SHE MADE IT SAFELY TO BAGHDAD
I've been worried sick most of the day because the first news of the day from Baghdad was word of a US Convoy being attacked and one HUMMV being destroyed.
I feared it was her convoy from the Baghdad International Airport.
But she sent to me an e-mail very recently saying she had arrived at Camp Provider (her Forward Operating Base [FOB])
So...she is once again as safe as she can be in Baghdad.
I beg all of you to continue to pray for the safety of CPT Patti and her soldiers. They have been blessed so far...may they continue to be so.
Praise to the Lord for His goodness.
Here is a copy of the email she sent to me.
I'm here! I made it back safe and sound to the FOB at 1910. I had to talk toeveryone and everyone asked me how my leave was. Of course, I told them how it was TOTALLY AWESOME!! I miss you so much! I love you very, very much!! :)
Please note that everyone wanted to speak with her...not necessarily a given for company commanders.
And...please note how fond she is of me. She is either blind or an extremely good judge of character.
I can live with either...
PERHAPS THE FURTHEST OFF-TOPIC I'VE EVER BEEN...
Stumbled into this website...someone actually has documented the 10 stages of the transformation of Michael Jackson's face (and I use the term "face" loosely here...)
Complete with witty commentary and amazingly good reference photos.
I laughed out loud. Frequently.
A SLICE OF THE ONION
I've had thoughts like this when I see simple shirts going for $65 at the PX (that is the PX's discounted price mind you...)
But I never wrote about it this well...
Just because I happen to live with my four brothers and sisters in my mom's two-bedroom South Side apartment, work at Taco Bell, and don't have a car, some ignorant types assume that I don't have much money. But, as you can clearly see from my $220 Fubu jacket and $95 Tommy Hilfiger sweatshirt, I could not possibly be poor.
The kind of name-brand clothing I wear is very expensive. See these Karl Kani jeans? Eighty-eight dollars. Would I spend that kind of money on a pair of jeans if I were poor? Of course not. If I were poor, I'd think $88 was way too much to spend on a pair of jeans that, with the exception of a tiny Karl Kani logo embroidered on the front right pocket, are practically indistinguishable from a plain old pair of $25 Levi's. But I don't think that's too much to spend because, for a well-off person like myself, money is no object.
Sure, I make $5.90 an hour at Taco Bell, but that couldn't possibly be my only source of income, could it? If my total weekly take-home pay were only $175, why in the world would I spend practically that much on a Nautica sweater and pair of Timberlands? That would mean I'd have spent 40 hours slinging Chalupas just for that one shopping trip to the mall. That'd just be plain stupid. So, obviously, I must be rolling in dough. And I am. You can tell by my special non-poor-people clothing.
AN OLDIE BUT GOODIE
From a reader, a soldier's mother...
The Pope is visiting Washington, D.C and president Bush takes him out for an afternoon on the Potomac, sailing on the Presidential yacht, the Sequoia.
They're admiring the sights when, all of a sudden, the Pope's hat (zucchetto) blows off his head and out into the water. Secret Service guys start to launch a boat, but President Bush waves them off, saying, "Wait, wait. I'll take care of this. Don't worry."
Bush then steps off the yacht onto the surface of the water and walks out to the Holy Father's little hat, bends over picks it up, then walks back to the yacht and climbs aboard.
He hands the hat to the Pope amid stunned silence.
The next morning, the Headlines in New York Times, Boston Globe, Boston Herald, Buffalo News, Milwaukee Sentinel-Journal, Minneapolis Tribune, Denver Post, Albuquerque Journal, Los Angeles Times and San Francisco Chronicle proclaim:
"Bush Can't Swim."
See for yourself what the Iraqis think...without BBC's spin.
What is the fair judgement you believe Saddam deserves?
OH KATIE, KATIE, KATIE
Katie Couric: Feminist woman first, journalist second. Interviewing two Time staffers the morning after the magazine named “The American Soldier” as its “Person of the Year,” Couric’s very first concern was “why there's no woman on the cover?"
In fact, one of the three soldiers on the cover is a woman.
(via The Corner)
"THANK YOU AMERICA"
I will always remember the man to whom I'd casually waved, just after the fall of Hussein's regime, in the Shiite slum of Sadr City (formerly Saddam City). He'd been riding a motorcycle looted from Uday Hussein.
He waved me over and asked whether I was American. I warily admitted I was, unsure of the consequences of the answer. The man, young but old-looking, with a beard bristly as a pine forest, grabbed my shoulders, snapped me toward him and kissed me. On both cheeks. He smelled of rotten meat and 3-day-old fruit.
"Thank you, America," he said.
Then he lifted his shirt. A virtual rail yard was etched in scars on his back. His legs were no better. The hair would never grow back where his skull had been split by a lead pipe.
JONAH GETS IT RIGHT...AGAIN
In 2004, more dumb things will be said by more educated people about the trial of Saddam Hussein than all dumb things about all other major subjects combined.
Already, we're hearing how Saddam "deserves" to be treated with more fairness, humanity, and dignity...
So let's clear up a few things. First, Saddam "deserves" nothing. Yes, he should have a fair trial (and a fair execution). But that's because he's a prop. If we can squeeze some good out of this evil man by giving him a decent trial we should do it — because the Iraqi people deserve it, not because he does. I'm in favor of a big legal circus, if a big legal circus will help put that brutalized nation on the path to a decent life. However, if it were clear that loofahing him with a cheese grater would do even more to improve Iraqi life, than I'd be for that...
Due process and the legal protections therein are not and should not be conceived as protections for guilty people. Rather, they are necessary safeguards against falsely convicting the innocent. It is never "unfair" to the guilty if they are convicted without due process. The protections afforded the guilty are the necessary costs of making sure the innocent are protected.
But Saddam — duh — is guilty...
The BBC News Online has informed its staff that they must not refer to Saddam as a "dictator." The designation "deposed former President" is preferred because Saddam had been supported in a national referendum in which he received 100 percent of the vote. By this standard, Hitler — who actually won a real election — should be referred to as the "deceased German chancellor" since he wasn't even deposed. But this is a but a morsel compared to the cornucopia to come in 2004 when Saddam stands in the dock.
The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) reports on themes appearing in sermons given throughout the year by paid employees of the Palestinian Authority...you know, the ones we are trying to assist with the "roadmap for peace".
Among the highlights:
Allah wreak vengeance on the Jews and the Americans...
Allah, destroy the U.S., its helpers and its agents. Allah, destroy Britain, its helpers and its agents...
Sermons often call for Palestinians to become martyrs, or Shahids. Within the sermons, it is told that those who become a Shahid feel no pain and receive rewards in the afterlife, such as 72 black-eyed virgins. Family members of the Shahids are also praised in sermons...
The concept of educating children to become martyrs occurs regularly in PA sermons. Sheikh Ibrahim Madhi, one of the most popular Imams, is especially vocal on this issue. During one sermon, he repeats the following discussion he had with a child who approached him about becoming a suicide bomber: " A young man said to me: 'I am 14 years old, and I have four years left before I blow myself up'…
CALLING IT AS HE SEES IT
He is an Arab, and the editor of an Arab newspaper...
But at a great moment of historical reckoning and potential change, the Arabs...ducked....
Rarely in modern history had so many Arabs simultaneously and jointly participated in an exercise of mass confusion and indecision as they did in 2003 vis-a-vis the Iraq crisis.
A TRIBUTE TO THE WHINERS OF THE YEAR
Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry. He votes for the Iraq war resolution. He carps about President Bush proceeding to use it. He espouses a "bold, new vision" of leadership. He says "f--k" on the record. He agrees to appear on Jay Leno's show. He complains about having to follow Triumph the Insult Comic Dog puppet. You're a war hero, Senator. Wipe your nose and act like one.
THE GREATEST YEAR FOR FREEDOM
EVEN if terrorists attack our homeland before the stroke of midnight, 2003 will still have been a year of remarkable progress on every front in the global War on Terror - and the greatest year for freedom since the Soviet Union's collapse.
A decisive government in Washington, backed by the courage and common sense of the American people, worked with allies around the world to carry the fight to the terrorists' home ground. We continued to seize the strategic initiative from the most implacable enemies America has ever faced.
