Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Our family has marked the time to die, and now is the time for weddings, for Thanksgiving, and for birth just weeks ahead.
Winefred's Well will still be a-bubble in the deeps, but won't break the surface for awhile. On hiatus for ten days or so.
Saturday, November 11, 2006
THE ELEVENTH HOUR OF THE ELEVENTH DAY
OF THE ELEVENTH MONTH
Yesterday on the 231st birthday of the United States Marine Corps, and on what would have been his 25th birthday, Lance Corporal Jason Dunham was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for performing the classic act of self-sacrifice in battle-- the one we've all heard about but never conceive of in reality: he threw his own body over a live hand grenade to save the lives of his fellow warriors.
Before me sits a book called The Gift of Valor, by Wall Street Journal reporter Michael M. Phillips, who autographed it for me last April at the first national convention of Marineparents.com. It tells the story of Jason Dunham's brief life and heroic death. I have not yet had the courage to read it.
On April 14, Easter Sunday, 2004, Lance Corporal Dunham shredded his body to fulfill the promise he had made when he voluntarily extended his enlistment to return to Iraq: he wanted so see to it that all his buddies made it back home safely. He lived for another eight days, and then was taken off life-support by his agonized parents on April 22, 2004, at Bethesda Hospital in Maryland.
Celebrate Lance Corporal Dunham's life and sacrifice at his memorial website, and also here, here, here, here, and here.
The observances of this day-- performed with special poignancy in the lands of the British Commonwealth, with poppies, bagpipes, and the weight of grief expressed in the words of Canadian doctor Lt. Col. John McCrae in his 1915 poem In Flanders Fields-- are all about not forgetting.
- We are the Dead. Short days ago
- We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
- Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
- In Flanders fields.
If ye break faith with us who dieThe Marine's Prayer
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
Almighty Father, whose command is over all and whose love never fails, make me aware of Thy presence and obedient to Thy will. Keep me true to my best self, guarding me against dishonesty in purpose and deed, and helping me to live so that I can face my fellow Marines, my loved ones, and Thee without shame or fear. Protect my family.
Give me the will to do the work of a Marine and to accept my share of responsibilities with vigor and enthusiasm. Grant me the courage to be proficient in my daily performance. Keep me loyal and faithful to my superiors and to the duties my Country and the Marine Corps have entrusted to me. Help me to wear my uniform with dignity, and let it remind me daily of the traditions which I must uphold.
If I am inclined to doubt, steady my faith; if I am tempted, make me strong to resist; if I should miss the mark, give me courage to try again.
Guide me with the light of truth and grant me wisdom by which I may understand the answer to my prayer.
Thursday, November 09, 2006
And it will
It's amazing to me (and to a few others-- too few) that the massive post-mortems and hand-wringing and soul-searching underway amongst a thousand conservative pundits and talk-artists per square mile of America do not, on the whole, appear to have picked-up on the biggest message of both the election results and the post-election dismissal of Donald Rumsfeld. It is a message which has not escaped members of the United States Military, however. And here it is:
Today, every single soldier clearly understands that we are now on the path of leaving Iraq. Elections have consequences, we accept that, we understand that. Our “collective memory” from the 59 year old sergeant that served in Vietnam to the young 18 year old private tells us that we are counting the days until April 30, 1975...from Oak Leaf at Polipundit
The thought that will occur for every soldier today in Iraq is “Do I want to be the last man to die on the way out?”
The thought that will occur for every military family who has lost a brother, sister, mother or father in Iraq is that they have sacrificed for nothing.
The thought that will occur for every veteran who has left part of their body in Iraq is that they gave for nothing...
Today, every soldier in SW Asia became a “short timer” and they all know it.
Read it all, and weep.
And from Uncle Jimbo at Blackfive[James Hanson, retired Special Ops Master Sergeant, writer on military, foreign policy, intelligence matters]
During a mid-term election that turned into a referendum on W's leadership overall, and in Iraq especially, he stands tall and says Rumsfeld will stay out the rest of his presidency. Knowing full well that this will alienate some of the moderate Dems and Repubs who support the war on terror, but wonder about Rumsfeld's prosecution of it. So these folks decide enough is enough and take their frustration to the only place they can voice it, voting the bums who support Bush out and a Dem majority in...Whammo.
