30 August 2006

Act I: The Religion of Peace in the Iberian Peninsula, The Early Years

Ibn al-Athir, translated by Edmond Fagan, English trans. in Bat Ye'or The Decline of Eastern Christianity under Islam.

In 177 (17 April 793 AD), Hisham, prince of Spain, sent a large army commanded by Abd al-Malik b. Abd al-Wahid b. Mugith into enemy territory, and which made forays as far as Narbonne and Jaranda. This general first attacked Jaranda where there was an elite Frank garrison; he killed the bravest, destroyed the walls and towers of the town, and almost managed to seize it. He then marched on to Narbonne, where he repeated the same actions, then pushing forward, he trampled underfoot the land of the Cerdagne [district of La Cerdana region around Puigcerda, near Andorra]. For several months he traversed this land in every direction, raping women, killing warriors, destroying fortresses, burning and pillaging everything, driving back the enemy, who fled in disorder. He returned safe and sound, dragging behind him God alone knows how much booty. This is one of the most famous expeditions of the Muslims of Spain.
In 210 (23 April 825), Abd ar-Rahman b. al-Hakam sent a strong troop of cavalry commanded by Ubayd Allah--known by he name of Ibn al-Balansi--into Frank territory. This officer led razzias in all directions, embarked on murder and pillage, and took prisoners. In Rebi I (June-July 825), an encounter which took place against the troops of the infidels ended in the rout of the latter, who lost many people; our men won an important victory there.
In 223 (2 December 837), Abd ar-Rahman b. Al-Hakam, sovereign of Spain, sent an army against Alava; it camped near Hisn al-Gharat, which it besieged; it seized the booty that was found there, killed the inhabitants and withdrew, carrying off women and children as captives.
In 231 (6 September 845), a Muslim army advanced into Galicia on the territory of the infidels, where it pillaged and massacred everyone. It advanced as far as the town of Leon, which it besieged with catapaults. The terrified inhabitants fled, abandoning the town and what it contained, so that the Muslims plundered it as they pleased, then reduced what was left to ruins. But they withdrew without having been able to destroy the walls, because they were seventeen cubits wide, and they could do no more than open many breaches in them.
In 246 (27 March 860), Muhammad b. Abd ar-Rahman advanced with many troops and a large military apparatus against the region of Pamplona. He reduced, ruined, and ravaged this territory, where he pillaged and sowed death.

29 August 2006

It beats working for a living.

Another day, another dollar.

Belmont Club has some good links on Iraq.

Lawdog talks about entitlement.

I'd like to talk about something meaningful, but nothing terribly interesting happened today that I can write about.

28 August 2006

Not trying to be a hero here

So Hajji can't shoot.

And the mortar round landed more than a little bit away from the construction site.

But 46th goes home next month, and none of them are interested in getting killed any time soon, so they sent their EMs back in, did a quick job with a skeleton crew of NCOs and an officer, and left early.

I get a full night's sleep tonight. Go me.

The Mission of Insanity

So, we've had a lot of little things that need to be taken care of at TQ, but none of them by themselves justified a convoy there. They would get planned and get bumped and it just wasn't happening. So Top decides that we are doing a run and getting everything done at once. For the record, I'm tired of hearing about some of these things that have been an ongoing thorn in our side for months, so I'm glad we finally decided to do something about it.

First, we turned around three times because the OIC is special. She also didn't have her FBCB2 turned on, which baffles me.

Then when we got there, we spent hours looking for some of the places we had to go. TQ is a huge former Iraqi Air Force airbase, and some stuff is widely spread out, and all we had in some cases is 'you turn this stuff into XYZ unit at TQ'. Not even a phone number.

We had a hellacious sandstorm that hit as we pulled up to eat lunch, such that for a while you couldn't see the building 25 meters away. I love Iraqi weather.

Oh, and our truck was having mechanical 'issues' (overheating, fuel pump vapor lock) and then another truck broke down on the way back.

I had gotten off of a security mission at 2300 on Saturday, linked up for the mission at 0500, and we got back about 1930 or so.

No one got hurt or killed, but practically every thing else that could happen, did. On the plus side, I'm feeling a lot better now that I have had something to gripe about.

Even for Islam, this FOX reporter thing seems like Sketchy Theology .

Next major essay subject, Spain. Reconquista, a play in Three Acts.

27 August 2006

Well, this sucks

Murphy has been OICing this little trip so far. More to follow.

26 August 2006

Poetry and PTSD

Two Geese On The Killarney Road

They waddled as the Dutch once tromped
abreast in wooden sandals,
and our bus be damned.

We turned
into their audience.

They kept in step like fat, flat-footed, and
accredited ambassadors to courts
no longer on the map.

For all they cared we might as well
have stayed in Dublin or America.
Earlier we'd wait for a clan
of Holsteins to surrender half the road.

We trailed their swaying
udders past Tralee before
the driver gently fired
his horn.

The herd divided
into shores and let us through
like Moses all the way to Dingle.

Later it was mares -- or rather
one stray mare that needed
only to be shown how easily
the fallen fence that set her free
would let her back again.

I leave to your imagination how
we fared with lambs and one
quick fox.

They watched us
warily as creatures watch
intruders who might yet be friends.

They felt our presence say
the world was ours.

In goose
or cow or horse or lamb
or fox they answered, "What's
the fuss?
Don't push.
Don't honk.
Don't rush.
The earth is free
and public as the sky.
There's room for you.
There's room for us."

Sam Hazo

A person I know has not seen me recently comment upon his blog, and emailed to ask if everything was alright with me.

Perhaps to his surprise (or perhaps not), he recieved the reply that all is not as it should be. This poem was part of his response.

National Mental Health Association
People with PTSD also experience emotional numbness and sleep disturbances, depression, anxiety, and irritability or outbursts of anger. . . PTSD is diagnosed when symptoms last more than one month.

Check, Check, Check, Check, Check, Check, Check.

Of course, I kind of knew this was coming. I was hoping to hold it together well enough to fake normality at least until I got home. Jen doesn't need to deal with this now, while neither of us can do much about it. And I desperately wanted to wait to fall apart until I was in Texas, with support structures of friends, family, and church which could help me pick up the pieces.

Department of Veteran's Affairs, the Australian one has a good writeup on the subject.

Our VA has some stuff to say also

They give some bits of advice.

