Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The 4th Estate Again Acting as 5th Column

Bill Keller, the executive editor at the New York Times, wrote a response to the letters he's received over the Times' decision to publish the Banking Records story.
Some of the incoming mail quotes the angry words of conservative bloggers and TV or radio pundits who say that drawing attention to the government's anti-terror measures is unpatriotic and dangerous. (I could ask, if that's the case, why they are drawing so much attention to the story themselves by yelling about it on the airwaves and the Internet.)
It's another slam at the "rightwing noise machine" made up of "hate radio" and "pajama-clad know-nothings".
Some comes from readers who have considered the story in question and wonder whether publishing such material is wise.
The moderates, casual newspaper readers, the willfully ignorant, and the woefully misinformed (i.e., NYTimes readers, and nothing but).
And some comes from readers who are grateful for the information and think it is valuable to have a public debate about the lengths to which our government has gone in combatting the threat of terror.
Id est, the Democratic Undergrounders, KosKiddies, Sheehanites, Far-Lefties, kool-aid drinkers, Hollywood Stupahdists, tin-foil hat-wearing Bush-haters, al Qaeda, etc.

I find the disclosure of this program extremely troubling, because unlike the NSA surveillance program that was initially reported on back in December, this one was flat-out self-indulgent and self-serving. What was the "noble" purpose? In the same article it admits that it appears the program is legal, that there is oversight, that Congress was briefed, and the program has been effective. So what is the purpose of reporting on this? All it does is help America's enemies.
Among the successes was the capture of a Qaeda operative, Riduan Isamuddin, better known as Hambali, believed to be the mastermind of the 2002 bombing of a Bali resort, several officials said. The Swift data identified a previously unknown figure in Southeast Asia who had financial dealings with a person suspected of being a member of Al Qaeda; that link helped locate Hambali in Thailand in 2003, they said.

In the United States, the program has provided financial data in investigations into possible domestic terrorist cells as well as inquiries of Islamic charities with suspected of having links to extremists, the officials said.

The data also helped identify a Brooklyn man who was convicted on terrorism-related charges last year, the officials said. The man, Uzair Paracha, who worked at a New York import business, aided a Qaeda operative in Pakistan by agreeing to launder $200,000 through a Karachi bank, prosecutors said.

Rich Lowry has a great opinion piece today:
The Times published a long story the other day exposing a secret government program to track the international bank transfers of terrorist suspects. The story reported that the program is legal, effective and, as far as any Bush antiterror initiative can be in the current poisonous environment, uncontroversial. Nonetheless, Keller defended its publication as “a matter of public interest.” If the program had violated laws or allowed the government to riffle through the routine banking transactions of Americans (it doesn’t on either count), Keller might have had a case. But there is nothing about the program that countervails the clear public interest in limiting terrorist financing.

Every time the press exposes a secret antiterror program, the media’s apologists shrug it off as no big deal, since terrorists already know that they are being tracked and monitored. But clearly not all terrorists knew that the U.S. was tracking cross-border transactions, say, from Saudi Arabia to Pakistan. Otherwise, the program wouldn’t have helped net a couple of major terrorist figures in Southeast Asia, or figured in terrorist prosecutions. Now they know.

On the one hand, the implicit contention of the Times is that the public almost never has an interest in secrecy, in having classified matters kept that way. On the other, it jealously guards the identity of its secret sources and wants its ability to do so in defiance of governmental investigations written into law. Here is the ultimate arrogation of public power — the Times demanding legal protection for its own secrets so it can better expose the government’s.

This attitude reflects what is, in the minds of the members of the press, an ongoing crisis of legitimacy of the U.S. government, going back to Watergate and the FBI and CIA scandals of the 1970s. It was these abuses that created the decaying, but still regnant Imperial Press, which now reflexively adopts an adversarial stance toward our government even when it is acting in an effective way, fully within its power and abusing no one. The closest the Times could come to a hint of scandal in the financial-tracking program was that “one person had been removed from the operation for conducting a search considered inappropriate.” This is hardly wiretapping Martin Luther King Jr.
Isn't it obvious that the "outing" of this program by the NY Times doesn't undermine the Bush Administration, but undermines America's ability to protect itself?


Saturday, June 24, 2006

The Jihad Week In Review

Homegrown terrorists, homegrown terrorists
What'd life be without homicide bombers
Only two things that money might buy
That's true Jihad & homegrown terrorists
(to the tune of Guy Clark's "Homegrown Tomatoes")

Silly, I know. But the label "homegrown" terrorists, just sounds so gosh-darn corny, it reminded me of this corny song.

"Excuse me: What type o' dong?!?!"

It's the weekend, and I see only two choices in confronting the North Korean Missile-Dong Crisis:

1)We test-fire our own missile system. And if it happens to "accidentally" collides with a certain taepodong-2 missile, we can feign the Urkel-apology: "Oops! Did we do that?!" and have the world community just bill us a UN Resolution, stating "Don't do that anymore." (It worked for a certain deposed despot for 12 years).


2) We deploy Hans Blix and Team America to North Korea:

Warning: Some "improper" Engrish spoken in the video cip (yeah, no kiddin'! And "duh"!)

And a bonus video of "Dear Leader"; perhaps he just needs a little understanding?

Friday, June 23, 2006

Ingrates and Anti-Americanism

In 1981-2, I was in the 8th grade, living at Osan Air Force Base in South Korea. My dad was the operations squadron officer in a squadron of OV-10s we still had flying over there: The 19th TASS (Tactical Air Support Squadron). Their job was that of forward air controllers, coordinating between the army ground commander that requested airbomb strikes on specific targets, and the fighters that would drop the bombs.

When I first saw what the OV-10 Bronco looked like that my father was piloting around in, I had the same reaction Luke Skywalker had when he first laid eyes on the Millennium Falcon: "What a piece of junk!" and Princess Leia: "You came in that thing?! You're braver than I thought." It just looked like such a relic compared to F-15's. I think I remember expressing shock to my dad that we still had squadrons that flew with propellers.

I have a number of memories of my time in Korea:

My first big secret crush with an angel who shared a class with me, but whom I never talked to (Carrie Lund...if you're out there reading this, call me! I'm not shy anymore!); waking up at 6 A.M to catch the "Greyhound" bus every morning to go to school at Yongsan Army Base in Seoul, every weekday morning (Ugh!)....taking Tae Kwon Do in place of P.E. class....Asia was the "in" record album of choice, as was the J Geils Band, "Centerfold" the popular song. Armed Services TV was just sheer torture.....foosball and Dungeons & Dragons at the Youth Center in the afternoons....bargaining with merchants off-Base.....the smell of Kimchi on the breaths of every Korean......

Mostly, I felt an overall sense of boredom and homesickness for the States.

Ok...enough reminescing...on with my post....

June 25th is the 56th anniversary of the invasion of North Korean People's Army into the Republic of Korea.

In wake of the possibility of North Korea launching a dingdong missile test (oops! I meant "taepodong-2" missile), and the possibility of us conducting our own little missile-testing, it occurred to me that something has been pissing me off; but I have been too preoccupied with other news to really let it boil over. And that is this...