Having profoundly screwed the pooch and ensured we will have to fight harder here than Baghdad to win the freakin' war, he surrenders to his new Democrat overlords and throws them Rummy's carcass to gnaw on. IDIOT!
...this screws our troops. W may still be C[ommander] in C[hief] but Nancy Freakin' Pelosi is in charge of his allowance...
I'm done, W is dead to me...
Read and listen, far and wide, and you will discover that almost nobody “gets it.” There are exceptions. David Warren is one: see “Abandoning Iraq” at his website, to be followed by “Sunk” in an upcoming Western Standard. Ralph Peters gets it at the New York Post, and outlines a solution so bold and stark that you know it will never be tried.
It’s fun (and it’s also wise) to snort about being “afraid, very afraid” of the Pelosi Pack (see below), but the unspoken fear beneath this election now needs to be spoken loudly: that by pasting together this Hamilton-Baker Commission of realpolitik specialists to hash out an Iraq strategy, and pretending that Rumsfeld wasn’t a goner until after the election [an election that, had we been privy to the firing beforehand, might not have been entirely lost in a wave of disgust], the President has telegraphed to us that he intends to extract himself from Iraq while offending as few people as possible in the immediate term of his remaining political career—those people, of course, not including either the purple-fingered Iraqis nor the American military personnel, living and dead, who have eaten the desert dust for the past three years, to no particular end.
Rumsfeld had to go—some time. Three years ago would have been good, and any time since then. Before the election it would have been a signal of resolve to admit failures and correct them—Bush would have been accused by Democrats of trying to manipulate the election with an October surprise. So? They’ve accused him of creating a war ex nihilo to further his quest for world domination—why should he be getting all sensitive now? And what’s wrong with trying to win over voters by changing policy? This is a crime? This is “impure”?
The firing immediately after the election shows that the move was (a) already in the making, all those excessive and unnecessary public claims to the contrary notwithstanding; and (b) a political stupidity of the highest order, giving the appearance of weakness under pressure, surrender, and zero grasp of even the most rudimentary realities of public perception-- as always, Mr. Bush is the recipient of some of the worst political advice in the history of advice. Karl Rove, far from being, or ever having been, a genius, has underperformed again, even worse than in ’04.
And the President appears to have noticed. In every single sentence uttered at his press conferences of the past two days he has used the same inflection, that of “scolding” mode. He’s pissed, about all sorts of stuff. And he’s taking little digs at his “architect” now that the cracks in the foundation are getting too obvious to ignore. This will be of ongoing interest to the political classes. But in the end it doesn’t matter. Rove’s basic job, winning elections, is finished. The President, however, has many other jobs, and he needs to re-prioritize them, away from conventional thinking about “legacy” and back to real issues of “leadership” and “history.” At this juncture, neither of these is promising to look kindly on him.
Mr. Bush consistently fails to notice advantages when he has them—in this case, the truth is the Democrats dare not be in the seat of power with hand on the helm when Iraq implodes completely, so Bush could have appointed a tough-minded SecDef on the “moderate Republican” McCain or Giuliani model-- or some other unexpected model that a man with political smarts might have been able to genuinely surprise us with-- and then dared them to thwart him. But if Bush leads the way toward a “peace with honor” slink out the back door, the Democrats will be only too happy to accommodate him—and screw what ensues.
Typically for him, Mr. Bush has conducted this major policy move completely in secret, and, without waiting to consult the new Republican congressional leadership (which might have proven more astute than the outgoing crew), has selected yet another Texas crony to fill the new void. Bob Gates is probably well-qualified on paper, if what you’re looking for is somebody who got along well with compromisers like James Baker and Brent Scowcroft, but for many of us he’s just too much a Harriet Miers or Scott McClellan clone. Mr. Bush has gone to the “trust me” well several times too often, and I for one no longer wish to accompany him there.
"Trust me" is, of course, the sole and entire content of the Democratic "plan" for Iraq. And the lemmings are following them to the well in droves.
