertson placed the blame for the attacks squarely on the terrorists. They never said God caused the attacks to happen.)

Why? Why were conservatives and Christians so quick then, and so quick now, to refuse even to countenance a God who plays a role in such disasters, whether through "direct aggression engineered by God", or through "the forfeit of God's special protection"? (Again, from Buckley's column.)

In response to these questions I have posed, let me start with what I think is the clearest picture of God's feelings about sin in the Old Testament. In Zechariah Chapter 3, Zechariah has a vision of Joshua, the high priest, standing before an angel in dirty garments. Zechariah 3:3 says this (RSV):

Now Joshua was standing before the angel, clothed with filthy garments.

The word translated filthy here literally means excrement. In our sinful state, as we stand before God, we appear to Him as if we were covered in excrement. We are not basically good people, with a few smudges of sin around the hems of our otherwise clean garments. We disgust God. It's as if we crawled out of an outhouse pit and walked towards God asking for a hug. God cannot stand to be anywhere near us in our sinful state. We are that revolting.

The vision goes on to show how God puts clean robes on Joshua, and it is a foreshadowing of what Christ would do for us on the cross. Christ would take away our sins and we would appear clean in God's eyes, and be welcome in His presence.

My point of bringing this up, though, is to say we cannot dismiss how nauseating and putrid our sin is to God, how the reviling the stench of our sin is. Would you dunk a child in an outhouse pit, and then willingly and cheerfully cuddle that child on your lap? No, I rather doubt it.

So why do we insist on telling God He should ignore our fallen state and accept us as we are? Why do we insist on wagging our fingers at God and chiding Him for overreacting to our sins?

At this point, you might be thinking I am leading up to claiming this disastrous hurricane was divine judgment sent by an wrathful God to punish the wicked.

You might be surprised to learn I am not saying that. I am saying we cannot know God's thoughts in allowing this hurricane to happen.

And surely, if we Christians believe in a sovereign, omniscient God, we must believe that at the very least God knew what was coming.

When the wave that would become Katrina first formed over the Sahara, God knew what would happen. When that wave blew out into the Atlantic waters off the west coast of Africa, and began to feed on the heat and moisture, God knew what would happen. When that disturbance first formed into a tropical storm and began to move westwards across the Atlantic, God knew it would grow into a powerful hurricane and strike the Gulf Coast. If God knew all this, why did He allow it to happen?

There are two cases in the Old Testament where individuals asked similar questions of God. These individuals did not understand why God allowed hard times to come upon them, and they asked God to explain Himself.

The first is in Habakkuk. In Habakkuk Chapter 1, the Babylonians are in the process of dismantling what was left of a wicked Israel, and Habakkuk poured out his frustration at the violence and evil he saw. In Habakkuk 1:1-3 (RSV):

O LORD, how long shall I cry for help, and thou wilt not hear? Or cry to thee "Violence!" and thou wilt not save?

Why dost thou make me see wrongs and look upon trouble? Destruction and violence are before me; strife and contention arise.

God replied the Persian empire was coming, and would defeat the Babylonians. This did not reassure Habakkuk, however, who didn't understand why God would allow his people to fall into the hands of the violent Persians. In 2:1, Habakkuk says (RSV):

I will take my stand to watch, and station myself on the tower, and look forth to see what he will say to me, and what I will answer concerning my complaint.

Isn't that often our approach to God? We're going to stand right here, arms folded, and demand that God explain Himself.

What I find so interesting about the account of Habakkuk is that God does not explain Himself. He does not address Habakkuk's complaints. God's answer is summed up in 2:4 (RSV):

Behold, he whose soul is not upright in him shall fail, but the righteous shall live by his faith.

We are to live by faith in the midst of situations we do not understand.

A similar confrontation takes place in the more familiar Book of Job. After 37 chapters of the disasters that came upon Job, after being prodded by his wife and friends to blame God, Job remained faithful, yet questions remained. And as with Habakkuk, God did not explain Himself to Job. In Job 38:2-8 (RSV), God said:

Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?

Gird up your loins like a man, I will question you, and you shall declare to me.

Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding.

Who determined its measurements--surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it?

On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

Or who shut in the sea with doors, when it burst forth from the womb;

God goes on for several more chapters, but says this in Job 40:2,8 (RSV):

Shall a faultfinder contend with the Almighty? He who argues with God, let him answer it.

Will you even put me in the wrong? Will you condemn me that you may be justified?

God is saying to Job, you don't understand everything, there is so much you are unaware of, and because you don't have a complete perspective, it is not right for you to question what I do.

This, then, is the Christian response to terrible events like Katrina. It is not right to preclude the possibility that our wrongdoing in some way brought on this disaster. On the other hand, we cannot say that is the case. We can only say we do not know, we do not understand. To say more would be to speak words without knowledge.

