Monday, December 31, 2007

Caption This

Caption Winner is:
Mike's America!

"Shhhhhhhh, be vewwwy, vewwwy quiet; I'm hunting wabbits, heheheheheheh."

Republican presidential candidate and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee prepares to hunt pheasant during a hunting trip in Osceola, Iowa December 26, 2007.
REUTERS/Keith Bedford

With Runner Up Always on Watch:
"Huckabee Searching for Pakistan"

Honorable Mention: jonn lilyea:
"So tell me again; why is my gun camouflaged, but I'm wearing an orange hat?"

Even though the Christmas caption contest should technically be over by now, Mike submits a belated caption (top photo) for last week's contest. Congratulations, Mike's America! You see? Fair and balanced, no hanging chads, low participant turnout; easier than winning at an Indian casino.

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Sunday, December 30, 2007

Moonbat Post of the Year

For some reason, my simple post on Pfc. Joseph Anzack, to this day, gets a lot of hits through Google search. Tonight, an anonymous commenter from the United Kingdom left this beauty in the comment section (just in time to ring in the New Year):
When in gods name are you americans going to wake up to why you really went into iraq and stop spouting your war on terror nonsense and "helping the iraqis" speeches.You all seem to be blind to the real facts that saddam hussein hated al quaida.He had nothing to do with 911.He was just another secular muslim who wanted to live in luxury and dictate to his own people.This brave soldier died because of your greedy goverments policys of grabbing iraqi oil and the history of why you went there has now all been blurred with anti-terror propaganda.The day you think for yourselves and stop talking gungho nonsese will be the day you stop your presidents from sending young boys to be slaughtered.They didnt give a damn about this soldier and they never will.Its the money they care about.First you said it was because of 911.which saddam had nothing to do with...and then you said you were invading to liberate iraq?.Well you didnt liberate anyone.Iraqis hate you because you invaded their country and they always will, because in thier eyes westerners are infidels.They are hypocrites.The Shias and sunnis only stop fighting when offered money.Let them go there own way back to the stone age and then they will learn for themselves how to join the modern civilised world.Pull out your troops and face the truth americans..and when you do your brave boys wont come home in coffins.He didnt make a difference.He died in vain and that is the real tradgedy.
Do they still teach proper English grammar in merry ol' England? My word...

While I have your attention, here, folks: Please take the time to read David Jeffers post on his phone call from Nancy Pelosi (Hat tip to Curt).

If anon wants to be the Fred Phelps of the blogosphere, I invite him to visit my Eddie Jeffers post as well, just to provide him links to Eddie's articles.

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Mike's America Awards Skye: Blogger of the Year!

Wearing her Flopping AcesT-shirt here'sSkye at the Gathering of Eagles May 2007 headquarters with founding member Captain Larry Bailey, USN (retired)(bio here, books authored here) a former Navy SEAL and also organizer of Vietnam Veterans for Truth which was instrumental along with the Swiftboat Vets for Truth in getting out the truth about John Kerry during the 2004 presidential campaign.

Details on why.

Check out Mike in the comments section, complaining as usual on "fixed" contests. He could easily have won last week's caption contest, had he simply posted anything, given how no one posted anything (don't give me the "but it was Christmas Eve" kay-rap, either, folks! This is what happens when you commandeer a low-rent blog, like I do).

Also cross-posted at:
Flopping Aces
Conservatism with Heart

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Dropping Another H(illary)-Bomb

Hmm...I wonder if a single al-Qaeda or Taliban fighter would be hard-pressed to disagree with the following:

"I don't think the Pakistani government at this time under President Musharraf has any credibility at all. They have disbanded an independent judiciary. They have oppressed a free press,"

-Hillary Clinton, Dec 28, 2007

Democratic presidential candidate Senator Hillary Clinton reacts to cheering supporters during a campaign stop in Dubuque, Iowa December 29, 2007.

REUTERS/Andy Clark

A year ago, when the Musharraf government made the Waziristan Accord, basically surrendering the region to Islamic fighters, there was heavy criticism leveled at Musharraf, and rightly so. Appeasement of Islamic militants only seems to encourage and embolden them, giving them the time and space needed to train, plan, and recruit. Yet the Bush Administration did not publically criticize the move as vociferously as the pundits. Why not? Daveed Gartenstein-Ross & Bill Roggio offered this explanation:
They aren't ignorant of the problems with the accord. Rather, it seems that their concern is Musharraf's retreat from Waziristan and release of prisoners suggest he may be losing his grip on power. And as bad as Musharraf has been of late, things would be far worse if, in a critical Muslim nation with nuclear weapons, a relatively pro-Western leader were replaced by al Qaeda-linked fundamentalists.
In my previous post, I mentioned the dangers of not supporting the Musharraf government. The death of Bhutto does not help Musharraf, but only brings Pakistan closer to the brink of civil war and chaos. If the country does go this route, then those who planned and executed Bhutto's murder will have successfully brought about the Pakistan equivalent to the bombing of the Golden Mosque of Samarra.

Musharraf's leadership is like a car precariously balanced on a cliff, teetering on the edge. Irresponsible statements from U.S. leaders- especially U.S. presidential candidates- is the equivalent of throwing rocks at the car. It may not topple the car off the cliff....but it certainly doesn't help keep the car from going over.

As James Lewis at American Thinker writes,
Suppose you're a Pakistani Army commander. You now know that a major candidate in the United States hates your boss. But the Pak Army is the only thing holding the country together.
Every world leader is walking on tippy-toes for fear Pak will explode. But Senator Hillary Clinton just exploited the tragedy of Bhutto's death in the most cynical and self-serving way, by tossing a smoking bomb at President Musharraf and cheerfully yelling "Catch!"
If Musharraf is killed or forcefully removed from power, at this critical juncture in history, would that make the world a safer or a more dangerous place? Musharraf with nukes is not a threat to the free world. Islamic militants with there's a problem.