Unless we choose to defeat ourselves, there is no chance of a final terrorist victory...
Consider just a few of our achievements:
* We deposed and captured one of the world's worst tyrants, liberating 25 million people and demonstrating the inherent weakness of dictatorships.
In doing so, we destroyed a regime that had terrorized its own people and the region. We drew an unmistakable line between America's reinvigorated support for the liberation of the oppressed and "old Europe's" cynical defense of the status quo.
OH MY GOD ITS A QUAGMIRE!
But it isn't, uh, where you might think...
Startling new Army statistics show that strife-torn Baghdad - considered the most dangerous city in the world - now has a lower murder rate than New York.
The newest numbers, released by the Army's 1st Infantry Division, reveal that over the past three months, murders and other crimes in Baghdad are decreasing dramatically and that in the month of October, there were fewer murders per capita there than the Big Apple, Chicago, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.
A year-end column with a difference.
Where's the real "ignorance and conceit" here? No one who's spent 10 minutes with any Iraqis would compare Wolfowitz with the Soviets.
The real story of this last year is not Saddam, but something deeper, symbolized by the bizarre persistence of the "antiwar" movement even after the war was over. For a significant chunk of the British establishment and for most of the governing class on the Continent, if it's a choice between an America-led West or no West at all they'll take the latter. That's the trend to watch in the year ahead.
DEDICATION TO DUTY
Not just words...it is a real commitment
Eerie lights cast a green glow on the dust on Balad’s tarmac as Cox and Masteller discussed what motivated them to return to the combat zone.
Like most soldiers, it’s not the pay or the military orders that pressed them to fly back just before New Year’s Eve. It was their dedication to the mission, a yearlong endeavor for most.
“I just don’t want to leave things left undone Iraq,” Cox said.
“There’s still so much for us to do in Iraq,” Masteller agreed.
You need to know two things about this.
The first is this attitude is almost unprecidented in my experience in the Army.
Second is - he seems to mean it.
Soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan to bases in Europe won’t turn wrenches for at least 45 days under a new U.S. Army Europe plan to reintegrate soldiers into family and garrison life.
For the first seven days back at home, returning soldiers will work half-days, followed by a month’s vacation, USAREUR commander Gen. B.B. Bell said.
“I don’t care about equipment or training,” Bell told rear detachment commanders recently in Mannheim. “We are going to heal the warrior’s spirit.”...
When troops get back from their time off, they enter the second 45-day phase of reintegration geared toward repairing their “personal kit,” Bell said.
During that time, soldiers may have their records updated and undergo further medical care or counseling. It’s also a time for them to straighten out their uniforms and gear.
“If I find you doing land navigation in the second 45 days, you’re wrong,” Bell told commanders in Mannheim...
During the Mannheim visit, he said he would “hunt down” and “nuke” commanders if he finds a returning soldier at the port or the motor pool.
CPT Patti won't get the benefit of any of this as she is scheduled to return ahead of the rest of the 1AD. But a whole bunch of soldiers will find this to be a heckuva welcome home present.
CENTCOM NEWS RELEASE
SIGNIFICANT WEAPONS CACHE CONFISCATED
TIKRIT, Iraq – Task Force Ironhorse Second Infantry’s Arrowhead Brigade soldiers discovered a significant weapons cache southeast of Samarra in the morning of Dec. 29. Some of the items located were found in a false wall.
The cache consisted of 43 rocket-propelled grenade launchers, 79 rocket-propelled grenades, 19 AK-47 assault rifles, one machine gun, one 40mm grenade launcher, six 60mm mortar tubes with base plates, 7,920 rounds of 7.62mm ammunition, more than 160 mortar rounds, 34 100mm BMP rounds, six rifle grenades, 40 82mm fuses, two 40mm grenades, 25 fragmentary grenades, five pounds of artillery propellant, 16 mortar primers, a significant amount of C4 and TNT, one assembled improvised explosive device and materials to make additional devices.
Al Qaeda literature and videotapes were also found as well as a British made ceramic body armor plate with a bullet hole. This is an indication that the enemy faction was testing the personal protection plate’s ability to withstand expended anti-personnel ammunition.
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 31st.
I've recalculated. CPT Patti has 61 scheduled days left in command. This is the 234th day of her deployment.
She made it as far as Kuwait on Tuesday.
WHO DO I THANK?
Has anyone else noticed a dramatic drop in "spam" at their Hotmail account?
Mine has gone from 40 per day to less than 10.
Does anyone know why?
UPDATE: Tom writes that "Hotmail has revamped their website/email & appears to making a dent in the volume of spam!"
Indeed it would seem so. Has anyone else noticed? Got any more details as to how/why?
RECKON THEY WILL BLOCK THE SALE OF ALMANACS TOO?
The Saudi's seem to have just too much time on their hands...
Morality police in southern Saudi Arabia plan to conduct raids to ensure that shops do not sell flowers, candles and gifts to those planning to celebrate New Year, a local newspaper reported on Monday...
"Patrols will be dispatched to gift and flower shops in the next two days before the New Year to ensure that ornaments are not sold for New Year celebrations," al-Watan quoted the local APVPV head as saying.
WHY SHE IS VOTING FOR BUSH
But then Sept. 11 happened. Our nation needed the strength of a leader, and I wondered where we'd find one.
It wasn't until the president stood with firefighters and rescue workers at ground zero that I began to wonder if perhaps I'd misjudged him. Previously wooden while delivering prepared speeches, the man who shouted into the bullhorn from where the World Trade Center had stood demanded to be heard. And I listened - the whole world listened.
I began to hope that our country finally had a leader who'd have the moral fortitude to say to our enemies around the world: Enough.
For nearly 25 years, America has been under attack by Muslim fundamentalists - attacks virtually unanswered by all presidents as far back as Jimmy Carter.
We've somehow confused the systematic massacre of Americans for random acts of violence, though the collective onslaught - catalogued even incompletely - seems in retrospect to be a clear declaration of war:
• 1979 - The US Embassy in Iran was overrun by Islamic extremists who captured 66 Americans and held 53 of them for 444 days.
• 1983 - The US Embassy in Beirut was targeted by a truck bomb that killed 63.
• 1983 - The US Marine barracks in Beirut was destroyed by a truck bomb that killed 242 Americans.
• 1988 - US Marine Lt. Col. William Higgins, on a UN mission in Lebanon, was abducted, tortured, and hanged.
• 1988 - A bomb on Pan Am Flight 103 went off over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing all 259 on board and 11 people on the ground.
• 1993 - Terrorists drove an explosives-laden truck into the basement of the World Trade Center in New York City, killing six.
• 1993 - Followers of Osama bin Laden killed 18 American soldiers in an ambush on the streets of Mogadishu, Somalia.
• 1996 - The Khobar Towers in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia was destroyed by a tanker-truck bomb killing 19 Americans.
• 1998 - US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania were simultaneously attacked by truck bombs killing 301.
• 2000 - The USS Cole was attacked in the port city of Yemen; 17 died.
Halfhearted rescue attempts, trade embargoes, and a smattering of cruise missiles thrown at the problem by former leaders had no follow-through, no long-term commitment necessary to stave off the continued systematic attacks. Not until George Bush vowed to protect the US from those who sought to destroy it - even if he had to stand without the support of UN allies.
I can't rely on the contenders from my own party to follow Bush's course. Only three of the nine running in Democratic primaries are viable candidates, and none is willing to risk political comfort to pledge a presidency to the messy business of routing terrorists and their sponsor nations. Howard Dean, Wesley Clark, and John Kerry are now all against the war in Iraq, though both General Clark and Senator Kerry supported it once, and may again.
But I'm tired of presidents fluent in the language of doublespeak.
Bush isn't timid about disappointing a nation used to instant gratification. He has reminded us repeatedly that the war on terror will be long, and people will die in the process.
COULD BE TRUE
Or, it could be disinformation to make the bad guys sweat...
A member of the Iraqi Governing Council told two Arabic newspapers that Saddam Hussein has given interrogators information about where he has hidden money and how to find weapons arsenals used by those attacking coalition forces.
