Monday, July 31, 2006

From Bad to Worse...

Lebanese bloggers. From JOS, at Another Blog on the Block, posted on 7/27/2006:

My ‘disgust level’ reached its maximum last night, after I, and the majority of Lebanese [a similar point of view] watched a TV show that hosted young Lebanese from different political orientations. The different political views can be divided into two major orientations: pro-Hezbollah/Iran/Syria and anti-Hezbollah/Iran-Syria axis. The country is deeply divided between these two radically different political stances, and the debate was very intense. It was finally obvious and crystal-clear that those Hezbollah defenders and supporters (Shi’a radicals, and leftist political parties) live in a world of their own! They have their own reality and vision of the world, and I just don’t know how the hell we can ever reach a common base.

But, what disgusted me the most was that – regardless of our radical political differences - we were kinds of feeling pity for their miseries, their destroyed properties, or the fact that they had to flee their houses or the hard times they had to endure; while – on the other hand, and as they loudly shouted last night – they DON’T CARE A BIT ABOUT ALL THIS : they refuse to acknowledge the huge mistake they’ve done, the huge catastrophe they dragged the country and it’s whole population in, the tremendous loses we endured on all levels, they refuse to accept or to debate the simplest of our views, they refused to give us our legitimate right to have an opinion about declaration of war or peace, they want to decide everything on our behalf whether we like it or not, they want to label us as traitors and agents of foreign policies, while declaring with pride their alliances with Iran and Syria, and imposing on us their point of view, they don’t acknowledge our prisoners in the Syrian prisons, they refuse to disarm, they want to erase Israel from the map, boldly saying that nothing can stop them, they shout and proudly declare an endless war, an eternal bloodshed, and a blind haters.

And again, today (7/31/2006):

As much as I hate Hezbollah and wanting to see it disarmed and even disappeared, as much as I hate wars and aspire to ever-lasting peace with all my neighbors, as much as I am wondering if what have been happening in Lebanon can be tolerated or accepted or approved in any other place on the face of the universe? Can anybody out there accept to see this happening on his soil in the name of fighting terrorism? Please, can someone tell me what’s the difference between this and terrorism? NOTHING. It’s the same. And what’s worst, it’s not going to make this ‘world’s deadliest disease’ disappears, it is AGGRAVATING it:

Violence gives birth to violence; hate leads to more hate, death engender death….

This war has to STOP, and it has to stop NOW. It’s time to search for diplomatic solutions. That’s all I have to say about this subject. I feel like I don’t even want to think or talk about it anymore. It's becoming more disgusting then I ever thought it would get.

Many, many Lebanese blogs are linked at the Lebanese Bloggers Forum, including more than a few Hezbollah sympathizers/supporters. One could spend days chasing links from this site; I only spent a couple of hours. Yesterday’s incident at Qana seems to have ignited the fire of nationalism in the Lebanese people, and Hezbollah is the beneficiary. Forgive me my pessimism, but things seem to be going from bad to worse.

In the “I’m Not the Only One” Department Michael J. Totten, writing in his blog “Middle East Journal”:

Hezbollah’s Coup d'État

The fog of war makes it impossible for me or anyone else to determine whether or not Israel’s war against Hezbollah is succeeding of failing militarily. But it’s painfully obvious that Israel’s attempt to influence Lebanese politics in its favor is an absolute catastrophe right now.

The (second in a decade) attack on Qana that killed scores of civilians has all but cemented the Lebanese public and Hezbollah together.

Cable news reports that 82 percent of Lebanese now support Hezbollah. Prime Minister Fouad Seniora – whatever his real opinion in private – is now closer to openly supporting Hezbollah in public than he has ever been.

Don’t miss the comments thread. Visitors to Totten’s blog are perceptive, rational, and civil. The discussion in the comments is good, as usual.

In the “For What It’s Worth” Dept.… “Milking It? The point is powerfully made, but propaganda is propaganda, regardless if it’s ours or theirs. You decide.

Pertinent comment on the “Hezbollah hiding amongst civilians” meme and the photo manipulation cited directly above at The Volokh Conspiracy.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

The Lightness Of Lyle; the Hellishness of Hezbollah

Caught Lyle Lovett on Austin City Limits last night. The show was a re-run from 2004, and the set list was all from his 2003 album My Baby Don't Tolerate. Rerun? No matter. It was Lyle, and as such, worthy of watching again, and again, and again…

Lyle assembled a new band for this tour, the Quasi Cowboy Band, and just like the Large Band that backed him up previously, these guys are good great. Instrumentation includes a grand piano, drums, acoustic (stand-up) bass, fiddle, cello, mandolin, two electric guitar players (playing wonderful hollow-body electric, “standard” electric, and bottleneck slide), a classical acoustic guitar, and Lyle himself, on acoustic guitar. I missed the Large Band’s horn section, but there aren’t any songs on Tolerate that feature horns.

Another interesting thing about Mr. Lovett is the stage presence he and his band create. Lovett performed in a suit and the entire band, including the drummer, are all dressed in suits. Business suits, medium gray, with conservative ties, not the “sequined and crushed velvet” type of suits one typically sees on country performers when they’re not in jeans and work shirts. Those guys, to a man, wouldn’t have looked out of place in any corporate board room (dot-bombs excepted, of course). Refreshing. And cool.

Here’s the Austin City Limits set list:

Cute As A Bug
My Baby Don't Tolerate
In My Own Mind
You Were Always There
I'm Going To Wait (with gospel choir)

And here’s the four minute and 36 second Real video of Lyle doing “My Baby Don’t Tolerate” from last night’s show, for dial-up (36Kb) and high-speed (220 Kb).

The high point of my day, that was. And the new TV sounds as good as it looks. My neighbors can probably vouch for that.

And now…the Heavy Stuff…

I’m sure you’ve read, or seen, the sorrowful news of 56 dead in an Israeli air strike early this morning, Lebanon time. You may not have seen this, however: “These are the Pictures that Damn Hezbollah. Waging war from behind, and amongst, civilians is a very effective tactic, militarily speaking. In so doing, the guerillas terrorists exponentially complicate the Israelis’ tactical problem, i.e., how to destroy Hezbollah forces while sparing non-combatant civilians. The problem is especially difficult to solve, given the nature of info warfare and propaganda in the age of the 24-hour news cycle, satellite TV, and internet. World opinion is totally lacking in understanding and completely unforgiving when civilians are killed in incidents such as these. Still: even though it was an IDF bomb that did the actual killing, it was Hezbollah’s morally reprehensible tactics that brought the bomb down on that building.