In the end, it is our responsibility as Christians to live with faith, to believe the God who knows when sparrows fall can take care of us through these trying times. We leave it to God to judge those who do wrong, and we just trust God will provide for all those in need. It is not up to us to tell God how to run His universe.

Update: See the comments, where Jeremy from the excellent Parableman blog points out where I mistakenly referred to the Persians in Habakkuk Chapter 1.

Also, I had a followup to this post here.

The Evangelical Outpost has some thoughts on where trust, and blame, should be placed.
Stones Cry Out has some related thoughts from Hugh Hewitt's program, and has some original thoughts as well.
The Parableman blog has a very thoughtful look at this topic. He points out the truth that the Bible never says hard times won't come to believers.
Northern 'burbs blog looks at the issue of evil, and if it relates to disasters.

Dispatch from the Front III

In this dispatch, I'll look at some of my correspondent's thoughts on the nature of the enemy. What is it like to fight an enemy that is not arrayed in traditional battle lines, but blends in and hides among a civilian population, a population that often supports the enemy? How does this interaction between insurgents, terrorists, and population play out?

I think too many have the will to fight and they think they can get away with it... There are 4 main groups we are fighting. The foreigners-less than 5% BUT they are the ones doing suicide bombings. All iraqis agree on this, they are disgusted by this. Moreover and good for us and iraq is that many people have become outraged with the attacks targeting iraqis...

Then there are the various other sunni tribes, religico sponsered groups like sadr, and regular nationalists and criminal mafia gangs. It amazes me how the media just blindly lumps all sunni and shia as monolithic entities.

My theory is journalists are a bunch of clowns who couldn't pass any other major in college so they took what was left. That's why they write such boneheaded articles with such an obvious lack of a clue that you would think they would be embarassed to broadcast their ignorance.

The divisions are more like the catholic protetestant wars of the middle ages(not as violent any more, usually-although pakistan is the exception).

The key is the tribal groups, family affiliation, home town or region, ethnicity. and how that all interacts at the denominational level is a true wonder.

The complexity of all of religious divisions so often escapes most media. At times the enemy of my enemy thing comes into play but in reality fundamentalist sunnis like binladen think of shias as blaspemous apostates and hate them at times near as much as any other infidel.

Furthermore, arabs among others are ancient enemies of the persians(who have had like, what, 7 or 8 major empires?) and are not going to swear allegiance to such a figure as a persian ayatollah. And almost as important is the shia denomination. As I am sure you know and are well aware, persia is majority shia but the majority of islam is sunni. For that alone it would have been impossible to gain much foothold.

Anyway, the gist of all of that comes down to good old media bashing. they are complete idiots. They foolishly lump everyone into these monolithic shia, sunni, kurd entities. What hogwash. It's much much much much more complicated than that. Those distinctions are important, however, clan, kinship, tribe, home region etc are major factors in this game and that is lost on so many even now.

I am telling you, NOTHING goes on here, in any town or neighborhood without everyone knowing what's going on. You can't get away with it. You stand out. Your accent, your manners, etc... Everyone knows who are the muj and who are the foreign jihados.

Much of this goes on under our noses and they run circles around us. (oversimplification) But, we don't speak the languages, know customs etc much less the locals in enough detail. The problem is most of the tribesman arent going to rat on their cousins, or they are active/passive sympathizers. They are cowed/intimidated/ or already had someone killed as a warning or collaboration etc.
This place is insane. The sunnis deserve a brutal dictator who gives them nothing but poverty and misery.

Often, though, the enemy uses brutal tactics to intimidate the local populations into not opposing them.

In some respects, I must hand it to the guys running their shadow campaign. They are well organized and funded and armed and they are waging an effective war here. Weekly as of late they are whacking all the right targets and suppressing any dissent of the insurgents/political campaigning/any type of percieved colaboration with the us forces and their widely percieved stooges under allawis govt. More of the potential good guys assasinated today/yesterday/the past week. Amazing.

They are very well organized. They know what they are doing. They have many home turf advantages. Hhave you noticed all the talk about an election but miraculously there is zero campaigning here! Of course, it's obvious why, you would invite death. Or at least tempt it severely.

The Iraqi police are taking it in the teeth-some are infiltrated and provide advance sabotage or begin the negotiating process-everyone leave now or my buddies will kill you when they arrive in 5 minutes. Result-abandoned stations. Known weak areas are bolstered by us troops and they stay only since we are there.

The intimidation process began awhile back and it has been remarkably effective. Look at the hundreds assasinated at all levels of civil institutions and the highly organized kidnapping gangs. Key leaders in towns have been killed-now, do you think the next guy who stepped up to the plate has not cut his deal to survive? It's happening. How to defeat that kind of power?

Or look at the extended threats to distant family, but family nontheless in this clannish society.

