Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Woman beats man, man marries woman

And because I support female empowerment and whatnot, I give you this anecdote from the WaPo about the new chief of the CIA’s Near East division, Robert Richer:

One well-known story about Richer is that, as a young Marine Corps captain, he marched his company to a course in unarmed self-defense one morning. Perturbed to find that the Marine sergeant teaching the class was a woman, he volunteered to be the first challenger, according to former colleagues who have heard the story.

Within seconds, Richer was flat on his back. Shortly after that, the instructor resigned from the Corps, which does not allow fraternization between enlisted personnel and officers, so she and Richer could marry.

This is the beginning to every female-oriented Disney story ever made. But we see, in the end, the eventual triumph of patriarchal dominance and oppression, as the girl, once an employed, strong-willed firebrand, quits her job for the quiet desperation and anonymity of domestic life. Man triumphs yet again.

Meanwhile, somewhere in NY City, a NOW employee run's crying to her room, flips on some Barbara Streisand, and burns bras late into the night.

Ivory Coast massacre confirmed

The Transatlantic Intelligencer notes a major development in the Ivory Coast story. French military officials have verified the massacre:


A colonel of the Ivorian gendarmerie interviewed by Agence France Presse (AFP) has affirmed that French forces on November 9 fired directly and without warning upon the crowd of protestors gathered in front of the Hotel Ivoire in Abidjan. Colonel Georges Guiai Bi Poin, who was in charge of a contingent of Ivorian gendarmes dispatched to control the crowd and coordinate with the French troops, says that the order to fire came from the commander of the latter, colonel D'Estremon.
Transint, notes that this blows up the sequence of events the French have been officially putting out:

Colonel Guiai Bi Poin is quoted saying: “French troops fired directly into the crowd. They opened fire on the orders of their chief Colonel D'Estremon. Without warning.” Note that the last sentence in the French original implies more precisely that there were not warning shots [“aucune sommation”] – and thus explicitly contradicts the version of events still being defended by French officials. The AFP report, dated Sunday November 28, continues:

Guiai Bi Poin said the crowd at the Hotel Ivoire was yelling insults but was unarmed.

"Not one of my men fired a shot," he said. "There were no shots from the crowd. None of the demonstrators was armed -- not even with sticks, or knives or rocks."

He said that when he reported to the French commander on the day of the riot [sic.], he was told: "Colonel, my barbed wire has been crossed, and the crowd is getting excited. If they do not let us leave within 20 minutes, I am going to shoot."

"Suddenly," said Guiai Bi Poin, "there was a movement on our left and my gendarmes were pushed violently by the crowd. They fell back a meter or two. D'Estremon then said to me, 'Colonel, the red line has been crossed. I am going to open fire. FIRE!'"

This is obviously many orders of magnitude greater than the “atrocity” at Abu Ghraib or the re-deadening of ol’ death-faker by an understandably antsy U.S. soldier. Plus, we have French officials caught in the act of dissembling. How much play do you think this will get in the world press, now that a) it’s all on tape, and b) those involved have admitted to it?

Need I even ask what would happen if America had done something like this? Ink wells would run dry decrying the massacre by American stormtroopers of the innocent and oppressed Ivorians. An international day of solidarity with the Ivory Coast would be declared, as millions rallied world-wide to urge the Ivorians to cast off their colonialist ties. “No blood for whatever-the-hell-the-Ivory-Coast-produces” would be slapped on signs, buildings and the slow moving elderly.

Instead, we get one French paper smearing the whistle-blowers that dared speak out against France.

Quiet everyone, a British medical charity has something to say!

There's a quote about anti-war dictator-apologists that goes something like: "Where ever there is a boot stamping on a human face, there will be a liberal there to explain that at least the face has free healthcare and 100% literacy."

And today, the BBC obliges, "Iraq health care 'in deep crisis'":
Iraq's health system is in a far worse condition than before the war, a British medical charity says.

That's not the half of it! In pre-unjustly occupied Iraq, hundreds of thousands of people even got free mass burials, complimentary of the benevolent S. Hussein.

Elitist Post of the Day


I’ve been reduced to using library computers, surrounded by the babbling proletariat, the pitiful dregs of humanity, reeking, as they do, of cheap cologne and existential desperation.

I can already feel the commoner’s germs invading my body and overpowering my immune system. Maybe I should get my own computer fixed; maybe I shouldn’t blog altogether; or maybe I should just stop licking the monitor. Who can say?

There is one thing that is for, though: a Gary Busey look-alike just gave me a slanted, stroke-victim smile and then walked jauntily away.

Let the library blogging commence.

The world's smallest violin

French soldiers shoot unarmed citizens in the Ivory Coast. Iran hangs a 16-year old rape victim, and commits sundry other egregious human rights abuses. And what causes the most outrage? “Israel shocked by image of soldiers forcing violinist to play at roadblock.”

If I were to write a satirical article about the hideous moral equivalencies employed against the US and Israel, I don’t think I could come up with a better headline. Although possibly I would employ a bad violins/violence pun.

And, in other news, blogging will be limited the next few days because I have a virus on my computer that Symantec anti-virus won’t pick up, and my internet connection has slowed to a crawl. Plus, I learn that my automatic windows updater surreptitiously downloaded Winpak 2, an optional download that makes my computer run even slower.

But I can’t delete the thing, because if I do, I’ll be kicked off the Residential network. Catch-22, or somesuch.

The only path left to me is sepukku. I will not bring shame and dishonor upon my household.

AIIIIIEEEEEE!!!!!!!

Monday, November 29, 2004

Iran recieves a UN-style smackdown

Check out the teeth on this resolution:

VIENNA - France, Britain and Germany finalized a draft resolution on Sunday that calls on Iran to freeze sensitive nuclear work, but does not make any threats of punitive action if Tehran resumes such work, the U.N. said.
How did Tehran win such a watered-down, impotent resolution? Well, according to the headline of this al-Reuters article, “Iran makes key nuclear concession.” Iran made a concession? What a gracious move! This “concession” was Iran dropping a request that it be permitted under this new resolution to operate 20 centrifuges capable of making nuclear weapons.

Iran basically made the request that it be allowed to operate machinery that would allow it to make nukes under a resolution that was explicitly supposed to bar these machines.

So dropping a request from Iran that it be allowed to violate the resolution is considered a ‘concession’? That’s UN diplomacy for you. This ‘concession’ is what earned Iran a resolution free of any threat of punitive action.

And, even if Iran had not been so gracious as to make this concession, China, which has a veto on the Security Council was dead set against any sanctions on Iran. Hmm, I wonder why that could be:
China's oil giant Sinopec Group has signed a US$70 billion oil and natural gas agreement with Iran, which is China's biggest energy deal with the No. 2 OPEC producer.
Hey, protestors, how ‘bout “No no sanctions for oil” as a slogan? Wouldn’t that look great on a sign?

Of course, sanctions or no, only the terminally naïve or willfully obtuse can believe that Iran is not trying to produce a nuclear weapon. The Sunday Times reports on an allegation by the German magazine Der Spiegel:

IRAN is working on a secret nuclear programme for military purposes despite its promise to halt all uranium enrichment activities, a German news magazine claimed yesterday.

Citing documents from an unnamed intelligence agency, Der Spiegel said Iran had set up a laboratory in a secret tunnel near a nuclear facility in Isfahan. This would be able to produce large amounts of uranium hexafluoride gas which could, in turn, be used to enrich uranium — a vital component for a nuclear bomb.
I’m shocked, SHOCKED, I say.

Shocked, that is, that Der Spiegel, hotbed of all things anti-American, would even bother to report this.

The constitution of a terrorist

On the FPRI website, Marc Sagemen, a forensic psychiatrist and former CIA case officer in Afghanistan, writes on the nature of terrorists. “Understanding Terror Networks”:


The 400 terrorists on whom I’ve collected data were the ones who actually targeted the “far enemy,” the U.S., as opposed to their own governments. I wanted to limit myself for analytical purity to that group, to see if I could identify anything different from other terrorist movements, which were far more nationalistic.

Most people think that terrorism comes from poverty, broken families, ignorance, immaturity, lack of family or occupational responsibilities, weak minds susceptible to brainwashing - the sociopath, the criminals, the religious fanatic, or, in this country, some believe they’re just plain evil.

Taking these perceived root causes in turn, three quarters of my sample came from the upper or middle class. The vast majority—90 percent—came from caring, intact families. Sixty-three percent had gone to college, as compared with the 5-6 percent that’s usual for the third world. These are the best and brightest of their societies in many ways.

Al Qaeda’s members are not the Palestinian fourteen-year- olds we see on the news, but join the jihad at the average age of 26. Three-quarters were professionals or semi-professionals. They are engineers, architects, and civil engineers, mostly scientists. Very few humanities are represented, and quite surprisingly very few had any background in religion. The natural sciences predominate. Bin Laden himself is a civil engineer, Zawahiri is a physician, Mohammed Atta was, of course, an architect; and a few members are military, such as Mohammed Ibrahim Makawi, who is supposedly the head of the military committee.

