Oct 29, 2007

Best Pumpkin EV.ER. 

I was gonna try to do something somewhat original with my pumpkin carving this year, but screw it. I can't top this.


Oct 27, 2007

Unlike San Francisco... 

Oct 26, 2007

Death and Taxes 

Oct 24, 2007

Outside the Wire 

How I missed this I don't know, as Blackfive was reviewing it way back in February apparently. It looks much like what Pat Dollard has been trying to do, but only clocks in at around an hour (whereas Dollard has said he's aiming for a mini-series that would include upwards of 20 hours of footage). "Outside the Wire" is available on video now.


Oct 23, 2007


San Diego County looks like Dresden right now. We just left in July. Rancho Bernardo, where we lived, is now smoldering. I still have some relatives down there, but I'm assuming no news is good news, as nothing about them has filtered back to me through the family-net.

And to think, when I moved out here, I was sweating hurricanes. But I suppose when you compare the responses, I still should...

Oct 20, 2007

There's always one 

As far as I'm concerned, 99% of all ventriloquists suck. Meet Jeff Dunham, the one who doesn't.


Oct 19, 2007

Sux 2 B U 

Rush plays roshambo with Senate Democrats. Wins in dramatic fashion.

Click here for the sounds of agony, as the Majority Leader chokes and gags on every word. And no, he's not wearing his Halloween mask early to scare you...
Give to the Marine Corps - Law Enforcement Foundation.

Or not... 

That whole Iraq-Afghan swap for the MEF, I mentioned? Yeah... not so much...
Defense Secretary Robert Gates today shot down Marine Commandant Gen. James Conway's proposal to shift Marines from Iraq to Afghanistan, which would leave the Army to handle operations in Iraq.

Gates dismissed the idea when asked about it at a Pentagon media briefing. “I have pretty much literally, up until this point, heard one sentence about it, that they were thinking about it,” he said. “So I would say that if it happens it will be long after I'm secretary of defense.”

Conway recently said the Marine Corps hoped to brief Gates on the idea. “It's unfortunately premature to talk about it in a public audience at this point,” Conway said on Oct. 16 at an event sponsored by the Center for a New American Security in Arlington, VA. “We have not briefed the secretary of defense on any concepts. Until such time as that has happened and he has made a decision, I probably ought to let it alone.”

In Afghanistan, there are about 26,000 U.S. military, coalition and NATO forces, including between 300 and 400 Marines. In Iraq, there are about 178,500 U.S. and coalition troops, including about 25,000 Marines.
I still stand by my MEU assessment that I made on the 11th, though. They are a "theater" asset after all - not an Iraq one.

Oct 16, 2007

Marine Corps High? 

Apparently so...
Some of the first students at Chicago Public Schools' new Marine Corps Academy of Math and Science presented the colors Monday.

The new school was formally dedicated with the mayor and other officials looking on. It combines college prep classes with the order and structure of a military academy. It will be run and taught by Marine Corps officers.

"You see other high schools and students are running around, undisciplined. Here, we all look nice in our uniforms," said student Alejandra Duenas.

Enrollment is expected to climb from the current 130 to about 550 students within three year. Mayor Richard M. Daley insists the role of the school is not to bring young people into the armed forces but to instill discipline and self awareness.

"This is not a recruitment effort, our Junior ROTC program and the military academies. This is to educate," Daley said.

One local anti-war activist is more than a little skeptical.

"What it does prepare them to do is be good little soldiers, which I'm afraid we've got all too much of these days," said Andy Thayer.

"Be not afraid of the criticism you have," Daley said. "You get stronger because of the criticism against the military academies, because you are going to outperform."

Despite the critics, more of this is on the way. In 2009, look for CPS to open an Air Force Academy high school.

