Thursday, March 15, 2007

TWO DAYS AND COUNTIN' till we toast old St. Paddy (Patrick, Padraig, Poric, O’Whatever).

Big plans in a certain local Irish household, which may include my annual pummeling of the Bodhran.

Anticipated Events of the Green Day:

(And I don’t mean these people)


will face off with Jihad Jane Fonda and friends:

What: Gathering of Eagles

When: March 17th, 2007

0700-1600 (7 AM to 4 PM)

Where: The Vietnam Veteran's Memorial Wall, Washington D.C.

Why: To stand silent guard over our nation's memorials, in honor of our fallen, and in solidarity with our armed forces in harm's way today. Read our mission statement.

Leftist activists who march to the Pentagon [on Saturday March 17] will discover that their path won't be as clear as it has been in the past.The group, led by Cindy Sheehan, Jane Fonda, Ramsey Clark and their ilk, plan to gather March 17 at the Vietnam Memorial Wall to begin a march to protest America's involvement in the Iraq war. The date marks the fourth anniversary of the war's beginning. This time, however, protestors will see objectors if they spit on Iraqi veterans again, or throw paint on a war memorial. This time, they will encounter a buzz saw of Vietnam veterans and supporters who will gather to protect the Wall, and show their support for U.S troops. The counter-protestors are calling themselves the Gathering of Eagles. [hat-tip U.S. Vets Dispatch ]

P.S. Apparently Rolling Thunder, the brigade of bikers who are dedicated to keeping Veteran/MIA issues on the front burner, will have an official presence (minus the bikes) at the Gathering of Eagles. The Patriot Guard Riders—another briga de of bikers who travel far and wide to protect the dignity and privacy of military funerals from being disrupted by monster Fred Phelps of the Westboro “Baptist Church” and his bizarre spawn—do not take an official stand on the GOE, but invite their membership to attend, in colors, if so inclined.

Sure wish I could be there – think I’ll buy a set of armbands for the family.



I’d be surprised if quietly determined Veterans' advocate Gary Sinise were to be seen on hand with the Gathering of Eagles on Saturday, since he tries to remain above politics as he carries out his tireless work on behalf of American military personnel, and of the Iraqi children whose lives have been impacted not just by four years of war but by a two-generation-long reign of Baathist terror. [Besides, it’s his birthday on Saturday-- happy 52nd, ya big kid.]

In addition to touring his incredibly accomplished Lt. Dan Band for the USO, and maintaining (with screenwriter Lauren Hillenbrand) the work of his foundation Operation Iraqi Children, Sinise is now the official spokesman for the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial

a project underway to erect a memorial to all disabled veterans, near the National Mall in Washington D.C.When I first heard about this project, I had a moment’s hesitation. Supporters are seeking $65 million to design, build, and maintain the memorial.It’s only natural to wonder whether that money might be better spent on the needs of the veterans themselves, especially as we are finding out more and more about the degree of bureaucratic negligence our wounded veterans are enduring as they try to access medical care.

On the other hand, there are many different kinds of wounds, and as many ways to salve them: while it is unconscionable to cut corners on pragmatic needs like facilities and therapy, official recognition, appreciation, and evidence of history’s remembrance offer something very real to the veteran who has given some portion of the prime of his life in service to his fellow man, and must carry with him the scars and confined horizons of a permanent disability. We are all of us body and soul, and both must be nourished.

I can’t say that I am completely knocked out by the memorial’s design, as proposed— it seems to have borrowed a lot from the Vietnam “Wall” without having learned the lessons which made it necessary to add Frederick Hart’s brilliant sculpture “Three Soldiers” to the Vietnam site;

nor has it been guided by the success of the deeply evocative Korean War Memorial,

and the failures of the cold, Soviet-bland National World War II Memorial.

Perhaps one can hope for some re-thinking of the planned site before it comes into being. My advice: lose the “branding/logo” look of the little star, and don’t be afraid to go “heroic”—it works for the Marines across the river.

Anyway, kudos to the CSI:NY birthday boy for his continued hard work, always minus the Hollywood-style grand-standing. Hope my fellow Chicago native spends some part of the day enjoying his green beer.


That’s “If you want to live in peace, be prepared for war” – or something like that. (My Latin starts to flag after the Credo and the Salve Regina.)

It’s also the name of the weblog of Iraq vet Rusten Currie, whose sentiments about his work in the Big Sandbox I highlighted here back in February 2006. He doesn’t write a lot since he’s been home, but I occasionally drop in for a visit, and this one yielded something interesting, datelined last February. Currie received a communication from “an NCO in Afghanistan" whose thoughts of the moment echoed Currie’s own when he was in theatre. Apparently that NCO is really TIRED of a whole lot of things about this war—money quotes:

I am tired of Democrats who tell me they support me, the soldier on the ground, and then tell me the best plan to win this war is with a "phased redeployment" (liberal-speak for retreat) out of the combat zone to someplace like Okinawa...