[…]

As a psychiatrist, originally I was looking for any characteristic common to these men. But only four of the 400 men had any hint of a disorder. This is below the worldwide base rate for thought disorders.

I think this should drive the final stake through the heart of the liberal shibboleth that poverty causes terrorism (that is, if this study hadn’t already). These people were seemingly normal in every respect—well, at least as normal as possible for engineers—and yet they ended up as radical Islamic terrorists. Why did they end up this way? Sagemen writes:

Because they were the best and brightest, they were sent abroad to study. They came from moderately religious, caring, middle-class families. They’re skilled in computer technology. They spoke three, four, five, six languages. Most Americans don’t know Arabic; these men know two or three Western languages: German, French, English.

When they became homesick, they did what anyone would and tried to congregate with people like themselves, whom they would find at mosques. So they drifted towards the mosque, not because they were religious, but because they were seeking friends. They moved in together in apartments, in order to share the rent and also to eat together - they were mostly halal, those who observed the Muslim dietary laws, similar in some respects to the kosher laws of Judaism. Some argue that such laws help to bind a group together since observing them is something very difficult and more easily done in a group. A micro-culture develops that strengthens and absorbs the participants as a unit. This is a halal theory of terrorism, if you like.

These cliques, often in the vicinity of mosques that had a militant script advocating violence to overthrow the corrupt regimes, transformed alienated young Muslims into terrorists. It’s all really group dynamics. You cannot understand the 9/11 type of terrorism from individual characteristics. The suicide bombers in Spain are another perfect example. Seven terrorists sharing an apartment and one saying “Tonight we’re all going to go, guys.” You can’t betray your friends, and so you go along. Individually, they probably would not have done it.
So this whole apocalyptic death cult boils down to a bad case of peer pressure. I think there is something to this, but it requires something further to take these people from an excluded clique to international terrorists -- there are always insulated groups within societies, but they don't always lash out violently.

In essence, the question is "What causes this secluded group to attack larger society when most other secluded groups don't?" As I've written extensively before, I think that totalitarian governance plays a role, but, with the death of Theo Van Gogh at the hands of an Islamist terrorist in an open, Western democracy, it is apparent that the religion of Islam is a major factor as well, if not the major factor.

I've always been aware of the totalitarian proclivities of Islam, it's glorification of death and it's earthly nihilism--characteristics that form a volatile mixture--but I simply do not know enough about Islam to comment further (although, admittedly, lack of knowledge usually doesn't stop me from blathering randomly in other arenas).

So, as for Islam, I will only say that I believe it needs its own Reformation, and it needs it 500 years ago.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

This is awkward

Well, that's probably it until after Thanksgiving break. I might try to throw up some posts, especially if something big happens, but this may not even be physically possible, as the internet connection back at home basically has its bytes delivered daily by the Pony Express. It's slower than that one kid at school... you know, that kid that was freakin' slow? It's slower than him.

But keep your eye on the Ivory Coast. If there's a there there, then it should hit the MSM soon, and, while I don't expect it to get half as much play as Abu Ghraib, or even the shooting of ol' death-faker, it will allow for a glorious helpin' of schadenfreude along with all that turkey.

Plus, it will be fun knowing that I beat the MSM to a story by days, simply by perusing the blogosphere and logging my comments. Of course, if the whole story turns out to be a misunderstanding, if the there is no there there, then I will have to eat crow. And by "eat crow" I mean destroy all evidence of my having been wrong.

If you need something thankful to medititate on this holiday, read the previous post a few times. At least we're not those knuckleheads. If you need your political itch scratched, check out Instapundit, LGF, INDC Journal, or Andrew Sullivan; just a few of my favorite blogs. If that doesn't work, try a cream, you know, something with aloe vera.

update: I have no idea what aloe vera is. Use at your own risk.

update 2: Okay, so its not like I beat the MSM to the story by that much, as the NY Times mentioned the incident Monday, as I noted earlier, even if they did bury it in a column and heap skepticism on it. And even if all is true, its not like French fecklessness and weaselness are that much of story.

American Superiority Roundup

You already know it. America is a great country. The best, obviously. But, as you are aware, the various citizens of other nations tend to take a critical look at America without tending to the mote in their own eye.

So, just to put these uppity countries back into place, I've assembled a small mass of dirty laundry and will now give it its proper air. The list would be longer (its not like I'm lacking for material here) but for some reason my internet collection has been, in the words of my younger brother, "slower than a pregnant sloth on a hot summer day" (eat your heart out, Dan Rather). So, three items only, but three doozies, I should say.


Leading off, of course, is the French massacre in the Ivory Coast. Trying to reassert colonialist ties, the French have unilaterally intervened, and fired on unarmed, seemingly nonbelligerent citizens, even while screaming foul at the trivial (at least in comparison) abuses at Abu Ghraib and the shooting of the death-faker. France, as is to be expected, seems to be weaseling extensively. Read the comments from Seewen on this post. If true, they are unbelievable, and should hit the MSM, oh, sometime next year. [If true they are unbelievable? Come now, Grant, does that even make sense? –ed.]


Next up, our friends the Germans. How many times has Bush been compared to Hitler and America to Nazi Germany? I lack the fingers to properly calculate. Well, if you want to see real, honest-to-Fuhrer Nazi’s look no further than Germany:

Germany's neo-Nazi, National Democratic Party made sweeping gains in key elections in the eastern state of Saxony yesterday [Sept. 19] in a shock protest vote that reflected the widespread unpopularity of Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's economic reform programme.

In the conservative-controlled state, the, National Democrats (NPD) won seats in a regional state parliament for the first time in 36 years after first exit poll results showed that party had won nine per cent of the vote.


Now, to Holland. Holland has experienced its 9/11, in the form of the death of Theo Van Gogh, famous film-maker and distant relative of the famous Vincent, at the hands of an Islamic jihadi. Unlike America’s 9/11, Holland’s was followed by violent recriminations in the form of the attempted burning of two mosques and other incidents. Now, the Dutch MP, who has been forced into hiding at a string of safe houses under heavy guard (here's PW's take on this), is calling for a five-year halt on non-Western immigration and the closing of radical mosques. The Dutch are now, in the words of Christopher Caldwell from the Weekly Standard, “calling for laws that make the Patriot Act look like Kumbayah.”

Welcome to the Sept. 12 club, guys. Those empty seats? Oh, sure, you can sit there. They were saved for our Democratic Party, but I don't think they're gonna show.

Well, my internet connection has just sputtered and cried uncle. So, that's that.

Monday, November 22, 2004

The Sound of Victory

I'm a rolling thunder, a pouring rain

I'm comin' on like a hurricane

My lightning's flashing across the sky

You're only young but you're gonna die

I won't take no prisoners, won't spare no lives

Nobody's putting up a fight

I got my bell, I'm gonna take you to hell

I'm gonna get you, Satan get you

CHORUS:

Hell's Bells

Yeah, Hell's Bells

You got me ringing Hell's Bells

My temperature's high, Hell's Bells

I'll give you black sensations up and down your spine

If you're into evil you're a friend of mine

See my white light flashing as I split the night

'Cause if good's on the left, then I'm stickin' to the right

I won't take no prisoners, won't spare no lives

Nobody's puttin' up a fight

I got my bell, I'm gonna take you to hell

I'm gonna get you, Satan get you

CHORUS

yeow

Hell's Bells, Satan's comin' to you

Hell's Bells, he's ringing them now

Hell's Bells, the temperature's high

Hell's Bells, across the sky

Hell's Bells, they're takin' you down

Hell's Bells, they're draggin' you around

Hell's Bells, gonna split the night

Hell's Bells, there's no way to fight, yeah

Ow, ow, ow, ow

Hell's Bells

"Iraq 'n' Roll":
As tanks geared up to trample Fallujah and American troops started circling the city, special operations officers rifled through their CD cases, searching for a sound track to spur the assault.What would irk Iraqi insurgents more: Barking dogs or bluegrass? Screaming babies or shrieking feedback?

[…]

While the tanks flattened Fallujah this month, Hell's Bells bombarded the town. Speakers as big as footlockers blared from Humvees' gun turrets. Boom boxes blasted off soldiers' backpacks. As the troops stormed closer, the music got louder. The song changed; the message remained the same.

[…]

"It's not the music so much as the sound," said Ben Abel, spokesman for the Army's psychological operations command at Fort Bragg, N.C. "It's like throwing a smoke bomb. The aim is to disorient and confuse the enemy to gain a tactical advantage."
AC/DC? What is this, the ‘80’s? Our troops deserve the most up-to-date equipment available. No cost is too much to pay for the safety of our troops. Might I suggest Burn, by Dope (lyrics not printable on a family blog) as a substitute psy-ops song? Or how about A Perfect Murder… that stuff’s heavier than Kirstie Alley.