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Saturday, December 29, 2007

Obama and the Magic Hut

It reminds me of Christmas in Cambodia. I guess the alternate title here is "Christmas in Africa".

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2007: A deadender-year for al-Qaeda

John McCain: "I am legend."

"I've been declared dead in this campaign on five or six occasions. I won't refer to a recent movie I saw, but I think I am legend,"
- GOP presidential candidate, John McCain

Ok, I need to work on my photoshopping skills. I know. Anyway, I saw the movie. If McCain is playing Will Smith, didn't Smith's character get killed at the end of the movie......?.....?

"Yes" to McCain? Or "no" to McCain?

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The New York Times Makes a Neo-Right Turn

Friday, December 28, 2007

Is Pervez Musharraf a Bush Poodle?

Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf salutes as he listens to the national anthem during a pomp-filled farewell to Pakistan's army in Rawalpindi, Nov. 27, 2007, one day before he bowed to global pressure and relinquished leadership of the military. Benazir Bhutto was seen as a major rival to Musharraf in upcoming national elections.
Aamir Qureshi - AFP/Getty Images

What the hell is it with the Democrats? Why is it that anything negative that occurs in the world, somehow, it becomes a political opportunity for Democrats here in the comforts of the States, to implicate and fault the Bush Administration as somehow responsible?

From the Washington Post, via Freedom Eden:
senior Obama adviser David Axelrod would later tie the killing to the Iraq war -- and Clinton's vote to approve it, which he argued diverted U.S resources from fighting terrorism in Afghanistan and Pakistan, both al-Qaeda hotbeds.
So what is he recommending? That the $11 billion in financial aid to Pakistan since 9/11 hasn't been enough? Or that such funding should be cut off completely (Ron Paul- so far to the right, we might as well classify him a Democrat on foreign policy)? Perhaps, this suggestion by presidential hopeful, Barack Obama:
As president, I would make the hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. military aid to Pakistan conditional
Ashley J. Tellis, Senior Associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, sees the folly in that bit of Bush-Cheney-liteism:
Making U.S. aid conditional on Pakistan’s performance in the war on terror would only inflame Pakistani public opinion and embarrass moderate Pakistanis who cooperated with the United States, says Tellis, while recent suggestions by U.S. presidential hopefuls for unilateral military action could re-cast Pakistan an adversary.
And Michael Medved on why it's not American interventionism and funding that drives the extremist violence coming out of Pakistan:
The bloody chaos in Pakistan, however, goes back several generations – reflecting blood feuds, ethnic rivalries, and Islamic extremism that have polarized the country since its founding sixty years ago. With revenge riots already unleashed against hapless targets around the nation, it’s hard to see how a cutoff of American aid, or a new U.S. determination to “go home” and leave other nations to their own devices, would bring peace to Pakistan, or reconciliation between that country and its nuclear armed neighbor and rival, India. Rational analysis suggests that abrupt American disengagement would make the situation more dangerous, not less explosive. The current crisis serves as a reminder that America can’t control events in every corner of the globe, and we therefore can’t be blamed for those brutal happenings that we don’t control and can’t avoid.
Should we alienate the moderates by making cowboy demands of a sovereign nation rather than finessing diplomatic pressures and requests? Do we back Musharraf into a corner, forcing him to make a hardlined decision: You're either with us, or with the terrorists. The blame-America-firsters already consider him to be "America's puppet dictator". Bush could probably use a new poodle, right? How does further eroding public opinion of Musharraf by his people, weakening him politically, help America's efforts in prosecuting the war on Islamic terror?

When Washington's demands and influence goes from a push to a shove, what if, not to be bullied and shamed into looking like a weak leader before his people, he arrives at the conclusion that, "...with allies like these...." After all, the Shah of Iran was deeply loyal to America, and look where that got him (thank you Carter!)? Political leaders in the Muslim world allying with the West can find it to be a costly career move.

When Musharraf acquiesced to the wishes of the Bush Administration in stepping down as Pakistan's army chief a month ago, he took a gamble. With the assassination of Bhutto, his non-dictatorial gamble may prove to be a politically fatal blunder for him, as noted by Andrew Walden at American Thinker:
With Musharraf out as Army Chief, his ability to manipulate promotions and bonuses in order to defend himself against further al-Qaeda assassination attempts is weakened. And without the cooperation of Bhutto his chance to widen the patronage-based political support of the regime is threatened.
Going back to the Democratic politicizing of Bhutto's murder:
"I've been saying for some time that we've got a very big problem" in Pakistan, Obama said. "We were distracted from focusing on them."
Uh...yeah. Let's just carry out Obama's cowboy diplomacy. Unilateralism would be so much better received under a Democratic president.

And they say it's the Bush Presidency, specifically, that's fueling "unprecedented" anti-Americanism around the world?

Presidential Democratic candidate Chris Dodd also had some recent politicized statements on Bhutto's murder. As Brian Maloney puts it,
These guys obviously have a playbook: sound statesmanlike in the press releases, while bashing Bush and throwing partisan slime when it seems safe to do so. Could they be any phonier?
In today's information age, if you are going to run for office, you had better "sound statesmanlike" 24/7.

Chris Dodd said this, btw, at a Democratic debate coming on the heels of Obama's unilateral interventionist plan for Pakistan:

"While General Musharraf is no Thomas Jefferson, he may be the only thing that stands between us and having an Islamic fundamentalist state in that country," Dodd said.

"So while I would like to see him change, the reality is, if we lose him, then what we face is an alternative that could be a lot worse for our country."

It echoes the words of Robert Kaplan on Musharraf's precarious rock-and-a-hard-place rule:
he feels himself atop a volcano of fundamentalism. He is among the last of the Westernized, British-style officers in the national army; after him come the men with the beards.

