Tuesday, December 30, 2008

What Would be Gained from a "Proportionate Response"?

And how the hell does one even carry out such a concept? "Disproportionate use of force" is what ends wars.

A Palestinian family rushes from the scene of an Israeli missile strike on a building in the Rafah refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip. Gazans cowered in their homes Sunday as Israeli warplanes pressing one of Israel's deadliest assaults ever on Palestinian militants unleashed missiles on weapons warehouses, a police station, the homes of militant field commanders and dozens of other targets across the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. More than 270 Palestinians, most of them militants, have been killed and more than 600 people wounded since Israel's campaign to quash rocket barrages from Gaza began midday Saturday.
Hatem Omar-AP

Related post:

"Moral Relativity", "Moral Equivalence", "Cycle of Violence", "Disproportionate Force", "Proportional Response".....?!?

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Sunday, December 28, 2008

Suddenly, Exercise is "Hip" Once More

Andrew Councill for The New York Times
President Bush jogged on Wednesday at the White House with two veterans who lost legs while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. To the president’s left was Sgt. Neil Duncan; to his right was Specialist Max Ramsey. Both men first met Mr. Bush last year at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

3 years ago, when I was in my blogging infancy, I posted on Jonathan Chait's bizarre criticism of President Bush for exercising "too much", supposedly bordering upon "the creepy". Michelle Malkin mentions it in her recent column, along with others who also criticized Bush for being (physically) fit for command. She also compares this with the favorable response- bordering upon "the creepy"- from mainstream journalists regarding how much Obama loves to exercise.

On Christmas Day, the Washington Post delivered a front-page paean to Barack Obama's workout habits. The 1,233-word ode to O's physical fitness read more like a Harlequin romance novel than an A-1 news article.

Sighed smitten reporter Eli Zaslow, "The sun glinted off chiseled pectorals sculpted during four weightlifting sessions each week, and a body toned by regular treadmill runs and basketball games." Drool cup to the newsroom, stat.

Zaslow imparted us with vital information about buff Bam's regimen: "Obama has gone to the gym for about 90 minutes a day, for at least 48 days in a row." The Washington Post enlightened us with more gushing commentary from Obama friends and associates, who explain how, as the subtitle of Zaslow's opus put it, "Gym Workouts Help Obama Carry the Weight of His Position."

For adoring journalists, you see, Obama's workout fanaticism demonstrates the discipline and balance in his life. Apparently, what's good for Obama's glistening pecs is good for the country. Zaslow quoted Obama Chicago crony Marty Nesbitt, who offered this diagnosis: "He doesn't think of it as something he has to do -- it's his time for himself, a chance for him to reflect. It's his break. He feels better and more revved up after he gets in his workout."

And when Obama feels better, the skies will part, the sun will shine (in moderate, environmentally correct, non-global warming-inducing amounts, of course), and peace will reign worldwide!

Too bad the doughy, McDonald's-chomping, coffee-guzzling members of the White House press corps couldn't see the merits of White House exercise over the past eight years. After giggling about his out-of-shape colleagues in the media, Zaslow mentioned in passing that President George W. Bush shares Obama's commitment to health. What he failed to acknowledge is that the same reporters who so greatly admire Obama's lithe figure derided Bush for his training schedule.

Read more.

Then say it with me, with a straight face: There is...no....media...bias.


Opposition to President Bush has ever been about the scarlett letter "R" next to his name....even when he carries out policies that might be considered a liberal's dream. Reality check:

what happens to the left when Obama doesn’t begin war crimes proceedings against President Bush and key aides? What will they do when Obama refuses to overturn what the left claimed was “domestic spying” with warrantless wiretaps? When Obama ramps up troop levels in Afghanistan and manages Bush’s withdrawal plan for Iraq will the lefties feel betrayed?

When Dems took control of Congress in 2006 and failed to deliver on their promise to end the Iraq war they blamed it on President Bush’s ability to veto their plans. But soon Dems will control the White House and the Congress. How will the Bush haters handle their disappointment when Obama, Pelosi and Reid tell them that the war isn’t lost and immediate withdrawal isn’t an option?

Scott has suggested that the answer may lie in the ability of reality challenged lefties to simply flip a switch and all of a sudden discover that national security is important if it’s a Democrat in the White House. It reminds me of that old Clinton saying: “it all depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.”