Psychological Self-Care
Make time for self-reflection
Have your own personal psychotherapy
Write in a journal
Read literature that is unrelated to work
Do something at which you are not expert or in charge
Decrease stress in your life
Notice your inner experiences -- listen to your thoughts, judgments, beliefs, attitudes, and feelings
Let others know different aspects of you
Engage your intelligence in a new area, e.g., go to an art museum, history exhibit, sports event, auction, theater performance
Practice receiving from others
Be curious
Say no to extra responsibilities sometimes

OK, so a lot of these are things that, oddly enough, are best done via the internet or blogging, given the limitations imposed on my daily routine and the circumstances here. Others, especially the last one, are right out now.

Welcome to John's Self-Therapy Sessions.

Personal admission: This ain't easy. One of the things about PTSD is a feeling of disconnection from many areas of your life, and an emotional numbness that makes it truly difficult to care about the good things in life or about things that aren't immediately urgent. Like continuing to blog, for instance. For my own part, I will attempt to post regularly even if I have very little to say on a particular day.

NB: Sympathy and pity are closely related. The difference is that the former is fine, the latter infuriating.

24 August 2006

Long pompous post. Please ignore.

Service in the military is a life-changing event. It is not the same set of experiences for every veteran, but there is a continuity of themes which unites those of us with military experience, whether it is a Greek cavalry officer from 2500 years ago, or a WWII veteran, or just a guy who spent four years in the Army as a supply clerk on a stateside base in the mid 1980s.

Now, of course the terminology changes. A SIGACT from last week about the MASCAL at the ECP of the IP station caused by a SVBIED might be incomprehensible to a military officer from a century when military reports were still written with complete words, going entire pages without so much as an abbreviation.

For those in need of translation, that would be a Significant Actions report about the Massive Casualty event at the Entry Control Point (front gate) of the Iraqi Police station caused by a Suicide Vehicle-Borne Improvised Explosive Device. But I digress.

Vets often discuss their experiences at great length. We go to the VFW or the American Legion, we gather at reunions, we have email lists and internet forums, and many of us talk about our military service at great length in public places to audiences frequently composed of other veterans.

Not all vets do it, but it is a common characteristic of many of us.

Parenting is another experience common to a great many people over a great deal of time. Kids are infinite in variety, but let’s be realistic. Over the thousands of years of recorded human history, pretty much anything a kid has the physically and mental capacity to do, has been done. I mean really, how much can any particular kid do that hasn’t been done tens of thousands of times before?

And yet, there are probably a hundred different books on parenting and child development on the shelves at any given Barnes and Noble. Tens of thousands of people make absolutely amazing livings as supposed experts on the subject, even though many of these people have no children of their own. This to me makes as much sense as a civilian giving me advice on tactics, but the topic of this essay isn’t America’s cultural obsession with “experts”.

Parents discuss their experiences with each other in practically every venue imaginable. There are TV shows, radio programs, blahblahblah, ad infinitum. To those of us who aren’t parents it can occasionally be a little boring and tedious. I expect that when my wife and I have rugrats of our own, we will also be afflicted with the compulsion to post long discussions of the latest cute thing they do.

NB: I’m exaggerating for rhetorical effect. I do happen to like reading about some people’s kids. Mostly those kids I happen to know a bit. Sophia, keep postin’ about yours.

Parenthood and military service are life changing experiences. They take some getting used to. I know people who have been back from Iraq for months or years who still dream about it. My grandfather, in a very real sense, had a part of him which never left New Guinea. Towards the end of his life, when afflicted by Alzheimer’s, that was one thing he never forgot. He didn’t recognize his family, but could tell you at great length about WWII.

Let’s get to the point, now that everyone is wondering what the hell I’m going on about.

A very good friend I have developed over the past two years posted a question why people have an urge to talk religion at great length and in great depth, complete with esoteric technical theological terminology. I answered it with what by my standards was a short, to the point response.

Christianity is part of who I am. Specifically, it is Orthodox Christianity for a great number of reasons. My faith is not blind, or unquestioning. It is rooted in my experiences, which are not empirical evidence and are largely irreproducible. This is why I’m a piss-poor evangelist. I don’t have arguments lined up with specific pieces of evidence or “proof”. The observant reader will notice that I don’t proselytize and never have. I have been involved in precisely one conversion and while I was honored to have a played a part in it, my part was not one of providing “evidence” or proof texts or complex arguments and apologetics.

I’m sitting in this chair right now. There is an analogy I have heard before which compares Faith in the religious sense to sitting in a chair. You have faith that the chair will support you.

Nonsense. The reason I sat in this chair is that I inherited it from my predecessor in this office who outweighed me by 30 pounds or more. Now I am sitting in it. No ‘faith’ required, the stability of this chair is a fact.

Where am I going?

Oh, yeah. My relationship with the Christ, the Son of the Living God is not a matter of faith to me. It is as much a reality to me as the chair I’m sitting in. None of you have seen my chair. Whether you choose to believe in it or not is utterly irrelevant to me. I just don’t care one way or another. I’m going to sit in it anyway. Each of you has one or more chairs in your life, and I am the last person to get involved in your chairs. If you’re dissatisfied with your chair and you are curious about mine, drop me an e-mail and I’ll tell you about it at great length.

However, my relationship with Jesus Christ and my experiences within Mother Church are not quite as limited as my experiences and relationship with this chair. I sit in this chair for a couple hours a day. It’s a pretty peripheral thing and would never make it onto my blog unless I was in serious need of an analogy.

The whole thing is not just a single life changing experience. I mean, you go to war, you come back, and then you deal with it. It may take months, years, decades, even a lifetime to deal with it. But you are back in America and the roadside is not likely to sprout fireballs. You join the Army, you spend 22 years doing what you do, and then you retire. You’re a different person than the young guy who joined up, but at the end of career you move on to other things.

A relationship with Jesus Christ, worship of the Holy Trinity in communion with the Holy, Catholic, and Orthodox Church, is not something that happens and then is over with. It is not a single event, nor a limited series of events. It is, or at least it should be, a constantly evolving reality which transfigures every single aspect of a Christian’s life.

Technical note: Though God is (by definition) unchangeable, immutable, and impassible, we change. The change in the relationship is due to our human mutability.

Anyway, this sort of relationship creates a bond among those who share it. We are in communion (look the word up!) with the Church, a body of believers with whom we share core values, theological dogmas, and most importantly, with whom we partake in the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ during corporate acts of worship.