Either way, our troops deserve no less than the latest advances in heavy metal technology out there. Our defense budget is over 15% of our total budget expenditures, so I think we can afford to ship a few Slipknot cd’s over there.

AC/DC? Puh. Those guys aren’t even American.

Perspective

Rick Leventhal, of Fox News:

I recently watched a DVD (not sure if it qualifies as a “documentary”) filled with some of the most gruesome images ever captured on tape. There are scenes of Iraqis being tortured, their arms broken or chopped off or their tongues cut out (one after another obediently kneeling, being cut, and moving on for the next guy to take his place). There are public executions, including decapitations, firing squads, and worse. In one scene, two people are wrapped in sheets, buried to their waist, and stoned to death by a crowd.

[…]

And there is extensive footage of beatings handed out by Iraqi guards, reportedly taking place at the now infamous Abu Ghraib prison. In fact, the film first shows the images of the alleged abuses of prisoners by U.S. soldiers, and then contrasts it with the whippings and torture perpetrated by Saddam’s men. The images are not blurred out. The deaths and mutilations are almost certainly real. The goal, according to the producers of “Buried in the Sand,” is simple: “To bring back the reality of what is happening to our troops and the way these people not only treat their own people, but how they treat Americans and what they want for our society,” Rob Cartee, the Executive Producer of the project, told me. “They would like nothing better than to see an Islamic regime rule the entire world.”

Instant reaction from our in-house radical lefty, Chomsky McSunshine:
Yeah, but Abu Ghraib! Remember that! That was an atrocity, comrade, on a scale not seen since the Colorado State hazing of ‘94. There was, like, nekkid pyramids and such! Which, not that there's anything wrong with that, except, of course, when America does it. And that weird-looking (*sniff* Red-State, I'll bet) Lindy England chick? Consider my prison fantasies forever ruined, thank you.

"You, Mr. President, are a dissident among the leaders of the free world"

Essential reading over at NRO:


"I told the president, 'There is a great difference between politicians and dissidents. Politicians are focused on polls and the press. They are constantly making compromises. But dissidents focus on ideas. They have a message burning inside of them. They would stand up for their convictions no matter what the consequences.'

"I told the president, 'In spite of all the polls warning you that talking about spreading democracy in the Middle East might be a losing issue — despite all the critics and the resistance you faced — you kept talking about the importance of free societies and free elections. You kept explaining that democracy is for everybody. You kept saying that only democracy will truly pave the way to peace and security. You, Mr. President, are a dissident among the leaders of the free world."'[emphasis added -- Quote. Of. The. Day.]

From one of the most famous dissidents of era of the Evil Empire, such is not faint praise.


[...]

"Everybody knows that weapons of mass destruction are very dangerous in the hands of terrorists," says Sharansky, his passion as strong as his accent. "But very few people understand how powerful weapons of mass construction can be in the hands the free world. There are so many skeptics, so many people who doubt whether Iraqis and Palestinians really want to live in freedom, or whether democracy in the Middle East is really such a good idea. But I lived under a totalitarian regime. I know the horrors of these regimes from the inside. I know they can be transformed. They won't be perfect, and they won't agree with us on every issue. But it is better to have a democracy that hates you than a dictatorship that loves you."

French shooting update

From the Guardian:

Security forces opened fire Tuesday as thousands of angry government loyalists massed outside a French evacuation post for foreigners, reportedly killing seven people and wounding 200 in violence pitting France against its former prize colony.

France's military denied responsibility, saying it was loyalist demonstrators who opened fire as a French convoy left the post, and Ivorian security forces who returned fire.
But the video of the incident (in a compressed mpeg format here—click “continue reading” at the bottom of the post, and again, be warned: it is EXTREMELY graphic) seems to show that French troops were involved, although, to be fair, it isn’t apparent from the obviously edited video whether the crowd may have provoked the response. But from what the video does show, it would seem that crowd was unarmed and doing no more than yelling and mooning, and that French soldiers were responsible.

The NY Times buries the story in a larger article defending their French comrades, entitled, “France Is Cast as the Villain in Ivory Coast.” I guess we know which side the objective NY Times is on. The alleged massacre merits this brief, skeptical mention:

That anti-French sentiment was bolstered by what government supporters say was the excessive force used by French troops during a demonstration last week outside the Hôtel Ivoire, once one of the shining symbols of this country's affluence and sophistication. The Ivoirian government said French troops fired into the crowd, killing more than 60 people. [The French defense minister, Michèle Alliot-Marie, said any deaths resulted from firefights between the Ivory Coast military and armed gangs loyal to Mr. Gbagbo, Agence France-Presse reported.]
I don’t know much (read: anything) about Ivoirian history or politics, so I can't say whether France is justified in it’s actions, but Aaron at Freewill blog (who is just generally on top of this story, so check back in for updates if interested) says (and forgive the long excerpting):

What the French have essentially done is declared war on the Ivory Coast, and called it "peacekeeping" to set up an adorable little fief. Issues of "international law" aside, the fact is that whether or not they're technically able to do this or not, they're on the wrong side. Common sense can tell any observer that a popular government has not just a right but an obligation to resist violent overthrow. The French instead came there to aid overthrow. The rebel-typse have staged one failed coup or assassination attempt after another, and having no luck there, turned to the French. This appears to be making progress, since in light of the chaos the French have brought to the country, there are now calls from Senegal to suspend elections and replace the government with a "non-political" transitional government that would rule for 3-5 years. I think we know what that government would look like.

Meanwhile, the Paris-based International Herald Tribune says Gbagbo is "tearing the country apart" by opposing the French.

What did the French think the Ivorians would do when they summarilly obliterated their air force? Buy them hookers? Do a Rodgers & Hammerstein number in the street? Of course they're angry.

It's worth noting, too, that France isn't "just now" causing problems. Their mission to Ivory Coast is an undiluted failure. Even a year ago, the UN already reported that disease was skyrocketing, 600,000 people had been displaced, and that 50,000 Ivorians (along with 300,000 immigrant workers) had fled the country. Indeed, it appears that another 19,000 have fled to Liberia, and the UN is shipped 20 tons of food to the border town of Butuo in the hopes they won't starve to death.

Exactly how many people have fled Iraq and Afghanistan for their lives in recent years? Hint: Of those displaced by Saddam and the Taliban, refugees are moving back to Iraq and Afghanistan by the millions. Everybody, on all sides of the debate, can agree that a situation that the locals quantifiably consider worse than their Iraqi counterparts is not, as the French claim, a "remarkable success". (Indeed, if we were half as bungling in Iraq as the left paints us to be, wouldn't that make France's mission "a remarkable failure"? If I wanted to take this to it's extreme conclusion, I could say that this may mean French "peacekeeping" is about as desirable as rule by the Taliban and Saddam Hussein. I could, but I won't.)

Random observations (really now, do I give any other kind?).

1. Well, the French are starring in this little drama, so we pretty much expected Hypocrisy to make an appearance. We just didn't know she would get all shooty and stuff. I mean, to put it politely, its not like the French are known for their martial skills.

2. Related: isn't this story ridiculous on its face? I mean, the bullets actually hit people, so could it possibly be the French army that was involved? Maybe they were just trying to fire warning shots.

3. If the French really are as trigger happy as this makes them seem, would we really want there help winning the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people?

Rise of the faking dead

A news release from CentCom (found via LGF):

November 22, 2004

Release Number: 04-11-77

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

INSURGENTS FAKING DEAD FIRES ON MARINES

FALLUJAH, Iraq – Marines from the 1st Marine Division shot and killed an insurgent, who while faking dead, opened fire on the Marines that were conducting a security and clearing patrol through the streets here at approximately 3:45 p.m. on 21 November.

And now, for instant reaction and commentary, we go to our resident Armchair Soldier:
They killed him?

Color me outraged (the “brick red” will do fine). Why, if it had been me or Kevin Sites, we would’ve just shot the gun out of the man’s hand instead of wasting him so, you can put money on that. And then knocked off his hat, just to scare him a bit. I mean, really, Clint Eastwood did stuff like that all the time, and he’s just an actor for heavens sakes, so surely our soldiers can put up a better showing, hmm?

Media coverage is fallujahed up

Powerline on the slanted media coverage in Fallujah:

If the Fallujah campaign had been long and difficult, and had given rise to many casualties, the hysteria in the media would have been unrestrained. Instead, however, the Fallujah campaign was one of the most stunning successes in the history of urban warfare. Consequently, it has dropped off the media radar screen. Newspaper attention immediately turned, not to the important strategic advantages of depriving the terrorists of their home base, or to the horrifying discoveries of torture and murder chambers, the "Iraq al Qaeda" headquarters, or vast quantities of munitions that have been captured in Fallujah, but to: 1) video footage of a Marine shooting a wounded terrorist, and 2) terrorist attacks in other parts of Iraq. The point of the latter coverage is not subtle; the reader is intended to conclude that the battle of Fallujah has been futile.

update: Of course, that doesn't mean that the likes of the NY Times can't produce some stellar writing... because it can. Casualty-focused, sure, but not defeatist, and with heroism on display:

More than once, death crept up and snatched a member of Bravo Company and quietly slipped away. Cpl. Nick Ziolkowski, nicknamed Ski, was a Bravo Company sniper. For hours at a stretch, Corporal Ziolkowski would sit on a rooftop, looking through the scope on his bolt-action M-40 rifle, waiting for guerrillas to step into his sights. The scope was big and wide, and Corporal Ziolkowski often took off his helmet to get a better look.