Argonne National Labs is partnering with the new Marine Academy and will offer internships for students.
Andy Thayer makes quite the convincing argument. "...good little soldiers, which I'm afraid we've got all too much of these days." Yeah, way too much of that soldiering type stuff going on in America. We've got less than one percent of the nation in uniform (including the reserves), we're kicking JROTC and ROTC off campuses across the country, and this yutz says there's "too much soldiering going on."

But he does live in Chicago, so I sleep comfortably knowing that he must pee is pants with dread every time he drives down Lake Shore...

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What a tool...

I wonder if Matty O' knows anything about this school?

Oct 11, 2007

Trading Places? 

Marines Press to Remove Their Forces From Iraq
The Marine Corps is pressing to remove its forces from Iraq and to send marines instead to Afghanistan, to take over the leading role in combat there, according to senior military and Pentagon officials.

The idea by the Marine Corps commandant would effectively leave the Iraq war in the hands of the Army while giving the Marines a prominent new role in Afghanistan, under overall NATO command.
They said it would allow the Marines to carry out the Afghan mission in a way the Army cannot, by deploying as an integrated Marine Corps task force that included combat aircraft as well as infantry and armored vehicles, while the Army must rely on the Air Force.
Now that's a hell of an idea. And I can't say that a lot of Marines wouldn't like it. Not that we don't believe in the fight in Iraq, but... well... we'd like a change of scenery. I'm sure the Army would too. Marines haven't been deployed to Afghanistan in force for the last few years, but you tell me who's better prep'd for the fight:

Army Mountain Warfare School is in Vermont (Vermont?). Elevation: less than 700 ft up to maybe 3,000

Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center is in California's Toiyabe National Forest. Elevation: from over 6,700 ft up to almost 12,000

You do the math.

I'd bet on a MEU worming it's way in there at some point in the not too distant future to get the ball rolling.

Oct 9, 2007

Well... it works! 

Proof that the MRAP is worth every penny.

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click pics for biggie-size

I don't know all the details of the event, but however big the IED was, it reportedly tossed an 18 TON vehicle so that it landed facing the other direction. That's the engine block in the last picture, by the way. I don't know how much it weighs, but it ain't light. The only injury was the driver's busted ribs (check out the steering wheel). But everybody walked out of the truck. Ain't that the damndest thing you ever saw?


Oct 7, 2007


Oct 6, 2007

People's Democratic Republic of Berkeley 

No surprise that a Marine would be persona non-grata in a place like Berkeley, but his response to it all is a thing of beauty. Click on over.

Must read of the day 

This will end up locked away forever behind a "subscribers only" password shortly, I'm sure. So here's the whole thing, as published in The Wall Street Journal.

Modern Heroes
October 4, 2007; Page A19

I'm weary of seeing news stories about wounded soldiers and assertions of "support" for the troops mixed with suggestions of the futility of our military efforts in Iraq. Why aren't there more accounts of what the troops actually do? How about narrations of individual battles and skirmishes, of their ever-evolving interactions with Iraqi troops and locals in Baghdad and Anbar province, and of increasingly resourceful "patterning" of terrorist networks that goes on daily in tactical operations centers?

The sad and often unspoken truth of the matter is this: Americans have been conditioned less to understand Iraq's complex military reality than to feel sorry for those who are part of it.

The media struggles in good faith to respect our troops, but too often it merely pities them. I am generalizing, of course. Indeed, there are regular, stellar exceptions, quite often in the most prominent liberal publications, from our best military correspondents. But exceptions don't quite cut it amidst the barrage of "news," which too often descends into therapy for those who are not fighting, rather than matter-of-fact stories related by those who are.

As one battalion commander complained to me, in words repeated by other soldiers and marines: "Has anyone noticed that we now have a volunteer Army? I'm a warrior. It's my job to fight." Every journalist has a different network of military contacts. Mine come at me with the following theme: We want to be admired for our technical proficiency -- for what we do, not for what we suffer. We are not victims. We are privileged.

