Saturday, March 31, 2007

Rosie O'Donnell O'Dunce O'Dumbass Implodes

Well, it had to happen. Another actor/comedian/singer that I used to think was even slightly entertaining has had to out their personal views and reminded me why I don't really watch any of these folks anymore.

It's not enough that Rosie O'Donnell portrays routine anti-smuggling interdiction (which happens every day) as some conspiratorial provocation for war (when the Iranians clearly have a much bigger reason to conspire). She had to go on and say that she believed there was some sort of government cover up OR direct involvement in the 9/11 incident.

For that she should be kicked to the curb and her limo drained of all gasoline and lubricating oil so she has to push it all the way back home.

People are poking fun at her left and right, but Popular Mechanics took it seriously and, once again, put together the definitive explanation as to why the towers collapsed (as if, watching it that day, from plane entry to burning embers).

For my own answer, I simply can't believe that this woman would get away with acting like she is a structural engineer. She's a G_d Damned comedian, for the love of all things holy.

I would like someone to give me a platform to vent my spleen on such morons.

I'll point to two other local disasters that were from similar issues: stress on beams and connections not meant to carry the weight.

Hyatt Regency Catwalk

In 1981, the famous "atrium catwalks" at the Kansas City Hyatt Regency collapsed. 114 people died and 200 were seriously injured. While the noted document discusses the technical engineering concepts that led to the collapse, the best part of the explanation (and probably the simplest that Rosie would understand):

The potential for disaster was cemented when the design was changed by Havens Steel Company. Instead of using the single-rod design originally proposed by G. C. E. International, the designers adopted a double-rod design. In this design, a set of rods would connect the fourth floor walkway to the trusses of the roof of the atrium, and a second set of rods would connect the second floor walkway to the fourth floor walkway independent of the first set of rods. These rods would be secured to the beams of the walkway by bolts at the end of each rod [8].

The single rod design and double rod design can easily be compared with an analogy. If one monkey is hanging on a branch, and another monkey is hanging below it on the same branch, then each monkey only has to support its own weight. If the second monkey is hanging onto the legs of the first monkey, then the first monkey must be able to hold both it’s weight and the weight of the first monkey or else they will both fall. Since the designers failed to understand very elementary concepts involving force and stress concentration, the plan for an engineering failure was created.

Get that, Rosie? Once the overall support structure for the towers was damaged, the entire building was damaged. The rest of the beams and support structures for each subsequent floor was forced to hold up the weight of the others. Something it was not designed to do.

Thus, with the first monkey having to hold up all the other 80 remaining monkies (floors), they all fell down.

Unfortunately, Rosie only chooses to imitate two of the three monkies, see no evil (Iranian mullahs aren't "evil" even though, if Rosie went to Iran she would either be hanged as a lesbian or forced to under go trans-gender surgery in order to get her man's lust for woman into a man's body) and hear no evil (obviously, the continued "Death to America" and "Wipe Israel off the Map" chants don't make it into Rosie's gigantic dressing room at the View to Stupidity):

Instead of "say no evil", Rosie decided to do this:

When she should have been doing this:

Kemper Arena Roof

If you're going to pretend to be an engineer, at least read the above link and get some clue about engineering before you speak. Of course, Rosie is too busy making a monkey out of herself and pretending she is still funny after all these years so she probably won't take the time.

Thus, I will excerpt a few important, edifying excerpts (I hope these words and concepts aren't too big for Rosie) - form and function:

Steel is a very affordable and strong material. There are many different types of steel; however, all are composed of iron and carbon with small amounts of other metals in it that give it specific qualities. The production of steel in mass quantity has two different strengths. Regular structural steel has a yielding strength of 36,000 pounds per square inch and high-strength steel has a yielding strength of 50,000 pounds per square inch (Salvadori 64). However, steel can theoretically have a yielding strength of 4 million pounds per square inch. Right now, we have steel cables that have an ultimate strength of 300,000 pounds per square inch with an allowable stress of 150,000 pounds per square inch. This is strong enough to suspend the Leaning Tower of Pisa from a cable that is 1.1 inches in diameter (Salvadori 65).

However, there are some downsides to steel. It melts at relatively low temperatures, around 1200 degrees F, and becomes brittle at relatively high temperatures, around 30 degrees F. Without proper treatments, steel becomes useless and dangerous (Salvadori 65). In addition, if treated improperly, steel in a high building slices into pastry thin layers. This phenomenon is called lamination stress. Improperly welded joints cause similar stresses. Finally, repeated compression and tension fatigue steel (Salvadori 66).

Remember those underlined portions. Going on with the "weight" and "structure" aspects of the Kemper Arena incident:

On June 4th, 1979 at 6:45pm, a downpour of rain with 70 mph hit Kansas City. Arther LaMuster, worker and only person in the arena at the time, heard odd noises 25 minutes later. He inspected the area and barely had time to get out as the center of the roof collapsed. It was determined later that approximately one acre, or 200 x 215 ft of roof collapsed. The air pressure, increased by the rapidly falling roof caused some of the walls to blow out. However, the portals remained undamaged. Ironically, thousands of architects there for the American Institute of Architects Convention had been sitting in the arena only 24 hours before (Levy 59).

Okay. Got that? As the roof came down, it compressed the air in the building. It had to go somewhere so IT WENT OUT through the walls causing an "explosion". The same phenomena as seen on the day the towers collapsed. Documented in many unfortunate, non-government organized, even non-terrorist, disasters.

Note the image below showing the planes took out significant structural support systems that are damaged by the planes:

You simply cannot change physics and chemistry. All things that Rosie knows jack about. As an actual engineer points out, steel will melt at 1,200 degrees farhenheit. A standard house (not Rosie's), fully furnished, can reach temperatures up to 4,000 degrees fahrenheit at its "peak". Maybe Rosie thinks the towers were embued with magical powers that could resist all known physics, chemistry and laws of gravity?

Now, an important picture that shows the top 30 or so floors of the building collapsing down on the remaining structure.

I would like Rosie to explain to us how the other 80 some floors were supposed to hold up under the weight of those top collapsing floors.


That's what I thought.

Now let's see what happens when you drop 30 floors and 2997 dead on Rosie's head:

Just what I thought.

As for the "radical Christians", here I am. I am about as radical as they come. That is to say, I don't congregate, I don't subscribe to any denomination and I have actually read the bible a few times. In a rather interesting, radical side effect, I decided that it did not tell me to kill anyone who did not believe as I do.

Thus, Rosie remains alive and able to spew all over the British, their captive sailors, the families of these sailors, the national tragedy of 9/11, the dead, their families and Christians in general.

Now, that is radical.

*psst - Barbara and the rest of the "View": If I believed in conspiracies, which hollywood is full of, I would guess that this is some effort to boost your ratings. You know, "even bad publicity is good publicity." I don't, however, believe that it was anything more than several of your folks showing complete and utter idiocy, a disregard for reality and a serious lacking in couth and compassion for all those who died and all those who were left behind.

I suggest, instead of the British apologizing, that your show should apologize instead. That, or get off the air because, like Rosie's old magazine, I have a feeling you are about to get canned."

Friday, March 30, 2007

Iran: Desperation

Britain seeks to raise pressure on Iran over sailors

After a day of escalating tension between London and Tehran, which pushed oil prices up sharply, the U.N. Security Council agreed a watered down statement expressing "grave concern" at the situation and supporting calls for the crew's release.

Britain, which had sought a tougher statement, plans to urge the European Union to help isolate Iran at a two-day meeting of EU ministers starting on Friday.

Acts of Desperation: Siege Mentality

Iran is now also militarily encircled by the US forces. American troops are based in almost every country bordering Iran - Afghanistan, Iraq, Turkey, Pakistan and Azerbaijan.

The US Navy has been conducting a series of exercises in the Gulf - the biggest war games in the area since the invasion of Iraq four years ago.

The sense of being under siege is compounded by the US military's detention in January in Iraq of five Iranians. [snip]

And in December a former Iranian deputy defence minister disappeared in Turkey. Some Western media reported that he had defected to the West.

But the Iranian government and his family say he was abducted by the US or Israel.

All these events and pressures have created a siege mentality in Tehran.

More on Economic Warfare

Reflecting the confusion inside the Iranian state, the first coordinates for the allegedly transgressing British boats given to the British by the Iranian government turned out to be within Iraqi territorial waters too. Not until three days later did the Iranians come up with a second "corrected" set of coordinates which conveniently put the British forces on the wrong side of the line. Only someone whose political and moral compass is totally disorientated by hostility to American and British policy could dare to suggest that this act of shameless, lying, cross-border piracy is justified or excusable.[snip]

But there is something Europe should do: flex its economic muscles. The EU is by far Iran's biggest trading partner. More than 40% of its imports come from, and more than a quarter of its exports go to, the EU. Remarkably, this trade has grown strongly in the last years of looming crisis. Much of it is underpinned by export credit guarantees given by European governments, notably those of Germany, France and Italy. According to the most recent figures available from the German economics ministry, Iran is Germany's third-largest beneficiary of export credit guarantees, outdone only by Russia and China. Iran comes second to none in terms of the proportion of German exports - in recent years up to 65% - underwritten by the German government.

