"...everyone is bored,and devotes himself to cultivating habits..these habits are not peculiar to our town.." Albert Camus "The Plague"

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Ann Coulter and the McCarthy Myths

I recently purchased and downloaded Ann Coulter's "Treason" from Audible.com. I had previously read some of her books but not this one. My curiosity was aroused by some interesting reviews of the book I came across at Intellectual Conservative. The articles by Dan Sargis and Bruce Walker point out that the most absurd myth about Senator Joseph McCarthy, that he somehow created HUAC, is still being repeated as gospel by liberals.

In a review of an Audible.com production of Arthur Miller's "The Crucible" Corey Thrasher repeats the oft told myth about Senator Joseph McCarthy. He cites the play's "significance to American culture (and also) it's connection to American history. (The play, first produced in 1952 presents) a riveting and imagined account of the famous witch trials in 17th century Salem. The play draws a direct parallel to 1950's America and the wave of communist paranoia that led to the establishment of the House Un-American Activities Committee driven by Senator Joseph McCarthy"

Upon hearing the above statements I immediately fired off an e-mail to Mr. Thrasher:

"Corey Thrasher: In your review of Arthur Miller's "The Crucible" you compare the 17th century witch hysteria in Salem to the activities of HUAC, Joseph McCarthy and a "communist witch hunt". In fact, Senator Joseph McCarthy had nothing to do with HUAC (House Un-American Activites Committee). The operative word there is "house" as in House of Representatives and McCarthy was a U.S. Senator not a Representative! Senator McCarthy did work tirelessly to expose persons in very high positions in the U.S. government who were agents of the Soviets. A very well written, and read, account of this period can be found in Audible's "Treason" by Ann Coulter. "

In a return note Mr. Thrasher thanked me for the correction and agreed to extract the refernece to Senator McCarthy from his review.

In his review of "Treason" Daniel Sargis makes the point that Coulter's critics are mainly quoting each other ad infinitum, most appear not to have read the book at all. Sargis writes:

"Talk about bright minds! Andrew Sullivan leads diatribe with intellectual verve, “Few would dispute that she’s a babe.” And happily for his testosterone, “Lanky, skinny, with long blonde hair tumbling down to her breasts…” Good thing he wasn’t writing about Living History…"

"When Sullivan finally takes a shot at some substance, he asserts that Coulter is “defending the tactics of Joe McCarthy….” If Sullivan had actually read Treason, he would know that Coulter documents that the “tactics” attributed to McCarthy are little more than historical fabrication created by lying propagandists and their liberal devotees. Sullivan makes a better jilted suitor than serious writer."

Bruce Walker, in his review of "Treason", notes:

"Precisely as Ann Coulter noted in her book, I have visited with educated Leftists who absurdly assume that Senator McCarthy served on the House Un-American Activities Committee. The ignorance of Leftists about this presumed bogeyman is breathtaking."

"Leftists know nothing about the life of Joe McCarthy. They do not know or care about his strong support for civil rights when that cause was not popular or his genuine nobility and heroism in the Second World War. He is a cartoon figure, denied the same understanding which Leftists demand we give to baby-rapers or terrorists."

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

A Marine's Eye-View of Fallujah

All: I haven't written very much from Iraq. There's really not much to write about. More exactly, there's not much I can write about because practically everything I do, read or hear is classified military information or is depressing to the point that I'd rather just forget about it, never mind write about it. The gaps in between all of that are filled with the pure tedium of daily life in an armed camp. So it's a bit of a struggle to think of anything to put into a letter that's worth reading. Worse, this place just consumes you. I work 18-20-hour days, every day. The quest to draw a clear picture of what the insurgents are up to never ends. Problems and frictions crop up faster than solutions. Every challenge demands a response. It's like this every day. Before I know it, I can't see straight, because it's 0400 and I've been at work for twenty hours straight, somehow missing dinner again in the process. And once again I haven't written to anyone. It starts all over again four hours later. It's not really like Ground Hog Day, it's more like a level from Dante's Inferno.

Rather than attempting to sum up the last seven months, I figured I'd just hit the record setting highlights of 2006 in Iraq. These are among the events and experiences I'll remember best.

Worst Case of Deja Vu - I thought I was familiar with the feeling of deja vu until I arrived back here in Fallujah in February. The moment I stepped off of the helicopter, just as dawn broke, and saw the camp just as I had left it ten months before - that was d�j� vu. Kind of unnerving. It was as if I had never left. Same work area, same busted desk, same chair, same computer, same room, same creaky rack, same . . . everything. Same everything for the next year. It was like entering a parallel universe. Home wasn't 10,000 miles away, it was a different lifetime.

