Thursday, November 27, 2008
I don’t do this every year, but this year I’m feeling extra thanks-y. For what am I thankful?
I am thankful that the war in Iraq has become something that the newspapers rarely put on the front page. The military and political situation has improved so dramatically over the last year that it is almost unbelievable. Here’s to Iraq and her future; I hope that it is bright, free, and friendly.
I am thankful for the 18 women who turned themselves in after being convinced that suicide bombings are not acceptable expressions of Islamic faith. I am thankful for the lives that have been spared and i hope we see more follow their example.
I am thankful for my darling girl who is patient and kind and wonderful. Even if she does try to bully me into snuggling with her while I’m busy writing my Thanksgiving day post.
I am thankful to be gainfully employed in a difficult economy. And I hope I stay that way.
I am thankful for the fact that I live in America where I have always had opportunities that throughout much of the rest of the world I would never have enjoyed. We are, in large part, a spoiled, pampered, and materially wealthy people--and, in large part, we have earned the wealth that keeps us fat and happy. Hopefully we won’t forget the work, the spirit, and the sacrifice that went into building our national riches and helped create our opportunities.
I am thankful, in the extreme, for my friends and their understanding of my quirks and my frequent silence.
I am thankful for the men and women who serve in our military with honor and dignity and for their families who often sacrifice more than anyone should ever be asked. What they do for the rest of us (and it is hard to explain just how important the term “serve” is to the grand majority of folks that I’ve known in the military--it isn’t just a word, it’s a philosophy of being that accepts that the highest calling is in service to something greater than one’s self) is nothing short of heroic.
I am thankful for the handful of people who still drop by to read this site.
I am thankful that I missed Rosie Live--and I’ll be more thankful still if her new show fails in a dramatic and newsworthy way. Which might be violating the spirit of Thanksgiving, but still…
I am thankful for good music. Of particular note this year are the Gutter Twin’s brilliant little EP, Adorata, Lizz Wright’s gorgeous album, The Orchard, and Wovenhand’s latest gospel gothic masterpiece, Ten Stones.
And, of course, I’m thankful for the extra two days off, the good food, and the extra football. Which almost goes without saying.
Update: I’m also thankful that someone wrote this post. Nicely done.
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Where in the World is Osama bin Laden: The Ten Point Review
Monday, December 03, 2007
Harry Reid (And Then Some)
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Harry Reid’s Amazing Devotion to Failure (Updated)
Thank you, Senator Reid. Your devotion to losing is something that we all marvel at.
Nope. No improvement. Not a word about improving situations. Everything seems to be getting worse. Without your will to succumb to our enemies, Senator Reid, I might have mistakenly gotten the impression that a little stiffening of the backbone might be in order. So, yeah, let’s get to losing.
Thank God that Senator Reid is here to show us the way to a proper defeat.
Update: No. Nothing good to see here. Move along.
Thursday, November 08, 2007
Lose by Any Means Possible
I think that we are seeing demonstrable, often positive changes in Iraq--changes that came from Iraqis weary of war and the excesses of thuggish “insurgents”, the creative leadership of General Petraeus, more troops, the the aggressive tactics of the surge. Iraq isn’t won, but these changes do seem to be creating an environment where the political victory can incubate. A real victory seems more possible now than it did less than a year ago; nothing is guaranteed, I realize, but if we continue to let the military do its job we can give the diplomats and politicians the time to do theirs.
Which is why I am surprised by this from Nancy Pelosi--a move that seems calculated to toss some red meat to the Kossacks and progressives, but which might just confound the general public.
I’ll be curious to see what support she gets from the Democrat candidates for the presidency--obviously Kucinich will like the legislation, but what will Edwards, Clinton, and Obama say publicly? This does seem to confirm that ensuring defeat is the policy of at least some of the Democrats’ leadership. Announcing to the world that we are no longer willing to support our troops or our mission will send a message of abandonment to our friends and encouragement to our enemies. Brilliant.
