Saturday, November 08, 2003


What I'll be going through without my computer for the next couple of days.

I'm off to Italy.

I'll see you back here on Tuesday afternoon unless I stumble into an internet cafe sooner.

Meanwhile go see Sarah...she hangs out with a higher class crowd anyway...


You read about this guy before - here.
Stange, a German, coaches Iraq's national team. Despite the violence and disorder racking the country, his side qualified top of their group for the Asian Soccer Championships and now rank 52nd in the world, better than Scotland, Wales or Austria.

But Stange says he is fed up working with meagre resources and accuses the U.S.-led occupying coalition of failing to support his work, which he argues could go a long way to bringing a sense of normality and national pride back to Iraq.

"I'm tired of begging for money for my players and for myself," he told Reuters in an interview on Friday.

"I'm thinking about my personal future," he said. "I can't hold on much longer."

Oh my heart breaks. Compare your life to - oh, say - about 120,000 soldiers who are actually trying to make a difference in the world...and you can't hold on much longer?

Shut the hell up you whiney German child.

The ice-cream parlor is open...
Think of Iraq and you will probably think about conflict, danger and uncertainty; you almost certainly will not have thoughts about ice cream.

But there is still room for treats in the midst of the troubles there.

It's fresh, it's cold and it's popular -- Al Faqma, located in the centre of Baghdad, is Iraq's best-known ice-cream parlour.

It doesn't offer "31 Flavours" or "Strawberry Saddam", but does specialise in the best ices this side of the Euphrates.

"We are trying to restore a sense of normality to our lives," said ice-cream fan Rana Al-Oubaydi...

Al Faqma's pistachio flavour is so good that in the old days, ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein is reported to have sent his bodyguards down here each week to pick up a few pints.

The managers of Al Faqma appear to have won some favours in return.

The store never had any difficulty obtaining the French natural flavourings and colourings it uses, despite the decade-long United Nations trade embargo.

Ah, yes...those embargo busting French.
"Why are they saying such things?" a bitter Dr. Khodheir al-Hazbar, the hospital's deputy director, said. "We were good to her."...

Khafazji, speaking at his private clinic in Nasiriyah, said he examined her extensively and would have detected signs of sexual assault.

But at many of our US Army installations in Germany the gates are being guarded by German soldiers while our soldiers are deployed.

Yesterday the big guy said thanks.
An Army Black Hawk helicopter crashed Friday — apparently shot down by insurgents — killing all six U.S. soldiers aboard and capping the bloodiest seven days in Iraq for Americans since the fall of Baghdad.

In retaliation, American troops backed by Bradley fighting vehicles swept through Iraqi neighborhoods before dawn Saturday, blasting houses suspected of being insurgent hideouts with machine guns and heavy weapons fire.

"This is to remind the town that we have teeth and claws and we will use them," said Lt. Col. Steven Russell, commander of the 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment.

Russell also said the 11 p.m. to 4 a.m. curfew, which had been lifted at the Oct. 27 start in Iraq of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, was reinstated Friday night.


CPT Patti has spent the last 181 days deployed in service to our nation...a nation in which she wasn't even born.

Me - I'm trusting that the Lord who was the architect behind the series of events that lead us to finding each other in the first place also has the power to see to our reuniting.

That is how many folks have sent messages of encouragement to CPT Will who is a Purple Heart Reciepient and a wounded man in an Army hospital in Landstuhl, Germany.

And that is great...because that is 151 more than we had when we started.

But I'm thinking that a man who has been wounded in service to this country deserves better.

I mean...he's undergoing SKIN GRAFTS for crying out loud. He was in Baghdad and was hit by mortar fire.

If you could meet would know how much he cares and how hard he tries. And now he's wounded.

Please write.

Here is the link.

Friday, November 07, 2003


I bought a product the other day...supposed to whiten my teeth. It's called something like "Tooth White Extreme"

And it got me wondering. What is beyond extreme?

I mean - when they come out with "Son of Tooth White Extreme , what will they call it?

What is beyond extreme? I guess I can propose the only thing truly beyond extreme is "absolute".

I mean it's one thing to be "extremely cold", and another thing altogether to be at "absolute zero". Absolute is just don't get to quibble with absolute, you can't say "super-absolute" or "extra-absolute" or "beyond-absolute" or "mega-absolute" with any true meaning. So - the hyperbolics on Madison avenue have painted themselves into an "extreme corner", which sort of sounds like an acute angle, but is verifiably just one step short of the "absolute angle" which I'm imagining is a straight line.

An angle is a straight line?

That is my point.

The worst boss for whom I ever worked...a tyrant whom I used to refer to in secret as Captain Queeg...once chastised a group of young officers in a staff meeting with the admonition that "words mean things."

We all rolled our eyes and reconfirmed our impression the man was a lunatic. Of course "words mean things"...what could be more obvious. But lately I come to respect that statement for the wisdom that it holds.

It has been 30 years since my geometry class. I have this vague recollection (please correct me on this if I am wrong) that technically there is something called a "straight angle" (is this the ultimate oxymoron?) which indicates an "angle" of 180 degrees.

Or in otherwords...a straight line.

But "angle" to most of us indicates something that starts out in one direction and at some point changes to another direction.

In other words...well...angle. If we mean "line" why not just say "line". It gets rather unwieldy if, in explaining how to draw an "equal" sign one says "OK Class...draw a straight angle, and then just below it, draw another straight angle of equal horizontal duration (that would be "length" to most of us)

I pause now to catch my breath and to return to the point..."words mean things".

I can't believe I am quoting this jerk...but I respect wisdom where I find it and can't help myself.

Which leads me to - well - where to start?

I suppose it leads me here...the posting last week in which I said that I was unimpressed with Representative Corrine Brown's letter to House appropriators in which she stated that “It is an outrage that servicemembers, deployed in the Global War on Terrorism, do not receive adequate personal hygiene products and drinking water.”

I went on to say "If I've learned anything by reading innumerable news stories every day it is to take a good look around when any member of Congress declares something to be "an outrage". From what I've seen usually the only thing outrageous about such stories is the Congressional posturing and playing politics with the issue of the day."

In my mind, you see, Rep. Brown has materially contributed to the erosion of the word "outrage". She is playing politics with words...and overlooking the point that "words mean things".

Or they should.

But we appear to be living in a time in which hyperbole reigns.

I think especially of Sen. Tom Daschle - who can't seem to get through the day without being "shocked" or "wounded" or "appalled".

Those words used to have meaning. But when hyperbolized (if in fact, that is a word) they lose that meaning. They lose the ability to impress. They lose the power to move.

What is next? Extreme shock? Absolute shock?

We're only two steps away from the verbal precipice - the point at which we fall off into complete meaninglessness.

Well - this business of rampant hyperbole gets me to thinking about its other reflections. And I have to conclude that the jerk knew what he was talking about in cautioning us that "words mean things".

Because words carry ammunition in a way. And the ammunition wounds and maims in ways we might not have intended while using those words to make our point.

Ever been in a bar when the music is playing loud and you are trying to communicate with the sweet young thing who seems possibly interested. And to make yourself heard you have to yell...but in that process the band unexpectedly ends the song which results in your statement being broadcast across the entire establishment, something on the order of "...NICEST LEGS I'VE EVER SEEN". That comment at that volume was intended to serve a purpose. But against the suddenly silent backdrop it sets the speaker up for critical judgment by all who hear it.

This is similar to the unintended results of hyperbole and "extreme" rhetoric. It tends to state things in "absolute" terms. It appears to reject discussion or common ground.

Either they are or are not the nicest legs you've ever seen. No room for debate, discussion, compromise, or agreement except on my terms.

trying to grok had a posting last month - a posting on which I did not comment at the time, but one with which I related in spades. That posting is here. The thesis of that posting is "I'm tired of being angry at everyone" and goes on to say "An unfortunate (or fortunate, depending) side effect of this polarization is that has become easy to use these labels as tags."