Communion of the saints is not merely an aspect of Christianity; it is a fundamental element which defines all other aspects of Christianity. Human love is reinterpreted as a pale reflection of the divine love, but one which we can experience to teach us of the divine love. The two becoming one of marriage is a reflection of the Three who are One in the Holy Trinity. When I drink His blood and eat His body, I do so in union with all who eat and drink His body and blood. Humans do not save each other, but God acts in a salvific manner through the actions and words of human beings in a myriad of ways. As one writer has put it, we go to Heaven together, or to Hell alone.

And guess what? We are going to discuss it. Like old Soldiers swapping basic training stories (we’ve all done it!), we talk about our growing and deepening walk with God. People talk about things they have in common. The larger an aspect of a person’s life something is, the more they tend to talk about it. My chair is a minor and peripheral thing. I have one blog entry in which it figures. My wife is a much larger aspect of my life. She gets mentioned with considerable more frequency. The Army is also a large part of my life, and I natter on about that as well.

God is bigger than my job. By orders of magnitude. And come to mention it, God is both bigger than and an integral part of my relationship with the woman with whom I am joined in the sacrament of matrimony.

Sometimes we use even use our own technical terminology (which is often derived from foreign languages, most prominently Greek). The reason for the Greek terms is that the precision of Greek is unrivaled (except, perhaps, by Syriac) and that the vast majority of the important theological wrangling was finished centuries ago. For me, the Faith of the Seven Ecumenical Councils is sufficient, and those Councils were conducted in Greek, convened by Greek-speakers, and composed of Fathers who wrote and spoke in Greek. So, unsurprisingly, all their technical terms are in Greek.

I have a blog for a number of reasons. I like to keep in contact with my family, and this is an easy way to do it. I have an amazing ego, and this is an easy way to gratify it. I am an opinionated jerk, and this is a good way to get into arguments with people I’ve never met.

These are not all laudable reasons. I’m working on that humility thing. It’s not an easy process for me. But none of these are main reason I blog.

I’m 28 years old. I’m having a tremendous amount of change in my life over the past five years. I’ve changed religions. I’ve gotten married. I’m been deployed twice to a particularly obnoxious guerilla war. I’ve been promoted and busted and promoted again. I’ve been facing decisions left and right, and some of these decisions make me ask who the hell I am. It is safe to say that I am less sure of myself than I have been since I was a snot-nosed teenager. Guess what? It’s not going to change or slow down any time soon. Buying property, having kids, all this is coming down the road, and it scares me senseless.

This blog is where I’m working out some of the answers. Especially given the limited time to talk to my wife, and my disconnection from fellow Orthodox Christians, this blog has become the place where I work out issues, blow off steam, and basically write about the search for the answer. You think I’m just writing about politics?

If my faith is to have any meaning at all, it must meaningfully impact every area of my life. It must inform my professional decisions, guide the building of my marriage, and even modify my political opinions. I’m not terribly good at it all. I’m a lousy Christian. I am first among sinners. There is not a single one of God’s commandments I don’t transgress in one way or another. I like shooting at people. I found myself hoping some idiot gets froggy every time I roll out the gate.

Writing my thoughts down in little glowing pixels forces me to fix the state of Schrödinger’s cat. It no longer exists in multiple potential states, but one. And in the process I can take out my soul and examine it. Y’all are the audience for my self-examination. Doing it in public forces a certain honesty and makes me impose certain rules on my own meanderings.

Having laid that out, the connection should become obvious. I should be writing about God every time I write an entry. Whether it is obvious or not, in a way I do. Reading back over this, I realize how pompous and self-important it sounds.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior, have mercy on me, a sinner.

I find myself with little to write about.

Iran has officially gotten froggy.

With Romania.

Wow. It takes real balls to start a scuffling match with a country that has no navy worth mentioning. I'm sure the 12th Imam would be proud.

Wake me up when someone gets killed over this lawsuit-with-machine-guns.

There's a huge flaming argument over progress in Baghdad. Are we making progress? Is violence up? Is it down? Is Iraq in a civil war?

What's the threshold for a civil war, anyway? Was Bloody Kansas a precursor to the Civil War, or the first campaign, or what? Does it take 10 people, 100 people, 1,000 people, 10,000 people, 100,000 people killed?

Does it matter which label we use if your mother is one of the 10?

Does it matter whether we label it 'sectarian violence' or 'civil war'? Maybe to Democrats looking to ditch Iraq. It certaintly sounds scarier. "Civil War" is used, it seems, as a code word for "enough violence to make America withdraw". Civil War is, I presume, supposed to conjure up images of Sherman burning Atlanta, and the movie Gettysburg. I doubt your average voter knows much more about our Civil War. But the sorry state of the public education system is a different rant.

Sadly, in Middle Eastern Culture there is not the same sort of huge gaping divide between absolute peace in 1850 and total war with hundreds of thousands of casualties, complete mobilization of the economy, a draft in both halves of the country, etc etc etc in 1862. A certain level of systemic violence is inherently a part of the fabric of daily life in Arabic culture. It's normal. And it doesn't happen that someone bombards Ft. Sumpter and suddenly everything ramps up to this massive scale. No, it slowly escalates and then dies down in a cyclical manner on a constant basis, responding to conditions too subtle to be noticed from the roof of a hotel in the Green Zone.

Wasn't it these same assinine Democrats who were hopping up and down for the United States to get involved in civil wars in Bosnia and Serbia? What's the difference? Is it that the Democrats believe that once little brown people start killing each other in a "civil war" the problem is insoluble, but that if the combatants are white Europeans, it is a moral duty for the United States to intervene?

Or is that a properly "progressive" Mr. Clinton intervened in Bosnia and Kosovo, while it is "Chimp-Hitler" Mr. Bush wishes to keep fighting in Iraq?

Or is that in Bosnia and Kosovo we were killing Christians on behalf of radical Islamic fundamentalists (in alliance with Iran and Syria) while in Iraq we would be killing radical Islamic fundamentalists?

Funny, last time I checked we are at war with radical Islamic fundamentalism. George Bush can't say so because he thinks it would cost him his friendship with the Saudi royal family (the root cause of radical Islamic fundamentalism in the world today), but I have no such constraints. I actually want to sterilize the entire Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as a first step towards restoring sanity in the Middle East. I'm an asshole.

Whatever. The utter irrelevance of it all, the absolute absurdity of everything is weighing rather heavily on me today. Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.

Right now, the only thing that seem completely real to me is the phone conversation I had with my wife about half an hour ago.