And, no, I’m not an absolutist. There is a time when a nation must face up to defeat and failure. You can’t fight a war forever. It’s just better to make that choice when you’re actually losing.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
The New Republic Needs New Employees
Or at least, The New Republic should need new employees. There is much in these transcripts concerning Scott Beauchamp that calls TNR’s leadership into question. They are a political magazine, so the leftward slant is understandable. What is discouraging is the dishonesty (insisting that the military was keeping Beauchamp away from the media while discouraging him from giving interviews that he had already scheduled) and slimy (using a note from his wife to try to keep the soldier from recanting).
Politically, I’m about as far away from TNR as I have ever been, but I had stayed away from much of this controversy because I felt that TNR’s leadership was misguided instead of acting in bad faith. An error is not a lie. The transcripts show something worse than I had imagined--and Scoblic doesn’t come across well at all.
I won’t be thinking of TNR as a serious publication until they find a way to address the issue. I haven’t subscribed in some years, so I realize that my disapproval is hardly a huge issue for them. I’m guessing that I’m representative of a lot of moderate conservatives right now, though. This isn’t just me.
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
From Der Spiegel to Instapundit to the World. Hopefully.
It isn’t all puppies and lollipops, but this article from Der Spiegel seems well balanced.
As the title--"Hope and Despair in Iraq"--indicates, the job is hardly finished and not all has gone well, but there is hope. Fully realizing that I’ve been a supporter of the effort from the beginning, I’m sure that y’all will find yourself a grain of salt when I say that reading the article did leave me with hope and a sense that those who have recently switched sides on this particular debate might have abandoned the ship too soon. The question for me isn’t whether the military can win a reasonable peace--I believe that they’ve shown the initiative and adaptability to do so. The question is whether the citizens of the US will have the strength of will to carry us through more difficulties.
Our troops have been in Iraq for what feels like an awfully long time, and many families have suffered horrible losses where husbands, children, wives, and parents won’t be coming home. From where I sit, Iraq still matters in a larger sense than some people seem to understand; if it was worth doing, it is still worth completing.
There have been a number of times where I let my enthusiasm lead me to believe that we were closer to that complete victory than we turned out to be; but the gradual change that has come from putting General Patreus in charge, clarifying the mission, and changing strategies seems much more solid than those previous moments of exuberance. I still have great hope for a relatively liberal, representative government in Iraq and for a lasting, close relationship between Iraq and the United States that benefits our friends as much as it does us.
Whatever your views on the subject--and chances are they differ from mine significantly--you’ll find the Spiegel article to be a good, long read. It’s worth the time and it’s hard to come up with anything other than respect for so many of the men and women serving in Iraq. These are people I would be proud to call friends, co-workers, and neighbors.
Monday, August 06, 2007
Pardon the Language (Updated)
Pardon my language, but Scott Thomas Beauchamp fucked The New Republic. Although it would be easy to argue that TNR put themselves in this situation by failing to properly vet stories that were going to attract a whole lot of skepticism. It’s a good argument, and it carries some truth, but it doesn’t change the fact that Beauchamp fucked TNR.
See, they trusted him when they ran the stories (because, yes, it made good copy and it reinforced their beliefs about the war in Iraq), and they supported him when he came under scrutiny, and they issued statements supporting the details of his writing while he continued to ensure them that, yes, it was all the truth. Pretty much. Then Beauchamp (which, is that pronounced “Beechum"--and does anyone else know why I’m asking that question?) turned around and stabbed them in their literary heart by admitting to having falsified the stories.
Has anyone found the first story claiming that he was forced or that his newly sworn statement was coerced in some way? This whole tale is just begging for a conspiracy theory ending.
You know who else Beauchamp fucked? His fellow soldiers, all the soldiers who have served with honor, and all the people who believed his BS.
