Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Compare and Contrast 
Ezra Lavant publishes some cartoons and gets hauled before the Alberta Civil Rights Commission.

Mark Steyn is being accused of a thought crime in Canada and the Canadian government is moving to silence him.

But Salman Hossain, a Bangladeshi Canadian, can call for the murder of Allied troops in the West and it's treated as "free speech."

Behold, the muddleheadedness of well-meaning, multicultural, moral relativist, nihilist liberalism progressivism gone malignant.

Liberal bureaucrats should be beheaded. There. Process THAT, leftards!

I won't be buying any Molson beer anytime soon.

Splash, out



Is PR more effective than advertising? 
My take is up on Market Presence...along with 5 tips on how to allocate marketing resources.


Can you raed tihs? 
Olny 55 plepoe out of 100 can. I cdnuolt blveiee
taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was
rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan
mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde
Uinervtisy, it dseno’t mtaetr in waht oerdr the
ltteres in a wrod are, the olny iproamtnt tihng is
taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae.
The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll
raed it whotuit a pboerlm. Tihs is bcuseae the
huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef,
but the wrod as a wlohe.

(Hat tip: Second Quadrant Solutions)


Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Countercolumn News Ticker 
Bush: "We've Made Progress in Iraq"

Dem Response: "Did not."

Bush: "Did, too..."

John McCain personally delivering pizzas to Floridian voters to drum up support ...

Pelosi to Hold Breath Until She Gets Her Way ...

French Banker loses $7.2 billion in long positions on French deodorant futures ...

Consumer Reports: Pugeot vs. Renault: Which Burns Longer? ...

Endangered Polar Bears Buy Summer Home in Florida ...
"Nu, who wants to die cold?"
Snowbirds a delicacy ...

Kucinich Drops out of Race ...
Dozens eventually notice ...

Huckabee/Lieberman ticket garners support among nation's Evanjewlicals ...

Decompensating ...


Saturday, January 26, 2008

To absent friends: A Eulogy from a commander for six of our honored dead 
I found this on Powerline. I normally prefer to excerpt and link. I mean Powerline no disrespect. But I wanted these words, in their totality, on Countercolumn. I think they will understand it from a soldier.

Gen Petraus, LTG Odierno, Major General Hertling, BG Boozer, BG Thomas, COL Riscassi, fellow squadron and battalion commanders and command sergeants major;

On behalf of all the soldiers of 3rd Squadron, 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment we thank you for coming to pay tribute to our fallen brothers in arms.

We are here to honor the memory and service of seven men, seven of our brothers in arms.

There is a story about loss in war where one character comments to another, “We are ready for the occasional empty chair, the fond farewell for comrades lost. But we are never, never ready for so many.”

I cannot, as your commander, in anything I say today diminish the impact of losing these men all at once. In fact because we lost them so quickly, it all seems like a bad dream -- that we will wake up tomorrow and they will all be back again.

Each of us, whether present at the scene that day or not, will remember when we first found out. We will remember our inner anguish when we got up the nerve to ask, “Who was it?”

Others will recall the steeled strength it took to calmly and professionally report and verify the battle roster numbers, knowing full well we owed them this calmness and professionalism, so their families would be taken care of.

Others of us will never forget rescuing the four wounded that day and getting them to a helicopter as fast as we could. All these things are true. All these things will be seared in our memories. It was a terrible day and we cannot change that.

We are not alone in mere personal grief, or our desire to honor the fallen. The presence of the general officers here is their effort to acknowledge the sacrifice of this unit and the bravery of these men. Although I have not been able to access every news report, the ones I have read indicate the nation supports us, mourns with us and honors the men we have lost in the recon platoon.

The governors of the states of Virginia and Nevada and Wisconsin and Oregon and New Mexico have ordered the flag of the United States of America and the flags of their respective state flags be flown at half-mast on the day of our men’s funerals. We are not alone in honoring them. Again, I don’t have news stories for all of our men yet but those I have read indicate hundreds have attended their funerals.

And why this reaction? Why hundreds of people at funerals? Why governors issuing decrees for flags to be flown at half mast?

Because we are all in awe of their great sacrifice, courage and devotion to duty and each other. These men, our men, are fallen on the field of battle. Forever more that is their legacy. Their names are now enshrined on the scroll of America’s hallowed dead. And where they died, where they shed their blood, is sacred ground to us.

We still cannot help think why. Why do we have to lose such good men?

Part of the answer is only good men like these volunteer to serve and defend their country. Here’s two brief examples of their motivations:

SPC Davis had his car packed and had been admitted to the University of Oklahoma when he changed his mind and decided to enlist in the army. His family believes he did so out of pride for his father who had served in the military and had passed away in 2003. There he was -- the excitement and opportunities of college life and getting a degree ahead of him -- and he heard that call, the call to defend and serve his country. At the last moment he could not go through with the easy choice. He chose the harder life of a soldier in a time of war.

Of SSG Gaul his stepmother noted, “Being a soldier was his life. It was what he truly wanted to do.”

I could mention every one of them and tell a similar story. I wish I knew more about Roy’s story, for the courage and guts displayed by our interpreters on a daily basis is an inspiration for us all.

It is still a natural human instinct to ask….But what did they die for? Wasn’t it a waste?

There are several answers to that question but the most basic and simple is they died for us. They entered that house so you and I wouldn’t have to. At that moment they saw it as their duty to clear that house and they acted with discipline courage and bravery. The character of our fallen heroes in the recon platoon is revealed by the actions of the living that day.

As many of you know they were essentially lured to the house by someone that we later discovered had ties to Al Qaida. One of the members of the platoon, on the roof when the blast occurred and the building collapsed -- and wounded himself -- ran down the local who had had lured them to the house ……And then when he found him, did nothing more than detain him.

That professionalism, that discipline, that honor and self-sacrifice speaks of extraordinary nobility of character in the entire platoon. Another soldier, the senior squad leader at the scene with calmness and strength took over the role of platoon sergeant as if he had been doing the job for months.

I could go on and on about the enormous character demonstrated by that entire platoon and entire company that day – a strength and determination that continues to today.

And then there is the unfeigned determination of the recon platoon. It’s not put–on. It’s not fake. They are not trying to be something they are not and failing to express their emotions about this. But the speed with which they have rebounded and insisted to me that they go out on missions again is awe-inspiring.

I do not know where such men come from, except to say they are the kind of men who have made America great and will continue to preserve it.

The act of going in first, the act of willingly doing your duty in a dangerous environment, is by its very nature an act of heroic self-sacrifice for the sake of others. These men we honor today had that spirit of self-sacrifice and devotion to duty to an awe-inspiring degree.

And so I need to speak of what else they died for, and what I believe our honored dead would now expect of us.