23 August 2006

Post percolating

I've got a very long essay (on God) in the works, but it needs another day or two to percolate. Nothing much exciting happening here that I'm directly involved in. The high point of my day was listening to an officer explain the problem with her rifle, and change the buffer and ejector springs. I think the problem is lack of lubrication, but those springs are also possibilities. We'll see how it does on the 25th at the range.

In the mean time, I'm going to mention how much my wife rocks. She puts up with my self-centered arrogance (deflating it from time to time), moodiness, and mouth big enough to cram both feet in there up to the kneecap. Plus unfair debate tactics.

She loves me, and for the life of me I can't figure out why.

It's OK. I have the rest of my life to try to be worthy of what she gives me.

PS: She started fall semester today. Did I mention that she rocks?

22 August 2006

Too long for the comment section

Sophia's Wisdom had an interesting post, and I started to ramble on in her comment box before deciding to rewrite, tighten it up, and make it a post of my own.

Khouria Frederica Matthews-Green wrote the essay referenced in Sophia's post above. The relevant quote is,

"Something about Orthodoxy has immense appeal to men, and it’s something that their wives—especially those used to worshiping in the softer evangelical style—are generally slower to get. The appeal of joining this vast, ancient, rock-solid communion must be something like the appeal of joining the marines. It’s going to demand a hell of a lot out of you, and it’s not going to cater to your individual whims, but when it’s through with you you’re going to be more than you ever knew you could be. It’s going to demand, not death on the battlefield, but death to self in a million painful ways, and God is going to be sovereign. It’s a guy thing. You wouldn’t understand."

Then the actual 'kicking and screaming' phrase Sophia quoted.

You are both absolutely correct. Orthodoxy, while having great appeal to both sexes (in Christ, there is no male or female) allows men to remain men. American culture (political correctness, etc) seems to want to emasculate men. Orthodoxy wants men to be better (Christ-like) men, not substitute women. I read once an Orthodox Christian who works in marketing who wrote that to his perspective, much of American Protestantism is marketed to 50 year old women.

The question is the ancient ideal of masculine protection of women and children. This is, despite the attempts of certain breeds of feminists to deny it, a biological imperative. Cluttered with bad poetry, it become chivalry. This is the ancestry of what a modern Southerner would refer to as 'manners'. I say Southerner because I'm not sure what Yankees mean by manners, if in fact they are aware of the concept.

It used to be that protection of those who can't protect themselves was enforced strictly by the way the world worked. Those tribes which did not protect their women and children found that their women and children were eaten by hyenas, and so those tribes no longer exist. Modern woman, so the feminists tell us, can protect herself with injunctions and restraining orders, and the assumption that some 158lb guy needs to stick up for her is downright sexist.

Then along come people like yourself and my wife who have discovered that it isn't about limiting women. Protecting women does not merely involve explaining to the Socially Disadvantaged Youth that perhaps my wife's purse is not what he needs to buy his next drug fix. It's about being supportive in every way--financially, emotionally, helping cover responsibilities and duties, etc. In other words, it is about cherishing the women in our lives as we cherish our own bodies (says St. Paul) and loving completely, in a sacrificial manner that extends to being willing to lose our lives if need be. Does that extend to the Church as a whole? Absolutely. A husband is supposed to model Christ, who died for the Church. In the United States, this is rarely necessary. Usually the more pressing need is for guys to show up on Saturday to rake leaves and help with the yard work at the Church. I think I prefer it that way.

In the specific situation mentioned, I happen to agree with the Chaldeans involved. You don't come to my Church and hurl invective that disturbs my service. It wouldn't happen in Texas because even at Church, there are enough CC permit holders to ensure that violent protest doesn't get out of hand. But they presented what a group of recent immigrants from the Middle East would recognize as a prelude to a riot, and they suffered the consequences. People don't get up early in the morning and go scream invective in the Middle East outside a hated minority group's worship services unless they mean to go further. Reap what you sow, etc.

21 August 2006

You think this happens every day?

You scored as Dread Pirate Roberts. Letting people thing you are a billy bad ass keeps you in business but when it comes down to it, you'll do the right thing every time. You are a good person at heart and just can't help being the hero.

Dread Pirate Roberts


Captain Jack Sparrow


Will Turner




Captain Barbosa


Mary Read


Black Beard


Captain James T. Hook


Long John Silvers


Morgan Adams


What kind of Pirate are you?
created with QuizFarm.com

Short Post

I don't have much time, have to run to a Prevention of Sexual Harrasment class (WTF?? In a warzone we are worried about this crap? We just lost a Soldier in 1-35 Armor!)

But I wanted to throw up this link. I'll write about it later, but let's see what the peanut gallery has to say.

The Moment of Truth

20 August 2006

ACUs and Combat boots.

Kneepads, internal.

Elbowpads, internal.

Weapons, two each. M-9 9mm pistol and M-16A2. 210 rounds of 5.56mm, and 30 rounds of 9mm ball.

NVG, AN/PVS-14, with helmet mount carried in a drop-leg carrier along with a knife.

Another knife in the small of my back, next to the Leatherman.

UVEX ballistic goggles with prescription inserts.

Combat earplugs.

Interceptor Body Armor System with Enhanced SAPI plates, sides plates, and DAPs. Camelbak with 2 liters of water in it.

Improved First Aid Kid.

Ballpoint pen, little green notebook, and of course a novel slipped into a thigh pocket under my dropleg carrier which holds my NVGs.

Everything, barring the novel and the knives, is mandatory, as per 1st BCT policy. I am permitted to exercise discretion in which elbow and knee pads I wear, and I hate the bulky hard plastic ones, besides which they always end up as ankle pads.

We drove about 10 minutes to a neighboring FOB so that an ossifer could attend a briefing.

It’s just a thrill a minute here in Ramadi.

Holy Martyr Andrew Stratelates and his Companions, pray for us.


Discussion of the issue of civilian death in more detail than most people want. Unfortunately for some people's tender sensibilities, it is quite accurate both legally and in practical terms.


In case anyone is wondering why we are seriously planning on settling in Texas on a permanent basis.

18 August 2006

Slow News Day

Well, I'm watching the news in the chow hall and arguing with a USN Catholic chaplain about the relative merits of the USA vs. the USMC, and I notice that there are only two stories on the news. One is about Mel Gibson getting probation. On the subject of Mel Gibson, I can only quote this bit from Jackie Mason I found here.

From an interview with Jackie Mason, comedian and one-time rabbi, by Neil Cavuto (8/9), found on counterpunch.org:

Mason: "Nobody could excuse these remarks, but do you ever take it so seriously when a guy is drunk and stupid, laying on the floor, and he says some ridiculous things? People curse their own mother in a state like that. They tell their whole family to drop dead. I mean, the whole family would be going to a cemetery by Thursday."

