Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Pictures of the Week

An Aggressor Squadron F-16 at Nellis AFB, NV

An F-15E from Seymore Johnson AFB, NC takes off from Nellis AFB



Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Nobody Asked Me, But...Part 2

I went out and bought a few things at the mall the other day...

Can anyone count change any more? When I was younger, I was an assistant manager at a restaurant. When a customer bought a Coke or whatever even though the register told us how much to give them in change, we still counted it out to insure that we weren't giving too little or too much change back. For those unfamiliar with the custom it works like this:

ME: That will be $2.48 sir.

HIM: (hands me a $20 bill)

ME: Out of twenty
ME: (counting out of the register, handing him two pennies) That makes 50, (two quarters) Three dollars, (two one dollar bills) Five, and Five makes Ten, and Ten makes Twenty. Thank you SIR.

Notice I said "SIR" twice, it's called courtesy and it doesn't diminish me as a human being to use it. It fact I think it makes one a better person...but hey that might just be me...and I'm beginning to think it is. Especially when dealing with retail outlets. It's easy...if you can count...and it shows interest in the customer and maybe they will come back. I don't know but I thought that was the goal of retail sales.

The other thing that just infuriates me...or maybe it's just my PTSD acting the parking lot. How many times have you seen someone waiting for MINUTES for a parking space when 40 feet back there were plenty of parking spaces? And no I'm not talking about a person with special needs waiting for their slot to be vacated. I am referring to an otherwise normal adult who prefers to wait for 5 MINUTES for the parking space that is 40 feet closer that the one that you just passed. By the way you're holding up the 10 guys behind you that just want to get out of here. Also you could have been halfway to the store by now but you are even out of your car yet, because you want to save your fat ass 30 steps each way. By the looks of you you should probably park out by the interstate and hike would do you some good. Not that I feel strongly about this or anything...but then again no one asked me, so what do I know?

Thursday, August 25, 2005

What's the world coming to?

First I hear about the goons who choose to protest the war at Walter Reed Army Hospital (read more about that at Froggy Ruminations)

Now I find this CRAP

These fecktards need to be hunted down and shot like the rabid dogs that they are. SICK. SICK. SICK.

From KOMO TV, Seattle, WA

SEATTLE - Two soldiers who just returned from a year in Iraq were badly beaten in an attack outside Pioneer Square. But believe it or not, someone caught the beating on videotape. Now, police are asking for your help identifying the suspects.

The brutality of it all was captured on tape outside of Larry's Nightclub on First and Yesler on July 31.

Police say the victims were with two women who'd been groped by the suspects. One of the women threw a hot dog at the suspects and walked away.

They didn't get very far. The three suspects ran after them and began attacking the two men -- two soldiers who'd come home from the war.

The graphic videotape shows both victims getting beaten over and over again, and then after one of the victims loses consciousness, a suspect starts stomping on his head.

Now police want your help in catching these guys.



Picture of the Week

Taking off from Kunsan AFB, Korea

Firing 70mm rockets in Korea



Sunday, August 21, 2005

Jack Kelly on the Press and Iraq

Jack Kelly lambastes the press for the way the war in Iraq has been covered. For his trouble I'm sure he'll be reviled and called a shill of the right. It's interesting how some people who are supposedly in support of open discourse and discussion have problems with anyone who dares criticize them...

Washington Times
August 21, 2005

Familiar Patterns

By Jack Kelly

Near the end of his touching account of the funeral of Lance Cpl. Brian Montgomery, one of six Ohio Marine reservists killed in an ambush Aug. 1, the Los Angeles Times' David Zucchino reported a fact I have seen nowhere else:

"Before leaving Iraq, Eric made his buddies promise they would track and kill the insurgents who took his brother from him. Last week, he said, a squad member's mother called to relay a message from Iraq: 'We got the [expletive].' "

News reports from Iraq typically lead with U.S. casualties, usually without putting them in context or reporting what happened to the enemy. Two days after Brian Montgomery's death, 14 Marines from the same battalion were killed when a roadside bomb destroyed the amtrac in which they were riding. It was Page One news all over the country. But there was little on Operation Quick Strike, in which they were taking part.

Imagine if correspondents covering the Normandy invasion had emphasized American casualties, while downplaying the strategic significance of the battle, the greater losses of our enemies and the valor of our fighting men. Would people on the home front have become discouraged?

Suspicions Iraq war coverage is intended to discourage the home front have deepened because of the massive coverage accorded Cindy Sheehan, recently camped out on the doorstep of President Bush's ranch in Crawford.

Cindy's son, Casey, was killed in Iraq last year. She suffered a terrible loss, but no different than that of more than 1,800 other mothers. Why have the media given Mrs. Sheehan so much attention and so little to the others? Could it be because Mrs. Sheehan opposes the war, and most of the others do not?

This is a familiar pattern for journalists. Thousands of Americans lost husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. But media attention was lavished on a handful -- the so-called Jersey Girls -- stridently critical of President Bush.

Soldiers and Marines in Iraq have complained bitterly that journalists exaggerate their difficulties and give short shrift to their accomplishments. "I know the reporting's bad because I know people in Iraq," Mark Yost, associate editorial page editor of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, said in a July 12 column.

"I get unfiltered news from Iraq through an e-mail network of military friends who aren't so blinded by their own politics that they can't see the real good that we're doing there," Mr. Yost said. "The fact that makes this all the more ironic is that the people who are fighting and dying want to stay and the people who are merely observers want to cut and run." Mr. Yost was subjected to a torrent of criticism from thin-skinned colleagues.

"I'm embarrassed to have you as a colleague," wrote Pioneer Press reporter Charles Laszewski. Knight-Ridder Baghdad bureau chief Hannah Allam (Knight Ridder owns the Pioneer Press) said only the press knows the real story.

Steve Lovelady, editor of the Columbia Journalism Review, in an e-mail exchange with Web logger Jeff Jarvis implied Mr. Yost should be fired because "he's a right-wing shill who belittled and betrayed hundreds of reporters who go into harm's way every day to tell us what the hell is really going on."

But most journalists rarely leave the fortified green zone. "It's very confining for our staff to go into Baghdad and have to spend most of their time on the fifth floor of the Palestine Hotel," said Mike Silverman, Associated Press managing editor.

Kathleen Carroll, AP executive editor, said it was much easier to add up the number of dead than to determine how many hospitals got electricity on a particular day or how many schools were built.

Mr. Silverman and Miss Carroll were recounting to the New York Times' Katherine Seelye a July AP editors' discussion of reader complaints that only one side of the Iraq story was being told.

The AP could, of course, embed more of its reporters with U.S. troops. But then they would be in greater danger than at the Palestine Hotel, and would be deprived of its comforts.

Jack Kelly, a syndicated columnist, is a former Marine and Green Beret and a former deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force in the Reagan administration. He is national security writer for the Pittsburgh (Pa.) Post-Gazette.



Those Goddamn Marines...Whatever.

Attached is something I found on a USMC Cobra pilot's blog. He didn't post it there someone else did so I won't blame him...anyway it's the typical Marine Corps line of how they do more with less and everyone else are a bunch of pussies. If it works for you, good, Drive On and Simper Fi!

The thing I found irritating however was the reference to "poor apache pilots" and a quote where a guy said he didn't want to take lives but would if he had to. Then came the inference that if someone harbored such opinions you weren't a "Warrior". I would hope that the Lt Col would want people at the controls of a multi-million dollar machine capable of destroying people and property would give a little thought to their actions and not just be a "killing machine" looking of the opportunity to wipe things off the face of the planet. I do my job and I think I do it pretty well. I have had to kill doing my job, and I'm at peace with that. I believe that everyone I had to dispatch was highly deserving of that fate. But that being said, I don't think I really want to be around someone who "lives" to kill...but I guess that may be just me.