Tall, good-looking and gregarious, Corporal Ziolkowski was one of Bravo Company's most popular soldiers. Unlike most snipers, who learned to shoot growing up in the countryside, Corporal Ziolkowski grew up near Baltimore, unfamiliar with guns. Though Baltimore boasts no beach front, Corporal Ziolkowski's passion was surfing; at Camp Lejeune, N.C., Bravo Company's base, he would often organize his entire day around the tides.

"All I need now is a beach with some waves," Corporal Ziolkowski said, during a break from his sniper duties at Falluja's Grand Mosque, where he killed three men in a single day.

During that same break, Corporal Ziolkowski foretold his own death. The snipers, he said, were now among the most hunted of American soldiers.

In the first battle for Falluja, in April, American snipers had been especially lethal, Corporal Ziolkowski said, and intelligence officers had warned him that this time, the snipers would be targets.

"They are trying to take us out," Corporal Ziolkowski said.
The bullet knocked Corporal Ziolkowski backward and onto the roof. He had been sitting there on the outskirts of the Shuhada neighborhood, an area controlled by insurgents, peering through his wide scope. He had taken his helmet off to get a better view. The bullet hit him in the head.


Acts of heroism in Fallujah are not exactly in short supply. This missive from the front details a few of them:
The first is a Marine from 3/5. His name is Corporal Yeager (Chuck Yeager's grandson). As the Marines cleared and apartment building, they got to the top floor and the point man kicked in the door. As he did so, an enemy grenade and a burst of gunfire came out. The explosion and enemy fire took off the point man's leg. He was then immediately shot in the arm as he lay in the doorway. Corporal Yeager tossed a grenade in the room and ran into the doorway and into the enemy fire in order to pull his buddy back to cover. As he was dragging the wounded Marine to cover, his own grenade came back through the doorway. Without pausing, he reached down and threw the grenade back through the door while he heaved his buddy to safety. The grenade went off inside the room and Cpl Yeager threw another in. He immediately entered the room following the second explosion. He gunned down three enemy all within three feet of where he stood and then let fly a third grenade as he backed out of the room to complete the evacuation of the wounded Marine. You have to understand that a grenade goes off within 5 seconds of having the pin pulled. Marines usually let them "cook off" for a second or two before tossing them in. Therefore, this entire episode took place in less than 30 seconds.

A Passion for vidja games

Earlier, when I said “is nothing sacred?” referring to vidja games, I was only joking. Vidja games aren’t sacred. Or are they:

Nipping at the heels of Halo 2, Mel Gibson's The Passion, scheduled for release on PS2 this summer, expects to bring equally long lines to the malls.

"If Gibson's film The Passion of the Christ has given us any indication of the robust nature of the evangelical entertainment platform," Gage estimates, "then his video game will certainly be a predictor of its market share in days to come."

Yeah, this article is satirical (although bloggermeister Andrew Sullivan was snookered), but still it just sounds just a little too believable, because now that the election results are in, it’s decisive… Red America does exist! The Passion demonstrated its possibility as a market, and Olly Stone is preemptively blaming the expected lackluster showing of his upcoming-stinker Alexander on the prejudices of us small-minded Red Staters.

A Passion vidja game sounds just crazy enough to be tried (and a Left Behind vidja game IS going to be tried). Giant untapped reservoir of evangelicals, right? What else they gonna do in Jesusland, go to church? I mean, they can only be there, like, a couple hours a week, tops, right? So if we could just simulate the church experience in a vidja game… profit!

Mmmno.

While games based on the Left Behind book series or the Passion might profit from sheer name power, they would most assuredly not have the sales power of a Halo 2, Half-Life 2, Doom 3, or Fable. And, even more likely than this, the games would be unmitigated pieces of garbage and about as fun as a rash, minus the enjoyable scratching.

Let me let you in on a little gaming formula: Kill’n stuff in glorious 3-D = fun. Being crucified in glorious 3-D = not fun. Just because a game would seem to apply to a mainstream demographic does not mean that it would sell like Halo. It might still sell decent, but, unavoidably, the game would be quickly-made, buggy and poorly designed.

This is a game development principle: the more a game is made to appeal to the mainstream, the worse it will be. For examples one to infinity, check out all the hunting games ever made. Steaming piles of retch-inducing graphics with game play that couldn’t keep a retarded monkey entertained. Even a retarded monkey that really, REALLY liked hunting. And paintball… don’t even touch that, or you’re hands will curl up, turn black, and fall off. And I’m being deadly serious here; Wal-Mart employees have to handle those things with hazmat suits. Games targeted at nongaming demographics are designed solely with dollar signs in mind, with resulting poor gameplay.

On top of this, there is another game development principle conspiring against any Passion game: movie to game conversions—searching for the right word—SUCK. There are a few notable exceptions, one being the acclaimed Chronicles of Riddick and some of the Lord of the Rings adaptations, but these are notable exactly because they are such exceptions.

A Passion of the Christ game would be a rank exploitation of Red America. But, dude, even Red America likes fun games. And kill’n stuff.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Cosby: to be seen, not heard

William Raspberry in the WaPo:

My problem with what Cosby has been saying -- and how he has been saying it -- is that he seems to believe that the failure he sees is willful: that if black teenagers would use better language, and if their parents insisted on more discipline, their prospects would be greatly improved and that they know it.

Think of a high school football coach who has taught his players everything he knows, gotten them into prime condition and, by acts small and great, taught them that he truly cares for them. Such a coach can pull a player out of the game after a mental lapse, yell at him, call him a knucklehead and then put him back into the game with a realistic expectation that the kid will do better.

Now imagine the yelling coming from a guy who just happened to see the boneheaded play. Will the youngster pull himself together and play better? Or is he more likely to explode into counterproductive resentment? The coach has
not only earned the right to yell but has also imparted the lessons that the yelling is intended to recall. Cos is hoping -- futilely, it seems to me -- that his yelling will evoke lessons never taught.

Actually, Cosby is hoping that his “yelling” will get people to teach the lessons in the first place. What Cosby is saying is that there is, in fact, no coach at all. Parents are absent and aren’t teaching the lessons that they should be teaching.

Raspberry admits that he believes Cosby’s views:
I think Cosby believes what I believe but what many of us are nervous about saying out loud: that racism notwithstanding, our fate is more firmly in our own hands than it has ever been, and that it is necessary for us to start acting like it.
… but these views are just too darn impolitic and insensitive to say out loud. People might “explode into counterproductive resentment.” But, of course, this is a fear that comes anytime that a hard lesson must be taught, and is no reason for not teaching the hard lesson at all.

I believe that both young people and their parents can do what Cosby wants them to do, but I also believe that their failure to do so is not volitional. Some people, under the worst of circumstances, will find their way. But most of us have to be taught how to act even in our own interest.

So how about it, Cos? A little less yelling -- and a little more coaching?

How patronizing… "Cos"? “Cos,” who was so busy “screaming” and “yelling” (or, yunno, “talking” would’ve also worked), earned a doctorate in education from UMass.

“A little more coaching”? Cosby is a noted philanthropist, and cursory internet research reveals that Cosby donated $20 million to Spellman College, the largest amount ever to a black institution. He’s pretty much putting his money where his mouth is, I'd say. Oh, unless by “coach” you mean that Cosby should himself teach young kids… in which case, he did that with his show Picture Pages.

The column is entitled “What Cosby Should Say,” but in actuality it is little more than a plea that Cosby shut his big yap and “coach” (which means nothing if it doesn’t already mean what Cosby has been doing his whole life). Even this columnist, who acknowledges the essential truth of Cosby is saying, just can’t condone the non-P.C. aura of it all or the undue focus it places on individual responsibility.

French atrocity

Okay, on the one hand you have a US soldier shooting a wounded terrorist, who was faking dead, in the course of a larger struggle to liberate Fallujah.

On the other hand, you have French soldiers shooting indiscriminately at unarmed civilians in the course of a larger struggle to reassert colonialist ties over the Ivory Coast.

Warning, the video at the link contains some EXTREMELY graphic scenes. Abu Ghraib and the shooting of the wounded terrorist were nothing compared to this French massacre, which should rightly earn the appellation “atrocity.”