The "tags" involved may be the labels of liberal or conservative or democrat or republican...but more pointedly may be things like "Bushie" or "Clintonite" or "war monger" or "Berklyite".

In a hyperbolic setting, these terms reduce complex and arguable shadings to primary colors. We take simple "blue" and make it "passionately deeper than deepest briney blue." No room for compromise, discussion or agreement. It's either damn blue or you're all screwed up.

I want to agree with Michelle. I'm tired of being angry at everyone too. But I think probably I'm not truly angry with them...I think I'm angry at the polarization of the discussion.

But then...just as I come to that conclusion, Sarah, our benevolent hostess at trying to grok comes on board with this.
The reason that I have been friends with some of you for so long is because we never talked about things of this nature. I knew better than to bring up politics or the war or my feelings about France with you because I didn't want to upset our friendship.

I don't have access to the exchanges that culminate with statements like this

I can’t always guess what it is that will anger or alienate you; if you wrote a comment about it we could discuss the particulars and try to understand each other better, but I don't really think we'll do that.

But in this post Sarah seems to be on the verge of dismissing her friends, or her friends dismissing her, for having a political point of view.

Perhaps because AFN TV just showed the CMA awards tonight I am reminded of the Dixie Chicks and Barbra Streisand. Some absolutely terrific music there...I mean just cotton pickin' wonderful music. Have you ever heard Barbra sing "What are you doing the rest of your life". To die for. And I don't know if country music ever put together three more talented women than the Dixie Chicks.

But then one of 'em has to go and mouth off in England. Has to go say something on the order of they are "ashamed" to be from Texas, the same state as the President of the United States. And Barbra has to go and set up this web site where she spouts off about such concepts as political "honesty" and "hypocracy". (This from a Jewish woman who recorded a Christmas album...)

Ashamed? Is that true? If folks ask "from where do you come" do you look down at the your feet, and kick up a little earth as you mumble "Texas".


I think what you meant was you don't agree with the President on certain issues.

At least that is what I hope you meant. Because from where I sit it seems a low threshold to get to the "ashamed" condition.

Me...I'm ashamed of times that I've lied or cheated. But I'm not ashamed of a coincidence. Geez...if my tread wear indicators are showing to that extent I need to get off the highway and buy some new tires.

Fact is, I love all these ladies' music. But once they demonstrated an intolerance to my political views, I have trouble listening to their music.

And for a while I thought it was because the Dixie Chicks existed to whatever extent in my life for their music...and that once thay used that stage to express their politics...well, they violated our contract...the one which had me listening for the love of music...period.

Reminds me a bit of John Lennon's faux pas comparing the popularity of the Beatles with that of Jesus. (Another case of hyperbole, to be sure...)

But now I'm revising my assessment of the reaction. I think my reaction to recoil to the Dixie Chicks' statement is almost Newtonian in equal and opposite reaction.

I saw a bumper sticker in the office of a co-worker the other day. It was a Texas flag with these words overprinted: I'm ashamed to be from the same state as the Dixie Chicks.

"Ashamed" used to mean something. It meant something before Natalie Mains used it...but she cheapend it. Because she isn't really ashamed to be from Texas. Seems to me if she were...she wouldn't tell a bunch of Brits she is from approach that gives her a 49 in 50 chance of them mis-guessing where she is from.

Words mean things. Or they did before Tide became "ultra" and tooth whitener became "extreme".

Hyperbole is the polarization of language...and with it society.

I once heard a learned man give an explication of the role of language in society. He posited that language is the facilitator of advancement. Concepts, he said, can not take root and spread unless we have the language to accurately communicate them. Concepts can not advance beyond our linguistic means to communicate them.

The edges of the political parties have hyperbolized the the point that for the sake of general discussion there seems to be only two choices from which to select...this or that.

But in our hearts we know that such polarity isn't really the case.

Tom Daschle is the north pole. Pat Robertson the south pole. But me - don't personally know anyone who lives at the poles. I know I don't.

There is room for discussion...Zell Miller, former Governor and now Senator from Georgia has proven that this week. He has boldly attempted to reclaim the center for the common American. A center in which discussion has impact, hyperbole has no place...a center in which "words mean things."

They use "ultra" and "radical" to sell sodas to 13 year olds. As adults, we should be capable of more precise use of the language.

As a career logistician in the US Army I studied and knew much about what the Army calls Lines of Communications (LOCs) LOCs are the paths by which one echelon of the Army reaches out and feeds the another that which it requires.

Language aka "communication" is the medium by which we feed one another, contact one another...not isolate one from another.

In my opinion trying to grok, and many more among us are victims of the shortcut of hyperbole...the polarization of ideas into simplistic camp A or camp B when in fact ideas exist on a spectrum.

I once thought of dictionaries as the language police. The enforcers of an absolute linguistic standard. But in my own lifetime I've seen that dictionaries have transformed the "acceptable" pronunciation of the word "often" from simply "OF-FEN" now to include "OFF-TEN"

Dictionaries will not protect us from the devolution of speach and communication. That job is up to people...dictionaries only reflect popular usage.

There is a wealth of lingustic spectrum between black and white, between left and right, north and south.

Would that we have the discipline and good sense to protect that spectrum before it disappears.

Would that we have the intelligence to accurately portray the subtlties of our ideas over their presentation in mere black/white terms.

Would that we could protect our friendships and stop being angry all the time.

What say you?

Israel Aircraft Industries was frantically engaged in damage control yesterday after an unprecedented security lapse allowed a Channel 10 television technician to capture an internal screening of a secret missile test via an ordinary satellite dish.

Repudiating decades of U.S. policy, President Bush said Thursday the United States and its allies have been wrong in "excusing and accommodating" a lack of freedom in the Middle East. He prodded Saudi Arabia and Egypt to lead Arab nations toward democracy...

"As long as the Middle East remains a place where freedom does not flourish," he said, "it will remain a place of stagnation, resentment and violence ready for export.

The Islamofascists have an unusual way of showing their piousness...
Saudi police arrested six al-Qaida suspects in a clash in Mecca that left two militants dead in the streets of the sacred city, the Saudi interior minister said Tuesday.

In Monday's raid, police shot it out with the militants and also uncovered a cache of weapons, including Kalashnikov rifles, grenades and bomb-making materials...

The captured extremists "are without any doubt from the same organization," Prince Nayef told the state-controlled newspaper Al-Riyadh, referring to al-Qaida. "They use the same tactics."


I need to do a little housekeeping here.

First I want to thank those of you who responded to the call to send a note to CPT Will Ashmore, recently wounded in Iraq. If you haven't done so yet, you can click here to offer your emotional support to this fine soldier.

And I also thank those of you who wrote to me in response to my Fences posting. I truly appreciate your response and your input.

Some have asked for more personal and/or opinion postings. I can assure you that I will write such things when I feel I have something meaningful to say.

Meanwhile, I keep the news-digest here as part of CPT Patti's mementos. See, she gets to read/see/hear very little about this war that has taken her from our home for the better part of a year. In years to come she will have the time to read about it. I print the website out and put it into notebooks. I've filled 8 so far.

Finally, just a heads-up. I'm getting out of town on Sunday. Going to Italy for a couple of days. Unless I'm lucky enough to find in Internet cafe...I'll be absent from here from Saturday afternoon until Tuesday evening.

Well, the Iraqis think so...even if the Associated Press doesn't.
Ask him if his life is better, and he doesn't hesitate. "Now," he says, "I can stand up as a man."

There's a weird disconnect between the debates raging in the West about what's happening here, and the way Iraqis talk. Sometimes it's as if the Western media and the Iraqis are discussing two different countries.