I mourn the innocent. But at the same time, there remains an inescapable fact: Hezbollah is truly, truly evil. They care only about winning this conflict, no matter how many civilians die in the process. As a matter of fact, more dead civilians increases Hezbollah’s chances of victory, and that is part of their tactical and strategic plan. The plan appears to be working, much to our detriment. It will take a lot of resolve to continue the fight against Hezbollah. I’m not sure the resolve is there, but I certainly hope and pray it is. We simply cannot allow these bastards to win.

More in a similar vein: Captain’s Quarters, Outside the Beltway, and TigerHawk.

Varifrank has an excellent post up about this war (Things are not quite as they appear to be). An excerpt from his opening paragraphs:

“Why is it that stories coming from Israel this week are so damn pessimistic”?

Israel has press organizations, agents and other people to spin the story. They can put the proper pressure to ensure on the media to ensure that the story is told as close to the way they want it told. Yet, the stories coming from Israel seem to me to be bleak and nasty and full of fear and dissention, almost to the exception of any sort of good news.

Today, my "spider senses" started to twitch when I watched a news story told from a hospital from Israeli troops who had just returned from inside Lebanon. They were talking about the Hezbollah troops like they were 20 feet tall, each of which had 6 popeye sized arms with a .50 caliber machine gun and a full belt of ammo in each oversized hand.

I thought to myself for just a second, this doesn’t feel right. First, the only info that gets out is the info they want out, so why would Israeli government officials be so interested in letting this message get out? These are Israeli troops. These are not European conscripts. These guys know what defeat means. It means they will be feeding their families to the ovens of Hezbollah and the Iranians. They will fight to the death because failure means the end of everything. There is no line of retreat for Israelis. To Israelis there is no honor in losing, just death.

I’ve wondered the same thing and speculated the reports from the IDF were part of an elaborate disinformation campaign. Varifrank puts a lot of flesh on those bones. Read the whole thing…

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Saturday's Stuff

Charles Moore, writing in today’s Telegraph (UK), a Zionist (heh) Conservative newspaper: “The tall story we Europeans now tell ourselves about Israel”…
Sir Peter Tapsell is, if the phrase is not a contradiction in terms nowadays, a distinguished backbencher.
At foreign affairs questions in Parliament on Tuesday, Sir Peter rose. He wanted Margaret Beckett to tell him whether the Prime Minister had colluded with President Bush in allowing Israel to "wage unlimited war" in Lebanon, including attacks on civilian residential areas of Beirut. These attacks, he added, were "a war crime grimly reminiscent of the Nazi atrocity on the Jewish quarter in Warsaw".
What was the "Nazi atrocity on the Jewish quarter in Warsaw"? There were many, of course. But Sir Peter was probably referring to the events of April-May 1943. The Nazis had earlier deported 300,000 Polish Jews to Treblinka. As news of their fate reached Jews in Warsaw, they decided to revolt against further round-ups. For about a month, they resisted. They were subdued: 7,000 of them were killed and 56,000 were sent to the camps.
Sir Peter surely knew this, yet he chose to speak as he did. Here is a man who has been in public life for more than 50 years (he was an assistant to Anthony Eden in the general election of 1955), and yet he compared Israel's attack to the most famous genocide of the 20th century. What possessed him?
I ask the question, not because I am interested in Sir Peter - he is not an important figure in the current debate, though he may differ on this point. I ask, rather, because his remark seems to me a symptom of a wider unreality about the Middle East, one that now dominates. It tinged the recent Commons speech by William Hague, the shadow foreign secretary. It permeates every report by the BBC.
But European discourse on the subject seems to have been overwhelmed by something else - a narrative, told most powerfully by the way television pictures are selected, that makes Israel out as a senseless, imperialist, mass-murdering, racist bully.
Not only is this analysis wrong - if the Israelis are such imperialists, why did they withdraw from Lebanon for six years, only returning when threatened once again? How many genocidal regimes do you know that have a free press and free elections? - it is also morally imbecilic. It makes no distinction between the tough, sometimes nasty things all countries do when hard-pressed and the profoundly evil intent of some ideologies and regimes. It says nothing about the fanaticism and the immediacy of the threat to Israel. Sir Peter has somehow managed to live on this planet for 75 years without spotting the difference between what Israel is doing in Lebanon and "unlimited war".
It seems there are still some rational voices in the UK, although one would be hard pressed to think this if one’s sole sources of British opinion were The Beeb, the Guardian, or— God Forbid! —the Independent. Thankfully, in this day of instant internet access, we have access to “other voices.” Even though this Telegraph article may be preaching to the choir, do read it. There’s lots of good background material in addition to what have become the “usual” rationales for supporting Israel’s fight against Hezbollah.
More dithering, more delay. But some, albeit very slight, movement:
UNITED NATIONS -- The five permanent members of the UN Security Council reached agreement yesterday on a draft resolution telling Iran to suspend nuclear work by Aug. 31 or face the threat of sanctions.
Russian's UN ambassador, Vitaly Churkin, emphasized that the draft did not impose sanctions but agreed to ``discuss" further measures if Iran did not adhere to the resolution's demands.
Bolton stressed that the draft imposed a “mandatory and binding requirement" for Iran to comply with IAEA demands.
“By August 31.” Iran has bought more time, as it has done in the past. There seems to be quite a bit between the lines here, not the least of which is the reticence, if not outright opposition, of our erstwhile “ally” Russia to support meaningful actions against Iran. And what sort of “meaningful actions” could the UNSC actually take? Economic sanctions? Of what sort? The Russians and the Chinese will oppose anything that impacts their national interests, and you can read that as “markets” in the case of Russia, and “oil” where the Chinese are concerned. Both nations have UNSC veto power.
The wheel of diplomacy grinds slowly while the Iranian centrifuges spin rapidly. Not good. Not good at all.
So. No road trip this month. This, instead:
It’s a spiffy 23” LCD TV, purchased out at the base exchange yesterday. You should have seen me driving home with the humongous box wedged into the Green Hornet’s passenger seat with about eight inches of box sticking up over the windshield. Quite the sight, I'm sure! Shifting required some serious contortions but it could be, and was, done.
My old TV, a seven year old 20” CRT model, was showing its age and exhibiting signs of imminent demise. So…replacement was in order. The road trip will wait for another month or so.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Thanks, I Needed That!