I’ll begin by saying what they would not want. They would not wish to be seen as victims of a misguided war, victims of stop loss – or victims of anything else for that matter.

We know we are fighting extremism here in a thousand ways. And as the hometown news articles are getting written several of these fallen heroes are on record stating they believed the war in Iraq is a noble cause.

For those who want to support us by getting us out of Iraq as soon as possible, without a victory, I have but one comment. You’re too late. We have sacrificed too much and all we ask of you is the necessary time to finish the job.

Our children and yours, our grandchildren and yours will be safer for it.

This squadron and the formations on its left and right have in the balance sheet of history, already achieved far more than extremist reckless hatred will ever accomplish.

SSG Dozier once asked his father Carl, “Is it weird to really want to do this?”

His father Carl, filled with pride at what his son had become said "No," "This is what you're trained to do."

On another occasion this brave man, SSG Jonathan Dozier told his father he was prepared to die, “But,” he said, “I don’t want to die for nothing.”

So I ask you Wolfpack to make this promise with me: SSG Dozier, will not have died for nothing. We owe him a victory. We owe him a win. We owe him our own lives if necessary.

If the enemy comes out to fight he will be met with a disciplined lethal ferocity he has never before endured. If he plays the sly game of intimidating, beheading and torturing the innocent people of Iraq when he thinks we’re not looking he will be met with a cunning, a sophistication and a relentlessness that will lead to his utter defeat.

This is my promise to you as your commander and from all of us to our honored dead.

God bless our troops, down to the last private.


Friday, January 25, 2008

Most banjo players are best seen and not heard. 
...Alison Brown isn't one of them.


All good things... 
...Must come to an end.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Conventional vs. COIN: What should we train on? 
What sorts of things should we be teaching in our Army and Marine Corps officer education systems?

Abu Muqawamba hosts the debate.

I would still lean towards a conventional focus for our command and staff schools and mid-level schooling. The COIN side seems better suited for a professional reading list and complementary civilian education to me.

In the meantime, take a battalion TOC crew that's accustomed to a low-intensity counterinsurgency operation. Let's further stipulate that they've never once had to "jump TOC" under pressure or execute a bug-out drill.

They can have all the COIN talent in the world. But throw them all at once in a high-intensity fight, in the field under limited light conditions, and have them go for a week straight processing a flood of information. Now have them sustain operations with five or six moves. Put the CTCP under similar stress. I promise you, many of the battalions operating now are not operating with a formal CTCP at all. COIN operations simply does not require the CTCP to maintain a separate battle tracking function, nor act as an "alternate TOC" in a pinch if the task force headquarters gets knocked out. The S1 and S4 maybe share an office, but there is rarely, in COIN, a dedicated staff of RTOs pulling shifts under two NCOICs.

If these task force headquarters were suddenly plucked from the COIN battlefield of Iraq today and plopped into Iraq in March and April of 2003, they would probably collapse under the strain for a time.

That's why a continued focus on conventional ops is important. Experienced COIN leaders can adjust. And the staff work is much, much easier in a COIN environment. It's the command function that's much more difficult, because it's much more multidisciplinary.

A conventionally capable staff and C3 operation can adjust to a COIN operation much more easily than a staff and C3 operation accustomed to a COIN operation can adjust to a full-on, combined arms, high-intensity conventional fight.

We need to keep one foot in conventional doctrine in our service schools, even as we defeat Al Qaeda using the COIN strategy.

Splash, out


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Monday, January 21, 2008

Fiddle Blogging: Alisdair White 
From The Battlefield Band...

I love the light touch on the bow and the triplets.


Michael Yon Profiled in the New York Times 
Women and minorities hardest hit!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

More leftard idiocy 
This time from Chris Bowers at Open Left:

Imagine if, the day after the 2000 election, the national media simply didn't care about what happened in Florida, and instead acted as though Al Gore had won the election because he won the popular vote. Imagine if all cries from the Bush campaign about something called "The Electoral College" fell on deaf ears, and everyone just acted like Gore won and the popular vote was the only thing that mattered. States? Who cares about the results of individual states? Only the popular vote matters, dummies!

While that would have been perfectly fine with me, since I think the Electoral College is an anti-democratic institution that favors the will of geographic areas over the will of American citizens, it isn't what happened.

Ok, leftard, deal with this:

Resolved: The United States Senate, and all state legislature senates, are anti-democratic institutions.

And because you're such a friend of democracy, it would be perfectly fine for the President to ignore the advice and consent of the Senate in nominating federal and Supreme Court judges and cabinet officials.


Splash, out



More Phoney Soldiers 
...And stupid lawyers!!!!

An elected official charged with falsely claiming he earned the military's highest honor has filed a motion to dismiss the federal case against him on free speech grounds.

The motion argues that the Stolen Valor Act of 2005, under which water board member Xavier Alvarez was charged, is incompatible with the First Amendment because it restricts free speech by criminalizing false claims of military honors.

Alvarez, an elected representative to the Three Valleys Municipal Water District, said last year at a water district meeting that he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his deeds as a Marine.

After admitting he never served in the military, he was charged with violating the Stolen Valor Act. He pleaded not guilty to the misdemeanor charge.

Alvarez's lawyer Brianna J. Fuller argued in the motion to dismiss, which will be heard Jan. 14 in federal court, that "protecting the reputation of military decorations" is not a compelling enough reason to place "restrictions on false statements."

But government prosecutors said in their opposition submitted Wednesday that the First Amendment does not protect deliberate falsehoods.

First of all, this guy ought to get his ass kicked. It's breathtaking that he thought he could get away with it.

Second of all, his lawyers are absolutely shameless.

Third, the government lawyers are just plain stupid. Of course the First Amendment protects falsehoods. If it didn't, there's nothing to prevent the government from establishing a Ministry of Truth and taking upon itself the role arbitrating what are true and false media claims - then punishing individuals and publishers for false news reports and false expressions that clearly enjoy 1st Amendment protection today.

Where do we get lawyers this stupid?

The correct argument, in my view, is that the defendant's claim that the first amendment applies ought to be trumped by the government's vested interest in maintaining the integrity of its decorations, awards and honors.

Although it seems cheap, the closest analogy I can think of would be a trademark seal. For instance, the Underwriters Laboratory seal of approval. UL clearly has an interest in protecting the integrity of the mark, and preventing its unauthorized use.

Moreover, all manufacturers who did undergo the time and expense of obtaining a UL seal of approval likely have a vested interest in maintaining that integrity. The unauthorized and improper use of that seal constitutes an outright theft of their equity in the mark. Yes, it is the theft of an intangible asset. But it is theft all the same.