The news this minute reports that Bush made "conciliatory" noises towards Madame Speaker Pelosi today at lunch. What does he have to be conciliatory about? Did he call her stinking-rich, tight-faced, California cow? 'Cause I think she's called him a reckless, lying incompetent. Where's her conciliatory noise?
Cue the helicopters for the embassy roof run. May my son not be at the throttle when it happens.
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
Monday, November 06, 2006
AIR FORCE 43 -- ARMY 7
But the cadets of the academies are united on this:
SULLY THINKS HE'S HIT PAY-DIRT
Journalist, blogging pioneer, ex-conservative and former rational human being Andrew Sullivan could hardly contain his glee when he posted that a newsrag called The Army Times is carrying an editorial calling for the resignation or firing of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.
See? See? Even the military has now openly turned against him!
There’s just one problem, Andrew—the Army Times (and its identical twin-tuplets the Air Force, Navy, Marine, and Military Times) has nothing whatever to do with the armed forces of the United States, beyond the fact that they are its target customer-base. Editor and Publisher may call them “Four leading military papers” but they are substantially the same paper in content, with a selection of articles tailored to the separate military branches, and different banner names and colors. Moreover, they are the tabloid children of the Gannett Company-- a giant media conglom and America’s largest newspaper publisher (by circulation), whose signature newsproduct is USA Today. Despite the publishers’ self-appointed designation of their "Times” products as the “bibles of the military market”, actual military personnel refer to these clones as the “National Enquirer of our military.”
The editorial staff of these papers does not appear to contain a single member of the military (active or retired), and gives itself away by referring to the Secretary of Defense as “Rumsfeld” in the headline and several places in the editorial—military people would never do this. The pre-election appearance of the anti-Rumsfeld piece is a completely political act on the part of journalistical hacks, and adds absolutely nothing to the arguments it addresses.
Personally, I’m all for dishonorably discharging Rummy, and have been for over three years. I'm sure I am in lots of good, rational, knowledgeable company, and no doubt some of it is to be found within the American military—but the editors of the Multiple Military-Wannabe Times ain’t among them.
GENERAL CLARK JUMPS ON HIS HORSE
AND RIDES OFF IN ALL DIRECTIONS
General Mayhem (ret.), a.k.a. Wesley Clark [failed and fired Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, under fellow Rhodes Scholar and egotist Bill Clinton, and lone-wolf architect of the sky-high war against Kosovo (for which he failed to get approval for his planned ground invasion by 200,000 troops via an unpaved road through the ruins of Albania)—and who, like Pennsylvania Congressman John Murtha, turned anti-Bush and anti-war when insufficient attention was paid to his self importance: Clark here, Murtha here] –- is the centerpiece of a current television ad which is not only a HUGE, OUTRAGEOUS, BREATHTAKINGLY WHOPPING BIG LIE, but now fixed-in-history testimony to Clark’s being just STUPID.
Michelle Malkin has the whole tale on video here, but the gist of it is as follows:
each of three Iraq war veterans makes a brief, categorical assertion of a cause-and-effect relationship between “Iraq” (whatever that means—they don‘t even bother to say “the war in Iraq”) and some particular threat to world security.
“Because of Iraq,” the viewer is told,
(1) Osama Bin laden is still a threat.Now even ignoring the prefatory “because of Iraq” clause, only one of these statements is demonstrably true: that the military as it is now deployed is spread too thin. We have about 1.3 million people in the military. Shut down obsolete operations in Germany and Korea, for starters, and this "thinness" might correct itself.
(2) Iran is closer to having nuclear weapons.
(3) The military is spread too thin.
The first unprefaced claim (about Osama) is at best disputable, and the second (nukes) is technically true, but rendered laughable when characterized as an effect of the U.S. presence in Iraq. Iran is closer to having nuclear weapons because they have encountered no credible or effective opposition to their program from anyone, least of all the Euro-club that wasted three years negotiating with them.
There was originally a fourth vet in Clark’s ad, one Josh Lansdale, but his spot has since been excised since it appears that he may have given a false account of his battle injuries and treatment in another ad, stumping for Democratic Senate candidate Claire McCaskill of Missouri. (See Malkin again) Lansdale's assertion in the Clark ad was that, because of Iraq “there are more terrorists in the world”-- again, disputable at best.