The total government underwriting commitment in 2005 was €5.8bn (£3.9bn), more than for Russia or China. As the squeeze grows on Iran from UN sanctions and their knock-on effects, and as President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad fails to deliver on his populist economic promises, this European trade becomes ever more vital for the Iranian regime - and ever more dependent on European government guarantees to counterbalance the growing political risk.

In the Commons yesterday a former foreign secretary, Malcolm Rifkind, asked if Britain's European friends - and Germany, France and Italy in particular - might be prevailed upon to convey to Iran, perhaps privately in the first instance, the possibility that such export credit guarantees would be temporarily suspended until the kidnapped Europeans are freed. I gather that if such private pressure is not forthcoming, Britain might be tempted to raise the suggestion more formally at a meeting of European foreign ministers in Bremen this weekend.

So here's a challenge for the German presidency of the European Union: will you put your money where your mouth is? Or are all your Sunday speeches about European solidarity in the cause of peace and freedom not even worth the paper they are written on?

Cherish an Ideal

A brief quote from Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain on the dedication of the Maine Monument at Little Round Top.

"It is something great and greatening to cherish an ideal; to act in the light of truth that is far-away and far above; to set aside the near advantage, the momentary pleasure; the snatching of seeming good to self; and to act for remoter ends, for higher good, and for interests other than our own.

"To us this people in its life on earth was a moral personality, having a character and a commission; hence responsibility; hence duty; hence right; and its authority. The Union was the body of a spiritual Unity. Of this we were part, -- responsible to it and for it, -- and our sacrifice was its service.

Another part of the speech I particularly liked:

"Now you have gathered these bodies here. You mark their names with head-stones, and compass them about with the cordon of the State's proud sorrow. You station them here, on the ground they held. Here they will remain, not buried but transfigured forms,--part of the earth they glorified,--part also of the glory that is to be.

"No chemistry of frost or rain, no overlaying mould of the season's recurrent life and death, can ever separate from the soil of these consecrated fields the life-blood so deeply commingled and incorporate here. Ever henceforth under the rolling suns, when these hills are touched to splendor with the morning light, or smile a farewell to the lingering day, the flush that broods upon them shall be rich with a strange and crimson tone,--not of the earth, nor yet of the sky, but mediator and hostage between the two.

Baptized in Fire and Blood: 3/3 Cavalry

Brave Rifles! Veterans! You have been baptized in fire and blood and have come out steel!
–General Winfield Scott, 1847

In the annals of American military history, there have been thousands of acts of heroism – men and women whose individual courage merited some of the nation’s highest commendations. It is sometimes forgotten, however, that the ethos of the American warrior does not lie in the individual. Heroism lies in something beyond self, which is why the United States also recognizes those units that display extraordinary gallantry in action, gallantry that sets the unit apart from other units serving in the same conflict.

Long before cities like Fallujah, Ramadi, Qaim, and Husaybah became widely known, the men and women of the 3rd Cavalry formed the nucleus of Task Force Rifles – a regimental combat team, 8,300 troopers strong.

In late April 2003, the team was tasked with securing the volatile Anbar region, a vast 140,000 square-kilometer area the size of Wyoming, which includes some of Iraq’s most forbidding terrain – and some of Iraq ’s most hardened and lethal insurgents. In all, the unit received more than 400 awards for individual acts of valor and 233 purple hearts for their actions in Iraq . But it was their distinguished work as a unit, in the most complex and dangerous region of Iraq, that made them so noteworthy.

Read the rest here.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Economic Warfare: Iranian Economic Crisis and the British Sailors

We're not going to attack Iran unless they actually put on trial or kill any Brit. Then, all bets are off.

In the mean time, I haven't had time to post on it previously, but Iran is about to implode Soviet Style. I'm not going to suggest a date, but the writing is on the wall if you know where to look and are looking at something other than British Tars and jollies, Iran's "sovereign waters" or their Nuclear ambitions.

Long before the current sanctions, the US was already pressuring banks and other financial insitutions to limit transactions with Iran starting back in Sept. 2006. Largely because Iran was acting like any rogue regime and not being forthcoming about where the money was going. Iran was also trying to cover its tracks, keeping the Iranian name off of many transactions.

In a Washington Post article from March 25, the details of this program were laid out, including comments from the Iranian Oil Minister about how damaging its been to their oil infrastructure (already old and decrepit) as well as the Minister of Trade discussing the difficulties importers are having in getting goods in to sell (Iran having all sorts of problems that require net importing of basic goods) because they now have to pay in advance to obtain these goods instead of relying on revolving lines of credit.

The recent UN sanctions simply formalize what the US has been trying to get done on an Ad Hoc basis.

The other signs are there, too. March 22 report from lebanon indicates that Hezbollahs South Lebanese constituents are unhappy because Hezbollah has yet to begin providing promised compensation for damage or building much needed infrastructure. Of course, the two week fight with Israel didn't help Hezbollah's wallet, but they usually have money coming in from their major terror supporter, Iran. No such thing is occuring right now.

The second, and most obvious, is the Iran/Russia dispute over the lack of payment for the monthly construction fee on the Bushehr nuclear facility. The Russians are saying it's one month, the Iranians said they were not behind, but suddenly were able to scrape together a half month's payment? The Russians pulled out all their people and said they'd be back when they got "all" the money.

The third tell are the recent, continuous teacher protests for almost two months, every week. The Iranian teachers union has been protesting the lack of payment of their salaries, the low salaries (compared to the rest of the government) and the generally bad facilities.

What really killed them was the precipitous drop in oil prices (from $72 to $58) last November right after many banks stopped giving them "credit". This was because short term, high risk oil future traders divested themselves of a lot of future shares. Winter weather projections did not sustain the need for high reserves (and, since they were all American traders, may have had a whisper in their ear).

Even though oil has risen back to $62/bbl, the entire loss to Iran is about $13 billion and counting. Not much to us, but for Iran, that's 10% of their entire yearly revenue of 143 billion. When their yearly "official" budget is $168 billion (2005), not including extraneous support to Hezbollah, Iraq Shiites and other terrorists, and annual revenue is 143 billion, they are about 25 billion short on a good year (previous years may have been more or less underfunded).

Since Iran is based on an Islamic economic structure, where they can neither invest in interest baring bank products, nor except loans with interest attached, getting the difference to make up this shortage leaves little choices. In an Islamic economy, they get around this somewhat by paying or accepting "management" fees or "rent" on loans.

At least half of the reason for the original Islamic Revolution in Iran was based on economic reforms making it more "Islamic" and thus more "equal and just". During the time of the Shah, there were extreme differences between the highest and lowest classes and with the strain from the Shah's forced "westernization and industrialization", it simply exacerbated the situation as the poor congregated it even greater communities in the cities seeking low paying manufacturing or oil industry jobs.

Like most "revolutions", it is not solely (or ever) about ideology so much as it is about finance. Thus, the Iranian Mullahs are adamant about complying with the Islamic model. If they don't, the entire cornerstone of the revolution ceases to exist and so do they.

In that case, the only way for the Iranians to meet their obligations as well as maintain their Islamic financial system is to take advances on their oil revenue from the oil companies. Some experts believe that Iran has already taken up to 10 years of revenue in advance.

Oil production has plateaued and may begin falling due to the inability or lack of desire in investing in this infrastructure. Previously complicated by US laws that penalized companies for investing more than 20mil in Iranian business, fortified with US actions in September and new sanctions on March 24, the ability to maintain Iran's oil economy is becoming impossible. Iran now produces 3.5 mil/day. At the height of the Shah's reign, it produced over 6.6 mil/bbl/day Even with a slow increase the price of oil, Iran will be hard pressed to recover because 50% of its revenues are directly related to oil and natural gas and 70% comes from exports.

If you can't pump out enough, if sanctions keep investments from coming in, if you have to pay for things "in advance", if you continue to take advances on future oil revenues that you probably cannot afford to pay back and your economic system prevents you from making investments or making loans that could cover your expenditures, you are in bad financial shape.

Other issues that compound the situation and lend credence to Irans current financial crisis are the 11% "official" unemployment rate ("official" because most economists believe it is understated and closer to 16%) and the 16% quarterly inflation (again "official" because some experts place inflation at 20-21%). This inflation offsets most gains from the increase in oil prices. For any other country, that's a depression.