UL certainly has tort options available to it in this case. And I have no problem with such an individual being tried for theft. Depending on the licensing fees involved, the amount could well rise to felony level.

I would also have no problem with Medal of Honor recipients forming an association to file a lawsuit against people who falsely claim the decoration. Proceeds could go to soldier's charities, and the integrity of the award can be maintained.

Using theft laws as the model for prosecution is a little different from using fraud laws, in that it would seem to be a little easier to prove. And it's impossible to raise the argument that no one was actually defrauded.

Splash, out


(Thanks to IRA Darth Aggie for the link)

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The NY Times's High-Tech Lynching of Veterans Continues 
How do you get the New York Times to write a 930 word piece on you?

Get awarded the Medal of Honor. Posthumously.*

How do you get the Times to write a 5,700 word piece on you?

Kill someone.

*The Times may well get your branch of service wrong. Six years into a war, they still can't tell the difference between a soldier and a marine.

Splash, out


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Fiddle Blogging 
Some lovely Old Texas-style twin fiddling and three-part harmony from the Quebe Sisters, out of Fort Worth, Texas.

Oh, yeah. Warren Buffett also singing and playing ukulele.

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Saturday, January 19, 2008

RIP Bobby Fischer 
When I was in 7th grade, precocious little untalented-yet-chess-obsessed prick that I was, I checked out a biography of Bobby Fischer from the library of Kailua Intermediate School, and read the entire thing cover to cover.

My takeaway:

"Don't even mention losing to me. I can't stand to think of it."

Bobby Fischer was a genius. Like many geniuses - like all too many of them - he struggled on the verge of insanity.

I have the good fortune of being able to play music with a genius. A musical genius. The man can take a tune and turn it inside out nine times over off the top of his head. He truly plays at the world class level. My strength as a musician lies in supporting him, complementing his playing with mine, and staying the f*ck out of his way.

We've had conversations about it before, and I had conversations with his soon-to-be ex-wife about managing that genius. With my friend, he plays music so he doesn't go crazy. He plays because music is the only thing left that keeps the synapses in his mind from overwhelming him. If it wasn't for music, it would have been drugs or alcohol. Sometimes it still is.

Sometimes insanity is the fuel of genius. Sometimes genius is the fuel for insanity. Who knows what the cause-and-effect relationship is?

Fischer was a genius. You can't become the U.S. champion at the age of 13 on the basis of vast experience and wiliness. He was reinventing the game while still in his teens. He won because he could think and calculate circles around anyone alive.

Anyone. I'm convinced he was the best in the world by the time he was 17. Some of the older Russian players could probably give him a run for his money in a strategic sense...if they could survive the deep calculations of the midgame without Fischer's Predator-machine of a mind ripping two pawns or a piece from the other side of the board in the meantime. But the best they could ever do was claw to survive with a tiny advantage. Only a few ever made it. And the best Russian player of his time, Boris Spassky, wasn't up to it.

The other thing about Fischer was this: He was a simply ferocious competitor. He would do anything for an edge. He had more focus than just about anyone in any sport, ever. He did two things with his time: Studied chess and looked at porn. (I seem to recall an incident with a prostitute in Fischer's teenage years. But I may be projecting.)

When he left chess, he left everything. Everything that tamed and focused his mind was gone. His brilliance cursed him, and he succumbed to his illness - his personality disorder - which eventually consumed him.

His games are a joy to play through. They are gifts that you can play through and through and through and still discover new joys. They are works of art as surely as a Bach prelude or a symphony. Years later, when I looked at them as a more mature player (yet still pathetically sucky. I may have peaked at around a 1250 level on a good day), my chess buddy Kelley and I could play through those games and percieve, through a glass, darkly, just the barest glimmerings of his genius.

His games will still provide joy to chess geeks for centuries to come. Fischer was immortal.

He was also sick.

I think he did the best he could.

I judge him not.

Rest in piece, Bobby Fischer. And thanks for the games.

Splash, out


Friday, January 18, 2008

Media Employees on Violent Rampage 
Iowahawk has the scoop.

As satire, this is as good as it gets.

Except, strictly speaking, it's not quite satire.

Via Ace.

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"A solution in search of a problem" 
Bureaucrats at the United States Naval Academy want to banish the Herndon climb.

Apparently, even though no one can remember anyone getting hurt, it's too dangerous.

They'll still field a football team, though.

Yet another reason to Go Army.

Splash, out


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Thursday, January 17, 2008

Crappy all around 
That's my assessment of this ABC News story, which blares the headline:
Gen. Tommy Franks Paid $100,000 To Endorse 'F' Veterans Charity
Congressional Investigators Say Only 25 Percent of Charity's Raised Funds Went to Vets

First of all, the headline is misleading. You have to read to the second to last paragraph to find out that Franks already withdrew his support when he found out that the charity was only sending 25 cents on the dollar to soldiers and their families.

So that's just a crap headline.

Second, I'm disappointed that Franks, or any other senior officer, would lend his name and prestige to any cause without doing some due diligence first.

Third, it seems improper for a retired general officer to take money to endorse a soldier's charity. Particularly when some of those wounded were wounded under his command. That said, I don't know what he may have done with those proceeds. (Actually, it would make a ton of sense to me to take my entire fee from a 25% efficient charity and donate it to a 90% efficient charity - then go back and ask for a raise!

Splash, out


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Monday, January 14, 2008

A tour de force 
Warren Buffett, speaking to a group of MBA students at the University of Florida, in about 1998.

If you have any interest at all in the field of investing, or business, take the time to watch the entire Q & A session. It will be one of the most productive hours of your life.

Watching this man speak is like an intellectual fireworks display for me.

Splash, out


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Sunday, January 13, 2008

Hillary: The Ego That Ate Iraq 
Here's the Queen B on Meet the Press:

My commitment to begin withdrawing our troops in January 2009 is a big factor in pushing the Iraqi government to do what they should have been doing all along.

Me me me me me me. What a narcisisstic, egomaniacal piece of work.

This has been a Democrat fantasy for a long time. To accept it as true requires a willing suspicion of disbelief. In reality, it is the latest in a long string of lies propagated by the Democratic party PR machine. There is no evidence whatsoever that it is true. If it were true, we would have seen progress in Iraq earlier, while the power of Pelosi/Reid axis of acquiescence was at its brief zenith.

She'd be better off claiming to have invented the Internet.

Splash, out



That's Phil Carter's take on this piece of trash published in the New York Times today.

So, basically, the reporters went trolling on Lexis-Nexis and other databases to find "murder" within the same paragraph as "veteran" or "soldier," and built a front-page story around that research. They compared the pre-war numbers to the post-war numbers and found that, voila!, there's a difference. And then it looks like they cherry-picked the best anecdotes out of that research (including the ones where they could get interviews and photos) to craft a narrative which fit the data.