This massacre throws into sharp contrast the moral superiority of Americans from most other countries of the world. I simply cannot picture our troops shooting into a crowd of unarmed, nonbelligerent citizens and then leaving them to die. Maybe it’s the dreaded religiosity of America that makes her soldiers conduct themselves at such high levels, maybe its our appreciation and imitation of our forefathers who conducted themselves with honor and quested for freedom in their lives. Either way, even among Western-style democracies, American exceptionalism is apparent and, I think, one of the reasons why Kerry bled many voters from his ranks. No one cares what the hell France thinks, and Kerry’s belief that America’s actions need to be tempered with world opinion was, and is, a hideous thing to most Americans. What the world thinks does not define the morality of America’s actions.

And thank God that it doesn't, because if it did then we would not be seeing such an unprecedented spread of human freedom throughout the Middle East, led by a simple but pious man, strong in his convictions, undeterred by the currents of international disapprobation. Instead we would have a Chomskyesque vision of America humbled before two-bit dictatorships, handing sovereignty over piece by piece to the morally bankrupt Eurocrats of the UN, afraid to exert even the slightest influence for fear of being called a “bully.”

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Clicky time

Found via Bill at Indc Journal, a must see photo-essay from Fallujah.

And, a must read account of our soldiers in battle. The professionalism and dedication evinced by our soldiers is just amazing. It looks like the Halo 2 training is paying of.

Please note: when I say a must read site, I’m not being flippant, funny or cute. FOLLOW THE LINKS. If you visit my site, I have your IP address (I think). I don’t know what these mean, or what I can do with them, but I have them, and this should scare you. So, do yourself a favor, and read the links.

NOW, or else I'm going to start sticking pins in your IP number and slapping it around a bit.

Hypocritical Anti-Americanism

Jane Novak (found via Deans World) destroys the moral equivalencies and double standards that are being created between the Fallujah shooting of one wounded man faking dead and the routine executions and vile acts that occur in, but are not condemned by, the Arab world… and she does this on no less than the Arab News!

Progress… mmm… it smells so good. Like pie.

Bombing children, defiling mosques, kidnapping civilians, executing poor workers and cleaning out women — these are not discussed or broadcast with frequency, or invoke much anger. Videos where a masked man shakes a bloody head while the curtains flutter do not evoke such fury. Why? The identity of the victim or the perpetrator?

All tactics of the insurgents are excused. Hide among civilians. Justified. Wear civilian clothes. Justified. Shoot from a mosque. Justified. Feign death to draw soldiers in (the way one Marine died the day before the incident). Justified. Wave a white flag as a ploy. Justified. Booby-trap dead bodies. Justified. That’s just Fallujah.

Moving outward — Deliberately killing Iraqi civilians daily. Justified. Bombing churches. Justified. Bombing cafes. Justified. Using schools and mosques as arsenals. Justified. Attacking the police. Just fine.

The rules of war don’t apply to the insurgents, only the Americans. And if one horrible act occurs at the hands of one American soldier, the world howls.

update: Related: Egyptian intellectual Dr. Amr Isma'il writes about the Middle East:

'We Kill, Blow Up Cars, and Slit Throats in the Name of Allah, Yet Protest When Others Depict Muslims as Terrorists'

"Why are we the only nations in the world that still use religion, Islam, and the name of Allah in everything – in politics, economics, science, art, and literature. We kill in the name of Allah, blow up cars in the name of Allah, and slit throats in the name of Allah and Islam, and then we protest when others depict the Muslims as terrorists. We indiscriminately kill doctors who went to provide medical care to Afghans, and then we protest when the world describes these acts as acts of terror. We blow up embassies and trains [and consequently] children, women, and citizens with no connection to our cause are killed, and then we protest when the world describes these extremists, who view themselves as Muslims, as terrorists.


Read the whole thing, translation courtesy of MEMRI.

Why I’m going to start watching basketball

Malice in the Palace (via Drudge):

Players and fans exchanged punches in the stands in one of the worst NBA brawls ever, leaving several people injured and prompting a police investigation.

Indiana's Ron Artest and Stephen Jackson charged into the stands and fought with fans in the final minute of their game against the Detroit Pistons on Friday night, and the brawl forced an early end to the Pacers' 97-82 win.

Drudge also linked to the Daily Recycler for video, pretty much taking that site down with traffic. Wes Roth has a long roundup of video links, many also bogged down, and the best, pithiest, summary yet, “This is off.the.hook.”

I take back everything bad I ever said about basketball being for wussies. It still is, obviously, but at least these wussies can throw a decent punch.

From listening to the SportsCenter commentary it seems like they are trying to blame the fans for this. And, sure, it started in earnest when a fan threw a blue plastic cup at Artest. But then Artest charges into the stands to autograph the fans face with his fist. A slight overreaction, I should say, and one that, as a professional, Artest should've known better than to carry out. And SportsCenter reacts with horror and surprise that fans would punch back when Artest bum rushes a compatriot. How dare they!

And just as a person, Artest should also know that you don’t slug someone for throwing a cup at you. Yeah, the fans were out of hand, but the blame falls more on the shoulders of the players. They make millions, so I think they can afford a little restraint.

The upshot of this? Probably tighter restrictions on alcohol, more police behind the bench, and, obviously, snipers. Because you show me a problem that snipers can’t solve, and I’ll show you a problem that probably shouldn’t be solved.

update: And also lawsuits. Being punched by Artest is liking winning the lottery, only more bruising.

If Halo 2 were a pie, I would eat it

Hmm, methinks I’m not going to type much tonight. All the recent slacking has made me tired. I mean, I played so much Halo 2 tonight that my fingers are bleeding. Now I know how children in third world countries feel when they have to work 13 hours a day in hellish conditions for meager-to-insulting wages to make Nike shoes. Solidarity.

And some news on the Halo 2 related front:

As if it wasn't tough enough being a soldier these days, Stars & Stripes reports the Army and Air Force Exchange Service--that's the PX to you and me--has run out of copies of "Halo 2."

The retailers who serve the nation's military personnel got 25,000 copies of the smash Microsoft game for its Xbox console, according the news service, and cleared them out pronto.

AAFES promises that it will receive another 16,000 copies of the game within the next two weeks, however, meaning more of our men and women in uniform will be able to experience the new preferred form of rest and relaxation from the rigors of military life--shooting stuff.

Wow, not only does the American military protect our freedom and kill terrorists, but they protect us from the alien menace of the Covenant! My respect for our armed forces increases everyday, just like my respect for the thighs on Michael Moore’s sweat pants (how they can resist such intense heat and pressure without being turned into a fossil fuel is nothing short of miraculous--and check this out, slightly related, highly humorous).

Vidja games can also teach us civvies a thing or two about combat. For example, through Halo 2 I learned that it’s best not to get killed because that can lead to long respawn times and your “teammate” picking over your corpse for weapons (band of brothers my expletive).

And if I ever do get in a combat situation, because of my extensive Halo 2 experience I’ll know exactly what to do. Rock the left joystick forward, tap the X key and hold down both triggers, while also applying gentle pressure to the right joystick. And, seriously, I've never even been to a boot camp! No joking!

Michele Malkin, right-wing pundit extraordinaire, brings us another Halo 2 scoop (with extra media bias goodness!):

I was a bit of a gaming geek many, many, many years ago before career & children & meeting mortgage payments took over. Was addicted to King's Quest and one of the biggest thrills during my stint in Seattle was meeting Sierra On-line co-founder Ken Williams, husband of KQ pioneer Roberta, when he launched a now-defunct Internet radio talk show network based in Bellevue, WA, called TalkSpot.

Anyway, just thought that personal background would explain my interest in Halo2, which the gaming world is going ga-ga over at the moment. Seems that some conservatives took umbrage at comments by Halo 2 writer Joe Staten, who was quoted in Entertainment Weekly as follows:

"You could look at it," Staten says of his Halo 2 storyline "as a damning condemnation of the Bush Administration's adventure in the Middle East."

Turns out, though, that this is actually what went down:

The EW journalist chose to include one of my examples of possible misinterpretation in the article, but not all of them. Most importantly, the journalist left out my closing statement: "Look, you can read anything into the story that you like - call a damning condemnation of the Bush Admnistration's adventure in the Middle-East, for example. But you'd be wrong."

The "But you'd be wrong" part seems kind of important to me, but then again I'm not a professional journalist (and, alas, I've not even played any journalist related vidja games, such as ). It seems the medias leftist bias has even infiltrated into vidja game coverage. I mean, I can see someone trying to milk political points off the death of Christopher Reeves or the fact that DICK CHENEY'S DAUGHTER IS A LESBIAN... but vidja games? Is nothing sacred? Have they no souls?

And finally, to round off this post, an interesting article on the politics of Halo 2 from Slate:

In the first Halo, the aliens were a shadowy, militaristic menace driven by religious zeal. In Halo 2, they're still pretty much that way—unfortunately, you never get to go all the way to the dark side and fight humans. Nonetheless, you do get inside the aliens' heads. After talking to the Covenant's spiritual leaders and learning about their motives, they still seem pretty loopy, but it's harder to think of them as just faceless monsters.

