~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 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.


Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Blood. Pressure. Spiking. Need... KITTENS!


CANINE UPDATE: This helps, too.

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Torturous links

I'm sticking to my opinion that juvenile pranks like Abu Ghraib, already illegal under the Unified Code of Military Justice don't count as "torture." But a serious debate over the real McCoy, you know... honest-to-goodness, no-holds-barred torture has broken out and I actually find it interesting. Can't help it. I've been sucked in. If you've been sucked in as well, here are some (by my reckoning) level headed links:

Old Ace - "The Moral Case for Torture." In which he expresses a lament I share with him:

Okay, I've heard that take before. That we allow torture, but we don't allow it. Wink wink. On the QT. Keeps things from getting out of hand.

But here's the thing: That's out the window right now, because the liberals in this country are not content to leave it on the QT. For reasons of pure political positioning, they want to expose it and declare it illegal.

So we don't have that choice...

Amen, Ace. That'd be my preferred course, but as you note, the screamers have made it clear they won't accept it even if more innocent people have to die in order for them to keep their "no torture ever!" piety.

Bonus: Commentor Brock elequently sums up the idea behind punishing those "outside the contract."

Some argue that even terrorists have rights. Well, I say that no man has any rights except those which he can defend. By social contract, we grant rights to each other, and agree to defend those rights for each other. When a terrorists commits himself to his endeavor, he is outside the contract and I have no responsibility to protect his rights. When I torture him for information (practical torture you might say; not Baathist "for Saddam's glory" torture), I am defending my own rights and the rights of all members of civilization (even the French).

I noted the other day that this is the glue which binds Geneva together. Torture? No. Deny rights to the rule breakers? Absolutely necessary. If we abandon that concept, cut and run so to speak, if we publically garantee equal treatment for humans who adhere to their social obligations and head chopping maniacs, more innocents will die as a result.

New Ace - "Refuting Objections To Coercive Interrogations"

Continuing in the same vein, Ace demolishes the arguments thrown out there by "give them the comfy chair only, or else we're just like them!" liberals.

I don't say "torture," because it's not clear to me that any of the techniques used by the CIA or military intel guys are actually "torture."

Which is where I come out in the end, as well. Torture is already illegal. I believe it should stay that way, but we don't need a new bill defining torture down, trivializing real torture. I'm way pissed off over the blowhards who want to equate the country club conditions we provide to detainees with the murdering, head choppin' ways of our "outside the social contract" enemies. But mostly I'm angry over what I consider a deliberate obtuseness on the part of the moral absolutists now bemoaning our "torture" policies. If there was anything we could all get together on it's this; If you target civilians, yer goin' down. Right? Can't we all agree on just this one idea?

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Quick thoughts on collateral damage

Jonah struggles mightily against the the presumption of evil this morning.

But I'd like to address a very narrow topic:

Aerial bombing by its very nature inevitably results in the killing and maiming of innocents and combatants.

This statement is incontrovertibly true, and can be spun two ways. 1) Anti-war absolutists point to this fact and cry, "War is immoral!" because they envision themselves on the ground, helpless, as the killing machines fly overhead. 2) Pro-war conditionalists (like myself) understand this fact and make it a point of honor to minimize civilian deaths because they see themselves as the pilots, flying in low, exposing themselves to danger in order to prove how much this moral responsibilty weighs on their conscience.

I suppose there's a depraved third category (Saddam gunning down the southern Shiites after the 1991 ceasefire comes to mind) but why is it that Americans who hold view number one see only depravity and evil in the eyes of us who hold view number two? I don't want to convert them to my way of thinking, just stop calling me "baby killer." Ya know?

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Monday, November 28, 2005

Ted Rall thinks to himself, "Hmmm...What could I possibly do next to make another enemy?"

And comes up with this.

Well, Ted? It worked... you inflamatory, attention-whoring, talentless hack.

You've pissed me off again. Hope it gave you a woody.