President Musharraf, for all his faults, may still be the worst person to rule his country except for any other who might replace him.-
Robert D. Kaplan

Musharraf may not be the perfect poodle we wish him to be, but for all our criticism without appreciating his precarious position and juggling act in a country where Washington's will does not have popular support, he has helped us achieve some success in prosecuting the war on terror. And it is not as though Pakistanis are not fighting and dying at the hands of the Islamist extremists. Musharraf siding with the U.S. has made him the target of about 9 assassination attempts (read Counterterrorism Blog's Has al-Qaeda adopted a new terror tactic?, in regards to the Bhutto assassination).

As Andrew Walden writes:

Musharraf wisely chose to side with the US, but many elements of the ISI and the broader Pakistani military have not come along. As a result Musharraf has faced several al-Qaeda assassination attempts and the Pakistani military is unwilling to root out al-Qaeda and the Taliban from areas along the Afghani border. Al-Qaeda boss Ayman al-Zawahiri has called on Pakistanis to overthrow Musharraf. Islamist groups Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Jaish-e-Muhammad have been identified as connected to the assassination attempts. Both are tied closely to the ISI, the Taliban and al-Qaeda.

Could Musharraf do more to help us eradicate the Taliban and al-Qaeda elements from his country? Perhaps so. Certainly, we wish he did more; but in criticizing, one really should take into account his political weakness and ability to influence his own people into convincing Pakistanis that it is in the best interest of the country to defeat terrorism. Lisa Curtis, senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation specializing in Southeast Asia, says only 5% of the population in Pakistan probably fall into the extremist category of Islam; yet, according to Andrew McCarthy, a CNN poll seems to indicate that 46% of Pakistanis approve of Osama bin Laden.

The assassination of Benazir Bhutto deals a blow to the hope for taking on the militants in the Pakistani sanctuary. It is also another sharp blow to the idea that political means can primarily or alone defeat Islamist terrorism.

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Hillary Taking a Lemon to Make Herself Some Kool-aid

Then-First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton and daughter Chelsea meet with Bhutto and her children in the garden of the prime minister's residence in Islamabad. The Clintons visited Pakistan in March 1995.
B.K. Bangash - AP

Unless, of course, what she really meant by all this, is that she and Bhutto were flawed characters, who might succumb to corruption and scandal:
American Thinker
American Power

Michael Medved:
The instant canonization of Benazir Bhutto ought to embarrass the pundits and journalists who now talk only of her saintly aspects—featuring glamorous photos or video from twenty years ago showing the lady at the peak of her stunning beauty. As a matter of fact, her two previous terms as Prime Minister both ended in failure, embarrassment and rejection, along with widespread and credible charges of corruption. It’s natural to remember her best characteristics after her sudden death, and compared to General Musharaf or her Islamist rival Nawaz Sharif she may indeed look enlightened, even heroic, but the posthumous praise on cable news networks sounds embarrassingly overwrought. By the same token, the tributes to all dead politicians tend to go too far – as if to make up for the lack of respect we accorded them while they lived and served. Gerald Ford represents a striking recent example. Americans derided him during his presidency, and replaced him with the utterly feckless and feeble Jimmy Carter, but at the time of his funeral the belated tributes treated Ford like a candidate for Rushmore. The sudden death of Bhutto, a vital, 54-year-old Pakistani politico, ought to encourage more appreciation for our own candidates for top office. Like her, they boast plenty of faults, and often display puffed-up egos, but they still deserve credit for the sacrifices and dangers they accept for the sake of an impassioned desire to serve their country.
Ouch! Yikes!!

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Thursday, December 27, 2007

Rudy Giuliani Campaign Ad "Freedom"

The "Wife-in-Chief"

A liberal client of mine will sometimes say, "no more on-the-job training" when he talks of who he might be supporting in '08. Apparently, he feels President Bush came into office, unqualified to run the country. Yet, he has told me he thinks Hillary Clinton would make a fine President. He thinks the Democrats are fielding a row of "fine candidates", while the Republican field looks to him like a wasteland.

How does being a lawmaker test one's ability to succeed in an executive position of leadership? How does being the spouse of a former U.S. President qualify one for having the experience necessary to lead from the Oval Office? Being a mayor or a governor, I believe, is better experience than being a Senator or House Representative.....or beloved spouse.

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"I am what the Terrorists Most Fear"

And for that reason, former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto found herself a target of Islamic militants. Having survived a previous attempt on her life, today she succumbed to an assassin's bullets; after which, he blew himself up, killing 20 more. Nothing quite like Muslim on Muslim violence. And somehow, America is probably to blame, right?

On the Democratic side, we have Chris Dodd:
"It reflects once again the misdirection in my view of the (Bush) Administration on focusing on Iraq and Iran. I've been saying for months that Pakistan and Afghanistan deserve more attention.

It's still the epicenter of international terrorism, of where Osama bin Laden is, here. And yet the administration continues to focus its efforts, its resources, its time and effort on Iraq and Iran."

Bill Richardson thinks President Bush should demand Musharraf to stepdown. There we go again, bullying sovereign nations to acquiesce to our demands. Consequently, if we are at war with Islamic terrorists, wouldn't a Musharraf resignation be exactly what the Islamists would love? After all, Musharraf has been targeted in failed assassination attempts, on multiple occasions (nine, I believe) by the Islamic extremists.

On the conservative front, we have presidential candidate Mike Huckabee "apologizing" for Bhutto's assassination.

Ron Paul blames U.S. foreign policy and support of Musharraf. Nevermind that Bhutto herself was pro-western, anti-Islamic terror, and a woman daring to hold a leadership position. Those offenses had nothing to do with her assassination. No, of course not! It can only be Islamic militants motivated by our foreign aid and support of the Musharraf government. It's not that they wish to sow chaos and sabotage the democratic process. No, of course not!

