22 September 2007

Medical Hiatus

As many of you know, on Wednesday, I had PRK performed at Darnell Army Medical Center.

PRK is a procedure intended to correct both my nearsightedness and astigmatism, and involves removing the top layer of the cornea with a rotating brush and firing a laser to reshape the rest of the cornea. As near as can be judged, two days after the surgery, everything went well and my vision has been corrected. However, the resulting trauma to my cornea makes it nearly impossible to focus on small objects.

For instance, letters. Or keys. Or buttons.

Therefor, I can neither read articles on the internet, nor see the screen clearly enough to type. Hence, I will be taking a medical hiatus from this blog for no less than a week, and hopefully not more than two or three weeks. Even this post is being done by dictation, for which I am grateful to my lovely, talented, sexy and wonderful wife.

(Note from the above mentioned wife: I really didn't add any of those descriptives. Personally, I blame the hyperbole on the Vicodin. I am typing this, as he talks, but the rest of that? Heh.)

I will be focusing on activities which require much less attention to fine detail and visual acuity, such as wrestling with my dog and laying about on the couch drinking coffee while putting frozen peas on my eyes. They make excellent icepacks for oddly-shaped body parts as regular ice cubes would be too large to fit in the eye sockets.

If there is anything that requires my immediate attention, please email my lovely wife at soldier dot grrrl at gmail dot com.

19 September 2007

David Rye is an Ass.

Dave Rye is a two-bit journalist at some small-time radio station, who made the following statement regarding the article published recently in the New York Times by a group of infantry NCOs.

"Pardon my skepticism, and certainly no disrespect for the dead Montana soldier, but in my time in the Army I never heard such a word as “recalcitrant” escape the lips of any Staff Sergeant. I doubt if it’s spoken all that much in Ismay, either.

"The soldiers had the help and probably the encouragement of a writer with an agenda, from a newspaper which has always had one. Its continually declining circulation now mainly consists of those who want desperately to consider themselves sophisticated as well as compassionate, even if that means always branding the U.S. as the chief villain on the world stage—-in fact, especially if it does.

"I await the inevitable onslaught from outraged liberals. (Is there any other kind?)"

My response, on the website in question and cced to his personal email, drye@northernbroadcasting.com , was the following:

Dave Rye,

I’m a conservative. I’m so conservative that as far as I’m concerned, every single Republican candidate for President is a fucking liberal in sheepdog’s clothing.

I threw the “fucking” in there so you’d believe I’m really in the Army.

Yeah, that’s right. I’m a 21B2O, a Combat Engineer Sergeant in the United States Army. 25 months in Iraq, spread over 2 tours. I’ve served in Tikrit, Tal Afar, and Ramadi.

I’m also reasonably literate. I object–and object strenuously–to your bigoted, ignorant, and generally foolish characterization of my fellow non-commissioned officers. I note that you had neither the testicular fortitude nor the moral integrity to attack the column while those Soldiers were alive to defend themselves. I also reject utterly your patronizing assertation that Soldiers, and NCOs in particular, at too ignorant to have composed the article in question. I may disagree with it–though I have not served in Baghdad and make no special claim to knowledge of conditions therein. However, if you wish to argue against the article, argue against the statement of fact and the interpretations drawn from those facts. Do not simply resort to snide insinuations about the intellect of a man who made them, a man who gave his life in the cause you claim to defend.

Oh, and there’s my wife, a United States Army National Guard Public Affairs Soldier, who might have heard the word “recalcitrant” once or twice. She’s almost as offended. You might hear from her as well.

Setting aside the personal insult, I find that this line of argumentation is inconsistent with a reasonable understanding of Conservatism. Sneering at Soldiers as ignorant and stupid is a behavior I have encountered time and again in stellar examples of the American Left. Really, it’s beneath Conservatives.

If you have any integrity, you will apologize to both the individuals you specifically slandered, and to the United States Army NCO Corps as whole, and you will do so publicly. Until you do so, I can only say on behalf of real Conservatives, stop being on my side. You are embarrassing me.

16 September 2007

So he's a gun-grabbing asshole

I still like this ad. Don't get it twisted, I wouldn't vote for Rudy Giuliani if the other option was Ioseb Besarionis Dze Jughashvili, but even a blind dog finds a bone some days.