Add to that 44% of the population is employed in the "service sector", including government, military, education, health, hotels, airport, police, etc, that are all run and operated by the government or its agents (the Iran Revolutionary Guards Corps operate the air port and various other service sectors under contract). The IRGC also manages most of the construction business in Iran, limiting foreign investment and distribution of income among the populace. Another 30% of the population is also employed in the oil and natural gas sectors, largely owned and operated by the Iranian government. Banking is also controlled by the Iranian government.

That leaves approximately 10% of the population that owns and operates private businesses. Most of these are small "mom and pop" businesses such as bakeries, tailors, bookshops, etc. Very little manufacturing or other industries can flourish in Iran. In fact, Iran is a net importer of just about every kind of everyday goods from agricultural items, food stuffs, basic machines (TVs, washers, driers, even cooking utensils, cooking oil and pans), hygiene, textiles and so on.

It's a recipe for disaster and it is quickly looming for the Iranian government and economy.

In the March 25 WP article, a US treasury official was quoted saying that they had no idea the Iranian economic condition was so bad. Clearly, they weren't looking very hard.

Many editorials and blogs have been attacking the UN sanctions as "toothless", but that is far from reality when you take into account the Iranian economy. Excluding them from regular banking practices and available credit places them in a very bad situation.

In fact, while everyone is distracted with the question of whether the British Sailors and Marines were taken due to the sanctions and its effects on the Iranians nuclear ambitions, the real issue is the effect on their economy.

Very likely the Iranians are looking to extract some concessions from England to let some of the pressure off of their financial situation. Especially, because the British bank HSBC is one of Irans major banking partners and "lenders". It's the same tactics the Iranians tried in June 2004 when they took 8 Brits hostage and released them after 3 days of negotiations directly after the Brits have drafted the first "rebuke" to Iran from the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency).

The Iranians are playing a very high-stakes game. Aside from this act of war (considering it is the second time they have done it), or at least a revision of the Barbary Pirates holding British sailors for ransom, they have bit off more than they can chew politically and economically.

The Iranians are trying everything to reverse their economic spiral. Ahmadinejad recently visited Hugo Chavez in hopes of making a trade agreement with Venezuela as well as looking for an ally in OPEC. Venezuela currently chairs OPEC. The Iranians were hoping to get an emergency meeting with OPEC to reduce oil production among OPEC nations in order to further inflate the price of oil and help Iran out of its financial crisis.

This is the other reason that Iran has been trying to get a toe hold in Iraq. It desperately needs economic partners and OPEC partners to offset the Saudi/Gulf Arab influence. Finally, the Iraq alliance would cement an "arch of influence" from Hezbollah in South Lebanon, Syria, Iraq to Iran, isolating US allies in the south.

Unfortunately, the Saudis and Other Gulf Arab nations aren't interested in saving Iran since they see them as THE major destabilizer in the region now that Saddam is gone.

That means that Iran is in a hole with very few (if any) friends.

In fact, the Saudis and Egyptians are helping it along by even their mild or unbelievable threats of meeting Shia aggresion with their military or financially supporting Iraqi Sunnis. The Iranians responded by first financing more Shiite weapons and militias in Iraq to try to solidify control.

The final indicator of the Iranian economic crisis is reflected in the disappearance of al Sadr from Iraq, the Mahdi army from the streets and the uptick in inter-sectarian violence in Basra in South Iraq where SCIRI and DAWA are once again fighting for control of the region now that their benefactor's (Iran's) money is starting to slow down.

Just another sign of Iran's current cash crunch.

War is most likely not necessary. Even if Iran wins some concessions from England, even if oil prices continue to rise due to the current crisis, none of it will save their economy and none of it will save the Mullahs.

On the other hand, it is hard to know what the Mad Mullahs will do when backed in the corner and going down for the count. Still, they'd have to be really "mad" to risk open warfare.

One must wonder why the US congress is willing to leave Iraq, allow Iranian dominated Shia political parties to gain unchecked control, provide Iran with an economic and political ally when Iran is just this side of a Soviet Style Implosion?

Wall Street Journal: French Total and the Bribed Iranians

Other related posts:
Economic Warfare: Axis of Evil
Russia-Iran Matrix
Iranian Kursk (money and parts for military equipment maintenance lacking)China-Iran Matrix
Economic Warfare: Send them Levis
Iranian Dissidents use Nuclear Crisis to press for freedoms
Freedom is the Fire

Cross referenced at the Castle

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Things to Read

On scene in Baquba:

The helicopters barely touched the ground at the edge of Qubah long enough for 241 soldiers to leap out and begin moving into the town to go house to house in search of insurgents as artillery fire shattered trees in the surrounding palm groves. At the same time, a convoy of 19 Humvees, two Bradley tanks and several other vehicles rumbled toward Qubah from the opposite end. Gunfights broke out as soon as U.S. troops from the air assault reached Qubah's ruddy streets, with insurgents letting machine guns loose from several buildings. One U.S. soldier took a burst of fire in the chest at virtually point-blank range that knocked him on his back. But his body armor saved him from serious injury, and a moment later he was up after emptying his own weapon into the gunmen while on his back.

Hooah! Get some!

Monday, March 26, 2007

Discussed Before: Algerian Insurgency v. Iraq

This is a great piece explaining exactly where Petraeus got his ideas (aside from T.E. Lawrence), how it works and how, regardless of how well it works, you still lose at home when you are too slow to figure it out.

Indeed, the 1957 battle for Algiers marked a crucial turning point in the fight against the FLN. By 1959, Galula’s principles had been extended across Algeria. Some 600 “specialized administrative sections” were set up, each headed by army officers to oversee civil as well as military affairs. The new structure finally allowed the French army to use effectively its superior numbers (including 150,000 loyal native troops, more than a third of the total) and conventional military hardware. Helping to put the guerrillas on the defensive were such tactics as the division of troops into “static” and “mobile” units to deal with terrorist outbreaks; the use of helicopters for counterinsurgency operations; and construction of a 200-mile, eight-foot-high electric fence (the so-called Morice Line), which shut down the FLN’s sources of support from neighboring Tunisia. By January 1960, the war that many had considered lost three years earlier was virtually won.

Except at home. Do read the rest.

Our Allies: British Marines Held for Third Day

Iran continues to ratchet up its acts of war in attempts to negotiate their way of out the UN Sanctions or possibly the capture of many al Qods operatives in Iraq (then there was the "defection" of a high ranking al Qods commander recently in Turkey).

All of these things point to high stakes games (though, it should not be unfamiliar to those of us who remember the Air Force crew who were held by the Chinese a few years ago).

Most see it as a "negotiating" tactic. However, these acts seem very aggressive considering the current situation.

Pajamas Media has a run down of the coverage. One blog reminded readers that the Russians had left the al Bushehr Nuclear Facility recently. Allegedly over lack of payment by the Iranians, but this poster suggested that Russia may feel the situation is far too tense to have their personnel inside Iran.

In fact, another report indicates that the Iranians had planned the kidnappings almost a week in advance.

All this while the Democrats have promised not to authorize action against Iran with Kucinich threatening "impeachment" procedures if the President acts without the consent of congress.

I don't think it is inappropriate to suggest, at this time, that these comments have, in fact, emboldened Iran to acts of war instead of de-escalating the situation.

Caption This: I Will Squeeze Your Head

If You Are Reading This...

A year after Fort Sumter, the philosopher John Stuart Mill contributed a piece to Harper's Magazine entitled "The Contest in America." Army Maj. David Taylor, who was killed in action on Oct. 22, 2006, always carried a quotation from the essay with him; it was found in his effects after he died. Mill's argument: some things are worth dying for. "War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things," Mill wrote. "A man who has nothing which he is willing to fight for ... is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself."

What emerges from the following pages is the sense that the fallen are better men, and women. "We are really fine so long as we have each other over here," Ballard wrote home, and he meant it. Nations go to war over ideas and politics, but minds can change and politics may shift. By their very nature, matters of state are fluid and inconstant. What is constant in war is the humanity of the warrior, and the pain of those left behind, who reach for hands they can no longer touch and listen for voices they can no longer hear, except in the words you are about to read.

From Newsweek, If You Are Reading This...

Audio/Video here.

Email from Major Mike Mundell:

It's busy. We had a midnite and later mission that I cant talk about last nite and I am always doing something. I have to admit, I LIKE this... not as if I were at home with my family, but this is the most intense, most REAL thing I have ever done in my life. The Jundees (IA privates) look to us as if we were heroes come to save them and most of the officers are so pathetically grateful for anything we do to help (except MY counterpart, who is more interested in how many wives I have than learning tactics). They really want to do right and I think this year will be worth all of the pain it is causing me to be away from all of you.

I miss all of you. And no, Mark, Joe and all the rest of you perverts, I did NOT pee my pants under fire. Not yet, anyway.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

We Who Are About To Die, Salute You!