33,629 American soldiers gave their lives in the defense of South Korea. And this is the gratitude of South Korean youths? What is it about university students worldwide, that make them come out so idealistically and ideologically backward? It's like they have the same liberal professors there as we have over here, pushing the virtues of Marxist doctrine and teaching the Howard Zinn version of American history where the U.S. is an imperialist, evil empire. Apparently the South Korean Teacher's Union has ties to North Korea, and among other things, teaches the Korean kids the following:
  • Repeated use of the “f” word is highly appropriate for children.
  • Corporations are evil, greedy, and starve children. And Donald Duck (you thought Trump, perhaps?) is taking control of them all!
  • Osama bin Laden—now that’s hilarious! Ditto Katrina.
Recently I had written my dad an e-mail (my parents are currently in Japan), and he had this opinion to say about the South Koreans:
The young people in Korea always were anti-government, so by extension, anti-U.S. The difference is that when we were there in the early eighties, demonstrations were against the law, and if they demonstrated anyway, they were met with military force. Several times, more than a few demonstrators were killed by soldiers. Since we were there, Korea has become more liberal and demonstrations are allowed if they don't become violent. Of course, they almost always do become violent.
I found the following bit of information:

Kwangju Uprising and Anti-Americanism One of the major causes of this anti-Americanism stems from the belief among many Koreans that the U.S. government supported the Korean military's crackdown on demonstrators in Kwangju, commonly known as the "Kwangju Massacre," in May 1980. Dissident groups and human rights observers have estimated the civilian death toll at approximately 2,000. Korean activists have charged that the Commander of the US forces, which has operational control over the ROK military, permitted the deployment of Korean troops for the violent crackdown. (See Donald N. Clark, ed., The Kwangju Uprising: Shadows over the Regime in South Korea; and Tim Shorrock, "The Struggle for Democracy in South Korea in the 1980s and the Rise of Anti-Americanism.") (See Howitwas: 1980 for details on Kwangju Uprising.)
Here is a little more background, from the same source, on the political climate around the time I was in South Korea (skip through this blockquote, if it's too much information):
Chae Kyu Ha took over the reins as President, but only for a short time. On Dec 12, 1979, Maj.Gen. Chun Doo-hwan took control of government in a military coup. After Chun Doo-hwan became President of the Fifth Republic, things returned to normal...though tensions were just below the surface.

On 17 May 1980, the ROK extended martial law nationwide to include Cheju (previously exempted), in an effort to quell widespread anti-government demonstrations by students and others in Seoul and five provincial cities. Decree No. 10 is issued immediately thereafter, which directs closing of all universities or colleges; bans political rallies and labor strikes; requires prior censorship for newspapers and other publications, as well as radio broadcasts; and prohibits "slanderous statements" against iether former or incumbert presidents. Promulgation of the drecree is accompanied by the arrets of hundreds of dissidents, including prominent political leadders.

On 19 May 1980, Martial Law Command closes down the National Assembly and the headquarters of both major political parties. This latest action follows the arrest of former presidential candidate Kim Dae-jung, majority party head Kim Jong-pil, opposition party leader Kim Young-sam, and other political fugures on suspicion of illicityly amassing wealth or instigating social unrest. The US State Department says it was "deeply disturbed by the extension of martial law" in the ROK.

Expressing displeasure with Lt. Gen. Chun's growing power, the Carter administration officials disclose a series of measures affecting its relations with Korea. Among them: US economic mission scheduled ofr Seoulo visit later in June is put off indefinitely; US would review its enteire relationship with ROK except for basic security ties; at US request, Asian Development Bank will delay action on two loans for SOuth Korean construction projects; and planned meeting between ROK Foreign Ministry and US State Depart officials will be postponed.

Retired General Chun Doo-hwan is chosen unanimously by the ROK electoral college as the nation's new head of state replacing Park, Choon-hoon who served eleven days as Acting President following the 15 August resignation of Choi Kyu-hah. Chun was the sole candidate for the presidnency. He was formally sworn inas the new President of the ROK on 1 Sep 1980. (Source: The US Military Experience in Korea 1871-1982, p216-219, Command Historian's Office, USFK/EUSA) The Kwangu incident would haunt Korea for years. Later former Presidents Chun Doo-hwan and Rho Tae-woo would be imprisoned for their roles in the "Kwangju Massacre" (as it is popularly called now) when Kim Yong-sam became President.
Read more about the history of the student unrests, including an AsiaCNN article.

Check out just some of the Anti-American incidents that have occurred in recent years.

Why should the U.S. continue to support a country that teaches it to love the North Korean Regime more than it appreciates the sacrifice of U.S. soldiers on their behalf, 56 years ago? As well as our military and governmental support today? If these student protestors love their North Korean brethren so much, why don't they go ahead and migrate across the border and live in the paradise that is Kim Jong-Il's North Korea? And why don't we just withdraw ALL of our 30,000 service members from there, and station them someplace where they will be appreciated and better served?

Joshua at the Korea Liberator has an excellent post that comprehensively covers the current anti-Americanism, pro-North Korea sentiments that seems to be the mood of South Korea. It is an easy read and sums up what I feel and believe, but from a more informed perspective than I could ever provide my readers.

Mike's America has shocking photos of a U.S. Secretary of Defense shaking hands with a dictator.

Hat tip to Gateway Pundit for the Korean blog links.

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Wednesday, June 21, 2006

"The Law is Inside Out, the World is Upside Down!"

Curt brings up one editorialist who doesn't seem to understand why there is all this media hoopla over the torture and slaughter of two U.S. soldiers, when that sort of thing happens to Iraqi people every day. So the writer, Pierre Tristann, wonders why we put faces and names to these two dead warriors who lost their lives in service to this great nation of ours.

And in another flip-twist upside down way of the media world deciding what is important and newsworthy, Skye wonders
if the New York Times will run 48 front page stories detailing the torture and murder of these soldiers? Will anyone on the left voice concern that the Geneva Convention and civil rights of these murdered heroes was NOT upheld by the terrorists?
Of real torture, of the kind experienced by our soldiers, the way they ran 30 straight frontpage news articles in a month on the Abu Ghraib "tortures".

Laura Ingraham on O'Reilly tonight (video at ExposetheLeft.com), also brought up how human rights watch groups like International A.N.S.W.E.R has on its frontpage a big photo saying, "Close Guantanamo and other torture centers" without even a mention of the horrific deaths of Pfc. Kristian Menchaca and Pfc. Thomas L. Tucker, let alone denouncing the atrocities committed by the Islamic Jihadists. And on the Amnesty International website- both international and USA- there is not a mention. On the international, the top page has a headline about "Partners in Crime: Europe's Role in U.S. Renditions". And on the USA version, would it be too much to ask for even a mention somewhere? Apparently so. But you can certainly visit the website if you want to hear about the recent suicides at Guantanamo or perhaps sex trafficking at the World Cup.

Ingraham notes that their real agenda is "to blame America for everything that is going badly in the world."

Skye also had another post in which she points out the sheer inconsistency and bafflement that is the practice of those who engage in "selective peace protests".

It's left up to sites like this to point out who are the ones committing the real terror in the world.

Also: Michelle Malkin


From the NY Times:
If the two soldiers had one thing in common, it was their determination to join the Army and fight in Iraq, believing it to be the right thing to do. It is a message they tried to impress on their families, who worried incessantly about phantom snipers and hidden bombs. "I'm going to defend my country," Private Tucker said in the telephone message. "Be proud of me."
Ken MacKenzie appeared on the Today Show and was critical of the U.S. government's handling of the situation.
"I think the U.S. government was too slow to react to this," MacKenzie said Tuesday. "They should have had a plan in place."

MacKenzie said the government should have offered a $100 million reward and offered to exchange mujahideen detainees for the soldiers' lives. The government seized enough money from Saddam Hussein to afford it, he said.
Another uncle, Mario Vasquez, had a different was of a differing mindset:
He called for the military to retaliate swiftly against the kidnappers.

"I wish they'd punish the people that do these kinds of things right away, instead of taking forever and spending millions of dollars," Vasquez said.

"I think you capture them, make them pay for what they did. Don't think that it's just two more soldiers. Don't negotiate anything. They [the killers] didn't."
So, was the U.S. response to try and rescue the two soldiers, deserving of Ken MacKenzie's criticism?