Now for the obligatory letter writing campaign. With luck, we'll succeed in getting him ignored by another major newspaper. That oughtta reduce his hate mail, it's gonna be sweet. Ted, sitting at home screaming, "Why don't they hate me!?" It's because we don't care about your pathetic ego, Ted. Pick up a hammer and do something constructive. Or better yet? Enlist! The satisfaction is profound, but then again, that requires effort. So... I guess that's out.

(Via: Michelle)

UPDATE: As is the usual, Jeff out-sarcasms me.

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Sunday, November 27, 2005

Bush's warmongering knows no limits! The blood lust! The humanity!

Sigh. Par for the course I guess.

[Former Canadian Minister Of Defence and Nobel Prize Winner] Hellyer warned, "The United States military are preparing weapons which could be used against the aliens, and they could get us into an intergalactic war without us ever having any warning. He stated, "The Bush administration has finally agreed to let the military build a forward base on the moon, which will put them in a better position to keep track of the goings and comings of the visitors from space, and to shoot at them, if they so decide."

The evil that is Georgie Junior must be stopped. I'm guessing though, that around January 30, 2009? Things oughta sort themselves out naturally.

(Via: Powerline)

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When you're this far beyond tacky, you risk being called a genius

I think this counts.

(Via: Angel)

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Saturday, November 26, 2005

Let's all say it together

Krauthammer in the Weekly Standard:

People seem to think that the postwar Geneva Conventions were written only to protect detainees. In fact, their deeper purpose was to provide a deterrent to the kind of barbaric treatment of civilians that had become so horribly apparent during the first half of the 20th century, and in particular, during the Second World War. The idea was to deter the abuse of civilians by promising combatants who treated noncombatants well that they themselves would be treated according to a code of dignity if captured--and, crucially, that they would be denied the protections of that code if they broke the laws of war and abused civilians themselves.

This is the most succinct distillation of the intent of Geneva that I have ever read. Geneva protects civilians by dangling the promise of humane treatment upon capture. For anyone who didn't have spelled out for them in mandatory Law of Land Warfare courses in the military, re-read the above paragraph closely. Try to understand. The protections promised to detainees by the Geneva Conventions are only assured by denying those protections to the rule breakers! Yes, it's ugly. Yes, mankind deserves to live in times where everyone follows a code of civility. These are not yet those times!

Want better treatment for war detainees? Easy! The recipe for better treatment was spelled out decades ago by most of the civilized world: Don't target civilians. It really is that simple.

When all nations abide by Geneva, then war will truly be a police matter. But until then, denying rights to rule breakers is all the incentive we've got to leverage.

You'll notice that the word "torture" does not appear anywhere above. That's cuz torture is already illegal under the Geneva Conventions. Duh. The heartsick bloviations of those who scream torture! over the treaty-mandated, necessarily uncomfortable conditions we keep illegal combatants in, make me weep with frustration. Read the damn treaty! Not punishing the rule breakers puts more civilians in danger! "But we should set a positive example!" they cry. Damnit, we already are the positive example! I have no doubt that when every nation subscribes to that level of civility, we will lead the charge to replace Geneva with something better.

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Thanksgiving tribute in orange

It always amazes me how the position of the sun can make even the harshest circumstances beautiful.

Check it out.

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Wednesday, November 23, 2005

On the curiously difficult position of being the majority

Speaking as a white, oppressive, heteronormative, warmongoring, patriarchal male, my only question is, well, why the hell am I not ruling the world by now?

I guess it's hard being a right-winger bent on world dominion when you're only making thirteen bucks an hour. I asked around at that last cabal meeting and what I learned was absolutely shocking! It turns out that we're NOT stealing any oil, NOT imposing a Taliban-style Christian regime upon this land, and that we have NO INTEREST in raping Mother Earth, criminalizing homosexuality, or rolling back civil rights. Just what kind of neo-con conspiracy are we running here?!

I was shocked to learn that, as a group, we actually respect Afghani and Iraqi sovereignty, promote free trade, encourage a robust economy home and abroad, support human rights (human rights? What's that about?!) and the general spread of liberal democracy in the Middle East and around the world. I was robbed. Robbed, I tell you. Where's my check? I got into this for the filthy lucre, damnit!

