Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Holy Egregious Oversight Batman!

Have you ever made a habit of doing something so much a part of your daily routine that it becomes reflex?

I'm not talking brushing teeth here - I only do that twice a day.

Gerard Van Der Leun first came to my attention via his comments over at Roger L. Simon. I discovered his blog shortly thereafter and made his site a daily multistop on my web safari.

No, multistop isn't a word. It's late in Utah, and I've spent eleven of the last thirteen hours working in the midst of and on the edges of our ongoing spring blizzard.

I would add some biographical remarks regarding Mr. Van Der Leun, but I don't know where to start. Writer, Poet, IT professional, and 11,200 hits when you put his name in Google.

I read his site two or three times daily. I've gotten email from the man.

And tonight I found "Three Rounds Brisk..." on his blogroll. I was pretty stunned; of course, I've ALWAYS had American Digest on my list, right up there after Roger L...


Please extend a hearty welcome, including sideboys and cannon salute, as American Digest is entered into the Purser's List.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

A Man's Person Is His Castle

I saw this article and immediately recalled the furor in or local papers that arose over similar legislation that was passed in Utah back in 1994 or 1995, within a couple of years of the adoption of our shall- issue concealed carry law.

Here's what Florida is working on enacting into law (SB 436):

"A person who is attacked in any . . . place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony."

The intent is to clarify the right of citizens to defend themselves (or others) against criminal acts. In the eyes of the state law as it exists right now, there is a presumption that law-abiding citizens must employ retreat before employing deadly force in self defense.

Lawyers love laws like that. It opens endless opportunities for civil litigation on behalf of dead or wounded goblins even if district attorneys decline to prosecute a citizen who employed force in self defense. We had a spate of openings of California- based law offices who saw great profit potential in exploiting our existing legislative ambiguity concerning precisely when a citizen was entitled to defend him/herself. On Monday morning it's easy to say "You didn't act as a LAST RESORT...", which is bullshit, because there are dozens of dead crime victims who never even knew they had a fatal situation on their hands because they thought they were safe by cooperating with or surrendering to their attackers.

The linked article doesn't show much originality:

"To friends or family who are thinking of visiting or moving to Florida, you might want to pass on this advice: Don't.

Lebanon might be safer. Maybe even Israel.

Under a bill the Senate has passed and the House inevitably will, the Wild West is coming to Florida streets. And to bars, shopping centers, theme parks and everywhere else where strangers meet."

You can go to Google and do a cursory search "Wild West Guns Concealed Carry" and see just what kind of knee- jerk trope has been de riguer for the anti- second amendment crowd for the last few decades. Vigilantes, streets of blood, etc, etc...:

"What is this likely to mean in real life?

Scenario 1: Two drivers are arguing over a traffic accident. One reaches in his pocket for a pen and paper. The other thinks he is going for a gun. He will say his fear was reasonable.

Scenario 2: Two drunks are mixing it up in a bar. One pulls a knife. Shouldn't he have tried to break it off and walk away? No, says the bill; "A person does not have a duty to retreat if the person is in a place where he or she has a right to be."

Utah's law expressly rejects deadly force in situations of "mutual combat" (which is defined under the consensual altercation code)- which is exactly what the "two drunks in a bar" scenario is all about. I have been led to understand, in discussions with CCW trainers and other professionals, that most other states with concealed carry laws have adopted the same standard.

The part of the SB 436 text that actually has the most impact comes at the tail end:

"... or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony."

That line, if enacted into law, removes a huge gray area that has been a cash cow to personal injury lawyers for decades. There is no compulsion for a CCW holder to act to defend anyone else but himself - there is no line in any CCW law requiring an armed citizen to stand in defense of community or society - but by codifying the right of a citizen to act in defense of others in the face of criminal acts strikes a blow for law abiding citizens and against the criminal culture that views our legal system as just that - "the system" by which they assume risks in search of returns.

We restrict their ambitions by increasing the risks they run.

Concealed carry has not resulted in an explosion of vigilante killing; nothing remotely like it. Anywhere. It is a frustrating chore to make a statistical statement on exactly what the actual effect of CCW passage in dozens of states has been, since media is dead against providing any ammunition that might be deleterious to anti second amendment agendas.

The author of the cited article is a Mr. Martin Dyckman. Check the photo.

There's a joke in there somewhere.


Heads Up!

Happy Easter everyone - but on an entirely different subject, Mount St. Helens may be ramping up for some more action.

The link above is to one of the instrument readouts from the Pacific Northwest Seismograph Network. They've got a grundle of seismographs placed on Mt. Saint Helens and other PNW volcanoes. We hit them as part of our daily news safari. This is their homepage - note the link to the MSH webcam in the left margin.

We'll be watching today - the forecast is calling for clearing weather. The recent snow and rainfall has increased the likelihood of debris flows, but also makes steam explosions a possibility as the moisture flows down through the new layers of ash and rock in the crater.


Friday, March 25, 2005

Seeking Advice

The High Command has authorized a weapon modernization program here at the Team.

In short, I am to replace our clapped out Norinco AK-47 in .223 with a newer, more reliable rifle in the same caliber. It's my birthday, and I'm working again! I have my own tastes but am interested in hearing cases for other semiautomatic rifles in the same caliber.

Long experience of 'you get what you pay for' looms large. Having said that, I don't want to pay a cent more than I have to to get what I need. I am a long range shooter but that is not what this purchase will be for. I don't want anything less than sixteen inches in barrel length and would be happier with twenty. I need to be able to use hi-cap mags and prefer pistol grip stocks to sporter profiles. Hitting with a .223 at five hundred meters is an enjoyable challenge but reality is that accuracy out to three hundred will be quite sufficient. And my girls (twelve and fifteen) sorely miss having a "real" rifle they can enjoy shooting.

I have no requirement for bayonet lugs but sight rails would be a plus. I already know what kind of muzzle brake I will be installing.

Suggestions on type, and even retailers who offer something more fair than the shirt- off- your- back grade of merchants I have here in central Utah, would be appreciated.

UPDATE: 3-26 8:00PM - It's a Bushmaster XM15 E25, used. Did o.k. on the price, too.

Mr. Totten's Got A Burr Under His Saddle

I posted this comment in reply to Mr. Totten's post titled "The Conservative Crackup".

Just my two cents:

"Elections are won in the center."

No, they aren't. If elections were won in the center, Lincoln Chaffee would be Senate Majority Leader and Nancy Pelosi would be a House back bencher. And John McCain might well be president.

Elections represent a choice that will have concrete repercussions spanning years. You don't pick a go- along - get- along to represent your interests. Elections are akin to loading your toolbox for a critical job, or picking the doctor who will perform your heart transplant.

Real leaders are going to have a track record of identifiable agenda points and clearly defined stances (whether accurate or not) on specific issues. Mere politicians will do what they have to do to win elections; their comfort zone lies in the system - wholly within the system - to the extent that their participation is an occupation unto itself.