This is what Major General Caldwell had to say on Larry King Live:
8,000 coalition forces and Iraqi and army, police, and security forces down in that location and clamped down the area. So the possibility for them to move them out of there almost became impossible at that point, and when you look at the amount of hours that were flown by both the United States Air Force and other aerial assets, about 400 flight hours of fixed wing, about 200 hours of UAVs and if you look over a 72-hour period, we were continuously monitoring the air with multiple intelligence sources up there looking around. When you look at the effort that was put in, I mean we lost I think you probably heard one of our - one coalition force and had 12 wounded in the efforts to find these two missing soldiers. We had a armored vehicle destroyed, another seven damaged. I mean, it was an intensive, concerted effort. There were secondary effects out of this, though, because it's a bad area. So we also turned up a lot.
One American soldier was killed, and 7 wounded during this search for the two missing Private first class.

And when Sylvia Grice, a cousin of PFC Kristian Menchaca, was asked by Larry King "to react" to the criticism leveled at the US government by PFC Menchaca's uncle. Her response:
"He doesn't speak for Kristian's family. He's views are not ours."

KING: Oh. So you disagree with him?

GARCIA: Well, he does not represent our family, nor does he represent Kristian Menchaca.
More from the Larry King Live interview:
ROBERTS: Gabriela and Sylvia, it's John Roberts here with Larry and my extreme condolences to you for your loss. I'm sure -- as a parent of a young boy I know how difficult it must be to lose a family member to war. What was the family's thoughts about the fact that Kristian was going off to fight in Iraq?

GRICE: We were shocked. When he told us, when he had made his decision, obviously, we had a lot of concerns, and -- but his mind was made up. And he was that kind of person. When his mind was made up, he followed through with everything.

ROBERTS: Why did he join the military?

GRICE: A lot of different reasons. He was very proud to serve his country. He -- the camaraderie, the structure.

GARCIA: The challenge.

GRICE: The challenge. Absolutely.

ROBERTS: Did you support his decision to go to Iraq?

GRICE: Absolutely, 100 percent.

KING: Does his mother say she was against the war, Sylvia?

GRICE: His mother did not say she was against the war. She had the concerns that every parent has for their son going off to war. Don't go, what if. There's always the what if in the back of your mind. And as a concerned parent of course, she would have wanted for him to stay. But his decision had been made and we supported him.

That actually seems to contradict this statement by Maria Vasquez, who is said in the Washington Post to be his mother:
She issued a statement written in Spanish that said, "I am against the war and I feel very hurt by what has happened to my son."
I'm a bit confused, since in the NY Times today, it calls one "Maria Vasquez", as being his aunt.

More about Pfc Menchaca:
KING: What can you tell us about him, Gabriela?

GARCIA: He was very reserved, 23 years old. Before he left, he was just as reserved but carefree. The last time we saw him, he was a lot more confident, more self-reliant. He's always been loyal but even more so. And I think that's part of the reason he also joined the army, because of the loyalty.

KING: So he changed?

GARCIA: Yes. He grew.

GRICE: He became a man.

Here's a bit more about Pfc Menchaca:
Private Menchaca made it a point to carve out time for his extended family on both sides of the border, spending time with his mother, his brother, his cousins, aunts and uncles in Houston, Matamoros and Brownsville. He also spent time with his wife, Christina, 18, whom he married without telling his family last September, one month before shipping out.

A high school dropout who later earned his graduate equivalency diploma, Private Menchaca had been unhappy working in Houston at a gas station. He decided to join the Army, hoping it would lead to a job as an immigration agent, and told his family Christmas Day, 2004 that he planned to enlist; they tried to talk him out of it. Private Menchaca's brother had served in the Army and had not enjoyed it, Mrs. Vásquez said.

But Private Menchaca insisted, and the family came around. He scored so high on his entrance test that he was given the option to bypass the infantry, said his cousin, Gabriela García. He chose not to do that. Instead, he signed up in March 2005 and wound up in the 101st Airborne.
From CNN:
Menchaca grew up in a close-knit extended Mexican-American family in Houston. His uncle and cousins remembered a sweet, quiet young man who was proud to be in the military and later wanted to join the U.S. Border Patrol.

"He talked about how happy he was that he was serving his country," said Sylvia Grice, 37, Menchaca's cousin.

Tucker's family grieved in private, saying in a statement they were devastated by the news, but were heartened by the community support.

"Tom has gained a much larger family through this ordeal than he had when he left home to go help to free the Iraqi people and protect his country from the threat of terrorism," the family said.
Madras, Oregon numbers around 5,500....much more of a small town than the big city that is Houston. So the residents of Madras especially feel the loss of PFC Tucker, intimately. This morning, PFC Tucker's father, Wes Tucker, had this to say to the media:
"Tom has gained a much larger family through this ordeal than he had when he left home to go help to free the Iraqi people and protect his country from the threat of terrorism," the family said.

"Our son, as far as we're concerned, he has died for the freedom of everybody in the United States,"
The local paper, the Madras Pioneer, has the following to say (also, here) from those who knew Pfc Thomas Tucker:
On Monday, Tom Brown, of Madras, a friend of the Tucker family, helped put up a display of flags -- each from a veteran who had died -- in the Tuckers' front yard on the Culver Highway. The Lions Club put up flags around town early Tuesday.

"The family would like to see the community support with flags and yellow ribbons," Brown said.

Tom and Janet Brown have two sons who attended school with Thomas Tucker -- Cody and Jordan. Cody, who was in Tucker's class in high school, is also with the same U.S. Army Division -- the 101st Airborne Division -- deployed in Iraq.

"Our hearts go out to the Tucker family," said Janet Brown. "Tom's a fine young man -- a strong young man physically and mentally, and a good soldier. We're just saying lots of prayers for him and his fellow soldiers."

After enlisting in the U.S. Army in July of 2005, Tucker was stationed at Fort Campbell, Ky., as a member of B Company, 1st Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division. He was deployed to Iraq in February.

Before his deployment, high school buddy Jake Koolhaas, of Madras, recalled Tucker's most recent visit to Madras. "I had dinner with him at the Meet Market after he got back from basic training. He looked great -- he was wearing his uniform. I was pretty impressed."

When they were in high school, Koolhaas said Tucker enjoyed riding four-wheelers out on the Crooked River Grassland, and working on his '71 Chevy pickup. "He found a 350 motor and we spent weeks putting it in there," Koolhaas said.

Josh Richesin, another of Tucker's school friends, had small engine repair with him. "I remember him being into a lot of mechanical things, like cars." Tucker's sense of humor in high school was also remarkable. "He was a jokester," said Richesin, adding that Tucker found the humor in everything.

According to a statement from Tucker's family, Thomas Tucker was born in Prineville, but raised with his older sister in Madras, where he attended school. "Thomas has a great love of music and played the piano," the statement noted.
Classmate Kayla (Hatfield) DuPont, of Madras, was a friend of Tucker's in high school, when they were both in band. "He was very outgoing and friendly," she said. "He was just an all-around great guy."

During high school, Tucker worked at the Tiger Mart gas station and car wash -- his first real job, according to former Madras mayor Rick Allen, who owned Tiger Mart at that time.

"He was always trying to save money for his car," Allen said. "He always had a vehicle to mess with."

Josh Tolman of Madras, who has been a friend of Tucker's since fourth grade, worked with him at Tiger Mart, and agreed that Tucker has always loved "recreational motorized stuff."

Throughout their school years, "We did everything back then together. We grew up hunting and fishing. We had a tight little group in high school," he recalled.

Over the years, Tolman kept in touch with Tucker, meeting with him right before he was deployed to Iraq. "He wanted to go do something meaningful," he said.