The Arab dailies Asharq Al-Awsat and Al-Hayat reported Monday that Dr. Iyad Allawi told them in interviews the former Iraqi leader admitted he invested stolen Iraqi money -- which the Iraqi Governing Council estimates at $40 billion -- in Switzerland, Japan and Germany, among others, under fictitious company names.
Allawi also told the papers that Saddam is giving the "names of people who know the location of hidden arsenals used in terrorist attacks against coalition forces and the Governing Council."
THE FBI ISSUES A NERD ALERT...
Today's terrorist apparently knows that Bismarck is the capitol of North Dakota...
The FBI is warning police nationwide to be alert for people carrying almanacs, cautioning that the popular reference books covering everything from abbreviations to weather trends could be used for terrorist planning.
Please go read the whole thing...its the best thing you will read today.
And while Arabs once may have been exterminated by Syrians, gassed in Yemen by Egypt, ethnically cleansed in Kuwait, lynched without trial in Palestine, burned alive in Saudi Arabia, inside Israel proper they vote and enjoy human rights not found elsewhere in the Arab Middle East.
DOING BETTER THAN WE THOUGHT
Go read all of this...scroll down to the December 29th entry
And so it came to pass that in the wake of September 11, 2001, peace broke out in many odd parts of the world. And hardly anyone noticed.
ALL HAT AND NO CATTLE...
Sarah finds someone else who isn't paying attention...
THEY ARE NOT WELCOME
Iraqis grow weary over the terrorists streaming into their country.
Karbala residents pointed the finger at foreign perpetrators -- by implication, Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network -- and Wahabis, followers of an austere brand of Sunni Islam practiced mostly in Saudi Arabia. But they refused to blame Sunni Muslims who have most to lose in a new Iraq.
"Karbala was a quiet city. They had to ruin it," said Dawood al-Zubaidi, the father of the two children, and a guard at Karbala University, where he had a small shack.
Japan said Monday that it was prepared to forgive most of the billions of dollars of debts that Iraq owes Japan in order to help rebuild the economy, if other creditors did the same...
Mr. Baker secured agreements from France and Germany, the two countries most fiercely critical of the war in Iraq. Iraq owes France about $3 billion and Germany about $2.5 billion, not including interest and penalties.
Russia, which also opposed the war, said recently that it would waive some of its $8 billion in Iraqi debt in return for contracts to help rebuild Iraq and produce oil there.
The Paris Club nations hold about $40 billion of Iraq's estimated $120 billion in loans; Arab nations hold most of the rest.
It will be interesting to see what those Arab countries do...
Remember, these are the ones who lost the most when Saddam fell from power.
TIKRIT, Iraq—Influential spiritual leaders from Saddam Hussein's hometown — a bastion of anti-American sentiment — are joining forces to persuade Iraqis to abandon the violent insurgency.
The effort marks a new, open willingness to co-operate with U.S. forces — a shift in the thinking of at least some key members of Iraq's Sunni Muslim minority, which lost political dominance with the fall of Saddam and has largely formed the most outspoken and violent opposition to the U.S.-led occupation.
Sheik Sabah Mahmoud, leader of the Sada tribe, said yesterday he and 10 other tribal elders have formed a reconciliation committee in Tikrit to speak to other Iraqi leaders about trying to persuade rebels to put down weapons. He said he took that message last week to a group of scholars, religious leaders and other prominent figures meeting in Baghdad.
"It's about time we put our differences aside and looked to the future," Mahmoud said. "I told them, `The reality is they (U.S. forces) are here on the ground; the past is dead. Give the Americans a chance to see what they are going to give us.'"
A CANADIAN PERSPECTIVE
Operation Iraqi Freedom was about liberation, long before it became a corrosive occupation.
It was also, in the annals of warfare, precedent-setting — the first time that compassionate relief arrived concurrent with ongoing military operations, even to the detriment of military resupply.
That's not oft noted.
In time, if the Americans get this right — and they've little experience with nation-building, President George W. Bush actually campaigning against the very idea before the 2000 election — it is liberation that will endure as the dangers and deprivations of transitional Iraq begin to recede.
But time is the issue, impatience the enemy...
Give the Americans this much: In the modern world, there are precious few peoples willing to die for strangers, for someone else's tribe, which is the fate of soldiers doing the bidding of politicians.
Pity so many other governments didn't feel that a Muslim nation merited the human, economic and political sacrifice.
An invasion on humanitarian grounds — deposing Saddam because of the horrors he inflicted on his people, the evidence in all those mass graves — had to be politically dressed up as a defensive intervention, with America and Great Britain cranking up alarm over the existence of weapons of mass destruction.
Saddam Hussein was the weapon of mass destruction.
Saddam Hussein as a weapon of mass destruction? Sounds familiar...here is why.
THE GLOBAL WAR JUST GOT A LITTLE MORE GLOBAL
The bodies of two Thai troops killed in Iraq have been retuned to Bangkok in a solemn ceremony...
Amporn Chulert and Mitir Klaharn, both sergeant-majors, were among 19 killed in car bomb and mortar attacks in the Iraqi city of Karbala on Saturday.
They were the first Thai troops to die in Iraq, sparking calls for withdrawal.
CAUGHT ON THE WRONG SIDE OF HISTORY
A trading company closely linked with Syrian dictator Bashar Assad smuggled sophisticated arms to Saddam Hussein in the three years before his overthrow - all in violation of a U.N. embargo, it was reported today.
SES International Corp., headed by one of Assad's cousins, helped illicitly transfer weapons and military hardware to Iraq, the Los Angeles Times said.
And at least one of those shipments was done with help from Syria's government, the newspaper said.
"JUST IRAQIS AS USUAL"
A bomb apparently aimed at a US convoy has exploded in Baghdad, killing one Iraqi civilian and wounding another.
No Americans were hurt in the blast which went off in the Iraqi capital's densely populated Karrada district, on a street lined with market stalls.
"They've not killed any Americans, just Iraqis as usual," a grocer told AP news agency as traders surveyed the damage.
1-36 Infantry out of Friedberg.
U.S. forces are reporting a major success in their latest operation to blunt the guerrilla insurgency in the Iraqi capital.
As part of Operation Iron Grip, U.S. forces carried out a large-scale series of raids in the period from Tuesday night through Christmas Eve night. At one point, the troops carried out 13 separate operations — the most conducted in a single night in Baghdad since the war began, according to the coalition...
Capt. Marcus Wildy, 32, of Charleston, S.C., is commander of Company A, 1st Battalion, 36th Infantry Regiment, one of the 1st Armored Division units that carried out the house-to-house searches the night of Christmas Eve and early Christmas Day...
Also found during the battalion’s searches were an SKS rifle with an adaptor that allows launching of grenades “which makes them [the insurgents] extremely mobile,” Wildy said. “Just fire those grenades and haul butt out of there. We got some people off the street that shouldn’t be on the street.”
WHAT WE LEARNED
CPT Patti and I learned some things during the wonderful 8 days she was here.
For instance, I learned that most of our Soldiers in Iraq do not have access to the big picture. Most don't know that since the capture of Saddam the Iranians and the Libyans have come clean about their WMD programs. The Soldiers don't know they are having that kind of effect on the world.
And that is too bad.
CPT Patti learned what we family members have known from almost the very beginning...namely that there is little one can do upon hearing in the news about casualties. The details just have to come out at their own pace.
She said she doesn't hear the news reports of casualties at Camp Provider. Most of the soldiers quit watching the news a long time ago due to the slant the news agencies put on their stories. Thus, when she and her Soldiers do hear of casualties, those tend to be from within their own Brigade. And, of course, the soldiers pass the word about who it is and what unit it is...information that we in the rear don't get for days.
She noticed the flag at half-staff a day or so after she got here. She didn't know then that more often than not that means our brigade took a casualty. Once I explained that she was almost frantic to know more. She was able to reach the brigade rear detachment and get what few details that were available (and they gave her those only because she is a commander within the brigade...we spouses can't get that sort of info until after notifications are made...)
She was distressed at how family members in the rear only hear that there were casualties...and have to wait days sometimes to confirm the casualties were not our very own loved ones. She didn't know about the fences we build to cope.