Off topic, I know...but exceptionally cool.
Solar power bases will be built on the Moon that collect a small fraction of the Moon's dependable solar power and convert it into power beams that will dependably deliver lunar solar power to receivers on Earth...

The Lunar Solar Power (LSP) System does not require basic new technological developments. Adequate knowledge of the Moon and the essential technologies have been available since the late 1970s to design, build, and operate the LSP System.

Another byproduct of dethroning Saddam.
I could not believe my ears. “I apologise for the inconvenience,” said the Iraqi policeman as he finished searching our car. We were at the checkpoint in front of the Alhamra hotel in Baghdad.

Over the past week I had grown accustomed to ‘the rediscovered humanity’, as another policeman put it, of Iraq’s law enforcers. But this was too much.

With its policemen behaving like this, it is little wonder that Iraq is being perceived as a threat by its neighbours. Any visitor from most other Arab countries, where an encounter with the police is considered lucky if it is limited to verbal abuse, may be so shocked by this treatment as to return home bent on regime change...

As the eight days went by, I started to revise assumptions formed under the influence of western news coverage dedicated almost exclusively to the reporting of violence.

90 tons of Georgia Jet sweet potatoes which grow in the Ramot Hashavim area in Israel have already left for Iraq, in order to feed the soldiers of the American army who are stationed there, Ma'ariv reported
How we respond now matters. What plays out in Iraq will define how the rest of the Arab and Muslim world respond to America in the years ahead.

If we are seen as weak, we will suffer death from a thousand cuts. If we are seen as strong – having given evidence of possessing the will to use our strength – the world has a chance at peace for another generation.

Baring such decisiveness, the world has likely less than five years until nuclear weapons fall into terrorist hands. We do well to remember their demands are not for negotiations, but capitulation and a Muslim society.

As he walked into the house, Saddam asked one of his nephews who headed the messenger team, "did you inform Tahir?" in reference to his intelligence chief.

The nephew replied affirmatively.

Tahir, however, was not in the house.

For Saddam, his absence meant only one thing: a trap.

The Iraqi leader immediately fled from the Al-Mansur villa on foot, crossed a narrow street and walked several hundred yards until he reached a main road where Taha Yassin Ramadan's taxi that was waiting.

"I am sure of this information," the source said.

The top U.S. military commander for the Middle East has created a covert commando force to hunt Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden and key terrorists throughout the region, according to Pentagon and military officials.

The new Special Operations organization is designed to act faster than other units on intelligence tips about "high-value targets" and not be limited to where conventional U.S. forces are operating in Iraq and Afghanistan...

Pentagon officials and military officers said the new, more flexible force has already gotten close to Saddam but declined to give details.

(emphasis added)

Poland suffered its first combat death since the aftermath of World War II when a Polish major was fatally wounded Thursday in an ambush south of Baghdad.

So says the family of a young Iraqi man killed recently in attacks on our soldiers.

Try as I might...I don't understand it.
"Sometimes I would be listening to a song on television and he would say: 'Fear God. Why are you listening to songs?"' Khalid Ibrahim recalled.

Read it here.

A tradition of honoring our fallen...and about the hardest thing to witness that there is.
Spc. Francis Marie Vega was a lover of music who wanted a career in dance after she left the Army. Her name and rank were called out in a solemn roll call. She was not there to shout "present."...

About 1,000 U.S. soldiers, some wearing spurs and black regimental hats from the Indian Wars of the Old West, gathered at the regiment's western Iraq headquarters to remember the 15 comrades...

Command Sgt. Maj. John R. Caldwell read the roll call before the helmets, combat boots and rifles of the victims. The rifles stood in a row, their barrels down, each topped by a helmet and framed by the empty pair of boots.

The roll call works like this: Generally the senior enlisted man of the unit, whether the company first sergeant (1SG) or, at higher levels, the command sergeant major, will - at an appropriate time during the memorial service, call the roll of the unit.

And it goes like this back and forth between the 1SG and the members of the unit:

"Sergeant Avery"

"Here First Sergeant"

"Specialist Brown"

"Here First Sergeant"

"PFC Charles"

"Here First Sergeant"

"Specialist Vega"

(No response, only silence)

"Specialist Vega"

(No response)

"Specialist Vega"

(No reponse)

"Sergeant Williams"

"Here First Sergeant"...

It is almost the aural eqivalent of the familiar "missing man formation" of the Air Force.

I saw coverage of this on CNN this morning.

I wept.
As the Army closed out fiscal 2003 at the end of September, so many soldiers had raised their right hands to re-enlist that the service met its retention goals and then some, retaining 106 percent of the soldiers it hoped to keep.

Family's car, with pet inside, stolen on shopping trip to Poland

Thieves got Wilson’s 1991 535i BMW, all of her family’s overnight bags, her husband’s wallet, her children’s school bags and the family dog, Princess, a Maltese.

At least four U.S. soldiers died in the crash Friday of an Army Black Hawk helicopter near the north-central city of Tikrit, the military in Baghdad said based on preliminary reports.

But a U.S. officer on the scene who spoke on condition of anonymity said that all six on board were dead.

It was not known whether the aircraft went down due to mechanical failure of hostile fire, a spokesman said.

The helicopter went down about 9:40 a.m. on a riverbank along the Tigris River about a half mile from the U.S. base in Saddam Hussein's former palace. The military said it did not know how many people were aboard.


Seems the on-again-off-again email is on...I got a note from our girl overnight.

In part, here is what she says.
Stuff here is the same. WORK, WORK, WORK!

Today is 180 days deployed!

Tomorrow night I am throwing a 180 day celebration party for the GATORS at our MWR [Morale, Welfare and Recreation] building. We are having finger foods and watching our 500 pictures slide presentation. It should be fun.

As I is only fleeting contact...but contact it is. And she sounds terrific!

CPT Patti is an Aunt!

Amy (previously seen on this website as Sis-in-law), the wife of SSG Dan, (CPT Patti's brother) delivered their son Joey last night.

Congratulations you guys! We love you!

And I know that Pastor Paul and Sweet Sue are dancing down in Texas...Grandparents at last!


CPT Patti has worn nothing but Desert Cammouflage Uniforms (DCUs) and Physical Training Uniforms (PT Clothes) in Iraq for 180 days now. Six months without a fashion break.

Me...I'm the poster child of the Fashion Don'ts anyway...

Thursday, November 06, 2003

Jessica Lynch was brutally raped by her Iraqi captors.

That is the shocking revelation in "I Am a Soldier, Too," the much-anticipated authorized biography of the former POW. A copy of the book was obtained by The Daily News yesterday.

Best selling author Rick Bragg tells Lynch's story for her, often using her own words. Thankfully, she has no memory of the rape.

"Jessi lost three hours," Bragg wrote. "She lost them in the snapping bones, in the crash of the Humvee, in the torment her enemies inflicted on her after she was pulled from it."

The scars on Lynch's battered body and the medical records indicate she was anally raped, and "fill in the blanks of what Jessi lived through on the morning of March 23, 2003," Bragg wrote.


Our guys. Great story...go read it all.
Maj. Michael S. Patton, the unit's operations officer, was trying to secure the area immediately after the shooting when his interpreter told him a man in the crowd had some information for him. Patton sent his interpreter back to tell the man he was going to pretend to arrest him, so that no one would suspect he was passing information.

Back at the base camp, the informant, a cigarette vendor in his mid-forties who has lived in the neighborhood all his life, told Patton who carried out the attack -- and Patton's troops quickly nabbed him.

The episode made Patton understand who held the key to the battle: Iraqis in the neighborhood. It also was the start of a beautiful relationship. To date, the cigarette vendor has delivered 35 Iraqi resistance fighters to the Americans. "The guy," said Patton, 37, a cigar-smoking Oklahoman, "has been a gold mine."