[/sarcasm off]

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Monday, November 21, 2005

Iraq's children in pictures

Michael Yon's latest dispatch is here.

"Iraqi kids, showing they can count in English: I always felt like a movie star."

Felt like a movie star? Boy, didn't we all?

I don't know for sure that American Marines in France, circa WWII, after hearing french kiddies counting aloud in english, "One, two, three..." countered with "Un, deux, trois..."

But I can only imagine the delight that they must have had watching the faces of those children! During my short tme in Iraq I amazed many an Iraqi youngster with a similar exchange.

Sung to the tune of "I dream of Jeanie:"


The raw, emotional power of the "1,2,3 song" has a lot of traction with kids and adults alike.

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Thursday, November 17, 2005

Pointless quiz time!

You are Franklin!

Which Peanuts Character are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Ahem... it is what it is.

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Wednesday, November 16, 2005

The obligatory Wal-Mart post

Americans for Wal-Mart

Frontline: Is Wal-Mart Good for America?

Anti Wal-Mart documentary

Pro Wal-Mart documentary

There you have it. Both sides battling it out as if civilization itself hangs in the balance. Which, I guess it does. Free your mind and the market will follow, people. Embrace your inner capitalist. Work hard, get stinking rich, and spend your last days giving it away.

Oh, man. It's gonna be so sweet.

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Wednesday morning blood boiler


By a vote of 84-14, the senators resolved Tuesday that the ultimate decision about who is properly considered an “enemy combatant,” should rest with federal judges, not our military commanders who actually confront the enemy in the life-and-death of the battlefield.

The stated mission of the Fire Team, the basic unit that makes up the backbone of the Marine Corps is "to locate, close with, and destroy the enemy by direct fire and close air support."

Soon to be changed, courtesy of the US Senate to "locate, arrest, and Mirandize the suspect by court-issued warrant and preserving the chain of evidence."

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Tuesday, November 15, 2005

The latest dispatch from Michael Yon is up...

And as is usually the case, I have chills after reading it.

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I didn't know I was a movement conservative

... until the day I realized President Bush wasn't one. I believe it was a Wednesday... at about 5:53PM... Things may have changed. Finally, Bush is defending his strengths. Namely the Bush Doctrine and national security in general. This is from Monday's presidential speech at Elmendorf Air Force Base:

"Reasonable people can disagree about the conduct of the war, but it is irresponsible for Democrats to now claim that we misled them and the American people. Leaders in my administration and members of the United States Congress from both political parties looked at the same intelligence on Iraq, and reached the same conclusion: Saddam Hussein was a threat.


Some of our elected leaders have opposed this war all along. I disagreed with them, but I respect their willingness to take a consistent stand. Yet some Democrats who voted to authorize the use of force are now rewriting the past. They are playing politics with this issue and they are sending mixed signals to our troops and the enemy. And that's irresponsible."

Why did he let his opponents define the terms of the debate for so long with no input of his own? I used to admire Bush's cavilier attitude towards the press. Now? I think his detractors have been counting on that attitude in order to campaign against him.

Any Democrat taking heat for voting yes on Iraq, who wants to now change that vote, has only two options at this late date: Admit fault, or place blame. Placing blame absolves him/her of advancing any meaningful alternative course of action, at least in the short term. The attraction is obvious. But also evident is the dishonest nature of placing blame. Some Dems have decided to risk the easy out, and finally, finally Bush has called their bluff.

Bravo, Mr. President. Keep it up. Better late than never, I say.

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Saturday, November 12, 2005

BREAKING: O'Reilly remains a pompous blowhard; initiates pissing contest with SF blowhard

And the bar for reasoned political discourse falls even lower. Sheesh.

KRON: "O'Reilly Blasted for Coit Tower Comments"

O'Reilly reacted to San Franciscans' approval of Proposition I, which discourages military recruiters on public high school and college campuses.

He advised President George W. Bush to react by withdrawing any military protection for the city. "...If al-Qaida comes in here and blows you up, we're not going to do anything about it. We're going to say, look, every other place in America is off limits to you, except San Francisco. You want to blow up the Coit Tower? Go ahead," O'Reilly said.