Tolman found out that Tucker was missing on Friday afternoon, before the names of the two were released. "It's hard to take it all in," he said Monday. "I don't know what to think about what he's going through over there."

Allen ran into him after he completed basic training, and was impressed with the man the quiet, pleasant boy had become. "I looked at him and thought, `My God, that's Tom Tucker,'" he said.

"He grew up coming to Tiger Mart for Icees; now he's in the middle of an international, worldwide issue. It just breaks your heart," said Allen, who spent most of Monday fielding calls from media, including CNN, Larry King, Newsweek, the Today Show, U.S. Today, as well as state and local news outlets.

California resident Jim Krause remembers well the media attention after his brother Sgt. Elmer C. Krause was lost in an attack on a convoy in Iraq on April 9, 2004.

"We were inundated by the media in the beginning," he said, noting his family's concern that anything they said might be picked up by the people who were holding his brother and used against him.

His brother's remains were found in a shallow grave nearly two weeks later, but Sgt. Keith "Matt" Maupin, who was in the same convoy, is still listed as missing.
"I know what the family's going through," he said Monday, when he called The Pioneer to find out how to convey his sympathy to Tucker's family. "If you haven't gone through it, it's torment. You hope for the best and you worry about what they're going through."

Sunday evening and Monday morning, media descended on Madras from all over the area. "Newspeople were banging on the door at 5 a.m.," said Tom Brown.
The Jefferson County Sheriff's Department stepped in to assist the family and ensure their privacy. "Our primary goal is to keep their privacy honored," said Sheriff Jack Jones. His department was contacted by the military Saturday night, and has been supplying deputies to keep media and others away from the house.
At one time, half a dozen satellites were stationed near the intersection of the Culver Highway and Fairgrounds Road, monitoring the home of Wesley and Margaret Tucker. They had dispersed by nightfall, but reassembled Tuesday morning.
School District 509-J has been overwhelmed with media requests for photos and comments, and, at the request of the family, has asked employees not to talk to media, but to support the family by putting out yellow ribbons and flying American flags, according to Superintendent Guy Fisher.

"In a tragedy like that, you need to honor the family's request," he said, noting that Tucker's mother, Margaret, is employed as a cook at Madras High School.
"The family wants everyone to know how grateful they are for the support that they've received," said Everitt, but added that they are not yet prepared to handle non-family visits.

As the mother of a soldier still stationed in Iraq, Janet Brown said her heart goes out to the Tucker family. "This community will do whatever the family needs. Our thoughts and prayers are with them."

A savings account has been set up at Columbia River Bank for the Tucker family in the name of "Bring Tommy Home," to help the family with expenses. Call the Madras Chamber of Commerce at 475-2350 for information on assisting the family in other ways.

Condolences to the family members of Pfc Tucker and Pfc Menchaca; also condolences to the family and friends of Spc. David J. Babineau, 25, of Springfield, Mass., the driver killed who was with them.

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Monday, June 19, 2006

"Cut-and-Run, Retreat-and-Defeat" Strategy Vs. "Staying and Paying the Course"

I haven't watched "Meet the Press" in some time- mainly because my NBC reception stinks. But Mike's America clued me into John Murtha's interview with Tim Russert. Since I'm on the Leftcoast, I had time to catch the MSNBC repeat broadcast.

So this past Sunday, Congressman Murtha was given plenty of airtime to sputter and bloviate, using his honorable military service as an aegis against anyone who might dare criticize him (such as myself) and as a badge of authority on what's best, militarily for America.

I disagree with every assessment and statement he made...from his "facts" to his opinions. But let's just focus on this one:
Now, let’s, let’s—give me, give you an example. When we went to Beirut, I, I said to President Reagan, “Get out.” Now, the other day we were doing a debate, and they said, “Well, Beirut was a different situation. We cut and run.” We didn’t cut and run. President Reagan made the decision to change direction because he knew he couldn’t win it. Even in Somalia, President Clinton made the decision, “We have to, we have to change direction."
In 1998, he had this to say during a famous ABC interview conducted by John Miller:
After our victory in Afghanistan and the defeat of the oppressors who had killed millions of Muslims [ie, the Soviet Union], the legend about the invincibility of the superpowers vanished. Our boys no longer viewed America as a superpower. So, when they left Afghanistan, they went to Somalia and prepared themselves carefully for a long war. They had thought that the Americans were like the Russians, so they trained and prepared. They were stunned when they discovered how low was the morale of the American soldier. America had entered with 30,000 soldiers in addition to thousands of soldiers from different countries in the world. ... As I said, our boys were shocked by the low morale of the American soldier and they realized that the American soldier was just a paper tiger. He was unable to endure the strikes that were dealt to his army, so he fled, and America had to stop all its bragging and all that noise it was making in the press after the Gulf War in which it destroyed the infrastructure and the milk and dairy industry that was vital for the infants and the children and the civilians and blew up dams which were necessary for the crops people grew to feed their families. Proud of this destruction, America assumed the titles of world leader and master of the new world order. After a few blows, it forgot all about those titles and rushed out of Somalia in shame and disgrace, dragging the bodies of its soldiers. America stopped calling itself world leader and master of the new world order, and its politicians realized that those titles were too big for them and that they were unworthy of them. I was in Sudan when this happened. I was very happy to learn of that great defeat that America suffered, so was every Muslim. ...
In the Muslim world, strength is respected; weakness is sneered at. What happened with Beirut, Somalia, and Vietnam, is what led Osama bin Laden to become emboldened to plot terror-strikes against American interests, and terrorism on American soil.

I don't care what position you held before the war. If you were against going into Iraq, if you considered it a war of option and not one of necessity, fine then. You can still be angry about it; but to use it for a basis of strategy for the hear and now- to be a harpy about how no wmds were found, is to be stuck on stupid. We are there now. There is only one clear course of action, and that is victory. To settle for anything less will only bring more 9/11's to our shores. 2,500 American soldiers so far, have given their lives to make America safer from Islamic terror; will their sacrifices have been in vain? Only if we abandon the mission before it's completion. By all conceivable measures, we are not losing the War on Terror. We have made it costly to the terrorists who have waged their jihad on the U.S. What we apparently have lost, though, is the ability to stomach loss and to have the intestinal fortitude to win wars. Murtha's response- which is a cut-and-run, defeat-and-retreat mentality, no matter how he wants to rationalize it to himself, is exactly the kind of America Osama bin Laden is describing when he labels us a "paper tiger". We are so good....so civilized....that even the loss of a single American life causes us great angst and pain. But we cannot allow the hand-wringers and the chicken little quagmirists to dictate the course of this war and impliment a strategy of defeat. Defeat is what will embolden terrorists and endanger many more American lives.

Also blogging:
Freedom Eden
Mike's America
Conservative Intelligence Report
Chickenhawk Express has a great roundup of Murtha quotes from 1993.
Hat tip: Michael Medved Show


The Real Connection

Perhaps I never really paid attention to the run-up to war. But when the case for war was made by President Bush, I wasn't under the impression that Saddam Hussein had a hand in 9/11; yet from the Left, I often hear the talking point, "Saddam never had anything to do with 9/11". And that there were no connections between Al-Qaeda and Iraq.

The first part is a myth, in that the Left has used it as a mantra ad nauseam, in such a way, that they all believe that this is one of the claims made by the President. The only connection I see, is that Saddam is part of the GWOT.

The second part, too, is a myth. There were connections. But the Left refuses to believe. If we found wmds, I wonder if those on the Left would believe or be in denial that they are real, at this point. Incidentally, I find it disingenuous for those who were against the war from the beginning to use the "no wmds found" as an argument, when they were opposed to the war, even knowing that the belief was that Saddam possessed wmds. It's taking advantage of 20/20 hindsight.