2224 hrs MDT Last Evening. P-Town is just below the "lo" in Clovis

Yesterday was a remarkable day, weather-wise: it rained for over ten hours straight. Remarkable. That’s more rain in a single sitting than I’ve seen during the three and a half years I’ve been in P-Town. East Central New Mexico, while not technically a desert, is very dry country. Our rain usually comes in bursts, as in cloudbursts. Thunderstorms. It’ll rain fairly hard for a short while, say 15 to 30 minutes, and then the storm moves on or just dissipates into the ether, rapidly. Not so with yesterday’s rain. What we had yesterday was what Mom called a “planter’s rain,” which is to say a slow, steady rain that lasts all day and thoroughly soaks the ground. And makes wonderful, relaxing sounds on my roof.

I needed those relaxing sounds from time to time, which should be apparent if you followed the link in the post below. My tolerance for wacky conspiracy theorists is pretty low; it’s completely absent when conspiracy theory is mixed with blatant bigotry. Sometimes I think some people are simply too stupid to breathe, yet they do.

Ralph Peters, in today’s New York Post:

For the Israelis, the town of Bint Jbeil is an embarrassment, an objective that proved unexpectedly hard to take. But the town's a tactical issue to the Israeli Defense Force, not a strategic one.

For Hezbollah, it's Stalingrad, where the Red Army stopped the Germans. And that's how terrorist propagandists will mythologize it.

Considering only the military facts, the IDF's view is correct. But the Middle East has little use for facts. Perception is what counts. To the Arab masses, Hezbollah's resistance appears heroic, triumphant - and inspiring. We don't have to like it, but it's true.

So why is defeating Hezbollah such a challenge? Israel smashed one Arab military coalition after another, from 1948 through 1973. Arabs didn't seem to make good soldiers.

Now we see Arabs fighting tenaciously and effectively. What happened?

Mr. Peters provides answers, of course, along with analysis that seems correct to me. I don’t always agree with Col. Peters, especially when it comes to his opinion on airpower, but he seems to be spot-on today. I hope Mr. Olmert and the Israeli cabinet are listening reading.

Charles Krauthammer, writing at Real Clear Politics, expanding on the riff he used on Special Report’s Panel Discussion this Monday past (and quoted on this blog, three posts down):

WASHINGTON -- What other country, when attacked in an unprovoked aggression across a recognized international frontier, is then put on a countdown clock by the world, given a limited time window in which to fight back, regardless of whether it has restored its own security?

What other country sustains 1,500 indiscriminate rocket attacks into its cities -- every one designed to kill, maim and terrorize civilians -- and is then vilified by the world when it tries to destroy the enemy's infrastructure and strongholds with precision-guided munitions that sometimes have the unintended but unavoidable consequence of collateral civilian death and suffering?

Hearing the world pass judgment on the Israel-Hezbollah war as it unfolds is to live in an Orwellian moral universe. With a few significant exceptions (the leadership of the United States, Britain, Australia, Canada and a very few others), the world -- governments, the media, U.N. bureaucrats -- has completely lost its moral bearings.

The word that obviates all thinking and magically inverts victim into aggressor is "disproportionate," as in the universally decried "disproportionate Israeli response."

As usual, Mr. Krauthammer nails it, particularly on the subject of “disproportionate response” and Hezbollah tactics:

The perversity of today's international outcry lies in the fact that there is indeed a disproportion in this war, a radical moral asymmetry between Hezbollah and Israel: Hezbollah is deliberately trying to create civilian casualties on both sides while Israel is deliberately trying to minimize civilian casualties, also on both sides.

In perhaps the most blatant terror campaign from the air since the London blitz, Hezbollah is raining rockets on Israeli cities and villages. These rockets are packed with ball bearings that can penetrate automobiles and shred human flesh. They are meant to kill and maim. And they do.

But it is a dual campaign. Israeli innocents must die in order for Israel to be terrorized. But Lebanese innocents must also die in order for Israel to be demonized, which is why Hezbollah hides its fighters, its rockets, its launchers, its entire infrastructure among civilians. Creating human shields is a war crime. It is also a Hezbollah specialty.


There’s a downside to all that wonderful rain we had yesterday: it’s humid. Mississippi humid. Houston humid. Ah, but it’s only gonna get up to 86, so it’ll feel close to normal for this time of year, and there are more thunder-boomers in the forecast for this evening. Lovely! (Seriously.)

And now I must get out and about…

Thursday, July 27, 2006

How I Spent My Day…

It rained most all day; I didn’t go out. I spent my time turning over rocks to see what would crawl out. Amazing creepy-crawlies!


Can one be nostalgic for something one has never experienced? In my case the answer is “yes,” and I’m referring to Lileks’ post about his high school reunion. It may simply be the fact that Lileks is an excellent writer…he can make an interesting read out of a mundane trip to Target, after all. But his reunion narrative is excellent. And Lou had her high school reunion a couple of weekends ago; I enjoyed her posts (both of ‘em!) a lot, too.

I haven’t gone to any of my high school reunions. I was stationed in Beautiful-Sinop-By-The-Sea when my first (ten year) reunion was held. I corresponded with the reunion organizer and let her know that, no, I wouldn’t be attending…I was busy keeping the world safe for democracy and the American Way in far-off Turkey. Ditto for the 20-year reunion, except this time I was keeping the world safe in a far better location: RAF Uxbridge in the London borough of Hillingdon. I never heard from those folks again after the 20th reunion work-ups.

Not that I would have had much in common with my classmates, anyway. I transferred in to North (Torrance) High School during my senior year, and, as a result, didn’t know that many people or have many friends. As a matter of fact, my whole high school experience wasn’t all that good…I was the perennial outsider, what with having attended five different schools (two in suburban Washington, D.C. [Maryland], and three in California [San Jose, Culver City, and Torrance]) during my four years of high school. I don’t remember the names of the two guys I ran with during my senior year, but I DO remember the names of the girl friends: there was a Laurie (Lori?), a Pam, and one of the first serious crushes of my young life, Roxanne. But, ah…that was a much different day and age. Pre-birth control pill, ergo, pre-sexual revolution. More like the last gasp of the repressive ‘50s rather than the famed libertarian, sex-and-drugs-and-rock ‘n’ roll ‘60s we all like to remember (or wish to remember). Life was different, then.

