~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ I O 93 93/93 I O ~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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Location: LaGrange, Kentucky, United States

The opinions and interests of a husband, analyst and Iraq war veteran.


Friday, December 31, 2004

"Pretty good year"

Radley Balko says, "No one reports a new subdivision going up. Everyone’s on the scene when a tornado takes one down."

So true.

Here's all the things that went right in 2004.

And let me add my wish for all of you to have a happy and safe New Year. If the article above is to be believed, 2005 has a lot of momentum behind it already.

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God bless the New York Post...

for putting things in perspective.
Secretary of State Colin Powell found himself in the position of having to remind the world that over the past four years the United States has provided more such aid than all other nations on the planet combined.

It is appalling that he had to mention this... But maybe people are looking for a sideshow to distract them from the sickening pictures and the keening cries of the untold numbers of mothers whose babies were swept away.
Isn't this what bloggers have been saying since Sunday?

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Thursday, December 30, 2004

America's "stingy," eh?

To those who think that this UN official's comments contributed to the current outpouring of american generosity toward tsunami relief efforts...

I don't even care if you're right or not. Amazon's donation drive just passed $5 million. I donated again just for kicks.

UPDATE: Friday morning puts us at $7.9 mil.

NEW YEAR'S EVE UPDATE:$10 million before midnight.

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Wednesday, December 29, 2004

C-SPAN for milbloggers!

Pentagon 24/7

This is good stuff, folks. And with high quality live streaming over the internet (requires Real Media Player, IE only, unfortunately. But still) who needs cable? I'm still convinced that eventually cable telivision and cable internet access will be one and the same, and that the plasma screen TV will double as the monitor in every wired home, leading to more arguments over the remote, of course.

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Taking the AP to task...

And it's about time their shameless tactics should be exposed in court. I've written numerous letters to the editors of the Associated Press protesting their grossly deceptive reporting practices and it seems that if emails won't cause them to reflect on their policies, perhaps a subpoena will.

UPDATE:More AP shenanigans here. This time trivializing the tsunami disaster!

(h/t: lgf)

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100,000 dead...

and I still can't wrap my brain around that concept. The island of Sumatra was actually moved 100 feet by the force of Sunday's earthquake. Jonah looked it up:

Sumatra - 182,859 square miles
California - 162,707 square miles

100 feet. Gods protect the rest.

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Amazon donations going on $2,000,000...

and rising with every page refresh. Try it. Go on.

And if you feel the urge, give a few bucks to the phenomenom. I did.

UPDATE:That didn't take long. By my crude estimates, the last quarter mil took about three hours. Who says America's stingy? Bah.

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Thursday, December 23, 2004

Why so much posting today?

asks a reader from Germany (Germany! My first international reader. I'm wearin' a HUGE happy hat right now.) Well, I'm buried under 9 inches of snow (might not sound like much to my fine German readership, but that's not the norm for Louisville, Kentucky) and I'm waiting for a neighbor to finish his walkway so that I might borrow his shovel.

Hey, I used to reside in Hawaii. Of course I don't own a shovel.

UPDATE:I believe I read a statistic in some reliable medical journal a ways back saying, "100% of all heart attacks are caused by heavy smokers shovelling snow." Should've remembered that. I'll just fall over now.

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Deacon at Powerline is "dazzled" at this insight. Frankly... so am I.
There never was a time when working-class Americans voted for liberals whose values they rejected but whose economic programmes enticed them. Before the federal judiciary nationalised issues like abortion, gay rights and censorship, beginning in the 1960s, these controversies were part of state and local politics, not national politics. Conservative Catholics in the midwest or southern populists could vote for social conservatism in state and local elections, while voting for New Deal economic policies at the federal level. Thanks to federalism, New Deal liberals like Roosevelt, Truman, Kennedy and Johnson took positions on the economy and foreign policy; they did not have to take stands on abortion or gay rights. The very success of liberals in nationalising these issues has worked against them in a country in which self-described liberals are a minority, outnumbered by self-described moderates and conservatives.

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Seems like a good start.

Judge Lifts Block on Arizona Immigrant Law

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Who's Your Daddy?