A week later, Col. Ralph O. Baker took command of the 2nd Brigade, which includes Patton's 4-27 regiment. Baker spent time as an instructor of doctrine at the British Military Academy at Sandhurst, an assignment that enabled him to observe British operations in Northern Ireland.

It was in Northern Ireland that he came to fully appreciate the value of reconnaissance patrols. British troops were taught to look for something as small as a few extra milk bottles on a porch step as a sign that Irish Republican Army operatives might have been meeting inside. In Baghdad, he quickly emphasized a similar approach.


An unscheduled part 4.

(via The Corner)

My favorite columnist strikes again.

A taste.
Oh — one other caveat: Yes, yes, yes, I have been fully briefed on the fact that "the children" are our future, damnit. But, so what? That is a statement about the need to improve the quality of inputs, not a statement about the quality of outputs. I mean, by the same logic, spermatozoa is the future too, but I'll be damned if I care what it sounds like when you put a cable news microphone to the beaker.

Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean told a Tallahassee audience today that southerners have to quit basing their votes on "race, guns, God and gays."

And that is after Zell Miller had this to say about Howard Dean.

Dean knows as much about the South as a hog knows about Sunday.

Taken from a should read the whole thing.
Misjudging our resolve, on September 11th the terrorists pushed the envelope considerably further Ð and they were surprised by our response. Newt Gingrich, who I believe is of the most astute observers of national security issues, defined the post-September 11th transformation in five different ways, as follows:

1) Globalization applies to national security. In other words "if we are not there, they will be over here."

2) The issues are non-negotiable. These people hate us and they feel good if we die.

3) Weapons of mass destruction change everything. We are dealing with a terrifying capacity to kill. It forces us to change our strategy from containment to preemption. The kind of devastation and destruction that once resulted from years of battle now can be unleashed in hours.

4) Islamist extremists are our strategic competitors and Al Qaeda is but a symptom.

5) The nature of the attacks on us can change dramatically. Our very strengths can become our weaknesses. A stadium holding 100,000 people becomes a target and an airplane becomes a lethal weapon.

Terrorism has become the enemy's choice for engaging us. Unlike traditional wars where the targets are military, the terrorist seeks out civilians. What Americans and Israelis call collateral damage is the primary objective of the terrorist. And it is a fact that most of these terrorists, although not all, are Islamists...

Every terrorist has a grievance - whether it is the Chechens, Al Qaeda or Hamas. One cannot legitimize the terrorism of one group and reject the terrorism of another group. If you can target Israeli civilians then you can target Indian civilians and you can also target Spanish civilians.

There are three kinds of terrorists - state-sponsored, groups unrelated to states and individuals or small groups with grievances.

In state-sponsored terrorism we must go after the sponsor, whether it be Iraq, Iran or Syria. There need to be consequences for sponsoring those who would kill and main the innocent...

And we have to remember that a single individual with a vial of bacteria can create an act of terror. John Mohammed and Lee Boyd Malvo, the Washington snipers, were not traditional terrorists. But their actions demonstrated how two people, lone wolves, could terrorize a city.

The free world has to battle terrorism. That is why America's action against Iraq was justified and important. It sent a message.

Similar messages have to be sent to places like Saudi Arabia, which still finances most terrorist groups throughout the world. They are the financiers of madrassas that teach the gospel of hate. As you know, there is a growing feeling in Washington that we have been apologizing for the Saudis for too long.


And it includes this interesting statement on the subject of the size of the military in the view of the House Armed Services Committee:
Republican Rep. Heather Wilson of New Mexico compared Washington to the fabled Emerald City in "The Wizard of Oz" with policymakers "hoping that Toto doesn't go over and pull back the curtain."

Wilson recently sent a letter to Rumsfeld signed by a bipartisan majority of the committee that urged him to bolster the active troop strength by two divisions.

Emphasis added.

You blow off the whole world in public and then hope to strike a secret deal with us?

We are not France.
Just days before U.S.-led forces invaded Iraq, officials claiming to speak for a frantic Iraqi regime made a last-ditch effort to avert the war, but U.S. officials rebuffed the overture, according to news reports.

An influential adviser to the Pentagon received a secret message from a Lebanese-American businessman indicating that Saddam Hussein wanted to make a deal, ABC News and The New York Times reported Wednesday evening.

The chief of the Iraqi Intelligence Service and other Iraqi officials had told the businessman that they wanted Washington to know that Iraq no longer had weapons of mass destruction and offered to let American troops and experts do an independent search, the Times said. The Iraqi officials also offered to hand over a man accused of being involved in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing who was being held in Baghdad.

Messages from Baghdad, first relayed by the businessman in February to an analyst in the office of Douglas Feith, the undersecretary of defense for policy and planning, were part of an attempt by Iraqi officers to persuade the Bush administration to open talks through a clandestine channel, people involved in the discussion told the Times.


Have you written a note to CPT Will Ashmore yet?

The president has been saying it everytime he's on TV, as has Secretary Rumsfeld and others.

But this congressman has a revelation.
Tensions among the group were a little higher when they were flying in blackout conditions at night.

“After we knew the Chinook had gone down and we flew at night in a darkened helicopter, we knew this was a dangerous place and we’re at war,” said Democrat Ed Case of Hawaii.

Any one of the many thousands of mothers, fathers, wives, husbands and children of deployed soldiers could have told you that.

I take this as another sign that too many of our politicians have never spent a day in uniform.

And it is an unusual mix.
The Marine Corps, which played a central role in toppling Saddam Hussein last spring, will return to Iraq as part of a U.S. troop rotation next year, officials said Wednesday...

Also included in the next U.S. rotation will be thousands of newly mobilized National Guard and Reserve troops as well as active duty Army units such as the 1st Cavalry Division from Fort Hood, Texas, and the 1st Infantry Division in Germany, according to officials who discussed the matter on condition of anonymity.

No National Guard combat brigades will be called on, beyond the three already mobilized from North Carolina, Arkansas and Washington state to prepare for deployment to Iraq next year. The extra Guard and Reserve troops to be mobilized will be combat support forces such as military police.

Instead of relying almost exclusively on the Army to provide reserve forces for support, the Pentagon intends to mobilize specialists from the reserve components of the Air Force and Navy, too.

This is going to totally ruin some Air Force and Navy Reservist has to be the last thing in the world they were expecting.

The bad guys like to strike between 6:00 and 10:00 p.m...and according to this article we are hitting back.
The other mortars landed deeper in camp.

On this night, the Army struck back. Battery fire from an M109A6 Paladin headed off into the darkness in the direction of the mortar launches. Soldiers could hear the whistle of the friendly shells as the rounds flew overhead and crashed into the darkened countryside.

A few minutes later, two Kiowa helicopters flew toward the area. A few minutes after that, two M1A1 Abrams tanks rolled past the guard post.

The mortars had set off a hornet’s nest of activity, but within minutes, the scene was calm.

Flottmeyer looked at his watch.

“Well, that’s the first hour,” he said to Larson.

One in every five soldiers deployed to Iraq with the Pierre, S.D.-based bridging company — 36 of 173 — is related to someone else in the unit, by either blood or marriage...

Three of four Flottmeyer children are in Iraq. Their 21-year-old sister, Joanie, wasn’t able to join the Guard because of hearing loss.

“I don’t think [Mom] realized we could all be deployed,” Jesse Flottmeyer said.

There not only are brothers and sisters in the unit, but also cousins. There are uncles and nephews and nieces, five pairs of fathers and sons, and two sets of husbands and wives.