Still and even, I am nostalgic for those reunions I never attended. As a matter of fact, I’ve always harbored a quiet envy for those who grew up in a single place and formed life-long relationships that date back to grade school. That’s an experience one simply cannot replicate, and one that’s sadly lacking in my life. On the proverbial other hand, I had (relatively) unique experiences as a young transient in life. Most days I’m of the opinion that I wouldn’t trade the life of a military brat for a stay-at-home childhood and adolescence. But then I’ll read something like Lileks’ reunion post and I have second thoughts. But…it is what it is, nu? For better or worse.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Blatant Bias Corporation (BBC) News

Via Real Clear Politics…Charles Krauthammer, Mort Kondracke, Fred Barnes and Brit Hume on the Hezbollah War, from Fox News’ Special Report this past Monday (emphasis is mine):

KRAUTHAMMER: One of the reasons the Israelis are reluctant to actually go in, in forces because they may get stuck with an occupation and they had 18 years of that and they don't want it again. What they want to do is to clear it so that the territory is ready to accept, it would have to be -- it couldn't be a U.N. force, that's completely worthless and feckless, as we have seen for the past 30 years. You've had the U.N. in there and they do absolutely nothing. In fact at one point aiding and abetting Hezbollah.

But, if you had a NATO force or E.U. that mike might work, but it would require Israel to attack Hezbollah to such a degree and degrade it that it would be, what you call a permissive environment in which E.U. would go. If Hezbollah is there enforced they are not going to go in.

And the question is, is Israel prepared for the full-scale invasion? It looks as if it's working on a plan, obviously a plan made in advance of doing it all in stages, but that requires time and that's why Rice is over there. She is trying to buy Israel the time. It's a perverse world in which a country is attacked, like Israel, wantonly, openly with aggression, as everybody recognizes and then the world declares that Israel, the country that was aggrieved and victimized is on a clock in defending itself. It wouldn't happen to any other country in the world, but unfortunately it's happening. And I think Rice is being heroic in defending Israel's right to defend itself and to take the time it requires to do it, because it's not going to be a one-day operation, it will require a massive invasion in status which is going to take weeks.

HUME: In a sense, isn't it the case, though, that Hezbollah's military weakness, and the weakness of the Lebanese government, its military, and one might even argue, its people are, in effect, strengths for Hezbollah in that you are going to get a lot of collateral damage because the way they operate, the way they're embedded in the population, the way they're located, the way they hide their weapons all makes that inevitable and that has an effect on world opinion and you do have a disproportion now between the number of Lebanese who are dying and the number of Israelis who are dying. What's the effect of that?

KONDRACKE: Well, look, the publicity, the blood factor here and on TV and the newspapers is all against the Israelis and it's -- there are journalists that were camped out in Tyre or visited Tyre, both the "Washington post" and the "New York Times" and NPR were talking about this family that got hit in a Mercedes while they were fleeing Tyre. And, you know, and the stories were perfectly heart wrenching about a young boy who was, you know, burned over most of his body. The fact is though, that Tyre is the place from whence comes these rockets that are hitting Haifa. So, the Israelis are trying to knock out the rocket installations and they hit civilians in the process.

KRAUTHAMMER: Which disgraceful and the attacks on Israel is that Israel is deliberately trying to minimize civilian casualties on both sides and Hezbollah is deliberately trying to increase civilian casualties on both sides. Terrorizing Israelis, and trying to see that as many Lebanese civilians are hit as Hezbollah hides behind them as a way to demonize Israel.

HUME: So, does that put the international media and the human rights organizations in the position or endangering of becoming dupes?

BARNES: They're abetting the terrorists in this case. Yeah, of course they're dupes, I mean, they're showing what they show is real, but it doesn't reflect truly what's happening there. I mean, you can show some blown out buildings, you can show some bodies, you can tell the story about the people in this Mercedes and obviously those things happen but there's - - the truth is somewhere else.

As I noted elsewhere in the blog, I continue to watch BBC World, a half-hour news show carried by my PBS station, on a daily basis. And I continue to be appalled by the oh-so-obvious slant in the BBC’s reporting. Perhaps I’m overly sensitive (I think not), but the BBC’s reporting is not only anti-Israeli, it’s also blatantly anti-American, as well.

For instance: I heard a reporter state “Israel continues to pound Lebanon with American-made F-16s and American-made smart bombs…” It’s not “pound Hezbollah,” it’s Lebanon. Not with “fighter planes and smart bombs,” but with “American-made” F-16s and smart bombs. Another reporter claimed Israel is executing “America’s agenda,” with the full-force backing of the American government, to wit: destroy Hezbollah, marginalize Syria and humiliate Iran. All in the context of “what the Americans call ‘the war on terror’.” Last night’s newscast featured a segment that ran at least five minutes, longish for a half-hour news program, focusing on civilian casualties and featuring heart-rending footage of wailing Lebanese the callous Brits left behind while they were evacuating British citizens from Tyre. Even while “…there was room on the boat for all.” All? The entire population of Tyre? All of the above is from memory; I’m not aware of the existence of BBC World transcripts to prove my point. Watch the program yourself, if it’s available in your area, and you’ll see what I mean.

The BBC is a quasi-government organ. It’s well past time for some housecleaning at the BBC. If I were Tony Blair I’d initiate a wholesale sacking of BBC editors and some reporters for blatant bias and slanted reporting. It’s probably not possible, I know. Firing any government employee, anywhere, is as difficult as striking a match on a wet cake of soap. But the process needs to begin. We are at war, this isn’t fun and games. Public perception and support of this war and its objectives are important; it’s the ol’ “hearts and minds” thing. While I’m not in favor of replacing the BBC with a Pravda-like government propaganda machine, I am in favor of a neutral news organization that, if it leans in any direction at all, it leans in our direction. As Dubya sez: “You’re either for us, or against us.” The BBC is rooting for the wrong side.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

A Passing, of Sorts

Erma, my daughter-in-law, stopped by yesterday with her nephew Matthew in tow. Erm was on a mission, as it’s said. The Mission: pick up SN1’s “new” bike and haul it back to Salt Lake City (Layton, actually. But if I said “Layton,” you’d say “Hunh?”), by way of Albuquerque. Her visit was brief; we caught up a bit while Matthew and I muscled the bike into the back of SN1’s pickup, which was harder than it sounds, due to the fact that SN1’s pickup sits about, oh, four feet off the ground. I exaggerate, of course, but it was a bit of a lift and we had no ramp. No matter; it’s a small bike. And Matthew’s a big boy! Matthew and I secured the bike in the back of the truck, I passed the key over to Erm, we said our good-byes and she was gone. Fifteen minutes, tops. Short, but sweet!

So. I am bike-less for the first time since 1978. There have been periods of time when I didn’t ride for quite a while, but there was always a bike in the garage, waiting. And now there’s not. This particular bike, while not a crotch-rocket by any means, nor is it a “looker,” will always be sorta special to me. The bike was special in the sense that we went a lot of places together: it was my sole-source of transportation (aside from the RV) from November of 1999 until October of 2000. We covered a lot of ground during that time: from Upstate NY to Florida’s Panhandle; from Brownsville, Texas to Seattle Washington; all over Yellowstone National Park in very early spring; navigating rush hour in Houston; zooming up the Going to the Sun Road in Glacier National Park; down Main Street in many a small town. Good times.