Some more candidate responses.

Lisa Curtis, senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation specializing in Southeast Asia, says only 5% of the population in Pakistan probably fall into the extremist category of Islam; yet, according to Andrew McCarthy, a CNN poll seems to indicate that 46% of Pakistanis approve of Osama bin Laden.

Regardless of the numbers, the reach and influence of the Islamist extremists is great enough to bring down an entire country. Today was a great loss for freedom and democracy; and the world just got a bit more dangerous.

It would appear that al-Qaeda is taking credit for the assassination:

"We terminated the most precious American asset which vowed to defeat [the] mujahadeen," Mustafa Abu al Yazid, al Qaeda's commander in Afghanistan, told Mr. Shahzad. The attack was reportedly ordered at the highest levels of al Qaeda.

"It is believed that the decision to kill Bhutto, who is the leader of the opposition Pakistan People's Party (PPP), was made by al-Qaeda No. 2, the Egyptian doctor, Ayman al-Zawahiri in October," Mr. Shahzad also reported. "Death squads were allegedly constituted for the mission and ultimately one cell comprising a defunct Lashkar-i-Jhangvi’s Punjabi volunteer succeeded in killing Bhutto."


A Bhutto supporter mourns at the site of the attack.
B.K.Bangash - AP

Also blogging the political responses:
Freedom Eden

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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Managing Reading Overload

Penny Walsh checks the damages in the local library following a powerful earthquake in Gisborne, New Zealand. The 6.8 quake flattened buildings and caused widespread damage.
Gisborne Herald - AFP/Getty Images

I used to love reading fiction- from classics like Les Miserables and The Three Musketeers; to Grimm's Brothers Folk Tales, Arthurian romances and Icelandic Sagas; to childhood guilty pleasures like The Hobbit, Chronicles of Narnia, and Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan series.

I haven't picked up a work of fiction I can recall since literature classes in college. Since 9/11, the books I have been reading for the last 6 years are political and nonfiction (history and such). I can read fast if I have to; but, since becoming a blogger and trying to be able to debate facts, I read much slower these days, trying to commit to memory dates and stats and facts to back up future arguments. It's exhausting.

Since blogging, I've found my reading time has been diverted primarily from books to internet-reading- primarily multi-newspapers from around the world and poliblogs, from straight news to op-ed articles. I've become a news junkie.

Meanwhile, book reading has suffered. I find that I've acquired quite a library of books that grows faster than I can read them. Sometimes I will peruse them for information, pertinent to my needs at the moment, without having first read from cover to cover. I must be in the middle of about a dozen different books.

The latest to add to my list of "things-to-read" is a Christmas present from a liberal friend: Valerie Plame's new book (It's the thought that counts, right?). Yes, it came with a gift receipt; but I probably won't exchange it. I've read so many anti-Plame/Wilson articles (and pertinent information from books, like Kenneth Timmerman's "Shadow Warriors"- I'm only 200 pages into it) that this book might do me some good (yes, I have my read correction marker prepared to make notes in the margin). The weirdest thing about this book, is the amount of "black out" lines it has. That comes across as a bit pretentious to me; but then, I am a cynical wingnut partisan hack, right?

Anyway, if you have a comment about this book, be nice. The friend who gave it to me might be reading, as she is very much aware of this blog, and reads it from time to time. I even send her links when I make a post I think she should check out.

I actually wouldn't mind reading some anti-Bush and liberal books, if I didn't have to pay for them. If my plate wasn't full, I'd walk down the block and check them out from the library. It'd be interesting to cross-reference Paul Bremer's account, George Tenet's memoirs, Richard Clarke's book, etc. to those books that offer a counter perspective.

I read somewhere, that until everyone's memoirs come out, we may never have a complete picture of how everything happened the way it did, with the decision to go to war in Iraq. Not all the bit-players have all the information; not even the President. I learned this a month ago, when I was researching the criticism regarding the "decision" to "disband" the Iraq army and police force. Reading differently people's accounts of what they remembered happening, was interesting; like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. Sifting through faulty memory, half-truths and outright lies, partisan perspectives, and making sense of known facts and time-lines. Also, keeping in mind that I am interpreting past events with 20/20 hindsight.

So, what are the rest of you reading? Get anything exciting for Christmas? Are any of you drowning in a mound of books as well?

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Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas, Everyone!

During this Christmas Day and this Holiday Season, while we are warm and safe at home with good cheer, food, friends and family, let us not forget those who are spending their Christmas Season away from home. Away from family...

Staff Sgt. Raymond Golden of Charleston, S.C. and headed to Afghanistan sits near a Christmas tree above the atrium at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, one day before the Thanksgiving holiday in Atlanta, Georgia, November 21, 2007.
REUTERS/Tami Chappell that we may be with ours. So that our country may stay safe. So that the world may know peace and justice.

And let us not forget those we have lost along the way, in the fight to keep us safe and free...

Let us remember and express gratitude to those who will never again embrace their families and friends in this life, but in the next one...

An ornament is covered with fresh snow in Section 60, where the majority of those killed in Iraq are buried, at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va.
Win McNamee - Getty Images

Flowers adorn the grave of Army specialist Ross Andrew McGinnis, in Arlington National Cemetery. McGinnis was killed Dec. 4, 2006, after throwing himself on a grenade which had been tossed into his vehicle. For his actions, which saved the lives of four infantrymen, McGinnis was awarded the Silver Star. McGinnis has also been nominated for the Medal of Honor.
Mandel Ngan - AFP/Getty Images

And on that somber note....

Merry Christmas Everyone!

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Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas, Darling

This song laced with Karen Carpenter's vocals has always sent me sighing into a romantic orbit.