This is o.k., because historically there's never been a parliament or legislature that has been noted for the caliber of the whole. The honors of history fall on those members that authored or enabled to pass bills that changed the course of states in times of stress. The moderates suit for business as usual - but they are frankly just temporizing influences at best, pawns at worst, when it comes to actually arriving at solutions to complex problems. This, too, is how it has always been.

System. Work. Well enough.

We are a nation divided. We have always been a tidal wave of change funneling through a slot canyon of bureaucracy. We are not broken. Not even close to being swept to either a socialist hell or a fascist theocracy. The system that was crafted with the intent of preserving the most liberty for individuals as possible yet allows for effective national government survives, and has functioned well enough to enjoy the support of the majority of the people.

Law is not a subtle thing. It is nothing like a fine quill pen and should always be treated with the respect afforded a sharp blade. It has works best when its power is aimed at the greatest good.

It is singularly unfit to pivot its power on one individual, in one unique case, in a mortal issue, with the undeniable and implicit consequence of establishing a precedent of individual relief by legislative action.

What would be the next exception, if the machinations of the Federal or state legislatures had stood? An act passed to protect a well- connected loser in an imminent domain court case? A religious figure (Catholic priest to Voodoo cult leader here) who seeks a zoning change and has the money and followers to lobby effectively?

The judiciary exists to attempt to solve the problems of individuals in relation to existing law. The flexibility exists to provide closure to parties.

Yes, Virgina, I'm still dead against the abuses perpetrated by overreaching jurists - but I acknowledge that their role often presents the grayest of grays where power and the ability to employ it exists. It is a consequence of the complexity of the issues they must face in the course of their duties; there's a reason why 'judge' and 'wise' are supposed to fit well together in a sentence.

But they are just men, in the end, trying to solve problems. They are never going to be perfect.

The Schaivo case has triggered a cusp in which existing seriously conflicting philosophies concerning the proper role of government, as well as the disparate public sentiments on what constitutes moral or ethical behavior, have been placed at nose- length for all of us.

I don't know what the hell I would do if I was Mr. Schaivo. I do know that if I was a legislator, all things being equal I would have fought the bills brought forth by the federal and Florida houses with my dying breath. They were misplaced; regardless of intent, they were misplaced efforts and demonstrated a lack of respect for the tremendous consequence inherent in landmark legislation.

I can understand the motives at play. From deeply moral to politically crass, I can see a huge field where all sorts of agendas could well drive support or opposition. But speaking only for myself, I would have left the question to the courts.

Note that the system has worked, though. That's important. The effort failed in its attempt.

2006 is coming. I'm a registered Republican. I don't know who I'll vote for for any particular race yet. I hardly ever do until I've seen the candidates in action. When I do choose, it will be based on the ability of the candidate (newcomer or incumbent) to convince me that he/she is serious about their intent to serve and worthy of the trust that they will support & defend, etc, before padding any particular personal ambitions.

I usually have lousy choices, far short of anything resembling an Ideal Choice. We all do, and always have.

The Schaivo case will fade with time. More people will go out of their way to leave last instructions and living wills. Doctors and lawyers will crank up their marketing for the same. Come 2006 and beyond, the issues by which individuals will judge their choices will be security, economic, and social... and each one will weight the mix to their own taste and vote accordingly. Unless an asteroid takes us all out, we'll end up with a troublesome mix in the congress and a president that cheers some and offends others.

And the sun will rise the next day.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005



Wind. Rain. Snow.

Wrestling with taxes.

Whipping out to eastern Utah for another two-day survey fest.

Wondering what I would have done had Terry Schaivo been my wife. Or my daughter.

Weather - see above.

With luck I'll have fresh stuff up on Friday.

Wait for Saturday if not.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

And A Happy Sunday To You

There is not much going on in the home of Utah today. Saturday was spent refitting the traps and drains beneath our kitchen sink.

I need to remodel both our kitchen and upper bathroom. The first step will involve a trackhoe if I have my way...

The weather has closed in with a surprising spring snowfall mixed with rain. I believe the chances of actually getting any work done tomorrow are slim but I don't know if there are other things to be done besides my subdivision. Time will fill.

There was an anti-war protest here in Happy Valley yesterday. About twentyfive protestors set up shop right in Orem City Center and occupied the street corners surrounding Center and State streets. They waved signs and solicited honks for peace; newspaper accounts described the responses as "mixed". I wish I had known about it. I am not able to make it up to Hill AFB today due to the tax document roundup we have to finish TODAY in order to get it to our tax preparer in time for BAG day.

Mrs. Utah has acquiesced to replacing our clapped out AK in .223 with a more reliable firearm. Woot! I am leaning toward an AR style rifle but may end up with a Mini-14 in deference to the goddesses and economy. I have the M1 for long work, anyway.

I have been following the Schiavo case from arm's length. My mother spent a decade in a nursing home after her stroke. My intention is to not suffer the same fate should accident or illness ever put me in the same position. I have not yet put my specific instructions in writing in the form of a living will, but that, like so many other pressing legal chores, is on the list for this spring.

Gerard Vanderleun runs the American Digest. I first discovered him via Roger L. Simon's comments and put his blog on the Purser's List when I inaugurated TRB. Mr. Vanderleun has a long history of literary and publishing credentials. His essays often remind me of a Forrest Gump- like flavor of synchronicity (without the simplicity, of course) but that is merely the result of a professional life spent among the circles of pop and literary scions that I could never know.

The Schiavo case prompted him to write an essay about his personal and political evolution since 2001. I agree with his opinion that the divide in this country, and beyond, is brought into stark relief by where people align on the toughest questions:

"There is a fire in the minds of men now as there was at the beginning of the 20th century. Terri Schiavo's predicament is but one of the smaller flames in this continuing conflagration that pits, like some strange civil war, brother against brother and friend against friend. And so they go, as the other things of life that were once good and have now turned bad, away along a path of life that you no longer can share."

In this one instance of state involvement in the fate of one individual, we are grappling with fundamental questions and stresses that far outstrip mere partisan bickering. (Update)The fate of a woman we have never met has invited us to examine ourselves, and many of us are coming up short on neat answers.(end)

Read the entire essay. Bring a lunch - you will end up miles from where you started.

Have a fine week.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Belated Apology

A few weeks ago I determined that I would go to San Diego for the Victory Picnic in Balboa Park.

Alas, employment has made that impossible. This darned economy has put me in a great job.

I think I'll run up to Hill AFB tomorrow and say thanks at the gate for a while, though. I can still do that.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Back In The Saddle

I'm back in the bosom of my home, and darned glad to be here. My trip out to the wilds of eastern Utah was professionally fulfilling and productive but I have forgotten certain of the perils associated with construction above the snow line.

You all have heard the one about the kid who sticks his tongue to the bus stop pole on a chilly morning, right? A little innocent fun for bystanders, no harm done.

I always remember that one when I sit on a frozen job johnny seat. If the worst does happen, can I trust my partner to bring my thermos of hot coffee to set me free? Or will that bastard grab our camera and invite the pipe crew over?

We don't get cable at 8000 feet. Wifi does work fair to middling well, and when I get my laptop I won't be quite as cut off as I have been these last two days.