The article makes no attempt to produce a statistically valid comparison of homicide rates among vets to rates among the general population. Nor does it rely at all on Pentagon data about post-deployment incidents of violence among veterans. It basically just generalizes from this small sample (121 out of 1.7 million Iraq and Afghanistan vets, not including civilians and contractors) to conclude that today's generation of veterans are coming home full of rage and ready to kill.

I've got a one-word verdict on this article and its research: bullshit.

The nut of the Times piece is this:

The New York Times found 121 cases in which veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan committed a killing in this country, or were charged with one, after their return from war. In many of those cases, combat trauma and the stress of deployment — along with alcohol abuse, family discord and other attendant problems — appear to have set the stage for a tragedy that was part destruction, part self-destruction.

Three-quarters of these veterans were still in the military at the time of the killing. More than half the killings involved guns, and the rest were stabbings, beatings, strangulations and bathtub drownings. Twenty-five offenders faced murder, manslaughter or homicide charges for fatal car crashes resulting from drunken, reckless or suicidal driving.

Yeah. We're all just itching for a chance to grease someone dead. Well, besides reporters, I mean.

To compile and analyze its list, The Times conducted a search of local news reports, examined police, court and military records and interviewed the defendants, their lawyers and families, the victims’ families and military and law enforcement officials.

Compiled, yes. "Analyze?" No.

For analysis, don't trust the New York Times twits. You have to go to bloggers like Armed Liberal:

From the October 1, 2001 start of the Afghanistan war, that's about 26,000 troops/month. To date (Jan 2008) that would give about 1.99 million.

That means that the NY Times 121 murders represent about a 7.08/100,000 rate.

Now the numbers on deployed troops are probably high - fewer troops from 2001 - 2003; I'd love a better number if someone has it.

But for initial purposes, let's call the rate 10/100,000, about 40% higher than the calculated one.

Now, how does that compare with the population as a whole?

Turning to the DoJ statistics, we see that the US offender rate for homicide in the 18 - 24 yo range is 26.5/100,000.For 25 - 34, it's 13.5/100,000.

See the problem?

Damn, is it that hard for reporters and their editors to provide a little bit of context so we can make sense of the anecdotes? It's not in Part 1 of the article. And I'll bet it won't be in the future articles, either.

Because it's not part of the narrative of how our soldiers are either depraved or damaged.

More useful analysis in the contents section at the link.

Zero useful analysis at the New York Times. Just a long piece slandering veterans.

As a mental exercise, I wonder how comfortable the New York Times would be using similar methodology to research crimes by blacks, Latin-Americans, or gays. Would their methods have passed editorial scrutiny?

Heck no.

But slime Iraq and Aghanistan veterans and all is fair.

Splash, out


UPDATE: Here's Powerline's analysis:

Now put yourself in the place of a newspaper editor. Suppose you are asked to evaluate whether your paper should run a long article on a nationwide epidemic of murders committed by veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan--a crime wave that, your reporter suggests, constitutes a "cross-country trail of death and heartbreak." Suppose that the reporter who proposes to write the article says it will be a searing indictment of the U.S. military's inadequate attention to post-traumatic stress disorder. Suppose further that you are not a complete idiot.

Given that last assumption, I'm pretty sure your first question will be: "How does the murder rate among veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan compare to the murder rate for young American men generally?" Remarkably, this is a question the New York Times did not think to ask. Or, if the Times asked the question and figured out the answer, the paper preferred not to report it.

As of 2005, the homicide rate for Americans aged 18-24, the cohort into which most soldiers fall, was around 27 per 100,000. (The rate for men in that age range would be much higher, of course, since men commit around 88% of homicides. But since most soldiers are also men, I gave civilians the benefit of the doubt and considered gender a wash.)

Next we need to know how many servicemen have returned from Iraq or Afghanistan. A definitive number is no doubt available, but the only hard figure I've seen is that as of last October, moe than 500,000 U.S. Army personnel had served in either Iraq or Afghanistan. Other sources peg the total number of personnel from all branches of the military who have served in the two theaters much higher, e.g. 750,000, 650,000 as of February 2007, or 1,280,000. For the sake of argument, let's say that 700,000 soldiers, Marines, airmen and sailors have returned to the U.S. from service in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Do the math: the 121 alleged instances of homicide identified by the Times, out of a population of 700,000, works out to a rate of 17 per 100,000--quite a bit lower than the overall national rate of around 27.

But wait! The national rate of 27 homicides per 100,000 is an annual rate, whereas the Times' 121 alleged crimes were committed over a period of six years. Which means that, as far as the Times' research shows, the rate of homicides committed by military personnel who have returned from Iraq or Afghanistan is only a fraction of the homicide rate for other Americans aged 18 to 24. Somehow, the Times managed to publish nine pages of anecdotes about the violence wreaked by returning servicemen without ever mentioning this salient fact.

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Friday, January 11, 2008

Another phony veteran outed 
This time a school board member in Lawrence, Massachussetts.

Running the Numbers 
Megan McArdle"150,000 deaths is a number that should make any supporter of the war swallow hard."

I'm not convinced she's right. I'd rather we took responsibility for the people we kill (most of 'em needed killing), and let the terrorists take responsibility for the people they kill.

I'm also not convinced that Hussein and his two sons would not have killed far more, between them, eventually, than have died in this war.

Besides, to arrive at a net positive in terms of lives lost, all we have to do is beat a hurdle rate of 5,000 dead children per month.

So if you want to argue your policy in terms of overall net effects on the premature loss of human life, then be my guest.

Using four years of war in Iraq as a baseline, 5,000 deaths per month for 4 years comes out to 240,000.

So by libtard "tug-at-the-heartstrings" math, we actually saved 90,000 lives. Subtract, of course, the number of American lives lost. But add to it the number of lives Saddam's thugs would have taken violently had we not invaded.

Splash, out



Why reporters get it wrong 

"If journalists were candidates, there would be insurmountable pressure for us to leave the race. If the court of public opinion were a real court, the best a defense lawyer could do is plea bargain out of a charge that reporters are frauds in exchange for a signed confession that reporters are fools."


When Women Sexually Abuse Children 
I knew no one would believe me when I told them. I think it had something to do with writing out the police complaint form and starting it with the words "Dear Penthouse."


How the iPhone Shook The Wireless World 
A terrific article from Wired. Splendid reporting.

My take on the business lessons learned at my (too often neglected marketing and business blog, Market Presence.

Splash, out


Thursday, January 10, 2008

So John Kerry endorsed Obama over Clinton 
I assume Hillary won the coin toss.

Blackwater is lying 
This is, in the grand scheme of things, a trivial incident.