15 September 2007

General Petraeus, Canes, and Assorted Oddities

First, on the subject of General Petraeus.

Everyone in the Free World is aware of the fact that moveon.org has accused General Petraeus, in a full page ad in the New York Times, of a significant number of criminal actions, to wit

Failure to obey order or regulation
False Statements
Conduct unbecoming a commissioned officer and a gentleman

What may not be as well known is the fact that the New York Times offered a steep discount--well over $100,000 to Moveon.org. I'm surprised that the NYT demanded any money--such outrageous defamation of character is standard operating procedure on the editorial page for those who dare to defy the NYT's chosen stance on the war in Iraq. The American Spectator notes that the NYT routinely refuses to run ads for conservative groups at any price, much less a discount. Perhaps the most interesting point on this whole thing was brought out by a livejournal writer of my acquaintance, rjlippincott, who observes that to a non-lawyer, that looks an awful lot like something that under McCain-Feingold rules, is a contribution to a Political Action Committee. And hence illegal. Frankly, violations of the McCain-Feingold BCRA don't bother me deeply, since the whole thing is a violation of Constitutional principles of Free Speech. However, the New York Times has a consistent editorial policy in favor of McCain-Feingold and similar "campaign finance reform". As usual for the American Left, the rules are for those masses of smelly Red-State heathens, the Truly Enlightened may dispense with such trivialities.

Or, some pigs are more equal than others.

Meanwhile, in Real News, Sheikh Abdul Sattar al Rishawi was killed in Ramadi a few days ago. He was the leader of the Sons of al-Anbar, described as Iraq's most important man and a potential savior of Iraq. Even the NYT had to acknowledge his impact.

I served in Ramadi during my last tour, and I cannot overstate the impact the al-Anbar Awakening had in the area. When we got there in June, Anbar was the wild west, the most dangerous city in the world. Everyone knew it, and we weren't sure we were going to make a difference short of blowing the city up. When we left, our brigade commander described Ramadi as an 'unconsolidated victory'--in other words, about like Tal Afar was when we took it over from 3rd ACR that January.

Canes. I happen to like canes. At DragonCon I picked up a cheapo cane from a vendor just because I thought it went with the hat I was wearing all weekend. I rather enjoyed carrying it, and Jen said it was like having a tail--my mood showed in how I carried it. :) So I was interested when I caught a compliment on my last post from a Lady (in the classic sense of the word) who used a cane to good effect. It's also an interesting diversion on how interconnections on the internet work. She reads Lawdog as does her new husband. Lawdog mentions canes, hubby links to her story about being assaulted and defending herself with the cane. Lawdog features her experience and his comments on the incident in a post. My lovely and talented wife reads Lawdog daily, whereas I have time only on weekends to do serious blog-reading. She hops over to Jenna's blog post on the incident, and not only comments on the well-deserved whupping Jenna delivered (my Beloved having a warm fuzzy for women who stick up for themselves, as do I), but at the homemade skirt which inspired Inbred Specimen to begin the incident (my Beloved having a warm fuzzy for sewing as well). She clicks on links, wondering who this sewing enthusiast is, and eventually finds my humble outpost. So I, being curious about this new reader and being pointed to the Lawdog post by my Beloved, find myself at Naturally Nerds, which looks interesting enough to read regularly. So it will be replacing the now-defunct Army Lawyer in the blogroll when I get around to updating that.

As a side note, Cold Steel (the link under the word 'canes' above) makes some pretty pointy things. I have an SRK knife that I acquired through the Army supply system which is my primary blade when I am carrying a knife openly--which is generally in the field and in combat. My everyday concealed blade is a Gerber folder which I have a sentimental attachment to, as it has been to war with me twice.

Finally three oddities I haven't got the time, expertise, or inclination to analyze in depth (match the excuse to the article for extra credit).

Catching terrorists on the internet.

Iraqi Politicians coming to Washington.

and finally,

Tigerhawk all but accuses Ted Kennedy of being a shill for Saddam Hussein. Which, if I thought there was any level of sleaze any Kennedy wouldn't dip down to, I would not find credible.