Clark himself winds up the ad by asserting that, because of Iraq, “America is less secure”—a conveniently vague claim severely hobbled by a five-year absence of terrorist acts on American soil.
General Clark then closes with the Out-and-Out Lie of the New Millennium:
...so if you see commercials telling you to be afraid of terrorism, remember: it’s because of Iraq.
Oh I see, General. Because of Iraq.
We invaded Iraq in March of 2003.
Prior to that we had no need to be afraid of terrorism (?)-- terrorism which, in its most recent Islamist incarnation (forgetting for the moment the IRA, Basque separatists, Quebec separatists, Sikh separatists, Red Brigade, and the Tamil Tigers) has killed tens of thousands world-wide in the past 40 years alone (forgetting for the moment the past 14 centuries), in such places as Russia, Indonesia, India, Egypt, Algeria, Argentina, Scotland, Thailand, Spain, England, China, the Philippines, and of course, the United States.
General, Sir, peruse if you will a Wikipedia-style ballpark sampling of the terrorism death toll prior to 2003 (when, as you may recall, we invaded Iraq):
2,996 - September 11 attacks, (New York City, Arlington, VA, Shanksville, PA, United States, 2001)Prior to September 11, approximately 800 Americans had died at the hands of jihadist terrorists, picked off by ones (Leon Klinghoffer or Robert Dean Stethem) and by hundreds (U.S. embassy bombings of 1998), Then they died in thousands, on American soil. And it’s all because of Iraq?
329 - Air India Flight 182 (Atlantic Ocean, south of Ireland, 1985)
299 - US and French barracks bombings, (Beirut, Lebanon, 1983)
270 - Pan Am Flight 103, (Lockerbie, Scotland, 1988)
257 - 1993 Mumbai bombings (Mumbai, India, 1993)
225 - 1998 U.S. embassy bombings, (Tanzania, Kenya, 1998)
202 - 2002 Bali bombing, (Indonesia, 2002)
171 - UTA Flight UT-772, (Niger, 1989)
170 - Moscow Theatre Siege, (Russia, 2002)
168 - Oklahoma City bombing, (Oklahoma, United States,1995 —included because McVeigh & Nichols likely had ties to Al-Qaeda in the Philippines)
116 - Superferry 14 bombing, (Philippines, 2004)
112 - Avianca Flight 203, (Colombia, 1989)
91 - King David Hotel bombing, (Jerusalem, 1946)
90 - Central Bank Bombing, (Colombo, Sri Lanka, 1996)
88 - TWA Flight 841, (Ionian Sea, 1974)
86 - AMIA Bombing, (Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1994)
63 - April 1983 US Embassy bombing, (Beirut, Lebanon, 1983)
37 - Attack on USS Stark by Iraq, (Persian Gulf, 1987)
33 - Pan Am Flight 110, (Italy, 1973)
33 - Coimbatore blasts, (India, 1998)
30 - Passover massacre, (Israel, 2002)
29 - Israeli Embassy Attack in Buenos Aires, (Argentina, 1992)
29 - Mosque of Abraham massacre, West Bank, (1994)
26 - bus No. 18 Jerusalem massacre, (Israel, 1996)
26 - Lod Airport Massacre, (Israel, 1972)
26 - Ma'alot massacre, (Israel, 1974)
22 - No. 5 bus Tel-Aviv massacre, (Israel, 1994)
21 - Dolphinarium massacre, (Israel, 2001)
21 - Beit Lid Junction massacre, (Israel, 1995)
20 - Khobar Towers bombing, (Saudi Arabia, 1996)
19 - Patt junction massacre, (Israel, 2002)
18 - Kiryat Shmona massacre, (Israel, 1974)
17 - USS Cole Bombing, (Yemen, 2000)
17 - Haifa bus 37 massacre, (Israel, 2003
15 - Sbarro massacre, (Israel, 2001)
15 - Matza restaurant massacre, (Israel, 2002)
12 - Avivim school bus massacre, (Israel, 1970)
11 - Jerusalem bus 20 massacre, (Israel, 2002)
6 - World Trade Center bombing, (New York, United States, 1993)
Wesley Clark, you are an idiot.