The bloom was off the rose, however. I hadn’t been on the bike for a year; I just quit riding it, for whatever reason. When SN1 was down to visit last month I told him he could have it if he wanted it. And so that diminutive little Yamaha is now on its way to Layton, even as I write. I do have visitation privileges, though. A few pics:

Bobby (SN3) and the Bike

In Yellowstone National Park

Point Blank! (Texas)

The Rio Grande. Near Brownsville, Texas

Boca Chica Beach. On Padre Island, Texas

And about these pics…as I was going through the photo archives last evening searching for visual material for this post, I was struck by the fact that nearly all my early digital pictures are, uh, crap. It’s a poor workman that blames his tools, and all that, but… It’s amazing how far digital photography has come since I bought my first d-camera in 1998. The resolution, color balance, and creative options of my current Canon PowerShot G5 are simply worlds away from that ol’ Kodak DC-100 grabshot I carried around in 1999 – 2000. But, hey. That DC-100 worked (sorta), and that’s all that counts.

In other news… I’ve been off the news for the last few. Which, come to think of it, is probably a good thing for you, Dear Reader. Worry not. Something will irritate me, or otherwise catch my eye, sooner or later. And then I’ll be back in the pontification business.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Highways, By-Ways, and Random Thoughts

Lileks is taking the kind of trip I took my first nine months on the road: a Blue Highway through small towns in Minnesota, on his way to his high school reunion in Fargo, North Dakota. The only differences between his trip and my trip(s) are his narrative is a Helluva lot better and so are his pictures. Other than that? Pretty much the same…

Did you know this year is the 50th anniversary of the interstate highway system, aka the “Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways?” Of course you did. (Not everyone is impressed. We need a “new vision.”) I won’t comment upon or mention the usual clichés about the interstates (the destructor of small towns, the homogenization of the culture, the long boring expanses of nothing much to see), besides, I already have. Instead, just consider what an engineering marvel the interstates are. No other nation of comparable size —I’m looking at you, Russia, China, India— has anything to compare, unless it would be a railroad. Yes, Germany has its autobahns, France has autoroutes, and Italy has the autostrada, remarkable highways all, especially for the speed you can achieve and maintain. But each of those countries is comparable to a single state in the US, you can (and I have) have breakfast in Italy, lunch in France, and dinner in Germany, with no trouble at all. And throw in a snack in Switzerland, if you so desire. It’s truly a small world, in Europe. The sheer size of our interstate highway system is remarkable and impressive. What’s also impressive, to my way of thinking, is we have retained and maintained our non-interstate highway system. And for me, the Blue Highways are where the action scenery, history, and charm of America are. Providing it’s the going and not the “getting there” that’s important…

Further, random, thoughts on Sgt. Kassin’s memorial service Did you take a close look at the PGR pictures (more pics below) from yesterday? The group is mostly older guys and gals, with a few exceptions, of course. And most of those “older guys” are Viet Nam vets. It’s been 33 years since we pulled out of Viet Nam (and about 40 years since the “height” of our involvement), and it shows on the faces of these guys. We’re getting old. Some of us are wearing it well, others aren’t. Just sayin’.

And also in the “just sayin’” department: I’m beginning to think I’m a walking anachronism. Yesterday I trotted out one of two suits I kept when I left the working world (weddings and funerals, ya know), unwrapped a dress shirt, picked out a tie, shined up my Johnston & Murphy’s, and made myself presentable for the occasion. I needn’t have bothered. Aside from Sgt. Kassin’s father and the two ministers I was the only male in a suit yesterday (out of about 200+ men), if you discount the one Air Force couple who came in their Class A uniforms. And I’ll also add that only about ten percent of the men added a tie to their (ahem) formal attire. Jeans ruled the day, and yes, there were more than a few tee shirts, too. I find this sad and troubling. There’s a lot to be said for formality that used to accompany our rituals. It’s vanishing, and that is not a good thing. And there’s the Old Fart commentary for the day.

The Army was conspicuously absent from yesterday’s memorial service. I think I know the reason; yesterday was a memorial service for the family, the actual burial takes place in Louisiana next weekend. I’m certain—no, I know— the Army will be there for the burial. But it makes one wonder (or me, at least) why the bureaucracy seems so inflexible that it couldn’t detail at least a couple of troops to attend both services.

And finally, I didn’t describe the military honors given to Sgt. Kassin and his family yesterday by the Cannon AFB Honor Guard. If there was a single point in time where I came close to “losing it,” it was during the presentation of the flag to Sgt. Kassin’s parents by the commander of the Honor Guard. I’ve seen this particular ritual many times. It changes only depending on the venue, that is, if the ceremony is performed grave-side, or indoors. The presentation of the flag is symbolic of the nation’s gratitude for the service and sacrifice of the service member and the family. It is a solemn moment, and if that doesn’t strain your emotions, I don’t know what would…

(Just a note: Blogger is slow today. It took 45 minutes to upload the three pics below. I keep telling myself: “but it’s free.” Free, yes. And abysmally slow at times, too.)

Lotsa Hardware! (At the church)

More PGR Guys

Just Another Bike Shot

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Farewell, SFC Robert P. Kassin

From the Detroit News:

Sgt. Robert P. Kassin, 29, who grew up in Clovis, N.M., died Sunday near Larzab (Afghanistan) when his platoon came under enemy fire. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Polk, La.

I attended Sgt. Kassin’s memorial service this afternoon over in the Big(ger)TM City. Although I never met Sgt. Kassin, I knew him. I say this because after listening to the eulogies given by family, friends, and his minister, I realize Sgt. Kassin is just like the hundreds, and quite possibly thousands, of other dedicated and patriotic soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines I have had the privilege of knowing throughout my life. Most of the military people I’ve known were professionals, which is to say, folks that made the military their career. Sgt. Kassin was a career soldier, and as noted by nearly every eulogy, he died doing what he loved. His mother made that one of the central points of her tribute. All in all, very moving.

The Highland Baptist Church in Clovis was overflowing with mourners. The presidents of the Rio Grande Valley Chapter of the Blue Star Mothers and the New Mexico Gold Star Mothers also were in attendence and presented Sgt. Kassin’s mother with a Gold Star flag and various other condolences. The Patriot Guard Riders came in from Albuquerque (and quite a few other places) to provide a 50+ motorcycle (and four cars) procession in his honor; the Clovis Police Department provided an escort for the cavalcade. Honor Guards were provided by Cannon AFB and the American Legion.