12 September 2007

9/11 and Following

The attacks on September 11th, 2001 are worth remembering. But what history will judge more significant than the attacks themselves--which did little long-term damage to the nation as a whole--is the reaction to those attacks.

There are those who categorize US Foreign Policy into a handful of schools. Frequently, they are referred to by various commentators by the names of presidents associated with them.

Jeffersonian isolationism was discarded as unworkable by Jefferson himself when he sat down and looked at the amount of money being paid as tribute to the Barbary pirate states--in the first War on Terror, he decided that violating his espoused principles by building a navy and sending it to do as much damage as possible to terrorist states was better than sending them money, as the modern Democratic Party prefers to do.

When it comes to war-fighting, there are pretty much two schools of thought. Wilsonian and Jacksonian. The Democratic Party is neither, preferring abject surrender. The real debate in the country--between adults, that is--over foreign policy is between the Jacksonian and Wilsonian wings of the Republican Party.

Anyone alive 6 years ago was aware of what some folks had been saying for years--that the United States was at war with a portion of the Islamic world, a portion which supports terrorism using the ancient justification first elucidated to an American envoy by Tripoli's ruler.

"[I]t was …written in the Koran, that all Nations who should not have acknowledged their [the Muslims'] authority were sinners, that it was their right and duty to make war upon whoever they could be found, and to make Slaves of all they could take as prisoners, and that every Mussulman who should be slain in battle was sure to go to Paradise." (From Jefferson's report to Congress).

Now, there is no question as to what the problem is. The problem, for America and the rest of the world, is that the Islamic World is a mess, is run by corrupt autocrats, and which seems to breed this form of Islam like a open cesspool breeds flies.

There is universal agreement on this point among people who aren't mentally ill. MoveOn.org seems to be in this category.

There are two ways to address this problem.

The Jacksonian method is very, very simple. Trash the system. Blow away every single Muslim state that supports or supported this ideology and groups which espouse it. Raise large armies to build pyramids of skulls, or simply nuke major population centers. Most of the oil is in places that will not be affected by the detonation of nuclear weapons over the big cities. Screw it, right? Even if you keep it non-nuclear, the Jacksonian method is the method used in WWII to reduce the Japanese, Italian, and German totalitarian regimes to non-existence. Jacksonian methodology drove Sherman's March to the Sea, and many of the Indian Wars.

This is not in keeping with modern counter-insurgency theory. Jacksonians fight dirty, messy counter-insurgency campaigns that suck for the local population, something like the Second Boer War.

Now, a Wilsonian looks at the problem from a different point of view. A Wilsonian (erm, neo-conservative) looks at folks and sees, pretty much, just folks. He says to himself, "I don't imagine Yusuf al-Muslim is that different from you and I. Given a chance at peace, good representative government, and a decent job, maybe he'll stop frothing at the mouth and settle down to raise his 6.5 kids in a nice house with a mud-brick fence and a donkey."

Wilsonians are damned cheerful and optimistic. It is worth noting that this is a traditionally liberal viewpoint which has been appropriated by the neo-cons. Such Democrats as bother to think on foreign policy generally don't seem to disagree with this premise, they just believe they can execute it better than George Bush can. Or at least, I can't find many Democrats who don't believe either this, or something along the lines of "If we leave the Islamic World alone, maybe they'll ignore us." Those who believe the latter are not really adults, mentally, and are not worth discussing.

Anyway, Wilsonians and Jacksonians agreed on trashing Afghanistan. Near as I can tell, everyone agreed on trashing Afghanistan. It was a cesspool of the worst degree. Sucks much.

Iraq, that was a Wilsonian idea. Basically, the idea was that the United States would take down another cesspool, strategically located and which had been (de facto) at war with the United States and the United Nations as a whole since 1990. Had we gone anywhere else in the Middle East, Saddam would have taken the opportunity to make trouble, and he was well located and had the resources and the prestige to make lots of trouble. I'm with the Wilsonians thus far.

A Jacksonian president would have perhaps done thing differently. Perhaps he would have chased the Taliban into Pakistan, telling the Pakistanis that they could either agree to it or get their nation shot up also. Perhaps he would have gone after Saudi Arabia. Regardless, once Iraq and Iran got up to trouble-making, this hypothetical Jacksonian President, discovering the limits to conventional military power, would simply have made those countries go away in an atomic fireball.