“I guess a lot of people kid me that my son outranks me,” said Sgt. David Trautman Sr., whose son is Staff Sgt. David Trautman Jr. Dad had a break in service for 13 years before his son talked him into rejoining the unit seven years ago.


Survivors of the Chinook crash tell the story.

Read it all here.
As he sat under the blankets of his hospital bed, Nelson said he would rather be with his unit in Iraq.

“As soldiers, we all bonded together over the past seven months, so we’re like a family,” he said.

One member of that military family, he said, was killed in the Chinook crash, though he didn’t feel comfortable talking much about him.

“I had a friend. He didn’t make it,” he said.

November 5, 2003
Release Number: 03-11-01


Al FALLUJAH, Iraq – Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, captured two former Iraqi Army general officers in an early morning raid in Fallujah Nov. 4.

The two generals are suspected of being key financiers and organizers of anti-coalition fighters operating in and around the city of Fallujah.

Also, soldiers from 1-16 Infantry, attached to the 82nd Airborne Division, discovered a large weapons cache in a raid following the generals’ capture. The cache consisted of 225 rounds of 60mm mortar, 20 rocket-propelled grenades, and 100 rounds of .50 caliber machine-gun ammunition.

November 5, 2003
Release Number: 03-11-02


AL HADID, Iraq –In the afternoon of Nov. 4, Task Force Ironhorse soldiers conducted a raid at a location near Al Hadid, believed to be a safe house for people suspected of involvement in mortar attacks against forward operating base Warhorse. The residence was searched and an important weapons cache was located and confiscated. The cache included: 33 blocks of dangerous explosives, 98ft. of detonation cord, 20 blasting caps, and abundant volatile munitions used in improvised explosive devices.

Additionally, soldiers discovered two rifles, eight fragmentation grenades, a machine gun, one rocket propelled grenade launcher, 300 rounds of 7.62mm ammunition, and three rounds of 14.5mm anti-aircraft ammunition.

No one was detained as a result of the raid but a terrain model of forward operating bases Warhorse and Scunion, found in the building, indicated that the raided location had been used for planning attacks against coalition forces.

Good work guys!

CPT Patti has been serving her country in Iraq for 179 days.

Me...I'm privileged to be her designated shopper and official historian.

Wednesday, November 05, 2003


When it absolutely, positively has to be as cheap as possible...




I mean, some reason beyond Rooney's never-trimmed-eyebrows.

Defense Contractor Guy sends this regarding the earlier post on the Davinci Code special on ABC TV

Little is known about the author of the book "Jesus, Mary and Da Vinci". However there is speculation that the book was actually written by Salman Rushdie.

You might remember him from his earlier book "The Satanic Verses" which caused the Ayatollah Khomeini to issue a fatwa calling for his death because his book was blasphemy against Islam.

I understand that Mr. Rushdie is working on another book titled "Budda - You Fat Old Fart!" .... having pissed off two-thirds of the religious world ... why not go for the rest!?


I've said it before. But Sarah at trying to grok says it another way. And better. Go read it.

I so completely love the internet because of the amazingly wonderful things that folks think to do with it.

You may recall from my "Fences" post that my neighbor was wounded in Baghdad. Fortunately the mortar didn't have Will's name on it...just his initials. He will undergo skin graft surgery for 3d degree burns on his leg any day now.

He's recovering at the Landstuhl Army Regional Medical Center here in Germany...although the decision has yet to be made to treat him here or send him to Fort Sam Houston to the burn unit there.

And you know what...the internet lets you send a word of care, encouragement and/or thanks to one of the Army's most recent Purple Heart qualifiers.

The link is

Will is a great guy...he and his wife Demra have two lovely daughters as you can see in the photo album.

Except for the incident with the mortar, Will would have taken command of a Field Artillery Battery today. Command is the pinnacle assignment for any Captain and Will was excited to have his opportunity. Alas, that day will have to wait.

I'm asking as a favor...if you read CPT Patti's website...please click through the link and "sign the guestbook" so Will can read it. I know it will make his day to hear from great Americans like you all how much you appreciate his service and sacrifice...

And while you are there...donate a buck to the caringbridge organization that sponsors the website.

Thanks to you all.

I am impressed.
I fear that some of the Democratic presidential candidates are treading on very dangerous ground for the party and, more importantly, for the country.

I do not question their patriotism; I question their judgment. They are doing what politicians often do, playing to the loudest, most active and most emotional group of supporters, feeding off frustration while clawing to find some advantage. I've done it myself and lived to regret it. My concern is that, without meaning to, they are exacerbating the difficulties of a nation at war.

Some of the liberal media excuse these actions by calling them "populism." Populism, my butt. It's demagogy, pure and simple. They should stop this, or at least modify it into a more civil discourse.

Howard Dean, while not alone, is the worst offender, and it says a lot about the current Democratic base that he has emerged as front-runner for the nomination. Angry and red-faced, these doom-and-gloomers need to take some "calm-me-down" pills. They should realize their overheated rhetoric is dividing the country when they should be helping unite it.

Republican presidential candidate Wendell Willkie didn't stoop to this demagogy in 1940 when he ran against President Roosevelt during those dangerous times on the eve of World War II. And Neville Chamberlain didn't do it to Winston Churchill, who had replaced him as British prime minister. They understood there are some things more important than making political points when a nation is in peril.

Frankly, I cannot understand the candidates' shrill, manufactured opposition. We've freed a nation from a cruel and oppressive dictator. A free Iraq, most everyone agrees, can transform the Middle East.

Isn't that what presidents have wanted to do for many years? Give it time. Of course, it's going to be difficult. Of course, it's going to be costly. Regrettably, more of our American sons and daughters will die.

There will be times when it looks like it's not worth it. But in the long stretch of history, it will be worth it.

Has it puzzled you that this was canceled...
In an unprecedented move, CBS Tuesday canceled a four-hour movie on the life of Ronald Reagan that had angered conservative critics over its portrayal of the 40th president.

...while this was not?

Was Jesus married?

And was Mary Magdalene his wife?

Apparently, a lot of people will be upset if the answer to both these questions is yes.

As explained in tonight's "Jesus, Mary and Da Vinci" - a new ABC News prime-time special inspired by the best-selling novel, "The DaVinci Code" - proof that Jesus of Nazareth was a married man enjoying conjugal relations with his wife would upset the apple cart, so to speak, of all of Christianity since Jesus' divinity has been based for so long, at least in part, on the notion that he was celibate.

An Al Qaeda Web site is running a warning issued to Muslims to leave Washington D.C., New York City and Los Angeles because of implied imminent terrorist attacks, according to the Middle East Media Research Institute.

Titled "A Warning to Muslims in America," the directive was issued by the previously unknown "Islamic Bayan Movement" and first ran on the Global Islamic Media Web site on Monday, according to MEMRI, which translated the communiqué...

"Our Muslim brothers in America, we ask you to immediately leave the following cities: Washington, D.C., New York, and Los Angeles," reads the communiqué, which frequently quotes the Quran.

If the Bush administration doesn't change the tenor of the public debate on Iraq, its (rightful) efforts to drive a stake into the heart of tyranny and terror in the Middle East could be jeopardized.

As counterintuitive as it sounds, the American people must come to understand that: Stabilizing Iraq is actually all about destabilizing the Middle East. Only by reconstructing Iraq as an open, free, secular society, can we deconstruct the closed, dark, repressive place the Middle East became during the Cold War.

The tragedy of 9/11, and its continuing violent global aftermath, proves that the status quo in the Middle East is intrinsically disruptive of international peace and security. America's well-being and security - and that of our friends and allies - depend upon changing the region for the better.