We both learned that no one is untouchable. She got a phone call from Baghdad after we returned from church on Christmas Eve. That call informed us of the death of the Brigade Command Sergeant Major. Patti wept desperately on the phone with the friend who called. They both knew the CSM...Patti had sought his advice and counsel on numerous occasions. And just like that he is gone.
If you are not very familiar with the inner workings of the Army let me explain to you that the Brigade CSM is the senior enlisted man in an outfit of perhaps 4000 soldiers. The CSM is a position of considerable influence, authority and power. The CSM is the command partner and frequently the most cherished advisor to the Colonel. In the eyes of young Soldiers and young officers the CSM has a certain mystique. And on Christmas Eve ours was taken by an IED.
No one is untouchable.
And I learned that spending 8 months without my wife allows my head to fill with notions and ideas that have no basis in reality. I was very concerned about what changes I would see in her, wrought by so long under such stress and conditions. I had imagined all manner of awful possibilities, and attempted to prepare for them.
But there is no appreciable change in her. If anything she may have lost a fraction of the presumption of good in all people - yet she is still far, far from being as cynical as most folks I know. So I guess I learned that the core of who she is is solid...she is who she is, and I'm just delighted about it.
I learned that being married to Time magazine's Person of the Year is a very, very cool feeling.
I learned that my real life with her is so staggeringly superior to my on-line life as a blogger that it is very doubtful I will continue to do this once she safely returns to me.
And finally, I learned that my cousin is right. You just don't forget how to kiss.
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 30th
The 233d day of our adventure. Sixty-one days remaining in CPT Patti's command.
She had a pleasant stay in Sicily - said the pizza is really good there and that the Navy lives well.
She expects to be on a flight to Kuwait later this morning.
IT NEVER GOES AS PLANNED
CPT Patti called at 10:30 this morning...
For some reason their plane put down in Cicily. She expects to be there overnight.
One just never knows...
At least she is not in harm's way...
That was the time on my watch when I walked away from the "tent city" at Rhein Main Air Base after saying good bye to CPT Patti. She had boarding pass in hand for the flight to Kuwait.
She was home 8 days. In some ways it seems like 8 hours.
It was an amazing 8 days. I'll have more to say on that later...but right now it is a little after 4:00 a.m. and I really should be getting to bed.
It's going to feel awfully empty there...
By the way...according to the schedule she has 62 more days in command. And she should be home very soon thereafter.
Please continue to pray for her and her soldiers.
And for me.
A MOST MEMORABLE CHRISTMAS...
Happy Holidays, everyone! I am astounded at God's great blessings that are so bountiful and rich. I arrived home via a stand-by seat on planes that safely left Baghdad and Kuwait (twice from Kuwait). Then, my incredibly wonderful husband greeted me with a goodies bag of my favorite coffee, beer, diet coke and carrots with ranch dressing. I chose to drink the coffee and munch on the carrots. Tim had dinner in the Crock Pot and I wanted to talk with him since we were both still awake. By 3 a.m., we were sitting at our dining room table with candles lit and a chicken dinner. I was really amazed at how it felt like we had just picked up from where we left off. It was a great relief.
I wondered if things might be strange because I had been gone for so long. Instead, everything is blissfully wonderful and even better than 8 months ago. Two things have changed for us, but all for the better. Tim has become extensively more intelligent about our world's political scene and wiser about our media's tactics. I have learned to be even more thankful for the basics of life than I ever was before.
Nine hours after our chicken dinner, I stood in our kitchen. Tim was making scrumptious scrambled eggs and bacon. I reached into our cupboard for a coffee cup and became overwhelmed with thankfulness at being able to choose from at least six different types of coffee cups. Living in Baghdad for the past eight months cannot be described as a picnic or walk in the park. However, the fact of life is we are American soldiers living in Baghdad and we made the most out of it, which was still many levels above the standard of living for the Iraqis. I could write more on my thoughts about this experience, but I only have today and tomorrow with Tim then I must go back to Baghdad and to my soldiers.
I wanted to post this on the website because I wanted to tell all of you, THANK YOU. My eyes become misty with tears from reading all the emails with your supporting and kind words. Thank you all very much and most of all thank you to my amazing and wonderful husband, Tim, I love you!
IF YOUR NAME IS ARAFAT YOU JUST GOTTA HATE IT WHEN HE SAYS SOMETHING LIKE THIS...
Bush declares: "We must get rid of Arafat"
CPT PATTI IS MAN OF THE YEAR!
Well, not exactly...Time magazine is way to PC to make that blunder...
But Drudge says she might be included...
SOME GOOD POINTS
To be read carefully please.
All of this twisted, blame-America-Bush-bashing and mind-numbing negativism has obscured some very important facts that need to be re-emphasized:
Saddam is responsible for two horrific wars and the deaths of hundreds of thousands. His record is replete with the kind of atrocities that brought the United States into two world wars, as well as a bloody campaign in Korea and the war I fought in -- Vietnam. He raped, tortured, robbed, starved and murdered his own people. He acquired and used weapons of mass destruction against his neighbors and countrymen. He attempted to assassinate an American president. He trained and supported Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, and Muslim Brotherhood terrorists who killed Americans. Are we to believe that Al Qaeda was the only Middle Eastern terror group that Saddam did not support?
The image of Saddam as a filthy, decrepit, coward captured -- not killed -- by an American soldier, is a powerful message to repressed people all over the globe that this is the way brutal despots go. Placing him on trial before the people of Iraq -- not in The Hague or somewhere else -- sends a clear signal to totalitarians, be they in Damascus, Tehran, Pyongyang or Havana, that they are accountable to the people they have tortured. Now, the most committed followers of Usama bin Laden have cause to wonder if their bearded leader who wants them to die for his cause would ignominiously surrender himself to the tender mercies of the International Criminal Court to avoid an untimely demise.
Finally, the loopy leftist rhetoric in the aftermath of Saddam’s capture obscures the extraordinary courage, training, persistence and discipline of the American soldiers who pursued and caught the Butcher of Baghdad. Rather than wasting time inventing crazy conspiracy theories and efforts to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, the Democrats and their media allies ought to simply try hanging around with these heroes for a few days. It would be good for their mental health.
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 21st.
It is almost noon. She is still sleeping...but given that bed time was nearly 5:00 a.m. small wonder.
Me...still pinching myself.
SHE ARRIVED AT RAY BARRACKS AT 2:00 A.M.
She looked great yet smelled a little like an Army tent.
We made it home about 2:55. She showered, I prepared a LATE dinner...
She looks wonderful..(.she smells beautiful)...her smile is even bigger than I remember it (if that is even possible) and the conversation is better than ever.
It's 5:00 A.M now. I'm too stoked to sleep. However, she is sleeping gorgeously as I expect she will for the better part of the next 12 hours.
And somehow...I think she is even sweeter than when she left.
I over-achieved to an absolutely serious degree.
Praises to Him who makes such things possible.
1:00 AM UPDATE
Just heard from our girl...she has arrived safely in Germany...I'm guessing I'll see her in about an hour.
However, she sounds completely beat...three days travel will do that...
THE GZILLIONTH EXAMPLE OF WHY IT DOESN'T PAY TO BE NICE TO TERRORISTS
File this under "No good deed goes unpunished".
One of the 13 Palestinians deported from the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem in May 2002 was arrested Tuesday in Belgium on suspicion of participating in a number of robberies in which more than $250,000 were stolen.
Khalil Mohammed Abdullah al-Nawara received asylum in Belgium following the siege on the church.
Sounds like he didn't learn much from his days in one of the holiest sites in all Christendom.
Let's put it this way...if a Belgian had taken hostages and weapons into the Kaaba, Mecca's holiest shrine...what do you think the odds are of him being offered asylum in, say, Jordan?
Hell, what are the odds of him coming out alive?
If you are out of work and you covered your tracks very, very well...
Former congressman Gary Condit hit three supermarket tabloids with a $209 million defamation suit Friday for printing articles suggesting he killed Washington intern Chandra Levy.