I don't think the Marines my Task Force supported in Najaf or Falluja had any doubt about our skill or our abilities as "warriors".

I have always been amazed why people consistently try to build themselves up by trying to tear others down. You'd think a Lt Col would know better, but I guess not.

Those Goddamn Marines
By Lt. Col. David W. Szelowski USMCR (ret.)

I wonder how many times during Operation Iraqi Freedom that the phrase "goddamn Marines" was uttered? Even in the best of times, Army and Air Force officers have been heard muttering some epithet about Marines, invoking either heaven or hell. Interestingly enough, we Marines find it all rather reassuring and, at times, amusing.

Most of the time, Marines do not go out of our way to be obnoxious; we are just doing what Marines have done for over 200 years. A good example is the fact that Marines always raise the American flag over mountains or cities they have conquered. From Mt. Suribachi to the City of Hue, to Kuwait City to Baghdad, U.S. Marines have raised the Stars and Stripes-in the latter examples, much to the chagrin of higher headquarters. You don't get these kinds of problems with the Army. So what is it about the U.S. Marines that they stick U.S. flags on everything and do more with less, a less that is either old or an army hand-me-down? We call it Esprit de Corps, but it goes deeper than that. We learn and maintain myths of the past, which also means living up to those historical examples. Marine Corps boot camp is the longest of the services; it is where we mold young men and women into the mythical image called a Marine. You can be in the Army, you can join the Air Force, but you become a Marine. All of the other uniformed services have songs; the U.S. Marines have a hymn. The basic pattern of Marine Corps uniforms comes from the late nineteenth century; our emblem "the Eagle, Globe and Anchor" has remained largely unchanged since 1868. The buttons on our dress blues, whites and greens date back to the founding of our Corps. The Marine Corps is the only service that requires its officers to carry a sword, whose pattern dates back to 1805.

I think that the path of being a Marine was established long ago. On the 10th of November 1775, the Marine Corps was first a tavern. To this day, no matter where in the world, Marines celebrate the founding of our beloved Corps, much to the confusion of the other services.

A few years ago, a congresswoman from Colorado felt that the Marine Corps was radical and extreme. She contended that the Marine Corps was not politically correct, nor did we seem to be part of the Department of Defense's transition to a "kinder and gentler" military. She was correct, and the Marine Corps took it as a compliment.

But the proof is in the doing, and during Iraqi Freedom the Marines demonstrated what Marines can do. I watched with some amusement as a reporter asked a young lance corporal about being in Iraq and under rifle fire. "Love it, sir!" was his response. The reporter was taken aback and asked, "No, really." The Marine then tried to explain that this is what he was trained to do, he looked forward to doing it and was now happy to be doing it. No doubt in boot camp he was told that he was "a minister of death praying for war." Contrast that with the poor U.S. Army Apache pilots who said that if they had to take life, they would do so reluctantly. You are either a warrior or you are not.

Marines are mission oriented. Live or die, the most important thing to a Marine is accomplishing the mission. Whether taking the bridge, river or town, accomplishing the mission is the Holy Grail of being a Marine. How the mission is accomplished is not so important, as it is expected of all Marines to accomplish the mission with the tools available. This is probably why we heard that Marines in one engagement were fighting with knives and bayonets. This was hardly high tech, but it was effective. These Marines now have bragging rights, for they have proven that they talk-the-talk and walk-the-walk. I doubt there is a single Marine who is not envious.

Marines are practical, as well. I enjoyed hearing two reporters interviewing each other, one embedded with the Army, the other with the Marines. The reporter with the Army noted that the sandstorm had blown down many of the soldiers' cots. The other reporter countered that the Marines did not have this problem because they slept on the ground. The Marine learns to live with what he can carry on his back. He expects to be moved around on the battlefield via his two black Cadillacs (boots). If he is lucky and gets a ride on an amtrack, so much the better-but it is not expected. At the end of a mission, the priority for cleaning is weapon, then equipment, and finally, body. When the other services talk about "quality of life," they are referring to housing, clubs and food. Marines are talking about better weapons, equipment and training, winning the battle and coming home alive is considered "quality of life."

All of this translates into combat power. In comparison to the U.S. Army's 3rd Infantry Division, the Marines of I Marine Expeditionary Force were lightly equipped. Yet, they battled through the heart of Iraq, fought to the center of Baghdad and then moved off to Tikrit, taking that city as well. The press was so enamored with the Marines that in the final days of the war they even credited the Marines with deeds actually accomplished by the Army. Little wonder we heard "Goddamn Marines!" so often. So we need to give the Marines some slack when they do something politically incorrect, such as raising the flag or appearing insensitive when killing the enemy. In the field, they look sloppy compared to the Army, but are aggressive in the attack and generally unhappy in the defense. Marines take pride in their work, even if that work is war. We are just Marines and that is what we do.

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Friday, August 19, 2005

Eva Watch

Apparently, Hollywood is quite dangerous. One of the top stories as I turned on the news this morning was about the uber-hot,Texas born, running her mouth about stuff we really didn't want to hear Eva Longoria (whom I previously discussed HERE)

Here's the story as breathlessly reported this AM:

Thu Aug 18, 5:59 PM ET

LOS ANGELES - Eva Longoria was fine Thursday after a mishap on the set of "Desperate Housewives" sent her to the hospital to be checked, her spokeswoman said.

"Eva is doing very well today. It was a minor incident and she is ready to return to work," said spokeswoman Liza Anderson. "She's very thankful to everybody for their get-well wishes."

Construction material being used for the ABC series hit Longoria on the head, Anderson said. The actress was examined at a hospital but didn't require treatment.

She's scheduled to be back at work by Monday.

THANK THE MAKER! I now feel I can go to work and maybe sleep peacefully tonight knowing that. Well, at least she's hot.

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Funny If It Weren't True

File this one under the heading of "Yeah we can 'reason' with
these people..."

June 2004
"Pyongyang media say North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il enjoys golf, having
shot multiple holes-in-one during his first try at the game. He reportedly
aced five holes and finished 38 under par on the golf course. The "Great
Leader" routinely shoots three or four holes-in-one per round, the
government-controlled media reported."

Thanks Geoff.



Thursday, August 18, 2005

Picture of the Week

2-227 AVN 1CD Black Hawks land at FOB Ferrin Huggins in Iraq

A 1-7 CAV KW at Camp Taji, north of Baghdad



Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Officer Says Military Blocked Sharing Of Files On Terrorists

Who knows what the truth really is? We'll probably never know. What I do know however, is if we put our faith on politicians to get to the bottom of a problem we'll be lucky to even get half of an answer.

New York Times
August 17, 2005

Officer Says Military Blocked Sharing Of Files On Terrorists

By Philip Shenon

WASHINGTON, Aug. 16 - A military intelligence team repeatedly contacted the F.B.I. in 2000 to warn about the existence of an American-based terrorist cell that included the ringleader of the Sept. 11 attacks, according to a veteran Army intelligence officer who said he had now decided to risk his career by discussing the information publicly.

The officer, Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer, said military lawyers later blocked the team from sharing any of its information with the bureau.

Colonel Shaffer said in an interview on Monday night that the small, highly classified intelligence program, known as Able Danger, had identified the terrorist ringleader, Mohamed Atta, and three other future hijackers by name by mid-2000, and tried to arrange a meeting that summer with agents of the Washington field office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation to share its information.