Indeed it is. Take a moment to read the whole thing.
m Haydar was a 25-year-old Iraqi woman whose husband displeased Saddam Hussein's government. After he fled the country in 2000, some members of the Fedayeen Saddam grabbed her from her home and brought her out on the street. There, in front of her children and mother-in-law, two men grabbed her arms while another pulled her head back and beheaded her. Baath Party officials watched the murder, put her head in a plastic bag and took away her children...

These are the people we are still fighting in Iraq. These are the people who blow up Red Cross headquarters and U.N. buildings and fight against democracy and freedom. They are the scum of the earth. And they are being joined in their lairs by the flotsam and jetsam of the terrorist world.

Their scumminess is our great advantage. People like this will never lead a popular insurgency. They have nothing positive to offer normal, decent people. They survive only by cruelty and the power of intimidation.

The only question is who is going to eliminate them...

Iraqification is a strategy for the long haul, but over the next six months, when progress must be made, this is our job.

And the main challenge now is to preserve our national morale.


It is time for people to quit hearing and seeing only what they want and start absorbing the reality of the situation.

President Bush has been telling the American people since the day of the 9/11 attacks that the war on terror would be neither quick nor easy.

Bush continued that message last May aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln when he said tough challenges remained ahead. But most people fixated on the end of major combat operations and interpreted that to mean the war was over -- even though that was not what the president said or meant...

Among those whose patience seems to be in short supply are other elected officials, particularly Democrats.

Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota said, "We can't survive daily losses of the magnitude we have experienced this week without dire consequences, both politically as well as in human terms."

Yes, we can survive such losses, if we remember this nation is in a war -- a war unlike most of those fought in the past. And it is a war in which the United States has had success, even if Saddam Hussein and conclusive evidence of weapons of mass destruction have not been found.

As LaHood pointed out, there have been no terrorist attacks in the United States for more than two years.

A Syrian official called in remarks published on Wednesday for the United States to withdraw from Iraq, saying the problem of terror attacks had arisen only since U.S.-led forces occupied the country...

“The problem is America, not Syria. America must be more objective, because when it entered Iraq there was no terrorism and now there is the problem of terrorism and of al-Qaida and the matter has changed from one of weapons of mass destruction and toppling a regime to a new one of terrorism,” Kanfani said.

“America must accept the reality that it is no longer in its interest to continue this way in Iraq. They must hand over power to other parties whose behavior is more acceptable to Iraqis and bring Iraq closer to regaining its sovereignty and holding free elections and then the problems will end,” she said.

Really? Free elections? And what would Syria know about such things?

Dominant aspect of political system pivotal role of military as real source and guarantor of power. Disproportionately significant role played by country's largest minority, Alawis, who held many key positions in armed forces, Baath Party, and government.

Guess what...for the most part it isn't out there - according to this media critic.
But there's a bigger point here ... and that is the general coverage of Iraq. I'm not one of those people who says there's too much bad news. I say, give us all the bad news you've got. When American soldiers are killed, put it on page one, lead the newscast with it, give us all the bad news you've got, then give us more bad news.

But then -- then -- give us the rest of the story. It's the only way we're going to know what's going on there. There's other stuff going on that's quite positive.

Now, journalists always say, "Well, we tend towards the negative. We don't tell you that the plane landed safely. We don't tell you that the First National Bank didn't get robbed." But you would have to be a moron not to know that most banks don't get robbed and most planes do land safely. How in the world are we supposed to know what's going on in Iraq unless they give us the whole story? That's called good journalism.


Is there an artilleryman out there reading this who can answer a question from this old loggie?

I'm annoyed at the reports of mortars day in and day out on some of our positions in Baghdad. The press never says anything about us shooting back.

Are we using counterbattery fires in response to these attacks? Are counterbattery fires viable in these circumstances. Why or why not?

I simply can't (or don't want to) believe that the best defense we can muster agains these attacks is to hope they miss.

Write to me at


We've seen school supply and toy drives for the Iraqi kids.

Here is one for military kids.
Smiles might be hard to come by for some military children around this time of year, especially with the holiday season approaching and those who have a parent or two serving in a combat zone.

But for the Boys and Girls Club of America and the national retailer Toys “R” Us, there’s no time like the present for, well, presents and smiles.

The third annual national campaign “A Time For Smiles” provides millions of dollars worth of toys to kids around the world who are members of Boys & Girls Clubs. Toys “R” Us has pledged a donation of $1 million dollars in toys to launch the campaign, which kicked off Monday with the announcement on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

More than 45,000 pounds of toys have been or are being shipped to U.S. military installations overseas so that 30,000 dependent children who are registered members of the Boys and Girls Club affiliates at overseas military bases can get a donated toy for the holiday season.

Some of the soldiers most critically wounded in a helicopter crash in Iraq are most concerned about what happened to the troops they were flying with, a Landstuhl Regional Medical Center doctor said Tuesday.

Although most of his patients are on ventilators to help them breathe, Air Force Maj. Allan Philp, an intensive care unit physician, said he had spoken to a few patients about the crash.

“There’s a remarkable disregard for self,” Philp said of the wounded soldiers. “Their initial questions are ‘How’s that guy that was sitting next to me?’ That’s what struck me and what touched me,” Philp said.


I don't know what else to call them...the analogy is apt in my mind.

They are the intellectual construct by which I deal with the barrage of bad news from Baghdad. They work for me...I'm not sure how others do it...and I'll be honest: in the end, my fences are very, very selfish.

The fences come into play when I hear or read a news report that says "another soldier killed today".

I listen carefully. If the report says the tragedy took place in somewhere other than Baghdad...I am relieved...and all my fences are intact.

But if that report is from Baghdad...the bad news just breached the first of my fences.

And so I listen some more...I search the internet. I look for any clue. Sometimes the report will indicate the Soldier belonged to the 4th ID or the 82d Airborne. If second fence remains solid.

But if the report says 1st Armored second fence has been breached, my defenses...are weakening.

I have other fences. Unlike most, I have the "female soldier" fence. I've noticed the press is likely to make special note if a casualty is female...or perhaps the story will refer to the soldier as "he".

If I can be reasonably sure it isn't a woman, the third fence has protected me.

Inside the 1st Armored Division I have the 1st Brigade, 2d Brigade and 3d Brigade fences. Inside the 1st Brigade I have five battalion fences.

Not quite as useful, but handy occasionally, are the Officer/NCO/Enlisted fence, the Quartermaster versus Infantry fence and the east-or-west-of-the-Tigris fence.

But the ugly little secret that we don't really talk about is that in the end, I have about 120,000 the end the fences are about protecting my Soldier.

I don't want any Soldier to die. But there are varying degrees of that - and they work in the inverse sequence of the fences.

First and foremost I'm concerned for my wife. Next, is for her soldiers...because she really is the sweetest woman on the planet I know how devastating it would be for her to lose one of hers. Beyond that, I pray for the 1st Brigade...because somehow I believe that every time that 1st Brigade fence is breached, it becomes just a bit weaker and doesn't protect quite as well.

These are my fences...I don't have to ensure they are rational.

I don't really like to look at my fences too closely. I like to pretend they are real and solid and offer true protection. But some days when I'm weak, if I look at them carefully, my fences look like the slot dividers on a huge roulette wheel. There may be thousands of slots on that wheel...but if they spin that little white ball it must come to rest somewhere.

I wonder sometimes about those who don't need fences...because they have no personal stake in this war. And I wonder how that feels.

I can't remember how that feels.

I was a child during the Vietnam era. As I learned to pray in the Southern Baptist church I learned that every prayer must include the phrase "and Lord, please bless our Soldiers in Vietnam". I suppose I had no personal stake in that one -although I was very aware when my big brother got his draft number - and it wasn't a particularly good one. But the example set in my church led me to feel as if I had a duty to pray for those if somehow God had a huge scale and the weight of the prayers had to tip the balance in the Soldiers favor.