Great Forces, as the saying goes, are at work.

I was a little astonished that my last post generated as much comment as it did. I don't see where the topicality or my opinion put it much apart from many others I have written. I admit that it's a little gratifying.

In the exchange with cobbii, and others, over at Roger's place, I kept on running into the same fraudulent worldview that Ghost Dansing has put on display in his comments on my blog.

There is never a requirement that solutions be peaceful for said solutions to be effective. In reference to nation states, the history of conflicts and their resolutions has produced more shelf feet in libraries than just about any other subject. The chronicles are not celebrations of diplomatic nuance. They record the persons, agendas, ambitions, and philosophies that bumped and ground until one side won or lost. Just because it would be nice for a treaty, a handshake, and a few photos of the signatories to solve any problem, that is just not how business has ever been done between diametrically opposed interests. Monday morning quarterbacking of fifty years of get- along/stability diplomacy as a grounds for deligitimizing the effort to bring democracy to the Muslim world now is, frankly, laughable on its face.

We are NOT propping up bad guys, we are NOT accommodating thugs, and we are NOT bent on purchasing placid business conditions on the backs of distant oppressed brown folks. I'll meet you (those who keep close that picture of Don Rumsfeld shaking Saddam Hussein's hand, or other such similar coffee mug logos) halfway: we did screw up for a long time but we finally figured it out and are well on our way to atoning as best we can for the mistakes we made.

I am dead on my feet (you should see the backspacing and correcting that has already happened to this point) and will be out the door at 0600 tomorrow to begin in earnest the passage of lines that will put me in the saddle on the largest project I've ever been responsible for surveying.

Here's something for you to kick around:

I believe that Lebanon will become the crucible for the next great American statement in the march to a more democratic middle east. Syria has been told in no uncertain terms that they will depart the country. Hizbollah is not a political party, they are a terrorist organization aligned against the United States. Lebanon will be free and self governing - and all they need do is ask for our help should the above mentioned parties elect to interfere in any way.

Since Vietnam the oppressed peoples of the world have, with solid reason, rightly questioned the weight behind any American promise of support should they undertake the overthrow of their dictators. We screwed the Kurds and Marsh Arabs in Iraq in 91 to the tune of tens, if not hundreds, of thousands killed at the hands of Saddam in deference to the world community that feared the instability it might have to deal with if he was overthrown. We used to dribble money and propaganda into places where tiny minorities sought to become popular movements, but they always failed because they could never look anywhere else in the world for proof that we should be taken seriously.

We sold wheat to the Soviets as they occupied eastern Europe, worked hard to add central and south America, and parts of Africa to their empire, and when they invaded Afghanistan. The South Vietnamese were promised logistical and air support when we left in '73. The rise of militant Islam was met with lamentable silence on our part. Maybe Allah was on the side of the mullahs, since any real superpower would have crushed them in 1979. Certainly after kidnapping and killing diplomats. Without fail after being victim of a military attack costing hundreds of lives. Without question we'd take action after two decades of murder, bombings, and assassinations targeting people from mere wheelchair bound Jewish grandpas all the way to former presidents... right?

No. We sort of celebrated an end of history or some such silliness, thought. The other side just shook their heads and chalked one up to western cowardice, then bent to the task of acquiring even more lethal weapons with which to bring to the war we refused to fight.

We seem to be enjoying a little advantage of our own these days. Cobbii and Ghost think that stability is what we seek; the bad guys across the water are clinging mightily to the same hope and they are just as wrong.

We Americans are the scariest people on the planet to those who watch us from outside our borders. Styles, fads, customs... Hell, even religions... all change in bewildering ways at breakneck speeds. But by and large we enjoy a living standard unimaginable to better than three quarters of the world's population. We've had ONE shooting civil war of import, but we have a no-pads scrimmage along the same lines every four years and usually have some bloody noses and bruises at the end of those, too. But we are what we are - the only superpower - precisely because we have balanced the instability of people living their own lives by pursuing their own happiness with the need for governance.

U.S. power should never and will not again be used to install puppet regimes in search of stability. Not any more. But when entire nations rise up - in Lebanon, by conservative (no pun) estimates, almost a third of the entire NATION assembled to reject Syrian occupation - they have the word of America that we will help, if asked.

Your move, Assad. And Hizbollah, too.

Will we see Saudi Liberty Babes in the near future? Boy, I can only hope.

We won't have to invade Iran to prevent their nuclear ambitions from being realized if the Iranian people trust us to stand with them. But they must rise first.

My big three on the presidents' legacy roster are Washington, Lincoln, and Reagan, with a tie and honorable mention going to TR/FDR. There's a better than even chance that G.W. Bush may replace Reagan on the list if the next year or so plays out like I think it will.

Your mileage may vary. Off to knit a very ragged sleeve.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Make The Hurting Stop

I walked four miles in calf deep snow today, some of it crusty and easy to walk on, some of it not. None of it was flat. We needed to locate and tie (determine grid locations) a grundle of section corners as part of a large property survey. Mission accomplished.

Knees are fine. Back and feet may never be the same.

I will be out of town tomorrow through Thursday. The faster I learn about this outfit's procedures for billing, mileage, employee time, and conduct of fieldwork the better off I'll be when I actually run my own crew. So once more into the breach I go.

We had a couple of moose check us out today. Now that spring is about to sproing, the ones you see are the toughest of last year's crop. Over the years I've been fortunate enough to not surprise any of the half dozen or so I've encountered in the field. They react pretty badly to being startled, in general, especially away from water. You did know that immediate action to escape a moose attack (they can kill a wolf with a kick from any leg) is to run down the steepest hill possible, right? Their weight is all forward, and the more aggressive and hugeous the animal, the quicker he or she will go ass over teakettle and forget all about you.

See, you learn all sorts of things on blogs.

I participated in a spirited thread over at Roger's place over the last couple of days. You might want to check it out.

And for the record, the military option against the mullahs is twentysix years overdue. Invading an embassy is an act of war, and that is exactly how they defined our relationship in 1979.

My money is on the Iranian people, though. I believe that they are just about done being victims.

Freedom, and time, fills.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Day One

I'm back in the workforce. This morning I walked the muddy paths that will become graceful roads bordered by fairways by midsummer. We hit the project I will be responsible for surveying on for the next slice of forever just after 0800 this morning. I haven't set foot on a construction site in over a year, but it was actually refreshing to make the acquaintance of the blade guy and the gas contractor in the lee of a an idling grader. It's not a real construction meeting unless you are standing in the mud and shouting over the diesels, you see... Met the super. Met the office folks, met one of the owning partners, got to test drive the latest in GPS surveying technology. No cables. No backpack. Shot two hundred topo points for asbuilt curb in just over an hour.

The wind off the Uintas is chill in the mornings. We still have quite a bit of snow to lose on the top of the job, and the thaw will take time to percolate down and away. I will have about two weeks before the crews are able to really start hammering; two weeks to get up to speed before the real test begins.