Now, here’s where I vent. Beauchamp pisses me off like you wouldn’t believe. This is on the same level of dishonor as false accusations of rape, child abuse, and racism. There is enough bad in the world that you shouldn’t have to make up horrors in hopes of aggrandizing yourself or building a new writing career. And when you throw fellow troops under the bus --inventing stories that make them look like bloodthirsty assholes--to make a few bucks, you’re screwing a group of people that has already managed to shoulder more than their share of bad PR, poor pay, and shitty working conditions. Not, of course, to mention the grave potential of extreme bodily harm, the family sacrifices that our troops make, and those damned glasses they issue in basic training.
So, if all this talk of recanting pretty much the totality of those stories turns out to be true, here’s hoping that Beauchamp pays a steep price for his lies.
As Cadilac Tight points out, I’d be surprised if there wasn’t more of a price to pay, too.
And, lastly, Jeff G has thoughts on the subject along with a lot of great links. And Michelle Malkin has great graphics. Baldilocks has a ton of responses to this news. And she’s kind enough to clean up my language for me a bit. Or a lot.
Sorry about that.
Thursday, July 19, 2007
Thursday, March 22, 2007
Friday, July 21, 2006
Friday, January 06, 2006
A Sense of Humor About the Big Things
I’ve always tried to keep a sense of humor about myself and about the big things that happen in life. While I can’t claim to be constantly successful--divorce, death, and the mean things people say about Mark Lanegan test me severely--I can tell you that I’ve been able to make people laugh about my upcoming unemployment, made really lame jokes from a hospital bed before emergency knee surgery, and even made the limo driver laugh after my grandfather’s funeral.
Which is my way of keeping life’s tougher bits in perspective.
And that brings me to Shawn, and, perhaps, one of the reasons that I continue to enjoy his writing.
After you let the smile play on your face and read the article, though, you realize that he’s seeing things that are effecting him deeply.
So, yeah, read the rest.
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
Iraqi Security Forces
I’ve been a little negligent in linking Macomber’s articles since he’s been in Iraq. That comes from a little bit of bad timing, not from a lack of good articles on his part. His TAS article today is a good place to catch back up.
For anyone who supported the effort in Iraq, this kind of courage to fight in support of a fledgling government is heartening. For all that I respect and support our troops--for all that I admire their willingness to put themselves in danger for what are, in truth, abstract ideas like freedom--I can’t help but be at least as impressed with those Iraqis who have stood up and helped build a nation.
They are targeted more often, outfitted poorly, and not equipped with the kind of national identity that Americans have; yet they fight, they struggle, and put themselves in harm’s way because they believe that they are building a better country for themselves and their families.
And don’t forget to check out Shawn’s other articles. You can find them linked on his own blog, Return of the Primitive, where you can also donate to support his reporting and tell him what you think of his articles. (And, yes, “Operation Desert Shawn” still cracks me up.)
Thursday, December 08, 2005
So, What He Meant to Say…
Howard Dean is taking his own advice: making a tactical retreat away from a difficult situation. This time, though, the difficult situation was caused by his own big mouth.
So, if I understand correctly, what Dean is actually saying, when he said (and I’m cherry picking here) “the idea that we’re going to win the war in Iraq is an idea which is just plain wrong,” is that the United States can win the war in Iraq. By retreating all the way to victory.
Abandonment is a novel approach to reconstruction, I have to admit.
If you want the context, download the complete interview from The Political Teen. Quite specifically, Dean said precisely what he said: that the situation in Iraq is very similar to the war in Vietnam, that the United States lost 25,000 troops because no one was willing to admit that we were losing in Vietnam, and that the United States cannot win in Iraq. In fact, he explained, specifically, that he believed that we had made precisely the same mistake in Iraq that we had made in Vietnam.
Whatever you want to take away from his words--whether you agree with him or not--it is pretty tough to take his words as anything other than a declaration of defeat. He wasn’t saying that we need to find a way to win, he was saying that we need to “get the targets off” our soldiers’ backs (and his pointed refusal to use the word withdrawal is nothing less than a humorous attempt to avoid saying what he is undeniably saying) and leave Iraq to the Iraqis.
His words: “What we want to do is have a strategy to protect American troops.”