[San Fran Supervisor Chris] Daly responded on the KRON 4 Morning News, "Coit Tower's a monument to San Francisco's firefighters. They put out the fires in San Francisco after the great quake. American heroes -- they were there on Sept. 11 and now you want al-Qaida to blow up Coit Tower? Give us a break. You are out of line."

Thanks, Bill. Thanks, Daly. Thank you KRON San Fransisco. Thanks for nothing. There's no argument here. No position to defend. This is just hot air.

"Forget 'em!" screams O'Reilly. "Let 'em die!"

"How dare you!" screams Daly. "Think of the firemen!"

Here is my (admittedly sharp) criticism of Measure I which does NOT pine for the destruction of SF landmarks, and does NOT invoke emotionalism over the deaths of dedicated public servants.

What it boils down to (and I know I'm generalizing, 40% voted against this toothless, assinine gesture) SF wants out of the responsabilities of citizenship, but still want to collect other people's tax money.

This is why I will never live in blue state. The rank hypochrisy is staggering. And the irony is that whenever a hard-core, bullhorn-toting, anti-war protester breaks his stated creed and does the opposite of what he preaches?

It improves the quality of life for him and his family because the loudly shouted, moral code he thinks everyone should live by is so flawed he won't even hold himself to the same standard.

What SF has declared, essentially, is, "If it weren't for the fact that the all-volunteer military does such a good job of protecting my prosperous lifestyle, I'd outlaw the military in accordance with my hatred of the very system which gave me the opportunity be so prosperous!"

Because war is icky. SF wants a playground where the icky stuff is illegal.

/rant off

If any rational person wants to disagree with me in a pointed but civil way, without calling for terrorist attacks or kneejerk emotional pleas, feel free to drop your views into the comments. Let's show them how it's done.

(Via DRUDGE, linked at Wizbang!)

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Friday, November 11, 2005

Please consider giving...

... to Operation Valour IT, which is raising money to buy voice activated laptops for returning troops who sacrificed digits and hands in service to our country.

And if you operate a blog and want to banner your own site, of course you gotta go Team Marine! 'Nuff said.

UPDATE: Monday evening - Holly Aho, Team Marine leader emails to report the good news, that traffic generated by this operation is overwhelming! Yea! Um, and bad news is that it's overwhelming her server! She hopes to have it squared away in the next day or so. In the meantime, keep hitting refresh.

(Bumped to the top until November 11th)

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Thursday, November 10, 2005

Happy Birthday Marines

Ya look good for 230 years old! Michelle has the best link roundup, so rather than write anything profound (I'm feeling lazy) I'll just send you over there.

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Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Secession by increments

Yesterday, San Fransisco passed a resolution denigrating voluntary service.

"Measure I, [passed 60/40] dubbed "College Not Combat," opposes the presence of military recruiters at public high schools and colleges. However, it would not ban the armed forces from seeking enlistees at city campuses, since that would put schools at risk of losing federal funding." [emphasis mine]

Apparently, love of entitlement trumps anti-war convictions. Color me disgusted.

(Via the Corner)

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Saturday, November 05, 2005

Kadnine turns one!

Yea me!

This bloggin' thing ain't a bad hobby. While I haven't developed the site as far as I had planned, I do promise an increase in activity this year.

In the meantime, check out some greatest hits:

- Pages from the journal I kept during my time in Iraq

- The joys of home ownership

- The joys of dog ownership

- "On Going to War Under False Pretenses"

- A little thing I like to call, "The Creepiest Picture I Have Ever Seen In My Entire Life..."

- Operation Slugger

Thank you for visiting my little corner of the blogosphere.

(linked at the Mudville open post)

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Is it really too much to ask...

... that government employees, intrusted with state secrets, NOT LEAK THOSE SECRETS? Or that journalists, be they blogger or Columbia graduate, NOT REPORT THEM?