But he said military lawyers forced members of the intelligence program to cancel three scheduled meetings with the F.B.I. at the last minute, which left the bureau without information that Colonel Shaffer said might have led to Mr. Atta and the other terrorists while the Sept. 11 attacks were still being planned.

"I was at the point of near insubordination over the fact that this was something important, that this was something that should have been pursued," Colonel Shaffer said of his efforts to get the evidence from the intelligence program to the F.B.I. in 2000 and early 2001.

He said he learned later that lawyers associated with the Special Operations Command of the Defense Department had canceled the F.B.I. meetings because they feared controversy if Able Danger was portrayed as a military operation that had violated the privacy of civilians who were legally in the United States.

"It was because of the chain of command saying we're not going to pass on information - if something goes wrong, we'll get blamed," he said.

The Defense Department did not dispute the account from Colonel Shaffer, a 42-year-old native of Kansas City, Mo., who is the first military officer associated with the program to acknowledge his role publicly.

At the same time, the department said in a statement that it was "working to gain more clarity on this issue" and that "it's too early to comment on findings related to the program identified as Able Danger." The F.B.I. referred calls about Colonel Shaffer to the Pentagon.

The account from Colonel Shaffer, a reservist who is also working part time for the Pentagon, corroborates much of the information that the Sept. 11 commission has acknowledged it received about Able Danger last July from a Navy captain who was also involved with the program but whose name has not been made public. In a statement issued last week, the leaders of the commission said the panel had concluded that the intelligence program "did not turn out to be historically significant."

The statement said that while the commission did learn about Able Danger in 2003 and immediately requested Pentagon files about it, none of the documents turned over by the Defense Department referred to Mr. Atta or any of the other hijackers.

Colonel Shaffer said that his role in Able Danger was as liaison with the Defense Intelligence Agency in Washington, and that he was not an intelligence analyst. The interview with Colonel Shaffer on Monday was arranged for The New York Times and Fox News by Representative Curt Weldon, the Pennsylvania Republican who is vice chairman of the House Armed Services Committee and a champion of data-mining programs like Able Danger.

Colonel Shaffer's lawyer, Mark Zaid, said in an interview that he was concerned that Colonel Shaffer was facing retaliation from the Defense Department, first for having talked to the Sept. 11 commission staff in October 2003 and now for talking with news organizations.

Mr. Zaid said that Colonel Shaffer's security clearance was suspended last year because of what the lawyer said were a series of "petty allegations" involving $67 in personal charges on a military cellphone. He said that despite the disciplinary action, Colonel Shaffer had been promoted this year from major.

Colonel Shaffer said he had decided to allow his name to be used in part because of his frustration with the statement issued last week by the commission leaders, Thomas H. Kean and Lee H. Hamilton.

The commission said in its final report last year that American intelligence agencies had not identified Mr. Atta as a terrorist before Sept. 11, 2001, when he flew an American Airlines jet into one of the World Trade Center towers in New York.

A commission spokesman did not return repeated phone calls on Tuesday for comment. A Democratic member of the commission, Richard Ben-Veniste, the former Watergate prosecutor, said in an interview on Tuesday that while he could not judge the credibility of the information from Colonel Shaffer and others, the Pentagon needed to "provide a clear and comprehensive explanation regarding what information it had in its possession regarding Mr. Atta."

"And if these assertions are credible," Mr. Ben-Veniste continued, "the Pentagon would need to explain why it was that the 9/11 commissioners were not provided this information despite requests for all information regarding Able Danger."

Colonel Shaffer said he had provided information about Able Danger and its identification of Mr. Atta in a private meeting in October 2003 with members of the Sept. 11 commission staff when they visited Afghanistan, where he was then serving. Commission members have disputed that, saying that they do not recall hearing Mr. Atta's name during the briefing and that the name did not appear in documents about Able Danger that were later turned over by the Pentagon.

"I would implore the 9/11 commission to support a follow-on investigation to ascertain what the real truth is," Colonel Shaffer said in the interview this week. "I do believe the 9/11 commission should have done that job: figuring out what went wrong with Able Danger."

"This was a good news story because, before 9/11, you had an element of the military - our unit - which was actually out looking for Al Qaeda," he continued. "I can't believe the 9/11 commission would somehow believe that the historical value was not relevant."

Colonel Shaffer said that because he was not an intelligence analyst, he was not involved in the details of the procedures used in Able Danger to glean information from terrorist databases, nor was he aware of which databases had supplied the information that might have led to the name of Mr. Atta or other terrorists so long before the Sept. 11 attacks.

But he said he did know that Able Danger had made use of publicly available information from government immigration agencies, from Internet sites and from paid search engines like LexisNexis.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

How To Present A Broad Picture Of Iraq

From the Funny If It Weren't True department, this story. Apparently editors of newspapers across the country are puzzled at how to give a "broad picture" of the war in Iraq!

Now, I only took one journalism class in college (so I could draw cartoons for the they weren't very funny...hense one semester), so I could be wrong, but it seems pretty obvious to me that if a person who like to know what is going on someplace they would send a reporter to the scene and do REPORTING. (For those in the newspaper industry who have never seen real reporting I would direct you to this site, )

Another option, and I know this is going to sound crazy, would be to actually interview soldiers who have been there. I know this is a concept that may be hard for you newspaper guys to grasp, but if you actually talk to people who have been to a place or a country you are reporting on it gives depth and context to your story. Something I've noticed that most the stories about IED attacks and deaths of soldiers sorely lack.

We the reader are constantly reminded about how you the newspaper are in search of the "TRUTH". I can tell you, your AP stringer in Iraq will never find it hiding in their hotel in Baghdad. If you truly are in search of that valuable commodity you might find it at your nearest military base or if you care to go there any FOB in Iraq.

Nice to see that at about the 3.5 year mark you've finally realized that you aren't giving your readership the whole picture. Way to be on top of things! Fecking Boobs.

New York Times
August 15, 2005

Editors Ponder How To Present A Broad Picture Of Iraq

By Katharine Q. Seelye

Rosemary Goudreau, the editorial page editor of The Tampa Tribune, has received the same e-mail message a dozen times over the last year.

"Did you know that 47 countries have re-established their embassies in Iraq?" the anonymous polemic asks, in part. "Did you know that 3,100 schools have been renovated?"

"Of course we didn't know!" the message concludes. "Our media doesn't tell us!"

Ms. Goudreau's newspaper, like most dailies in America, relies largely on The Associated Press for its coverage of the Iraq war. So she finally forwarded the e-mail message to Mike Silverman, managing editor of The A.P., asking if there was a way to check these assertions and to put them into context. Like many other journalists, Mr. Silverman had also received a copy of the message.

Ms. Goudreau's query prompted an unusual discussion last month in New York at a regular meeting of editors whose newspapers are members of The Associated Press. Some editors expressed concern that a kind of bunker mentality was preventing reporters in Iraq from getting out and explaining the bigger picture beyond the daily death tolls.

"The bottom-line question was, people wanted to know if we're making progress in Iraq," Ms. Goudreau said, and the A.P. articles were not helping to answer that question.

"It was uncomfortable questioning The A.P., knowing that Iraq is such a dangerous place," she said. "But there's a perception that we're not telling the whole story."

Mr. Silverman said in an interview that he was aware of that perception. "Other editors said they get calls from readers who are hearing stories from returning troops of the good things they have accomplished while there, and readers find that at odds with the generally gloomy portrayal in the papers of what's going on in Iraq," he said.