I can't wait. It's good to be back. Mom is happy, and so are the goddesses. So am I.

The last time I was drawing a steady check I didn't have a blog; didn't really know what blogs were, to be honest. Now that I'm back in the trade I believe that as far as this journal is concerned, I will scrupulously respect the anonymity of my employer and our clients. This blog is about my opinions, not my job. There may be references to good days and bad days - but we all have those.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

I Like Chevy

But my next vehicle will not be built by American union labor.

I go back to work tomorrow morning. I have been putting off replacing the Mighty Burb for a few years now. Until I read the linked article, I was leaning hard toward a quad cab Chev.

We never buy new; there's just something obscene about spending four of five thousand dollars driving off a lot. I usually go for fleet returns from rental outfits for family cars and auctions for SUV's.

I need something beefy enough to take the family to the mountains, big enough for two adults and two teenagers to stretch out on road trips, and above-average in the reliability department. Any suggestions for a replacement?

Saturday, March 12, 2005

One If By Land, Two If By Sea

How do you feel about the first amendment to the U.S. Constitution?

Good? Good. I thought so. You need to go here and read the letter.

If you agree, stand up and be counted. I'm number 1624 on the list.

Pass the word.

(via Instapundit)

Mr. Reynolds also blogs on his attendance and speech at the "Politics and the Internet" conference earlier this evening. Note well his thoughts on the speech given by an FEC commissioner immediately prior to his own.

I'm no law professor. I don't need to be. I have the internet for that sort of thing.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Rat Race 2

I start on Monday.

Right on.

NorKs In The News

I'm linking to this BBC report not because I believe it carries any particular insight into the conditions within that unhappy hole, or that it heralds the imminent fall of the Kim dynasty there, but because of the last six paragraphs.

Cell phones. We take them for granted. But now the Norks are trying to back pedal from their decision to allow them into the Juche Paradise beginning back in late November of 2002.

Here's the Beeb's conclusion:

"Despite the strict measures, mobile phones have served as conveyer belts of information from the outside world to help combat decades of state-sponsored propaganda and misinformation, defectors say.

How to maintain the closure of the society in this globalized world community? This is a huge dilemma for North Korea to keep the hermit kingdom afloat.

I began participating in online forums in 1997. Since then I've published my opinion that control of media and public access to communication has been the hallmark of every totalitarian regime since the inception of the printing press scores, maybe even hundreds, of times. I also believe that the core incompetence of a regime relates directly to the standard of brutality it practices against its population.

By any reasonable standard, the headshed in Pyongyang is staffed exclusively by people who wear loafers because shoelaces are beyond them.

By importing cell phones - even if they only reached sort-of-communist-today China, they let the inmates have access to the keys to a world beyond the Yalu or the DMZ.


Now they are busily killing people publicly and struggling to confiscate all the phones. They brought a candle into the magazine to check out their gunpowder supplies, and now they are trying to hold the door shut to contain the explosion.

I think I may have to set aside a chunk of time to find out more about current conditions there. I'd hate to wake up one morning and be surprised by the fall of the Kim regime.

I tell a lie. I wouldn't mind at all.


I'd like you to welcome neo-neocon to the Purser's List.

Yet another bit of class sneaks onto the quarterdeck of our happy ship; neo is a lady, a native of New York, and according to her profile she is blogging out of the frustration resultant from finding out that after 9/11 her politics make her apart from family and friends. She's not sure if anyone else has the right label for her, so she's chosen "neo-neocon" and gone from there.

I was introduced to her blog via this Michael J. Totten post, "Catastrophe Theory and War", in which Mr. Totten favorably cited comments by both neo and me.

Please grab a cuppa and run over for a look. For any given subject, different bloggers bring a viewpoint unique to their training and background. I liked neo's post from yesterday about Mr. Soros for just that reason. She wrote:

" But, as I've written before, the left wishes very badly to believe the terrorists to be both rational actors and innocent victims. They consistently use the language of victimization--for which, once again, the spread of popular notions of therapy must take some blame."

Welcome aboard, ma'am.

Friday's Pathetic Post

Update to "Embarrassing Details": Captain's Quarters brings new information about the lack of coordination on the part of the Italians that contributed to the death of an Italian intelligence officer in Iraq.

(via Instapundit)

All you reloaders out there can pick up a piece of history - actually, five pieces of history, in an attractive carrying case and accompanied by a custom letter of authenticity. It's all safe - just make sure you read the disclaimer.

Thanks to Kim DuToit for getting the word out.

Blogging is going to be light this weekend. This morning I have a bathroom faucet to install. At 1100 I am going to chaperone my eldest daughter's choir event at her school. After that I start buying the parts I can afford now to redo the ball joints and front wheel bearings on the Mighty 'Burb. Economy will probably end up dictating I have to do one side at a time. Of course, I run a real good chance of finding the spindle u-joints in need of refurbishing, too. *Yarrrrrrgh*

Still no word on employment. I'll call them before lunch.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Embarrassing Details

I haven't commented on the Italian "hostage" fiasco because the initial media bleat was a whole lot of noise with too little signal. My initial opinion has been largely confirmed by this report.



Lots more good stuff here at LGF.

One guy with a SAW or M60 would have torn that road can into foil if the volume of fire had been anything remotely resembling a "hail" of gunfire, as early news reports cited the "hostage" as claiming.

This is pure conjecture, but it looks like a few rounds were fired in an attempt to disable the car and ended up hitting a little high. I'm not current, but my standard BZO for my M16A2 was always set at three hundred meters. What that means is that a snap shot as the belt line of the target at ranges under three hundred meters would end up a few inches high but still lethal, while aiming at a target out around three hundred meters (where you would expect to have a bit more time to aim in) you would hold center of the chest and expect to hit POA/POI.

If I had to make an educated guess, I'd say the car was engaged on command, and far enough away that the command to fire was limited to a few, even one, riflemen. This also means that I believe the car may well have been detected far enough away for signals to have been flashed, too. If the guys had been surprised, and felt in imminent danger of being run over by an IED, they would have put an immediate response drill (the "Mad Minute") fire down on the visible threat. The Italians would have had to be identified by DNA if this had been the case.

My opinion is based entirely on the story and pictures I linked to above. I'm still waiting for more data to emerge.

Words Mean Things

House Minority (sorry, insert happy smile here) Leader Ms. Nancy Pelosi, D-CA, assisted by the able staff of the Washington Post, is proclaiming the normal exercise of majority rule in Congress an "abuse of power".

"House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) plans to lash out at the chamber's Republican leaders today with a report accusing them of abusing their power through parliamentary tactics designed to suppress dissent."

Uh... this is news to who, exactly? I refer to the "accuse" part of the statement, of course. There's much more in the same vein:

""While this Republican administration has spoken strongly about promoting democracy around the world, the House Republican leadership is working feverishly to undermine democracy here at home," she said in a statement to be released with the report."