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Sunday Funnies

Friday, December 26, 2008

Gran Torino

Saw this movie today. Loved it.

Clint Eastwood has aged really well. Coolest old guy on the planet.

I stuck around during the closing credits and fell for this song:

Music Written by Clint Eastwood, Jamie cullum, Kyle Eastwood and Michael Stevens
Warner Bros score

American Film Institute : movies of the year-official selections : Gran Torino

golden globe : best song "Gran Torino"
critics choice awards : best actor : Clint Eastwood

top 10 of the year : Gran torino
Best actor : Clint Eastwood for Gran torino
Best original screenplay for Gran torino

If I remember correctly, Clint Eastwood also wrote the theme music to Unforgiven.

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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merry Christmas, and God Bless Our Military and Their Families

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

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.
And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tinny reindeer.

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!

"Now Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! On, Cupid! on, on Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!"

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of Toys, and St Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.
A bundle of Toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler, just opening his pack.

His eyes-how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow.

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly!

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself!
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk.
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose!

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!"

Clement Clarke Moore (1779 - 1863) wrote the poem Twas the night before Christmas also called “A Visit from St. Nicholas" in 1822. It is now the tradition in many American families to read the poem every Christmas Eve. The poem Twas the night before Christmas has redefined our image of Christmas and Santa Claus. Prior to the creation of the story of Twas the night before Christmas St. Nicholas, the patron saint of children, had never been associated with a sleigh or reindeers! The author of the poem Twas the night before Christmas was a reticent man and it is believed that a family friend, Miss H. Butler, sent a copy of the poem to the New York Sentinel who published the poem. The condition of publication was that the author of Twas the night before Christmas was to remain anonymous. The first publication date was 23rd December 1823 and it was an immediate success. It was not until 1844 that Clement Clarke Moore claimed ownership when the work was included in a book of his poetry. Clement Clarke Moore came from a prominent family and his father Benjamin Moore was the Bishop of New York who was famous for officiating at the inauguration of George Washington. The tradition of reading Twas the night before Christmas poem on Christmas Eve is now a Worldwide institution.


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Sunday, December 21, 2008

Sunday Funnies

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Caption This

Leftist protesters display shoes as they protest in front of the U.S. Embassy in Ankara December 18, 2008. Turkey's Communist Party members organized the rally to protest against the U.S. and to support Iraqi journalist Muntazer al-Zaidi, who hurled his shoes at U.S. President George W. Bush during a news conference in Iraq on December 14, 2008.

REUTERS/Umit Bektas

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Palestinian militants step on a poster depicting President George W. Bush during a protest in Gaza December 16, 2008. The protest, organised by popular resistant committees, was held in solidarity with Iraqi TV reporter Muntazer al-Zaidi, who threw his shoes at Bush on Sunday.
REUTERS/Suhaib Salem

I dunno....maybe they're just doing the hokey-pokey in the photo?

Just how thin-skinned are those raised in Arab/Middle-Eastern cultures? So people who don't like my president are stepping all over his picture.....AND? Is that supposed to make President Bush or his supporters so riled up they declare crusade or something? Just because they consider using shoes to express themselves as some "grave" form of insult, is their problem; not ours. I can print out my own photo and walk all over it. Doesn't mean a thing to me. Am I being culturally insensitive?

It's their AK-47's and homicide bombers I'm more concerned about as a means of expression. Burn effigies, step on photos, throw darts at it...who are you hurting? If we stepped on a photo of their leaders with our shoes (or on a likeness of Mohammed), would that be a "crime" severe enough to warrant our death? This is the same culture that breeds riots in the streets over Danish cartoons, calling for the execution of a school teacher over a teddy bear being named "Mohammed" by school children, or perceived offenses in a speech, leading to the death of a nun who even in agony and pain of death, said of her Islamic militant killers, "I forgive"?

Grow some thicker skin, leave the 7th and 14th century, and join 21st century civilization.

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Monday, December 15, 2008

Impartial Journalist disarms himself of his footwear

Size 10 Insult? Pfft! I don't suppose he was given his shoes back?

If Muntadhar al-Zeidi lobbed his bra and panties at the President, I'd be concerned. As it stands, I don't care how serious an insult Middle-Easterners think attacking a person with shoes are. It'd only be harmful if the man's got athlete foot fungi clinging to them, as a biological weapon of minor disruption.