I heard the bbc idiot the other night asking why his family didn't have security? duh, EVERYONE cannot be guarded! duh! Who, How, $?! Someone will always be vulnerable unless you gather hundreds of your trusted friends and family into fortified compounds. (it happens) But the less palatable reality is that huge swaths of the population have been cowed and co-opted.

We are fighting against some very powerful hometurf advantages. I have already noted some of our obvious weakest nodes. our dependence on informers for intel and reliance on local nationals for translation. Find and kill these 2 key personnel and that unit is ineffective (since virtually none of us troops speak the language, operations grind to standstills since we wouldnt know where to go, what to target etc). Well, guess what, the insurgency tries very hard to exploit that for its gain!

Howdy. Don't really know about the clerics assasination. There are so many factions, competing interests, feuds, tribal squables, extremest religious wackos with you name it we got it animosities, blah blah blah etc.

Each and every faction, tribe and ethnic group has (always) had their agents, saboters, provacatuers, spies, etc. The kurds know who is who. Any town, village, neighborhood is continually watched. Everyone knows what the other is up to. A product of a police state I might imagine. Or just the suspicious arab mentality. Or simple human nature for that matter.

A few thoughts on the enemy fighters:

See, all the stupid ones are killed off over the course of the past year, darwinian selection has culled the smarter ones into our current oppo. So instead of goofs going after the whole tank with an ak like last year now they are gunning for the guys sticking their heads out hatches.

Enemy isn't stupid. One can see which vehicles are which and which ones have less or more protection. They often know what we know. This also why they have targeted those civilian semi delivery trucks, sometimes driven by foreingers, because they have no armor and won't get any either from the us.

It's hard to describe the vast difference between an educated, disciplined professional 21st century soldier and them. They truly are in the dark ages. It's not night and day. It's they are in the 8th friggin dimension.

Notice that many of the dead have the 'wahabbi' beard, a sure marker among iraqis since most are clean shaven or saddam mustached. In fact, if we see anyone wearing the dishdasha mandress we automatically assume a potential fundamentalist islamist who may (or may not) be a threat. Anyone more progressive doesn't wear those traditional clothes. But that's not a hard fast rule. Most are the underclass, uneducated and very poor. Easily manipulated by clerics.

I suspect the latest attacks were from some foreign wannabe jihadis who either wanted some action or to be 'martyred' (which is a huge element of their twisted
ideology/motivation/psychology). Well, it appears they met their match. Anytime they confront our firepower they whither. Number one reason I would say is we can accomplish precision aimed fire. Those clowns think weapon sights are merely a suggestion.

The terrorists are not fighting according to the "rules of war"...

Had some kids throwing stuff at us the other day. mindful of now and numerous other wars where so called kids are supposedly innocent throw all manner of deadly things at troops, ...oh, it's just rocks, some idiot armchair qb says in safety and comfort ten thousand miles away. Hmm, you got but few scant seconds before a grenade detonates and so it's a little too late to identify a grenade or a rock when seconds count and your safety and buddies lives hang in the balance. Just ask my buddy, shot at some kid a few months back who was throwing what turned out to be a grenade.

This war, like many others, has lots of issues in it that don't fit some neat, orderly definition of so called civilized rules of war. At times, I wonder how someone can discuss rules about something so illogical as war is beyond me. For starters, I would like to point out that it is illegal for insurgents to be using places of worship, education or medicine to fight from or within. Uh-oh!

In addition, it is illegal for insurgents to fake surrender, death or injury with the intent to kill or harm their captor or rescuer and place traps or explosives on corpses or the wounded. Looks like they didnt read the 'rule book' once again.

It is also illegal for insurgents make carbombs that attack and murder civilians, kidnap civilians for ransom or use them for protection, and most of all murder any one captured under the tender care of their brand of islam to include soldiers and civilians!

If you haven't been paying attention all of that and more has been perpetrated by the enemy we are now and have been fighting. Several us soldiers have been killed the past week (and many others in prior months) by insurgents using such underhanded methods and ruses. Now, knowing this you might begin to understand in some small way just how viscious, nasty and brutal this business is.

Neat little scenarios like in the movies aren't reality. blackhawk down and saving private ryan capture the absolute friggin chaos and confusion. When bullets are flying things go to heck real quick, the us military is simply much better adapting to and overcoming such fraileties)

Those clowns have/do use any/every means possible (this has been known for a long time), a favorite has been using a mosque, school and hospital for weapons storage and fighting position.

After having seen the utter and complete savagery of the worst kinds of evil, I cannot fathom how any other response but to resort to brutal tactics can in any other way complete this task. These idiots are not playing by marquis of queensberry rules. much less the modern laws of land warfare.

The terrorists are blowing up kids for goodness sake. Can you imagine that?!! What monsters of satans demons could ever possess someone to do such a thing? I have the normal reaction of denial and say, I can't believe it. But it's real. Every day here.
Can you imagine what ends of the earth you would go to if someone killed your precious innocent children?