Cavuto: "But nevertheless, they say it's a truth serum. You don't buy that?"

Mason: "You gotta be a moron, you gotta be the phoniest, wretchedest fraud in the world to claim it's a truth serum. If it's your family or friends and they say something in a drunken state, you say he's drunk and you forget about it. In a drunken state you might bang your head against the wall. Does that mean you wanna break your head?"

Also of note from that site is a discussion of Scotland attempting to ban swords.

Who the hell commits a crime with a sword? Oh, well. All Europeans are serfs anyway, and have been for generations. It's not like they really have any civil liberties to defend.

This would probably be illegal in most of Europe.

The other thing on the news was the arrest of a dude in Thailand in connection with the murder of that kid a while back. OK, so he's creepy-looking, like PeeWee Herman on Casual Friday. Granted he's been in trouble over kiddie porn and so should probably be institutionalized or simply shot. Somehow I'm not surprised he ended up in Thailand, the Child Prostitution capital of the Known Universe.

I'm not convinced he whacked this particular kid. And the guy is obviously so mental you can't tell whether his emails represent reality or fantasy.

But most significantly, in today's complex and ever-evolving world, with a fragile peace in Lebanon, insurgency/civil war in Iraq, al-Qaeda, bomb threats on Brit airliners, and a hundred thousand other things which will affect all our lives far more than one girl who was turned into a plastic junior Barbie doll getting murdered because her parents insisted on parading her in public dressed like a sextoy, these are the ONLY two things that made the cut for what goes on the evening news.

And we're supposed to believe the Media is credible?

Speaking of Credibility, let's talk warrantless wiretapping.

National Review has an article on the subject of the latest court ruling, wherein a lawyer with some serious creds rips the decision to shreds. Whether you are a fan of the Prez's authority to catch terrorists before they commit mass murder or not, the sloppiness and bad law contained in this ruling is interesting.

Personally, the question to me is "reasonable" and that changes with the stakes of the game. What is unreasonable in pursuit of a common criminal becomes eminently so when dealing with an enemy with which we are (de facto if not de jure) at war.

Totally Changing the Subject, this is as good as description of converting to Orthodoxy as can be fitted into a blog entry. And while we are all different, we all have some similarities. I never dipped into 'alternative spirituality' (although Mithra looked appealing for a brief time, until I considered the expense of sacrificing bulls) the same things drew me in.

16 August 2006

Much ado about nothing.

I'm not going to rant. It doesn't do any good, and there is a (remote) possibility that someone is reading this blog.

I will say a couple things:

1)I expect drama in a certain section of this company which has a lot of females wearing uniforms. They lack the professionalism to call them female Soldiers. I do not expect it out of people who are old enough and senior enough not to be emo little drama queens.

2) If a weapon has not been serviced in years and does not work, please do not do the easy thing and tell your Soldier he needs to clean it. A clean broken weapon is still a broken weapon. Try going through your friendly neighborhood armorer. I can find four deadlines in five minutes. The fifth deadline I went and got a second opinion on. Cussing out a young Soldier will not fix bent or crushed springs or a bent operating rod.

Other than that, I've had a lot of 'nothing much' going on.

13 August 2006


Hugh Hewitt is imagining victory.

"SO HOW WILL THE WAR END? With lots of dead Jihadists. Just like World War II ended with lots of dead Nazis and imperialist troops of Japan. There were so many dead, the rest lost their will to fight on. Only when they realize their destruction is imminent (and accomplished to a great degree) will there be peace."

Sadly enough, that doesn't really bother me.

Some Soldier's Mom has some thoughts on the problem with identifying the enemy, to wit that it ain't easy to sort out the 'good Muslims' from the 'bad ones' because they don't have the decency to coalesce geographically, form easily identified chains of command, or wear uniforms. So a lot of people do the easy thing and pretend they don't exist.

Fascism is one of the fun fuzzy terms that people like to throw around. George Bush wants to wiretap terrorists, so he's a "fascist" but Osama bin Laden wants to blow up innocent civillians, so calling him a fascist is proof that I don't really understand his unique and valuable cultural heritage, blahblahblah. Washington Times Editorial page weighs in on the subject.

Haaretz has an editorial on Lebanon and what it means for US/Israeli relationship.

A British Politician has some trenchant commentary on the stupidity of the terrorism apologists in the "moderate" Muslim community, who issue perfunctory denunciations of terrorism in bland statements carrying enough caveats to let the world know that deep down inside, they don't disapprove of terrorism but they realize that saying that outright would cause problems.

What does this all mean? Personally, this is possibly the scariest opinion piece I've read in a while. It is entirely possible that the Middle East may Go Away if we don't succeed in Iraq, because the American People will be convinced that there is no way to deal successfully with Islam. If we fail to transform the Middle East, we retain enough power to destroy it utterly, with minimal threat to ourselves and few if any losses. How many terror plots would have to be broken before the American people demanded a final solution to the question of how Islam will live side-by-side with the rest of the world?

But let's end with some humor anyway.

12 August 2006

Point of Clarification

Note regarding my last post:

Despite the perhaps a bit vituperative tone of the last entry, I would like to point out that it is not aimed at every person who dislikes the idea of datamining on phone records.

There are some people who honestly would prefer to accept a greater risk of terrorist attack on the United States rather than give up certain civil liberties as they interpret them. This is a value judgement. I do not agree with it, but there are points to made for and against that viewpoint in reasoned debate.

What I despise, have contempt for, and find myself incapable of communicating with, are the damned two-faced hypocrites in the media and the Democratic Party, as well as their supporters. These people want to have their cake and eat it too. They want absolute security from terrorism, and blame George Bush if they can't have it. But if the Administration takes measures to increase security, well that is an infringement of their rights and they blame George Bush again. You cannot have it both ways. A willingness to overlook this logical inconsistency is the symptom of a weak mind so disabled with party loyalty and hobbled by a crap educational system that no longer teaches basic logic or critical thinking.

Latest terror plot.

Wall Street Journal is the source of all quotes following.

British antiterrorism chief Peter Clarke said at a news conference that the plot was foiled because "a large number of people" had been under surveillance, with police monitoring "spending, travel and communications."

Read it carefully.

British antiterrorism chief Peter Clarke said at a news conference that the plot was foiled because "a large number of people" had been under surveillance, with police monitoring "spending, travel and communications."