Via Drudge
Reuters: 'Who's Your Daddy?' TV show sparks fury

Deborah Capone, a single mother with a 5-year-old adopted daughter, is behind an e-mail campaign that has generated more than 5,000 messages to Fox in a week asking for a meeting and for the show to be axed.

"By turning adoption reunions into a game show, 'Who's Your Daddy?' takes an intensely personal and complex situation ... and transforms it into a voyeuristic display," Capone said.
Jerry Springer in a primetime slot? Finally... nonstop schlock from daytime TV all the way through through the wee hours of Elimidate.

Reality programming, in which ordinary people put themselves in embarrassing or emotionally charged situations, has dominated American television for the past three years, producing efforts such as "Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire", "Survivor", "My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiance" and "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy."
Um... okay. I confess to being as amused by reality TV as any other American. However I really don't know what to think when Reuters UK features outraged American prudes in an "Oddly Enough" article. ("I say, Hadley. Those yanks certainly do seem puritanical an awful lot of the time." "Quite so, Trevor.") I'd like to point out that Fox's OTHER "embarassing" reality show Nanny 911 is based on a British show. Enormously successful over there. Or so I'm told.

To all those in the UK who feel a need to laugh at America's viewing habits, I say, "I'll take a spot of milk in my tea, love. I'm settling in for a night of Junkyard Wars ."

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I had no idea lawyers read science fiction...

until I started reading blogs. I'm not joking.

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! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !

It has not escaped my notice that my last two posts make extensive, if not improper use of the exclaimation point. I felt bad about this (in a "victim of the spell check generation" sort of way) until I realized I was only channeling Allen Ginsberg.

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This is why webcams scare me.

Did this guy know he was being filmed? And if he did... isn't that even more sad? The song he's singing along to is apparently the newest Romanian pop-tune craze sweeping through western Europe. I'm frightened. Seriously. Seriously. Frightened. For the stout of heart, the video is here.

UPDATE: A friend writes:
Awww, I kinda thought it was cute. ;)
That's the problem! It's infectious... like... uh... like a newly birthed Macarena II, Electric Boogaloo! Do you really want that? Do ya?

Didn't think so...

UPDATE: Gotta go now. I feel a sudden urge to dance my blues away. You see what damage this thing hath wrought? I used to be Goth, damn it.

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Wednesday, December 22, 2004

I remember Martha...

When Martha Stewart first got into trouble after trying to cover up her shenanigans, I remember watching the Biography special that A&E hastily aired. (It might have been an old production with updated material added at the end. I don't really know.) There was this facinating story at the end, told by an old friend of hers, about a late night dinner at an upscale chinese resteraunt in New York. According to this friend, Martha pulls a pair of exquisite chopsticks made of silver from a velvet carrying case. When complimented upon the chopsticks she explains how when she was travelling, she saw them and just had to have them. The shopkeeper explained to her how in fuedal China, silver chopsticks were a symbol of your class and that the thinner and more delicate your chopsticks, the higher your station in life. "Of course I had to buy the thinnest ones!" laughs Martha. But then she pauses, the smile temporarily slips from her face and she says quietly, "That's why they hate me... Isn't it?"

It was then that I screamed at the TV, "No Martha! That is why we hate you. That you can know the reason and still not change!"

And now it seems not even prison can humble God's gift to scrapbooking. (sigh) I give you Martha's Christmas Greetings.

(h/t: Glenn)

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If you haven't already...

then go and read this moving account of the attack against our troops in Mosul, written by Chaplain Lewis, who was there in the thick of it. Firsthand reporting continues to be the best reporting, even when the "reporter" is of another profession.

Chaplain Lewis ends his story with:
The last count was 25 dead, and around 45 wounded. Nevertheless, our cause is just and God is in control even when the crap is a yard deep.
Amen to that.

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It ought to be true... alas...

Snopes is convinced this is urban legend, but I'll keep my delusions, thank you;)
A college professor, an avowed Atheist, was teaching his class. He shocked several of his students when he flatly stated that there is no God. He declared that the expression, "One Nation under God," was unconstitutional, and further, he was going to prove there is no God.

Addressing the ceiling he shouted, "God, if you are real, then I want you to knock me off this platform. I'll give you 15 minutes!"