The helicopter was hovering over a Baghdad checkpoint into the Green Zone, one typically crowded with cars, Iraqi civilians and United States military personnel.

Suddenly, on that May day in 2005, the copter dropped CS gas, a riot-control substance the American military in Iraq can use only under the strictest conditions and with the approval of top military commanders. An armored vehicle on the ground also released the gas, temporarily blinding drivers, passers-by and at least 10 American soldiers operating the checkpoint.

“This was decidedly uncool and very, very dangerous,” Capt. Kincy Clark of the Army, the senior officer at the scene, wrote later that day. “It’s not a good thing to cause soldiers who are standing guard against car bombs, snipers and suicide bombers to cover their faces, choke, cough and otherwise degrade our awareness.”

Both the helicopter and the vehicle involved in the incident at the Assassins’ Gate checkpoint were not from the United States military, but were part of a convoy operated by Blackwater Worldwide, the private security contractor that is under scrutiny for its role in a series of violent episodes in Iraq, including a September shooting in downtown Baghdad that left 17 Iraqis dead.

CS gas is extremely common in the US Army, and widely and easily available. I never saw any of it in Iraq. But CS gas has an NSN number and if a unit really wanted to have some around, I doubt it would be a problem.

I've been exposed to it more times than I can remember and I've used it in training.

The incident, in and of itself, is not a big deal.

What IS a big deal, though, to me, is I've got a bad taste in my mouth for Blackwater after reading this:

Anne Tyrrell, a spokeswoman for Blackwater, said the CS gas had been released by mistake.

“Blackwater teams in the air and on the ground were preparing a secure route near a checkpoint to provide passage for a motorcade,” Ms. Tyrrell said in an e-mail message. “It seems a CS gas canister was mistaken for a smoke canister and released near an intersection and checkpoint.”

I believe Blackwater is lying. Either Anne Tyrrell is lying, or the Blackwater employees there that day lied to their higher-ups. There is simply no way a competent security professional is going to confuse a CS grenade with a smoke grenade in broad daylight.

You could easily mistake the two at night. So show me the idiot who thinks he should be clearing traffic by dropping smoke grenades into the street at night. It'll be good for a laugh. Then he needs to be fired.

No, the line that they confused a CS grenade with a smoke grenade is just not credible.

Even if it were true, it is extremely unlikely that the personnel carrier crews made exactly the same mistake! But the article states that the CS was deployed by the helicopter and by the personnel carriers on the ground.

Further, if they didn't plan to use CS, then why did they carry CS at all? They could simply carry more smoke!

A United States military spokesman in Baghdad refused to describe the current rules of engagement governing the use of riot control agents, but former Army lawyers say their use requires the approval of the military’s most senior commanders. “You never had a soldier with the authority to do it on his own,” said Thomas J. Romig, a retired major general who served as the chief judge advocate general of the United States Army from 2001 to 2005 and is now the dean of the Washburn School of Law in Topeka, Kan.

Several Army officers who have served in Iraq say they have never seen riot control agents used there by the United States military at all. Col. Robert Roth, commander of Task Force 4-64 AR of the Third Infantry Division, which was manning the Assassins’ Gate checkpoint at the time of the Blackwater incident, said that his troops were not issued any of the chemicals.

“We didn’t even possess any kind of riot control agents, and we couldn’t employ them if we wanted to,” said Colonel Roth, who is now serving in South Korea.

I can corroborate this as well. It would be easy to order the cannisters, but I can't imagine anyone employing them in anything other than a riot control context, and probably not even then. For that reason, even if you had it in stock, you wouldn't distribute it except for a specific mission (As an aside, CS an infinitely better riot control tool than, say, live ammunition.)

Blackwater and two other companies — DynCorp and Triple Canopy — that now provide security are not permitted to use CS gas under their current contracts, the State Department said.

Ok, so whatever questions were raised by the use of CS have been settled, it seems.

The State Department said that its lawyers did not believe the Blackwater incident violated any treaty agreements.

In a written statement, the State Department said the international chemical weapons convention “allows for the use of riot control agents, such as CS, where they are not used as a method of warfare. The use of a riot control agent near a checkpoint at an intersection in the circumstances described is not considered to be a method of warfare.”

I would agree.

It may be a dumb idea in a lot of ways. But a violation of the Law of Land Warfare or treaty obligation? Ridiculous.

Blackwater’s regular use of smoke canisters, which create clouds intended to impede attacks on convoys, also sets it apart from the military. While it does not raise the same legal issues as the CS gas, military officials said the practice raised policy concerns. Col. Roth said that he and other military officers frowned on the use of smoke, because it could be used for propaganda purposes to convince Iraqis that the United States was using chemical weapons.

That's just weird. Believe me, the Iraqis aren't dumb. They know what a smoke grenade is. Armored formations use smoke all the time to screen their flanks from observation. It's a standard element in a number of battle drills. It's a standard element in calling in a medevac bird. It's a standard element in countersniper operations. Officers don't just frown on the use of smoke. The officers who write our doctrine require it!

Smoke on the battlefield, properly employed, is a life saver. And the deployment of smoke in an open field between a group of buildings or other cover and a road about to have a VIP motorcade go through is an absolutely legitimate countersniper and counter IED tactic. By obscuring the vulnerable point on the road, you make it impossible for the sniper to draw a sight picture, and you make it impossible for a command-detonated IED operator to time his strike properly.

COL Roth was a task force commander. He no doubt knows this. I suspect he was misquoted or misunderstood.

Splash, out


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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Ace lays into Ron Paul 
And kicks Reason in the nuts while he's at it.

A great rant in true Ace fashion.

Splash, out


US Children lagging behind once again 
Score another one for the libtard educrat public education geniuses.

This disturbing report examines the national security implications of the failure of our schools to prepare children for today's highly competitive world.

A must-watch.

Report: American Schools Trail Behind World In Aptitude Of Child Soldiers

Splash, out


Goose Gossage Elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame! 

Ron Cey not available for comment.

(And if you get that joke you are indeed a true blue Dodger fan!)

Splash, out


P.S., if you watch the video, you will see a Yankee catcher show up several times, wearing the number 15.

This was Thurmon Munson. A year after the 1978 World Series, several clips of which are shown here, Munson was dead. He was killed while landing his personal airplane. Had he lived, I have little doubt he would have been widely known as one of the greatest catchers ever to play the game.

He was 32.


Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Hey, Paulbots! 
Kiss my ass!

To hell with the lot of you. At least those of you who are just people-hating, jew-baiting racist bigots. Others of you are economic morons. (You guys aren't bad. Just stupid.)

If you were a Paulite, and you just plain got had, please...write your story in the comments below.

Renounce Ron Paul and all his works. Repent. And find a conservative, not a bigot to support.