In case you weren't reading with intent to comprehend, let me repeat it again.

British antiterrorism chief Peter Clarke said at a news conference that the plot was foiled because "a large number of people" had been under surveillance, with police monitoring "spending, travel and communications."

I wonder, was this monitoring conducted with due regard for what in America would be these terrorist's 4th Amendment Rights, as interpreted by the ACLU, the Democratic Party, the New York Times, and other organizations who want Americans to be murdered because it would make George Bush look bad?

Oh, maybe that wasn't a fair spin.

Maybe the Democratic Party doesn't believe in using this sort of incident for purely partisan political ends.

"Harry Reid, who's bidding to run the Senate as Majority Leader, saw it as one more opportunity to insist that 'the Iraq war has diverted our focus and more than $300 billion in resources from the war on terrorism and has created a rallying cry for international terrorists.'
"Ted Kennedy chimed in that 'it is clear that our misguided policies are making America more hated in the world and making the war on terrorism harder to win.'"

I guess they do. Wouldn't it have been cool if the plot had succeeded? Then we could have REALLY roasted George Bush for not doing anything! Not that there is any course of action that the Democratic Party would approve of. Regardless of the merit of that course of action, it would be slammed because it is an Administration proposal. It's even better if the Administration does nothing, because then the Dems can roast them for not doing anything.

After all, what would Mr. Reid propose we spend that $300 billion dollars on? Not anti-terrorist surveillance programs. Last time Mr. Reid heard the Bush Administration was conducting such programs, the key quotes to sum up his opinion of them were "illegal" and "NSA domestic spying program."

Maybe Mr. Reid thinks we should station the ENTIRE United States Armed Forces as guards in airports to prevent travellers from carrying water bottles, insulin, or toothpaste aboard airplanes and to strip-search fully-uniformed miltary personnel returning from combat duty in Iraq and elderly women. Since we can't "profile". God forbid. The action taken to bad all liquids and gels from aircraft is a 'feel-good' initiative which is driven by the prime political imperative in the post-Katrina world to DO SOMETHING, even if it is wrong or meaningless.

Explosives can be disguised as soap. Easily. I can think of several explosives which would serve.

Explosives can be flattened and sewn into the liners of garments.

Explosives can be wrapped in condoms and hidden in body cavities.

A truly determined terrorist can get his stuff into an airport if he really wants to. Passive measures only add hassle and waste time, without significantly increasing real security. Real security comes from old-fashioned detective and intelligence work, arresting bad guys before they pull the fuze.

I'm waiting for a suicide bombing at an airport. Imagine it: Hundreds of harried travellers standing in line behind a Middle-Eastern military-age male with a freshly shaved beard, smelling like flower water, mumbling prayers to himself (don't you DARE profile him, screams the ACLU) when, instead of emptying his pockets at the security counter into the nifty plastic tray, he shouts "Allahu Akbar", and blows himself to smithereens. How many would be killed by the ball-bearings he's carrying in his coat pockets and the 5 or 6 kilos of plastique he's wearing under his jacket?

What will the politicians do then? Require nudity when entering an airport?

11 August 2006


I mentioned a few posts ago that we had a SEAL KIA here in Ramadi.

The Navy Times has an article on that sailor.

Mad King Ludwig has always been one of my favorite lunatics, given that unlike most mad kings, he never killed or tortured anyone. He was content to work with art and architecture and whatever other scientific pursuits grabbed his fancy.

I also happen to LIKE Wagnerian operas. Call me wierd.

But that makes a nice segue into the next topic, perceptions and reality of racism.

If you imagine a stereotypical racist, what do you normally picture? A Southerner who voted for Bush? Or a New England country-club blueblooded aristocrat who gives tens of thousands of dollars to Democratic campaigns? Turns out the latter not only is likely to be a condescending asshole, but his neighborhood is a less safe place to be a racial, religious, or other minority than rural Texas. Funny how THAT works out My theory is that Southerners all had mothers who impressed upon them the importance of being polite, even to people you don't like. From my observation, this is not a New England, New York, or Californian practice.

How did the Iraqi Chicken cross the road?

Re-up time!

I have 7 years, 9 months of Active Federal Service.

Any re-enlistment means I'm going for 20. There would be no point to doing 10 or more years and then getting out. This will be the last time I'm eligible for a bonus, and that's a lousy B-zone bonus. 1B, to be specific.

What that means is that you take your monthly pay, divide by 12, and multiply by the number of months of additional obligated service. In other words, the number of months my new contract will go past my current contact. This matters, even though the new contract cancels the remaining obligation on my last contract.

So I re-enlisted for 6 years, and Fort Hood. This gives me $11,235 and change. Lump-sum, and I should see it in the bank account by the end of the month.

I'm going to go to Fort Hood some time in the spring (tenatively, end of April) and am guaranteed 12 months stabilization there.

I got an e-mail from Classmates.com, wherein they wish to tell me about a 10 year reunion for my high school class. Personally, I didn't much like those clowns when I was in school (with some exceptions), and besides I'm busy.

My work schedule just changed drastically, because they need an NCO to take charge of a small security mission on a nightly basis. W00t. Gets me out of the damn arms room, at least.

09 August 2006

The Press and the Arlington School Board.

The Anchoress and Sisu have some commentary on the MSM and veracity. They say it better than I can. I despise and hate liars, and for me much of the media has siddled on into that category. They now knowingly publish fiction and claim that it is objective truth. At least I admit that I'm biased as hell.

The Arlington School Board has its priorities skewed, IMHO. Fire teachers who suck, pay teachers enough to attract competent folks, and try teaching students to THINK, and worry about fiddling with the dress code once you manage that. Because fiddling with the dress code isn't likely to actually cause students to do any better at learning (as Lawdog discusses at length) if nothing else changes.

Having said that, I do think that most fashions for adolescent girls look like they are hookers. They are just imitating club-going fashions for young adults, however. I'm old enough to have the opinion that leaving something to the imagination can be sexier than the trashy-streetwalker appearance. But that takes class and style. It's easier to put on fishnet stockings, a miniskirt, and a 'thing' that is somewhere between a tanktop and bra. Doesn't require much thought, and works to attract a certain breed of guy. If that's what you want to attract, then keep on dressing like a 'working girl'. Just don't be surprised when he treats you like a whore.

Poor birds

Penguins in East Texas

Those poor penguins.

Honestly, I havn't laughed this hard in a while.