Mr. Silverman said the editors were asking for help in making sense of the situation. "I was glad to have that discussion with the editors because they have to deal with the perception that the media is emphasizing the negative," he said.

"We're there to report the good and the bad and we try to give due weight to everything going on," he said. "It is unfortunate that the explosions and shootings and fatalities and injuries on some days seem to dominate the news."

Suki Dardarian, deputy managing editor of The Seattle Times and vice president of the board of the Associated Press Managing Editors, said that the discussion was "a pretty healthy one."

"One of the things the editors felt was that as much context as you can bring, the better," Ms. Dardarian said. "They wanted them to get beyond the breaking news to 'What does this mean?' "

She also said that as Mr. Silverman and Kathleen Carroll, The A.P.'s executive editor, responded to the concerns, the editors realized that some questions were impossible to answer. For example, she said, the editors understood that it was much easier to add up the number of dead than to determine how many hospitals received power on a particular day or how many schools were built.

Mr. Silverman said the wire service was covering Iraq "as accurately as we can" while "also trying to keep our people out of harm's way."

"The main obstacle we face," he said, "is the severe limitation on our movement and our ability to get out and report. It's very confining for our staff to go into Baghdad and have to spend most of their time on the fifth floor of the Palestine Hotel," which is home to most of the press corps. The hotel was struck by a tank shell in 2003, killing two journalists.

Iraq remains the most dangerous place in the world to work as a journalist, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. At least 13 media workers have been killed in Iraq so far this year, bringing the total to 50 since the war began in 2003.

"Postwar Iraq is fraught with risks for reporters: Banditry, gunfire and bombings are common," the committee's Web site says. "Insurgents have added a new threat by systematically targeting foreigners, including journalists, and Iraqis who work for them."

Mr. Silverman said The A.P. had already decided before the meeting that it would have Robert H. Reid, an A.P. correspondent at large who has reported frequently from Iraq, write an overview every 10 days.

Mr. Silverman also said the wire service would make more effort to flag articles that look beyond the breaking news. As it turned out, he said, most of the information in the anonymous e-mail message had been reported by The A.P., but the details had been buried in articles or the articles had been overlooked.

Before the meeting, The A.P. collected three articles by reporters for other news organizations who were embedded with American troops and sent them out over the wire to provide "more voice." Mr. Silverman said he wanted to do more of that but the opportunities were limited because there are only three dozen embedded journalists now, compared with 700 when the war began more than two years ago.

Ms. Goudreau, for one, found the discussion useful. By the end, she said, editors were acknowledging that even in their own hometowns, "we're more likely to focus on people who are killed than on the positive news out of a school."

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Frank Rich...Idiot

Mr. Rich is so divorced from reality that he might as well be starring in "Over There."

So we are suppose to just quit because everyone is tired of the war? Did you ever give any thought to what might happen if we just called it off and came home tomorrow? Do you think the people who are fighting against us will just quit and go home as well?

Having actually served in Iraq...I can tell you the ground truth is vastly different from what you see on TV every day after the update from Aruba with Natalie's Mom. It is definitely not a rose garden but on the other hand it's not Vietnam no matter how hard people like Mr. Rich try to make it.

I can't even begin to imagine the amount of hate someone must have to willingly distort the truth and willing twist things just to gain political power at the expense of soldiers on the field of battle. I know how much people on the left side of the political isle get bent out of shape when someone questions their patriotism, but sometimes the truth hurts. Whether they mean to or if it's just some collateral damage in their political campaign they put each and every soldier at greater risk by spreading distention, calling into question our resolve and continually calling for retreat. When they do this they give our enemies hope. The constant whining from the left give our foe cause to believe that if they hold on another month, another week, another day that we will give up and go home. They believe we will quit because we don't have the stomach for the fight. Osama has said as much in the past...and from the looks of it, he's right about some of us.

New York Times
August 14, 2005

Someone Tell The President The War Is Over

By Frank Rich

Like the Japanese soldier marooned on an island for years after V-J Day, President Bush may be the last person in the country to learn that for Americans, if not Iraqis, the war in Iraq is over. "We will stay the course," he insistently tells us from his Texas ranch. What do you mean we, white man?

A president can't stay the course when his own citizens (let alone his own allies) won't stay with him. The approval rate for Mr. Bush's handling of Iraq plunged to 34 percent in last weekend's Newsweek poll - a match for the 32 percent that approved L.B.J.'s handling of Vietnam in early March 1968. (The two presidents' overall approval ratings have also converged: 41 percent for Johnson then, 42 percent for Bush now.) On March 31, 1968, as L.B.J.'s ratings plummeted further, he announced he wouldn't seek re-election, commencing our long extrication from that quagmire.

But our current Texas president has even outdone his predecessor; Mr. Bush has lost not only the country but also his army. Neither bonuses nor fudged standards nor the faking of high school diplomas has solved the recruitment shortfall. Now Jake Tapper of ABC News reports that the armed forces are so eager for bodies they will flout "don't ask, don't tell" and hang on to gay soldiers who tell, even if they tell the press.

The president's cable cadre is in disarray as well. At Fox News Bill O'Reilly is trashing Donald Rumsfeld for his incompetence, and Ann Coulter is chiding Mr. O'Reilly for being a defeatist. In an emblematic gesture akin to waving a white flag, Robert Novak walked off a CNN set and possibly out of a job rather than answer questions about his role in smearing the man who helped expose the administration's prewar inflation of Saddam W.M.D.'s. (On this sinking ship, it's hard to know which rat to root for.)

As if the right-wing pundit crackup isn't unsettling enough, Mr. Bush's top war strategists, starting with Mr. Rumsfeld and Gen. Richard Myers, have of late tried to rebrand the war in Iraq as what the defense secretary calls "a global struggle against violent extremism." A struggle is what you have with your landlord. When the war's über-managers start using euphemisms for a conflict this lethal, it's a clear sign that the battle to keep the Iraq war afloat with the American public is lost.

That battle crashed past the tipping point this month in Ohio. There's historical symmetry in that. It was in Cincinnati on Oct. 7, 2002, that Mr. Bush gave the fateful address that sped Congressional ratification of the war just days later. The speech was a miasma of self-delusion, half-truths and hype. The president said that "we know that Iraq and Al Qaeda have had high-level contacts that go back a decade," an exaggeration based on evidence that the Senate Intelligence Committee would later find far from conclusive. He said that Saddam "could have a nuclear weapon in less than a year" were he able to secure "an amount of highly enriched uranium a little larger than a single softball." Our own National Intelligence Estimate of Oct. 1 quoted State Department findings that claims of Iraqi pursuit of uranium in Africa were "highly dubious."

It was on these false premises - that Iraq was both a collaborator on 9/11 and about to inflict mushroom clouds on America - that honorable and brave young Americans were sent off to fight. Among them were the 19 marine reservists from a single suburban Cleveland battalion slaughtered in just three days at the start of this month. As they perished, another Ohio marine reservist who had served in Iraq came close to winning a Congressional election in southern Ohio. Paul Hackett, a Democrat who called the president a "chicken hawk," received 48 percent of the vote in exactly the kind of bedrock conservative Ohio district that decided the 2004 election for Mr. Bush.

These are the tea leaves that all Republicans, not just Chuck Hagel, are reading now. Newt Gingrich called the Hackett near-victory "a wake-up call." The resolutely pro-war New York Post editorial page begged Mr. Bush (to no avail) to "show some leadership" by showing up in Ohio to salute the fallen and their families. A Bush loyalist, Senator George Allen of Virginia, instructed the president to meet with Cindy Sheehan, the mother camping out in Crawford, as "a matter of courtesy and decency." Or, to translate his Washingtonese, as a matter of politics. Only someone as adrift from reality as Mr. Bush would need to be told that a vacationing president can't win a standoff with a grief-stricken parent commandeering TV cameras and the blogosphere 24/7.