Curt has been doing an excellent job following the translations of the Saddam documents. Among other things, are pointing out operational links between Zarqawi and Saddam. Before the war in Iraq.

Last week, the Weekly Standard had a few pieces worthy of note on Zarqawi.

Shortly after Zarqawi's death, Abu Ayyub al-Masri was thought to be the next successor in Iraq. He seemed to be a logical choice. What Dan Darling points out in his piece, is how this would be significant in terms of U.S. pre-war claims that there was a connection between al Qaeda and Saddam before the Invasion:
According to the information provided by the U.S. military, al-Masri traveled to Iraq in 2002 before Zarqawi and established the first al Qaeda cell in the Baghdad area. From both his nationality and connections with al Qaeda second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahiri, it can be reasonably concluded that al-Masri was a member of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, the group that al-Zawahiri headed prior to his merger with bin Laden's organization. This is significant, given the 9/11 Commission report's cryptic note that al-Zawahiri had "ties of his own" to the former Iraqi regime and al-Masri's presence in Saddam's Baghdad.
CIA Director at the time, George Tenet, had this to say to Senator Reed before the Senate Armed Services Committee:
The argument--the specific line of evidence and argument we have made is they're providing safe haven to him. And we know this because a foreign government approached the Iraqis twice about Zarqawi's presence in Baghdad, and he disappeared. The second troubling piece of this, sir, is, as I mentioned yesterday, the two dozen other associates and two senior Egyptian Islamic Jihad associates that's indistinguishable from al Qaeda because they merged there. And the third piece I'd say to you is Baghdad's not Geneva. It is inconceivable that these people are sitting there without the Iraqi intelligence services knowledge of the fact that there is a safe haven being provided by people to people who believe it's fairly comfortable to operate there. That's as far as I can take the story today.
And any connection beyond providing safe haven? Dan Darling comments:
It should be noted in the exchange cited above that Sen. Reed acknowledged to Director Tenet that there appeared to be "clear evidence" that the Iraqi regime was providing safe haven to Zarqawi and two senior Egyptian Islamic Jihad associates (one of whom was al-Masri). Secretary Powell later described these same individuals before the U.N. Security Council as having "established a base of operations" in Baghdad where they could "coordinate the movement of people, money and supplies into and throughout Iraq . . . they've now been operating freely in the capital for more than eight months."

Powell also alleged that "We know these affiliates are connected to Zarqawi because they remain even today in regular contact with his direct subordinates, including the poison cell plotters, and they are involved in moving more than money and materiel." This is perhaps the most alarming accusation. The State Department's 2002 Patterns of Global Terrorism report notes that, "In the past year, al-Qaida operatives in northern Iraq concocted suspect chemicals under the direction of senior al-Qaida associate Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi and tried to smuggle them into Russia, Western Europe, and the United States for terrorist operations."

CRITICS OF THE ADMINISTRATION claim that the presence of Zarqawi and his associates in Baghdad, like the body of administration claims of Iraqi collaboration with Zarqawi, were the result of "cherry-picked" or manipulated intelligence. The bipartisan Senate Select Intelligence Committee, whose members include several of the administration's most strident critics, found otherwise, concluding that "the information provided by the Central Intelligence Agency for the terrorism portion of Secretary Powell's speech was carefully vetted by both terrorism and region analysts" and that "none of the portrayals of the intelligence reporting included in Secretary Powell's speech differed in any significant way from earlier assessments published by the Central Intelligence Agency."

TWO FURTHER ASPECTS of al-Masri's career cut deeply into critics' understanding of Zarqawi and his organization. While some have alleged that bin Laden and Zarqawi existed as rivals prior to the invasion of Iraq, this interpretation is belied by General Caldwell's statement that Zarqawi first met al-Masri at al-Farouk, an al Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan, and has had a "very close relationship" with him since arriving in Iraq.

The acknowledgement by Caldwell that al-Masri was in contact with al-Zawahiri likewise belies critics' charges that no real connection exists between al Qaeda in Iraq and its parent organization headed up by Osama bin Laden. See the calls among Zarqawi's online followers for bin Laden to appoint a new emir of al Qaeda in Iraq so that their jihad can continue. Clearly, whatever the differences between Zarqawi and bin Laden, they were more than willing to cooperate when it came to killing Americans.

The potential rise of Abu Ayyub al-Masri in al Qaeda in Iraq provides a welcome opportunity for the administration to both clarify misperceptions concerning the nature and identity of our enemies and rebut critics who falsely accuse the administration of having brought terrorism to Iraq. Whether or not the administration chooses to seize this opportunity will be another matter altogether.
Curt made a post yesterday, regarding the man who may be the replacement, and his possible ties to Saddam's regime.

As far as those who still claim Zarqawi's al Qaeda link was made only after we invaded Iraq- that there were no terrorists there until we became occupiers, another piece by Thomas Joscelyn from the Weekly Standard reinforces what Curt has covered in previous posts:
There is abundant evidence that Saddam's regime, at the very least, tolerated Zarqawi's existence in regime-controlled areas of Iraq prior to the war. Moreover, at least three high-level al Qaeda associates have testified to Saddam's warm welcome for Zarqawi and his associates.

Consider what a top al Qaeda operative, Abu Zubaydah, told his CIA interrogators after his capture in March 2002. According to the Senate Intelligence Report, Zubaydah said "he was not aware of a relationship between Iraq and al-Qaeda." But, he added that "any relationship would be highly compartmented and went on to name al Qaeda members who he thought had good contacts with the Iraqis." Zubaydah "indicated that he heard that an important al-Qaida associate, Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi, and others had good relationships with Iraqi intelligence."

Zubaydah's testimony has since been further corroborated by a known al Qaeda ideologue, Dr. Muhammad al-Masari. Al-Masari operated the Committee for the Defense of Legitimate Rights, a Saudi oppositionist group and al Qaeda front, out of London for more than a decade. He told the editor-in-chief of Al-Quds Al-Arabi that Saddam "established contact with the 'Afghan Arabs' as early as 2001, believing he would be targeted by the US once the Taliban was routed." Furthermore, "Saddam funded Al-Qaeda operatives to move into Iraq with the proviso that they would not undermine his regime."

Al-Masari claimed that Saddam's regime actively aided Zarqawi and his men prior to the war and fully included them in his plans for a terrorist insurgency. He said Saddam "saw that Islam would be key to a cohesive resistance in the event of invasion." Iraqi officers bought "small plots of land from farmers in Sunni areas" and they buried "arms and money caches for later use by the resistance."

Al-Masari also claimed that "Iraqi army commanders were ordered to become practicing Muslims and to adopt the language and spirit of the jihadis."

Just as Saddam ordered, many of Iraq's senior military and intelligence personnel joined or aided Zarqawi's jihad. Many of the more prominent supporters and members of Zarqawi's al Qaeda branch, in fact, came from the upper echelon of Saddam's regime. Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri (aka the "King of Clubs") and his sons allied with Zarqawi, as did members of Muhammad Hamza Zubaydi's (aka the "Queen of Spades") family. Zarqawi's allies included Muhammed Hila Hammad Ubaydi, who was an aide to Saddam's chief of staff of intelligence, and some of his more lethal operatives served as officers in Saddam's military, including Abu Ali, "Al-Hajji" Thamer Mubarak (whose sister attempted a martyrdom operation in Jordan), Abu-Ubaidah, and Abdel Fatih Isa.

THESE BAATHISTS, and others, have spilled much blood in Zarqawi's name. Their attacks were among "Zarqawi's" most successful, including an assault on the Abu Ghraib prison and the first attack on the U.N.'s headquarters. The latter strike was among al Qaeda's earliest, killing Sergio de Mello, the U.N.'s special representative in Baghdad, in August 2003.