By the way… The PGR were kind enough to let me join their procession. Pictures below; as always, click the photo for a larger image.

PGR Pre-Departure Briefing

Almost Ready!

The American Legion Honor Guard

USAF Honor Guard (Cannon AFB)

Saturday, July 22, 2006

AFSOC's Big Dogs in Town...

16th Special Operations Wing Patch

I thought I heard a C-130 take off this morning… And I probably did. There are some days I don’t go out, and yesterday was one of those days. Today I hit the streets fairly early and noticed “Welcome Special Ops Visitors!” on a lot of the marquees of businesses around P-Town. Sure enough, there were “by name” welcome messages on the electronic marquee at the base’s main gate as I drove up this morning.

The Big Dogs were in town, specifically Lt. Gen Michael Wooley, the commander of Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC), a couple of other general officers, and the 16th Special Ops Wing Senior Enlisted Advisor, CMSgt Todd Small. They all came to visit Cannon, the future home of the Air Force’s 16th Special Operations Wing. The 16th SOW is currently based at Hurlburt Field near Fort Walton Beach, in Florida’s panhandle. I imagine the command structure was in town to survey the new territory and begin planning the Wing’s transition from Hurlburt to Cannon.

It won’t be long until the night sky over the Melrose Bombing Range near Cannon will see sights like this…

…and the sound of C-130s coming and going will begin to be routine. I’ll miss the F-16s, but I like the fact AFSOC is going to be in the neighborhood!

Friday, July 21, 2006

"Dance Like No One is Watching..."


Jes a lil fun up in Colorado Springs!

Public Service Announcement…

This just in! New Screedblog! In part…

You can’t call this the Arab-Israeli war of 06, since the usual belligerents have declined to participate. You could call it World War Three, as Newt Gingrich has suggested; he has a point, but that annoys everyone who wanted the Cold War to be WW3. (Somehow World War Four is less scary if we got another one out of the way without a nuclear swapmeet.) You could call it the Israel-Hezbollah War, but that lets the Syrians and Iranians off the hook.

So let’s just call it Bush’s Fault! At least that’s what Howard Dean proposes. The energetic head of the DNC had this to say:

“If you think what’s going on in the Middle East today would be going on if the Democrats were in control, it wouldn’t, because we would have worked day after day after day to make sure we didn’t get where we are today. We would have had the moral authority that Bill Clinton had when brought together the Israelis and the Palestinians.”

The problem with Moral Authority is its antonym, the Palestinian Authority. Does Dean mean the Oslo accords? President Clinton had been in office less than a year. There‘s a reason they’re not the Little Rock Accords: Norwegian diplomats did all the heavy lifting. (Specifically, suspending disbelief about Arafat’s motives, which can throw your back out if you’re not careful.) Does Dean mean the Camp David negotiations, which ended in the bloody second intifada? Details, details. Moral authority, that’s what counts. Doesn’t stop wars, but it makes the bad guys look extra guilty. Ingrates!

It’s the usual, which is to say excellent, Lileks take on events current. In other words, it doesn’t get much better than this…

Friday’s Frivolity

Interesting and related… First: Saddam Hussein warns Syria:

Amman - Toppled Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein has issued a warning to the Syrian leadership 'not to go too far in its alliance with Iran,' blaming Tehran for the current flare-up of violence in the Middle East, the head of Saddam's defence team claimed Tuesday.

Iraqi lawyer Khalil Duleimi told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa that he and another member of the defence panel, Ziyad Najdawi, met with the former Iraqi president at his place of custody in Baghdad on Monday for three and a half hours.


'I am convinced that the Iranian and US agendas have met in Iraq and elsewhere in the Arab world and Arabs are now placed between the US-Israeli hammer and the Iranian anvil,' Duleimi quoted Saddam as saying.

Yeah, that Saddam. Weird, eh? Not so very, according to Josh Manchester in his article “Shaken and Stirred,” at TCS Daily.

In fact, Saddam is quite astute when he notes that the Arabs are placed between the US-Israeli hammer and the Iranian anvil. Before the US invasion, Iraq was the geostrategic pivot of the Middle East. All of the fault lines in the area's politics converge there. The Sunni-Shia split; the Arab-Persian split; the Ba'athist-Wahhabist split; and the Muslim-Israeli split: each of these ran through Iraq via its ethnic and religious makeup; its geographic location; and its former interests, alliances, and enemies.

The 'big bang,' as invading Iraq has sometimes been called, was meant to reorder the nature of politics in the region. This has been accomplished in a fundamental way. The idea of dividing an enemy force into its constituent parts and then dealing with it piecemeal is at least as old as Caesar's actions in Gaul. It applies no less to US strategy in the Middle East. Every faction there has been made to reconsider its relationship with every other. Rather than there being a monolithic clash of civilizations, thus far the US is dealing with the area in pieces -- in whatever way it sees fit to do so -- whether making it tacitly clear to Syria that what happened in Iraq could more easily happen to it, or threatening Iran on behalf of the region and world, or seeking cooperation with the Saudis in hunting down al Qaeda.

Far from being a bit of belated triumphalism about the invasion, all of this has immediate and direct consequences. While the success of Iraq's democracy hangs in the balance from an operational perspective, the strategic advantages created by the invasion of Iraq are working very favorably for the US in the current Israeli-Lebanon crisis in very tangible ways.

And one of those “tangible ways” is the imminent destruction of Hezbollah, Mr. Manchester goes on to note. It remains to be seen whether or not Israel can run Hezbollah to ground in the face of the increasingly negative reporting coming out of Lebanon. The clock is ticking…

TigerHawk has additional comment on Manchester’s essay. He makes good points.

I’ve taken to watching BBC World News (courtesy of my local PBS station) every evening since the war began and their editorial slant isn’t so much pro-Hezbollah as it is anti-Israel. Last night’s offerings, for example, included heavily edited snippets of Kofi Annan addressing the UNSC. By “heavily edited” I mean the emphasis was on Annan’s remarks about the “disproportionate nature” of Israel’s attacks on Hezbollah/Lebanon while omitting Annan’s condemnation of Hezbollah (I later saw Annan’s complete address to the UNSC. The BBC’s heavy-handed editing was all too apparent, in retrospect.). And then there were reports from four BBC correspondents in the area, one in Beirut, one in Tyre, one in Amman and one in Northern Israel. The reports from Lebanon featured lots of video of destroyed infrastructure, particularly in south Beirut, and the BBC reporters’ narrative focuses primarily on civilian casualties while bemoaning the lack of a cease-fire. The demands for a cease-fire will increase with each passing day. One couldn’t help but think the Israelis are on the wrong side of this war, morally speaking, if the BBC was your sole source of news about this conflict.