Such political imperatives are rapidly bringing about the war's end. That's inevitable for a war of choice, not necessity, that was conceived in politics from the start. Iraq was a Bush administration idée fixe before there was a 9/11. Within hours of that horrible trauma, according to Richard Clarke's "Against All Enemies," Mr. Rumsfeld was proposing Iraq as a battlefield, not because the enemy that attacked America was there, but because it offered "better targets" than the shadowy terrorist redoubts of Afghanistan. It was easier to take out Saddam - and burnish Mr. Bush's credentials as a slam-dunk "war president," suitable for a "Top Gun" victory jig - than to shut down Al Qaeda and smoke out its leader "dead or alive."

But just as politics are a bad motive for choosing a war, so they can be a doomed engine for running a war. In an interview with Tim Russert early last year, Mr. Bush said, "The thing about the Vietnam War that troubles me, as I look back, was it was a political war," adding that the "essential" lesson he learned from Vietnam was to not have "politicians making military decisions." But by then Mr. Bush had disastrously ignored that very lesson; he had let Mr. Rumsfeld publicly rebuke the Army's chief of staff, Eric Shinseki, after the general dared tell the truth: that several hundred thousand troops would be required to secure Iraq. To this day it's our failure to provide that security that has turned the country into the terrorist haven it hadn't been before 9/11 - "the central front in the war on terror," as Mr. Bush keeps reminding us, as if that might make us forget he's the one who recklessly created it.

The endgame for American involvement in Iraq will be of a piece with the rest of this sorry history. "It makes no sense for the commander in chief to put out a timetable" for withdrawal, Mr. Bush declared on the same day that 14 of those Ohio troops were killed by a roadside bomb in Haditha. But even as he spoke, the war's actual commander, Gen. George Casey, had already publicly set a timetable for "some fairly substantial reductions" to start next spring. Officially this calendar is tied to the next round of Iraqi elections, but it's quite another election this administration has in mind. The priority now is less to save Jessica Lynch (or Iraqi democracy) than to save Rick Santorum and every other endangered Republican facing voters in November 2006.

Nothing that happens on the ground in Iraq can turn around the fate of this war in America: not a shotgun constitution rushed to meet an arbitrary deadline, not another Iraqi election, not higher terrorist body counts, not another battle for Falluja (where insurgents may again regroup, The Los Angeles Times reported last week). A citizenry that was asked to accept tax cuts, not sacrifice, at the war's inception is hardly in the mood to start sacrificing now. There will be neither the volunteers nor the money required to field the wholesale additional American troops that might bolster the security situation in Iraq.

WHAT lies ahead now in Iraq instead is not victory, which Mr. Bush has never clearly defined anyway, but an exit (or triage) strategy that may echo Johnson's March 1968 plan for retreat from Vietnam: some kind of negotiations (in this case, with Sunni elements of the insurgency), followed by more inflated claims about the readiness of the local troops-in-training, whom we'll then throw to the wolves. Such an outcome may lead to even greater disaster, but this administration long ago squandered the credibility needed to make the difficult case that more human and financial resources might prevent Iraq from continuing its descent into civil war and its devolution into jihad central.

Thus the president's claim on Thursday that "no decision has been made yet" about withdrawing troops from Iraq can be taken exactly as seriously as the vice president's preceding fantasy that the insurgency is in its "last throes." The country has already made the decision for Mr. Bush. We're outta there. Now comes the hard task of identifying the leaders who can pick up the pieces of the fiasco that has made us more vulnerable, not less, to the terrorists who struck us four years ago next month.




I am sure they just cooked this stuff up (pun intended)after OIF began. (Sarcasm intended)

Washington Post
August 14, 2005
Pg. 18

Iraqi Chemical Stash Uncovered

Post-Invasion Cache Could Have Been For Use in Weapons

By Ellen Knickmeyer, Washington Post Foreign Service

BAGHDAD, Aug. 13 -- U.S. troops raiding a warehouse in the northern city of Mosul uncovered a suspected chemical weapons factory containing 1,500 gallons of chemicals believed destined for attacks on U.S. and Iraqi forces and civilians, military officials said Saturday.

Monday's early morning raid found 11 precursor agents, "some of them quite dangerous by themselves," a military spokesman, Lt. Col. Steven A. Boylan, said in Baghdad.

Combined, the chemicals would yield an agent capable of "lingering hazards" for those exposed to it, Boylan said. The likely targets would have been "coalition and Iraqi security forces, and Iraqi civilians," partly because the chemicals would be difficult to keep from spreading over a wide area, he said.

Boylan said the suspected lab was new, dating from some time after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. The Bush administration cited evidence that Saddam Hussein's government was manufacturing weapons of mass destruction as the main justification for the invasion. No such weapons or factories were found.

Military officials did not immediately identify either the precursors or the agent they could have produced. "We don't want to speculate on any possibilities until our analysis is complete," Col. Henry Franke, a nuclear, biological and chemical defense officer, was quoted as saying in a military statement.

Investigators still were trying to determine who had assembled the alleged lab and whether the expertise came from foreign insurgents or former members of Hussein's security apparatus, the military said.

"They're looking into it," Boylan said. "They've got to go through it -- there's a lot of stuff there." He added that there was no indication that U.S. forces would be ordered to carry chemical warfare gear, such as gas masks and chemical suits, as they did during the invasion and the months immediately afterward.

U.S. military photos of the alleged lab showed a bare concrete-walled room scattered with stacks of plastic containers, coiled tubing, hoses and a stand holding a large metal device that looked like a distillery. Black rubber boots lay among the gear.

The suspected chemical weapons lab was the biggest found so far in Iraq, Boylan said. A lab discovered last year in the insurgent stronghold of Fallujah contained a how-to book on chemical weapons and an unspecified amount of chemicals.

Chemical weapons are divided into the categories of "persistent" agents, which wreak damage for hours, such as blistering agents or the oily VX nerve agent, and "nonpersistent" ones, which dissipate quickly, such as chlorine gas or sarin nerve gas.

Iraqi forces under Hussein used chemical agents both on enemy forces in the 1980s war with Iran and on Iraqi Kurdish villagers in 1988. Traces of a variety of killing agents -- mustard gas and the nerve agents sarin, tabun and VX -- were detected by investigators after the 1988 attack.

No chemical weapons are known to have been used so far in Iraq's insurgency. Al Qaeda announced after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States that it was looking into acquiring biological, radiological and chemical weapons. The next year, CNN obtained and aired al Qaeda videotapes showing the killings of three dogs with what were believed to be nerve agents.

Disregard all after Wahsington Post
What was found wasn't as significant as first reported...skunked again! Well, maybe one of these days we'll figure out where that stuff got off to...and then again maybe not.

A Texan Abroad

Being a Texan I love this...good for you MSGT Young. Thanks for your service!

U.S. Army
Master Sgt. Michael Young
Texan Flies Lone Star Colors

By 2nd Lt. Amy Bombassaro
National Guard Bureau

BABADAG TRAINING AREA, Romania, July 27, 2005 — A Texas flag that once flew over Texas National Guard Master Sgt. Michael Young's bunker in Vietnam now soars over the Task Force Raider Tactical Operations Command tent in Romania. The flag flies one last time before the fifth generation Texan retires from his 38-year military career in February.