The Clark ad draws attention once again to the left-wing penchant for letting “victims” make their arguments for them, on the assumption that, out of some combination of moral authority and guaranteed sympathy, the victims and their claims are unassailable. (Cindy Sheehan, Max Cleland, Michael J. Fox)
The vets in the Clark ad, one of them an amputee, are the putative victims of the Iraq war and the war on terrorism in general. The list above shows that there are plenty of victims to go around (and that doesn’t even include the brainwashed fools who “martyr” themselves in the cause of mass murder). But members of a volunteer military are not among them—they are adults, they made as informed a choice as anyone who is of age can make.
If there is suffering in that choice, it is as voluntary as it is real, and it has parallels in other walks of life. Welcome to adulthood, guys—welcome to the eternal human conundrum—it can hurt.
It’s because of Iraq... Make me gag, General.
THE CANCER METAPHOR -- a meditation on National Security voting
I’ve spent the last month and a half dealing with the swift and deadly course of metastasized cancer in a family member, and will keep the details of that experience pretty much to myself. But in retrospect one can’t escape its perennial usefulness as a political metaphor.
Imagine the war on terrorism, with its primary mass lodged in Iraq, as an increasingly lethal cancer on the gasping lungs of the body politic.
Dr. Republican says:
You can try chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, or some combination thereof, all of which can be painful and physically devastating to the point where you may consider the cure worse than the disease and may wish for death—but at the end of the day, you could very well extend your life for many healthy years. You could also opt to co-exist with the disease as long as possible, managing it with pain medication and a healthy living regime (and possibly a Mediterranean cruise or two), until such time as you enter into professionally managed palliative care towards a peaceful end.Dr. Democrat says:
You should never have smoked.Everybody dies. But most of us don’t advocate refusing even to confront a fatal disease. Death may be inevitable—the blood-soaked triumph of a new Muslim caliphate is not. That IS the jihadists’ goal. We should stop at nothing to cure them of that ambition. With Dr. Republican (ideally) you get some course of treatment—with Dr. Democrat you get diagnosis of everything but the cancer.
Because you did we’re now going to spend years issuing subpoenas to everyone you ever met, and probing your past until we find out who offered you your first cigarette, whether that person owned shares in a tobacco company, whether the package had a warning label, if you were sold cigarettes as a minor, if the manufacturer had engaged in false advertising or covered up medical research on the negative effects of smoking, if your school provided adequate anti-smoking education, if your mother smoked while driving your to school, and (if you’re female) whether you took up smoking in order to eat less and conform to unrealistic ideals of body image foisted on you by the fashion industry.
Have I left anything out?
Stop that coughing—I can’t hear myself think…
Impeach Joe Camel, and have your lungs removed by a date certain.
We achieve a brand of immortality only through our children. Yes, we and they will die-- but let it not be by suicidal distraction, myopia, or indifference. “Not today, O Lord / O not today...”
FUNNY HA-HA, OR FUNNY PECULIAR?
Kerry is a stereotypical Northeastern liberal in a country with a prevailing Southern, Midwestern and Western mainstream that eschews his region and his philosophy. He's a plodding elitist in a game that, as the successes of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush demonstrate, places its premium on ease and common touch.And that’s from somebody who wanted him to win in ‘04!
(John Brummett, Las Vegas Review Journal)
The Kerry Kerfuffle goes on and on, which it should, at least until somebody nails exactly what he meant, and what it all means. I’ll take my stab.
I truly don’t think that when Senator Kerry spoke his fateful words -- about dumb clucks getting stuck in Iraq-- he had at that moment formulated in his mind the specific intention to call people in the military stupid. I believe he intended the remark to be about George Bush, and I think he thought that’s what those words actually said.
That is because Kerry, like so many Democrats and other assorted liberals, thinks that there is only one person engaged in fighting the war in Iraq, and that person is George Bush, with some assistance from the inner circle of his administration.
When these people think of who is butting heads with terrorists in Iraq, who is running (and running rings around) the new government there, who is being ambushed and sandbagged by suicide bombers, they see only the hapless Bush swaggering and waving his hands, with a ten-gallon hat in one and an empty pistol in the other. These folks can appear all too often to be on the side of the enemy, standing up for his human rights and thwarting American efforts to conquer him, because the enemy of my enemy (Bush) is my friend.