Most Surreal Moment - Watching Marines arrive at my detention facility and unload a truck load of flex-cuffed midgets. 26 to be exact. I had put the word out earlier in the day to the Marines in Fallujah that we were looking for Bad Guy X, who was described as a midget. Little did I know that Fallujah was home to a small community of midgets, who banded together for support since they were considered as social outcasts. The Marines were anxious to get back to the midget colony to bring in the rest of the midget suspects, but I called off the search, figuring Bad Guy X was long gone on his short legs after seeing his companions rounded up by the giant infidels.

Most Profound Man in Iraq - an unidentified farmer in a fairly remote area who, after being asked by Reconnaissance Marines (searching for Syrians) if he had seen any foreign fighters in the area replied "Yes, you."

Worst City in al-Anbar Province - Ramadi, hands down. The provincial capital of 400,000 people. Killed over 1,000 insurgents in there since we arrived in February. Every day is a nasty gun battle. They blast us with giant bombs in the road, snipers, mortars and small arms. We blast them with tanks, attack helicopters, artillery, our snipers (much better than theirs), and every weapon that an infantryman can carry. Every day. Incredibly, I rarely see Ramadi in the news. We have as many attacks out here in the west as Baghdad. Yet, Baghdad has 7 million people, we have just 1.2 million. Per capita, al-Anbar province is the most violent place in Iraq by several orders of magnitude. I suppose it was no accident that the Marines were assigned this area in 2003.

Bravest Guy in al-Anbar Province - Any Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician (EOD Tech). How'd you like a job that required you to defuse bombs in a hole in the middle of the road that very likely are booby-trapped or connected by wire to a bad guy who's just waiting for you to get close to the bomb before he clicks the detonator? Every day. Sanitation workers in New York City get paid more than these guys. Talk about courage and commitment.

Second Bravest Guy in al-Anbar Province - It's a 20,000 way tie among all the Marines and Soldiers who venture out on the highways and through the towns of al-Anbar every day, not knowing if it will be their last - and for a couple of them, it will be.

Best Piece of U.S. Gear - new, bullet-proof flak jackets. O.K., they weigh 40 lbs and aren't exactly comfortable in 120 degree heat, but they've saved countless lives out here.

Best Piece of Bad Guy Gear - Armor Piercing ammunition that goes right through the new flak jackets and the Marines inside them.

Worst E-Mail Message - "The Walking Blood Bank is Activated. We need blood type A+ stat." I always head down to the surgical unit as soon as I get these messages, but I never give blood - there's always about 80 Marines in line, night or day.

Biggest Surprise - Iraqi Police. All local guys. I never figured that we'd get a police force established in the cities in al-Anbar. I estimated that insurgents would kill the first few, scaring off the rest. Well, insurgents did kill the first few, but the cops kept on coming. The insurgents continue to target the police, killing them in their homes and on the streets, but the cops won't give up. Absolutely incredible tenacity. The insurgents know that the police are far better at finding them than we are. - and they are finding them. Now, if we could just get them out of the habit of beating prisoners to a pulp . . .

Greatest Vindication - Stocking up on outrageous quantities of Diet Coke from the chow hall in spite of the derision from my men on such hoarding, then having a 122mm rocket blast apart the giant shipping container that held all of the soda for the chow hall. Yep, you can't buy experience.

Biggest Mystery - How some people can gain weight out here. I'm down to 165 lbs. Who has time to eat?

Second Biggest Mystery - if there's no atheists in foxholes, then why aren't there more people at Mass every Sunday?

Favorite Iraqi TV Show - Oprah. I have no idea. They all have satellite TV.

Coolest Insurgent Act - Stealing almost $7 million from the main bank in Ramadi in broad daylight, then, upon exiting, waving to the Marines in the combat outpost right next to the bank, who had no clue of what was going on. The Marines waved back. Too cool.

Most Memorable Scene - In the middle of the night, on a dusty airfield, watching the better part of a battalion of Marines packed up and ready to go home after six months in al-Anbar, the relief etched in their young faces even in the moonlight. Then watching these same Marines exchange glances with a similar number of grunts loaded down with gear file past - their replacements. Nothing was said. Nothing needed to be said.

Highest Unit Re-enlistment Rate - Any outfit that has been in Iraq recently. All the danger, all the hardship, all the time away from home, all the horror, all the frustrations with the fight here - all are outweighed by the desire for young men to be part of a 'Band of Brothers' who will die for one another. They found what they were looking for when they enlisted out of high school. Man for man, they now have more combat experience than any Marines in the history of our Corps.

Most Surprising Thing I Don't Miss - Beer. Perhaps being half-stunned by lack of sleep makes up for it.

Worst Smell - Porta-johns in 120 degree heat - and that's 120 degrees outside of the porta-john.

Highest Temperature - I don't know exactly, but it was in the porta-johns. Needed to re-hydrate after each trip to the loo.