Young and his fellow soldiers from Texas posted the colors to bring a Lonestar State ambiance to their operations at ROMEX 05.

ROMEX 05 is a bi-lateral exercise in the Babadag Training Area that includes tactical training and community development projects in Tulcea County communities near Constanta. U.S. and Romanian soldiers are integrated into combined units to train to work as cohesive multi-national forces.

Command Sgt. Maj. Joe Ray, brigade operations non-commissioned officer, said that he and Young talked about bringing the flag before they deployed.

“It seemed like the natural thing to do,” said Ray. “That way, it's traveled all over the world, to several continents.”

A formation of troops watched as Young and Spc. Samuel Moffett, both of Dallas, posted the colors. Approximately 650 members of the 71st Brigade Combat Team from armories across Texas are participating in the exercise, under the higher command of the 1st Armored Division.

“The flag is a symbol of the dynamics of our state,” said Young. “There's just something about Texas mystique.”

The flag originated in 1968 when a Dallas woman wrote a letter to the Dallas Times Herald in an effort to rally Texans to send the state's coveted symbol to troops in Vietnam. Young said the woman was a family acquaintance and sent him one herself. He was serving in the 403rd Terminal Transfer Transportation from Fort Bragg, N.C.

At that time, he posted it outside his supply operations tent and later on a 12-foot post over his bunker. The five occupants of the bunker, along with his company leadership, signed the flag, which has faded over the years. Young still stays in touch with some of his former comrades, and plans to attend a Vietnam reunion in Tennessee this September.

Master Sgt. Michael Young, ROMEX 05 mayoral superintendent, flew this Texas flag over his supply operations tent and later over his bunker while serving in the Vietnam War in 1968. The flag flies one last time before the fifth generation Texan retires from his 38-year military career. A formation of Texas National Guard troops watched as Young posted the colors over the Task Force Raider Tactical Operations Command July 14, 2005. U.S. Army photo by 2nd Lt. Amy Bombassaro

When ROMEX 05 draws to a close Aug. 2, Young plans to invite his current fellow soldiers, some he's known for almost 20 years, to sign the flag before the unit redeploys. Ray is one of those soldiers.

“Master Sgt. Young means a lot to several of us here,” said Ray. “He’s a make-it-happen kind of guy — mission-oriented and soldier-oriented.”

During the exercise, Young serves as the mayoral superintendent in the Life Support Area. After the exercise, he'll return to his civilian profession as the facilities manager at Baylor College of Dentistry, Texas A&M Health Science Center in Dallas.



Thursday, August 11, 2005

Picture of the Week

A KW (OH-58D) takes off from Camp Taji at dawn.

Flying CM2RI at sunset in 1st CAVs 5th BCT Sector just south of Baghdad.



Sunday, August 07, 2005

Attention on the Net...

If you're not reading Michael Yon's blog you're missing the best reporting coming out of Iraq. His latest is a must read...

Sunday, August 07, 2005
God's Will

Mosul, Iraq

On Thursday August 6, we headed out the gates to meet with police officials in downtown Mosul. As we rolled in, a handful of Iraqi police ran across the road, back towards the barracks. Terrorists had just shot the mother of a police officer, and the police said she was dead. But Captain Scott Cheney, the Charlie Company Commander, rolled there and found she wasn’t dead, just shot in the shoulder and “screaming like crazy.”

Inside the police station, LTC Kurilla, Commander of Deuce Four, met with the brother of a taxi driver killed on Monday. Deuce Four believed they wrongly shot the man, so they chose to pay condolence compensation to a member of his family. The brother nodded and said ensha’allah, an expression meaning that it's God’s will that he died. I have seen the parents of children killed by car bombs say ensha’allah as if it makes it all comprehensible. Kids blown up, ensha’allah; airplanes fly into buildings, ensha’allah; the electricty goes out ensha’allah. Yet then many ask--without a twitch of irony--why the Americans cannot make the electricity stay on in Iraq: terrorists blow up the generators, ensha’allah.

LTC Kurilla and the surviving brother talked for about ten minutes, the brother said ensha’allah one last time, they shook hands and the man departed.

There were two primary police commanders in the room; only one, Major Ali, was wearing a uniform. He seemed serious. LTC Kurilla described him as a “true warrior,” saying, “if we had more like him, we could win fast.”

For the rest check his blog...



Nobody Asked Me, But...

Out on the highway, why are all these people with the Christian "fish" symbol cutting me off and generally driving like goons?

When I went to church, we were always told about "The Golden Rule". I guess that doesn't count if they think you're a heathen? Do they give special treatment to others who display Christian accoutrement's? Just wondering what the excuse might be for the decidedly un-Christian-like behavior.

While I'm on the driving kick...

What is it about that sign that reads, "Left Lane is For Passing Only" that people can't seem to understand?

Can these folks not see the forty car parade they are leading? Would it kill you to accelerate 2 miles an hour and quit flying formation with grandma doing 65 miles an hour in the right lane on the interstate? This type of behavior stands as a shining example of the "me-First" mentality that permeates our society today. I have read that some states are starting to ticket those who camp out in the left lane. TO that I say HOORAH!

What is it about being a professional athlete that divorces them from reality?

Be it the hockey player that tells us all to kiss his posterior if we the poor fan couldn't sympathize with his plight, or the baseball player who can't understand why the fans of his former team now boo him when he returns (especially since his reason for leaving was to get xx gazillion dollars instead for the measly x gazillion), the majority somehow loose the ability to reason when they reach the majors. Here's the first thing they should remember, "The customer is always right." Just so there's no mistake here, I'm the customer. If I want to's my right. I pay your salery...Mr. Moneybags the team owner is just the conduit, you clown. As long as I don't come onto the field or do other things that are frowned upon by modern society. I can boo, make signs, not go to the games or even turn off the TV. And then where would you be...idiot?

More teams play professional baseball than the Red Sox and the Yankees

I know this may come as news to ESPN and FOX networks, but not everyone wants to see those two teams each and every week. It seems to be a subset of the east coast disease, that affects mostly news and entertainment folks, who believe that if it doesn't happen in New York and its environs it's not worth covering or worrying about. It's called a national network because it's NATIONAL...look into it.


Why do we have to call everyone who does something bad "Nazis"?

It seems to me that some people who trot out the phrase "Nazi" need to read a few books. George W Bush a Nazi? I don't think so. Saddam a Nazi? Not quite. Only the Nazis can reach true Nazi levels. Everyone in the political world needs to check fire on the hyperbole. Only a gulag is really a gulag. Keeping prisoners awake for 48 hours and adjusting the thermostat is not the same as taking people out and shooting them at dawn.

Anyone with any sense knows that the odds of Dictator X becoming the next Hitler are slim and none. Doesn't mean they aren't's just that the exaggeration in labeling people and acts actually diminishes their case instead of horrifying people. Anyone who isn't drinking Jim Jones' special Kool Aid know the odds of the President of the United States being a closet Nazi are pretty slim.

Instead of Nazis and Hitler, I propose we start using Carrot Top as the gold standard for badness. For example, Dictator X must be stopped or else he will become the next Carrot Top. Now I don't know about you, but that would move me to action. But then again nobody asked me...

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Pizza Chain Sets Up Injured Soldier, Buddy With Franchise

Miami Herald (
July 30, 2005

Pizza Chain Sets Up Injured Soldier, Buddy With Franchise

By Associated Press

PADUCAH, Ky. - When Little Caesars Pizza owner Michael Ilitch read about soldier Robbie Doughty's struggle after losing two legs in Iraq, it reminded him of an injury that curtailed his baseball career.