On the eve of Desert Storm I took my little brother to the airport. Ostensibly he was heading for a new unit in Germany but we had it figured out...soon after his arrival in Germany that unit would be shipping out for Iraq by way of Kuwait in a serious shooting war. I fought that war at "maximum standoff range". I was in Atlanta. He has sand in his boots, a Bronze Star medal on the wall, and demons that sometimes still call in the night.

I learned a couple of days ago that my neighbor, the guy whose front door is ten feet from my own, the guy with whom I had a beer and barbecue only a few weeks ago - he was wounded on Friday. He's been medivaced from Iraq to Germany and they are talking about flying him to the US. He has severe burns and needs skin grafts.

And my wife is in Baghdad. And many of my friends.

A dear friend of mine whose husband just concluded his R&R leave told me that while preparing breakfast this weekend she popped the seal on a can of Poppin' Fresh biscuits. He flinched. As she told the story I got the feeling that the flinch was almost more disturbing than if he had reacted in a greater way. As if all the evil and heartache and fear symbolized by a sudden, quick sharp noise has insidiously taken up an unshakable residence deep inside his soul.

So I don't know - indeed I'm not sure I ever knew how it feels not to have a personal stake in a very dangerous endeavor.

Without that stake, is all this just something happening "over there"? If one has no personal that what allows some politicians to use this all as their political football, posturing for the pithy sound bites and the provocative headlines...and votes.

I don't know. I don't know how it feels. Perhaps it is an exhilaration that one needs no fences of one's own. Or perhaps it feels like liberty...the sweetness of which can only be tasted in its absence.

Or is it sweet? I don't know.

History is being made and we are on the right side of it. Of that I am not in doubt. And I have a personal stake in that. Virtually everyone of us living here in Giessen and Friedberg, in too small apartments shopping at too small commissaries and tiny little PXs...getting together for frank discussions of our fears over lunch...opening our hearts to our neighbors to fullfill the palpable need for human contact and understanding...virtually everyone of us has a personal stake in the liberty of 25 million Iraqis...and possibly the peaceful future of the world's most troublesome region.

I have a stake. I own a piece of that. And I am proud that I do. I am proud of my wife for her sense of duty to her country and to her Soldiers. I don't mean some jingoistic sort of arrogance sort of proud. I mean being a part of something that is greater than one's self. I mean having a speaking part in a role that is noble.

And I wonder what it feels like to have never held the fickle hand of a noble calling. Do the concepts of duty, honor and sacrifice hold any meaning for those? I don't know. Does knowing that one will bear no cost balance with one's lack of investment?

For I don't know...until the bill is delivered... the price that will be required of me for my personal stake in history. None of the stakeholders do.

And so I build my fences. I build as many as I strong as I can. I bolster them with prayers and scripture and bravado and probability and sometimes too many glasses of wine.

I vent my anger to strangers on the Internet and my hopes to that tiny inner circle of the truest of friends.

I build my fences and polish them with optimism. I hiss loudly at tresspassers who would cheapen the value of my investment. Stay away from my stake! Don't stain it with your fingerprints...I don't know what it cost me yet!

My fences keep me sane.


For 178 days CPT Patti has been learning to differentiate between 43 species of sand fleas in Baghdad.

Me, I've had 178 days to begin to grasp the rarity, and the value, of true, true friends.

You know who you are.

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

An Army officer from Kent was killed Saturday in Baghdad, the Department of Defense announced.

Second Lt. Benjamin J. Colgan died when he was responding to a rocket-propelled grenade attack. An improvised bomb killed him. Colgan was assigned to the Second Battalion, Third Field Artillery Regiment, First Armored Division in Giessen, Germany.

Family members in Kent said he was married. He and his wife had two small children and were expecting a third child later this year.

UPDATE: A friend of mine, whom I know only by way of the Internet and the telephone wrote to tell me Ben was a friend of his. According to Mike "he was a great guy--loved and respected by everyone around him."

The Colgans tied a yellow ribbon around the maple tree in their front yard and intended to take it down once their son Ben returned safely from Iraq.

But yesterday, Joe and Pat Colgan tied a black ribbon of mourning on the tree -- the same maple they planted 30 years ago to mark the birth of their fourth child.

Their son, a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army's 1st Armored Division, was killed in Baghdad on Saturday by a remotely triggered bomb, the military told his family...

Colgan fell in love with the service, his family said, and excelled, first as a medic, then as a member of the Special Forces, and later as a member of the Army's elite Delta Force.

The reason he excelled, his uncle Paul remembered, pointing to his head, is "because it's all up here. He always used to say, 'It doesn't matter what shoes you have.' "

Read it all here.


Oh...I'm sorry...they already did.
A charity fund-raiser for Seattle Hebrew Academy and two local arts groups, which brought former President Clinton to town, was a financial bust — though not for the 42nd president.

The September event at Marion McCaw Hall cost organizers $290,000 but brought in just $288,000, according to organizers — a shortfall of $2,000 sponsors blamed on sluggish ticket sales...

But Clinton's visit made no money for either the Seattle Center Academy or Foolproof Performing Arts.

The Sun cut loose with three severe flares in less than 24 hours through Monday morning, bringing to nine the number of major eruptions in less than two weeks.

Scientists have never witnessed a string of activity like this.


For this piece of work (See Nov 2d cartoon).
Shortly before dawn on Aug. 28, an M1A1 Abrams tank on routine patrol in Baghdad “was hit by something” that crippled the 69-ton behemoth.

Army officials still are puzzling over what that “something” was.

According to an unclassified Army report, the mystery projectile punched through the vehicle’s skirt and drilled a pencil-sized hole through the hull. The hole was so small that “my little finger will not go into it,” the report’s author noted.

The “something” continued into the crew compartment, where it passed through the gunner’s seatback, grazed the kidney area of the gunner’s flak jacket and finally came to rest after boring a hole 1½ to 2 inches deep in the hull on the far side of the tank.

As it passed through the interior, it hit enough critical components to knock the tank out of action. That made the tank one of only two Abrams disabled by enemy fire during the Iraq war and one of only a handful of “mobility kills” since they first rumbled onto the scene 20 years ago. The other Abrams knocked out this year in Iraq was hit by an RPG-7, a rocket-propelled grenade.

Experts believe whatever it is that knocked out the tank in August was not an RPG-7 but most likely something new — and that worries tank drivers.


An honest man gives his honest opinions.
The third phase, he said, is "acceptance."

I have not reached that third phase yet. Not even close. I'm still angry because of the petty partisanship on both sides of the aisle. Angry that one single senator representing less than one-fifth of 1 percent of the American people can stop any president — even during wartime — from making a crucial appointment to his own team.

Angry because of the thoughtless, needless waste of taxpayers' hard-earned money. Angry because soft money — big money — from special interests to both parties controls things in a way that is nothing short of bribery. Angry that this money pays for cynical consultants who sneeringly brag, "We do campaigns; we don't do government."

I'm angry at a process in which 59 votes out of 100 cannot pass a bill because 41 votes out of 100 can defeat it. Explain that to Joe Six Pack at the Kmart.

You will want to read the entire article.
US soldier Jessica Lynch, who was rescued by US special forces after being captured in Iraq, is to marry. Private Lynch, 20, will marry Army Sergeant Ruben Contreras next June, his mother told a US newspaper.

Rep. Green says he spoke to several Wisconsin troops. He said while they miss their families, they want to complete their task.

"I heard over and over again from our Wisconsin troops that if leaving, if wavering, means this war goes on and our kids are going to have to fight this war, they're not leaving."

Green says he spoke to one general who said more has been accomplished rebuilding Iraq in six months than in the Balkans in seven years.