Did anyone bother to check the shoes for biological agents? Parasitic fungus is communicable.

Inevitable that he'd be hailed a local hero and make a name for himself amongst the moonbats in the Middle East (and the ones, here back in the U.S.).

Shouldn't he be directing his anger at the militants who tortured him, and who we've been fighting against?

Certainly gives added new meaning to the phrase, "lame-duck president".

President Bush looked into his eyes and was able to get a sense of Muntadhar's sole...


Most of the Iraqi blogs I visit are rather anti-Bush and express the expected praise for Muntadhar. But get a load of this series of reactions printed in the NYTimes, and by way of A Soldier's Perspective:

In the city of Kut– In the provincial capital of Wasit Province, residents took issue with the Iraqi journalist’s methods and felt that he had insulted Iraqis.

Haider Ali al-Seray, 25, said: “What he has done is improper within our Islamic Iraqi society. Whatever his motive is, Bush was a guest in the state of Iraq. We demand that the prime minister issue restrictions for the reporters in order that this will never happen again.”

Ali Hassan Zweyid, a 30-year-old day laborer, said: “They say that Iraq is a democratic state. Morally speaking, he would have better asking Bush some provocative questions to provoke him and despise him.”

Qasim Abdul Ridha, a 37-year-old teacher, said: “What he has done is improper within the profession of journalism. He conducted an aggression against the flag of Iraq. The democracy is not shoes. We demand the government prosecute him.”

In the city of Karbala – In the holy city that is a main destination for Shiite pilgrims, residents were split on the shoe-hurtling.

Abu Qasim, 47, said: “What this journalist did is an act of street kids, because he doesn’t know that without America, Saddam wouldn’t have fallen — not for tens of years.”

Abu Sura, 43, called it “rash action that doesn’t fit with his profession, which is supposed to be moderate and neutral as it brings the facts to the people.”

Abu Ali, 48, said: “I congratulate this brave man who expressed the opinion of most of the Iraqis.”

In the city of Basra – Iraqis in the oil-rich southern port city of Basra, residents agreed with the Iraqi journalist’s low opinion of President Bush, but not with his actions.

Sayyd Basim al-Musawi, a member in Basra provincial council and the chief of the security committee said: “Professionally, it wasn’t suitable for him as a journalist because there are many democratic expressions that he could have used, like interrupting Bush’s speech during the conference or making noise, but the shoes express the low moral level.”

Dhyaa Mahdi Salih, a 56-year-old lawyer, said: “What this brave journalist did is nothing but rejecting the tyrants in our country. And this journalist deserves to have a statue as he was throwing his shoe at the American president.”

Saeed Naji al-Ibadi, a 49-year-old pharmacist, said: “There’s a reaction against this journalist and his improper behavior as he represents the journalists and educated people in our society. Because he should have rejected the American president with his pen or by embarrassing him with his smart questions, not with his shoes. I totally reject this behavior because it will damage the rights of individuals.”

Nasir Mahmood al-Bahadli, 52, an academic said: “We are Arabs and we have a good reputation in hospitality with enemies before friends. The American president also was accompanying the man who represents the Iraqi government and this made it worse because this journalist also abused the prime minister with his behavior.”

In the city of Baquba – In the largely Sunni Arab capital of Diyala Province, many residents were critical of the journalist.

Saeed Shakir al-Sayyd, a 40-year-old teacher, said: “Freedom and democracy should be explained in a correct way. I think what Muntader al-Zaidi did is incorrect and not professional… He’s a journalist and deals with the language of words, and not throwing the shoes and cursing. This man was wrong.”

Nawal Jaafer, 30, said: “Yes, we all hate America because it destroyed Iraq and distributed sectarianism among its people. I think what al-Zaidi did is a real expression on what’s hidden in the hearts of the Iraqis.”

Karim Muan al-Qaisi, a 50-year-old merchant, said: “Despite my hatred of Bush, he’s a president for a big country and a guest for the Iraqi government. And we as Easterners think insulting the guest is an insult for the host. Despite our hatred of the guest, there should be respect and diplomacy.”

