Thursday, November 15, 2007


Michael Yon weighs in again, hot on the heels of his "Thanks and praise" photo essay (which went deservedly viral in the blogosphere this week), because the hits just keep on comin'. Today's entry tells of the inspiring restoration of normal life and worship in St. John Church, almost three years to the day after it was severely damaged by car bombs [November 8, 2004], and six months after the church was forced to close because of violence in the neighbourhood.

Mass was celebrated by Auxiliary Bishop Shlemon Warduni of the Chaldean/Assyrian Catholic Diocese, who alternated between Arabic and English to make sure that members of the U.S. Army's 2-12 infantry battalion got the message: thank you, American soldiers.

But there was an even more important message being conveyed, not only in words but in the mere presence of the congregation, because the Christians in the church were apparently well outnumbered by Muslims from the neighbourhood. Their message: COME HOME.

"Tell the Christians to come home to their country Iraq."

Christians once made up about 5% of the population of Iraq, but even that slim fraction has shrunk, as hundreds of thousands have fled to other countries-- estimates as of last May put their numbers at less than 400,000 of the 1.5 million who once lived more or less in harmony with their Muslim neighbours (no less terrorized under Saddam than anyone else, but no more either). In Baghdad at least, these neighbours are imploring them to return home and reclaim their houses and business, to resume the way of life they once all shared, but in a country now with real hope of deliverance from the pangs of rebirth.



Says a Washington Times editorial:
All of this is the result of the most underreported successful military operation since the invention of the telegraph... But the point to take away from the surge is that, though a brilliant military operation, it was never just a military operation. Rather it developed a political, economic and communications infrastructure that is permitting local-level reconciliation. We are creating representative governance from the bottom up — not from the Green Zone down. Despite a frail and inept national government, the people in the towns and provinces (under the tutelage of the U.S. military) seem to be forming order out of the chaos.

Now I see.
Simple dimple.

Joe Klein of Time Magazine doesn't see it quite the same way. I quote him here so we can add him to our collection of people who are going to sound UNBELIEVABLY STOOOOPID much sooner than they could ever anticipate. Say it ain't so, Joe!
Let me reassert the obvious here: The war in Iraq has been a disaster, the stupidest foreign policy decision ever made by an American President. It has weakened America's moral, military and diplomatic status globally. It can not be "won" militarily. The best case scenario is a testy stability, most likely under a Shi'ite strongman, who will be (relatively) independent of Iran and (relatively) independent of us.
Wow, Joe -- you write for Time -- you must be really smart.


Cincinnatus has been 'in country' just a few weeks, and Treats for Troops wasted no time in delivering a giant snack attack, within about ten days of my order. You can send goodies of all sorts to your own special set of boots on the ground, or adopt a whole regiment, or adopt one individual who's been noticed as not getting enough attention by mail. TFT takes care of all the details, knows what kind of stuff survives mailing halfway around the world, and delivers the air-drop to the target. (And, I'm told, provides fantastic chicken fajita jerky.)

Want to help support the troops? Order up some intercontinental ballistic jerky.



The branches of the military services have been competing to raise money for Project Valour-IT (the Army beat the Marines, but that's kind of demographically inevitable) -- but you can donate any time to purchase voice-activated lap-tops for amputee veterans. (That's why they call it Project Voice Activated Laptops for OUR Injured Troops.)

reflecting on modern apathy towards the observation of Veterans Day --
attention must be paid [hat-tip Human Events] -- money quote:

Military moms have trouble watching television or reading the newspaper when they read over and over that their children are fighting or were wounded or were killed for nothing. Military moms hear their officemates, their neighbors, their fellow parishioners, sometimes even their other family members disparage the war effort, or famously declare that they “support the troops but not the war” as if that is a rational statement. Military moms hear and see that their sons and daughters names are used by anti-war politicians and activists in an effort to score political points, using their children’s blood and sacrifice as a cover. And military moms try not to be bitter, not to be angry, not to profane their children’s decision to protect and defend the United States. Military moms try to live up to their children who tell them: “Mom, don’t get angry at them. I am fighting to protect their right to be jerks.”

This put me in mind of a memorable column by Renaissancy gadfly Ben Stein expressing his personal gratitude to all military wives [hat-tip Opinion Journal] via a letter written to one of them in August 2004. To 'Karen' he writes:
I have a great life. I have a wife I adore, a son who is a lazy teenager but I adore him, too. We live in a house with two dogs and four cats. We live in peace. We can worship as we please. We can say what we want. We can walk the streets in safety. We can vote. We can work wherever we want and buy whatever we want. When we sleep, we sleep in peace. When we wake up, it is to the sounds of birds.

All of this, every bit of it, is thanks to your husband, his brave fellow soldiers, and to the wives who keep the home fires burning while the soldiers are away protecting my family and 140 million other families.

Always worth a re-read.


Andy Borowitz reports at the Puffington Host [hat-tip Jewish World Review]:

Hillary Refuses to Answer 'Paper-or-Plastic' Question

Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) raised eyebrows in Iowa today when she refused to respond to a supermarket cashier's question about her preference for paper or plastic bags, calling the inquiry "totally hypothetical."

Mrs. Clinton's aversion to hypothetical questions has been a hallmark of her quest for the Democratic presidential nomination, but her refusal to answer the paper-or-plastic query during a campaign stop in Davenport took even some of her closest supporters aback.

The New York senator had stopped by the local supermarket for a photo opportunity, but her appearance ran off the rails when she was blindsided by the cashier's unexpected question.