In addition to Abu Zubaydah and Muhammad al-Masri, a third high-ranking al Qaeda associate has explained Saddam's support for al Qaeda prior to the war. Hudayfa Azzam, who is the son of one of al Qaeda's earliest and most influential leaders, Adullah Azzam, gave an interview with Agence France Presse in August 2004 in which he explained Saddam's support for al Qaeda's members as they relocated to Iraq:

"Saddam Hussein's regime welcomed them with open arms," Azzam explained, "and young al Qaeda members entered Iraq in large numbers, setting up an organization to confront the occupation." Al Qaeda's terrorists "infiltrated into Iraq with the help of Kurdish mujahideen from Afghanistan, across mountains in Iran." Once in Iraq, Saddam "strictly and directly" controlled their activities, Azzam added.

Curiously, in all of the coverage of Zarqawi's death there has been no mention of Abu Zubaydah's, Muhammad al-Masri's, or Hudayfa Azzam's comments. This is not entirely surprising. Many of the basic facts surrounding Zarqawi's early days in Iraq have been muddled by those vested in the notion that Saddam's Iraq never supported al Qaeda.

Even when al Qaeda terrorists themselves admit that Saddam offered them safe haven and support, their words fall on the mainstream media's deaf ears.
Personally, I feel that whether the jihadists and terrorists in Iraq were there before or after the invasion is irrelevant. Terrorists are terrorists worthy of extermination wherever they may be....all else is details. Remember: Iraq is just one battlefield against an ideology that stretches throughout the civilized world. Al Qaeda in Iraq is nigh indistinguishable from Hamas who called Zarqawi a "brother-fighter"; from Somali Jihadists who declare war on godless infidels; and immigrant and homegrown terrorists in Britain, Canada, Holland, France, Russia, Pakistan, the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Australia, and the U.S, or any number of other nations. It's a world problem.

What do al Qaeda, Abu Nidal Organization, Abu Sayyaf Group, Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, Ansar al-Islam, Armed Islamic Group, and Chechnya-based Terrorists and numerous other terror groups share in common? Do you want to know what the real connection is here? It's militant Islam. This is the so-called religion of "peace"? Submit or else...

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Sunday, June 18, 2006

Happy Father's Day!

My one year anniversary as a blogger came and passed, and I hadn't even realized it (darn...it might have warded off Mike from picking on me for 48 more hours, for lack of posting). It was June 9th, where I made my first post.

One day a fourth-grade teacher asked the children
what their fathers did for a living.
All the typical answers came up - fireman, mechanic,
businessman, salesman, doctor, lawyer, and so forth.
However, little Justin was being uncharacteristically quiet.
When the teacher prodded him about his father, he
replied, "My father's an exotic dancer in a gay cabaret
and takes off all his clothes in front of other men,
and they give him money. Sometimes, if the offer is
really good, he will go home with some guy and make
good money.
The teacher, obviously shaken by this statement,
hurriedly set the other children to work on some
exercises and then took little Justin aside. She
asked him, "Is that really true about your father?"
"No," the boy said, "He works for the Democratic
National Committee and is helping to secure the
nomination of Hillary Clinton for President, but I
was too embarrassed to say that in front of the
other kids."

Happy Father's Day, Dad! You will always be my personal hero.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Ditzy 'Я' Us

*sigh*....I know there are more important matters going on in the world of greater significance to talk about...but hey, it's the weekend. And the Dixie Chicks still don't "get it". If it's attention they seek, it's attention they will get (even as their ticket sales hit the tanker), here at Sparks from the Anvil...
"It was the bullying and the scare factor," shudders banjo and guitar player Robison. "It was like the McCarthy days, and it was almost like the country was unrecognisable."
The level of debate can be gauged from the way Maines was compared to "Hanoi Jane" Fonda, who was photographed manning a North Vietnamese anti-aircraft gun at the height of the Vietnam war.

The Chicks can't hide their disgust at the lack of support they received from other country performers. "A lot of artists cashed in on being against what we said or what we stood for because that was promoting their career, which was a horrible thing to do," says Robison.

"A lot of pandering started going on, and you'd see soldiers and the American flag in every video. It became a sickening display of ultra-patriotism."
And I'm sick of their ultra-anti-patriotism and their pandering for listeners who are anti-Bush. How about they not impune the integrity and the patriotism of other artists? I question her ability to distinguish those who are "cashing in" on patriotism with those who are honestly patriotic and who support the troops. After all, they have "cashed in" with this new album and "defiant" publicity image, by retracting their Bush-apology. Look what Maines says next:
"The entire country may disagree with me, but I don't understand the necessity for patriotism," Maines resumes, through gritted teeth. "Why do you have to be a patriot? About what? This land is our land? Why? You can like where you live and like your life, but as for loving the whole country… I don't see why people care about patriotism."
Did'ja read that folks? Read it again. Unbelievable. The ingratitude and the ignorance. "Out of America" would be a good book for her to pick up.

Michelle Malkin weighs in.

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Friday, June 16, 2006

Put Up, or Shut Up!

"I've come to not only look you in the eye, I also come to tell you that when America gives its word, it keeps its word."
-President Bush to Prime Minister al-Maliki during a surprise visit to Iraq last Tuesday.

"A lack of guts,
pure and simple;
if you believe it, vote it,
don’t weasel out by accusing the Republicans
of calling you ‘unpatriotic’.."

Democrat Congressmen are just plain sad. Not "unhappy" sad: "Sad" as in "pathetic" sad. We get a constant barage of negative news, and what is the Democrat answer? Cut-and-run. We get a week of good news in the killing of Zarqawi, seizing of important documents that have led us to dozens of successful raids and the killing of 104 insurgents and the capture of 759 "anti-Iraqi elements", and what do the Democrats immediately call for? A cut-and-run plan. Are they afraid that if things turn out well in Iraq by our staying and completing the mission, that it will make Bush right, and them Dems wrong?

Hooah for the Republican leadership for asking the Democrats to take their own rhetoric seriously. It happened last November, on the eve of a historic democratic election in Iraq, when the rantings of Representative John Murtha, amounting to "immediate withdrawal", launched him into the role of media darling and subsequent Code Pink Award recipient. So House Republicans called for an "immediate vote", to see if the Democrats really believe in their own hot air. Apparently not: 403-3.

As in last November when Murtha mouthed-off his cut-and-run strategery, President Bush was overseas and elections were about to happen in Iraq; so too this past Tuesday, President Bush was again overseas when John "(did you know that he served in Vietnam?)" Kerry had this to contribute in the wake of success and progress in Iraq:

"We were misled, we were given evidence that was not true," Kerry said. "It was wrong, and I was wrong to vote [for it]."
John Kerry also drew comparisons between Iraq and Vietnam (not suprisingly). Kerry and those like-minded Congressional leaders, keep proposing a "cut-and-run" strategy, while being offended when it is called out for what it is.

So this brings us to Senator Mitch McConnell introducing a measure inspired by John Kerry's proposal, and which was voted on Thursday. Senate lawmakers decided 93 to 6, to shelve an amendment calling for the withdrawal of most troops by end of year. Only a total of 6 votes against: Kerry, Feingold, Boxer, Byrd, Kennedy, and Harkin.

Today, the House voted on House Resolution 861, declaring that the U.S. will prevail in the global war on terror; and now ¾ of the House Democrats are on record voting against victory in war. And many of the statements coming from the Democrats just floors me.

Sad and brilliant all at once.

I am holding optimism for Diana Iney. Let Jack Murtha continue his drumbeat of defeatism. What he doesn't realize, is that while he is enjoying the cheers and celebrity status from the Code Pink crowd, the defeatist drumsong that he is hearing is that of his own death knell in November.