Bilal Midhat Hussein, a 44-year-old photographer, said: “It’s not in the nature of the Iraqis to insult anyone — even their enemies. I was a soldier during the Iraqi-Iranian war and we arrested many Iranian soldiers who killed our colleagues, but we never insulted them. And that’s just a simple example of the big mistake of yesterday because this journalist insulted all the rest of the journalists. Because none of the Arab journalists would have dared to do so because they already know the consequences.”

In the city of Ramadi (of all places) – In the capital of Anbar’s largely Sunni western province of Ramadi, some residents condemned the attack.

Ahmad Jeyyad, 36, a professor in the college of agriculture in Anbar University, said: “What we have seen in TV is more than an action by a journalist. It was an action by an Iraqi citizen who lost his mind because of the woes of occupations. My family clapped when they saw the shoe. They praise Muntader for his action, but we do not know the reasons behind it. He may have had one of his family arrested by American forces or he may have political affiliations or other reasons.”

Ahmad Abu Risha, the head of Sahwa Council in Iraq, said: “We condemn what happened because the American president is the guest of all Iraqis. The Iraqi government has to choose good journalists to attend such conferences.”

He added, “I had attended the White House and there were reporters known as White House’s reporters. So why are there not well known professional reporters be chosen for such tasks?

“On the other hand, Muntader insulted Iraqi journalists. We are calling for his channel to apologize.” He added that “in spite of everything, we are demanding to release Muntader.”

Ahmad Jbaeir, a 25-year-old law school student, said: “I was very glad when I saw the shoe on TV. I do not care even if he was a journalist or an ordinary citizen, but he expressed the feelings of Iraqis who hate Bush because he killed us. So we are demanding his release.”

Saddam Loqman, a 21-year-old shopkeeper, said: “My father was arrested by Americans and I wish I [could have thrown the shoe] instead, but if I was a journalist, then I have to respect the occupation when I get to the conference hall.” Then he laughed and said, “I think that the Iraqi government will permit journalists to attend conferences only after taking their shoes off.”

Haitham al-Kood, 30, said: “I think Muntader was paid for his action. He has to be pushed by some side. We are demanding the government to prevent such actions. And if only Maliki was in the conference, then Muntader would be dead, but fortunately Bush was in the conference too and he said ‘it is the price of freedom.’”

It's also good to see that Bush still has his combat pilot's quick reaction. Did you see that duck and weave?!

Also found at A Soldier's Perspective:

From the Kurdish press, via Gateway Pundit:
On December 14, 2008 President Bush and Prime Minister Maliki had a press conference in Baghdad. An Iraqi journalist threw his shoes one at a time at the American president. Interestingly Mr. Bush moved very quickly and dodged the shoes so none of them hit him. Apparently he is physically very fit and might have an extensive experience in dodge ball. Most likely dodge shoes becomes the favorite game of children who watch Al-Jazirah. I am wondering if the angry man had thrown the shoes at his own current leaders who welcomed Mr. Bush, would Prime Minister Maliki or President Talibani have been fit enough to protect themselves from being hit; probably not.

Nobody claims that President Bush is flawless or that he should not be criticized. In fact almost every American journalist including the one from his own party rightfully criticize him on a regular basis for his mistakes. However, compare to Saddam whom he removed from power, President Bush is actually a saint. President Bush did not feel insulted and even made a joke about the size of the thrown shoes, which might indicate his mental fitness. I am wondering if the angry man had thrown his shoes at Saddam, would he or any of his family members had been allowed to live any longer; probably not.

Although I am not an Iraqi but a Kurd, I felt embarrassed for the behavior of the angry reporter. For decades Kurds and Iraqis have fought for freedom of speech and press. If a journalist can not respect his own profession and violates the rules of free press, how could the world trust the region to become free? As Middle Eastern we are already labeled as barefoot people for taking off our shoes at our homes, mosques, beaches, and deserts. We do not need our reporters to be labeled as barefoot journalists and denied access to conferences where keeping shoes on is part of an appropriate attire and manner! In fact we need to reject barefoot journalism.

Considering his behavior, probably the angry reporter does not qualify to be a journalist at this stage of his life.

Great column by Ralph Peters, as well.

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Sunday, December 14, 2008

Sunday Funnies

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

More Pragmatist than "Progressive"?

Barack Obama speaks during a campaign rally at Friendly House gynmasium in Davenport, Iowa, January 2, 2008.