That is a noble goal, but it needs to be in conjunction with an intelligent solution to reconstruction in Iraq. He wasn’t talking about finding a way to win; he was talking about declaring it a loss and making an orderly exit as soon as possible.
Really, there is no way to make reconcile Dean’s statements today with his statements a few days ago, but it’s nice to see that he’s recognized the idiocy of what he was advocating at the beginning of the week.
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
Operation Desert Shawn
Shawn is going to Kuwait, even without financial backing, to spend time covering the war first hand. I have to admit that I’m jealous--it’s a trip that I wish I could take--and I’m also hopeful that he stays safe. I look forward to reading about his experiences. This kind of a trip, without someone acting as a financial backer, would be tremendously expensive (a fact that I’m becoming more aware of as I continue to plan my own trip through some of Africa’s emerging nations).
If you have a little to spare, I’m sure that he would be greatful.
Much will be made, rightly, of Howard Dean’s defeatist statement declaring that the United States can’t and won’t win in Iraq. What I find to be worst of his statements, though, is buried in a little sentence inside the story--a little sentence that might give people with short memories the wrong impression on the choices that the United States had before deciding to go to war with Saddam Hussein.
While that first bit is merely ass covering. It takes away the possible finger-pointing retort of, “What, you would prefer that Saddam Hussein were still in power?” But Dean, demonstrably, does not mean that it was a great thing that Saddam Hussein was removed.
Wednesday, November 30, 2005
Talking Iraq, You Know, Like Adults
Fareed Zakaria has a good article on the current situation in Iraq. He’s never been a pacifist, shrinking from the idea of using military power when necessary, but he has been a sharp and consistent critic of the administration (and one who has been willing to admit that his judgment might be less than perfect--a rare and refreshing trait in politicians, journalists, and bloggers). This recent article is worth the time to read for its insight and its candor.
Thoughtful stuff. Combined with Senator Lieberman’s WSJ article, it seems that there is still a core of people willing to talk about Iraq like adults. That is, without either blindly and uncritically trusting the administration or blindly and hypercritically hoping to tear apart the administration. (And, before I go on, the subheading to Lieberman’s article--"America can’t abandon 27 million Iraqis to 10,000 terrorists"--is a powerful moral statement about the United States’ obligations in Iraq.) His words resonate deeply with me even while stirring up the anti-Bush left.
See, the first thing we all need to agree on is that supporting American (and, by extension, Iraqi) success in Iraq does not mean giving the administration a pass on its mistakes and misjudgments. It simply recognizes that for our own security, for progress in the Middle East, and for the people of Iraq, it would be far better if we can find a path to helping them establish a representative government that respects individual rights. It means acknowledging that Iraq can be better off without Saddam Hussein.
Anyone who reads Resurrection Song with anything other than partisan blinders will realize two things: I like George Bush and I’m disappointed by his mistakes. I don’t hide either of those facts and I don’t use one to obscure the other--I remain free to criticize when he screws up and praise when he makes choices that I like. In supporting the US in Iraq, I believe that I am supporting that most important of American goals: ensuring that we are safe, secure, and prosperous so that we can continue to debate Social Security reform (for), gay marriage (for), the death penalty (against) and the relative merits of hybrid cars (undecided).
So, if I may echo Mr. Zakaria: now is no time time to panic. Now is no time to turn the good that we have done (and the good that we can still do) into ashes and surrender.
Monday, November 28, 2005
Ramsey Clark: Still Nutty
In August of last year, I wrote this about Ramsey Clark:
Today, Ramsey Clark is back in the spotlight. It’s almost comforting to know that some things never change, and it will be interesting to see if any of the anti-war left will rush to ally themselves with the old Attorney General.
To mistake Clark for a sane, rational American would be making the same mistake as to mistake former Canadian Deputy Prime Minister Paul Hellyer of being something less than delusional.
Clark and Hellyer should get together and go bowling. The insane duo would be utterly hysterical if there weren’t drooling idiots out there willing to take them seriously.