The cult of victimhood in American history first flourished in the aftermath of the 1960s youth rebellion, in which, as University of Chicago Prof. Peter Novick writes, women, blacks, Jews, Native Americans and others fortified their identities with public references to past oppressions. The process was tied to Vietnam, a war in which the photographs of civilian victims "displaced traditional images of heroism." It appears that our troops have been made into the latest victims.

Heroes, according to the ancients, are those who do great deeds that have a lasting claim to our respect. To suffer is not necessarily to be heroic. Obviously, we have such heroes, who are too often ignored. Witness the low-key coverage accorded to winners of the Medal of Honor and of lesser decorations.

The first Medal of Honor in the global war on terror was awarded posthumously to Army Sgt. 1st Class Paul Ray Smith of Tampa, Fla., who was killed under withering gunfire protecting his wounded comrades outside Baghdad airport in April 2003.

According to LexisNexis, by June 2005, two months after his posthumous award, his stirring story had drawn only 90 media mentions, compared to 4,677 for the supposed Quran abuse at Guantanamo Bay, and 5,159 for the court-martialed Abu Ghraib guard Lynndie England. While the exposure of wrongdoing by American troops is of the highest importance, it can become a tyranny of its own when taken to an extreme.

Media frenzies are ignited when American troops are either the perpetrators of acts resulting in victimhood, or are victims themselves. Meanwhile, individual soldiers daily performing complicated and heroic deeds barely fit within the strictures of news stories as they are presently defined. This is why the sporadic network and cable news features on heroic soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan comes across as so hokey. After all, the last time such reports were considered "news" was during World War II and the Korean War.

In particular, there is Fox News's occasional series on war heroes, whose apparent strangeness is a manifestation of the distance the media has traveled away from the nation-state in the intervening decades. Fox's war coverage is less right-wing than it is simply old-fashioned, antediluvian almost. Fox's commercial success may be less a factor of its ideological base than of something more primal: a yearning among a large segment of the public for a real national media once again -- as opposed to an international one. Nationalism means patriotism, and patriotism requires heroes, not victims.

Let's review some recent history. From Sept. 11, 2001, until the middle of 2003, when events in Afghanistan and Iraq appeared to be going well, the media portrayed the troops in an uncomplicated, positive light. Young reporters who embedded early on became acquainted with men and women in uniform, by whom they were frankly impressed. But their older editors, children of the '60s often, were skeptical. Once these wars started going badly, skepticism turned to a feeling of having been duped, a sentiment amplified by the Abu Ghraib prison scandal.

That led to a different news cycle, this time with the troops as war criminals. But that cycle could not be sustained by the facts beyond the specific scandal. So by the end of 2004, yet another news cycle set in, the one that is still with us: the troops as victims of an incompetent and evil administration. The irony is that the daily actions of the troops now, living among Iraqis, applying the doctrines of counterinsurgency, and engaged regularly in close-quarters combat, are likely more heroic than in the period immediately following 9/11.

Objectively speaking, the troops can be both victims and heroes -- that is, if the current phase of the war does indeed turn out to be futile. My point is only to note how the media has embraced the former theme and downplayed the latter. The LexisNexis statistics reveal the extent to which the media is uncomfortable with traditional heroism, of the kind celebrated from Herodotus through World War II. If that's not the case, then why don't we read more accounts about the battlefield actions of Silver Star winners, Bronze Star winners and the like?

Feeling comfortable with heroes requires a lack of cynicism toward the cause for which they fight. In the 1990s, when exporting democracy and militarily responding to ethnic and religious carnage were looked up upon, U.S. Army engineering units in Bosnia were lionized merely for laying bridges across rivers. Those soldiers did not need to risk their lives or win medals in order to be glorified by the media. Indeed, the media afforded them more stature than it does today's Medal of Honor winners. When a war becomes unpopular, the troops are in a sense deserted. In the eyes of professional warriors, pity can be a form of debasement.