The stories published in The National Enquirer, The Globe and The Star portrayed Condit as a "murderer" and "sexual deviant" and "caused him to be exposed to public hatred, contempt and ridicule ... for things that never happened," according to the suit filed in Palm Beach, Fla.
Levy, 24, vanished from her apartment in May 2001. Her aunt said she had been conducting an affair with the married congressman, and the press focused on his possible involvement in her disappearance even as police said he was not a suspect. Condit, a six-term Democratic representative from California, was subsequently voted from office.
What's next...ya gonna sue all those voters for believing those stories and voting your investigation dodging butt from office?
IN CASE YOU WERE RUNNING OUT OF REASONS NOT TO TRUST THE BRITISH BROADCASTING CORPORATION
BARMY BBC bosses have banned reporters from calling tyrant Saddam Hussein a former dictator.
Instead, staff must refer to the barbaric mass murderer as “the deposed former President”.
The astonishing edict was seized on by MPs last night as more proof of a Left-wing bias inside the BBC against the Iraqi war.
Labour MP Kevan Jones, of the Commons Defence Select Committee, said: “This shows the crass naivety of the BBC. Such political correctness will be deeply hurtful to many of our servicemen serving in Iraq.
“It amply demonstrates elements of the BBC have got a clearly anti-war and anti-Government agenda.”
ALERT THE AUTHORITIES
Because by all appearances time has actually stopped. We are at a standstill.
I've done everything I know to do (that doesn't involve messing up the house...)
I read an entire book, I took out the recycling (again...just since yesterday)...I helped neighbors carry in groceries. I've tuned every stringed instrument in the house (I collect them...and actually play many of them to one degree or another...) I've called my mother...
I've done more in the last two days than I've done in the last 7 months and I still have time left in the day?
Get those folks in Greenwich England on the phone...aren't they in charge of time? They'll want to know this...
Time has absolutely stopped.
And then you just watch. I'm betting it will start up again when she gets here...and then to make up for standing still all this day...it's gonna kick itself into high gear and zoom as fast as it can for about a week.
You just wait and see.
A LATER LATEST WORD ON A LONGER LONGEST DAY
Newest rumor is the flight puts down at Rhein Main sometime after 11:00 p.m.
Might as well call it Sunday. But I am NOT complaining...I am merely eager.
THE LONGEST DAY (UPDATE)
Latest word from the wife of the HHC 1SG is the flight is now due in to Rhein Main about 9:30 tonight.
Which means CPT Patti and I might may finally reunite in Friedberg about 11:30 tonight.
As I did last night I will take with me in the car a thermos of coffee and a bottle of beer.
Just to see which she needs more...
FUN AT "THE CORNER"
Did you hear what the troops were calling the Sikorsky Blackhawk which Hillary used to tour Iraq? "Broomstick One"
VICTOR DAVIS HANSON PLAYS THE DUMB AMERICAN
He's much too much a genius for that...but he makes a good go of it...
Europeans: Come on. You know that the animus is directed at Bush, not the American people.
Dumb American: No; I think the divide is even worse than that, I'm afraid. You see, the reaction over here is just the opposite — we have nearly given up not so much on European governments but Europeans themselves, which we see as essentially the same.
Europeans: In some ways you're right. After all, over half our population now believes that you — not the North Koreans or the Iranians — are the real threat to world peace.
Dumb American: I suppose a similar poll 65 years ago would have revealed the same thing about your fear of a unilateral Churchill and your ease with a multilateral Hitler, who seemed to get a nod from the Russians, Italians, Spanish, Eastern Europeans, and Japanese when he went into Poland. But in any case, we wish you luck with the Iranian mullahs. And as far as Tehran goes, for your sake — as long as we are not yet in missile range — we hope that your Nobel Prizes, trade credits, lectures, and so-called "soft power" provide better deterrence than an ABM.
Go read it all.
IT CAME UPON A MIDNIGHT CLEAR...
The Prince of Peace? Well, yes...and now a smackdown too...
Official WWE Smackdown! Preview: 12/25 From Iraq
World Wrestling Entertainment in proud to present a special edition of SmackDown! from Iraq on Christmas night. Join the Superstars of SmackDown! as they have the honor of competing in front of America’s troops in what should be an evening filled with action, excitement and emotion.
THE ARAB PRESS
Ya gotta love 'em.
No "smoking gun" to convict Saddam Hussein yet, say Iraqi experts
Iraqi legal experts warned of the huge difficulties ahead in finding decisive evidence of Saddam Hussein's guilt in crimes committed by his regime in Iraq.
NOW AWAITING THE 24/7 TELEVISION DISCUSSIONS COMPLAINING ABOUT THE BRIEF DURATION OF THE VISIT, HOW IT DOESN'T CHANGE ANYTHING, HOW THE MONEY COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER SPENT FEEDING THE POOR, HOW THIS IS JUST A PHOTO OP AND HOW UTTERLY DISGUSTING IT IS FOR A HEAD OF STATE TO VISIT DEPLOYED SOLDIERS
Spanish Prime Minister in surprise Iraq visit
I'M GUESSING THIS IS SLIGHTLY WORSE IN ARAB CULTURE THAN HAVING YOUR MOUSTACHE SHAVED OFF
The name of Saddam Hussein has been removed from the list of descendants of the Prophet Muhammad.
The head of the union of Ashrafs, Al-Sherif Najeh Muhammad Hassan al-Faham al-Aaraji admitted that the ousted president had been able to cheat despite the great value and honour attached to the line which is guarded in Baghdad.
The Ashrafs guard the Prophet's genealogical tree.
"Saddam had forced the origin experts to falsify his genealogical tree so that it went back to the Prophet," he said.
Let me get this straight. The Muslims can't event trust the very committee set up to protect the lineage of the Prophet Muhammed...and yet we are the infidels?
Story reported by various Arab Press, this one from al Jazeera no less.
THAT MAN BEHIND THE CURTAIN
Shown for what he is...
In the old days the conquered tyrant was dragged through the streets behind the Roman general's chariot. Or paraded shackled before a jeering crowd. Or, when more finality was required, had his head placed on a spike on the tower wall.
Iraq has its own ways. In the revolution of 1958, Prime Minister Nuri Said was caught by a crowd and murdered, and his body was dragged behind a car through the streets of Baghdad until there was nothing left but half a leg.
We Americans don't do it that way. Instead, we show Saddam Hussein -- King of Kings, Lion of the Tigris, Saladin of the Arabs -- compliantly opening his mouth like a child to the universal indignity of an oral (and head lice!) exam. Docility wrapped in banality. Brilliant. Nothing could have been better calculated to demystify the all-powerful tyrant.
It was a beautiful sight. But it was more than that. It was a deeply important historical moment. More than the fate of a man is at stake here. At stake is the fate of an idea, an idea of singular malignancy that has cost the Arabs not just countless innocent lives but a half-century of progress.
Hussein was the most aggressive and enduring exemplar of a particular kind of deformed Arabism, a kind that arose in the post-colonial era, appealed to the greater glory of the Arab nation and promised a great restoration...
Hussein's destiny is important because he was the last and the greatest of these pan-Arab pretenders, though he gave it a psychotically sadistic character unmatched anywhere in the Arab world. This stream of Arab nationalism brought nothing but poverty, corruption, despair, torture and ruin to large swaths of the Arab world. The mass graves of Iraq are its permanent monument.
This is why it was important not just to capture Hussein but to demystify him -- and with him, the half-century spell that radical pan-Arabism had cast over the entire Middle East. It was important that the god-king of pan-Arabism be shown as the pathetic coward he was...
On the run, Hussein enjoyed one final moment of myth: the ever-resourceful, undaunted resistance fighter. Perhaps, it was thought, he had it all calculated in advance, fading silently from Baghdad like the Russians withdrawing from Moscow before Napoleon, to suck in the Americans only to strike back later on his own terms in a brilliant guerrilla campaign masterminded by the great one himself.
And then they find him cowering in a hole, disheveled, disoriented and dishonored. After making those underground tapes exhorting others to give their blood for Iraq and for him, his instantaneous reaction to discovery was hands-up surrender.
End of the myth. It is not just that he did not resist the soldiers with the guns. He did not even resist the medic with the tongue depressor.