The lecture room fell silent. You could have heard a pin drop. Ten minutes went by. Again he taunted God, saying, "Here I am, God. I'm still waiting."

His countdown got to the last few minutes, when a Marine, just released from active duty and newly registered in the class, walked up to the professor, hit him full force in the face, knocking him from the platform.

Eventually, the professor came to, shaken. He looked at the young Marine and yelled, "What's the matter with you? Why did you do that?"

"God was busy. He sent me."

(h/t: Dawn)

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Tuesday, December 21, 2004

The ACLU is at it again...

Oh, I’m visualizing a value-neutral Solstice,
Won’t you be non-judgmental with me?
I’m OK, and you’re OK
Who’s to say they’re better than we?

Oh, I’m visualizing a value-neutral Solstice,
No western culture hegemony!
Please don’t hurt my fragile self-esteem
And don’t lay a guilt trip on me!

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Friday, December 17, 2004

This one hits hard...

Warning: Tear jerker -
As you know, I asked for toys for the Iraqi children over here and several people (Americans that support us) sent them over by the box. On each patrol we take through the city, we take as many toys as will fit in our pockets and hand them out as we can. The kids take the toys and run to show them off as if they were worth a million bucks. We are as friendly as we can be to everyone we see, but especially so with the kids. Most of them don't have any idea what is going on and are completely innocent in all of this.
On one such patrol, our lead security vehicle stopped in the middle of the street. This is not normal and is very unsafe, so the following vehicles began to inquire over the radio. The lead vehicle reported a little girl sitting in the road and said she just would not budge. The command vehicle told the lead to simply go around her and to be kind as they did. The street was wide enough to allow this maneuver and so they waved to her as they drove around.
As the vehicles went around her, I soon saw her sitting there and in her arms she was clutching a little bear that we had handed her a few patrols back. Feeling an immediate connection to the girl, I radioed that we were going to stop. The rest of the convoy paused and I got out the make sure she was OK. The little girl looked scared and concerned, but there was a warmth in her eyes toward me. As I knelt down to talk to her, she moved over and pointed to a mine in the road.
- From a Gunny in Iraq

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Germany or Florida?

Florida. Definately Florida.
Amber Alert Issued for Dead Woman's Fetus

Via: Drudge

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Thursday, December 16, 2004

I like Peter Beinart...

... But I dont like like him.

Over the past few weeks I've been impressed with the thinking of New Republic columnist Peter Beinart. (See here, and here. Thanks RealClearPolitics)

But his latest column gives me serious doubts as to his underlying suppositions.
Lesson Plan

by Peter Beinart

...The second liberal hawk assumption was that the Bush administration would take postwar nation-building seriously...

The problem with this second assumption was that it underestimated Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's mania to use Iraq as a showcase for his vision of a leaner, meaner military. Rumsfeld insisted on a much smaller U.S. force than the Army had proposed--a force capable of overthrowing Saddam, but incapable of providing security once he was gone. The meager U.S. invasion force being assembled in the Kuwaiti desert should have set off alarm bells among pro-war liberals, given the lessons from the '90s about how many troops were needed to prevent postwar chaos.

In the words of Rummy himself, "You go to war with the army you have." Not a word here of how throughout the '90s, U.S. military might was slashed nearly in half (not to mention my own personal pet peeve, i.e. President Clinton ordering his own security detail of "Yankee-White" Marines to wear non-descript business suits instead of the traditional dress blues uniforms so as not to upset visiting dignitaries.) You cannot squeeze blood from a stone, Mr. Beinart, nor can you blame a single person for the fact that we just cannot produce an extra 100,000 troops at a moment's notice. "Leaner, meaner army?" How about listening to our military and comitting the resources they ask for? A pro-war liberal should, in my mind, be equally critical of Clinton's "lovey dovey" policies as he is of the first gulf war under Bush senior.

[T]wo principles that undergirded it must be preserved if liberals are ever to lead the ideological struggle that will continue long after American troops leave Falluja.

The first is a belief in nation-building...

Are you under the delusion that the President lied during the presidential debates when he said that his ultimate goal was free elections in Iraq and empowering Iraqis to police themselves? Nation-building is what the Bush administration is attempting.