I just found this worth a chuckle: Muslims for Kucinich. Perhaps cleric Abu Bakar Bashir would like to invite Congressman Kucinich to embrace Islam, as he has so magnaminously invited Prime Minister Howard and President Bush to convert or go to hell?

I will not call the Democrats unpatriotic; just misguided. But tell me, how does one rationalize that the statements of U.S. Congressional lawmakers (like letters by Kucinich to Bush and Rumsfeld) does not have the power to inflame, incite, and give aid and comfort to the enemy? Scroll to the bottom, where it frames the Kucinich letters this way:
Kucinich’s speech gives us a much better idea of what is really going on in Iraq. He exposes the US as the driving force behind the paramilitary units that are currently torturing and killing vast numbers of Iraqi civilians. The entire operation has been set into motion by American intelligence agencies with the intention of inciting sectarian violence and thrusting the country towards partition.
Maybe Kucinich should run for office somewhere in the Arab world? Want to know how to win the war and bring our troops home sooner? Be pro-victory and pro-mission for democracy in Iraq. Quit lying to the American public, and quit running 30 consecutive frontpage Abu Ghraib stories in the NYTimes and believing in the worst of our Marines before allegations have even been substantiated. Worst still when our own leaders in office *cough*MurthaDurbin*cough* give credence and credibility to these stories, giving moral support to the true killers of innocent Iraqis and our own soldiers.

Hat tip: Ex-Donkey Blog for the money quote.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

New Iraqi Defense Minister Rips on CNN

Curt and Mike have both made excellent posts regarding the "fallout" from the Zarqawi kill. Paralleling the GOOD NEWS on that day, but eclipsed by the kill, and receiving under-attention, was the confirmation of 3 security ministry positions, giving Prime Minister Maliki a full cabinet 6 months after the parliamentary election.

Sherwan al-Waily, a Shiite, for state minister of national security.

Abdul Qadir Muhammed Jasim, a Sunni Arab, as the new Minister of Defense.

Jawad al-Bolani, a Shiite, confirmed for the Minister of Interior.

The last two are former generals under the old Saddam regime. I heard that Abdul Qadir Muahmmed Jasim was imprisoned by Saddam for 7 years for protesting against the invasion of Kuwait by Saddam. The fact that he is Sunni, hopefully, will help quell sectarian strife among the Sunni. Here's a bit more background on him:

The new minister of Defense, Abdul-Qadir Muhammed Jasim al-Mifarji, 58, was approved over the protests of legislators from western Anbar Province. Al-Mifarji was commander of the Iraqi forces in that region during the 2004 military operation that resulted in the expulsion of insurgents from Fallujah, 35 miles west of Baghdad.

Al-Mifarji, who is not affiliated with any Sunni party, told the 275-member legislature that he graduated from the Iraqi military academy in 1969 and was thrown out of the army and Saddam Hussein's Baath Party in 1991 after he criticized the invasion of Kuwait. He said that led to his conviction by a military court in 1994 and a seven-year prison sentence.

"All my properties were confiscated," he said. "In 2003, my only house was returned. Then I joined the new Iraqi Army as the commander of operations room and then commander of military operations in western Iraq, and finally the commando units of the infantry."

Al-Mifarji said that as defense minister, "I will work for all Iraqis and will not work according to my tribal, religious and ethnic background. I will be only an Iraqi and will spare no effort."
Tuesday, Hugh Hewitt had on Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe as guest. Inhofe has been to Iraq 11 times. When he heard about Zarqawi's death, he took his 11th trip, just to see what the reaction would be like. The Senator said he got to talk to the 3 new cabinet ministers, and this is what he had to say regarding Abdul-Qadir Muhammed Jasim:
JI: Oh, it's just great. I mean, my reaction is great, because I got a chance to talk to all of them. Abdel Jassim is the minister of defense, and he's one you have to really watch. He and a Dr. Rubai...Dr. Rubai is the national security advisor. And these two people, they are right on top of where their troops are. The Iraqi security troops right now are up to 264,000, and it's growing. And each time I'm over there, I talk to them as well as our troops, and their training is coming along just great.

HH: Now Senator Inhofe, did you get word that an offensive in Ramadi is about to begin, or even underway?

JI: No, I was in Ramadi, and that's one of the old terrorist training areas. But look, this new guy, Abu Muhajir, nobody knows anything about him. We don't even know where he came from, whether he is Jordanian, or Saudi, or what he is. But they're going to start talking about different offensives they're going to launch in different places. And they're going to do all they can, but we're in a position right now where we're able to put those things down.

HH: Let's talk a little bit about the new defense minister, Jassin, Senator Inhofe. How's he strike you? Is he middle aged? Is he experienced in military matters?

JI: Yeah, he's very experienced. He's a general. He is a career military guy, and he's tough as he can be. And he came out with all kinds of wild things. I probably shouldn't tell you this...

HH: Oh, go ahead.

JI: But...and this is so funny when it happened. I was talking to him through an interpreter, and I didn't know whether he could speak English. And I finally got to the point where I said look, our big problem is the media, the media back in the United States, because they're lying to the people of America. All of a sudden, in clear English, he said I hate CNN.

HH: (laughing)

JI: And I just shook my head, and I thought...

HH: Did you toast him at that point? Did you clink glasses?

JI: this guy's on top of everything. And these guys say that, you know, all the cut and run crowd that I serve with in the United States Senate, they said if that happened, that's a recipe for disaster. It's a civil war, and things are happening...look, let's keep in mind, and they're fully aware of this, that the problems with the terrorists, those are not Iraqis. They're from...Zarqawi was from Jordan, and...

HH: Right.

JI: Osama was Saudi, and we don't know where this guy, Muhajir is from, but he's not an Iraqi. But some of the things that Zarqawi was doing, this Abel Jassim that you're going to be real impressed with, their defense minister, he was telling me some of the things he did. He said that he would send letters in a community to the Shiite homes, warn them to move away from the Sunni areas. And as they left the house, he'd shoot them all down, the whole family. This guy is...in fact, the defense minister told me that the people of Iraq were...getting Zarqawi was a bigger deal than getting Saddam Hussein.

HH: I'm talking with Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma, just returned again from his 11th visit to Iraq, just today, I imagine. Senator, I just want to pause on the defense minister of Iraq's reaction to CNN. I hate CNN. Did he tell you why he hates CNN?

JI: Oh, he said all they do is talk about negative things, things that are bad, and we have nothing but successes over here. And then he start enumerating the successes, which I can verify, because I'm there all the time. The number, out of 112 battalions, they have 62 of them. That's over half of them that are either level 2 or level 1. That means they can conduct their own combat. He made the statement, and this is one of the things that he says that CNN and some of the media keeps saying, they keep saying that America is leading them, and we're in the rear. And he said that's not true at all. We are leading, and America is offering support. In fact, of the last 500 special operations that took place, 75% of them were led by the Iraqis, not by the Americans. Only 25% were. Now if you go back, as I've done on almost a monthly basis, you can see how this changes. And a year ago, hardly any of them were led by the Iraqis. These guys...I was up in Fallujah during the last election, and they were so proud. They were going down there to vote, and they were targeted, because they were supposed to shoot any of the Iraqi security forces that voted. And they went down, they voted, and they came back, and they were real proud of it. And then, when I asked them the question, are you going to be able to take over the security of Iraq...it's kind of funny, because of the language problem, they said nein, nein. I thought that meant no, no, but that really means yes, yes.

HH: Oh, okay.