I can just picture cozying up in a warm sweater with a mug of hot cocoa in a log cabin with the fireplace crackling and writing a love letter as thoughts of the one I miss dance in my head.

Reading what I just wrote, all I can say is: I'm so manly and secure in my manliness, I'm going to leave this post up, and not delete it my courageous manly masculinity.

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The Perfect Christmas Story

Scott Southworth, right, is seen with his adopted son, Ala'a, July 19, 2007, in the home in Mauston, Wis. Southworth first met Ala'a, who has cerebral palsy, at the Mother Teresa orphanage in Baghdad in 2003 while he was serving in Iraq.
(AP Photo/Andy Manis)

This is just such a great, heartwarming story. Spread the news to all your friends. Especially those who only want to highlight the abu ghraib scandals; and slander our men and women serving over in Iraq as killers, rather than see them as defenders of freedom and life. It's also a testament to the positive power of religiosity, for those secular extremists who think "Jesus Camp" equates to "the religious right".

Reprinted in its entirety:

By CARRIE ANTLFINGER, Associated Press Writer Sun Dec 23, 1:14 PM ET

MAUSTON, Wis. - Capt. Scott Southworth knew he'd face violence, political strife and blistering heat when he was deployed to one of Baghdad's most dangerous areas. But he didn't expect Ala'a Eddeen.

Ala'a was 9 years old, strong of will but weak of body — he suffered from cerebral palsy and weighed just 55 pounds. He lived among about 20 kids with physical or mental disabilities at the Mother Teresa orphanage, under the care of nuns who preserved this small oasis in a dangerous place.

On Sept. 6, 2003, halfway through his 13-month deployment, Southworth and his military police unit paid a visit to the orphanage. They played and chatted with the children; Southworth was talking with one little girl when Ala'a dragged his body to the soldier's side.

Black haired and brown eyed, Ala'a spoke to the 31-year-old American in the limited English he had learned from the sisters. He recalled the bombs that struck government buildings across the Tigris River.

"Bomb-Bing! Bomb-Bing!" Ala'a said, raising and lowering his fist.

"I'm here now. You're fine," the captain said.

Over the next 10 months, the unit returned to the orphanage again and again. The soldiers would race kids in their wheelchairs, sit them in Humvees and help the sisters feed them.

To Southworth, Ala'a was like a little brother. But Ala'a — who had longed for a soldier to rescue him — secretly began referring to Southworth as "Baba," Arabic for "Daddy."

Then, around Christmas, a sister told Southworth that Ala'a was getting too big. He would have to move to a government-run facility within a year.

"Best case scenario was that he would stare at a blank wall for the rest of his life," Southworth said.

To this day, he recalls the moment when he resolved that that would not happen.

"I'll adopt him," he said.


Before Southworth left for Iraq, he was chief of staff for a state representative. He was single, worked long days and squeezed in his service as a national guardsman — military service was a family tradition. His great-great-greatgrandfather served in the Civil War, his grandfather in World War II, his father in Vietnam.

The family had lived in the tiny central Wisconsin city of New Lisbon for 150 years. Scott was raised as an evangelical Christian; he attended law school with a goal of public service, running unsuccessfully for state Assembly at the age of 25.

There were so many reasons why he couldn't bring a handicapped Iraqi boy into his world.

He had no wife or home; he knew nothing of raising a disabled child; he had little money and planned to run for district attorney in his home county.

Just as important, Iraqi law prohibits foreigners from adopting Iraqi children.

Southworth prayed and talked with family and friends.

His mother, who had cared for many disabled children, explained the difficulty. She also told him to take one step at a time and let God work.

Southworth's decision was cemented in spring 2004, while he and his comrades watched Mel Gibson's film, "The Passion of the Christ." Jesus Christ's sacrifice moved him. He imagined meeting Christ and Ala'a in heaven, where Ala'a asked: "Baba, why didn't you ever come back to get me?"

"Everything that I came up with as a response I felt ashamed. I wouldn't want to stand in the presence of Jesus and Ala'a and say those things to him."

And so, in his last weeks in Iraq, Southworth got approval from Iraq's Minister of Labor to take Ala'a to the United States for medical care.


His parents had filed signatures so he wouldn't miss the cutoff to run for district attorney. He knocked on doors, telling people he wanted to be tough on criminals who committed injustices against children.

He never mentioned his intention to adopt Ala'a.

He won office — securing a job and an income.

Everything seemed to be in place. But when Southworth contacted an immigration attorney, he was told it would be nearly impossible to bring Ala'a to the United States.

Undaunted, Southworth and the attorney started the paperwork to bring Ala'a over on humanitarian parole, used for urgent reasons or significant public benefit.

A local doctor, a cerebral palsy expert, a Minneapolis hospital, all said they would provide Ala'a free care. Other letters of support came from a minister, the school district, the lieutenant governor, a congressman, chaplain, a sister at the orphanage and an Iraqi doctor.

"We crossed political boundaries. We crossed religious boundaries. There was just a massive effort — all on behalf of this little boy who desperately needed people to actually take some action and not just feel sorry for him," Southworth says.

He mailed the packet on Dec. 16, 2004, to the Department of Homeland Security.

On New Year's Eve, his cell phone rang. It was Ala'a.

"What are you doing?" Scott asked him.

"I was praying,'" Ala'a responded.

"Well, what were you praying for?"

"I prayed that you would come to take me to America," Ala'a said.

Southworth almost dropped the phone. Ala'a knew nothing of his efforts, and he couldn't tell him yet for fear that the boy might inadvertently tell the wrong person, upending the delicate process.

By mid-January, Homeland Security called Southworth's attorney to say it had approved humanitarian parole. Within three hours, Southworth had plane tickets.

He hardly slept as he worked the phones to make arrangements, calling the American embassy, hotels and the orphanage. His Iraqi translator agreed to risk his life to get Ala'a to the embassy to obtain documentation. Like a dream, all the pieces fell into place.