08 August 2006

Seperation of Church and State, the Orthodox view

"I recognize two authorities, priesthood and empire; the Creator of the world entrusted to the first the care of souls and to the second the care of men's bodies. Let neither authority be attacked, that the world may enjoy prosperity"
--Basileus John Tzimikes

Finally, in a heated encounter, the praetorian prefect lost his patience and threatened Basil with confiscating his goods, with exile, torture, and even death. Basil responded, "All that I have you can confiscate are these rags and a few books. Nor can you exile me, for wherever you send me, I shall be God's guest. As to tortures you should know that my body is already dead in Christ. And death would be a great boon to me, leading me sooner to God." Taken aback, the prefect said that no one had ever spoken to him thus. Basil answered, "Perhaps that is because you have never met a true bishop."
--The Story of Christianity, Vol. 1, Justo L. Gonzalez, HarperSanFrancisco, 1984, p. 185

"The Milosevic regime does not support the Christian values we are fighting for and want to preserve."
--Fr. Sava, Serbian priest quoted by BBC in regards to the situation in Kosovo in 1999

For the President of the United States and all civil authorities, and for our Armed Forces everywhere, let us pray to the Lord.

Kyrie Eleison

That He will aid them and grant them victory over every enemy and adversary, let us pray to the Lord.

Kyrie Eleison

For this city, and every city and land, and for the faithful who dwell therein, let us pray to the Lord.

Kyrie Eleison

--Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostum, as translated into English and adapted for use in the United States. Original wording referred to the 'God-fearing Emperor' by name.

Good link, h/t Sophia

St John of Damascus and Islam

Interesting, and of interest because St. John of Damascus is my patron. Oddly enough, we have a fairly similiar view of Islam, though I can't quite classify it as a Christian heresy. On the other hand, I've seen Bolshevism classified as a Christian heresy so there really is no accounting for taste. The links in this article are to some really good stuff.
What is NT On-Access Scanner service, and how do I kill it?

Every time I boot up my laptop, it takes an inordinate amount of time, and then I get an error message saying there is a problem with this service. I don’t know what it is, don’t recall installing it, and want to get rid of it if it serves no function other than to gum up the works and then crash.

I’m tired of writing about the Middle East.

I’m reading Credo, by Jaroslav Pelikan. I’ve been urged to hurry up and finish it, as the Catholic chaplain wants to borrow it. Snicker. There is some really good stuff in here, which I never considered. I admit to knowing very little about the historical roots of Protestantism, despite having been raised as one. Zwingli makes me want to go back in time and smack him over the head. Luther has always bothered me. Don’t get me started on Calvin. I have coffee with the Prods on Friday evenings, since they have really good coffee. Well, that’s not the only reason. They are also really nice folks with a love for the Bible and a sincere (if theologically imprecise) love for Christ. So there is some common ground. I’m not turning into a fuzzy ecumenical type who is going to start espousing the branch theory of the Church, but let’s just say that I choose to look at similarities rather than differences for a couple hours out of the week. And one of them is looking into Orthodoxy, so we have some good discussions on theology. Anyway, one of them was relating a story about a friend of his who used God as an excuse for getting fired. “God wanted me to get fired,” when the guy relating the story said it probably had more to do with being late to work consistently and with no good reason. It just slipped out of me, “I betcha a quarter he’s a Calvinist.”

The fact that I was right is beside the point.

Anyway, Credo is giving me some insight into precisely where some of these beliefs came from and how they were historically expressed. Most fascinating is the squabbling between Calvinists and Lutherans over the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, a belief that was never seriously disputed within the Church at any time from the time of St. Ignatius of Antioch (On Heresies, most likely composed in 96 AD, certainly before 107 AD when he reposed, which would be BEFORE much of the New Testament was written) until Zwingli came up with his abominable heresy. Then again, one of the changes in mindset going from Protestantism to Orthodoxy was learning that theological innovation is always suspect. The idea that the Church in its entirety, beginning even before the repose of the last of the 12 Apostles, could lapse into heresy on this utterly vital point (as happened if one believes Zwingli, Calvin, and their supporters) is literally inconceivable to me at this stage in life.

Also of interest, but worthy of greater discussion is the disconnect between Reformation soteriology and every-day life which requires the Second Helvetic Confession of 1566 to condemn both the idea that good works are necessary to salvation and the idea that good works detrimental to salvation. So which is it? But trying to pin down Westerners on soteriological ideas is generally a bad idea because of the way the first reformers worked from a single standpoint, being unable or unwilling to formulate a balanced concept of Christ saving the whole of man. This involves the transformation of soul, mind, and body and the expression of this transformation in the Christian's life. To take any one aspect of this transfiguration and saying 'this, and this alone is salvation' is taking a partial and skewed look at what is really a lifelong process of walking with Christ. Blame it on Augustine and Anselm. I do.

07 August 2006


Most of these links speak for themselves. I'm tired of trying to come up with deathless prose to discuss Israel, Lebanon, Iran, Syria, Islam in general.

Those who understand what the situation is, do need my words to deal with it.

Those who are willfully blinded by their hatred of the United States, or Israel, or Western civilization in general, will not understand even should I have a 'muse of fire'.

On the Media's handling of Lebanon.

Jerusalem Post

Little Green Footfalls
On what's really going on Lebanon

Belmont Club

On Iraq, the real story:

Base Tranfers

This next story points out something that most folks don't know. A Training and Doctrine command is an essential part of creating a real military, not just a stopgap of guys with rifles.


This one I like because of the appearance of the fort in the accompanying photo.

Border Forts

As for what's happening in Ramadi, we've been having an interesting time. The big guns are firing almost every night, the SIGACTs (SIGnificant ACTions) briefs are thick, and we've lost a SEAL, a Marine, and 3 Soldiers in the past week. I'm not writing much about it because I'm not involved (stuck on the damn FOB). I will say that one of our major projects has been building up positions (COPs--Combat OutPosts) in the city both for American forces and for the IA/IPs. We've had a platoon dedicated to running a yard for Texas barriers alone. Lots of building.

05 August 2006

My wife rocks muchly

In case I havn't mentioned it lately, my wife rocks muchly.

For those of you who don't know me, this may come as a surprise, but I could be fairly described as 'high strung' on certain subject. I know, keep laughing. But I find that my Beloved is one of the best things for my blood pressure and general mental health. When I'm freaking, she's the one who can calm me down and get me to look at things rationally. There are times I will admit that I have a tendency to attempt to go through brick walls headfirst, and when I fall on my ass I just get up, get mad, and hit the wall headfirst harder.