Friday, November 18, 2005
The House non-binding resolution calling for the immediate withdrawal of American troops from Iraq failed in dramatic fashion. Of course, Democrats, realizing that they couldn’t possibly win, played the roles of martyrs; they cried foul and called names and pointed fingers, which is only funny because of all the noise they’ve been making about the war.
It was a stunt in the sense that the resolution never had a chance to pass. It was political theater in the sense that Republicans were making a grand statement about recent behavior from the opposition. It was also Republicans giving Democrats an opportunity to show a little backbone and vote for precisely what some of them have been calling for: the removal of American troops from Iraqi soil.
Predictably, politicians presented with an opportunity to show fortitude rarely rise to the challenge (and that goes for Republicans, too--how many opportunities have been lost to trim budgets and advance a sane fiscal policy over the last five years? (and how’s that for a freakin’ non sequitur?). The vote failed 403-3 with Democrats vowing to not vote their collective conscience, rendering their own votes slightly less than honest.
To Pelosi, it’s a disgrace for the Republicans to call a vote that they couldn’t lose. Not the word that I would choose, but fine. What is it, though, when politicians vow publicly to vote against their own beliefs simply out of a childish fit of pique?
In fact, I have a much greater respect for the idiots who voted for the measure--Jose Serrano from New York, Robert Wexler from Florida, and Cynthia McKinney from Georgia--than I do for those Reps who wouldn’t even stand up for their own beliefs. Even the six “present” votes were more of a statement than a hollow “nay” from people who, given the choice, would happily cut and run.
Update 2: Linked by Alphabet City, which has a series of connected thoughts and great links.
Thursday, August 18, 2005
Deepak Chopra: People Actually Listen to This Guy?
Deepak Chopra is a jerk. I’ve always thought that his spiritual self-help was a bunch of simplistic, self-righteous hooey (“The soul level is a very strange place because it gives rise to all activity without being active itself. Think about that carefully.”). But his political commentary is even more useless.
The bald accusation against the President has no merit at all--the statement is both amazingly wrong-headed and overly bold. Far from hating Islam, Bush has been very careful to ensure that his actions aren’t construed as making war on Islam. Militant Islamic terrorists and the states that sponsor them, on the other hand, are completely fair game.
It would be like accusing me of hating Christians just because I want to see people like the abortion clinic bomber fry for their misdeeds. That doesn’t mean that I hate Christians, it means that I hate criminals and terrorists. It’s surprising that Chopra can’t manage to wrap his head around the distinction.
Beyond that, Chopra’s suggests acts that can roughly be summed up as: Gosh, if we were just nicer and took the time to understand each other there wouldn’t be a problem. More rational minds would thank him to grow up (even if they don’t support the action in Iraq).
The terrorists understand us all too well, and that fuels their hatred. They understand that we believe (in a very broad sense) in rule of secular law over the rule of religious dictate. They understand that we believe in women’s rights and gay rights and eating pork-fried rice. They understand that we like booze and porn and loud music. They understand that we’re pretty much okay with people who worship in ways that don’t look much like our own--we may make some unseemly jokes about them, but we don’t want them thrown in jail or stoned in the streets. Unless stoning is an act of intoxication instead of an act of violence--another one of those wedge issues between us and the terrorists.
Our understanding of them may not be quite so complete, but we do know that people who go around blowing things up for fun seem to make us a little itchy on the trigger finger. “...[The] war in your own awareness is the root of all external conflict” is pretty much meaningless when the other guy has improvised explosive devices and a charming willingness to blow us all up no matter where we are or what we’re doing. Our immediate conflict seems to have its roots in people who fly fully loaded planes into office buildings in the hopes of dealing an economic deathblow to the Great Satan.
Once we can persuade them that this isn’t the most useful tactic, then perhaps we can go more toward Chopra’s peace, love, and understanding stuff. Of course, if persuasion proves difficult, then it seems only proper that we minimize the risk by killing them off by the bucket load.
© 2005 by the authors of ResurrectionSong. All rights reserved.
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