Splash, out



A trip down memory lane 
By guess who.

Pay attention to the precedents. Compare it with Democratic rhetoric involving tropes like "unprovoked attack" and "rush to war." Read the whole thing.

Compare it with Hillary's position on Iraq now. Well, if you can figure out what that is!

Good evening.

Earlier today, I ordered America's armed forces to strike military and security targets in Iraq. They are joined by British forces. Their mission is to attack Iraq's nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs and its military capacity to threaten its neighbors.

Their purpose is to protect the national interest of the United States, and indeed the interests of people throughout the Middle East and around the world.

Saddam Hussein must not be allowed to threaten his neighbors or the world with nuclear arms, poison gas or biological weapons.

I want to explain why I have decided, with the unanimous recommendation of my national security team, to use force in Iraq; why we have acted now; and what we aim to accomplish.

Six weeks ago, Saddam Hussein announced that he would no longer cooperate with the United Nations weapons inspectors called UNSCOM. They are highly professional experts from dozens of countries. Their job is to oversee the elimination of Iraq's capability to retain, create and use weapons of mass destruction, and to verify that Iraq does not attempt to rebuild that capability.

The inspectors undertook this mission first 7.5 years ago at the end of the Gulf War when Iraq agreed to declare and destroy its arsenal as a condition of the ceasefire.

The international community had good reason to set this requirement. Other countries possess weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles. With Saddam, there is one big difference: He has used them. Not once, but repeatedly. Unleashing chemical weapons against Iranian troops during a decade-long war. Not only against soldiers, but against civilians, firing Scud missiles at the citizens of Israel, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Iran. And not only against a foreign enemy, but even against his own people, gassing Kurdish civilians in Northern Iraq.

The international community had little doubt then, and I have no doubt today, that left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will use these terrible weapons again.

The United States has patiently worked to preserve UNSCOM as Iraq has sought to avoid its obligation to cooperate with the inspectors. On occasion, we've had to threaten military force, and Saddam has backed down.

Faced with Saddam's latest act of defiance in late October, we built intensive diplomatic pressure on Iraq backed by overwhelming military force in the region. The UN Security Council voted 15 to zero to condemn Saddam's actions and to demand that he immediately come into compliance.

Eight Arab nations -- Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, United Arab Emirates and Oman -- warned that Iraq alone would bear responsibility for the consequences of defying the UN.

When Saddam still failed to comply, we prepared to act militarily. It was only then at the last possible moment that Iraq backed down. It pledged to the UN that it had made, and I quote, a clear and unconditional decision to resume cooperation with the weapons inspectors.

I decided then to call off the attack with our airplanes already in the air because Saddam had given in to our demands. I concluded then that the right thing to do was to use restraint and give Saddam one last chance to prove his willingness to cooperate.

I made it very clear at that time what unconditional cooperation meant, based on existing UN resolutions and Iraq's own commitments. And along with Prime Minister Blair of Great Britain, I made it equally clear that if Saddam failed to cooperate fully, we would be prepared to act without delay, diplomacy or warning.

Now over the past three weeks, the UN weapons inspectors have carried out their plan for testing Iraq's cooperation. The testing period ended this weekend, and last night, UNSCOM's chairman, Richard Butler, reported the results to UN Secretary-General Annan.

The conclusions are stark, sobering and profoundly disturbing.

In four out of the five categories set forth, Iraq has failed to cooperate. Indeed, it actually has placed new restrictions on the inspectors. Here are some of the particulars.

Iraq repeatedly blocked UNSCOM from inspecting suspect sites. For example, it shut off access to the headquarters of its ruling party and said it will deny access to the party's other offices, even though UN resolutions make no exception for them and UNSCOM has inspected them in the past.

Iraq repeatedly restricted UNSCOM's ability to obtain necessary evidence. For example, Iraq obstructed UNSCOM's effort to photograph bombs related to its chemical weapons program.

It tried to stop an UNSCOM biological weapons team from videotaping a site and photocopying documents and prevented Iraqi personnel from answering UNSCOM's questions.

Prior to the inspection of another site, Iraq actually emptied out the building, removing not just documents but even the furniture and the equipment.

Iraq has failed to turn over virtually all the documents requested by the inspectors. Indeed, we know that Iraq ordered the destruction of weapons-related documents in anticipation of an UNSCOM inspection.

So Iraq has abused its final chance.

As the UNSCOM reports concludes, and again I quote, "Iraq's conduct ensured that no progress was able to be made in the fields of disarmament.

"In light of this experience, and in the absence of full cooperation by Iraq, it must regrettably be recorded again that the commission is not able to conduct the work mandated to it by the Security Council with respect to Iraq's prohibited weapons program."

In short, the inspectors are saying that even if they could stay in Iraq, their work would be a sham.

Saddam's deception has defeated their effectiveness. Instead of the inspectors disarming Saddam, Saddam has disarmed the inspectors.

This situation presents a clear and present danger to the stability of the Persian Gulf and the safety of people everywhere. The international community gave Saddam one last chance to resume cooperation with the weapons inspectors. Saddam has failed to seize the chance.

And so we had to act and act now.

Let me explain why.

First, without a strong inspection system, Iraq would be free to retain and begin to rebuild its chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs in months, not years.

Second, if Saddam can crippled the weapons inspection system and get away with it, he would conclude that the international community -- led by the United States -- has simply lost its will. He will surmise that he has free rein to rebuild his arsenal of destruction, and someday -- make no mistake -- he will use it again as he has in the past.

Third, in halting our air strikes in November, I gave Saddam a chance, not a license. If we turn our backs on his defiance, the credibility of U.S. power as a check against Saddam will be destroyed. We will not only have allowed Saddam to shatter the inspection system that controls his weapons of mass destruction program; we also will have fatally undercut the fear of force that stops Saddam from acting to gain domination in the region.

That is why, on the unanimous recommendation of my national security team -- including the vice president, the secretary of defense, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, the secretary of state and the national security adviser -- I have ordered a strong, sustained series of air strikes against Iraq.

They are designed to degrade Saddam's capacity to develop and deliver weapons of mass destruction, and to degrade his ability to threaten his neighbors.

At the same time, we are delivering a powerful message to Saddam. If you act recklessly, you will pay a heavy price. We acted today because, in the judgment of my military advisers, a swift response would provide the most surprise and the least opportunity for Saddam to prepare.

If we had delayed for even a matter of days from Chairman Butler's report, we would have given Saddam more time to disperse his forces and protect his weapons.

Also, the Muslim holy month of Ramadan begins this weekend. For us to initiate military action during Ramadan would be profoundly offensive to the Muslim world and, therefore, would damage our relations with Arab countries and the progress we have made in the Middle East.