...Polls suggested that, in the immediate aftermath of Saddam's overthrow, Iraqis were far more grateful for the war--and far less hostile to the U.S. occupation--than they later became. The rapid souring was caused, above all, by Rumsfeld's refusal to provide enough troops to ensure security--a failure illustrated most dramatically in the spasm of looting that followed the U.S. victory.

The looting I observed in places like Sader City (formerly Saddam City and I think that's a good thing) were not a result of Rumsfeld's "failure" to provide enough troops, rather they were the result of an oppressed people being liberated from an intolerable tyrant. To suggest that the U.S. military should wage war with a law enforcement mentality is simply ludacris.

The U.S. inability to restore order was exacerbated by L. Paul Bremer's move to disband the Iraqi military, which also contradicted the advice of experts inside and outside the government. Disbanding the military stripped hundreds of thousands of Sunnis of their jobs and their pride, making them easy prey for the insurgency. That further undermined security and retarded reconstruction, thus preventing the tangible gains that might have preserved Iraqi goodwill toward the U.S. occupation.

"The U.S. inability to restore order?" More argument for the "hopeless quagmire" view of Iraq. I thought Peter was a pro-war liberal.

Look... I have my own gripes over the job Bremer did as interim Governor of Iraq. In my opinion he misused the Marine Corps as police officers because of the deterrent effect that marines have on the bad guys. (Army units eventually turned to painting "USMC" on the sides of their vehicles in order to avoid convoy attacks.) It's as if Bremer never heard accounts of marines attempting to police Beirut in 1983. (Law enforcement is not what we do, Paul.)

As for Bremer being an exacerbating factor, I happen to aggree.

[I]deologically, secular dictatorship promotes jihadist extremism--both because secular dictators fuel the popular rage that leads people to turn to Islamist opposition movements and because secular dictators seek legitimacy by ceding control over civil society to Islamists. That was true of Saddam, and it is true of many of his counterparts throughout the Middle East. Which is why ending tyranny in the Muslim world must be central to U.S. antiterrorist efforts.

No objection here. In my mind, Iraq was worth the effort, not only for humanitarian reasons, but also as a counter-measure to terrorism . There's a reason that I put these two justifications for war in that order. In hindsight I believe the humanitarian reasons for war in Iraq far outweigh the added bonus of making America safer. I carry in my wallet a picture of the Iraqi kids we released from a detention facility in Saddam City. I suspect that I will carry that picture for the rest of my life.

The danger is that, in the wake of Iraq, liberals will turn inward, as many did after Vietnam. They will abandon the belief that U.S. power can positively change the Muslim world and instead argue that the United States should merely aggravate it less while killing terrorists where we can. In a bitter irony, that will leave nation-building and democracy-promotion in the hands of conservatives like Rumsfeld, who never really believed in it. It will leave liberals on the sidelines of the great ideological struggle in which the United States is engaged. And, with liberals on the sidelines, the United States can't win.

In the end, Peter cannot avoid piling on Donald Rumsfeld like the rest of the liberals . It's chiefly his fault, he says. He says Rumsfeld shouldn't be orchestrating our nation-building efforts in Iraq (or anywhere, really.) Why? Because he's not a liberal. "And, with liberals on the sidelines, the United States can't win."

I don't know if I will continue reading Peter's work. I was excited to find what I thought was a rational, thinking liberal. I'm disapointed to find that he was writing to appeal to conservatives like myself, and that he has to pen the above to explain himself to his fellow liberals.

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Possibly the slickest conspiracy theory presentation ever.

Via Ace/Secure Liberty:

What do you mean no plane actually struck the Pentagon?

Debunked at Snopes.

UPDATE: Related.

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Lileks reviews the novel "Pompeii"

I may just have to pick this one up. How can I resist this?
“Pompeii” is about a volcano, yes, but it’s the finest novel about plumbing you’ll ever read. I’m not being sarcastic.
The rest of the review is here.

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"The following photo not to be used under any circumstances - NYT ed."

A U.S. soldier plays with displaced Iraqi children from Falluja on the outskirts of the war-torn town, 50 km (30 miles) west of Baghdad, December 15, 2004. Families who fled Falluja ahead of a U.S.-led assault on guerrilla positions there last month could start going home within days despite sporadic fighting in the Iraqi city, America's top general said on Tuesday.  REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov

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Tuesday, December 14, 2004

AIDS cure in 2005?