"I gave up my career after three years in the minors," Ilitch said. "I couldn't get a job when I got out. I had no training and no specific knowledge."

So Ilitch, whose company owns the Detroit Tigers and the Detroit Red Wings, had a Little Caesars executive track down Doughty and offer him a chance to open a franchise in Paducah.

"This is the first time I've done this," Ilitch said. "It was an impulse type thing."

Ilitch learned about Doughty through a newspaper article in November, a few months after Doughty lost his legs.

"I was reading the article and I felt like I knew him after I read his quotes and how he addressed the situation he was in," Ilitch said. "He was my kind of guy. It stuck with me from the standpoint of what his life is going to be like."

On Friday, Ilitch flew to Paducah to visit Doughty, 30, of Calvert City, and his partner, Lloyd Allard, 45, of Clarksville, Tenn.

"I was shocked," said Doughty, who is now walking without help from a cane. "I was a few months from retiring (from the military) and trying to develop a plan for what I was going to do."

Doughty pegged Allard as his partner. Allard, who recently retired after 23 years in the Army, met Doughty at Fort Campbell.

"I've been training in Detroit," said Allard, who plans to move temporarily to Paducah. "I've worked at (Little Caesars) stores for 2 1/2 weeks making pizzas and dealing with customers. I really like it."

The men showed Ilitch possible sites for the store Friday. Neither party would reveal how much financial support Ilitch was providing to get the franchise started. "They've been very generous," Allard said. "They've bent over backwards to help us start this franchise."

Doughty said he and Allard would eventually like to open more stores in the area. "It's amazing (Ilitch) came down personally to help us out," Doughty said. "We're eternally grateful for that. It all fell right in like it was meant to be."

Picture of the Week

One of our little buddies. We scrap with each other all the time, but there is nothing I wouldn't do for them if they needed help.

My wingman is flying this flag for his son over Baghdad. Notice all the satellite dishes...these were illegal under Saddam but now everywhere...and I do mean EVERYWHERE you look there's a dish...I guess they all want to see their Neck-car, I mean NASCAR races, or catch "Team America" on pay per view.



Tuesday, August 02, 2005

The Astros Visit Real American Heroes

This is an update on something I posted earlier...

Houston Chronicle
July 30, 2005

The Day The Astros Visited Real American Heroes

By Drayton Mclane

Last week, the Houston Astros players and management visited Walter Reed Army Medical Center and Bethesda Naval Hospital while we were in Washington, D.C., to play the Washington Nationals. Playing baseball in our nation's capitol was a significant event for the franchise because this was the first time in our 43-year history that we have had the opportunity to play there. We had the privilege of visiting with injured soldiers and their families at the hospitals, at a BBQ we hosted and as our guests at the baseball games. When I use the word privilege, I do mean privilege. It was an honor to represent the Houston Astros, the city of Houston and the state of Texas in thanking these courageous young Americans.

When my family and I purchased the Houston Astros franchise in 1992, we did it with two purposes in mind, ideals that still hold true today. I want our team to bring the city of Houston — and all of Texas — its first World Series experience and become champions as well. And I want to be able to use the magic, the excitement, the prestige of a Major League Baseball team to make a positive difference in our community. This is something we work on every day in hundreds of ways with our Community Development Department and the Astros in Action Foundation. Our mission statement reads, "Through the strength of the National Pastime, we will enhance the quality of life in our community through educational, health, and spiritual endeavors," and it remains true today.

The idea for our trips to Walter Reed and Bethesda Naval Hospital was born out of this desire to make a positive difference and out of an encounter we had during our Winter Caravan. On Jan. 25, we had the great honor of visiting with injured soldiers at Fort Hood who had just returned from Iraq and were about to receive the Purple Heart. During the visit, Adam Everett remarked that "People call baseball players heroes, but these soldiers here today are the real heroes."

To me, that spoke volumes about the kind of players, coaches and staff we have at the Astros — decent, hardworking people, full of character. Adam is our starting shortstop and an Olympic Gold Medalist, but he and the other players and staff in attendance were energized by the real heroes in the room that day. Right then, I wanted the entire Astros team to be given an opportunity to experience this moment of introspection and profound patriotism. I realized our scheduled trip to Washington, D.C., in July would provide the perfect occasion for the team to visit these real American heroes.

There is no way to prepare for a visit to these amazing facilities, and I am certain many of our players, coaching staff and front office were somewhat apprehensive on the day of their visit. However, I am proud to say that every one of our people — the entire 25-man roster, as well as coaches and staff — participated and came away a better person for the experience. While President George W. Bush was kind enough to send us a thank you note, we collectively owe a debt of gratitude to the service men and women, doctors, nurses and the staffs of these hospitals for sharing part of their hectic day with us.

During our visits we heard stories of perseverance and courage, of the will to go on despite debilitating injuries and the will to live productive and happy lives. Some of those we talked to had been in Iraq just days before. All of the soldiers we met had upbeat attitudes, and most openly expressed a desire to go back to their units and continue to serve the United States of America.

There was the helicopter pilot who had lost both of her legs when the helicopter she was piloting was shot down in Iraq. She is being fitted with prosthetic legs and wants to fly for the Army again in Iraq. How could we not be moved by the bomb demolition expert who lost his hand trying to disarm a booby-trapped bomb but wants to learn to use an artificial hand so he can return to his unit? Or the Marine who made it his life goal to serve his country for 20 years, but was disappointed he lost his leg just 12 years in? He vows to overcome it and return to active duty. I have no doubt these and the other injured soldiers we met in Washington will be able to achieve anything they want in life.

While we began this journey with the idea of giving back, the irony of our visits is that we were the ones who received a tremendous gift. Our trip gave us perspective on our lives, an uplifted spirit and a sense of patriotism that will never die. I firmly believe each of us have been touched in a way that will not be forgotten. These soldiers each have an amazing outlook on life and, in spite of the difficulties they are currently facing, are positive and upbeat at each turn. These American heroes have taught me an invaluable lesson about heroism and the determination to see a mission through to the end. I don't believe there is any better way to honor their sacrifices than to stop and be thankful each day for the freedoms we enjoy because of their hard work and dedication. There is no doubt the resolve and determination of these military servicemen and women will eliminate the threat of terrorism for our country — and the world.

McLane is owner of the Houston Astros.

Labels: ,


Why They Hate Us

Good stuff...

St. Paul Pioneer Press
July 12, 2005

Why They Hate Us

By Mark Yost

This is a belated Fourth of July column (superseded by the state shutdown). The headline isn't a prelude to a column justifying why the Islamists hate Westerners so much that they're pouring into Iraq to kill our soldiers (along with innocent fellow Arabs, including Egyptian diplomats). Or defending the sleeper cells planted to blow up Madrid, London and who knows where next. Rather, it's about why most Americans, particularly soldiers, hate the media.

I decided to become a journalist when I was a soldier. I was in the U.S. Navy in the early and mid-1980s — "the glory years," as I like to say, a reference to President Ronald Reagan. As part of my duties, I went to some of the world's hot spots.

While sailing in the South China Sea, my ship picked up some refugee boat people on a rickety raft that I wouldn't take out on Como Lake, much less try to float across the Pacific Ocean. One of the survivors, shortly after coming up the accommodation ladder dripping wet, grabbed me (the nearest sailor), hugged me as tightly as his strength would allow, and could only murmur "thank you" through sobs of joy.