Grey Eagle reports at the Milblogs, the likely outcome of the recent House Bill. As already noted, the President will veto this bill, effectively breaking the military bank. The Democrats knew exactly what they were doing. They have delivered their base with an "end to the war", while keeping the center by "supporting the troops" with funds. All of the angst over the "pork" is political strategizing to take advantage of the Democrats one weakness: their other campaign promises to cut "corruption" and be "fiscally conservative", managing and decreasing the national debt.

Of course, no one that follows the fiscal realities of the state could take such promises seriously since buying and trading on debt of the US or any other state is the highest stakes of investment. The US simply represents "blue chip" stock. Thus, there is no real incentive to decrease debt, though, to manage it to inflation at a similar rate as fiscal growth maintains a steady source of income from investment in bonds, treasury bills, etc, while not placing the US in jeopardy. Though, it is a precarious business and requires much grit.

Thus, the Democrats promises of "fiscal conservation" are barely lip service, along with the pretense at managing corruption in congress. Eliminating corruption should be unnecessary, yet, they know their own kind and know that they are all in it for the power and money. What they give to the citizens are the crumbs. To believe otherwise is to believe in faeries and elves.

Yet, somewhere between the things they want and the things they do, the nation continues on like the "great ship" that it is often referred to.

The true purpose of the bill is four fold:

1) Expecting the president to veto the bill, it will place the blame for "defunding" the forces on the President's doorstep. Particularly as the wrangling will continue over funds until someone is willing to compromise.

2) It will effectively slow down or stop all together the "surge" that nearly all of congress was opposed to. Petreaus will be forced to manage with the forces that he has in place. The entire security plan will fall totally on Petraeus's ability to bring up forces already in theater, moving them from support rolls into actual combat. Reserves that almost always exist, though rarely discussed. Further, it will require many more Iraqi troops to leave other areas. Petraeus as a diplomat will be the question. He may well have to convince the Kurds that they have a stake in the maintenance of a unified Iraq so that they will be willing to send additional troops. Victory, in fact, will ride on the next few months.

While the Democrats insist that the time tables and "benchmarks" are "incentives" for the Iraqis, in truth, they are whips upon our forces who, having no choice but to continue the mission as ordered, will break themselves, probably incurring much higher casualties. Their goal has always been "the mission", not retreat.

3) Depending on the length of time it takes to parse out the appropriations, the forces will also be forced to decrease their over all patrols and agressive actions in Iraq. They will slowly be constrained to force patrols within the immediate area of their bases, if not eventually confined to base except for small forces with specific tasks or missions. As the hope of the Democrats, to "engage" al Qaida only. Though, this is but a ruse as well since al Qaida in Iraq does not wear a uniform or badge, blends with the populace as well as with other insurgent groups. Which means, regardless of the posturing by the Democrats about fighting the "true" terrorists, there will be very little action against al Qaida. They will be allowed to flourish.

Further, inability to project force within the surrounding areas will leave our Forward Operating Bases vulnerable to attacks. Whether that is increased mortaring or actually concentrated forces will depend on the area the FOBs are in. Many will be forced to close an bring troops back into larger bases for protection. Again, undermining the Democrats political "strong on terrorism" ruse as the most vulnerable bases will be in the al Anbar province where most of the al Qaida in Iraq and various linked "jihad" groups are active and base from. However, it will be little noted or covered as such an issue since the Democrats and the media will paint this as an effect of the President's veto.

4) Finally, as our forces are forced to retreat into their bases for lack of reserves, arms, ammunition and number of viable vehicles (the rest needing repaired) and the security plan actually fails, whether or not the time table for withdrawal actually survives the next round of political wrangling, will be moot. In fact, the political situation in Iraq, along with the ungovernable violence that will ensue, will force our withdrawal as we will be unable to defend or influence the onslaught and commanders will, by their secondary objective, be forced to make decisions that protect our forces. Those decisions will be to withdraw forces to secure locations, most likely outside of Iraq or home.

For all the posturing about supporting the troops, these acts will lead to more, not less, American and coalition casualties. They will simply appear in clusters around or inside bases, as opposed to one to three a day outside on patrols. This is a sacrifice the Democrats are willing to make, along with our position as a strong nation with a near invincible army.

One may wonder why the Democrats would place our forces and the country in such a position. Many pundits have commented on the various advantageous the Democrats seek. They feel confident based on certain core beliefs, not simply because the Amercian body politic is unenamored with the war in Iraq, but because they genuinely feel that Iraq was not, is not and will not be a security issue for the United States. They are also working from the position that they have held from the beginning of the "War on Terror", that terrorists (in fact, Wahabi, Salafist Imperialists) do not require full on military action, regardless of state sponsors or concentrated areas, but require "surgical" removal, either through small special forces or through covert operations to remove certain leadership and financial elements. Either through covert killing, arrests (make no mistake, the capture and removal of terrorist linked individuals to "CIA" covert prisons or extra-judicious "rendition" was a Democrat creation and they will continue to use it, regardless of political outcry from allies) or through political and financial manouvers they hope will sway nations or others from supporting or financing such actors.

In fact, tribute to be paid to the new "Barbary Pirates".

Secondly, they view the outcome of Iraq as a "win/win" situation upon withdrawal regardless of whether it is politically stabilized or a genocidal civil war ensues with Iran as a major backer of the most likely to win: the Shia majority. This is exactly why the Democrats have been insisting on opening direct talks with Iran. The Democrats are anticipating their continued presence in congress as a majority as well as the probability of getting a Democrat in the White House. This is why Kerry was speaking to the Iranian representative at the Davos conference, among other issues involving attacks on our forces. Promises of talks with the Iranians may have lead them to insist on Sadr's withdrawal from Iraq and a stand down of his forces as their attacks on US forces using Iranian arms and money were escalating to potential confrontation.

The Iranians have nothing to fear from this action as they are betting on the failure of the security plan and the withdrawal of US forces as well. They have plenty of other political allies in Iraq and probably feel that Sadr could easily return as the "triumphant" head of a new force to "protect" the Shia in Iraq and reconstitute his power, ably pointing out the failure of US forces to do so. In fact, Iranian backed politicos have done this several times. This is why such organizations as DAWA and SCIRI were able to spin up so quickly and gain massive support within their respective regions for the last two votes. The leaders were in Iran and returned with money and guns, securing control of major government and financial institutions as well as businesses. A tested and successful practice of Hezbollah and other Iranian backed organizations through out the Middle East.

In terms of al Qaida in Iraq, there can be no mistaking the expected outcome post US withdrawal. The Democrats are expecting that the Iraqi security forces will be "let lose" along with the militias, to root out and destroy Al Qaida and any other jihadist or insurgent groups with extreme prejudice. The fact that this will include the killing of a large number of Iraqis (Sunni) as well as the probable refugee crisis, barely causes congress to blink. We are talking about the same group of people (almost exactly the same congressional leaders) that stood by and watched 1 million Rawandans be massacred. Many of these same people were involved in political activism that resulted in the withdrawal of US forces and the deaths of millions of Vietnamese, Cambodians and Loasians. Then there is Darfur.

Third, through these auspices, the Democrats are willing to bet on the increased power and rise of Shia Islamists to counter the Sunni Islamists. In effect, causing the Sunni and Shia to turn and face each other as the "closer" enemy. Something that Zawahiri and Osama bin Laden have routinely railed about in their caustic analysis of Muslim behavior in the last century. The Democrats are willing to accept a potential nuclear Iran and the rise of nuclear states in the ME such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

All good, wholesome detente politics, straight from the Cold War manual.

The Democrats are hoping to use Egypt and Saudi Arabia as military counters, but are also looking for financial leverage with Iran. Iran's economy is based on oil, gas and minerals. It has limited industrial capabilities. It's export revenues are dominated by 70% oil receipts. At the same time, over 70% of its population is on some sort of government stipend. The Democrats are looking into the future where they expect something similar to the "Ford in China" moment that began the normalization of relations and the future financial relationship that some feel has kept China from becoming a major military rival (until sometime in the near future where everyone is waiting breathlessly for China to become the number one economic force in the world, leading to their military dominance).

In fact, while Democrats and Republicans alike have been making noises about becoming less dependent on foreign oil, they are seeking ways to maintain relationships with oil exporting nations in the region while potentially opening (or re-opening depending on your view) another oil exporting front. Currently, US policy prohibits any direct financial contact with Iran, including prohibition on purchasing Iranian oil, leaving it largely to the Chinese and Europeans with additional financial ties with Russia. The Democrats are expecting that the Iranian rise will keep the other Middle East regimes dependent on our financial and military backing maintaining favorable leverage for trade and oil prices.

Although, the rise of Iran as a power in the region and as an important oil exporter with increased influence, if not control of OPEC, we should expect the price of oil to continue to rise at unprecedented rates as Iran continues to exploit it for financial gain. The Iranian people who want real democracy? They will have to wait.