Glenn rounds up some thoughts, mostly assigning blame. Which, I think deftly summorizes the unanswerable surrounding Wilson / Plame / Rove / Cheney / CIA / White House / Fitzgerald / Novak / Miller / former Nigerian officials / Italian intel / British intel / French intel / NYT / Time / Washington Post / countless bloggers / countless Senators/ and countless Congressmen who have devoted countless man-hours to this so-called controversy.

I'm sorry, but things have spiraled WAY out of control. I've been a government employee with access to secrets, and somehow managed to to restrain myself from dialing Robert Novak's cell phone. And I've been a blogger for one year exactly, as of today, and again, somehow managed not to spill any beans.

DC is a crazy place, I'm assured. The normal rules supposedly don't apply. My only question is: Why the hell not? Is it really too much to ask that officials keep their mouths closed concerning state secrets and reporters not repeat rumors? Seriously. I'm asking.

This will mark my very first post on the Plame/Libby affair (though I HAVE been following the twists and turns of this labyrinthine story closely) and the first of no more than two that I plan to write. The only way anyone could possibly convince me to devote more than two posts to this debacle is... is... frankly I don't see it happening. Expect my next posting on this subject to be a disgusted handwashing of all interest.

Update: Victor Davis Hanson ponders the consequences of political infighting during a time of war.

Some of this acrimony is understandable, but such in-fighting is still secondary to defeating enemies who have pledged to destroy Western liberal society. At some point this Western cannibalism becomes not so much counterproductive as serving the purposes of those who wish America to call off its struggle against radical Islam.

The atmosphere of our political discourse has been clouded by having all the wrong arguments. Scooter who?

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Friday, November 04, 2005

Who's asking the hard questions over at Al Jazeera?

Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) has objected to the appointment of Dorrance Smith as assistant secretary of defense for public affairs on the basis of this Wall Street Journal op-ed which the WSJ has thoughtfully reprinted today.

[Smith] While I was in Iraq in 2004, Al-Jazeera was expelled from the country by the Iraqi Governing Council for violating international law. Numerous times they had advance knowledge of military actions against coalition forces. Instead of reporting to the authorities that it had been tipped off, Al-Jazeera would pre-position a crew at the event site and wait for the attack, record it and rush it on air.

[Editors] Mr. Smith has standing to address these issues in part because the former ABC news producer spent nine months in Iraq as a media adviser to Ambassador Paul Bremer. He knows more about terrorist propaganda, and its potential effects, than the Americans on the receiving end of the terror tapes.

In any case, surely these are all questions the spokesman for U.S. Secretary of Defense has a right--even a responsibility--to raise. Contrary to Sen. Levin's assertions, Mr. Smith's op-ed is evidence of why he is qualified for the job

Frankly, I'm surprised that the esteemed editorial staff didn't hit upon the obvious solution: Mr. Smith should leave public service and simply submit his resume to Al Jazeera. Why not? Worked for this guy.

[Former Marine PR officer Josh] Rushing, 33, has taken a job reporting for a new channel for Al-Jazeera. That's the Qatar-based network that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said is "perfectly willing to lie to the world" and has "a pattern of playing propaganda over and over and over again" for its 50 million viewers, most of them in the Arab world. [...] He hopes he can help people around the world see America differently, and help Americans see the world in new ways.

And I'd certainly be less worried about Al Jazeera's actions with the good Mr. Smith onboard.

(Linked at the Mudville open post)

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Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Michelle's latest crusade

I like Michelle Malkin. I read her every day. Every so often though, she gets a hold of a benign issue, bites down and wastes enormous energy shaking it to death.

[Malkin]My column in the New York Post today and elsewhere follows up on last week's blog post about the Times' butchery.

Butchery? There's ample evidence that the New York Times is anti-war but butchery is not the word for this non-issue.

The question is whether reporter James Dao should have excerpted a longer segment of Corporal Starr's final letter, refrained from excerpting it at all, or whether the bit he did excerpt is damning evidence of an anti-troop bias.