I'd then come back to the U.S. and read accounts of places I'd just been — in papers like the New York Times and Washington Post —that bore no resemblance to what I'd seen. There was one exception: the Wall Street Journal editorial page. I began reading a column called "Thinking Things Over" by Vermont Connecticut Royster, one of the legends of that august page. He would later become a mentor — a God, really — and I eventually worked there.

I'm reminded of why I became a journalist by the horribly slanted reporting coming out of Iraq. Not much has changed since the mid-1980s. Substitute "insurgent" for "Sandinista," "Iraq" for "Soviet Union," "Bush" for "Reagan" and "war on terror" for "Cold War," and the stories need little editing. The U.S. is "bad," our enemies "understandable" if not downright "good."

I know the reporting's bad because I know people in Iraq. A Marine colonel buddy just finished a stint overseeing the power grid. When's the last time you read a story about the progress being made on the power grid? Or the new desalination plant that just came on-line, or the school that just opened, or the Iraqi policeman who died doing something heroic? No, to judge by the dispatches, all the Iraqis do is stand outside markets and government buildings waiting to be blown up.

I also get unfiltered news from Iraq through an e-mail network of military friends who aren't so blinded by their own politics that they can't see the real good we're doing there. More important, they can see beyond their own navel and see the real good we're doing to promote peace and prosperity in the world. What makes this all the more ironic is the fact that the people who are fighting and dying want to stay and the people who are merely observers want to cut and run.

I feel for these soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan because I'm sure they're coming home and noticing the same disconnect that I did when I served. Moreover, stories about their families and others who are here and trying to make a difference largely go unreported.

Ever heard of Soldiers' Angels ( or Operation Minnesota Nice (

Probably not.

There have been just two mentions of Operation Minnesota Nice by the Twin Cities metro dailies, one a brief in the Pioneer Press and the other a front-page story in the paper across the river. Operation Minnesota Nice collects care packages — of baby wipes, lip balm, baby powder and other items — for soldiers serving overseas. Soldiers' Angels does the same thing, mating civilians who maybe don't have a loved one overseas with soldiers who don't have loved ones.

Where's the daily coverage of these groups and others like them?

Moreover, where are the stories on nearly every VFW and American Legion hall that's actively supporting the troops? What about their stories?

Instead, we get Monday's front-page story about a "secret" memo about "emerging U.S. plans" to withdraw troops next year. Why isn't the focus of the story the fact that 14 of 18 Iraqi provinces are stable and the four that aren't are primarily home to the genocidal gang of thugs who terrorized that country for 30 years?

And reporters wonder why they're despised.

Yost is associate editor of the Pioneer Press editorial page.

Damn you Ford!

First you put out this commercal...
click on "Homecoming" and prepare to start crying.

And then they come out with this thing to suck every last dollar out of my wallet.

Seriously, FORD ROCKS!

Cats and Dogs Living Together...

The following is from

LEADERSHIP: Getting the Sergeant Major into the Officers Club

August 1, 2005: The American military is having increasing problems working with the
military rank system. Currently, there are 24 military ranks (pay grades) in the
U.S. armed forces (nine enlisted, from E-1 recruit to E-9 Sergeant Major, five
grades of warrant officer, then ten grades for commissioned officer, from 2nd
Lieutenant to four star general). There are some slight differences between the
services (especially in exactly what each rank is called.)

The problem is that this rank system was developed over two centuries ago, and was
based on a caste system that no longer exists. Way back in the day, the enlisted
troops were generally lower class, illiterate and often not the best specimens the
"lower classes," then representing some 90 percent of the population, had to offer.
The warrant ranks really didn't exist back then. The commissioned officers were
"gentlemen," recruited from the few percent of the population that had money and
property and could afford to educate their children. Over the last few decades,
this system has become more dysfunctional, as educational levels for enlisted
personnel continue to climb. More trouble arose as the need increased for highly
trained, and hard to find, technical specialists to run, and maintain the
increasingly complex equipment the troops were using.

So far, the military has improvised. There's now a complex system of bonuses to
attract, and keep, essential technical people. Another popular ploy is to simply
hire, for even more money (but only as needed) qualified civilians for these jobs.
All of this is not unique to the military. Many civilian firms have key technical
people who are paid more than the executives ("commissioned officers") that
supervise them. But the military has another problem with its "executives." Civilian
firms will keep a qualified individual in a leadership position for a long time, if
the job is getting done. But half a century ago, the military got hooked on the,
then popular, civilian management idea of "up or out." This theory, since
discredited and much modified, held that your executives should qualify for
promotion, or be fired. "Up or out." The military adopted this practice for
everyone. In practice, it meant people with good technical skills would get booted
out of the service because they just wanted to keep doing what they were good at,
and not get promoted to do a leadership job they didn't want. To deal with this, the
military introduced the "warrant officer" rank. These were techies who were allowed
to keep doing what they were good at, without worrying about unwanted promotions to
higher rank, or transfer to jobs commanding units.

Actually, the warrant officer idea worked pretty well, if you used it aggressively
enough. But the American military is reluctant to do what other countries have done,
and basically replace the higher NCO ranks with warrant officers. But there are many
advantages. Since the warrant officers hang out with the commissioned officers (at
the officers clubs and such), it's easier to communicate informally, and get things
done. But currently, senior NCOs (especially the top three enlisted ranks, many of
whom have college degrees) contain people who have far more in common with officers
their own age, than those officers do with the junior officers who also hang out at
the officers club.

There is a lot of rumbling, and grumbling, in the ranks about a need for some
fundamental change in the American military personnel system. The evolutionary
changes have not kept up with demand, and a revolutionary change is needed. Perhaps
another raid on civilian personnel practices is in order.

When I read, "Since the warrant officers hang out with the commissioned officers (at
the officers clubs and such" I almost needed to clean my computer. Oh yeah, all the Warrant Officers I know live to hang out at the "O-Club" with the RLOs.

While what they describe could solve some of the ills of the Army personnel system, it would send most Sergeant's Major off the deep end.

For some reason, I have found that a great number of Sergeant's Major I've have had professional dealings with have issues with Warrant Officers. I don't know if it is because we are that renegade entity in their midst that they can't control or that they are just jealous...but they always seem to get that constipated look on their faces whenever they see the bar with the dots.

As a result, being the kind of people we are there are Warrant Officers who live to push the Sergeant Major's buttons.

For instance a friend of mine while at the National Training Center had this happen...

The unit had just arrived at NTC to support the division staff with it's air support needs. As a result of their mission they weren't going into the maneuver box and weren't part of the war game. The company was told since they were admin players that they could wear soft cap instead of Kevlar while at the fabulous California resort community. Someone didn't tell this Sergeant Major.

CW2 M and CW2 E were walking down the street headed for the shopette to buy some liquid refreshment. About halfway to the store a car pulled alongside the pair and pulled to a quick stop. The door of the car opened and a voice sounded, "HEY!" Turning to look CW2 D spies a Sergeant Major getting out of the car and responds with, "WHAT!" and it goes downward from there. At the end of the day the story came down that some "big" Warrant Officer (CW2 M is 6 feet 180 lbs)was being a smart ass to the CSM. Never mind that the Sergeant Major addressed an officer with "HEY!" and never stood at attention the whole time he was "talking" with CW2 M (an Officer). I've had friends who were shoved by a Sergeant Major. Let's just say that Warrants and Sergeants Major=Oil and Water. Arguing with a Warrant Officer is like wrestling with a pig, you both get dirty and the pig likes it.

If what Strategy Page advocates actually came to pass I fear for the mental health of Sergeants Major everywhere.