That is something we wanted very much to avoid without giving Iraq's a month's head start to prepare for potential action against it.

Finally, our allies, including Prime Minister Tony Blair of Great Britain, concurred that now is the time to strike. I hope Saddam will come into cooperation with the inspection system now and comply with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions. But we have to be prepared that he will not, and we must deal with the very real danger he poses.

So we will pursue a long-term strategy to contain Iraq and its weapons of mass destruction and work toward the day when Iraq has a government worthy of its people.

First, we must be prepared to use force again if Saddam takes threatening actions, such as trying to reconstitute his weapons of mass destruction or their delivery systems, threatening his neighbors, challenging allied aircraft over Iraq or moving against his own Kurdish citizens.

The credible threat to use force, and when necessary, the actual use of force, is the surest way to contain Saddam's weapons of mass destruction program, curtail his aggression and prevent another Gulf War.

Second, so long as Iraq remains out of compliance, we will work with the international community to maintain and enforce economic sanctions. Sanctions have cost Saddam more than $120 billion -- resources that would have been used to rebuild his military. The sanctions system allows Iraq to sell oil for food, for medicine, for other humanitarian supplies for the Iraqi people.

We have no quarrel with them. But without the sanctions, we would see the oil-for-food program become oil-for-tanks, resulting in a greater threat to Iraq's neighbors and less food for its people.

The hard fact is that so long as Saddam remains in power, he threatens the well-being of his people, the peace of his region, the security of the world.

The best way to end that threat once and for all is with a new Iraqi government -- a government ready to live in peace with its neighbors, a government that respects the rights of its people. Bringing change in Baghdad will take time and effort. We will strengthen our engagement with the full range of Iraqi opposition forces and work with them effectively and prudently.

The decision to use force is never cost-free. Whenever American forces are placed in harm's way, we risk the loss of life. And while our strikes are focused on Iraq's military capabilities, there will be unintended Iraqi casualties.

Indeed, in the past, Saddam has intentionally placed Iraqi civilians in harm's way in a cynical bid to sway international opinion.

We must be prepared for these realities. At the same time, Saddam should have absolutely no doubt if he lashes out at his neighbors, we will respond forcefully.

Heavy as they are, the costs of action must be weighed against the price of inaction. If Saddam defies the world and we fail to respond, we will face a far greater threat in the future. Saddam will strike again at his neighbors. He will make war on his own people.

And mark my words, he will develop weapons of mass destruction. He will deploy them, and he will use them.

Because we're acting today, it is less likely that we will face these dangers in the future.

Let me close by addressing one other issue. Saddam Hussein and the other enemies of peace may have thought that the serious debate currently before the House of Representatives would distract Americans or weaken our resolve to face him down.

But once more, the United States has proven that although we are never eager to use force, when we must act in America's vital interests, we will do so.

In the century we're leaving, America has often made the difference between chaos and community, fear and hope. Now, in the new century, we'll have a remarkable opportunity to shape a future more peaceful than the past, but only if we stand strong against the enemies of peace.

Tonight, the United States is doing just that. May God bless and protect the brave men and women who are carrying out this vital mission and their families. And may God bless America.

Monday, January 07, 2008

So what do you make of Hillary's crying spell? 
Not much.

Running for president is an incredibly draining thing, no matter who you are. (Being president is even more draining!) I don't want any president who bursts out crying every other day. But Hillary is human, all appearances to the contrary. Emotions can get the better of people at strange and unpredictable times.

I got emotional in a truck in Waimanalo a couple of months ago, just describing the Al Anbar awakening to my dad, and how it went down in Ramadi.

Hillary's ego - her sense of entitlement - was just so monstrous - that when she fell flat on her face in Iowa it must have been an emotionally shattering, disorienting moment. Sort of like when Marie Antoinette first got a clue what was in store for her.

Sure, she had it coming. Hillary, not Marie Antoinette. And it may be the best thing in the world for her. I hope she can emerge a more humble and human candidate. But the experience has got to be deeply wounding.

The first cut is the deepest.

Everybody gets one crying spell. And her's wasn't exactly a "leave Britney alone" moment.

Slack shall be cut for her here on CounterColumn.

Splash, Out


UPDATE: Anchoress, you magnificent bastard! I read your book!!!!


Deport a commie to Europe! 
But don't you dare question his patriotism!


Eeyore the Editor Strikes Again 
Today's laugh line from the New York Times:

AIDS Patients Face Downside of Living Longer

Hey, that's a problem easily solved, guys!

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Sunday, January 06, 2008

Jay Rosen on the Warpath!!!! 
Here's Rosen:

And Jason: all you know is cuture war [sic]; I have never seen you engage in a discussion, period. You like to laugh at people and--in your mind--"demolish" them. If you can't demolish, you have nothing to say, so you pretend to demolish. You're not a warrior, but a troll enjoying what you call "target practice." You just love culture war and aggression for its own sake and the funny reactions you get. You remind me of the jocks I knew in high school laughing at struggling kids in gym class. It is a deeply ugly performance.

This is a continuation of this idea.

The thread, though, is more substantial than his ad hominem attack on me, and is his attempt to deny the existence of a significant liberal bias in the media.

My critique of Jay Rosen has always been his tendency to wax on for paragraph upon endless paragraph about some anecdote he read in a Thomas Ricks or Ron Suskind book, and draw unwarranted conclusion after conclusion from it, each paragraph becoming more unmoored than the last from any factual grounding whatsoever.

Some general in the Pentagon didn't get his way, or someone was abrupt with him in a staff meeting, and he cries to Ricks, and all of a sudden, Rosen sees a broad "retreat from empiricism."

An apple can fall from a tree, and Rosen will write 20 paragraphs on how the sky is falling. While ignoring the hundred other apples that are still on the tree.

But start pointing out the other apples that HAVEN'T fallen, and suggest to him that one apple does not a falling sky make, and boom! he's back in high school, getting bullied in the locker room.

It feels very Althousian of me to write this, but there it is. Make of it what y'all will.

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UK Living Standards Outstrip US 
This according to the Times of London.

Silliness. The UK can't hold a candle to US production, and measuring it by per capita GDP which is then denominated by one currency or another is retarded. What that measures is the decline of the dollar against the pound. It also counts inflation as a plus on the ledger sheet.

But inflation was higher in the UK last year than in the US, 3.2% to 2.8% (Then there is all sorts of madness about how inflation is calculated in both countries)

For the paper to be crowing about that is like the rooster taking credit for the sunrise.

Yes, the paper does cop to the currency criticism (but not the inflationary one.)

But what's this it says? "the average American has more spending power than his UK counterpart and pays lower taxes."

Wow. UK living standards outstrip American living standards, even though Americans have more purchasing power. Where on earth do they get headlines like these?