This inverted perspective extends, brilliantly, to the manual that comes along with the game's "Limited Collector's Edition." While the game's plain-jane $45 version comes with a guide written from the human perspective, the bulked-up $55 edition (it also comes with a DVD) has the exact same handbook written from the alien perspective. Both books cover the same material—the weapons, the combatants, the Byzantine back story—but with hilariously different interpretations. The human guide calls the littlest aliens "Grunts" and says that "they will often panic when faced with superior forces." The alien guide calls them by their actual name, Unggoy, and purrs that they "will as ever fight well with their comrades." More pointedly yet, the aliens refer to their defeat in the first game as "The Atrocity at Halo." Who wrote this thing, Noam Chomsky?
Heh. This is funny because I dislike Noam Chomsky. And because it's true. But mostly because I dislike Noam Chomsky.


Of course, you could argue just as easily that Paul Wolfowitz wrote the humans' guide. The narrative seems awfully familiar: a "good" force, convinced of its moral superiority, hacking through a faceless, undeterred horde that's driven by religious fervor.

This is also funny because I dislike Noam Chomsky. Yeah, I'm still feelin' some leftover buzz from the Chomsky line--wasn't that great? Unlike Chomsky, endorphins totally rock. I think I'm going to go read that line a few more times. Not that I need too. I mean, if I wanted too, I could stop reading it at any time. And without patches or a step down program. Like cold turkey man. Freezing, frickin' frigid iced turkey. Okay, now I'm gettin' the chills.
More pointedly yet, the aliens refer to their defeat in the first game as "The Atrocity at Halo." Who wrote this thing, Noam Chomsky?

Chills gone. Pulse normal. Buzz high. Fingers talking.

update: we'll just file this post under "the perils of blogging late." You know, along with every other post I've written.

Friday, November 19, 2004

The third alternative

Maybe it won't be an invasion or internal coup. Bill at INDC Journal:
Barring some dramatic shift in Iran's behavior, I'd anticipate an Israeli airstrike that employs US purchased bunker busting munitions before any mullah bomb comes to fruition. The practical factors working against such drastic action in the near future are the threat of regional war and international pressure for reengagement in the peace process under a new Palestinian leadership, but something tells me that the Israelis will choose a non-nuclear Iran. Timing, secrecy and defense are the real questions: Are US and Israeli intelligence services aware of the location of all or most critical Iranian activity devoted to developing a nuclear weapon? Are they aware of the practical deadline for launching a strike before weapons are completed and hidden in decentralized locations? Can they adequately defend against an Iranian missile retaliation?

Of course, Iran will stop at nothing to get a nuke. Colin Powell said today that all the intelligence he has seen indicates that Iran is working on a missile capable of delivering a nuclear warhead, and an Iranian opposition group said that Iran is enriching uranium at a secret military facility.

So let's just let Israel take out the plants like they took out Osirak in Iraq, thus saving Western civilization, and, subsequently, Doublemint gum, one of the many beautiful products of Western civilization of which I am especially fond.

And in other Iranian news, a 14 year-old boy was publicly lashed to death last Thursday for breaking his Ramadan fast. I'll just file that one as "Reason #785 for Regime Change."

Well, I certainly don't want to end this post on such a depressing note.

So...

Puppies.

Who needs nukes when you've got lasers?

Reuters:
Plans by Iran to manufacture uranium metal suggest Tehran could have had ambitions to develop capacity for atomic arms production, Western diplomats and a prominent nuclear analyst said on Tuesday.

A report by the United Nations' International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), circulated on Monday, said Iran's stated purpose for uranium metal work -- to use it in its laser enrichment programme -- was "credible".


UN Inspector: Ah, what is this? Plans to manufacture uranium metal?

Iranian minder: Oh, that… we’re going to use that to make, um… lasers? Yeah, lasers. We, are like, SO going to have such an awesome laser. To laser stuff with. Yup.

Inspector: You don’t use uranium metal in lasers.

Minder: Oh yeah? Then what do you use to make a laser?

Inspector
: *embarrassed silence* Um… uh… electro—uh—magne…lytes? Electromagnelytes? Do you use electromagnelytes?

Minder:

Inspector:

Minder:

Inspector: I just made that up. Electromagnelytes.

Minder:

Inspector: They don’t exist, electromagnelytes. I really don’t know were that came from.

Minder:

Inspector: Electromagnelytes.

Minder: Yeah, so anyways are you done yet? I’ve got places to go and stuff to do. Sixteen year old rape victims don’t hang themselves, you know.

Inspector: Yeah, I don’t know, I feel like I should kind of look around or something, you know? After all, I’ve only been here like 10 minutes, and I get paid by the hour, so… you got any big rooms, I could kind of like wander around in? I won’t be a bother.

Minder: No.

Inspector: No? Huh. Well, can I use your restroom?

Minder: No way man. The last time an inspector used a restroom he was in the stall for like six hours.

Inspector: I finally had to leave because my feet started turning black.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Fallujah roundup

A U.S. marine commander has said that we've “broken the back of the insurgency.” Which is obviously untrue. Must our army lie to our face? There is no way these cowards ever had a spine to break in the first place.

But, metaphorically speaking, I guess maybe he might have a point, because the terrorist stronghold of Fallujah has been liberated:

Such is the fear that the heavily armed militants held over Fallujah that many of the residents who emerged from the ruins welcomed the US marines, despite the massive destruction their firepower had inflicted on their city.

A man in his sixties, half-naked and his underwear stained with blood from shrapnel wounds from a US munition, cursed the insurgents as he greeted the advancing marines on Saturday night.

"I wish the Americans had come here the very first day and not waited eight months," he said, trembling. Nearby, a mosque courtyard had been used as a weapons store by the militants.

Another elderly man, who did not want his name used for fear the rebels would one day return and restore their draconian rule, said he was detained by the militants last Tuesday and held for four days before being freed. He described how he had then sought refuge in a friend's house where they had huddled together clutching Korans in silent prayer for their lives as the massive US bombardment put the insurgents to flight.

"It was horrible," he told an AFP reporter. "We suffered from the bombings. Innocent people died or were wounded by the bombings.

"But we were happy you did what you did because Fallujah had been suffocated by the Mujahidin. Anyone considered suspicious would be slaughtered. We would see unknown corpses around the city all the time."

The same story of arbitrary executions was told by another resident, found by US troops cowering in his home with his brother and his family.

"They would wear black masks, carry rocket-propelled grenades and Kalashnikovs, and search streets and alleys," said Iyad Assam, 24. "I would hear stories, about how they executed five men one day and seven another for collaborating with the Americans. They made checkpoints on the roads. They put announcements on walls banning music and telling women to wear the veil from head to toe."

It was not just pedlars of alcohol or Western videos and women deemed improperly dressed who faced the militants' wrath. Even residents who regard themselves as observant Muslims lived in fear because they did not share the puritan brand of Sunni Islam that the insurgents enforced.

One devotee of a Sufi sect, followers of a mystical form of worship deemed herectical by the hardliners, told how he and other members of his order had lived in terror inside their homes for fear of retribution.

"It was a very hard life. We couldn't move. We could not work," said the man sporting the white robe and skullcap prescribed by his faith. "If they had any issue with a person, they would kill him or throw him in jail."

Some say Iraqis will choose a fundamentalist religious rule through democracy, but, according to this, that doesn't seem too likely.

The article also contains this anecdote, courtesy of al-Jazeera:

"Of the 22 bodies, five were found in one house as well as two children whose ages did not exceed 15 and a man with an artificial leg," Mohammed Farhan Awad said."Some of the bodies we found had been eaten by stray dogs and cats. It was a very painful sight."
This anecdote is specifically designed to inflame Muslim passions against the US. The part about being eaten by a stray dogs was inserted because Muslims find dogs to be unclean animals, and ritual cleansing is required before a person can pray if a dogs saliva gets on a him.

Thanks, al-Jazeera, for that. Think you can milk a few American dead off that one?

Speaking of trying to harm US soldiers through propaganda, al-Reuters, the news organization that refuses to call Bin Laden a terrorist and has such a fetish for objectivity that they place America on the same moral plane as terrorists… er, I mean militants,” had the chutzpah to accuse AMERICA of being entirely responsible for the death of its JOURNALISTS.

Now, journalists provide a vital function, and, as with every other innocent human, deserve to live, but if they are in a war zone trying to get man on the street interviews with insurgents or take pictures of them loading rockets (as they have been doing) then its not the US soldiers fault if they catch a stray bullet. That’s war.

Speaking of journalists acting as the propaganda arm of the insurgents, the story of the Marine shooting the terrorist that faked being dead, is now being played on basically a nonstop loop on Arab networks, in graphic slo-mo:
While U.S. networks declined to air the actual shooting [they’ve aired it now –ed.], Arab networks such as al-Jazeera and al-Arabiya broadcast the entire incident, with graphics and narration illustrating the sequence of events. At times, the images were frozen. The gunshot splashed blood against the wall behind the Iraqi's head, and the man's body went limp.
But all you really need to read about this is right here. So make with the clicky clicky.