I also watched a half-hour Lebanese TV newscast on C-SPAN last evening for another perspective. This newscast was on C-SPAN several times last night, but I couldn’t find a link on the C-SPAN site. I found it most interesting that the Lebanese were more objective than the BBC in their reporting, particularly when it came to their editing of Annan at the UNSC; Annan’s anti-Hezbollah remarks were included almost in their entirety. This newscast was billed as originating from an independent, privately-owned network—as opposed to a state-controlled medium, as is often the case in the Arab world—and seemed quite even-handed. I hope C-SPAN continues to run these broadcasts.

This is RICH! The Sun reports, in that wonderful British tabloid style:

EXILED preacher of hate Omar Bakri has begged the Royal Navy to rescue him from war-torn Beirut.

The Muslim cleric who fled Britain last year, tried to board a ship full of women and children yesterday but was turned away.

He also wrote to the British embassy asking to be allowed back on “humanitarian grounds”.

In an email to officials, dole scrounger Bakri pleaded: “The current situation in Beirut left me without any choice but to appeal to you to grant me a visit visa to see my children for one month.”

But his bid to sneak on one of our ships was blocked at harbour gates by sharp-eyed officials.

Bakri, 46, left his family in Edmonton, North London, last August and went to Lebanon after a Sun campaign to kick him out.

He can preach hate and jihad from his pulpit but when his tired ass is in a sling who does he run to? Two words come to mind: “collateral damage,” as in deserving of same. Hot Air has more, including a lot of the back-story.

Your typical blogger… The Pew Internet/American Life Project reports:

The ease and appeal of blogging is inspiring a new group of writers and creators to share their voices with the world.

A national phone survey of bloggers finds that most are focused on describing their personal experiences to a relatively small audience of readers and that only a small proportion focus their coverage on politics, media, government, or technology. Blogs, the survey finds, are as individual as the people who keep them. However, most bloggers are primarily interested in creative, personal expression – documenting individual experiences, sharing practical knowledge, or just keeping in touch with friends and family.

The Pew site features a link to a 33 page pdf file with extensive findings, most of which one would, or should, intuitively know, if one reads more than a few blogs. Still, I found the report interesting reading. (via The Hotline’s Blogometer)

In other news… Have I mentioned it’s hot lately? Oh, yeah…I guess I have. It still is. I’m waiting with great anticipation for that slight break (with rain!) that’s supposedly in store for tomorrow. We’ll see…

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Hot Stuff, In Varying Degrees

Marilyn Monroe would have celebrated her 80th birthday last month, were she still alive. I mention this because (a) I find it hard to believe that much time has passed and (b) I caught a very good TV show last evening about still photography featuring Monroe. The installment of “American Masters” featured interviews with many of the photographers that “shot” Monroe, archive film footage of the star, but most and best of all, hundreds, if not thousands of still photographic images of Marilyn. Miss Monroe was more than a star, more than an icon of her age, her persona and sheer physical presence almost defies description. Monroe was many things to many people, and some say not all those things were good, especially for Monroe herself. But above all the woman was photogenic. Oh, My!… was she ever photogenic! Watching that show last evening brought back a lot of memories for me, as I “came of age” during the time she was omnipresent. I still remember the buzz she created when she married Arthur Miller, and I also remember feeling there was hope for us nerds (and I was one, although that wasn’t the term at the time). I thank Miss Monroe for that, at the very least.

I give you that PBS link above not for the Gloria Steinem essay that is so prominently featured on the site (and which I only read about five paragraphs before going “Sheesh!”), but for links to Monroe’s photographers and to watch the trailer, should you be so inclined. Just sayin’.

HOLY Crap! Any man who has ever had even a fleeting thought of cheating on his wife (and I’d say that’s about 98.72% of us) needs to stop what he’s doing right now and go here. Immediately, not later, but NOW.

I've had a busy day. I began the heart-breaking process of clearing Steven's crap out of the house. It's not what you think. His belongings will not be stuffed into the garage. I will take meticulous care with his valued goods. Starting with his extensive wine collection. His pride and joy. His baby. I remember when we were looking at houses and how this one was the “one” because it had room for a wine cellar. He had the racks custom-made and filled them up with countless bottles. Some nights, I found him sitting down there listening to his jazz with a glass of his favorite vintage. Kinda spooky, actually.

Steven's always been big into charities. For me, there's something about charity that scares me. But I do like to give. So I drove around the neighborhood and personally donated a bottle of wine to all the hard-working landscapers. The smiles on their faces were priceless! It felt so good to just give. Oh and, Steven-honey? That Chateau La Mondotte Saint-Emilion that you've been saving for just the right moment - well that moment finally arrived! We may not be able to write this off, but can't you feel the goodness manifest in your heart. I'll be curious if they can tell the difference between the Henschke and the Bettenelli Cabernet Sauvignon. I couldn't. I think it's because I have, what Steven likes to refer to as, an “unsophisticated palette.”

I’d say Steven’s f!cked in the drive-thru, if’n you know what I mean…

OK…it’s a scam “viral marketing campaign, but it’s a damned good one! (By way of explanation…I followed Morgan’s first link, read the entire “Emily” blog, wrote the narrative above, went back to Morgan’s place and followed the second link, whereupon I realized I’d been HAD. But…the blog is cleverly written, you should go. And it’s indeed a cautionary tale for would-be philanderers.)

This is interesting… “Leading Saudi Sheik Pronounces Fatwa Against Hezbollah:

CAIRO, Egypt — One of Saudi Arabia's leading Wahhabi sheiks, Abdullah bin Jabreen has issued a strongly worded religious edict, or fatwa, declaring it unlawful to support, join or pray for Hezbollah, the Shiite militias lobbing missiles into northern Israel.

The day after Hezbollah abducted two Israeli soldiers on July 12, Sheik Hamid al-Ali issued an informal statement titled "The Sharia position on what is going on." In it, the Kuwaiti based cleric condemned the imperial ambitions of Iran regarding Hezbollah's cross border raid.

The surprising move demonstrates that Sunni Muslim fundamentalists in the Middle East are deeply divided over whether Moslems should support Hezbollah, Iran's Shiite proxies in the war raging in Lebanon.

While the Gulf's ascetic Wahhabi sects, who are closer to the ethnic fighting between Sunnis and Shiites in Iraq, have opposed Hezbollah in its stand against Israel's forces, other Sunni fundamentalist groups, such as the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, have pledged their solidarity. On Friday, the brothers will host a rally in support of Hezbollah at Cairo's most influential mosque, Al-Azhar.