I am tired of the Democrats whining for months on T.V., in the New York Times, and in the House and Senate that we need more troops to win the war in Iraq, and then when my Commander in Chief plans to do just that, they say that is the wrong plan, it won't work, and we need a "new direction."...

I am tired of senior officers and commanders who fight this war with more of an eye on the media than on the enemy, who desperately needs killing....

I am tired of the decisions of Sergeants and Privates made in the heat of battle being scrutinized by lawyers who were not there and will never really know the state of mind of the young soldiers who were there and what is asked of them in order to survive....

I am tired of senior officers and commanders who are too afraid for their careers to tell the truth about what they need to win this war to their bosses s
o that the soldiers can get on with kicking the ass of these animals....

I am tired of Code Pink, Daily Kos, Al-Jazzera, CNN, Reuters, the Associated Press, ABC, NBC, CBS, the ACLU, and CAIR thinking that they somehow get to have a vote in how we blast, shoot and kill these animals who would seek to subdue us and destroy us....

I am tired of hearing soldiers who are stationed in safe places talk about how hard their life is.

And my personal favourites:

I am tired of begging to be turned loose so that this war can be over...

I am tired of Rules of Engagement being made by JAG lawyers and not Combat Commanders. We are not playing Hopscotch over here. There is no 2nd place trophy either.

There’s more – visit retired intel officer Currie’s SVP,PB site and lap it up. (Consider going back and reading on from his first post – I haven’t read them all, but what I’ve seen would give the, LIE to the Kerry/Rangel/American Friends Service Committee meme that only the hopeless and clueless join the military. Would love to see Rangel trying to tackle all the Latin that keeps popping up through Currie’s posts. Duh-h-h-h-h…….)


AN elite group of Native American trackers is joining the hunt for terrorists crossing Afghanistan's borders.

The unit, the Shadow Wolves, was recruited from several tribes, including the Navajo, Sioux, Lakota and Apache. It is being sent to Tajikistan and Uzbekistan to pass on ancestral sign-reading skills to local border units.

In recent years, members of the Shadow Wolves have mainly tracked smugglers along the US border with Mexico.

Everywhere you chase this story it seems to originate at The Australian – odd that no America-based, Ward-Churchill-loving, Friends o’ the Earth types seem to have picked it up—guess they just can’t bear to see that among today’s aboriginal folks are some who have eschewed the call to Professional Victimhood and have embraced a long-standing heritage as proud (if not always particularly well-treated) members of the American military, dating back to the Civil War.

Initially I thought this might just be a “stunt”—have we noticed that the Bush administration is not above doing things that are downright silly in the face of deeply SERIOUS challenges? (F'rinstance, sending horse-faced muffin-mom Karen Hughes out to cheerlead for her Dubya amongst the far-flung Islamistas—God help us.)

However, a little judicious research [here and here], and one realizes that the use of these trackers is a move (like so many others) long overdue, one that a really serious war-president would probably have made some time ago. Interesting stuff, this.


At the movies: WILD HOGS

You gotta love it – Hollywood (and those Canadians & Europeans) fall all over themselves trying to be deep and significant, wallowing in the ever-metastasizing delusion that they are capable of re-making the world into a model of simple, peaceable, non-materialistic Care-Bearing (one that they themselves could never manage without private jets and an entourage), and who is it who connects with the film-going public?

A bunch of mid-century men with thickening torsos and creeping crepe-necks who set off on motorcycles on a journey of self-discovery on which they discover that free-spirited, irresponsible rebels are jerks, and it’s okay to be, on the whole, kind of boring as long as you keep a spark of fun tucked away here and there. It was dumb and silly. A packed theatre (with a disproportionate presence of male-pattern-balding in attendance) laughed happily all the way through, and burst into warm (not wild) spontaneous applause when the trick ending wound up.

TAKE THAT, you Blood-Diamond/Syriana/Day-After-Tomorrow/
Manchurian-Candidate/Jarhead/Death-of-a-President -
thumping artistes du cinéma.

Nice try. Touchstone Pictures is laughing all the way to the bank.

Interesting stats at Yahoo movie site:

14 critics from major papers – average grade D+

"The contempt of Wild Hogs for its audience is so glaringly self-evident it's sickening."

Over 9000 viewers who spent the money – average grade B (with many giving straight A’s)

Get a grip, critics! Did anybody buy a ticket thinking this was going to be screenplay by Noel Coward?!

P.S. Google "Wild hogs -- images" and be astounded at how many pages and pages there are of pictures that have NOTHING to do with the movie of the same name.


If you pray for anything in St. Patrick's name, please let it be that the day of this ghastly holy card art dominating Catholic taste will some day meet its well-deserved apocalypse.