Brits do pretty well as long as they are free to leave the country to spend their money. Which is why Britain's number one export is still their people.

Splash, out



Saturday, January 05, 2008

My favorite headline of the year: 
Analysis: Clinton Goes For Young Voters

Friday, January 04, 2008

RIP Andrew Olmsted 
I am saddened to report that the milblog community lost a brother.

To you, who lie within this coral sand,
We, who remain, pay tribute of a pledge
That dying, thou shalt surely not
Have died in vain.

That when again bright morning dyes the sky
And waving fronds above shall touch the rain,
We give you this—that in those times
We will remember.

We lived and fought together, thou and we,
And sought to keep the flickering torch aglow
That all our loved ones might forever know
The blessed warmth exceeding flame,
The everlasting scourge of bondsman's chains,
Liberty and light.

When we with loving hands laid back the earth
That was for moments short to couch thy form
We did not bid a last and sad farewell,
But only 'Rest ye well.'

Then with this humble, heartfelt epitaph
That pays thy many virtues sad acclaim
We marked this spot, and, murm'ring requiem,
Moved on to Westward."

--Unknown Marine

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Countercolumn News Ticker 
Flyover Country White People Vote For Negro To Sound Of Leftard Exploding Heads...
Matt Yglesias hiding in "secret location."

Clinton Campaign Manager and Miami Dolphin Head Coach to Swap Jobs ...
Analysts view move as a step up for both individuals ...

Iowan Republicans Elect Huckabee in Ethanol-Fueled Binge Drinking Spree ...
"Shut the F*ck Up!" Shouts David Corn

Hillary: "At least I still have my husband." ...

Boom Market in Bhutto Portraits on Black Velvet ...

Kenyan Evades Murderous Mob By Turning Sideways ...

Dead Tiger Files Suit in Federal Court ...

Thousands Of Transvestites To Sashay On Washington ...

Secret Plan To "Hand Hillary A Microphone" Pays Off In Obama Victory ...

Clinton Huffs off to New Hampshire ...

Giuliani Campaigning in Florida. "Who needs flyover voters anyway ...

Stung by Subprime Defaults, Banks Restrict Loans To The Credit-Worthy ...

Former Red-Line Districts Call For Debt Relief ...

Home Prices Tumble to Previous Absurd Levels ...

Christianity To Acquire Judaism in Equity Swap ...
Merger to Create Millions of Evanjewlicals ...
"Peace on Earth, Goodwill Towards the Balance Sheet ..."

Scientists Criticize Electrons for Negativity ...
Neutron Spokesperson Refuses Comment ...
Protons: "Yes ..."

Dead White Males To Host Lit Seminar at Univ. Of Iowa ...

Impacting ...

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Wednesday, January 02, 2008



Man, I miss Ana Marie Cox blogging at Wonkette 
Between all the references to anal sex, she was actually smart, entertaining and snarky all at the same time.

The new halfwit, though, is so pissed off at the Swift Boat Veterans for Troof that she manages to blame them for the Graeme Frost story.

That's right, she can't discern between the verb "Swift-boating" and the actual group itself.

She's just mad at the group for saying what they really thought about John Kerry.

I don't get it. Out of two million Viet Nam veterans, the leftards managed to nominate the ONE guy who actually alienated Viet Nam veterans.

And rather than accept responsibility, the leftards decide to attack Viet Nam Veterans. The LA Times Rosa Brooks even called Medal of Honor recipient Bud Day "an unprincipled, right wing extremist."

I haven't forgotten.

Splash, out



Georgia makes a plate lunch out of the University of Hawai'i.

At least USC still kicks ass.

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Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Returning to the Pack 
My grandfather, William Arnold Van Steenwyk, was a veteran of the 94th Bomb Group, which flew B-17s in the air war against Germany in World War II. He was a photographer/gunner, and flew a number of combat missions over occupied Europe in 1943. His job was to take photographs of the mission, including bomb damage assessment photographs, which the G-2 section used to determine if the target was sufficiently destroyed or a follow-up mission was called for.

One of the missions he flew on was the Regensburg/Schweinfurt shuttle. He was assigned to a plane called the Dear Mom, piloted by a Lt. Nayovitch. But when he arrived on the flightline before dawn on August 17th, 1943, the crew of the Dear Mom informed him that they didn't have enough oxygen aboard for a photographer. So my grandfather grabbed what gear he could and climbed aboard the next plane down, Little Minnie II, piloted by Captain James Kirk. And that's no shit!

The crew of the Little Minnie II was no doubt happy to have another gunner aboard, as an excited gunner in an adjacent ship is a clear and present danger to every bomber in the formation except itself.

I remember being at my grandparents' place in Arcadia, California, on 17 August, 1983. I had just turned 14 and was visiting for the summer. My grandfather told me "Jason, today is the 40th anniversary of the worst day of my life."

On that day, over a glass of good scotch -- well, maybe over a couple of glasses of good scotch, he told me the story of Lt. Nayovitch, and what it was like coming under attack from the Luftwaffe fighters. They'd come in and attack the bombers head-on, and zipping through the formation at terrific closing speeds, with the machine gunners on the bombers trying to track them in their iron sights. Only the tail gunners would have gotten a decent shot -- it's almost impossible to lead a plane with machine gun fire at an oblique angle traveling at full speed, while trying not to hit friendly craft flying in formation. (Waist gunners probably hit more friendly bombers than Luftwaffe planes!)

Sometime during the fight, the Dear Mom gradually fell out of formation and fell to earth...slowly at first, then it picked up speed and flipped over. My grandfather watched his friends - his crew - the bird he was supposed to be on, but for a small quirk of fate - fall from the sky. The nose exploded, and the plane split in two. He described counting parachutes - all of them coming from the tail half of the aircraft. I think he counted four parachutes. There should have been six more.

That day was to become the single costliest day in the history of the U.S. combat aviation. The Luftwaffe and German anti-aircraft defenses shot 55 B-17s and their crews out of the skies that day. 552 men. Half of them were taken prisoner. 20 more were interned in neutral territories. The remainder lay somewhere in Europe.

Seven more crewmembers were killed aboard aircraft that made it safely to Africa.

Some aircraft were ditched over the Mediterranean ocean, with battle damage crippling the aircraft or with fuel running low. If you lost an engine, you probably didn't make it.

Some of those crews were rescued at sea. Some weren't. In a grimly amusing side note, B-17 gunners claimed 288 of the 27 Luftwaffe aircraft shot down that day.

To the end of his life, my grandfather had recurring dreams that he was supposed to be on a certain mission, that he was walking up and down the flight line, looking for his crew.

On September 8th, 2001, he found them.

Splash, out


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