"This paper-or-plastic business is one of those 'gotcha' questions that I'm not going to get into," Mrs. Clinton said. "I don't want to be in a situation where I've chosen one and that takes the other one totally off the table."

Shunning both paper and plastic, Mrs. Clinton left the store clutching an unwieldy assortment of groceries in her bare hands.

Monday, November 12, 2007



(As part of her exit strategy she gives policy advice about how "the bases aren't weighted enough." She should know. Check out the weight of her base as she exits. MUST LOSE THOSE PANTSUITS!)

from Duncan Maxwell Anderson AT American thinker:

Are modern-day monuments to heroism merely "Monuments to Wimpdom"?


I don't entirely agree with
Anderson's assessment of Frederick Hart's trio of figures created to face, and humanize, Maya Lin's searing "Vietnam Wall" -- he [Anderson] thinks the guys look tentative rather than determined.

I dunno -- tired, maybe, but in control of their situation.

The back view speaks as well.

But, fair enough-- it's not quite the triumphant stance that other more traditional memorial statues might convey. However, it is miles better than architectonic "absences" that pass for memorials today.

I've written on this elsewhe
re, for instance, about the proposed Disabled Veterans LIFE Memorial, a noble idea, but I think the design suffers from the same image-free vapidity as those criticized by Anderson. He missed another one too -- the sadly underwhelming World War II memorial on the Mall bolsters his thesis. I wonder, though, if he thinks that the grim and struggling look about the figures at the Korea memorial counts it as one among the "wimpy" -- I sure don't.

Still, the essay is a thought worth thinking on this Remembrance Day weekend (God bless the British/Canadian way of "saying it with poppies").

[Canadian vet Alfred Finlay, in 1996]

Last Post played here

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Our intrepid (understatement of the century) reporter, MICHAEL YON, offers this photo of today's explosive events in Baghdad.

Muslims and Christians join together to replace a cross on the dome of the Church of St. John in Baghdad. Damn that George Bush! Peace is breaking out all over Iraq! How did this happen? Yon has profferred his own cautious explanations, but mostly he just places himself in medias res and lets us see what he sees.
His minimalist report of this particular revolution is here with more coverage and comment here. Money quote (from our victims, the Iraqis):
Thank you for peace.... all the people in Iraq, Muslim and Christian, is brother.

Some folks couldn't help but think of another, long ago iconic war photo-- the one that vast swaths of the political left in America have been actively (if sometimes subconsciously) wishing would be recreated in Iraq (you know who you are, and don't waste your breath denying it):

It ain't over till it's over, but don't look for this scene transferred to Baghdad any too soon.

Michael Yon is a self-embedded reporter, one of a handful who (history will show) have been the only living journalists telling the true and unadorned story of the Iraq war. His work is supported only by donations or purchases of his photos. I've got two-- I now see myself buying a third. Go to th
e website and help make it all possible. His Pulitzer may yet be in the mail.

Cincinnatus chec
ks in from Al Asad

He's too busy to check in very often, but we look forward to all he observes from the bottom of the Sandbox.

While he's making himself useful for the future of the planet, back here at home....

Rip Van Kerry wakes up four years later and says, "Hey! Wanna
piece o' me? Bring it on!"

Fully occupied with the business of being outraged by the Swiftboat Veterans for Truth in 2004, John Kerry failed to present a single piece of evidence to counter their accusations that his military decorations were nearly as bogus as his Winter Soldier testimony and colleagues.

But this time, by gum, he'll answer every single charge that's raised-- if he could just get someone to raise them. Again. Cuz he's ready. Just say "go" and he's out of the blocks. Pow. He's got the answers. So there 's no need to sign that Standard Form 180 for the full release of his military records, cuz he's got all the stuff right there in his briefcase-- just ask him, and he'll produce it -- pronto. Just ask him. Please?

Anybody got any questions? Any at all? You in the back row.....

Senator Ted Kennedy -- Memo to File and Note to Self:
"Mary Jo Kopechne would have survived waterboarding."

As a long-time expert on the drowning of people trapped in confined spaces, Kennedy should know this, as he bloviates on the subject of barbaric acts.

Appropos of absolutely nothing: Gary Sinise is under attack

I'm a big Gary Sinise fan, as both actor and human being (devoted supporter of the troops and the USO, and of the kids of Iraq), but I'm very concerned about what I have just observed in the latest episode of his series CSI:New York. It is my considered opinion that his head is occupied territory, the victim of an invasion by one of the worst hairpieces on television. I've long suspected that he wears a rug, but at least it didn't used to sit on his head like a furry yarmulke of a slightly different shade of henna than the rest of his hair. Am I right?

Come on, folks-- this is a fine actor and a good guy. He shouldn't have to go around looking like he's got an auburn tribble on his head.

(Wouldn't it be great if people like this could just come out of the wig closet and show off their shiny tonsures with pride?)

Previously undiscovered species found in District of Columbia

You've heard the saying "Once a Marine, always a Marine." (Well, you shoulda heard it.) Perhaps we all spoke too soon, because the
re's been a possible historic sighting, perhaps the first ever recorded, of that most rare, basically legendary, species, "the Ex-Marine." It has beady little eyes in a rodentesque face, and sits back on its big fat hanches, making bellowing noises and counting its earmark money. It is said to resemble this:
Recently spotted roaming the halls of Congress. Considered to be dangerous, armed with a poisonous tongue, though not particularly intelligent. Has eyesight too poor to see what's right smack in front of it. Feeds on a steady diet of pork.