A number of conservatives are rightly skeptical that Senator President Elect Obama has it in him to govern from the center(-left). Nothing in his actual history indicates he's ever gravitated toward adopting centrist/conservative beliefs or moved away from an attraction to radical, leftist ideologies; nor is there a history of ever actually reaching across the aisle and achieving real bipartisanship, other than offering lip service about it and the illusion of centrism and unity.

It just might well be, though, that he is pragmatic enough and smart enough about his legacy, that he will vitiate his natural inclination of leftist ideology and actually govern closer to the center than to the far left of it.

In any event, it's nice from our perspective to at least watch his "progressive" moveon.org base jaw-drop as he breaks campaign promises and...*gasp*...turns out to be "just another politician":

Liberals are growing increasingly nervous – and some just flat-out angry – that President-elect Barack Obama seems to be stiffing them on Cabinet jobs and policy choices.

Obama has reversed pledges to immediately repeal tax cuts for the wealthy and take on Big Oil. He’s hedged his call for a quick drawdown in Iraq. And he’s stocking his White House with anything but stalwarts of the left.

Now some are shedding a reluctance to puncture the liberal euphoria at being rid of President George W. Bush to say, in effect, that the new boss looks like the old boss.

“He has confirmed what our suspicions were by surrounding himself with a centrist to right cabinet. But we do hope that before it’s all over we can get at least one authentic progressive appointment,” said Tim Carpenter, national director of the Progressive Democrats of America.

OpenLeft blogger Chris Bowers went so far as to issue this plaintive plea: “Isn’t there ever a point when we can get an actual Democratic administration?”

Even supporters make clear they’re on the lookout for backsliding. “There’s a concern that he keep his basic promises and people are going to watch him,” said Roger Hickey, a co-founder of Campaign for America’s Future.

Obama insists he hasn’t abandoned the goals that made him feel to some like a liberal savior. But the left’s bill of particulars against Obama is long, and growing.


Maybe Obama is smart enough not to want to govern Carter's 2nd term.

Can't wait to see the realities of high office kick him swift in the pants once he's actually in, rather than trying to armchair quarterback from the bleachers (2003-2008) or govern on Bush's watch (post-Nov. Election and pre-Jan 20th, 2009 inaugural). Actually, that was a partisan snipe: I actually think for the sake of a smooth transition, for the sake of the country, it's good that Obama's getting his feet into the waters before Bush leaves office and is no longer there to hold his hand. I mean, c'mon....last I understood it, we're only supposed to have one president at a time.


Sunday, December 07, 2008

Sunday Funnies

More Sunday Funnies at Flopping Aces

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Friday, December 05, 2008

Resident Select, Barack Obama

This is still talked about by bloggers I respect, and in a couple of reader posts over at Flopping Aces.

I'm in agreement with Matt Lewis here, who's in agreement with Michelle Malkin, here. And especially here:

My immediate response to Marc would be that to understand Townhall is to understand that we represent a broad array of conservative voices and opinions. In fact, we do not even publish editorials or take editorial positions. What is more, clearly we have regular writers (Kathleen Parker, for example) who express viewpoints that I personally find absurd, offensive and often childish. Clearly some conservatives out there like her though -- so we still run her columns ...

This whole notion of Obama's birth certificate, however, is something I've been meaning to write about anyway, as I have grown very tired of seeing a few of our commenters dwell on this ridiculous rumor.

I am of the opinion that anyone advancing the notion that Obama is not a citizen, and thus not qualified to become president, is actually undermining the conservative cause. Sadly, this ridiculous "conspiracy theory" will only serve to undermine the legitimate attacks on Obama, by casting us all in the role of zealots.

All indications are that Obama was born in the state of Hawaii. His mother was clearly an American citizen. In many regards, Obama has more of a claim to be eligible for the presidency than did Barry Goldwater (born in the "Arizona territory"), George Romney (born in Mexico), or John McCain (born in the Panama Canal Zone)...

There are plenty of legitimate reasons to criticize Obama, but dwelling on this ridiculous notion will only serve to undermine them.

To answer Marc's question of whether or not this is a legitimate question to ask, I would only reply that this is a legitimate topic if you believe in free speech. Moreover, it is not racist, sexist, or vulgar -- just (in my opinion) very destructive and unhelpful to those who care about advancing the cause of conservatism...