As for Iraq, it will a powerless pawn in the region unless it can gain control of the corruption and sectarian strife long enough to develop its real economic power in oil.

Third, the Democrats hope to have an immediate gain. Whether a withdrawal occurs or, on the long shot, Petraeus's strategy works, going into the 2008 presidential race framed by a peaceful Iraq and/or US withdrawal, the Democrats will claim that their efforts brought an end to the war or, at least, US involvement in Iraq. There is the very large possibility that Iraq will simply disintegrate into all out warfare with many regional actors financing one faction or the other. The Democrats will claim that the President's actions are the cause. In all ways, the Machiavillian manouvering and positioning would make the Medici's seem like kindergartners.

While all of this may seem somewhat logical and reasonable, there are immediate sacrifices. Not withstanding the probable slaughter and refugee issues as well as Iraqi independence being handed over to the Iranians, there can be no doubt that Al Qaida in Iraq and its compatriots will see these political actions, funding issues and effects on our military capability as reasons to increase their activities against our forces in order to maintain their appearance of victory over US forces. They will hope to hasten the US's departure so that the Iraqi government and its security forces are weak enough to allow them to consolidate their forces enough to stave off a major Shia offensive and maintain their hold in al Anbar. Certainly, a Shia or government offensive with major Sunni casualties would consolidate Al Qaida's popularity, not only in Iraq, but in the region with many Sunni as they will be seen as "defenders of the faithful".

Our military power as a negotiating chip will be largely mitigated. A positive in many minds who fear the apparent "militarization" of our foreign policy, our status as a super power and the tumult of a rapidly changing world.

We will hope that the last six years without a direct attack on our soil will continue, that our security measures are effective and we will return to treating terrorists as a police and intelligence issue wherein the deaths of our citizens, should it come, require only another manouver, another covert action, another day, month and year that al Qaida, Zawahiri and bin Laden will continue to exist while their myth grows and their followers in proportion.

Afghanistan? Oh, Afghanistan, that invisible, forgotten war. It will go the way of Iraq. Iraq war funding and Afghanistan war funding are the same appropriations bill. Afghanistan, where Teddy Kennedy announced it was a "quagmire" six weeks into the war and a few days prior to the fall of Kandahar. The Democrats did not want to be in Afghanistan either. They will work on accomodation with the Taliban next.

Those who died on 9/11, their families who lost so much and those who risked life and limb in Iraq and Afghanistanwill not have justice, will not be revenged and will not have the final acknowledgement that their sacrifice meant the destruction of a threat against their families and the future generations of the US, but will be simple stepping stones on the return path to detente politics. Nothing more, nothing less. Sacrificed for the presidential race in 2008. An ignoble end for such honored citizens.

The citizens of Iraq who have risked much more than the US and suffered a hundred times more painful death and destruction will have to hope for peace and watch many more die before they have it. Our casualties will continue as a "rear guard" action ensues. In the words of Senator Kerry over three decades ago, "How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?"

Some would say, "ask General Pelosi."

The soldiers' reply, "We who are about to die, salute you!"

Cross referenced at the Castle

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Love/Hate Relationship With War (Rated: Mature)

I found this over at Blonde Sagacity: I Miss Iraq. I Miss My Gun. I Miss My War.

I've been home from Iraq for more than a year, long enough for my time there to become a memory best forgotten for those who worried every day that I was gone. I could see their relief when I returned. Life could continue, with futures not so uncertain. But in quiet moments, their relief brought me guilt. Maybe they assume I was as overjoyed to be home as they were to have me home. Maybe they assume if I could do it over, I never would have gone. And maybe I wouldn't have. But I miss Iraq. I miss the war. I miss war. And I have a very hard time understanding why.

I'm glad to be home, to have put away my uniforms, to wake up next to my wife each morning. I worry about my friends who are in Iraq now, and I wish they weren't. Often I hated being there, when the frustrations and lack of control over my life were complete and mind-bending. I questioned my role in the occupation and whether good could come of it. I wondered if it was worth dying or killing for. The suffering and ugliness I saw disgusted me. But war twists and shifts the landmarks by which we navigate our lives, casting light on darkened areas that for many people remain forever unexplored. And once those darkened spaces are lit, they become part of us. At a party several years ago, long before the Army, I listened to a friend who had served several years in the Marines tell a woman that if she carried a pistol for a day, just tucked in her waistband and out of sight, she would feel different. She would see the world differently, for better or worse. Guns empower. She disagreed and he shrugged. No use arguing the point; he was just offering a little piece of truth. He was right, of course. And that's just the beginning.

Which got me thinking as I read it about my own thoughts on the war and how often I think about it. How much it consumes me even when I try to do "other things". I wrote a comment at Ala's:

You know, about "I miss war", it was really strange but I almost couldn't read it at the same time I HAD to read it.

Kind of like how he misses war. It's crazy like that. I actually feel like I am just on the edge of that "junkie" feeling because I have to spend hours looking at the war and trying to analyze where we are and what is going on. even to the point of sleep deprevation sometimes.

I think I need a psychiatrist.

On the other hand, I know I am looking for that "tipping point" that says "its all over but the shouting". I don't know if I'll actually recognize it, but I can't seem to stop looking for it, even when I tell myself that could be years away.

A part of this is 9/11. I know that people are right about the effects of the images. I haven't looked since the last anniversary, even then I was more looking at people's stories, not the images. because it keeps cutting the wound over and over. Still, I feel like that isn't over until everything else is over. I think that is how people feel when their loved one dies from violent crime and, even when they bury them, there is no "closure". Even when they catch the bad guy, there is no "closure", just that big empty hole that will need something else to fill it up once this alleged culturaly denoted "closure" occurs because you have spent so much time being angry and searching for that closure, you have nothing else.

I wasn't there. I just watched it on my TV and it is still a big empty hole, not just in the ground, but in my mind and in my soul.

And it is worse because I think I should be doing something. Me. I am supposed to do something about it and I am not, or not enough or can't do what I think I should be doing.

Somedays, I wish the war would just fade away to nothing and we would all go back to our "normal" lives. LIke that "9/10" world everyone talks about. In the 9/10 world, I thought I knew where I was, who I was and where I was going. The 9/11 world is much more confusing and angry. I am lost somedays and depressed because it doesn't appear to be clearing. Where I thought I wanted to "go" with my life no longer holds the same appeal. I think I should be doing something else, but I don't know what.

Other days, I am so angry, I wish I could fly to where ever bin Laden or Zawahiri or any of those other assholes were and shoot them dead. Probably stomp and kick their dead and dying bodies. then I would toss them from a helicopter into the center of the biggest center of Salafist followers I could find so they would know my anger and how I feel about them.

Does that sound terrible?

Even wanting that, then I sit back and stew knowing that I could kill bin Laden and Zawahiri and it would still not be over. I know that their ideology will go on and on until we either attrit it to zero in a very long war (G_d, how did people live with the threat of Nukes from the USSR for so long or with the uncertainty of WWII?) or, in a fit of sincere madness, we just go Nagasaki on the entire region.

Still, I think, however it ends, when it ends, if I am still alive, I will have that empty place. I hate them. I hate this fucking war and I love it all the same because I want it to give me what I don't think I will ever get: closure.

And now I consider deleting this message in a purely open thread because it is too raw, maybe even crazy. But, like this guy in "I miss my war", I don't think I'm alone. At least, I hope not because, if I am, I am lost.

So, it stays.

I think it came on me, not just from reading that story, though it made me think about my own view of the war (not rather it is right or wrong or whether we are winning or losing, but how I react to it on a personal level and how it has changed me), but because every day, not only do I hear about this war, it's good and bad, it's ups and down like Schindler's List, but because I feel constantly assailed by hypocritic, condescending, smarmy mouth assholes who think that the only way you can support the war is to be some chest pounding, reich-wing, warmongering, viking that purely loves to pillage and rape. Because, of course, if you do not believe as they do, if you do not denounce this war on the some simplistic idealism of a clear "conscience", you are no more complicated or intelligent than a snail.

You're supposed to pretend nothing happened. You're supposed to pretend it doesn't matter. You're supposed to pretend that tomorrow will be a better day where no Wahabi, Salafist asshole wants to kill you, yours and those around you.

I'd like to say that I don't "pretend" to anything, but that is a lie, because I wrote something more on this post and then I took it down because I belong to an organization that I support through a related website and I would not have my raw thoughts on Republicans, Democrats or the great disinterested masses that only want the world to be quiet again, to reflect upon the organization or the people that we support. So I will pretend that I am not angry and that I will quietly go about what I have been doing, supporting our men and women in uniform until they all come home, however that goes.

But, deep down, I want to scream obscenities and kick people's asses.

Today, al Qaida announced impending victory in Iraq.