Rutgers researchers may have stopped HIV Researchers at Rutgers University have developed a trio of drugs they believe can destroy HIV, the virus that causes AIDS ... “This could be it,” Stephen Smith, the head of the department of infectious diseases at Saint Michael's Medical Center in Newark, said. ... The optimism about R278474 stems from its potential to interfere with an enzyme that the virus needs to copy and insert itself into a human cell. “We're onto something very, very special,” Dr. Arnold said.
Dear God, let it be true. HIV/AIDS is an unimaginable horror that will be erased from the face of the earth... better sooner than later. Contrary to those who think that America is the cause of this plague, American dollars will eventually help to eradicate it.

(H/t: Ace)

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Monday, December 13, 2004

Even I had forgotten...

... just how beautiful a sunset in Iraq can be. The photos in this tribute eclipse any I took during my time there, and set to music that would move even the most hardened heart to tears.

(via: INDC Journal)

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Powerline wins Best Overall Blog!

I didn't have the readership to endorse anyone for the 2004 Weblog Awards but I'm happy to see that Powerline is as popular as I think their quality writing deserves.

Consider this timely tid-bit:
Experience counts

[L]et's ask why the Moore wing is so influential compared to the party's far left wing in the late 1940s... [T]he anti-totalitarianism of that generation was not based on electoral calculation (the Democrats had won four presidential races in a row), but on bitter life experiences... [WWII, totalitarian union organizers]

What about today's left? It's most searing experience remains the Vietnam War... in Michael Moore's words, America "is known for bringing sadness and misery to places around the globe." To these leftist the Islamofascists, if they exist at all, are an abstraction. Leftists have never dealt with them...

If this theory has merit, the Democratic party's real problem may be that it's the captive of its baby-boomer wing, of which Michael Moore is only an over-sized manifestation.
This theory does indeed hold merit. Just this weekend at an extended family gathering, my grandmother told me how glad she was that I was back from Iraq while American boys die every day "over there." I responded that every day, the 129,999 who don't make the news (by dying) are accomplishing great things "over there." She countered by stating that Iraq seems to her the most unpopular war since Vietnam.

It was at this point my father jumped in to save me by saying that it took him 15 years before he told anyone of his (brief) service during the Vietnam War for fear of being spit upon. This allowed me to contrast the fact that when I returned from war last year I was treated to steak dinners by complete strangers. Grandma ended the conversation with "As it should be."

My Grandmother remembers when "over there" meant Europe and the Pacific, a mighty struggle and sacrifice that brought out the best in America. Why is it she now associates "over there" with the pain of the Vietnam era? My father knows. Those opposed to Vietnam then, today run the Democratic Party and most news sources.

But there's hope. The 60's are over. And those who consider the 60's their heyday are getting awfully long in the tooth.

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Friday, December 10, 2004

Allawi for ambasador?

Michael Rubin at NRO has a critique of interim Prime Minister Allawi that doesn't seem to drip with hatred for the man personally (which is a rare, rare thing):

The Iraq embassy in Washington is a symptom of many Allawi problems.


Because Allawi's support lies not in Baghdad but in Washington, some Iraqis suggest that the interim prime minister is hesitant to appoint any intermediary who might dilute his access. Perhaps this is a shrewd political move on Allawi's part, but it is also a selfish one — it slights the thousands of American soldiers who have sacrificed for Iraq, as well as the American taxpayers who have subsidized Iraq's liberation. Then again, Allawi's decision to leave the post vacant does have one advantage: It gives the interim prime minister a retirement option after the January 30 elections.
Personally, I like the guy. He cuts a fine image as a reformer brought back from exile, eager to do the right thing by the Iraqi people, and he's got the fascinating stories of Ba-athist attempts on his life to back up that image. I'll confess that I haven't looked vary hard at his mistakes. Mainly due to my mistrust of the messengers. (The NYT, WaPo, L.A. Times, Globe, etc.)

As for the upcoming January elections I'm actually pulling for the newly founded Iraqi Pro-Democracy Party . Read their incredible story here.

UPDATE: Iraq the Model bloggers Omar and Mohammed meet with President Bush!