In the Middle of a Perilous Peace

On the Horizon
A U.S. Army Soldier from Charlie Troop, 2nd Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division out of Ft. Lewis, Wash., patrols a village during an operation south of Baqubah, Iraq, Oct. 4, 2007. U.S. Air Force photo

Michael Yon in November traveling with soldiers of the 2-4 Alpha of the 10th Mountain Division:

We rumbled into various neighborhoods in south Baghdad. Nothing was going on. No gun battles. No mushroom clouds from car bombs or IEDs. I wore the headset and the incessant radio alerts about units fighting here or there were completely absent. In the old days, while the Iraq war was hot, there was constant chatter about fighting, car bombs, snipers, name it. Today, there were no alerts at all. There was more chatter about the Kenyan sitting in front of me who had been in the Army for a couple years. The other soldiers said he should get automatic citizenship for volunteering to fight, and we all agreed. The soldier came straight from Kenya into our Army. Did not even pass GO, and suddenly was in Iraq.

On another day, I had lunch with a soldier from Ghana. He told me that Ghana has the same constitution as the United States, and that he was proud to join the American Army. He had become an American, to which I said, “Welcome aboard.” He had one of those Ghana accents and was black as coal. By the time he finished telling me about his homeland, I was sold on wanting to travel there someday.

“Are Americans welcome?” I asked.

“Sure!” He seemed to think the question was humorous for its simplicity about Ghana. He said that American soldiers in Ghana are treated like kings, and if anyone gives a hassle, a U.S. soldier has only to show his military ID, and the clouds all disappear. The soldier from Ghana told me that when he goes home on leave, the police actually salute him because he joined the American army. I was incredulous, and asked for reassurance, “Really?! They salute you?”

“Yes,” he said, with that funny Ghana accent. “They Salute American soldiers in Ghana! They love America and many Americans retire there.”

Sounded like Kurdish Iraq, where the kids ask soldiers for autographs, and even ask interpreters for autographs if they work for American soldiers.

Why al Qaeda has lost legitimacy, thanks to the war in Iraq:

I still find people in America, Nepal, Thailand, UAE and other countries who believe al Qaeda propaganda that they attack us because we support Israel or occupy Muslim holy land. This would not explain the decapitated Iraqi children I photographed when locals told me al Qaeda did it. This would not explain the Iraqi children al Qaeda has blown up, or the Afghans and Pakistanis killed by al Qaeda, or the Africans who are murdered by the same cult of serial killers. Did those decapitated children in the Iraqi village even know where America or Israel are? What about the Shia mosques they destroyed in Iraq? Were they occupying Saudi Arabia or supporting Israel?

Read the whole dispatch.

Michael Yon has recently been very optimistic about the current path to stability in Iraq, declaring the "war over" in Iraq as far back as July, and re-affirming it last month. Michael Totten has been more cautious and reserved, while noting that "pessimists have been losing the argument in Iraq ever since General David Petraeus radically transformed the American counterinsurgency strategy". Recently, he made a return to Baghdad, and has a more somber view, which includes the need to insure that Iraq remains on the right course, by keeping an American footprint in Iraq longer than 16 months:

BAGHDAD – For the past two weeks I’ve been embedded with the United States Army in Baghdad, and I find myself unable to figure out what to make of this place. Baghdad, despite the remarkable success of the surge, is as mind-bogglingly run-down and dysfunctional as ever, even compared with other Arabic countries. Iraq is a dark place. At times it feels like a doomed country that has only been temporarily spared the reckoning that is coming. Other times it is possible to look past the grimness and see progress beyond the mere slackening off of violence and war. Is Iraq truly on the mend, or has a total breakdown been merely postponed? Opinions here among Americans and Iraqis are mixed, but nearly everyone seems to agree about one thing at least: terrorists and insurgents will respond with a surge of their own in the wake of the upcoming withdrawal of American forces.

Sergeant Nick Franklin took me to meet an Iraqi woman named Malath who works with the local Sons of Iraq security organization in the Adhamiyah district of Baghdad. When I asked her if she thought her area was ready to stand on its own without American help, she bluntly answered “Of course not.” She doesn’t think Iraq needs another year or two or even three. She thinks it will need decades. “We won’t be ready until young people replace the older generation in the Iraqi Army and Iraqi Police. They need to replace the old Baath Party members who are still inside.”