Here's what was printed in the Times:

Another member of the 1/5, Cpl. Jeffrey B. Starr, rejected a $24,000 bonus to re-enlist. Corporal Starr believed strongly in the war, his father said, but was tired of the harsh life and nearness of death in Iraq. So he enrolled at Everett Community College near his parents' home in Snohomish, Wash., planning to study psychology after his enlistment ended in August.

But he died in a firefight in Ramadi on April 30 during his third tour in Iraq. He was 22.

Sifting through Corporal Starr's laptop computer after his death, his father found a letter to be delivered to the marine's girlfriend. ''I kind of predicted this,'' Corporal Starr wrote of his own death. ''A third time just seemed like I'm pushing my chances.''

According to Jeffrey Starr's uncle, here is the unedited final letter:

Several months after Jeffrey was killed his laptop computer was returned to his parents who found a letter in it that was addressed to his girlfriend and was intended to be found only if he did not return alive. It is a most poignant letter and filled with personal feelings he had for his girlfriend. But of importance to the rest of us was his expression of how he felt about putting his life at risk for this cause. He said it with grace and maturity.

He wrote: "Obviously if you are reading this then I have died in Iraq. I kind of predicted this, that is why I'm writing this in November. A third time just seemed like I'm pushing my chances. I don't regret going, everybody dies but few get to do it for something as important as freedom. It may seem confusing why we are in Iraq, it's not to me. I'm here helping these people, so that they can live the way we live. Not have to worry about tyrants or vicious dictators. To do what they want with their lives. To me that is why I died. Others have died for my freedom, now this is my mark."

I respect the opinions of those who disagree with me, but I just don't see any cause for outrage here. Dao's behavior since publication is worthy of scorn (read the exchange between James Dao and Michael Valois at the Malkin link) but the original abrieviated quote passes muster with me. Here's why:

I'm alive after seven months in Iraq (most of that time was with the outstanding Marines of the 1/5, by the way) but I was prepared to die for a cause I believe in. In fact, I was so concerned that I got into a heated exchange with my Team Leader over driver rotation. I asked him aside and said, "If I have to take a bullet defending my country, that's one thing. I signed up knowing that was a posability. But death by sleepy driver? A senseless HUM VEE crash is not a risk I signed up for." To his credit, from that point on, shift rotation and driver duty was never an issue. He was a natural leader.

Every Marine in combat contemplates what I call the "casual nature of wartime unluckiness." When civillians imagine themselves in the same circumstances, the resulting conclusions are often shockingly inaccurate.

Should Dao have included a longer excerpt of Corporal Starr's last letter? Yes. That would have headed off this entire controversy. But by qualifying just before the offending, abrieviated quote that CPL Starr supports the war, Dao has headed off accusations of unfair reportage. It's a simple statement, "Corporal Starr believed strongly in the war, his father said, but was tired of the harsh life and nearness of death in Iraq." It's the kind of statement that a Marine would make. It's what I said after my enlistment ended and I chose not to reenlist. I believe strongly in the war, but I was tired of the harsh life.

I just don't see anything wrong with that. I've read the entire 4,000+ word article and Michelle's reason for objection just eludes me.

UPDATE: Many, many, many respectable people around the world disagree with me, saying their condemnation of the Times is justified. And after careful consideration I've decided that they're right, and I was wrong. My initial reaction was out of a personal desire to avoid even the appearance of using Starr's memory in a political scrap with the stupid Times. Jeffery Starr was one the Marines literally safeguarding my life in 2003 and I want to honor him, not use him. But likewise, I don't want it to appear as if I'm heaping scorn on those who rally to his defense. They certainly do so without cynicism. I apologize.

Starr's uncle: "Although what is ironic, by them leaving out the most important part of Jeffrey’s letter, it’s gotten more publicity, so in one sense, the whole episode really does honor Jeffrey, because this story has gotten a lot more publicity than it would have had “The Times” actually run the whole letter."

Quite ironic, and serving of a greater good. In any case, read this far superior story on Jeffrey Starr. A Marine's Last Words

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Oh, if only it were so!

Some arab officials are now saying Saddam was poised to step down voluntarily!

I'm not buying it.

(via Drudge and LGF)

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