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Wednesday, December 08, 2004

On TV...

James Lileks quotes Entertainment Weekly:
Says the writer, Peter Mehlman: “Ignore the rumors. L.A. does have four seasons: earthquake season, fire season, riot season, and the most ravaging – pilot season. Network TV keeps groping to win over an America it despises – a viewing public it seems as a blurry, fat, brainless blob of uninsured, Hemi-powered, God-fearing Wal-Mart clerks. I’m paid to entertain them.”

And now you know why sitcoms suck.
I'd alway suspected as much ;)

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Michael Moore is flat out WRONG!

Geraghty of NRO writes:
No Moore Thank You

"It is time for Democrats to start the effort to bring their party back to the center, and a key element in this effort will be for some high-profile Democrat to pick a very public, very nasty fight with Michael Moore."
And I agree. The (once great) Democratic Party has suffered enormously at the hands of those like Moore.

H/t: senior Louisvillian blogger ispe dixit

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The CP is flat out WRONG!

What the hell is the Canadian press trying to prove? That they're morons? Or that they think their readers are morons?

U.S. killed unarmed Iraqis, war-dodger hearing told

The story starts out thusly:

"TORONTO (CP) - A former United States marine told a refugee hearing for an American war dodger Tuesday that trigger-happy U.S. soldiers in Iraq routinely killed unarmed woman and children, and murdered other Iraqis in violation of international law."

And to back up the claim that the U.S. commits war crimes:

"On several occasions, his soldiers pumped hundreds of bullets into cars that failed to stop at U.S. military checkpoints, killing all occupants - who were later found to be unarmed, Massey said."

I was there when the rules of engagement were changed to permit the use of deadly force on vehicles attempting to run through Marine checkpoints. It was a direct result of the terrorists hijacking ambulances and taxis for suicide bombing runs against coalition forces. Who's guilty of war crimes again? Oh, yeah... America, of course.

This testimony is intended to defend the actions of this man:

"Hinzman, 26, deserted his regiment in January just days before being deployed to Iraq, and fears he will be unfairly court-martialled if returned to the United States."

"Unfairly court martialled?" I sincerely hope so.

UPDATE: Damn. Every time I post something it turns out someone does it better and firster. Michelle Malkin has much more on this story.

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Friday, December 03, 2004

On movies...

Jonathan Last writes a lengthy review of Closer in the Daily Standard.
"Not since American Beauty has a film wanted to dive so deep into so shallow a pool."
I can see where he's going with this. I'm tempted to go see it just to watch the reactions of the audience. Will they nod sagely over deep symbolism of gratuitous sex (as intended by the film maker) or will they giggle, like I saw them do during Higher Learning or The Piano.

It seems to me that only the Academy truly understands the deeper meaning of hyperbolic sexual escapades. The masses want American Pie.

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Wednesday, December 01, 2004

More antidote to dancing hamsters...

Check it out.

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You mean we lied to the enemy!?

via Drudge
L.A. Times On the evening of Oct. 14, a young Marine spokesman near Fallouja appeared on CNN and made a dramatic announcement. "Troops crossed the line of departure," 1st Lt. Lyle Gilbert declared, using a common military expression signaling the start of a major campaign. "It's going to be a long night." CNN, which had been alerted to expect a major news development, reported that the long-awaited offensive to retake the Iraqi city of Fallouja had begun. In fact, the Fallouja offensive would not kick off for another three weeks. Gilbert's carefully worded announcement was an elaborate psychological operation — or "psy-op" — intended to dupe insurgents in Fallouja and allow U.S. commanders to see how guerrillas would react if they believed U.S. troops were entering the city [...] Officials at the Pentagon and other U.S. national security agencies said the CNN incident was not an isolated feint — the type used throughout history by armies to deceive their enemies — but part of a broad effort underway within the Bush administration to use information to its advantage in the war on terrorism.
Hey Media! You're just now getting around to realizing that you're a tool to be used by a savvy and resourceful US Military? Don't you remember "shock and awe?" Where was the shock and awe you repeated ad nauseum for weeks before the war opened with pinpoint bombings of strategic installations? Wake up and smell the napalm. We need your services.. on OUR side for a change. Sheesh.

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