Southworth returned to Iraq for the first time since a deployment that left him emotionally, physically and spiritually exhausted.

His unit had trained Iraqi police from sunup to sundown; he saw the devastation wrought by two car bombings, and counted dead bodies. Mortar and rocket attacks were routine. Some 20 in his unit were wounded, and one died. He knew that nothing could be taken for granted in Baghdad.

So when he saw Ala'a in the airport for the first time since leaving Iraq, he was relieved.

"He was in my custody then. I could hug him. I could hold him. I could protect him.

"And forever started."

They made it to Wisconsin late Jan. 20, 2005. The next morning, Ala'a awoke to his first sight of snow.

He closed his eyes and grimaced.

"Baba! Baba! The water is getting all over me!"

"It's not water, it's snooooow," Southworth told him.


Police found Ala'a abandoned on a Baghdad street at around 3 years old. No one knows where he came from.

In all his life in Iraq, Ala'a saw a doctor 10 times. He surpassed that in his first six months in the United States.

Ala'a's cerebral palsy causes low muscle tone, spastic muscles in the legs, arms and face. It hinders him when he tries to crawl, walk or grasping objects. He needs a wheelchair to get around, often rests his head on his shoulder and can't easily sit up.

Physical therapy has helped him control his head and other muscles. He can now maneuver his way out of his van seat and stabilize his legs on the ground.

"I'm not the same guy I used to be," he says.

He clearly has thrived. At 13, he's doubled his weight to 111 pounds.

Ala'a's condition doesn't affect his mind, although he's still childlike — he wants to be a Spiderman when he grows up.

Ala'a's English has improved and he loves music and school, math and reading especially. He gets mad when snow keeps him home, even though it's his second favorite thing, after his father.

At first, he didn't want to talk about Iraq; he would grow angry when someone tried to talk to him in Arabic. But in the fall of 2006, Scott showed Ala'a's classmates an Arabic version of "Sesame Street" and boasted how Ala'a knew two languages and could teach them.

Soon he was teaching his aide and his grandmother, LaVone.

LaVone is a fixture in Ala'a's life, supporting her son as he juggles his career and fatherhood. One day, she asked Ala'a if he missed his friends in Iraq.

Would he like to visit them?

Big tears filled his eyes.

"Well, honey, what's the matter?" asked LaVone.

"Oh, no, Grandma. No. Baba says that I can come to live with him forever," he pleaded.

"Oh, no, no," he grandmother said, crying as well. "We would never take you back and leave you there forever. We want you to be Baba's boy forever."


Southworth knew once he got Ala'a out of Iraq, the hardest part would be over. Iraq had bigger problems to deal with than the whereabouts of a single orphan.

On June 4, Ala'a officially became Southworth's son. Though he was born in the spring of 1994, they decided to celebrate his birthday as the day they met — Sept. 6.

Life has settled into a routine. Father and son have moved into a new house with an intercom system, a chair lift to the basement and toilet handles. Southworth showers him, brushes his teeth and washes his hands. He has traded in his Chrysler Concorde for a minivan — it was too hard to lift his son out of the car.

In October, the Wisconsin's deputy adjunct general gave Southworth, now a major, permission to change units because of Ala'a. His former unit was going to Guantanamo Bay for a one-year deployment, and he didn't want to leave his son behind, at least for now.

He hopes one day to marry to his longtime girlfriend and have more children. He may run for Congress or governor someday — he's already won re-election once, and plans to run again next fall.

Not everything is perfect. Ala'a never encountered thunderstorms in Baghdad, and the flash-boom reminds him of bombs. He is starting to get over it, although he still weeps during violent storms.

But Ala'a — who picked out his own name, which means to be near God — knows he's where he belongs. Southworth always says Ala'a picked him, not the other way around. They were brought together, Southworth believes, by a "web of miracles."

Ala'a likes to sing Sarah McLachlan's song, "Ordinary Miracle," from "Charlotte's Web," one of his favorite movies. His head and body lean to one side as he sings off-key.

"It's just another ordinary miracle today. Life is like a gift they say. Wrapped up for you everyday."

Scott Southworth proudly holds up a picture of his adopted son Ala'a on July 19, 2007, in the home in Mauston, Wis. Southworth first met Ala'a, who has cerebral palsy, at the Mother Teresa orphanage in Baghdad in 2003 while he was serving in Iraq.
(AP Photo/Andy Manis)

Hat tip: Cajun Tiger

Also blogging:
Mike's America
simply about g

Related story: Soldiers seek families for Iraqi orphans

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Christmas Captioning

Dec. 21: A Palestinian protester dressed as Santa Claus tries to block an Israeli soldier from arresting another demonstrator at a protest against Israel's separation barrier in the village of Umm Salamona, near Bethlehem in the West Bank.
Kevin Frayer - AP

While afternoon activities are focused on singing and dispensing treats, "Santarchy" gets naughtier after dark. Here, some Santas make a pit-stop for supplies at a liquor store on K Street.
Sarah L. Voisin - The Washington Post

A row of Santas share another round at The Big Hunt.
Sarah L. Voisin - The Washington Post

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Christmas Cartoon Surge

A picture you really do need to see, alright...

Oh, wait, wait, wait....lemme guess: They support the troops, right?
The soldiers shown in the photo, who are being indoctrinated in the ideology of religious war, are no more at fault than the young female Hamas member in the photo. Those truly at fault for any resulting strife and violence are the people who are doing the indoctrination.
Since it's all morally relative and equivalent to both sides, Troutfishing and his KosKiddie cronies might just as well go ahead and admit they support that "young female Hamas member in the photo." After all, what's the difference, right? Both are "victims" to indoctrination.