This is not conducive to actual problem solving. I'm pretty good at problem solving if I'm not so frustrated I can't see straight.

Jen helps me see straight, and more than that, she makes me want to see straight. She makes me want to do the best I can possibly do and not just freak out.

Also, she talked to Dell for me and got a list of drivers that I need and the order they need to be installed in. I'm been pinging off the walls for weeks over this subject. Now that I have the names of the files I need, I can download them. Granted I'm downloading them slowly, but I'm downloading them. Eventually I'll be able to install them, and then my laptop will be able to perform its designed function. And there will be much rejoicing.

03 August 2006

War and Peace, dueling paradigms

OK, first I have to acknowledge a huge debt to Victor Davis Hanson for a lot of the thoughts which follow.

The Western mindset about many things breaks down into a lot of dichotomies.

Truthful, Liar.

Rational, Emotional.

True, False.

Military, Civillian.

War, Peace.

These are things which are (in English) opposite and to you and I (presuming you are reading this with a Western cultural background) they are completely different states of being. I'm going to speak to the last two of these.

During wartime, there are two enemies (called beligerants) which are recognizable nations (or states, or both, or something of the sort) and which do their best to impose their will on each other. This is usually expressed by blowing things up and/or sticking pointy objects into the citizens of the other beligerant.

During peacetime, the same two nations would not consider condoning the killing of each other's citizens and engage in competition which will not involve rockets and rifles.

The military is composed of people who are selected (by choice or their government) to participate in wars and attempt to kill other people who preferably are in the military of the enemy nation.

Civillians are folks who have not been so selected and hence are theoretically never to be deliberately targeted, unless of course they happen to have lived after the invention of aerial bombardment, in which case they are fair game if they live in the same city as a military target. (Not really, but it's terribly complicated once area-effect weapons are invented, and sieges are also complex legal issues)


In case you didn't get the hint,

Other Cultures Don't Think This Way!

These definitions are an artifact of Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome and the societies which trace descent from those civilizations are the only societies for which this is true.

Go get a cup of coffee and think about it.

Let me start with war and peace.

Warfare in Ancient Greece was pretty simple. One side would send the other an ultimatum, stop doing this or Else. Then the army musters, marches out, and starts burning the vineyards and cutting down olive trees. The other city forms up their army, the two meet on an open field, and wham, bam, in an hour or less the war is over. The winners have taken a handful of casualties, the losers have been slaughtered during the pursuit, and the losers sue for peace. Over and done with. Of course there might be a rematch, but it is over for that year.

Gross simplification here, but I'm not writing a doctoral thesis on Classical Greek warfare.

Arabs (among others) are not like this. For one thing, there are multiple loyalties. This is important to note. Americans are, ideally, loyal to America. Englishmen, to England. Germans, to Germany. I might be fond of the Republic of Texas, but I'm not going to go to war for it. I like my parents, but if someone kills them I believe that the police are best suited to handle that situation. Arabs might have some loyalty to their "nation" (or feudal magnate in prior times), but more likely are loyal to family, clan, and tribe. And any or all of those loyalties may demand that he engage in violence. Your family, clan, or tribe could be involved in a feud at any time, and you would feel obligated to fight for it.

Now, these overlapping loyalties mean that the idea of 'peace' as a time when there is no war is pretty theoretical. And peace between nations or feudal principalities did not preclude continued feuding either between inhabitants of that nation or between inhabitants of different nations. It's not a binary decision. Your nation might be at peace, but your clan is feuding with the clan over the hill. And a feud might be quite active or in abbeyance. It's not a binary state.

Implication: The Westerner fights to restore the broken state of peace, preferably by rendering his enemy incapable of fighting (or further opposing his nation's will). Each war is balls-to-the-wall, all out effort to grind the enemy into the dirt once and for all. We may not get it, but that's how we fight. If someone throws a chair at us, we don't throw a chair back at them. We shoot the dumb bastard.

The Arab, when insulted responds by striking back at the insulter in the context of that feuding mentality. The idea of a state monopoly on violence would baffle him. It is a matter for the tribe, family, clan to deal with. So he responds in a way that 'balances' the equation, restoring his lost honor. I shoot his cousin, he shoots mine. The idea that there is a state of peace which has been broken will literally not translate into his mind.

Hezbollah was engaged in feuding with Israel in order to bolster their prestige and gain points with their backers (Syria and Iran). It may actually be true that the leadership did not recognize that there was a state of 'peace' which they had 'broken' with the expected result that Israel would enter into a state of war and conduct major military operations to kick Hezbollah's happy ass all the way out of Lebanon.
Nothing much going on the past few days. I've been frantically trying to keep ahead of the Night Vision issue here, as with increased Force Protection commitments for HHC (translation: Folks pulling guard at night) more jacked up NVGs are being discovered. Now, a certain portion of these 'faults' are due to operator head space and timing. It's funny how turning the ring which adjusts the focus clears up that pesky fuzziness. But others are flunking their checks and require servicing. Two days ago I picked up 7 from the shop at once, which finally puts me ahead of the game, with floaters to spare for now.

On Israel vs. Hezbollah:


On Israel vs. the UN:


There have been some. . . unfortunate statements in recent days by certain Orthodox hierarchs which betray one of my few problems with the Orthodox Church. To wit, a certain level of instutional anti-Semitism among parts of both the clergy and laity.

http://www.antiochian.org/water-of-cana is a case in point.

I don't normally call it that harsh, but when we are at war (we being the United States specifically and the civilized world in general) and one of our allies is slandered by someone who, although in a holy position, is still a falible person prone to emotional and irrational reactions like the rest of us, then I have to respond.

Israel did not bloody the waters of Qana. Qana's air was polluted with rocket exhaust for weeks. Israel tolerated these attacks, and when they became intolerable spent three days dropping leaflets promising to strike the town unless Hezbollah removed their rocket launchers. They fulfilled any reasonable obligation any one could expect.

A far better response is posted here:


On a more personally relevant note, I sincerely hope that Mr. Talabani is right. It is in everyone's best interests for the Iraqi Security forces to take over primary responsibility and cut American involvement down to MTTs and other advisory positions. That might (maybe) even be enough to get some of the Sunni diehards to come in out of the cold and participate in the political process.


02 August 2006

Qana, again






I'm too disgusted to comment.


They can't even agree on how many people were killed. Apparently the initial report was higher by 30 or so?



Is there a hint of bigger and better things to come?