STILL NOT ONE WORLD
A powerful explosion in Baghdad Friday has killed one woman and wounded at least seven other people. The blast also demolished an office of a militia group linked to the country's largest Shi'ite political party.
The early morning blast collapsed more than half of the building containing the Jihad neighborhood branch of the Badr Brigade, a Shi'ite militia group allied to the country's largest political party. But the building was not just a Badr Brigade office, it was also a makeshift apartment building, housing several families who had nothing to do with the militia group.
I'm kinda glad I live in a country where our political parties don't have "militia groups".
HOPING TO FILL THE DANCE CARD WITH FOLKS NAMED STUPID
Here is a bit more on Washington Congressman Jim McDermott.
But read everything written here please...
Dazed and disoriented, not seen since the Iraq war began, he emerged talkative yet defiant. Saddam Hussein? No, Rep. Jim McDermott.
The Washington Democrat told a Seattle radio station Monday that the U.S. military could have found Saddam "a long time ago if they wanted." An incredulous host asked whether the congressman really thought Saturday's capture was timed to help President Bush.
"Yeah. Oh, yeah," McDermott replied. "There's too much by happenstance for it to be just a coincidental thing."
Yes, we really haven't heard from the Seattle lawmaker since he turned up in Saddam's Iraq last year to call the president — Bush, not Saddam — a liar. Now "Baghdad Jim" is back, accusing Bush of staging Saddam's snare for political reasons. The past year seems to have been as tough for McDermott as it has been for Saddam. One has lost his country; the other has lost his mind.
McDermott has contributed to greater bipartisanship. Washington state Republicans blasted his "crazy talk." His Democratic colleague from Washington, Norm Dicks, said: "With all due respect to my colleague, that is a fantasy. That just is not right. ... It's one thing to criticize this administration for having done this war. ... But to criticize them on the capture of Saddam, when it's such a big thing to our troops, is just ridiculous."
Exactly, but Dicks' sane words are out of sync in a Democratic Party that increasingly suffers a kind of psychological affliction: It's ready to believe the most hateful charges against George Bush but unwilling to even acknowledge evidence of Saddam's links to al-Qaida.
It would be one thing if McDermott were alone in concocting these anger-filled phantasms. But the Capitol Hill backbencher has eye-catching company. Consider the recent musings of Howard Dean on National Public Radio. He was asked about charges that Bush is holding back information that he had been warned about Sept. 11.
"The most interesting theory that I have heard so far ... is that he was warned ahead of time by the Saudis," Dean replied. "Now who knows what the real situation is?"
He admitted this "most interesting theory" couldn't be proved and, in later days, said he didn't actually believe it. But here was the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination trafficking in a theory that, according to his staff, the candidate just picked up "out there" in the political atmosphere — a theory that accuses Bush of knowing in advance about the terror attacks and doing nothing to stop the slaughter of thousands of Americans.
Will Dean be favoring us with other "most interesting" theories or just the ones that accuse Bush of treason or worse?
We've been talking a lot lately about folks paying attention, or not, as the case may be. Simultaneously, we've also kept an eye on the reporting "styles" of the main stream media.
This story of Jim McDermott's assertions the Saddam capture is a political stunt is, of course, absurd.
More absurd...way more absurd...is the notion uttered by Howard Dean and widely reported in the press that President Bush was warned in advance about the attacks of September 11th.
But consider please...I doubt seriously that Howard Dean is a certifiable idiot...meaning I doubt that he for a moment believes the President sat by and let 3000 people die and billions vanish from the US Economy.
If this is true...that Dean is not an idiot...why would he say it?
The results of this poll might just be an insight. Taken in 2002 the bottom line on the poll is this:
The public's news habits have been largely unaffected by the Sept. 11 attacks and subsequent war on terrorism. Reported levels of reading, watching and listening to the news are not markedly different than in the spring of 2000.
So...let me proffer this. Certainly the political parties have their own polls to research the best means of reaching the public. As a result of such polling they have found what you and I know to be true...most folks just aren't paying attention.
They get their news from "headline news" type TV while getting dressed...or the 90 seconds of news that most radio stations play at the top of the hour.
Or they get it from reading the newspaper headlines as they walk by the newspaper machine.
Or they get it from word of mouth...
If that is all the opportunity one has to influence an opinion then one will never sufficiently inform the Amercan populous of the nuances of one's stance vis a vis anothers.
So the best one can do is to create a bogus but compelling story and let it make the headlines to be further spread by word of mouth.
I mean - supermarket tabloids make a fortune by making up stories that anyone with an IQ higher than a celery stalk would never believe. But a whole bunch of folks buy the tabloids (and presumably believe them...or want to believe them).
So...is Dean trafficking in tabloid style campaigning? It would seem so.
I theorize that we can agree that most of us don't believe the President sat back and allowed the attacks on the World Trade Center to happen...
I believe that most reasonably intelligent Americans think we found Saddam Hussein one week ago...and pulled him from a hole...
If my theory is correct then why do Dean and others say wild stuff?
They are courting the stupid vote.
That is the long and short of it. If it makes no rational sense (here I'm not talking about genuine disagreements over tax policy or even the existence/not of WMDs...I'm talking about the irrationals such as uttered by Dean, Mcdermott and even Madelaine Albright for crying out loud...)...if it makes no rational sense (and I presume them to be rational folks) then the only conclusion that can be drawn is this is a strategy to gain the vote of stupid Americans.
Does that scare you as it scares me? That the next election...not just the Presidential election...any of them...getting stupid people to vote and to vote on the basis of WORLD WEEKLY tabloid style stories (PRESIDENT'S DOG INFECTS WHITE HOUSE STAFF WITH BRAIN WITHERING DISEASE!)...isn't that frightening?
Those of us who are paying attention need to recruit more folks to pay attention.
Because we have to out-vote the stupid people.
MILITARY HAPPY NEWS ROUNDUP
We mentioned this problem a couple of weeks ago. The fix isn't perfect, but it is a step forward.
The Army has enacted a policy that allows mobilized Army Reserve and National Guard officers to be promoted immediately, instead of waiting until they come home...
Until now, all reserve component officers, except for a few select branch officers, who were selected for promotion had to wait until a slot opened up in the next higher grade before they could “pin on” the higher grade.
And then there is this:
Effective immediately, active-duty soldiers who re-enlist while deployed to Kuwait, Iraq or Afghanistan will receive a tax-free, lump-sum bonus, which for most will exceed $5,000, Army officials said Thursday.
So if you are headed for deployment and your re-up window is open...wait until you get there!
ALL THE UN RESOLUTIONS IN THE WORLD VS. ONE WELL-AIMED BIG STICK
News item #1:
Iran signed an agreement on Thursday allowing the UN nuclear watchdog to conduct snap inspections across its territory, which Tehran said should prove it is not secretly developing atomic weapons.
The signature to the Additional Protocol to the 1968 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) comes nearly 18 months after an exiled Iranian opposition group sparked an international crisis by saying Tehran was hiding several large nuclear facilities. The allegations proved to be true.
News item #2:
Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi has promised to surrender his country's weapons of mass destruction and halt its nuclear development program in a bid to end nearly two decades of international isolation, President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair announced last night.
Libya will "immediately and unconditionally" allow international inspectors to enter the country to track unconventional weapons and oversee their destruction, said Bush, describing nine months of secret negotiations among U.S., British and Libyan officials.
The connection? These two countries looked around and noted what the United States did to Iraq, a nation much stronger than either of these, when the intelligence indicated that country had WMD.
In other words, after the USA went in and handed Saddam Hussein his ass...other CTIC (Chief Thugs in Charge) in the region went "Oh crap!...what if we are next???
And so two more rogue states are no longer a nuclear threat.
Think about that next time you hear one of the 9 Dwarves mealymouth about how the USA and the world are "not safer" for our actions in Iraq.
They are falling like nuclear-wannabe-dominoes.
Way to go, us!
THERE MAY BE MORE TIME TO BLOG
When I spoke to CPT Patti this morning she told me she has "had no meaningful sleep for 3 days".