"Abuse". "... feverishly to undermine", "... ignored House Rules and the basic standards of legislative fairness and decency... ". Long-time political observers like me understand that "not getting their way" comprises "abuse" in what's left of that unhappy herd of cats, but even with their decline in fortunes I find it remarkable they don't have anyone on staff to throw a penalty flag for excessive use of overused, ineffective, and counterproductive buzzwords.

Ms. Pelosi is the minority leader in the lower house of legislators of our representative democracy. In this kind of political entity, the will of the people is translated into quantitative physical reality as majority or minority caucuses. The electorate determines which agenda will be enacted into law by creating a majority caucus. That Ms. Pelosi leads a party that has lost the support of the majority of the electorate seems to escape her notice. That her agenda and philosophy is not given special largesse contrary to the demonstrated will of the majority of voting citizens might normally be expected to inspire a little introspection; a critical self- evaluation, if you will...

I guess it's easier for her to declare a conspiracy instead. I mean, if it's not a nefarious conspiracy that has ensconced the Republican majority, the will of the people as expressed over elections spanning more than a decade might have to be acknowledged as a thoughtful, informed statement regarding which party is better equipped to deal with the myriad challenges facing our country. Can't be having that, can we?

I believe that good ideas garner support independent of party when both parties are firmly committed to common goals. The duties of office for all elected officials devolve down to preserving liberties, defense of the nation, and the administrative, judicial, and diplomatic responsibilities essential to performing those primary functions. There's no rule that says a minority agenda receive undue attention just because they weren't a minority last year, or last decade. They have to earn the support.

Presenting good intentions as the only necessary justification for legislation, absent any discernible favorable historical precedent, or, as is increasingly the norm these days, while denying solid past failures of the same or similar solutions to perform well or at all, has been the standard debate format of the Democrats for most of my adult life. On a personal note, the patent inability of the Democrats to ever voluntarily acknowledge responsibility for policy failures is very near the top of the (crowded) list of things that they do that lower them in my esteem.

I did mention they have been reduced to a minority, right? That's no accident; alas, there's very little approaching the flavor of conspiracy involved, unless the public manifestation of voluntary political participation is somehow criminal in nature. They gain nothing by their reflexive inability to self critique or accept external criticism. We, who are watching our money spent, exercise control via elections to affect positive change as we see the need. In broad terms, the demonstrated will of the people suggests that we want a less color conscious, less intrusive, and more disciplined government that focuses on expanding individual opportunities vice providing for individuals' welfare. And then there's that whole "stop barbarians from killing us instead of finding ways to justify them" thing, too.

They really need to work on that. Really.

Publishing a report titled "Broken Promises: The Death of Deliberative Democracy" is not a constructive move on behalf of a party seeking legitimacy in the eyes of an informed, involved, electorate. This tactic worked in the past ("Newt wants grandma to eat dog food and your children to starve") because the vast majority of information via media were dogmatically aligned with the Democrats. There are more media choices now, of course, but the real killer has been the rise of the internet as a tool that individuals use to explore, debate, and support their political options.

Good ideas. Market place. Winners. Just as we no longer buy plows, stoves, or clothes from a single mail order catalog, or find our debates limited by who shows up at the annual mountain man rendevous, or who shows up down to the General Store, the political parties no longer have the advantage of defining the big picture in a way that benefits themselves. In a perfect world, increased feedback coupled with agile analysis and solid mechanisms to respond would make problems easier to solve.

I believe that one party is working to provide workable solutions for the challenges facing the nation. The other party is working for... the party. They don't have to acknowledge this charge. As long as a majority of voters makes the call, the Democrats will, emphatically, have to live with the consequences of their chosen priorities.

I've reread the article. The Washington Post could invest in a buzzword omsbudsman, too.

Monday, March 07, 2005


Ladies and gentleman, allow me to introduce Mr. John Bolton. A veteran of government service, Mr. Bolton has been appointed by the President as U.S. envoy to the United Nations. He replaces former Senator John Danforth who resigned last December.

A career State Department diplomat, his last billet was undersecretary for arms control and international security. He previously worked on arms control issues at the U.N. from 1989 to 1993.

I didn't know much about Mr. Bolton when Reuters dropped his name on my desktop; let's see what some Very Important People have to say about him:

"Now, when bridge-building and strengthening of alliances are so critical to our national security, he is a poor person to serve as a conciliator at the United Nations." - Sen. John Corzine, D, NJ.

"(Boltons')... "antipathy to the U.N. will prevent him from effectively discharging his duties as our ambassador." - Sen. Chris Dodd, D, Conn.

Here's a Bolton bio put together by people who aren't important, but dearly wish they were. Nice website, too. They have many strong reservations about Bolton; some of the examples of his past remarks they cite, such as:

At a 1994 panel discussion sponsored by the World Federalist Association, Bolton claimed, "There's no such thing as the United Nations," saying that ''If the U.N. secretary building in New York lost 10 stories, it wouldn't make a bit of difference.'' (8)

During the July 2001 global U.N. conference on small arms and light weapons, Bolton told delegates that the United States was not only opposed to any agreement restricting civilian possession of small arms, it also didn't appreciate "the promotion of international advocacy activity by international or non-governmental organizations." Bolton 's delegation was accompanied by that distinguished American NGO the National Rifle Association. (7)

In 1998, when he was senior vice president of the American Enterprise Institute, Bolton described the International Criminal Court (ICC) as "a product of fuzzy-minded romanticism [that] is not just naïve, but dangerous."

...lead me to respectfully ask, "What's the big problem here? Is it too much to ask that a career diplomat prioritize things like our sovereignty, interests, and constitution over feckless international popularity contests?"

A U.N. spokesman was quoted as saying "I don't know about what previous biases he may bring here... We have nothing against people who do hold us accountable. On the contrary, I think we do want to be held accountable."

Huh? That sounds a little dry to me. Here's the TRB Quantum Transmorgified version, where you get the real context, and nothing but semantic accuracy:

The U.N. spokesman rose from behind his executive (a small french helicopter adorned one corner) desk in the corner office near the top floor of the U.N. building. A spent glass bong, two feet tall and filled with champagne, was centered on the blotter in front of his chair.

"Welcome, Welcome!", he said. Noticing my glance at the bong, he said, "They are doing SIMPLY AMAZING things with hemp these days. I am investigating whether or not we should subsidize the trade as an economic development tool."

I asked him if he'd heard about Bolton's appointment.

"I don't know about what previous biases he may bring here," said the spokesman. He packed the bowl and fished out a pocket- sized reproduction of the current Chinese army flamethrower. "We have nothing against people who do hold us... uh, accountable."

Now I've never met anyone but UC frat types who could inhale a sentence, but the rest of his answer went like this: "Onthecontrary,Ithinkwedo (HOLLLLLLLD the smoke - exhale) want to be held accountable. *cough*"

It was an amazing display, and his enunciation came through clearly in spite of the vigorous bubbling noise from the bong.

There is an old saying that a man can be measured by the enemies he makes.

Mr. Bolton sounds like the perfect man for the job to me.

(some information in this post orginated in this AP article.)

Rat Race

I may have a job interview later today, depending on the work load my prospective employer has to deal with.