"The crux of the problem is we're fighting a counter-insurgency and we should be fighting it much more ruthlessly," said Pletka, a former top Republican staff member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

"We need to take the velvet gloves off, send soldiers out on pro-active sweeps against Baathists who are living freely throughout Iraq, strike fear in the heart of the rejectionists in a way we have not done so far."

But cracking down on the insurgents in a more forceful way risks antagonizing other Iraqis, said Dan Benjamin, an expert in the Middle East and terrorism at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

"It's true that within the Sunni triangle, the primary issues remain security and not reconstruction, and this is sporadically true elsewhere in the country, with flare-ups from time to time. But this is an extraordinarily difficult kind of phenomenon to deal with -- primarily because we're trying to pacify the region without arousing even more antipathy. That is the classic dilemma of any type of counter-insurgency."

GIs - they sure are adaptable.
The 1,493-yard, par-29 course will challenge most golfers.

There’s an old Iraqi obstacle course on the third hole that golfers must hit over, and Hole 5 features a rock pit. There are even a few bomb craters.

The course has no water hazards and the fairways aren’t green — the course’s maintenance crew is waiting for a good rain — but there are plenty of sand traps.

“Oh yeah, the whole thing is a sand trap,” Bohonek said...

Still, everyone is invited to play and equipment is available, courtesy of donations.

“We’ve got about 200 to 300 clubs and balls with us,” Brown said. “We’ve got score cards.”

Residents of Prairie du Chien, Wisc., where the unit is based, donated the clubs and balls. Brown placed an advertisement in the town’s paper earlier this year, having planned to make a course wherever they ended up...

There are no club dues or greens fees at UXO 9, but there is a dress code.

“You can go out in PT gear but you still have to carry weapons,” Brown said. His M-4 carbine fits in a golf bag but the M-16 and M-249 don’t. Camouflage uniforms also are allowed.

The course is open every day and closes only during mortar attacks. “We’ve had to come off the course a couple of times when they were banging away,” Brown said.


CPT Patti has been at her post in the war on terror for 177 days.

Me...I'm trying to find the Chapstick I bought on Sunday. Now that I bring it up it seems I always pay full price for a Chapstick only to use about 2% of it before I lose it.

I don't know what an empty Chapstick looks like.

Monday, November 03, 2003

In Baghdad, five strong explosions were heard in quick succession at about 9:10 p.m., and it appeared the blasts were coming from the western side of the Tigris River.

The U.S. military command had no information on the incident.

CPT Patti and her soldiers are on the eastern side of the river.

God help those on the western side.

Ally (n.) 1. a nation, group or person that is associated with another or others for some common cause or purpose. (Random House Webster's College Dictionary)
Aziz has told interrogators that French and Russian intermediaries repeatedly assured Hussein during late 2002 and early this year that they would block a U.S.-led war through delays and vetoes at the U.N. Security Council.

Later, according to Aziz, Hussein concluded after private talks with French and Russian contacts that the United States would probably wage a long air war first, as it had done in previous conflicts. By hunkering down and putting up a stiff defense, he might buy enough time to win a cease-fire brokered by Paris and Moscow.

You may recall the Lutz Patriots from this post. In addition to holding rallies to remind their neighbors that our soldiers are in harms way, they also recently signed on with the Adopt A Platoon organization ( and began sending care packages to soldiers they've never met.

I got a note from Barabara, one of the Patriots organizers today. I am privileged that she shared with me some of the feedback the Patriots are getting from the soldiers.

A lot of moms out there can be awful proud of the way they raised their sons...and as for the Lutz Patriots...well, God bless you all.

From a non-commissioned officer:

Hello, I'd like to start off by thanking you all for what you are doing for us. It means a lot to me and my soldiers to know that someone cares...We are in the town of Fallujah West of Baghdad. Right now it's the most active and dangerous part of the country. We are receiving casualties every day and mortar and rocket attacks every night. It gets tough at times...

We are stretched thin with personnel so we have people doing jobs they were not trained to do and sometimes it costs us dearly. We will not give up hope. We will keep trying. We will defend at any price. We are part of the best division on earth... the All American Division... America's Guard of Honor... The 82nd Airborne Division ! Never Forget Us !

As you read this one...imagine in your minds eye pictures you have seen of soldiers in WWII. Except for the geographic references, one could imagine this one was written over 50 years ago.

I'd like to say thanks for your support. That means a lot to me. I really appreciate it. People that I don't even know are taking care of me and giving me stuff that I really need. It gives me the strength to keep going and makes my duties a lot easier. It makes me feel proud of myself and my country. This is my first deployment. I was nervous when we were in a convoy from Kuwait up through Iraq but now I'm okay. Everything is fine. Now I'm just waiting to get back home and see my family, my wife...and my daughter... We would be very happy if you could keep writing to us. Thanks for your support.

And from a 19 year old:

It is truly astounding that so many people would support what we are doing over here in Iraq. For that I cannot begin to express my thanks. ..Things out here aren't too horribly bad. I guess overall we're comfortable. We work a lot and have to pull guard duty on a lot of different places. They are beginning to build a PX here where we are. Your package was great fun to open. Everyone in our section absolutely enjoyed the items you sent. We thank you graciously. I can't think of much else to tell you. I do think it's going to be wierd being a 19 year old combat vet. Thank you again. I appreciate it.

And finally, this one:

I want to say thank you for your support to us. It is very pleasant for me to know that we got people like you that are interested in helping us thru this hard time. Makes my job easier when I see that people recognise our duty. I'm a 23 year old male from Humacao Puerto Rico and I've been in the states for two years. You don't know how happy I was when I saw that package. I was happy for it but I was even happier when I saw that somebody that I didn't even know before was thinking of us. I'm not going to be able to pay you for this but the God that is up there... He will pay you even more. If you have time I will be waiting for your answer. Well one more time THANK YOU A LOT ! And one day I will like to say thank you in person. God Bless You !

Do you hear the message? To know we - total strangers but fellow Americans - support them raises their spirits and makes their burden easier.

Have you told a Soldier how much you care lately? They sure are never going to figure out how much America is behind them by reading the paper or watching the news.

Write today...and again tomorrow.

I saw Zell Miller on a Sunday talk show yesterday...and listened to every word he said.

Why? Because I'm a Southerner...and I recall as a boy hearing my parents tease my great uncle that he would "vote for the devil if he ran on the Democratic ticket".

Make no mistake - I'm not anxious for the Democrats to regain their dominance in the South...

But if they'd listen to Zell - well, we can all respect the Democratic party who gave us "...ask what you can do for your country."

But that party is gone.
Once upon a time, the most successful Democratic leader of them all, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, looked south and said, "I see one-third of a nation ill-housed, ill-clad, ill-nourished."

Today our national Democratic leaders look south and say, "I see one-third of a nation and it can go to hell."...

So, four times — 1972, 1984, 1988 and 2000 — the Democratic candidate couldn't carry a single Southern state. Not one. Zero. Zilch. And two times, 1968 and 1980, only one Southern state favored the Democrat.

Either the Democratic Party is not a national party or the candidates were not national candidates. Take your pick.

But there is more to this sorry tale. In the mid-term elections of 2002, not a single national Democratic leader could come to the South to campaign without doing more harm than good.

Democratic National Chairman Terry McAuliffe couldn't come. He was too liberal. Bill Clinton couldn't come. He was too liberal. The party's titular head, Al Gore of Tennessee, who two years earlier had put up a big fat zero in the region, couldn't come. Too liberal. Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle couldn't come, nor House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt. Too liberal.

Little has changed, except that Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California has taken the place of Gephardt, which makes it even worse when it comes to romancing the South.

If this is a national party, sushi is our national dish. If this is a national party, surfing has become our national pastime. The people leading our party and those asking to lead our country are like a bunch of naive fraternity boys who don't know what they don't know.

Read the whole thing here.