I am completely stunned at the barbarians we oppose here. Duping has been done here as well. It would be hard to track the frequency but it's known some are told to 'drop this off' and someone follows behind and poof. Othertimes, a guy under duress is forced to do it or his family gets killed. It's unbelievable at times the level of medieval savagery that can exist here.

How can an opposing force combat an enemy like this? My correspondent has some thoughts:

Bottom line folks, there are alot of violent wack jobs in the extreme muslim fringe who are, have and will cause more violence here, in europe and america and elsewhere.

The only way you can oppose them is to kill them or jail them. If you believe otherwise, just visit Iraq and try to reason with them. I am sure you will regret it later when your head is cut off.

Perhaps it's not too late to dig us out of the mirey morass-like abyss we dug for ourselves. In my optomistic moments (like today for instance) I feel good about the future prospects... We took the gloves off and pounded najaf and samarra and those clowns are scared in falooja. How to tell an arab is scared and knows he is in imminent likelihood of losing? They want to call of any current offensives for "negotiations".

The best way to "negotiate" with the terrorists is: 1. with survivors, 2. barrel in his ear, boot on head, 3. just kill them all and impose your dominance on whatever's left.

I've said it a hundred times, talk is cheap here, it's seen as weakness, power is respected. If not at least that, you must beat down your enemy so much so that they are utterly weary of further resistance. It's the law of the jungle played out in modern times.

My historical model that i think accurately describes the mentality of at least some of the current enemy/threats is suicidal/kamikaze japanese. Tthere was no way to negotiate with that type of soldier like could say be done with a german. The only way to deal with that was killing.

People who fly planes into buildings looking to destroy a civilization (and just as if not more importantly the ones who send them on such missions) cannot be won over at some treaty/council/tea party like some kerryesque fantasy would have us believe.

Remember a more sensitive war? Perhaps he was referring to a broader issue but the fact remains you don't talk down a mad dog, the only option is to kill it. Enough of all this talk of killing. I think I shall go play some mozart and dream of a happy, peaceful far off land.

In the next dispatch, we'll take a look at some thoughts from around last year's Presidential election.

Dispatch from the Front I

Dispatch from the Front II

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Hurricane Katrina Blog Relief Day fundraiser

It is a very small thing I can do, but I would like to bring to your attention some of the many charities that are gearing up to provide comfort and flood aid to the many victims of the terrible Hurricane Katrina that has devastated parts of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, including New Orleans.

Hugh Hewitt has led the effort to make today, September 1, Hurricane Katrina Blog Relief Day fundraiser. Bloggers will make an effort today to raise funds for charities.

I would like to mention a few charities that are church-oriented. This is part of what we Christians are to do, to lend a hand to the needy, and there are a great many needy in these areas today. Please give what you can.

I recommend the American Baptists, but any of these would be good choices.

(If you do choose to give to the American Baptists, click the Give Now link, then specify a gift under the "One Great Hour of Sharing" section. A login is required, but once past that, specify Hurricane Katrina in the instructions field.)

American Baptist One Great Hour of Sharing

American Baptist has links for donating online at their main page.

Mennonite Disaster Service

MDS describes their efforts at their main page, and has links for donating online.

Nazarene Disaster Response

The Nazarenes have relief efforts underway, and also accept online donations.

The Salvation Army

Few have been providing help as well and as long as the SA.

American Red Cross

Of course, the Red Cross will be very much involved with relief efforts.

The Truth Laid Bear site is tracking the blogs participating in this fundraiser, and has a list of charities.

Instapundit is also tracking charities and blogs involved in this effort.

Thank you for your help!


I'm sure you've all heard the reports of the lawlessness and the looting taking place in New Orleans. If you are ever tempted to be proud of the human condition, and think there is a nugget of gold in the heart of all of us, take a look at these animals. I don't mean the people taking food and water, one can understand that. I mean the thugs in that Wal-mart, the ones taking TVs, jewelry, cars, etc... Why? Where are they going to go with that stuff? The city is gone for practical purposes. It is amazing how thin that veil is between us and the abyss. In the space of one day, the hurricane ended lives, wiped out a city, changed so many other lives, and in one day, with the restraint of the rule of law taken away, people exploded into armed gangs. II Thessalonians 2:7 says this:

For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way.

If the criminal savagery in New Orleans is what the world is going to look like when that restraining force is removed, the world is going to be a very scary place.

Here are some links that give glimpses into the awful conditions on New Orleans...

People stranded in many locations

Lawless looters

Unrest at the Superdome shelter

CNN journalists on the scenes they encountered

Chuck Simmins is tracking donations from various sources.

Josh Britton has been providing extensive eyewitness coverage.