Biggest Hassle - High-ranking visitors. More disruptive to work than a rocket attack. VIPs demand briefs and "battlefield" tours (we take them to quiet sections of Fallujah, which is plenty scary for them). Our briefs and commentary seem to have no affect on their preconceived notions of what's going on in Iraq. Their trips allow them to say that they've been to Fallujah, which gives them an unfortunate degree of credibility in perpetuating their fantasies about the insurgency here.

Biggest Outrage - Practically anything said by talking heads on TV about the war in Iraq, not that I get to watch much TV. Their thoughts are consistently both grossly simplistic and politically slanted. Biggest offender - Bill O'Reilly - what a buffoon.

Best Intel Work - Finding Jill Carroll's kidnappers - all of them. I was mighty proud of my guys that day. I figured we'd all get the Christian Science Monitor for free after this, but none have showed up yet. Talk about ingratitude.

Saddest Moment - Having the battalion commander from 1st Battalion, 1st Marines hand me the dog tags of one of my Marines who had just been killed while on a mission with his unit. Hit by a 60mm mortar. Cpl Bachar was a great Marine. I felt crushed for a long time afterward. His picture now hangs at the entrance to the Intelligence Section. We'll carry it home with us when we leave in February.

Biggest Ass-Chewing - 10 July immediately following a visit by the Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister, Dr. Zobai. The Deputy Prime Minister brought along an American security contractor (read mercenary), who told my Commanding General that he was there to act as a mediator between us and the Bad Guys. I immediately told him what I thought of him and his asinine ideas in terms that made clear my disgust and which, unfortunately, are unrepeatable here. I thought my boss was going to have a heart attack. Fortunately, the translator couldn't figure out the best Arabic words to convey my meaning for the Deputy Prime Minister. Later, the boss had no difficulty in convening his meaning to me in English regarding my Irish temper, even though he agreed with me. At least the guy from the State Department thought it was hilarious. We never saw the mercenary again.

Best Chuck Norris Moment - 13 May. Bad Guys arrived at the government center in the small town of Kubaysah to kidnap the town mayor, since they have a problem with any form of government that does not include regular beheadings and women wearing burqahs. There were seven of them. As they brought the mayor out to put him in a pick-up truck to take him off to be beheaded (on video, as usual), one of the bad Guys put down his machinegun so that he could tie the mayor's hands. The mayor took the opportunity to pick up the machinegun and drill five of the Bad Guys. The other two ran away. One of the dead Bad Guys was on our top twenty wanted list. Like they say, you can't fight City Hall.

Worst Sound - That crack-boom off in the distance that means an IED or mine just went off. You just wonder who got it, hoping that it was a near miss rather than a direct hit. Hear it every day.

Second Worst Sound - Our artillery firing without warning. The howitzers are pretty close to where I work. Believe me, outgoing sounds a lot like incoming when our guns are firing right over our heads. They'd about knock the fillings out of your teeth.

Only Thing Better in Iraq Than in the U.S. - Sunsets. Spectacular. It's from all the dust in the air.

Proudest Moment - It's a tie every day, watching my Marines produce phenomenal intelligence products that go pretty far in teasing apart Bad Guy operations in al-Anbar. Every night Marines and Soldiers are kicking in doors and grabbing Bad Guys based on intelligence developed by my guys. We rarely lose a Marine during these raids, they are so well-informed of the objective. A bunch of kids right out of high school shouldn't be able to work so well, but they do.

Happiest Moment - Well, it wasn't in Iraq. There are no truly happy moments here. It was back in California when I was able to hold my family again while home on leave during July.

Most Common Thought - Home. Always thinking of home, of Kathleen and the kids. Wondering how everyone else is getting along. Regretting that I don't write more. Yep, always thinking of home.

I hope you all are doing well. If you want to do something for me, kiss a cop, flush a toilet, and drink a beer. I'll try to write again before too long - I promise.

Semper Fi,

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Cider Time in Connecticut!

This is the time of year when a trip to a cider mill is called for. My very favorite is B.F. Clydes Cider Mill in Old Mystic. "Cidermaster" and proprietor Harold Miner sells half a dozen varieties of serious, and delicious, hard apple cider. This is oldest continuously operated cider mill in the United States. Information and directions

Originally published 9/24/06 but just as valid today!

Saturday, September 23, 2006


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Time magazine in the issue dated 9/25/06 features an angelic looking Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on the cover. The article focuses on pending U.S. Navy fleet movements to the Mid East and the possibility of war with Iran. Rumors are circulating regarding a possible naval blockade in the Gulf of Hormuz to prevent Iran from obtaining critical supplies of gasoline. We reported on this subject last June in the article below:

The Gasoline Bomb Aimed at Iran!