Yes, it's a survey job. A friend and former coworker recommended me to his boss, then called me with a strong recommendation for the company.

I've been home for over a year now. I am no closer to writing the Great American Novel than I was last December. It would be good to work for an outfit that puts the customer first.

The OTL pointed out that I may have to edit my profile.

Updates as conditions dictate.

(Update: Reschedule for tomorrow, 0700 in Salt Lake. Woot!)

(Update 2: Good interview; awaiting on word from the principals of the company for a Monday start.)

Sunday, March 06, 2005

What He Said

Michael J.Totten included one of my comments in his recent post "Catastrophe Theory and War":

"The weapon that will kill the mentality that has generated transnational terrorists/jihadis is not one that we can use. We can carve out a bloody breathing space, but the final act of victory will not be by our hand. I have never doubted this. The ultimate weapon is hope. In the end, victory will be bought ONLY with the sacrifices and efforts of the people who live in those countries."

I wrote the following excerpt in the comment thread of that same post as a reply to commenter novakant, a traditionalist in the "Everything is fucked up" school of anti-Bushism:

"Bush has been pretty clearly spoken on what our aims are; that the tide is rising in unexpected quarters without our direct influence should be counted as a blessing as far as I'm concerned.

Thousands of people are dying right now - dying in the friction of war against state or religious sanctioned terror. The Mideast, Africa, lately southern Europe and SE Asia... pick a spot on the map. Nobody today knows exactly where the trail will lead, true. But thousands have died in those places for years, for decades, and public opinion in the stable part of the world just assumed that was the way things were meant to be.

Until now.

The Bush Doctrine is not a cookie cutter reprise of the Marshall Plan. It was never intended to be such. In the first place, the Marshall Plan was implemented to hot start a devastated continent that already enjoyed a strong western tradition. The beneficiaries of the plan also had a clear and unpalatable option to the east to motivate them to participate in recovery and reconstruction efforts. I see more of the MacArthur model at work. In the absence of cogent direction from D.C. on exactly what he should do, MacArthur penned a constitution that the Japanese, in their crushed state and absent most of the democratic traditions we take for granted, could recognize as a just and even generous foundation for citizen sovereignty. We do not enjoy the key advantage that MacArthur exploited so well: today there is no emperor of Araby or Islam to facilitate the transition between the past and the future.

But the Afghanis, Iraqis, and now Lebanese do remember what their former options were limited to; they don't have a growling bear in the east, they have the experience of generations of living in despotism. The inmates of the remaining asylums are growling, too. The cries of "Imperialism!" and "War for Oil!" are sounding less and less convincing to the actual residents of the Mideast and beyond. Instead, they see Americans and their active coalition allies bleeding to enable elections and security behind a president who has violated all the conventional wisdom of past realpolitik and whose present rhetoric of supporting democracy is the most uncompromising yet.

Bush laid out the philosophy clearly. The following is from Fouad Ajami, writing in U.S. to weigh in on the tide of democratization in the mideast, quotes President Bush from November, 2003:

""Sixty years of western nations excusing and accommodating the lack of freedom in the Middle East did nothing to make us safe, because in the long run," he said, "stability cannot be purchased at the expense of liberty. As long as the Middle East remains a place where freedom does not flourish, it will remain a place of stagnation, resentment, and violence ready for export."

Ajami paints a thumbnail of current events in his next paragraph:

"Today the Arab world is beset by a mighty storm. For decades, the American choice in Arab-Islamic lands was stark. The "civil society" there was truculent and malignantly anti-American, while the rulers seemed like eminently reasonable men willing to strike bargains in the shadows. It was easy to accept their authoritarianism as the cultural practice of the Arabs: This was what Bush called the "soft bigotry of low expectations."

I agree with him. We had stability. And oil. And it wasn't at the expense of two dollar a gallon gasoline, but purchased instead with the hopes and dreams of millions upon millions of repressed people across scores of nations. But that is changing today. We no longer - well, most of us, and most importantly this administration - are not going to buy stability with other people's freedoms any more. We were wrong in the first place, and the present reality of the true cost of our cynical policies of the past has sunk in deep. Again, for most of us. The outcome depends on the inmates, though.

They see a chance. And they are beginning to recognize that democracy is not a commodity dispensed by, or purely for, nefarious American ambitions.

Near the end of his column Mr. Ajami says:

"We don't know for sure if the American public shares Bush's passion for the pursuit of freedom. We know that America has paid dearly for this democratic movement, in both blood and treasure, for this democratizing push was given force by Iraq's elections. But the outlines of a new Arab world may now be dimly seen. A brilliant American officer, Lt. Col. Mark Martins, whom I met in Baghdad, allowed himself a moment of satisfaction. "Democracy is not a luxury car," he E-mailed me last week. "It is an all-terrain vehicle and good for fighting insurgency.""

It's not about control. It's about support and with a clear objective. I believe we are on the right track to realize sweeping, positive, change.

Your mileage may vary.

(Update: The Ajami article I quoted is also on today's "Must Read" list at

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Ah, Trust Me Baby...

Syria says it will pull out.

Ladies and gentlemen, you've heard that one before, right?

"After mounting international pressure and faced with daily protests inside Lebanon to end its security presence there, Assad told parliament Syrian troops would initially pull back to the Bekaa Valley in eastern Lebanon and then to the border area.

"By this measure Syria would have fulfilled its commitment toward the Taif Accord and implemented (U.N. Security Council) Resolution 1559," he said.

But they will only pull out to the Bekaa Valley. And no word (no mention or acknowledgement) of their secret police and intelligence apparatus permeating all levels of Lebanese life.

If push should come to shove, I hope that BLT 1/8 is the first coalition unit into the Bekaa. Payback time is way, way overdue.

Friday, March 04, 2005

A Turn Of The Screw

Syria gets no slack:
"When we say withdraw we mean complete withdrawal -- no half-hearted measures," Bush said..." "Syrian troops, Syrian intelligence services must get out of Lebanon now."
President Bush speaking in New Jersey this morning, as quoted by Rooooooters.

I heard the speech excerpt live on CBS radio news moments ago. The President invoked france and other powers as calling for complete withdrawal in the straight version; wonder why Rooooooters failed to mention that in their story?

Storm Warning

The OTL is not nearly as immersed in the ebb and flow of politics as I am. I wouldn't have it any other way, either. When I get annoying she just interjects with "Is that back lawn mown yet?" and I immediately furl my sails.

I don't remember the date, but the day that President Bush signed Campaign Finance Reform the wife and I were driving somewhere. We got the word from the radio news.

I told her:
"That's probably the most cynical political move he's ever made, babe. I hope he doesn't regret it down the road."

"You've told me a dozen times that even if he signed it, it would be DOA at the Supreme Court.", said she.

"Yah; CFR regulating who can make what statements or advertisements and when and in what medium... shit, what part of "Congress shall make NO law... abridging freedom of speech..." did they miss in committee? Or at the White House? No way it will make it past a court challenge - maybe not even past lower courts. This is indefensible on its face. Still, it was at the very best dereliction on Bush's part that it's gotten this far. That the congress is just even more duplicitous is no excuse."