Today, Nancy Pelosi learned what it was like to be hated by everyone.

Today, thousands of Iraqis and Afghans will be cared for and protected by our men and women.

Today, the Taliban related al Qaida leader, Dadullah, announced that there will be no negotiating with the United States.

Today, the Democrats supplant the Republicans at the trough and continue to swill at the expense of our men and women.

Today, the war goes on.

The President's Fading Voice

The president appeared to be pleading, not leading. Where are the convictions of conscience, the soaring rhetoric, the broad vision and the dire warnings of failure? Did these go out the door with the departure of Michael Gerson, his best speechwriter?

The president can be persuasive in the content of his speeches and eloquent in his delivery. We saw a different man after 9/11 than we saw before, or see now. The loss of eloquence has given his political opponents new opportunities, not only to make his life miserable, but also to encourage the enemy in their perception of a divided nation. His weekly radio addresses are lifeless and delivered in a monotonous cadence, as if he wishes he were someplace else.

I imagine that he does. Wish he was some place else. War tends to do that after years and year.

Winston Churchill is dead.

Hanson on the "300"

Finally, some have suggested that "300" is juvenile in its black-and-white depiction - and glorification - of free Greeks versus imperious Persians. The film has actually been banned in Iran as hurtful American propaganda, as the theocracy suddenly is reclaiming its "infidel" ancient past.

But that good/bad contrast comes not from the director or Frank Miller, but is based on accounts from the Greeks themselves, who saw their own society as antithetical to the monarchy of imperial Persia.

Thomas Sowell Wrote This and I Agree

Random Thoughts

"Women's Liberation" and the "sexual revolution" have not liberated women. They have liberated the sort of man who is a "love and leave 'em" kind of guy, who lets the woman deal with the consequences, including pregnancy.

A man wrote this and I agree. It's why I once wrote about "Feminist Against Abortion", number three on the "hit list" of my stats and #4 on Google. Real "liberation" is not about whether you can suddenly run wild all over the place. It's about having opportunities and reponsibilities that you take as your personal responsibility, not because someone told you, you should or shouldn't, but because you make that personal choice and take responsibility and accountability for all parts, good and bad.

Because we women still haven't figured that out. A t least 30% of the entire adult female population by stats regarding divorces, single parent pregnancies and the outrageous climb of STDs and AIDS among women. If women actually had to see the stats up close and personal, say, on a news station every night for two weeks, my bet would be that many, many men would suddenly be going home from the night club cold and lonely, or long term "boyfriends" that don't commit would suddenly be told to "buy or fly" and divorces would either drop out or fly sky high as women decided it was just too risky to hang out with some guy that they can't trust.

I think, in the long run, divorces would go down because, once the "free love" was cut off, men would still be trying to get it and they would have to start paying the traditional way: a ring, marriage vows and "till death do we part".

- May no soldier go unloved

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Terrorists Use Kidnapped Children In Homicide Car Bombing and A Lesson From Fly Over Country

Two reports came up almost simultaneously that seem unrelated, but should be the next expectation in the terrorists' escalation of heinous war crimes.

Via Mudville Gazette, Iraq Slogger points out whatappears to be a positive story about Sunni Tribesmen fighting off would be kidnappers of a village child.

Armed tribesmen in the Eastern Husayba village (5 km east of Ramadi) in the Anbar Governorate managed to drive out a local insurgent group associated with the Al-Qaeda in Iraq organization from their village, while residents discovered a mass grave of 16 citizens killed by militants in the area, Sot Al-Iraq reported. The campaign started Friday after gunmen abducted a local boy named Yassir, prompting his mother to go out on the street screaming and urging the villagers to carry arms and find her only son. Dozens of men from the area armed with pistols, rifles and machine guns grouped and started searching the palm orchards surrounding their village while shouting tribal battle cries. They located and captured the insurgent cell of 11 men before sunset and released the kidnapped boy. The tribesmen reportedly handed over their prisoners to the Ramadi Police Directorate

The report was dated 03/18/07.

AFP reports that two children were used as cover in a Homicide car bombing.

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Insurgents in Iraq detonated an explosives-rigged vehicle with two children in the back seat after US soldiers let it through a Baghdad checkpoint over the weekend, a senior US military official said Tuesday.

The vehicle was stopped at the checkpoint but was allowed through when soldiers saw the children in the back, said Major General Michael Barbero of the Pentagon's Joint Staff.

"Children in the back seat lowered suspicion. We let it move through. They parked the vehicle, and the adults ran out and detonated it with the children in the back," Barbero said.

We shouldn't be surprised. These are the same people that orchestrated the major homicide car bombing that killed over 37 children and wounded another 107 in 2004.

Barbero said the insurgents were "changing tactics", but the truth is, its a re-hashed makeover of the usual. For all the wailing and nashing of teeth regarding possible deaths of civilians caused by American forces (complaints of that have gone down considerably and in comparison to the terrorist actions), the terrorists continue to show a blatant disregard for innocent life, particularly the most innocent of all.

In another recent article highlighting wounded American soldiers, a terrorist sniper targeted and killed a young boy of 10 in order to take out the captain speaking to him:

For Capt. Edward Arntson, the worst wounds might be deeper than flesh. They’ve left some painful memories.

One began around noon on New Year’s Eve, while Arntson was leading a patrol east of Fallujah as commander of Able Company (3rd Batallion, 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment). He’d just stopped to talk to a young boy and his family about what they’d seen in the area.

"His house was right near one of my platoon’s observation posts," recalled Arntson, 26, who’d previously fought in Afghanistan with other soldiers from Fort Richardson.

"And right at the tail end of the conversation with the boy and his mother, as I turned to leave, he was shot through the chest — and the bullet passed through the boy and hit me in the arm."

Or the young boy who was shot in the face while his father went to provide refreshments for visiting "masked men" in the dead of night or the 4 year old boy who was tied to his father's leg and thrown into the river with his father's bullet ridden body to drown.

You may ask yourself, "Do they have no compassion?" Where is the concern for "innocents" in this strategy? Where is their humanity? The answer is: there is none.

The wailing of men and women over the broken remains of their children are but a line of dissonant harmony in their evil requiem. It is very likely that these children were kidnapped and, with the state of things in Iraq, they will have simply disappeared, never ransomed like the hundreds or thousands of children kidnapped and held to generate funds for the continuing insurgency; their fate unknown to their parents.

Yet, like the Chlorine Bomb and even our own 9/11 where passengers now know that a hijacked plane is very likely a certain death, such tactics may stir fear, but often instill resolution, determination and outright anger. They are losing strategies because people know the odds and they will play them. The odds for kidnapped children to be horribly killed rather than ransomed have gone up considerably. That is after the very likely existing death for all those whose families could not pay the ransom in the first place. Knowing such odds will likely increase the opposition to the insurgents, not win them "hearts and minds".

Those are but a few stories of the depravity of terrorists who blatantly tell us that they "love death more than you love life".

The last questions we should ask, considering the Beslan attacks and the deaths of children on the planes on 9/11, do you believe when we leave Iraq that such things will simply disappear? Do you think that such blatant disregard for human life, particularly the most innocent and vulnerable among us will not follow us here?

Personal Experience in Dealing with Packs of Wild Animals

Here in fly over country, my family once owned a farm where my grandfather raised herefords and my cousins ran sheep. It's a fact that coyotes, like any creature of nature, will kill the young or the weak from a herd of sheep. Generally, this is to feed the pack. If the pack of coyotes is successful in culling out the young and the weak for consumption, they will return again and again until they are run off or killed. When this happens, farmers will band together, sometimes posting a night shephard on the herd, setting traps or driving the herd into enlcosed pens or outbuildings in their attempts to keep the pack from destroying too much livestock.

However, when a pack of coyotes or wild dogs go on a killing spree and indiscriminately kill a number of the herd simply for the pleasure of killing, every farmer knows the danger to his own flock has tripled and financial ruin is around the corner. In these cases, the farmers and local ranchers will mount concentrated night patrols and hunting parties to hunt down and kill every last wild dog or coyote. It is commonly accepted that, once a wild dog or coyote has started killing indiscriminately, none can be spared because they will form a new pack and continue to kill.

In the movie, Silence of the Lambs, Hannible taunts Clarice with her memory of the lambs terrorized sounds as the coyotes attacked them. In real life, at the age of ten, I was on my grandfather's farm during "lambing season". It was a particularly warm spring and the pregnant ewes were allowed to "lamb" in the field. During colder springs or difficult times, they would be herded into the "lambing barn" to be protected from the elements or creatures.