JI: So those guys are excited, and they're proud, and you talk to any of the...I challenge any of your listeners to talk to any of our reservists, or the Guard that comes back, and they'll tell you that these guys are learning fast, they're good soldiers, they're disciplined, and they're looking...well, in fact, Dr. Rubai, the guy that you need to watch, too, the national security advisor, he said that by the end of the year, he's going to recommend that the coalition forces cut down to 100,000. That's going to be a military decision, but this is an Iraqi saying that.
Go read the rest, or listen to the audio at Radioblogger.com. There's more interesting commentary that is off-topic from my post.

Let's hope that this new Iraqi leadership does not let the hopes and dreams of a better Iraq crumble through their own weaknesses or corruption; that they prove to be leaders in the right place at the right time in history...just as a certain U.S. President most assuredly is the right man, right place....right time.

Wordsmith at a Loss for Words

Er......aah.....uh.....um.....eh, I'm a blogger and I really have nothing to say: See for yourself.

skye especially deserves to click on that link for the eye-sore she gave me in this comments section.

Hat tip: Born Again Redneck


Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The 60's Are Over: this is '06....

I've accepted that much of the music and artists that I love or will listen to, are liberal. That's just the way it is. Liberals make beautiful music. Even the lyrics to such Beatles songs as "Imagine" don't bother me. I grew up on music before I knew politics.

In today's New York Times, there is a piece written up on "Peter, Paul, and Mary", focusing on Mary Travers' recovery from leukemia, which she was diagnosed with in 2004.

The cancer diagnosis came quickly, she recalled. When chemotherapy did not work, she waited for a bonemarrow transplant. It turned out that her donor was named Mary and, like Ms. Travers, had two daughters. Ms. Travers, a lifetime Democrat, joked with her family that she wondered if a Republican's marrow had save her body. She learned that this was indeed true when she called the other Mary to thank her.
Haha....the stereotype of heartless, selfish Republicans at work...
Ms. Travers, who was 26 when the trio sang during the March on Washington in 1963, still sounds like her old political self. She says she is upset by, among other things, changes in the immigration laws, domestic eavesdropping, the Iraq war and efforts to ban abortion; and disappointed that artists are not fighting the powers-that-be with the same zeal as they did in the 60's and 70's.
My advice? Turn proud, happy, registered Republican. Then maybe you won't carry around so much negativity and anger all the time. It's bad for the heart.

According to the Pew Research Center, Republicans tend to be more optimistic, and happier:
Some 45% of all Republicans report being very happy, compared with just 30% of Democrats and 29% of independents. This finding has also been around a long time; Republicans have been happier than Democrats every year since the General Social Survey began taking its measurements in 1972. Pew surveys since 1991 also show a partisan gap on happiness; the current 16 percentage point gap is among the largest in Pew surveys, rivaled only by a 17 point gap in February 2003.

Could it be that Republicans are so much happier now because their party controls all the levers of federal power? Not likely. Since 1972, the GOP happiness edge over Democrats has ebbed and flowed in a pattern that appears unrelated to which party is in political power.

For example, Republicans had up to a 10 and 11 percentage point happiness edge over Democrats in various years of both the Carter and Clinton presidencies, and as small as a three and five percentage point edge in various years of the Reagan and first Bush presidencies. Also, we should explain here a bit about how our survey questionnaire was constructed. The question about happiness was posed at the very beginning of the interview, while the question about political affiliation was posed at the back end, along with questions about demographic traits. So respondents were not cued to consider their happiness through the frame of partisan politics. This question is about happiness; it is not a question about happiness with partisan outcomes.

Of course, there's a more obvious explanation for the Republicans' happiness edge. Republicans tend to have more money than Democrats, and -- as we've already discovered -- people who have more money tend to be happier.
As I've matured into the fine, middle-aged, conservative blogger you read here before you, I've grown to accept that money is not the root of all evil; and that capitalism and the pursuit of wealth is moral and noble. By helping yourself, selfishly, you are empowered to help others. It is wealth that allows one to have the power to affect change: to help your friends and family in need, to be charitable to others less fortunate. It is the "evil" corporations that have improved the quality of life for so many people; that have improved technology that has improved the quality of air and helped the environment. It is our wealth that affords the U.S.- both as a government and as individuals- to be generous in so much foreign aid to other countries in need; whether it be trillions wasted on 40 years of Marshall Plans in Africa, the funding of the UN, foreign aid to undeserving, thankless nations, or emergency tsunami and earthquake relief to those in peril.

Who is more likely to be charitable? Republicans or Democrats? Hmmm....

I digress. To continue on with the Pew Research...
But even this explanation only goes so far. If one controls for household income, Republicans still hold a significant edge: that is, poor Republicans are happier than poor Democrats; middle-income Republicans are happier than middle-income Democrats, and rich Republicans are happier than rich Democrats.
And make no mistake, that there are plenty of rich Democrat fat cats, the likes of George Soros, Teresa Heinz-Kerry, and Hollywood liberals.
Might ideology be the key? It's true that conservatives, who are more likely to be Republican, are happier than liberals, who are more likely to be Democrats. But even controlling for this ideological factor, a significant partisan gap remains. Conservative Republicans are happier than conservative Democrats, and moderate/liberal Republicans are happier than liberal Democrats. Hmmm, what other factors might be at play? Well, there's always...

And to return us back to the NYTimes and Ms. Travers:
"Do we have to rely on the Dixie Chicks?" she asked.

Still, she, Mr. Yarrow and Mr. Stookey see hope in a fresh wave of political and artistic energy in folk music. Mr. Yarrow, for one, says he is ecstatic that Bruce Springsteen is reinterpreting Pete Seeger songs from the Peter, Paul & Mary era.

"It's great," Mr. Yarrow exclaimed. "He always was a folk singer. He always had it in his heart. Of all the people who had the legitimacy to do it, he does."

After all these years of the precise enunciation of folk music, Ms. Travers now prefers "nonverbal music" or even, as she put it, "a little schmaltzy opera." She added that when she is not thinking about politics, she is pretty happy.
When I think politics, I am pretty secure in my belief that the country that bleeds red is on the right path to success and happiness, and making this a better world for all to live in.

Feel better, Ms. Travers, and God bless. The country is in good hands. Thanks for your concern; we are working hard to make this a better world, each and every day, for you to live in.


Friday, June 09, 2006

A Significant Win and Zarqawi's Last Words

Ok, I know I'm posting late on this [Mike, you fracker! (Scroll down to the bottom of his post- but don't forget to read the whole thing.)]

Earlier today, it was reported that Zarqawi mumbled something just before he coughed up the ghost. The NY Post has the translation...

What I find bizarre, is the way so much of the media is downplaying the significance of this victory. President Bush did the same, but I find it understandable, coming from him. I, myself, agree with him and the media in stating "Zarqawi is just one individual" and "He will just be replaced by another" and "the violence will still continue".....BUT!!!!!.... it is stating the obvious! It's a "Duh" moment. But it is a victory, nonetheless. For the last couple of years, the media has badgered this Administration's competence in not being able to kill or capture a thug like Zarqawi; and when Zarqawi is finally given his one-way ticket to hell, now it's, "Oh, this is no big deal....Zarqawi was hyped up by the Administration....they timed it for political traction...this will just inflame the terrorists to carry out revenge killings...." Amazing that this Jihad-scum personally sawed off Nick Berg's head, is responsible for the deaths of thousands of innocent Iraqis, has sewn sectarian strife and slowed down the democratization process in Iraq, and what does one reporter ask during a press conference? "Who were the other victims?"

It's laughable and sickening all at the same time. And let's not ignore the fact that this has led to dozens more airstrikes, kills, and captures.

Iraqis celebrate at Gateway Pundit

Also, some great links, from Gateway Pundit

Radioblogger has transcripts and audio of "the very best in political talk".

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