I’m not at all sure what this means in the larger geo-political scheme of things other than the obvious, i.e., the schism between Sunni and Shia seems to be getting wider. I do think it’s a good thing that monolithic Arab opposition to Israel has passed into history. But the larger meaning? God, or Allah, only knows.

It’s still HOT here in P-Town, 91 degrees as I go to press, on its way to 100 or slightly better. And so it goes…

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

This is Becoming a Habit....

The late-in-the-day posting, that is. Chalk it up to screwed up circadian rhythms. Poor excuse, I know. But it is what it is...

Tony Snow is good! And about as different from his predecessor, Scott McClellan, as two press secretaries could be. I haven’t been watching a lot of White House press conferences these days, but Outside the Beltway has a three minute and 28 second video clip of Snow just demolishing that relic from the Pleistocene Era, Helen Thomas. (If you don’t want to watch the video, the transcript of the entire presser is here.)One wonders why her press credentials weren’t revoked a long time ago. But now that Snow’s Da Man, I suspect she’s being kept around for entertainment value…and she offers up a lot of that. And while we’re on the subject of Thomas, the Media Blog at National Review has an interesting illustration of Lefty revisionism, which may be filed under “We’re Never Wrong, Ya Know.”

Charles Krauthammer gets it absolutely correct in his WaPo editorial today, on all counts. It remains to be seen if Israel will be able to get the job done against Hezbollah before the clock runs out. Not the military clock, mind you. I have no doubt the IDF can and will succeed; from what I’ve read lately the IDF estimates another week is required to achieve their military objectives. It’s the diplomatic clock I worry about. The longer military operations last, the more time Hezbollah and their apologists have to distribute video of demolished apartment blocks, wailing women, and cratered airport runways. And that video, sadly, has substantial impact on our Western sensibilities. It’s the same old movie, played all too effectively in every previous Arab – Israeli conflict. While I hope it’s different this time, past experience would indicate not.

In the comments to one of my posts the other day, Son Number One made the point that we’re not at war with Islam in general, just the fanatics of Islam’s fundamentalist, radical, jihadist branch. I replied that, although I’m trying very hard to keep that view, I’m not so sure. One reason for my uncertainty is the general lack of public opposition to the jihadis by mainstream or moderate Muslims. And, just in the nick of time, we get this editorial by Youssef Ibrahim in The New York Sun:

Yes, world, there is a silent Arab majority that believes that seventh-century Islam is not fit for 21st-century challenges. That women do not have to look like walking black tents. That men do not have to wear beards and robes, act like lunatics, and run around blowing themselves up in order to enjoy 72 virgins in paradise. And that secular laws, not Islamic Shariah, should rule our day-to-day lives.


The collective "nyet" was spoken by presidents, emirs, and kings at the highest level of government in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, Qatar, Jordan, Morocco, and at the Arab League's meeting of 22 foreign ministers in Cairo on Saturday. But it was even louder from pundits and ordinary people.

Perhaps the most remarkable and unexpected reaction came from Saudi Arabia, whose foreign minister, Prince Saud Al-Faisal, said bluntly and publicly that Hezbollah's decision to cross the Lebanese border, attack Israel, and kidnap its soldiers has left the Shiite group on its own to face Israel. The unspoken message here was, "We hope they blow you away."


All in all, it seems that when Israel decided to go to war against the priestly mafia of Hamas and Hezbollah, it opened a whole new chapter in the Greater Middle East discourse. And Israel is finding, to its surprise, that a vast, not-so-silent majority of Arabs agrees that enough is enough. To be sure, beneath the hostility toward Sheik Nasrallah in Sunni Muslim states lies the deep and bitter heritage of a 14-century Sunni-Shiite divide, propelled to greater heights now by fears of an ascendant Shiite "arc of menace" rising out of Iran and peddled in the Sunni world by Syria.

The sooner this is settled the better.

Encouraging, to say the least.

I saw on the Weather Channel last evening that 19 states are experiencing a run of 100 degree (or more!) weather. Yeah, it’s hot. Note our average temp for the month, and the fact we’ll get a breather Saturday.

I really feel for those folks that are experiencing the heat plus high humidity. Been there, done that, and it ain’t fun. All you can do is grin and bear it. And turn up the AC.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Tuesday Afternoon... reports Iran tells Hezbollah to back off. Impossible to tell if this is speculation or just plain rumor. Interesting, though.

And speaking of Iran and Hezbollah…those rockets Hezbollah has been lobbing at Haifa and other points inside Israel? They come from Iran, and they’ve been coming into Lebanon for quite a while. Details here. Austin Bay has more on the subject.

This is interestingMajor Y, an Israeli Air Force F-16 pilot, tells us what it’s like to fly missions against Hezbollah.

Speaking of that war…The left has been sucking up the news reports from the BBC and Reuters (civilians! women and children!) about Lebanon and whining about Israel “destroying Lebanon,” “devastating Lebanon’s economy/infrastructure,” and “targeting innocent civilians” in virtually every comment section of every political blog I’ve read in the past 48 hours. And, as is usually the case, they don’t know what the Hell they’re on about. Of course, if Lefties really wanted to understand Israel’s strategy in going after Hezbollah (e.g., battlespace preparation, classic supply-line interdiction), they’d go here. Or here. But…they don’t want to know. Facts are very inconvenient to their world view. Be that as it may, you can expect to see more than a few Lefties cite one of their favorite academics on the subject from now on. Or Noam Chomsky (spit).

Let’s revisit why the Left is silent about Israel:

Fact is, we’ve got some emergencies of our own going on over HERE at this particular time. I FEEL for Israel, I really DO. But I am feeling MUCH more sympathy for my fellow Americans who are being mercilessly victimized by outsourcing and corporate monopolies; the lack of healthcare; a war of our OWN being waged in the Middle East; threats to our OWN country by North Korea; falling wages due to threats to our sovereignty by our Southern neighbor; rising gasoline prices; and political scandals and corruption of a level never before seen in our country. So please FORGIVE ME if I appear to be a bit frigging NUMB to the plight of another country in a far off land at this particular time.

A self-described “another drunken RANT” from The Gun Toting Liberal. It’s actually pretty amusing, in that droll, eye-rolling sort of way one is “amused” when reading Lefty rants. On the other hand, the “gun toting” bit is slightly alarming and just might be the first good reason I’ve ever heard for supporting gun control. Or not. When it comes to the balance of power and personal armaments, I'm certain the Right out-guns the Left. Just sayin’. With tongue in cheek.