This night, we were woken up by the sounds of the sheep baaing fearfully as they ran in herds towards the safety of the barn. Within in minutes, we were up and dressed trying to herd the ewes who were about to "drop" into the lambing barn while my grandfather, father, uncles and cousins from a nearby farm packed into 4x4 Blazers with rifles and shot guns. I still remember the coyotes calling to each other across the rolling hills and the terrified sheep baaing as the headlights flashed over the fields. Powerful spotlights picked out the coyotes as the men yelled to each other, calling out the position of the coyotes. Shots rang out as the coyotes were picked off and finally silenced.

We lost one ewe and three lambs that night before the coyotes were killed. If the coyotes hadn't been stopped, they would have simply torn through our flock without regard and with no natural compunction for consumption then moved on to the next flock and the next.

That should be our lesson with these packs of wild animals. Any who can deliberately target children for no other reason than to circumvent natural human reaction and cause the most destruction and death possible, will not reform, cannot be negotiated with and cannot be allowed to roam the countryside looking for the next and the next.

This simple understanding may actually be the reason why so many young men from rural areas volunteer, for all the media's continued representation of "young, rural rubes" joining the military for financial reasons or for "escape". They understand the nature of rabid animals and the only way to defend against them is to kill everyone of them or watch your flock die en masse.

Stupid Question Deserves A Stupid Answer

People are idiots. How old and stupid can the same question get? Pretty old and stupid if you are an anti-war, gossip mongering, pin-head. It's obvious Kittey Kelley has run out of good scandals about the royals and she couldn't throw the election with her "scoop" about alleged drug use by President Bush in his youth. So, she trots out the old, lefty question:

Why Aren't the Bush Twins in Baghdad?

With Harry of the Royals going off to war, it might seem like a legitimate question. She even brings up some interesting historical points about President Roosevelt's family and Bush I's service in WWII. The problem is, right in the middle of that, she's letting off some ugly screed, intimatine war profiteering and bringing up ye olde "didn't serve" ghost from the long dead grave of the elections. So the question becomes moot as do any "good" points she makes about "examples" to the rest of the populace.

The tone is so ignorant, one must be forgiven if the impression you get is that Ms. Kelley wouldn't mind seeing one of these young ladies on Jihad TV getting blown to bits, raped or having their heads sawed off to chants of "allahu akbar" (of course, the insuing rampage of our military forces going "Nagasaki" on the entire Middle East might be her real intent - maybe she's a warmongerer after all).

In light of her tone, my answer to Ms. Kelley's question is simply this:

As soon as you crawl out of the sewer and stop profiting off the anguish and pain of others.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Anti-War Protests: Countered

My feelings on the subject:

Enough said.

"300" Review: Jingoistic Goodness

Are you a fan of Japanese or Chinese martial arts films? Watch this movie.

Do you like the slow motion buttkicking in "Matrix"? Watch this movie.

Do you like your heroes to be straightforward and uncomplicated? Watch this movie.

Are you tired of the drugged out, down and out anti-hero who swims through all his own guilt trying to figure out the right thing to do, knowing all his choices are "bad", acting on his best instincts and walking away knowing that he did the "least bad thing" and still feeling like he slaughtered a church full of women and children? Watch this movie.

Do you like your "bad guys" to look like "bad guys", deformed and debouched by all their ugliness, greed and lechery? Watch this movie.

Do you like your issues, simplistic and defined in black and white? Watch this movie.

Are you tired of trying to delve through the morass of mystery on mystery on mystery wrapped up in the duality of man, his pradoxic yearning for peace while struggling with his inner beast? Watch this movie.

It may seem strange to say, but "Sands of Iwo Jima" was less "jingoistic" than this movie. But, for all its jingoism, I liked it. It got past all my "barriers". It was so over the top, straight in your face, "fight and die like men or hide in your hole and become a slave".

Now you know why all the reviewers hated it. It was not complicated. It was not artsy. It didn't make you "think" (or, maybe it did if you aren't used to that "straight in your face" idealism). It did state the position of the Spartans very clearly: we will not surrender; we will not become slaves; we will fight to the last man; you cannot buy me.

The dialogue said all the simplistic right phrases:

Freedom is not free (straight quote)
Come back with your shield or come back on it (Queen to Leonidas)

When the Persian emissary threatened them with arrows that would "blot out the sun", the reply?

Then we will fight in the shade.

But my favorite parts were probably the least mentioned among all the dialogue:

When Xerxes (overly stylized and appearing somewhat like an ancient version of RuPaul) talks to Leonidas about the huge army that he still has set to anhilate the Spartans and tells him that his parents, his wife and his sons will be his slaves, Leonidas laughs at the "best that you've got" as they had just slaughtered a large number of the "immortals" and says - "I might as well have marched our women up here."

Xerxes continues to elaborate on his status as a "god on earth", demanding that Leonidas kneel and have his life spared. Leonidas? "Sorry, I've been killing your men all day and have a severe cramp in my leg that prevents me from kneeling."

While Leonidas and his 300 fight, his queen is back at the "homefront" trying to get support to send more troops and support the fight against the Persians. She is trying to talk to the "senators" and get an audience so her "voice will be heard". She has to make some deals and talk behind closed doors because no one wants to hear. It's too uncomfortable. One senator tells her she must win the support of the senator leading the fight against sending Leonidas support (who actually wants to bring Leonidas down, is in cahoots with the enemy and is hoping to take his place once Xerxes has taken over). When she asks him what he wants, he tells her she "knows". She drops her dress. There is no complicating "almost" love scene. No tenderness of even a "love/hate" relationship. It is straight on rape as she endures in silence and he says, "This will not be over quickly. You will not enjoy this."

Afterwards, he intimates he will support her speaking in front of the council.

Of course, you know what happens. When she comes before the council, having just molested the queen, this cunning fellow (who is made up to look "cunning", no confusion as to his motives) denounces her as an adulteress who attempted to "bribe" him. He waves guards in ostensibly to arrest her for her "crime". She grabs one of the centurians swords, turns towards the traitorous senator and stabs him in the stomach, leaning in close, she whispers in his ear, "This will not be over quickly." Stabbing him again, "You will not enjoy this."

What can I say? I always like to see the bad guy get it in the end, particularly in the way they dished it out.

If you want this movie to represent your point of view on "freedom", "something worth dying for", "backstabbing, raping politicians", the "slackness" of an over-indulged populace and straight out "heroic", "duty", "honor", "integrity" (Leonidas would have made a good marine), you can find it here. Not necessarily because it was the intent of the producers, directors or actors, but because it was so straight forward and simplistic, it just speaks to the basic idealism of many. Those of us who were raised up on John Wayne movies recognize the tenor that had us watching them in the first place.

I could make all sorts of comparisons out of this movie. I'll try to refrain as much as possible. However, I think one of the comparisons that not even the critics who think its all a "bushie" movie in disguise did not hit on was the "media" as the "oracle".

The "oracle" is bought off to say what the cunning, anti-Leonidas senator and his Persian associate want them to say. It is blasphemy to go to war during the sacred festival and those that do will be breaking "Spartan law" since, when the oracle speaks, Spartans are to follow their directives.

The "oracle" is not worried about delivering the Spartans into the hands of the enemy because the oracle is wealthy from all the payments they have received in the past. Plus, the Persians guarantee that they will be richly rewarded for their assistance. They aren't worried because history and culture of Sparta have made them "indispensable", a part of the fabric of Spartan life. They do not imagine a time when Xerxes, god on earth, will not have need of them to keep the "masses" in line.

Oracles = Main Stream Media.

Cross referenced at the Castle

Our Allies in Afghanistan: British Royal Marine Commando

Found this at

Royal Blue J company on a Mission

Day 10

Rip, roar and havoc. Not a fight. A battle. Fire from the front. Fire from the flanks. Rockets and bullets scything through the air. Up to 30 Taleban in 12 different positions have opened up from close range before we are out of the vehicles. The rear door swings open and we pitch out from the warm womb of the Viking into sudden light, chattering machineguns, explosions and whipping lead: nought-to-ninety in a second on an adrenalin high. Hit the ground. Run. See an empty trench.

Dive into it. To our left one of the open-deck Land Rovers, a mobile machinegun platform is firing withering bursts at Talebs shooting from dunes beyond. Tug is to assault the position with his six Marines. They peel out of cover and take a long run leftwards.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Democrats Trot Out the Old/New Anti-War Vets

In an effort to combat the administration and pro-war factions insistence on listening to the commanders in the field while simultaneously trying not to appear anti-war to the point of being detrimental and derogatory towards the military (after polls showed that stupid comments from Dick Durbin, Kerry, et al regarding the military were damaging their support), the Democrat party has trotted out their newest members of congress, recent veterans of the Iraq war, to put a military face on their demand for retreat. All in hopes of looking like it has a strategic purpose and support from the military and isn't just as it is: a retreat.

It was the summer of 2002, when he was still a three-star admiral commanding the USS George Washington battle group, and his aircraft carrier was sent steaming toward Iraq without the armada from other nations that had aided it during the war in Afghanistan.