Rather than hated, like during Vietnam, now the troops are "loved." But the best units don't want love; they want respect. The dilemma is that the safer the administration keeps us at home, the more disconnected the citizenry is from its own military posted abroad. An army at war and a nation at the mall do not encounter each other except through the refractive medium of news and entertainment.

That medium is refractive because while the U.S. still has a national military, it no longer has a national media to quite the same extent. The media is increasingly representative of an international society, whose loyalty to a particular territory is more and more diluted. That international society has ideas to defend -- ideas of universal justice -- but little actual ground. And without ground to defend, it has little need of heroes. Thus, future news cycles will also be dominated by victims.

The media is but one example of the slow crumbling of the nation-state at the upper layers of the social crust -- a process that because it is so gradual, is also deniable by those in the midst of it. It will take another event on the order of 9/11 or greater to change the direction we are headed. Contrary to popular belief, the events of 9/11 -- which are perceived as an isolated incident -- did not fundamentally change our nation. They merely interrupted an ongoing trend toward the decay of nationalism and the devaluation of heroism.

Mr. Kaplan, a correspondent for the Atlantic and a visiting professor at the U.S. Naval Academy, is the author of "Hog Pilots, Blue Water Grunts: The American Military in the Air, at Sea, and on the Ground," just published by Random House.

Oct 2, 2007

Today's Stupid/Purposefully Misleading Headline 

Al-Reuters, once again hard at work, white-washes the attempt by a man to walk into the US Embassy in Austria yesterday with a backpack full of hand grenades and nails:

Austria seeks motive after embassy bomb scare

After doing the usual kabuki dance about the Bosnian assailant having been
"confused" and had been in psychiatric care in the past
they drop a hint way down at the bottom about something else. What could it be... what could it be...
The man's backpack contained a religious book typically read by Bosnian Muslims during the Ramadan fasting month.
A book read by Muslims during Ramadan? Oh... what's the title of that thing? It's on the tip of my tongue. It'll come to me just give me a second...


See also: the Seattle Jewish Federation building attack, the Jeep enthusiast at UNC, the DC Snipers, etc.

Today's Must Read 

The 5 Things I Saw that Make Me Support the War

Liberals often like to say that "violence is senseless."

That’s wrong.

Violence isn't senseless. Senseless violence is senseless. And I should know. Before being awarded the Navy Cross and having the privilege of becoming a Marine, I was a gang member. Sometimes it takes having used violence for both evil as well as good to know that there's a profound moral difference between the two.

People often ask me whether I still support the war. I never hesitate when answering: "Absolutely I support completing the mission," I tell them, "Now more than ever."

I was honored to have been given the opportunity to fight in Iraq on our country’s behalf. And it was that experience—and five things I saw firsthand—that illustrate the foolishness of those who would equate American military power to that used by thugs and tyrants.

Read it all.

Oct 1, 2007

And I grinned an eeeevil grin 

Maybe you've heard, maybe you haven't, but last week Abu Usama al-Tunisi - AQI scumbag of the first order - ceased converting oxygen to carbon dioxide, courtesy of the USAF. Yes, America's military, stopping Global Warming by offing naughty oxygen converters.

His last missive included:

"I have been surrounded in Al 'Awisat for two and a half months because the road has been closed by the Apostate, and there is no other way.
I tried many times to send letters thru the Brothers to our Father, God save him, but I have not received anything.
We are desperate for your help."


Army of wha? 

Today at the exchange I spotted a toy that actually made me laugh out loud... at the Army. I wish I'd had my camera - maybe it'll still be there tomorrow and I can get a picture. It's made by the Dragon Toys company, but I couldn't find a pic on their website.

Anyway, imagine, if you will, a 12 inch tall GI Joe-like fellow dressed in the new Army cammies who comes with a couple magazines. No, not M-16 magazines. More like "People" and "Sports Illustrated"... but only one inch tall. Yeah...

No weapons. No war gear. Just a ruck, and "People" magazine...


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