STRIKING AN ENTIRE COUNTRY FROM MY CHRISTMAS LIST
CPT Patti called at 6:00 a.m. (It is now 9:15a.m. in Germany).
Says they now predict her flight will touchdown in Germany at 6:00 p.m. tonight.
Says they were in the air...had actually left a little bit early (charter flight, you know...) and were headed home when - get this - Turkey denied them entry into Turkish airspace.
Now lets be clear about this. This was not a big green war bird...this is a commercial jetliner from a charter service (Omni World, or some such...) and the flippin Turks for reasons unknown would not let them enter the air space.
This would be Turkey, the erstwhile ally. The same Turkey that caused the 4th ID to drill holes in the ocean as it's equipment shipments floated in circles while awaiting permission to use Turkish bases while we kicked Saddam's butt (permission was ultimately granted only to defensive capabilities...ie, protecting their Turkish butts...the tanks and tubes had to float clean around the Arabian peninsula and darn near missed the war.)
And it isn't just me! That plane was full of GI's who have spent 223 days in a war zone, headed home for Christmas...some going on to Baltimore...with connecting flights that no longer connect.
And so I am seriously considering altering my Christmas menu to Ham.
And I am resolved...and you can check me on this to ensure I am as good as my word.
Not one single solitary Turkish person from that huge vascillating flea-bag country is getting a Christmas gift from me this year.
You can take that to the bank.
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 20th.
And the best laid plans...
An old Army saying "No plan survives first contact".
It is 3:55 a.m. and I've just returned from a 90 minute round trip drive (plus 45 minutes waiting time) to Friedberg only to learn that CPT Patti's flight from Kuwait was delayed.
They believe it will be landing about 10:30 a.m. today.
Me...I went to bed at 6:00 p.m. got up at 1:30. Shaved. Drank coffee.
Appears I'll probably crash, and need a shave about the time I'm supposed to pick her up.
Such is life from time to time.
But hey - at least she is still coming home...
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 19th.
CPT Patti has been deployed for 222 days.
But she is headed home for a brief respite.
Me...well, the toilet is so clean I'm not sure I'm in the correct apartment...
No time to blog...gotta get the house straight.
And if you wonder why I didn't get it straight since Monday when she said she "might be" coming home, then you are obviously - well - a woman, I guess...
YES, I SHOULD BE CLEANING THE BATHTUB BUT...
This is too good not to share.
While eating dinner I had the TV tuned to West Wing (Yes...I know its a show about liberals, but I watch AFN and it was that or 2 hours of some blasted couple that got married on TV...)
I don't know if AFN is showing this year's or last year's episodes. But the point is this...
In this episode, a Thanksgiving episode, the "president" is outraged to learn that his staff "polled the American people" as to where they think he should spend Thanksgiving.
To which the "president" comments something on the order of "why should it be important where the American people think I should spend Thanksgiving"?
And I'm thinking...given the liberal apoplepsy over Bush in Baghdad...I just bet Aaron Sorkin wishes he had this particular episode in for a rewrite.
The battalion Command Sergeant Major just called from Baghdad.
CPT Patti is coming home!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
She left Baghdad today...will overnight in Kuwait and (hopefully) will find a seat on a plane headed this way tomorrow sometime.
Er...uh...by the way...posting may be light for the next few days.....
But I know you will forgive me.
Thanks for your prayers!!!
IT IS 2:00 P.M.
Still no word from CPT Patti.
Testing the theory that no news is good news...
TOO MUCH TIME ON THEIR HANDS...
Saudi Arabia has banned the importation of female dolls and teddy bears, giving merchants three months to dispose of such stock, a state-guided newspaper reported Wednesday...
The ban singled out stuffed-animal toys and dolls of brides. It made no mention of male dolls and it was not clear if these were banned as well.
The order also prohibited the importation of crucifixes and models of Buddha, the newspaper said.
The ban comes at a time when Saudi Arabia appears to be taking steps toward moderation and limited reform.
NOT PAYING ATTENTION
Saddam doesn't quite get it...but he will.
"He's saying things like 'I'd like to sit down now. I'm the president of Iraq. You wouldn't treat your own president this way,'" said a U.S. intelligence official.
Sources said the American interrogators, in an attempt to break through that hubris, are repeatedly telling him that he is no longer president of Iraq.
They have also played him videotapes of Iraqis celebrating in the streets at the news of his capture and tapes of the uncovering of mass graves and former torture chambers.
"His reply to this is to tell us to go ahead and organize elections and that he'd win big if we did," said a U.S. official.
THE REST OF THE STORY
You may have heard this in the news lately:
In Vatican City, a top official at the Vatican is condemning the U.S. military for showing the video footage of Saddam, saying the former dictator was being treated "like a cow." Cardinal Renato Martino, head of the Vatican's Justice and Peace Department, says he "felt pity to see this man destroyed."
But you probably didn't hear this:
The Italian newspaper Il Foglio ran a piece Dec. 16 about the frustration at the Vatican, at the secretariat of state, with the imprudent, irascible anti-Americanism of Cardinal Martino, an unfortunate recent appointment (late last year) to the Council for Justice and Peace, who has not ceased being an embarrassment to his superiors.
The Stryker's inaugural combat.
As they drove through the city, Soldiers saw a large flock of pigeons take flight. The pigeons were apparently used as a signal to announce the arrival of the Soldiers in Stryker infantry vehicles.
Moments later, two men on a motorcycle, firing automatic weapons used children leaving school as cover to attack the patrol. Soldiers, in consideration of the children and a nearby mosque, employed snipers to target the attackers and successfully suppressed the enemy’s ability to inflict damage. The attackers fled as the patrol continued their movement through the city...
The sound of automatic fire could be heard as they engaged the enemy head on. Soldiers radioed a nearby patrol and requested support. Company A Soldiers responded and moved towards the embattled patrol. Both U.S. elements fought through the ambush and eliminated the threat...
At the end of the day, a company commander confirmed that 11 attackers were killed. After confirmation, Samarran residents moved the attackers’ bodies from the area. There were no coalition casualties during the firefight. And, except a civilian automobile that was damaged by a rocket-propelled grenade, there was no damage to any other property or equipment.
DO YOU HAVE THIS MUCH JOB SATISFACTION?
Even though most soldiers in Iraq can't wait to go home, some are volunteering to serve a second year.
At least eight of the 140 soldiers deployed from the 490th Army Civil Affairs Reserve Battalion have decided to stay. They are staying for a variety of reasons - from a feeling of unfinished business to convenience because a military spouse is being deployed. But most say they feel like they are making a difference, and they aren't ready to stop their work yet.
"More of us are staying because we've had more job satisfaction, I would venture to guess," said Sgt. Omar Masry, who is with the battalion from Abilene, Texas.
WHY NOT TAKE THE MONEY AND RUN?
Attempting to explain why Saddam was in a hole when he had the money to buy himself anonymity on some beach on the Black Sea.
But megalomania is not a head cold.
This is why discussions with these guys, or even what we sometimes like to think of as negotiations, are always weird. We're inclined to think they are basically rational people with a few unpleasant habits (a friend has just passed along James Thurber's line: "We all have flaws, and mine is being wicked") who have gone astray, and we're always surprised that a reasoned argument, much less carpet bombing and the approach of an invasion fleet, doesn't prompt them to recognize the errors of their ways.
If not forget that, we should at least rethink it. The news has been filled with reports of Saddam's interviews and interrogations since his capture that state, with maidenly astonishment, that he shows no remorse. Why would he? Remorse for what? He's right. He always has been. We're the ones who are wrong. The only thing that surprises him is that we can't see this.
They are believers. They have somehow come to have blind faith in themselves, and besides, if you're the one who decides what reasonable is then you are always reasonable. This isn't a bad definition of psychotic. I don't buy the presence of "evil" in the world, but there's no shortage of psychosis, and I have no idea what we can do about it.
Clearly nobody goes into that kind of work for the money.
COULD HAVE SAVED US A LOT OF TROUBLE...
The Israeli military had a plan ready to assassinate Saddam Hussein in 1992 -- in retaliation for firing 39 scud missiles at Israel during the first Gulf War -- but the plan was called off.