Her view is the darkest. But Iraqis who think the job should only require a few more years are still pessimistic about what they think is likely to happen when the negotiated Status of Forces Agreement goes into effect and American troops withdraw from Iraqi cities in 2009. “We’ve seen hell,” an Iraqi intelligence source said when I met him in his house. “And that hell, if the American forces evacuate, will repeat. If Obama forces an evacuation from Iraq soon, everything will turn against him in this land.”

Read more

Headline title for this post inspired by From Counterinsurgents to Peacekeepers

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Favorite Hollywood Adaptation of a Classic Novel

I read Alexandre Dumas' The Three Musketeers when I was in high school. I think Richard Lester's '70's adaptation is one of the finest ever. Even with the liberties taken, it captures the spirit of the book quite well, in my opinion. I loved the reckless action- the fight choreography has a certain imperfect "clumsiness", with a dash of humor.

I thought Richard Chamberlain looked every inch the part of a musketeer, and the other cast members were also perfect.

In this clip:

D'Artagnan (Michael York) arrives at the Paris headquarters of des Mousquetaires du Roi where he is turned down for entry into the famed unit, but does manage to arrange three duels with his future friends Athos (Oliver Reed), Porthos (Frank Finlay) and Aramis (Richard Chamberlain). This wonderful 1973 Richard Lester adaptation of Dumas novel is filled with swashbuckling action, romance, comedy and brilliant production design. Great fun from start to finish.

In this clip:
D'Artagnan (Michael York) arrives in the courtyard to fight duels with Athos (Oliver Reed), Porthos (Frank Finlay) and Aramis (Richard Chamberlain) and ends up helping them defeat six members of the Cardinal's Guard. Great action and wonderful humor in Richard Lester's 1973 adaptation of Dumas' novel. The Cast is brilliant and only matched by the beautiful costumes, impeccable production design and exquisite cinematography. A sequel (The Four Musketeers) was shot simultaneously, which created some problems with producers and cast since everyone was paid for one movie. Another twist in the history of Hollywood accounting.
The movie (or "movies") had a cast of stars. Among them, Charlton Heston:

Sorry I've not blogged all week, nor made my rounds. Been awfully busy, and needing a break.

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Monday, December 01, 2008

Lowest U.S. Casualty Toll Since 2003 Invasion

Women look at Iraqi soldiers on a patrol on the outskirts of Basra, 420 km (260 miles) southeast of Baghdad November 23, 2008.
REUTERS/Atef Hassan

October saw U.S. combat-related deaths in Iraq at 8; November saw the number drop down to 6 combat-related deaths.

The difference between 8 and 6 are rather insignificant; and these numbers might go up and down again. But what is important is whether or not there's a consistent pattern, trending in a positive direction here. And I do think we are on the right path.

Monday in Baghdad saw 30 more civilians killed as there are still elements within Iraq who wish to reignite sectarian violence and derail the democratization of Iraq:

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Blasts at Baghdad's police academy and in the northern city of Mosul killed 30 people and wounded dozens more on Monday, hours after a roadside bomb wounded a senior Iraqi official, police said.

Violence has fallen sharply over the past year as successive security crackdowns dealt insurgent groups a heavy blow, but officials say militants are now concentrating their efforts on attention-grabbing attacks ahead of elections next year.

The attacks were likely aimed at reigniting sectarian bloodshed between minority Sunni Arabs who dominated Iraq under ex-dictator Saddam Hussein and Shi'ites who are now in control.

296 Iraqis died from violence last month; in October it was 238. Part of the rise in violence was related to the attempt by those who were not happy with the SOFA.

What's ironic here, is that those opposed to any agreement to keep U.S. forces in Iraq, who want the U.S. and Coalition Forces out of Iraq NOW, are probably prolonging our presence there. You want us out of Iraq as soon as possible? Solution: Cease with the violence and sabotage of the budding Iraqi government.

Iraqi soldiers carry coffins bearing remains of fellow Iraqi soldiers during a ceremony at the Iraq-Iran Shalamcha Border Crossing, in southern Iraq November 30, 2008.
REUTERS/Atef Hassan

Cross-posted at Flopping Aces
(Including story of female suicide bombers turning themselves in)

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Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

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