The day the USSC upheld CFR as it was written I regarded it as a fuckup trifecta. The Bill Buckner curse has repeated right in the middle of our three branches of government, folks. It took the effort of literally thousands of informed and thoughtful political and legal professionals to blow the CFR play, though. Remember that - they all screwed up. Even worse, a huge chunk of the harm intended was wilfull.

Mark R. Levin, writing in National Review Online back in February 2002, had it exactly right. Here's the tail end of a veto speech he suggested for Bush to deliver:
Some have written that this bill would give me an advantage should I run for reelection in 2004 by allowing my campaign to raise more money. But this isn't about any one candidate. It's about upholding the right of citizens to participate in the democratic process. It's about defending the protections enumerated in the Bill of Rights.

I would no sooner sign this bill than put my signature to a law that would seek to restrict freedom of the press, limit the free exercise of religion, eliminate the right to bear arms, repeal private property rights, or deny an accused his right to counsel and due process.

I recognize that my decision to veto this bill will be unpopular in certain powerful circles. But I must remain faithful to my oath and my conscience.

But that speech didn't happen. Yes, there were some benefits that did accrue to the Republicans in the financial end of the campaign - but it was volunteer networks of connected, grassroots foot troops who were the margin when the polls closed. That political benefit does indeed pale in the shadow cast by the failure of all three branches of government to honor their offices and oaths by crafting and ultimately allowing McCain-Feingold to become law and then be upheld.

Now it's 2005 and the lawyers are circling. The best intended laws are the ones that get abused first, and the FEC (appointed bureaucrats with partisan agendas) are bent on stepping in and dealing with us nasty, unpedigreed bloggers:
(CNet) How can the government place a value on a blog that praises some politician?
(FEC Commissioner Bradley Smith) How do we measure that? Design fees, that sort of thing? The FEC did an advisory opinion in the late 1990s (in the Leo Smith case) that I don't think we'd hold to today, saying that if you owned a computer, you'd have to calculate what percentage of the computer cost and electricity went to political advocacy.

It seems absurd, but that's what the commission did. And that's the direction Judge Kollar-Kotelly (ed - you knew a federal judge would be involved, didn't you?) would have us move in. Line drawing is going to be an inherently very difficult task. And then we'll be pushed to go further. Why can this person do it, but not that person?

It's late here in Utah, and it's been a very full day as far as blogging goes. This story started to break late this afternoon, and I got my first taste on Instapundit. Follow his link to Ed Morrissey at Captains Quarters.

There's already a double- fist full of trackbacks just there, and I think both sides of our political aisle are working up a head of steam to see this attack on individual liberties fought and defeated.

I'm sure I'll be posting more on this subject in the future.

When the campaign season picks up again I will for damn sure fill my blog margins with as many links and banners or logos as I can fit to support my chosen political candidates. On my schedule and regardless of any CFR/FEC dictates otherwise. There may well arise some wildly improbable alliance encompassing everyone from Kos to RedState over this. The issue is that important.

Update: Maybe I'll get a chance to show Roger how to craft a knife out of concrete dust and glue.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Interests & Friends

Nations have interests and people have friends.

Basheer Assad of Syria found out just how true that is today.

The assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, coming on the heels of the rise of nascent democracy in Afghanistan, Iraq, the Ukraine, and the Palestinian elections, has sparked Lebanese citizens to demand the end of Syrian occupation of their country.

Assad has been under steadily mounting pressure for years because of Syria's ongoing role as host to terrorist groups targeting Israel and others, and since 9/11 has been an unnamed member of the Axis of Evil. In the wake of the Hariri incident, even france has joined the chorus calling for Syria to withdraw. Assad is desperate to save face, even if only to delay removing his military, intelligence, and economic leeches. He appealed to the Saudis for support in generating some sort of pan Arab PR statement and came away worse than empty handed:

Assad said he would study the possibility of a partial withdrawal before an Arab summit scheduled March 23 in Algeria and said he is doing all he can to resolve the problem but that not everything is up to him, the official said.

The Saudis replied that the situation was his problem and warned that if Damascus refuses to comply, it would lead to tensions in Saudi-Syrian ties, the official told The Associated Press, speaking by phone from Riyadh.

Hariri was not only a scion of Lebanese politics and widely respected as being instrumental in the reconstruction of Beirut, he was also a Saudi citizen and enjoyed close relationships with the highest levels of Saudi government and society.

Here is where interests come in:

1. The people of Lebanon are tired of being exploited by Syria politically and economically. They have declared that the time has come for Syria to leave. They have not acted in the traditional manner of the region - armed factions executing assassinations, bombings, and civil war in search of power. The Muslim, the Orthodox, the Druse, the Christians - they have filled the streets of Beirut in peaceful but determined protest. The puppet government has fallen, and the popularly elected parliament is in process (with the United States, Russia, and france, among others, standing ready to support them) to conduct national elections within months.

The street demonstrations in Lebanon would have been impossible just four short years ago. In the old world where the stability of dictatorships trumped free nations' responsibility to support and foster democracy we would have heard nothing more than vague reports of "unrest" or "tension". We wouldn't have had to see bodies in the streets on our television screens to understand what the stories meant; rest assured, we wouldn't see them via CNN anyway. Back then that was how those countries did business and nobody from our world thought twice about it. Those days are gone.

In a further sign of impatience, the Saudis rejected a Syrian request that the upcoming summit officially ask Damascus to withdraw its forces, which would give any pullback an Arab endorsement, the official said.

Saudi Arabia gains nothing by continuing to prop up Assad. As dictators go, he's actually pretty low-rent. By that I mean he's more figurehead than godhead. His ascension was a dynastic convenience predicated on the common interests of the thugs his father had organized to control Syria. He doesn't so much control Syria as much as he maintains the fiction that somebody is actually in charge. That's an essential component of dictatorships. A public acknowledgement that power was there for the taking if one only knew who to get behind would just make the process of despotism complicated for all the thugs involved. The Saudis want to remain at the top of whatever political structure arises in the wake of the Bush Doctrine. They are actually numerous and well-connected enough within their own country to survive and even benefit from a gradual process of liberalization. Propping up Syria in the face of the tide of democracy sweeping the mideast makes no sense. The Sauds know full well that jihadis infiltrating Iraq could just as well be ordered to Saudi.

Yes, I do think the Sauds recognize that liberalization and democracy are unavoidable. No, I don't think anyone has a clue what form or cost the actual process will take.

None of this would be happening without the vision of this administration, or the burden we as a nation, and our coalition allies, have paid so far in blood and treasure to see it begin.

We cannot locate and put to the sword every terrorist in every shithole on the planet. That has always been a given. But we can work hard at directly confronting the worst of them AND apply pressure against the regimes that breed them, and provide support and hope to the peoples of the region that would live free. Hopefully somewhere down the road these complimentary efforts will merge to the point we can put away the sword completely.