Kerry did not consciously mean to insult the individuals in the ranks of our military because, for him, these people don’t exist—they are not real. They are a collective chess piece in the hands of a Republican president, and his every move with them must be checked and checkmated.
Kerry himself has been remarkably consistent on two themes throughout his public life (going back to his college days as chairman of the Yale Liberals):
(1) that he is morally and intellectually superior to just about everybody, and
(2) that the American military (himself excepted) is a faceless mass of thugs and murderers.
Apply these two principles to Kerry's humiliating defeat in 2004 at the hands of a goofball rube, and you get this tunnel-visioned personal focus on the heart of the Iraq war, in which the human beings actually in the line of fire disappear into the outer margins, and the guy getting his butt deservedly whupped in Baghdad is just George Bush.
Kerry now appears to be permanently down for the political count—at last—but he is such a uniquely preposterous, rather Dickensian caricature on the political canvas, it’s just too much fun to resist embellishing the portrait. Mark Steyn has a go in the Chicago Sun-Times:
A vain thin-skinned condescending blueblood with no sense of his own ridiculousness, Senator Nuancy Boy is secure in little else except his belief in his indispensability…ouch, ooch, ugh, ouch, eek, arg-g-g-h-h-h-h-h-h......
[T]empting as it is to enjoy his we-support-our-dumb-troops moment as merely the umpteenth confirmation of the senator's unerring ability to SwiftBoat himself, it belongs in a slightly different category of Kerry gaffe than, say, the time they went into Wendy's and Teresa didn't know what chili was.
…[W]hat he said fits what too many upscale Dems believe: that America's soldiers are only there because they're too poor and too ill-educated to know any better. That's what they mean when they say "we support our troops." They support them as victims, as children, as potential welfare recipients, but they don't support them as warriors and they don't support the mission.
So their "support" is objectively worthless.
And so they signed up with the weirdly incoherent narrative of John Kerry -- a celebrated anti-war activist suddenly "reporting for duty" as a war hero and claiming that, even though the war was a mistake and his comrades were murderers and rapists, his four months in the Mekong rank as the most epic chapter in the annals of the Republic.
If Kerry can stand up to that, he might deserve another Purple Heart. Or he might be up for a Purple Heart he finally deserves. Or something like that.
Nice to see Steyn still has his sense of humour, since he has just this minute published (at last) a new volume called, auspiciously, America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It. Buy. Read. Absorb. Hit the sheets and save the planet.
VOTE EARLY AND VOTE OFTEN
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
IS IT ALL BAD NEWS?
It's been a long five weeks, and the outcome was as could be expected: cancer claims another victim-- but at age 85 something's going to get you. Surrounded by family and the good folks of hospice care (courtesy of Medicare). Can't really complain. Lots to be said, but sorted out some other day.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch: you gotta hand it to Senator John Fitzgerald Kerry for continuing to demonstrate that, when push comes to shove, he basically thinks he's just so much better than almost ANYBODY. This time (yet again) it's the American foot-soldier, and the senator's large designer shoes have taken up familiar residence lodged firmly in his mouth.
The story's all over the place-- how he thinks you end up in Iraq if you're an under-educated slacker-- video here -- but the best follow-up of all has been from the good-humored members of the armed forces themselves, who have this message for the over-puffed Yale C-student senator (who by the way was a self-admitted war criminal in Vietnam):
(Our thanks to the 1st Brigade Combat Team of the 34th Infantry Division of the Minnesota National Guard. LOVE the patch, at right.)
Jonah Goldberg of National Review Online nails it:
Kerry insists he was making a joke about President Bush, not a joke about students who aren't smart enough to do better than the military. While there's virtually nothing in the text or video of his remarks to lend support for this, save for a wan smile he offered to the mute audience, it's possible that was his intent. After all, Kerry is an awful politician, a human toothache with the charisma of a 19th-century Oxford Latin tutor. One can't rule out the possibility that he simply botched a joke. [emphasis added]Unfair to Latin tutors.