Recycle, Reuse and Regurgitate

It's really not healthy to blog at the expense sleep, especially when I should be studying at the expense of sleep.

So no time for much in the way of posting tonight. Instead, I'm going to reproduce a fisking of a letter to the editor (referenced in my column today) from last year. I did it at the time as a reason to put off studying for finals, so now I thought I would just regurgitate it.

The letter to the editor was written in response to this column, celebrating the death of Hamas leader and terrorist mastermind, Yassin Ahmed (may he rest in pieces) from Israeli Hellfire missiles . The fisking starts off a little slow, but it works up to a nice crescendo I think.

Anyways, the fisking:

Editor,

Last Thursday's column by Grant Reichert was the most tasteless piece of racial and religious insensitivity I have read in a long time.
Well, he’s literate, he passes the first requirement for Collegian publication. And, yes, I should admit up front, I am very insensitive to those that would hijack a religion to suit their murderous ideology. And Ay-rabs. I hates me some Ay-rabs.

And, yeah, I do think racial and religious insensitivity are funny, even if I don’t exactly see how my column was either.

Perhaps it was intended as an April Fool's effort? It is April for sure,
Well, the man can identify what month it was, he passes the second requirement for publication. We've got a live one here!

and Reichert is acting like a fool.
And in the context of a humorous column? Why I never! Next up, “Warren Sap acts like a jock on football field! Professor surprised, outraged.”

However, there is nothing funny about people being blown up by missles [sic].
Heh, heh blown up by missiles. Sorry… erm, what were you saying? Was it something stupid? I ask, because most people that are offended by columns that make fun of terrorists usually rank in the “Lead Weight” category of IQ. Wait, I shouldn’t make fun of you for being stupid… what if you really are stupid? That would just be embarrassing.

And mocking the Koran shows extreme insensitivity to the sacred writings of a religion other than the dominant one in the United States. I doubt many persons in wheelchairs find it funny, either.
How dare you make sweeping assumptions about people in wheelchairs! Contrary to your bigoted opinion, some people in wheelchairs have senses of humor, and don’t have a natural feeling of solidarity with wheelchair-bound people who happen to be terrorists. Not all people in wheelchairs think the same, comprehende?

I was talking about a specific person in a wheelchair, and you come in here with your sweeping, offensive categorizations, knocking over my vases and scuffing up my walls. Have you no shame?

If you don't have a hundred complaint letters on this subject, it is only because
… you got tired after writing the first one?

…most people who share your opinions are illiterate?

… less than 100 people read the collegian?

… you hold such an asinine opinion that only people going through severe Vicodin withdrawal would share it?



you are picking on a minority so small it can't muster that kind of upport.
I see. Good luck with the methadone treatment. Yes, I admit, I always pick the smallest minorities to pick on so that they can’t adequately fight back. And it turns out that the minority I picked on this time – wheelchair-bound founders of Hamas – just got a whole lot smaller.

Boom, baby. How’s life as a crater, Yassin? For once in your life, you truly are – bad pun alert – “holy.”

That is the lowest, cheapest kind of humor that can be devised.
Yes, I totally agree! Petition the Collegian to raise my salary so I can afford to put better humor in my columns! Or else I’m gonna break out the knock-knock jokes. And you wouldn’t like me when I do knock knock jokes.


Evidently, the Collegian hasn't gotten around to that point in its diversity training sessions.
No, the part about not rejoicing at the death of terrorists must be at next weeks meeting. I’ll be sure to go, as long as we don’t have to hold hands and share our “special experiences” with terrorism.


Ask yourself the question, "How would I feel if this were my father who had just been blown to bits?"
If my father had just been blown to bits, chances are I would want to blow to bits whoever did it. And since Yassin was the co-founder of Hamas, a group that specializes in blowing innocent people to bits, I would probably be doubly ready to make fun of him, if not go after him myself with a shoulder mounted missile launcher.

Wait a minute… I get it now. You’re threatening my father aren’t you! I have forwarded this to the FBI. John Ashcroft’s stormtroopers should be at your house any minute now. Don’t go without a fight. Resistance by you will be futile, but a helluvalotta fun to watch. You sound like a slapper.
Or, "Would I talk that way about my mother?"
What did you say about my mother? Now your bringing her into this? Anyway, how is this relevant? If Bin Laden was my mom, does that mean I shouldn’t talk smack about him...er, her? Once again, Yassin was the CO-FOUNDER OF HAMAS. Mom or not, he deserved to be blown up, and I deserve to heap scorn and ridicule on his smoking ruins. Heh heh, blown up.
You get the idea. Time to grow up.
Actually, now I do get the idea. The only question I have for you is are you an asshatted moral relativist with latent terrorist sympathies, or are you just an ignorant Biochemistry professor that enjoys responding with mock outrage to humorous columns?

[name deleted]
Professor of Biochemistry
Well, I guess that answers that question.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

A&F gets diversifried

Diversity claims another victim. Abercrombie and Fitch, official clothing sponsor of the K-State Greek system, has been slapped with a lawsuit:

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission joined the private plaintiffs in the lawsuit, which alleged that Abercrombie & Fitch violated portions of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The lawsuit specifically accused the company of engaging in recruiting and hiring practices that exclude minorities and adopting a virtually all-white marketing campaign.

"The retail industry and other industries need to know that businesses cannot discriminate against individuals under the auspice of a marketing strategy or a particular 'look'. Race and sex discrimination in employment are unlawful, and the EEOC will continue to aggressively pursue employers who choose to engage in such practices," said Eric Dreiband, the EEOC's general counsel.

So now marketing strategies that target a certain demographic, in this case the white preppy, have been declared illegal? Somebody better tell the Fubu website… not a white face in sight over there. And sex discrimination in clothes modeling is illegal? Well, Victoria Secret doesn’t have a single guy modeling their lingerie… surely this cynical, sexist advertising ploy must be stopped! I mean, for civil rights and all. Martin Luther didn’t march so wafer thin female supermodels could steal women’s underwear modeling jobs from husky, hirsute comic book aficionados.


The consent decree calls for Abercrombie & Fitch to hire a vice president of diversity and hire up to 25 diversity recruiters. The company also promised that its marketing materials would reflect diversity. [emphasis added]
Diversity, diversity, diversity. Does that word even have any meaning anymore? Did it ever? A&F is going to hire people whose stated job is to hire job applicants based solely on arbitrary physical characteristics, such as race and sex, and they call it a “diversity recruiter.” It' s good euphemism, but they should've gone the whole nine yards and went with "Supreme rectifiers of human nature and righteous advocates of multicolored employment." At least then the question of whether or not they have any shame wouldn't be so ambiguous.

Marketing material will also now reflect diversity. It will have less of the white demographic that usually buy A&F, and more of the black demographic that tend to shop elsewhere. Because, in our perfect little world represented by clothing advertisements, all hues of the rainbow are represented. Next, I wonder if they’re going to throw in some aesthetic diversity; acid burn victims, down-syndrome sufferers, and elephantitis patients would do a beautiful job rounding out the roster of clothes modelers. And would it kill them to throw in a little obesity here and there?

And then, get this:
The original lawsuit was brought on behalf of nine young minorities, including students and graduates of Stanford University and the University of California, who were denied jobs or fired based on their race.
Yes, that’s right, because of 9 people alleging racial discrimination, A&F is being brought to its knees, forced to pay $40 million in a class (or should it be race?) action law suit (plus $10 million to monitor compliance and cover attorneys' fees), change its marketing material to “reflect diversity,” and hire a vice president of diversity and 25 diversity recruiters. Because of 9 people.

Well, if they could bring down A&F, I need 8 volunteers (of the lily white variety) to help me bring down the apartheid monster, Fubu. You get to be a Civil Rights warrior, which, nowadays, seems to pay a lot better than it used to.

Abu Ghraib redux

Is this going to be the Abu Ghraib of Fallujah?
The military command launched an investigation after video footage showed a U.S. Marine shooting a wounded and unarmed man in a mosque in the city on Saturday. The man was one of five wounded and left in the mosque after Marines fought their way through the area.
We discover enemy slaughter houses, a mutilated female corpse in the street, and one American shooting an injured insurgent is the what catches the headline as a morally reprehensible action of the day, with accompanying lurid footage and hyperbolic reaction shots from enraged Muslims?

I agree, America should be held to a higher standard than our enemy, and that this should be investigated vigorously by the Army (well, actually it already is being investigated), but this isolated incident is in no way indicative of the general behavior of our troops, and is no doubt the result of combat stress rather than the perverse bloodlust that inspires our enemies.

Error Theory (found via LGF) writes:

If the Marine was right that the Iraqi was feigning death, or if he drew a reasonable inference of the same, then shooting the wounded man first and asking questions later might well have been the correct thing to do. War is not like police work where an officer has a duty not to kill unless he absolutely has to. A soldier's duty is to kill every enemy he can who is not actively trying to surrender. Feigning death is not trying to surrender, and a fighter in such circumstances could very well inflict terrible damage. Some of the fighters in Fallujah have been strapped with suicide bomber belts. In this circumstance, any covert activity, like feigning death, would seem to call for instant death.