I believe it is possible for the nations of the Muslim arc (and beyond) to embrace democracy. For historical context I point to the experiences of Germany and Japan, and the former Soviet republics and satellites. But even more apropos is the American Experience itself; we are the example that stands as the irrefutable proof that democracy can bring order out of chaos, and beyond mere order, wealth, security, and individual happiness on such a scale that we here tend to take our blessings for granted. Regardless of race, creed, or color, the system of constitutional democracy works.

E pluribus unum, indeed.

(Update: I've been playing with carriage return to see if I can reduce some of the voids associated with using the blogger posting window.)

The Cat And The Cowboy

Our history is sprinkled with heroes. Our heroes have always been ordinary men who rose to meet extraordinary challenges.

(Please read my post before hitting the links. You might want to grab a cuppa; I quote from their last two posts, but if you've never met these guys you are going to want to read more. A lot more.)

I read many, many MilBlogs. I have so many bookmarked that even with the best of intentions I sometimes miss hitting every one of them even weekly. I missed the coming home posts of the Questing Cat and his squaddie/blogpartner the Jersey Cowboy. They have both seen the elephant, and they both return to a world they cherish more than they did before their service.

Cowboy wraps up with this:
A year of my life has passed, and it was like the end of the first book and the beginning of the second. I've "leveled up," to put it in geek terms, and I'm ready for my next adventure. I want to sincerely thank each and every one of you who has been reading this blog; Nick and I both really enjoyed our time here, and I know that my experience in Iraq wouldn't have been what it was without y'all. Whatever God you pray to, may He bless you; mine has blessed me more than I ever thought I deserved. It's been quite a journey. KEEP ROCKIN'!

The words of the Cat always struck a chord with me. Nine out of ten service men in combat seldom look beyond the immediate; Cat looked a little further and I think his feeling of kinship with all those who have served, sweated, and bled before - and his place in our esteem - gave him strength:
I have been your soldier for the span of a few handfuls of words. For a few minutes out of your day I have been the face of the millions that guard your sleep, and the hundred million that secured your right to exist from before you birth to today as you eat breakfast. I have been your grandfather, when he was a foolish young man. The brother, you lost. The son, that returned home. The husband, who never speaks of his nightmares. I am not the one they would have chosen in all cases to be their spokesmen, but that is something I hope time will allow those to forgive me.

What do you think?

Where do we find such men?

Thank you, Specialist Nicholas Cademartori and Specialist Michael A. Cotignola, III, USA. You have bought your place in the history of our grand experiment in liberty. Thank you for going to the shitty, dangerous places so that our lives, and that of our families, might continue to be blessed with the freedom and duties of citizenship that are all too often taken for granted or ignored by so many. Thank you for sharing your thoughts as the duty swung between boredom and horror. Thank you for sharing your dreams. If our comments have been a help to you, please know that they were prompted by the hope you were giving us.

Welcome home, gents. Well done. May God bless you both and fill your lives (and your loves) with warmth, light, and happiness.

Dear reader, did you get that drink? Do you have a few minutes?

Good... very good. Now go here. That's a starting point. How far you go from there is, of course, up to you.

Remember to thank them. It's the very least we can do.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

A World Without Dictators

Please welcome Tom Grey of Liberty Dad - a World Without Dictators to the Purser's List.

We have often bumped into each other on other blogs. His commitment to freedom is a LOT less annoying than mine is, and he writes much better, too.

Make sure to check out his post (and the article he wrote for Blogger Network News) on President Bush's recent speech at Bratislava.

I wish I had been able to see it. I understand that the delivery was every bit as good as the transcript read, if not better.

Reason Four...

Why I don't take democrats seriously:

Overheard on "The Daily Show with John Stewart" during an interview with former Clinton aid Nancy Soderberg, as she thought she was shilling her book:

Soderberg: Well, there's still Iran and North Korea, don't forget. There's hope for the rest of us.

Hope? For whom, Ms. Soderberg? We are pissing billions of dollars and bleeding by buckets to see an idea take root - the idea that societies of free people living under democratic, constitutional democracies won't generate the homicidal barbarians we have come to know all too well this past generation or so. We aren't shipping rice to Asia or medicine to Africa for some dictator to exploit, all in the name of "stability".

Who has grounds for hope, according to Ms. Soderberg, and why?

I'll leave it for you to discover the context. The rest of the story is here at WSJ's Best of the Web.

If the world was an arena of fair play, G.W. Bush would have high schools, public buildings, and particularly lethal warships named after him. But it's not that way so we'll just have to wait and see.

(via Instapundit) Yes, again.

I kind of like the sound of "The G.W. Bush Federal Administration Building"; especially if it were to be built in San Francisco.

I believe I'm going to get ahead of the curve and designate my favorite gold panning spot as "Bush Draw". I always find color, and am more often than not pleased with what I end up with at the end of a weekend.

If anyone is interested, my secret hole is within two miles of Mineral Flats, north of Tibble Fork Resevoir.


If it ever comes down to choosing a buddy to share a foxhole with, I'll take James Lileks.

Today's Bleat covers some serious across- the board antics that swing between crass and merely prudish silliness on the part of people who really should know better: Robert Byrd (KKK, W.Va), Howard Dean (DNC chair/missed true calling as a hog caller), and Ted Stevens, (R, AK, babysitter).

Regarding the first two (TRB is generous) men:

Big thinkers. The Middle East is poised to remake itself and repudiate all the tired tropes about Arabs and democracy, and Byrd trots out Adolph’s bones to complain about Senate rules, and Dean jumps up and down in Kansas about the perfidy of personal ownership of a tiny percentage of your Social Security money. Big picture men, indeed.

And about the babysitter:

There’s a certain mindset that sees Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction and sees no problem; there’s another that sees a dank crude stupid S&M routine at the Superbowl and groups it with a flash of teat on a cable movie. I don’t want either group setting the standards. Think of it this way: broadcast TV and radio is the front porch; cable and movies and satellite radio is the living room with the curtains down. We can all censure the man who stands on his own porch and moons the world while employing the full panoply of English cursewords. We have no business parting the curtains to see if he’s in the comfy chair reading Henry Miller.

Read it all.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Vodkapundit Shoots and Scores

Please check out Stephen Green's post on Perspective.

It's a keeper.

The events of the last few days have overwhelmed me. I am in a mild state of shock.

I have been a vocal and persistent voice that democratization could work - even for Arabs and Muslims. My reaction to the wave building in Iraq, the Ukraine, and now Lebanon tells me that I probably have a buried a lot of doubt (I am a lot more cynical than I let on sometimes) that is struggling for survival in whatever dark corner it has been hiding.

I am privileged to have known some Iwo vets. One of my best friend's dad was a sergeant there. He (the dad) has consciously counted every day since he left Iwo (as a casualty) as a gift from God. And he's certain that dropping the bomb was the only reason he survived World War II.

We are engaged in a world war - the fourth, by my reckoning. The cost in blood, when placed against other great conflicts we have been in, has been relatively light. The only way to end the killing is to end the war.

It looks like we may be on the way to doing just that. We live in wondrous times.

(via Instapundit)