``When we took a left turn into the Persian Gulf, all the Australians and British, everyone stayed behind,'' said Sestak.

Sestak, 55, is one of five freshmen House Democrats with military experience who have emerged as party leaders in the congressional debate over President George W. Bush's Iraq strategy -- appearing with Speaker Nancy Pelosi (news, bio, voting record), speaking up in caucus meetings and advising more senior colleagues.

``Other members are looking upon Tim Walz (news, bio, voting record), Joe Sestak, Chris Carney, Phil Hare (news, bio, voting record) and me to play a leadership role,'' said Representative Patrick Murphy (news, bio, voting record) of Pennsylvania, who served in Iraq as a captain in the 82nd Airborne Division.

The Democrats are learning fast on their feet. They know that they cannot get the support of the American people by aligning themselves with the "looney left" of their party, at least not in public, however much that far left wing might have brought them to power as the "base". They want to "have their cake and eat it too" by satisfying their anti-war base with the final outcome while simultaneously maintaining the appearance of having a strategic plan based on American security.

In the upcoming presidential elections, being strong on defense is still going to be a key to getting elected. Being anti-war and strong on defense is a paradox by most reasoning and it saw the defeat of the Democrats in the last presidential election. They are hoping to circumvent that by putting a "military" face on their objection to and demand to withdraw from, the Iraq front in the war on terror.

It's a new spin of the old efforts. But, this time, instead of just having some veterans throw their medals over the fence, they worked hard to put anti-war veterans into congress to give the Democrat party "face". They are also hoping to get some respect back, riding on the coat tails of the respect and trust that Americans have for their military (rated above politicians and the media).

Even the representatives are using their "connections" as a "representation" of what the "soldiers in the field" think (something they learned from the Republicans).

Of the group, Murphy, 33, is the only one to have combat experience in Iraq, where he served from 2003 to 2004 in a brigade of 3,500 troops that sustained 19 casualties. Murphy returned to Iraq last month to visit soldiers from his unit. While having lunch with the paratroopers he once commanded, he said, they encouraged him to continue his advocacy in Congress.

`One of Our Own'

A sergeant in his former unit, Juan Santiago, ``said, `Sir, keep fighting,''' Murphy recalled. ```All the guys know that one of our own made it to Washington.''

The question regarding young Santiago may be whether he made that comment in regards to "bring us home" or as simply a pat on the back for having "one of our own" make it to congress.

Of course, Murphy doesn't quote anyone else in his unit. That will be up to the Republicans to do.

The Republicans, on the other hand, are relying heavily on the success of Gen. Petraeus to make their point. Unlike the Democrats, the Republicans were too busy focusing on maintaining their seats and not busy enough supporting "pro-war" veterans for vacating Republican or Democrat seats. The Republicans continue to flounder behind the new and improved "anti-war/pro-military" Democrat party and their new/old weapon: Veterans Against the War.

This time they are smart enough to keep the radicalized, conspiracy theorists out of the main light and leave it to "respectable" anti-war vets.

If the Republican party is relying on the success of Gen. Petraeus's plan to keep the Iraq war front open, they have effectively gone to the "hail Mary" pass. Not an effective strategy at all.

Cross referenced at the Castle

Information War: The Power of Propaganda

I found this while looking through the Yahoo AP slide show on Iraq. It was simply the US Army Logo with this caption next to it:

US Army logo. A US military officer sounded "pretty mad and upset" that a group of soldiers had taken suspected Iraqi insurgents alive during a raid in which they had been told to kill all military-aged males, a court was told Tuesday.(US Army)

AFP page here

What this appears like and why this may actually have been put up on the slide show are possibly two different things. I've tried not to accuse the media of being out right propagandists for the enemy. I have taken them to task several times on inappropriate or inaccurate reporting, particularly regarding purpose of certain actions in military prisons that are represented as some sort of deviance or part of the whole "torture" debate as compared to the existense of the same treatment and activities in civilian prisons. It doesn't mean that I believe there is a conscious effort by the media to undermine our efforts.

However, even stupidity can be fatal and this is definitely a "stupid". It may or may not be that the AP could not get into the trials of these young men and, therefore, had no pictures to tell the story. Instead, they put this little quote up there with an image of the US Army logo. What it looks like and reads like is a broad brush indictment of the US Army:

they had been told to kill all military-aged males

There are many questions to be answered, but my first question is, "If there are no pictures to go with this quote and there is a written, full length story regarding this trial, why is this little blurb cut out and pasted with the US Army logo in the slide show picture section?"

Yes, there are plenty of questions to be asked regarding the trial and orders given, but, since the trials are closed, it is difficult to get all of the information necessary to make a judgement.

That is neither here nor there in regards to this picture and quote. This is straight out either the stupidest media faux pas since the fake "Koran in the toilette" story and the fake pictures of Israeli attacks on Lebanon or it is straight out propaganda attack against the United States Army implying that it routinely or as a matter of policy orders all "military aged males" to be killed.

My question to the AP: Are you that stupid or are you the enemy's propaganda machine?

Cross referenced at the Castle

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

For Bill T: When Rockstars Fly Helicopters

American Internet Jihad

Operation Excelen III

Watch and know our guys are still doing the hard work attriting enemy forces and resources everyday.

What you didn't know about Tal Afar.

Fire fight in Tal Afar

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The Road to Walter Reed, Paved with Good Intentions - Part II

The Road to Walter Reed, Part I

During the 1990's, the problems facing Gulf War veterans had become a national issue. While no one has yet to medically identify the causality of the numerous illnesses suffered by these vets, it was still clear that the system had allowed the vets to be outprocessed from the military without proper identification and treatment of many illnesses that may have been managed to recovery if treated aggressively in the first few months or weeks of onset. Second, the survey of veterans' health returning from the Gulf was not begun until three years after their return and well after a good pattern and source could be identified clearly. That meant that the military medical corp would be hard pressed to identify the causality and recommend appropriate protections to the DoD. Finally, this had rapidly expanded the roles of disabled vets: those looking for treatment in VA centers and disability benefits.

Some of the issues that contributed to this problem were the rules and regulations that established points of separation from the military. In the case of the Reserve and National Guard components, those laws and regulations that activated the Reserve and Guard for emergent contingencies and then de-activated them again caused many to be seperated or returned to civilan life without appropriate oversight for potential medical issues (e.g. Gulf War Syndrome and other ailments). These points of separation and de-activation, strictly observed, had many servicemen and women stricken from the roles without consideration for other issues. This included medical issues as well as an appropriate transition period that provided for the continued care or time to transition back to civilian life (ie, obtaining a job, insurance, housing, etc).

In 1998, the National Defense Authorization Act (sections 501, 502, 513, and 522 among many) sought to address many of these problems by providing for voluntary extension by the service member. Most of these laws and regulations were set to become effective in the year 2000. These laws and regulations also strengthened the already existing ADME (Active Duty Medical Extension) program.

The ADME is designed to allow Reserve and Guard component servicemen and women to voluntarily extend their term of active duty while continuing to receive medical treatment until they are able to return to civilian life and work after demobilization. Those that do not volunteer for such an extension are REFRAD (removed from active duty) and, by not entering the voluntary program, have accepted responsibility for their own treatment and financial status. It would mean that the usual processes for de-activation or separation could be suspended in order to provide care, pay and benefits for the service men and women as well as their dependents.

In addition to these regulations, the 1998 NDAA also sets forth programs and incentives for attracting medical personnel, particularly doctors, dentists and nurses (section 517 and 534). According to the NDAA, the services were suffering a serious shortage. One of the improved incentives was to reduce the "pay back" scale for payment of education. Before 1998, the military required two years of service for every six months of education that was paid for by the government. The 1998 NDAA reduced this to 1 year per every six months paid. Further, nurses who graduated from civilian nursing programs were to be offered the Nurse Officer Candidate Accension Program. This would allow nurses to have their education paid for at schools that did not have Senior Reserve Officer Training Programs in place, in exchange for four years service.

These sections clearly indicate that another crisis was occuring at the same time the government was creating an additional burden on the Military Medical Corps.

Questions remain: now that the government has made good on its intentions to provide care and services for many more servicemen and women, how were they going to make good on it without the necessary human resources? You don't. The people you do have work longer and harder. The people needing to see those people wait longer and longer.

How do you build a system meant to maintain people longer than the original system intended complete with tracking of status, pay and benefits? You add paper and processes to an already onerous system, call it something else (Medical Retention Process), pretend everything is fine until a story breaks and congress calls you for a hearing, while men and women wait for pieces of paper and treatment in overcrowded facilities that were old, decrepit and never mentioned once in this NDAA or any succeeding NDAA or any other budgetary demands as a part of this entire process.

Just another pothole in the road to Walter Reed paved with good intentions.