HDD

Rush Limbaugh, insensitive jerk:
Mental health officials in South Florida blasted Rush Limbaugh on Monday, saying the conservative talk show host’s offer of “free therapy” for traumatized John Kerry voters has made a mockery of a valid psychological problem.

[...]

“So if anybody on the left wants some serious therapy here and counseling, I’m more than willing to offer my assistance as well,” Limbaugh said on Nov. 9.

On Nov. 12, accused by Gordon of picking up the story to rub it in the faces of Democrats, Limbaugh said, “Now, my friends, I didn’t do that. I reached out. I offered a hand of friendship. I offered my own counseling services.” AHA officials, listening to the taped broadcasts, described Limbaugh’s tone of voice as sarcastic. [emphasis mine]
It's a good thing that we have trained AHA officials to identify Limbaugh's tone as sarcastic. I wonder if these guys can also treat Humor Deficit Disorder?

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Flame retardant...

or flaming retard?

A man who set himself on fire outside the White House on Monday was a Yemeni federal informant on terrorism upset over how the FBI had managed his case, The Washington Post reported on Tuesday.

[...]

"The FBI have already destroyed my life and my family's life and made us in a very danger position . . . I am not crazy to destroy my life and my family's life to get $100,000," he said.

I am, however, crazy to light myself on fire outside the White House. In the Middle East, we call this democracy in action.

Monday, November 15, 2004

European appeasement

A chilling article from US News & World Report about our Iranian enemy:

In the summer of last year, Iranian intelligence agents in Tehran began planning something quite spectacular for September 11, the two-year anniversary of al Qaeda's attack on the United States, according to a classified American intelligence report. Iranian agents disbursed $20,000 to a team of assassins, the report said, to kill Paul Bremer, then the top U.S. civilian administrator in Iraq.

[...]

"Iran had reportedly placed a bounty on U.S. forces of U.S. $2,000 for each helicopter shot down, $1,000 for each tank destroyed, and $500 for each U.S. military personnel killed," the Iraq Survey Group reported. Iranian agents were also suspected in the assassination of at least two prominent Iraqis. In the fall of 2003, there were two reported plots against Bremer, the Coalition Provisional Authority administrator. The Iraq Survey Group, citing a source who "has provided reliable information in the past," said a senior Iranian cleric in Tehran set up a special 100-member army, known as al Saqar, which means eagle in Arabic, to assassinate Bremer and carry out other terrorist attacks. The Eagle Army, the Iraqi Survey Group was told, had trained for 30 days at an Iranian terrorist camp. This alleged plot and others reportedly planned against Bremer came to nothing. There were many reported plots against Bremer during his one-year tenure in Baghdad, and throughout his time there he was provided with blanket security.

We are obviously already at war with Iran. Planning to assassinate a high ranking US official, paying people to attack American targets, and sending Iranian-trained agents into Iraq to wreak havoc on Coalition targets and disrupt Iraqs chances for stability are a definite casus belli. This war must by neccesity remain a covert, intelligence war, but make no mistake, it is war.

Meanwhile, the Europeans are tripping over themselves to appease Iran. I don't know whether its naivety, stupidity, greed, pacifism, or anti-Americanism that is fueling Europes insistence that Iran can be trusted. But I would guess, according to this news article, that its probably all of the above.
The United Nations (news - web sites) said on Monday that, as far as it knew, Iran had not diverted any nuclear materials to a weapons program -- a verdict diplomats said undermined the U.S. case for U.N. sanctions on Tehran.

Even though the U.N. atomic watchdog said it could not rule out covert nuclear activities in Iran, its report, coming a day after Tehran promised France, Britain and Germany that it would freeze its uranium enrichment program, severely weakened Washington's argument.

That's rich. I mean, rich even aside from the phrase, "as far as the UN knows." The UN can't say that Iran might not be covertly making nuclear weapons, but, golly gee, Iran is sure not working on their illegal nuclear weapons program out in broad daylight. Of that, our brave UN atomic watchdog is completely sure.

How does the observation that Iran's secret nuclear weapons program is secret "undermine the U.S. case for U.N. sanctions on Tehran?" It doesn't. I mean, assuming of course that you trust America more than you trust a despicable, child-hanging theocracy. Oh, right.

From that same article:
Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Hassan Rohani said Tehran would never renounce enrichment, a process of purifying uranium for use as fuel in power plants or weapons, and declared the Europeans had assented to that goal.

He also confirmed what Iran said repeatedly in recent months -- that the suspension would be short-lived and temporary -- though he gave no hints as to when it might be resumed.

Iran recognizes good ol' fashion appeasement when they see it. They know that Europe will bend over 720 degrees to prevent anyone from using force, or even sanctions against them. They are openly saying that they are going to resume enrichment. Look how confident they are that the European peace-mongers have their back.

We are already at war with Iran. They are making nuclear weapons, make no mistake about it. They passed their nuclear enrichment bill through their parliament (whatever that is) to cries of "Death to America." I find this, to say the least, vaguely alarming. And now the Europeans are in full throttle appease mode. My knee tells me this means war, but my magic eightball is just screaming "CIA sponsored coup! CIA sponsored coup!" Either way, the world will be much safer after Iran, an epicenter of Islamic terror, is no longer a theofascist state.

Liberating Fallujah

According to this article, the Coalition kill ratio in Fallujah has moved from 26-1 as I noted earlier, to 27-1.

But, it should also be noted, that the numbers of insurgent deaths varies highly. This source has the number at 1200 but I’ve saw others peg it at 1600 which would bring the kill ratio to 36-1.

Against an entrenched, fanatical foe, in an urban setting that benefits the guerilla fighter, with civilians also present. Nothing short of amazing, really.

And if you were wondering what will be the picture we will remember the American effort in Fallujah by, its this one. The guys only 20 years old, but already a man's man and a veritable American hero.

But this picture is also nice, and incredibly poignant as well, as a needed bit of closure for the abominable mutilation of Americans that took place earlier in Fallujah, with the hanging of charred bodies from a bridge. Semper Fi, indeed.

But wait, I keep forgeting, these insurgents aren’t the enemy, they are the glorious peoples revolution that want to liberate Iraq from the American Oppressor. Because:
Flyposters still litter the walls bearing all manner of decrees from insurgent commanders, to be heeded on pain of death. Amid the rubble of the main shopping street, one decree bearing the insurgents’ insignia - two Kalashnikovs propped together - and dated November 1 gives vendors three days to remove nine market stalls from outside the city’s library or face execution.

The pretext given is that the rebels wanted to convert the building into a headquarters for the “Mujahidin Advisory Council” through which they ran the city.

‘Cause, you know, eminent domain is a legitimate part of any government. Even the one’s that are run by psychopaths.

Another poster in the ruins of the souk bears testament to the strict brand of Sunni Islam imposed by the council, fronted by hardline cleric Abdullah Junabi. The decree warns all women that they must cover up from head to toe outdoors, or face execution by the armed militants who controlled the streets.

Two female bodies found yesterday suggest such threats were far from idle. An Arab woman, in a violet nightdress, lay in a post-mortem embrace with a male corpse in the middle of the street. Both bodies had died from bullets to the head. Just six metres away on the same street lay the decomposing corpse of a blonde-haired white woman, too disfigured for swift identification but presumed to be the body of one of the many foreign hostages kidnapped by the rebels.

Covering up just can't be stressed enough. Did you know that, according to statistics which sound authentic, 73% of people suffer skin problems related to ultraviolet radiation? You really can't be too careful with something like this.

update: And lest you think the previous argument of the Iraqi insurgency as some benevolent resistance is a straw-man argument, read this piece of filth by Helen “Where’s my cat?” Thomas. Or, even better, just take my word for it, as I wouldn’t suggest you subject yourself to the contents at the other end of that link. The internet is a dark, dangerous place and I don't want to be responsible for sending you down a back alley filled with raging leftists enraged that the Fuhrer Chimpy McSmirksmirk re-stoled the election with the timely assistance of diebold, bigots and satellite mind rays.

Shoot the sky, not eachother

From the New York Times, on the orderly Palestinian election process:
Security guards ringed Mr. Abbas, 69, but kept him inside the tent as the shooting increased and carried on for several minutes. Most of the fire by the security guards and the gunmen was directed into the air, and witnesses said the casualty toll would have been much higher if the two sides had fired directly at each other in such a tightly enclosed space.

Its a good thing that the New York Times was able to find "witnesses" to tell them that the casualty toll would've been higher if the gunmen had fired at people rather than into the sky. Alternatively, the witnesses said the casualty toll would've been much lower had the gunmen given wet willies instead of shooting people in the head with AK-47s.

I think I speak for all of us in the non-witnessing portion of the public when I say thank God for witnesses.