But that's the past. The present is this--that the Republic of Iraq is the primary theater in which the "War on Terror" is being fought today. It is being fought in accordance with Wilsonian principles and counter-insurgency theory, which place a high emphasis on building coalitions of local allies and permitting them to assume self-government as soon as is possible and sometimes sooner. It's a slow, messy process. It's expensive. It is a threat to al-Qaeda in as much as a policy of putting insecticide in pools of stagnant water is a threat to mosquitoes. It reduces their ability to perpetuate their ideology. By violently opposing US forces in Iraq with all of their ability to do so, al-Qaeda has validated Bush's Wilsonian ideas at least to a point. They have staked their continued existence on their ability to defeat US forces in a struggle for control over Iraq.

If we fail in our efforts, al-Qaeda will be immeasurably emboldened and empowered. Our Middle Eastern allies will fall away instantly, unifying between the only power shown to be able to stick to their guns in the Middle East. Congratulations to Osama bin-Laden. Congratulations to horsemen of apocalypse as well, as plague, famine, war, and death will tear through the Middle East in the process of reordering that part of the world in accordance with an interpretation of the Koran which does not admit of any possibility of compromise.

However, then they will come back after us. Of course, the Democrats will enjoy a period of electoral success--which they will use to slash military budgets and reduce the conventional defenses of the United States even further. I'm not looking forward to serving in that Army.

But when the wolf is at the door, Americans very rarely trust Democrats. At this point, they won't be trusting any Wilsonian idealists either as this plan will have been discredited.

Answer: Jacksonian men using Jacksonian methods to do Jacksonian things.

In simple terms: Big bad boom. Middle East becomes overlapping craters.

You know, we win either way. bin Laden and his coterie are not going to conquer the United States, no matter how happy that would make all those idiots over at the DailyKos. We will come out on top. The question is what will it cost, not merely in money and lives, but in damage to our souls?

11 September 2007

People who need to STFU.

So, I'm driving home from work and listening to the radio.

Democratic Congresscritter is quoted as opining that the Maliki government needs to be "sent a message" and that this message should consist of withdrawing all US troops from Iraq.

If you're that stupid, please don't talk about Iraq.

Without US troops in Iraq, what possible incentive could the Maliki government have for not retrenching, holding what he can, and preparing to try to ride out a real disaster?

We aren't "sending messages" here, we are talking about people's lives. And withdrawing from Iraq removes our ability to influence the situation in any way.

I know Maliki is not moving towards political goals as fast as the US would like. I'm not 100% thrilled with him either.

But some days, that's just not how politics works in the Middle East.

10 September 2007

Dear American Leftists,

Thanks for Supporting the Troops. Also for not supporting terrorists.

I also note the displays of support shown (by both Homegrown Leftists and the international wing of the movement) during and prior to General Petraeus's testimony in Congress.

We are a bit busy kicking al-Qaeda's ass. Or at least, converting their followers into local self-defense forces we can live with. Like in Ramadi, which most of you have completely forgotten about now that it's no longer in the news nightly. Of course, there's no way that could be because we're winning, right?

But I'm also noticing the polls showing the American people trust us more than they trust either you, or the politicos on the other side of the aisle.

This is not a healthy trend for America.

But it is far more unhealthy, and more immediately so, for the political party which has consistently opposed us and supported the enemy.

Don't get me wrong. We don't particularly _like_ Bush. Right-wingers misuse us plenty. Bush has screwed up lots.

That's what politicians do. They are human. And few of them ever were Soldiers, so they are idiots regarding military action.

But the Democratic Party has, since day one of this war, consistently sounded the drum for the enemy.

This country has survived one lost war. Lots of countries do not, at least with their constitution intact. Disgruntled veterans nursing stab-in-the-back syndromes are bad for democracies.

Think on it. The system can only take so much stress.

05 September 2007


Do not injustice to another
defend the weak and innocent
may truth and honor always guide you
let courage find a life within.
Stand up when no one else is willing
act not in anger or in spite
be to this world as a perfect knight
even if it means your life.

Here I am
alive among the injured and the dead
here I am
thy will be done
sancta Sophia
peace is born to your victory