Then-Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin ordered the operation, which was going to land commandos in Iraq and then fire two specially designed missiles at Saddam while he attended a funeral. However, during one of the final run-throughs of the operation, five Israeli soldiers were killed and six others wounded when a live missile was accidentally used.
The assassination attempt was consequently canceled. It would have taken place in Al Adwar -- the same city where Saddam was captured over the weekend.
NOTHING SUCCEEDS LIKE SUCCESS
Optimistic Asian allies step up military plans for Iraq after Saddam's capture
South Korea finalized plans Wednesday to send 3,000 troops to Iraq as Asian governments expressed optimism for peace and the U.S.-led reconstruction following Saddam Hussein's capture.
Japan plans to send its first main troop contingent in late February after months of delay, a major Japanese newspaper reported Wednesday. And Thailand reportedly will keep hundreds of its troops in Iraq with hopes that security will improve following Saturday's seizure of Saddam by U.S. forces.
The emboldened military plans among Washington's allies underscore the growing sense of optimism for Iraq since the capture, despite the official wariness voiced by many leaders.
An art student from Maine, whose studies were delayed when his Army Reserve unit was called to Iraq, hopes to turn a toppled bust of Saddam Hussein into one of the country's first postwar public art projects.
Army Maj. Peter Buotte has lobbied Iraq's Ministry of Culture for permission to use the bronze from a bust of the captured president as a starting point for a project among Iraqi artists...
"If it can be melted down, the intention is to have contact among Iraqi artists and use the material in a new project," Buotte said by telephone from Baghdad. "It seems that it would be kind of fitting."
A KEY DIFFERENCE
"Saddam brainwashed all the Iraqi people," said Dr. Riyadh Nassir Al Adhadh.
Where Americans pledge allegiance to their nation, Iraqis did not. Instead, they were taught to pledge their loyalty to Saddam personally, he said.
AS YE SOW, SO SHALL YOU REAP
U.S. officials reportedly are showing Saddam Hussein videotapes of rallies against him, of troops unearthing mass graves and of prisoners being tortured during his reign.
The Arab press, I mean. And the Arab "Jewish pathology".
A newspaper in Qatar creates a report out of thin air saying that Sharon flew to Baghdad to "secretly meet...Saddam Hussein".
The Israeli PM's office issues a denial.
And this Arab media outlet publishes the denial...in the last paragraph of this story...after repeating verbatim the original Qatari work of fiction...
I'M SURE THE FOLKS IN HOUSTON ARE THRILLED BY THE COMPARISON...
More than a dozen members of the Baghdad City Council toured Houston's infrastructure Wednesday.
Their visit included learning how our sewer system works and how to repair potholes. It's all information they can take back to Iraq to rebuild the country.
The deputy mayor, Ibrahem Hussain, says that Baghdad is very much like Houston in that it is very flat and has the same types of problems.
Yesterday I called this terrorism. I was mistaken.
The massive blast when a petrol tanker exploded in a fireball after colliding with a bus in the centre of Baghdad today, killing 17 Iraqis, was an accident, said US military investigators.
Iraqi officials, however, maintained it was a suicide bomb run targeting a nearby police station.
“It was a fuel truck that had a traffic accident, caught fire and exploded,” said Captain Jason Beck of the US 1st Armored Division, which oversees security in Baghdad.
”There was no evidence of a bomb.”
Military explosives experts concluded the blast was accidental after conducting crater analysis and other tests at the site, Beck said.
I'm sorry I didn't know this site existed before now...
It includes the "Good Morning Morons Award", the "Barbra Streisand Political IQ Award for Celebrity Vapidity" and the "Dominique de Villepin Snottiness Award for Whining About the War"
Go see it.
The Washington Post traditionally leans a bit to the left so I find it interesting that today they assault Howard Dean for his inability to tell the truth. And apparently he has a history of it...
Dean, for instance, recently spoke of a "most interesting theory" that Saudi Arabia had "warned" Bush about the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Although Dean said he does not believe Bush was tipped off about the assaults that killed nearly 3,000, he has made no apologies for raising the rumor.
Dean's remarks, his critics say, are in keeping with his history of making statements that are mean-spirited or misleading. He has distorted his past support for raising the retirement age for Social Security and slowing Medicare's growth. He has falsely said he was the only Democratic presidential candidate talking about race before white audiences. And he made allegations -- some during his years as governor -- that turned out to be untrue.
After saying at his last gubernatorial news conference that he was sealing his official records to avoid political embarrassment, Dean now says he was joking and is not sure what is in the files.
When Rep. Richard A. Gephardt (D-Mo.) unveiled his health care plan in April, Dean, through his campaign, belittled the lawmaker's record on the subject. Dean later walked away from the statement, saying it did not reflect his views. But this fall, in debates and TV ads, Dean has resurrected the criticism, accusing his congressional rivals, including Gephardt, of producing only rhetoric on health care in comparison to his record in Vermont.
In recent days, Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) said Dean lacks the "credibility" to be president and accused him of misleading voters about past remarks on Iraq. One example cited by Kerry's campaign: Dean recently said, "I never said Saddam was a danger to the United States. Ever." But in September 2002, Dean told CBS's "Face the Nation": "There is no question that Saddam Hussein is a threat to the United States. The question is: Is he an immediate threat?"
Uh...you need to know this is not a military occupational specialty...
Camp leaders have designated Vanjura and 1st Lt. Tim Greenway as party planners who arrange activities about once a month to keep troops’ spirits up.
“At a certain point, you just get sick and tired of being sick and tired of being over here,” said Lt. Col. Hank Arnold, battalion commander.
Their first big event was the Sinjar Summer Slam. The soldiers hired an Iraqi they call “Johnny Three Fingers” (his hand is disfigured from a fire) to build a boxing ring.
“The guys got in there and beat the crap out of each other,” said Vanjura, 25, a chemical officer from Dayton, Ohio.
And because there is only one woman at Range 54, the soldiers convinced four female soldiers from nearby Talafar to box.
“Yeah, that’s what the guys wanted to see,” Vanjura said.
GETTING THE WORD OUT
On Tuesday, troops began passing out handbills in Arabic and English that show a photo of Saddam after his capture Saturday night in Tikrit by troops of the 4th Infantry Division.
“They show Saddam’s face on them as a detainee,” Tucker said, “because people want to see proof. It gives them a photographic image — Saddam after his capture.”
The accompanying text reads: “Saddam Hussein CAPTURED The capture of Saddam Hussein is the defining moment for the new Iraq. The future starts here.”
“We’ve printed 200,000,” Tucker said. “So we’ll push these out; if the demand is still there, we’ll do another printing of them.”
Troops on Friday will begin distributing a newspaper that will carry the Saddam capture story on its front page, along with a photo of him in captivity. An article on an inside page will spell out details of his capture and explain its importance.
The division publishes the paper, called Baghdad Now, in Arabic and English, for distribution to the Baghdad public. It appears the first and 15th of every month, with 500,000 copies printed each time.
And, since Sunday night, the division has broadcast hourly public service spots on radio station IQ4, 104 FM, a civilian outlet in Baghdad, giving details of Saddam’s capture.
And I'm glad they are...although it may be redundant. I mean even this guy knows and he's been living in a hole in the ground for 21 years...(Thanks Sarah)
But then, I continue to be amazed by the capacity of certain Arabs to deceive themselves:
"It is someone wearing a Saddam mask," volunteered Waleed Ibrahim, a 25-year-old tire repairman in Fallujah, 30 miles west of Baghdad. "It is a trick to help President Bush get re-elected."
CENTCOM BRIEFING SLIDES
The actual slides used by LTG Sanchez at Sunday's press conference announcing Saddam's capture.
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 18th.
And CPT Patti has been sleeping on a cot for 221 days.
Today is the day I should find out if she gets to sleep in a real bed - at home - for Christmas - for a few days.
I'm in a hover.
ARE YOU PAYING ATTENTION? (2)
Responding to a question following a speech to the Pacific Council on International Policy Monday, (Howard) Dean declared,
“Had the United Nations given us permission and asked us to be a part of a multilateral force, I would not have hesitated to go into Iraq.”