What's the difference between a law enforcement officer using deadly force and a criminal drug dealer using deadly force? It's all the same right? It's all relative and a matter of perspective.

Moral Idiots....

Hat tip: American Power

Also blogging:
Gateway Pundit

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Sunday, December 23, 2007

Who Supports the Troops?

The WWE, for one.

My favorite wrestler, Chris Jericho, poses with U.S. soldiers.

Classic Jericho on the mic, trash-talking (Part II, with the Rock).

From the Miami Herald:

World Wrestling Entertainment chairman Vince McMahon and 19 superstars and Divas just returned from bringing holiday cheer to U.S. troops stationed in Iraq on its fifth Tribute to the Troops tour.

Hosted by Armed Forces Entertainment, the tour, Dec. 4-8, marked the fifth holiday Tribute to the Troops event WWE has produced since 2003. The tour and live event will be chronicled in a two-hour holiday special -- WWE Tribute to the Troops -- at 9 p.m. EST/PST Monday, Dec. 24 on the USA Network.

The WWE Tribute to the Troops tour marks the largest celebrity production to visit troops in Iraq, with WWE superstars visiting 20 bases throughout the country in three days.

JBL (John "Bradshaw" Layfield, for you FOX News buffs) passing out t-shirts

-- While in Iraq for the Tribute to the Troops taping, several WWE superstars found themselves in grave danger. A helicopter carrying Dean Malenko, Mickie James, Carlito, Chris Jericho, JBL, and Ron Simmons was damaged while landing, stranding the superstars for five hours in a war zone in Tarmiyah, Iraq. They were in the middle of fires, smoke bombs, dead animals, and razor wire everywhere while hanging out with soldiers in an unsecure location. -Source: Wrestling Observer Newsletter

More photos here. Read more from WWE Tribute to the Troops.

I do believe, for whatever it's worth, that a number of prominent wrestlers in the WWE lean to the right.

WWE Superstars blogging:
Mickie James
Lillian Garcia

The Cole Report

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The Media at War

"Sometimes, you go to war with the media you have, not the one you wish you had."

Curt writes:
Brutally Honest wonders why this isn't front page news. I think we all know the answer to that one
Yes, and the latest Pew Research Center findings, based upon a study of more than 1,100 news articles from January through October of 2007, confirms what we've pointed out on a regular basis:

Through the first 10 months of the year, the picture of Iraq that Americans received from the news media was, in considerable measure, a grim one. Roughly half of the reporting has consisted of accounts of daily violence. And stories that explicitly assessed the direction of the war have tended toward pessimism, according to a new study of press coverage of events on the ground in Iraq from January through October of 2007.

In what Defense Department statistics show to be the deadliest year so far for U.S. forces in Iraq, journalists have responded to the challenge of covering the continuing violence by keeping many of the accounts of these attacks brief and limiting the interpretation they contain.

As the year went on, the narrative from Iraq brightened in some ways. The drumbeat of reports about daily attacks declined in late summer and fall, and with that came a decline in the amount of coverage from Iraq overall.

This shift in coverage beginning in June, in turn, coincided with a rising sense among the American public that military efforts in Iraq were going "very" or "fairly well."

Amy Proctor cites a Pew research poll that charts how Americans have had a sense of improvement on Iraq. Although this seems to contradict a recent Gallup poll that states "Americans are generally negative on the status of the war right now", And that 6 in 10 Americans still want a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq, the survey also reveals that 71% of Americans believe Iraq will be better off as a result of the U.S.-led invasion and overthrow of Saddam's regime.

35% of Americans say the troops should stay until the job is done or until the United States wins, while 29% say the troops should be removed immediately. Eleven percent say the troops should be withdrawn as soon as possible, and 5% endorse a gradual withdrawal. About one in six Americans advise a specific time period -- 11% within the next year, 4% between one and two years, and 1% three years or longer.

Republicans and Democrats differ significantly in what they would advise the president and Congress to do about U.S. troops in Iraq: the vast majority of Republicans say the troops should stay until the job is done or until the United States wins, while Democrats most frequently say the troops should be removed immediately.

Amy Proctor also makes the following observation:

Essentially, as public opinion of the war shifted from a negative opinion to a more positive one by September 2007, the overall media coverage declined along with terrorist attacks.

You would expect the opposite to happen. That is, with a safer environment, more embedded reporters would be able to travel with the troops and more reporting made available to the public, whereas a volatile environment would accomodate fewer embedded journalists resulting in fewer stories. In reality, the opposite occurred.

Recall, from Michael Totten's Anbar Awakening PtII:

Violence has declined so sharply in Ramadi that few journalists bother to visit these days. It’s “boring,” most say, and it’s hard to get a story out there – especially for daily news reporters who need fresh scoops every day. Unlike most journalists, I am not a slave to the daily news grind and took the time to embed with the Army and Marines in late summer.

There is no good excuse for the way in which the media has reported, misreported, and misrepresented the story on Iraq. They, as much as the news itself, have shaped the war (and public opinion and perceptions of it) and become active participants in the course of events.

In Hog Pilots, Blue Water Grunts, Robert Kaplan writes:
[Robert] Sherrod [Time-Life war correspondent], like other correspondents of the era, keeps using the words "we" and "our" when referring to the American side, for although a journalist, he was a fellow American living among the troops. Back in Honolulu a week after the battle, he found the naïveté of the home front toward Tarawa "amazing". The public saw the killing of so many troops in so few days as scandalous. There were rumblings in Congress about an intelligence failure, and vows that such a thing must not happen again. But as Sherrod argues, there was no easy way to win many wars (in fact, eight months later, the first day of fighting on Guam would claim nearly seven hundred marines dead, wounded, or missing). Thus, "to deprecate the Tarawa victory was almost to defame the memory of the gallant men who lost their lives achieving it." He concludes that on Tarawa, in 1943, "there was a more realistic approach to war than there was in the United States." [Chapter One, Pg. 27]
Instead of the Sherrods of yesteryear, we get this, this and this.

Other findings in the Pew Research Center study:

  • Daily accounts of violence made up 47% of all stories studied during the first 10 months of 2007. But because many of these stories were short, that represented just 27% of the time and space-or newshole-of the coverage studied.

  • Through June, more than half of all stories studied were about violent incidents, but that number fell to roughly one third in September and October.

  • Just more than half (56%) of the stories that offered a clear assessment of where things in Iraq were headed were pessimistic, but that coverage was more skeptical of the Iraqi government and the stability of the country than it was of U.S. policy.

  • Stories assessing the effectiveness of U.S. policy-including the surge-more often than not were neither distinctly positive nor negative in the message they conveyed. Four in ten offered a mixed assessment, while a third were pessimistic and a quarter saw things as improving.

  • A separate analysis of coverage in November, beyond the time frame of the main study, indicates that during that month positive assessments of the surge began to rise.

  • The coverage overall was U.S. centric in subject matter. About half of all the coverage from Iraq was about the American military and U.S. officials. Roughly another 10% was about private contractors, mostly Blackwater.

  • Coverage of Iraqi civilians, by contrast, made up far less, 3% of stories and 5% of overall newshole.

  • Despite enormous difficulty in getting access to sources, Americans did get a wide range of perspectives. Fully 40% of stories (representing 61% of the newshole) carried the views of multiple of types of stakeholders.

Also blogging:
American Thinker
Bottomline Upfront

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Harry Come Lately...

On Iraq?
Joe Donelly is getting it. Representative Shelley Berkley is getting it.

Reid: "Surge hasn't hurt....okay, it helped."

Reid is a piece of work. Will he ever "get it" get it?

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Saturday, December 22, 2007

The Lame Ass Congress

Wake up America reported a week ago on the latest Gallup approval ratings:

Gallup's latest poll shows President Bush's approval ratings have risen since the last poll from early November where they were at 31% to today where they are at 37%, yet congressional approval has stayed at 22%, essentially unchanged from last month.

Read the rest...along with the Democrats Many Failures and the Lost Promise of Democratic Power

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Hero of the Year

'Tis the Season in Baghdad and Britain

Jalal Hourmoz, 48, -year-old Chaldean Christian monastery administrator, wears a Santa Claus costume as he distributes presents to pupils at al-Abtikar school in eastern Baghdad December 17, 2007.
REUTERS/Mohammed Ameen

Children play on a slide in al-Zawra amusement park on the first day of the Muslim festival of Eid-al-Adha in Baghdad December 19, 2007.
REUTERS/Mahmoud Raouf Mahmoud

Gateway Pundit has more photos of the Eid al-Adha festival celebrations in Baghdad

Hat tip: Flopping Aces

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Why I do not segregate myself from the Christmas tradition

I grew up on these sorts of holiday classics.

My Dad is atheist. But he never censored my exposure to Christianity and Christian-themed stories. Growing up, we celebrated the AMERICAN TRADITION of celebrating Christmas and Easter and Thanksgiving. We might not have said grace around the dinner table; but if we were invited guests during Thanksgiving, we bowed our heads and said grace. No one "trained" or "taught" me how to do it. I just followed along and did it; and didn't feel "weird" about it or somehow "left out", "deprived", or "excluded" (although I do remember being around 6, over at a friend's house, and he ridiculing me for not knowing more about Jesus; if I were seriously traumatized by that, you'd think I would have grown up to become an ACLU lawyer rather than a staunch defender of the Judeo-Christian heritage of our country). This is because I wasn't sheltered from Christianity. Familiarity breeds the opposite of intolerance and fear. Christmas and Easter- even if it's only in their secularist expression, are as much a part of my history and culture as it is for a Christian American's heritage and cultural upbringing.

How ridiculous would that be for the hosts to not say grace at the table, in deference to political correctness in not assuming our religion? Consideration has its place; but so, too, does consideration by the guests for the hosts.

Anyway, how impoverished would we be if a movie like "Miracle on 34th Street" had never been made, for fear of excluding Americans who choose not to celebrate Christmas?

The Little Drummer Boy was a yearly part of my childhood. It was so sad; yet so beautiful. And I learned a bit about baby Jesus in the process of being entertained, and digging a really cool song.

Pretty dark, for being aimed at kids- thankfully! In comparison to what kids in other parts of the world are exposed to, America's children live dangerously sheltered.

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Bill Clinton Donates his Sacs

Friday, December 21, 2007

My Endorsement of CJ for American Hero Award

When I first began blogging, one of the very first milblogs I fell in love with, was One Soldier's Perspective (now, "A Soldier's Perspective"), run by CJ. He has since enlisted other soldiers to blog there.

CJ is a great human being. He is everything you want in an American soldier: patriotic, honorable, caring, devout, intelligent, highly motivated, with a deep love for his fellow soldiers and the U.S. military. When I think of the men and women who serve in our Armed Forces, I don't think of losers and misfits who only want to be put through school and escape from a background of poverty. I think of men and women like CJ, who voluntarily choose to serve in our military out of a desire to serve their country, defend its freedoms, and protect its citizenry.

CJ is a top 10 finalist in the VA Mortgage Center's American Hero Award contest. I encourage all of my readers to go vote for him; and if not for him, then for any of the other fine soldiers who are finalists in the contest.

Apparently, you can make repeat visits, and vote as many times as you can.

One of the things that endeared me to CJ aside from his pro-victory support in Iraq and his support of wounded warriors and fallen heroes, is his humor and glimpses he's shared with readers, into his life as a family man.

Here, he has some fun, at the expense of his children:

I laugh out loud every time I see this.

Hope everyone is enjoying some Christmas fun!

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Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

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