Although Iran is a major oil producer it has a relatively small domestic refining capacity and must import around a third of its gasoline from various countries. Major efforts are in the works to expand the production of gasoline but such improvements take time. Time, however, is not on Iran's side as the international community considers sanctions in response to Iran's intransigence relating to uranium enrichment. An embargo on gasoline imports would certainly lead to civil unrest and could bring down the regime.

Iran imports gasoline from countries including China, India, and Brazil. The Iranian people enjoy government subsidized gasoline at some of the lowest prices($.40/gal) in the world. Rather than increase the price to offset increased consumption the regime has announced rationing to start later this year.

"...if and when imposed economic sanctions hit Iran, gasoline imports could halt and the result would definitely be civil unrest. (and) While Iran is one of the world's largest oil exporters, its daily consumption of more than 60 million liters of gasoline has turned Iran into one of the largest gasoline importers in the world."

Other Iran news: Iran's National Orchestra in "Nuclear" performance

TEHRAN, Aug. 25 (Mehr News Agency) -- Iran's National Orchestra will be performing the symphony "Nuclear Energy" composed by Kambiz Roshanravan at Tehran's Vahdat Hall on August 27 in a program which President Mahmud Ahmadinejad is scheduled to attend.

The orchestra conducted by Farhad Fakhreddini is also slated to perform Ruhollah Khaleqi's memorable work "O Iran" and Iran's National Anthem during the program, which has been arranged as part of the activities for Government Week (August 24-30).

Singer Alireza Qorbani will accompany the orchestra, which is currently rehearsing for a series of concerts in September.

Islamic Republic News Agency

Cartoon of the Week

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Politicized Arizona 911 Memorial

Arizona blogger Espresso Pundit reports on his shock at finding the newly unveiled 911 memorial in Phoenix contained politically charged slogans cut into the metal. The memorial contains a timeline of sorts with dates and descriptions of events having nothing to do with the 911 attacks and are clearly political in intent. Examples: "You don't win battles of terrorism with more battles"; "07 01 02 Erroneous US Airstrike Kills 46 Uruzgan Civilians"; "06 03 02 Congress Questions Why CIA & FBI Didn't Prevent Attacks". Unbelievable! More at: Espresso Pundit and
East Valley Tribune (AZ)

Saturday, September 16, 2006

A Recent Family Gathering - Enjoy!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Kissinger warns of possible "war of civilizations"

Wed Sep 13, 11:54 AM ET

Former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger warned that Europe and the United States must unite to head off a "war of civilizations" arising from a nuclear-armed Middle East.

In an opinion column in the Washington Post, the renowned foreign policy expert said the potential for a "global catastrophe" dwarfed lingering transatlantic mistrust left over from the Iraq war.

"A common Atlantic policy backed by moderate Arab states must become a top priority, no matter how pessimistic previous experience with such projects leaves one," Kissinger wrote.

"The debate sparked by the Iraq war over American rashness vs. European escapism is dwarfed by what the world now faces.

"Both sides of the Atlantic should put their best minds together on how to deal with the common danger of a wider war merging into a war of civilizations against the background of a nuclear-armed Middle East."

Kissinger wrote that the big threat lay in the erosion of nation states and the emergence of transnational groups. Iran was at the centre of the challenge, he said, with its support for Hezbollah, radical Shiite groups in Iraq and its nuclear program.

Washington must accept that many European nations were more optimistic about talks designed to convince Iran to halt uranium enrichment -- a process Tehran denies is aimed at making weapons, he wrote.

But in return, he said, Europe should accept the process must include a "bottom line" beyond which diplomatic flexibility must not go and a time limit to ensure talks did not become a shield for "developing new assaults."

In the article, Kissinger, national security adviser for former president Richard Nixon, and secretary of state for Nixon and his successor Gerald Ford, warned the Lebanese Shiite militia Hezbollah was still dangerous, after its month-long conflict with Israel.

"Hezbollah's next move is likely to be an attempt to dominate the Beirut government by intimidation and, using the prestige gained in the war, manipulating democratic procedures," he said.

He concluded by noting that observers wondered whether, after the Cold War, trans-Atlantic ties could survive the loss of a common enemy.

"We now know that we face the imperative of building a new world order or potential global catastrophe. It cannot be done alone by either side of the Atlantic. Is that realization sufficient to regenerate a common purpose?"

Blair attacks Europe's "mad anti-Americans"

Sep 13, 7:06 PM (ET)

By Paul Majendie

LONDON (Reuters) - British Prime Minister Tony Blair launched a withering attack on Thursday on what he called "mad anti-Americanism" among European politicians.

Blair, U.S. President George W. Bush's closest ally in the so-called war on terror, said the world urgently needs the United States to help tackle the globe's most pressing problems.

"The danger is if they decide to pull up the drawbridge and disengage. We need them involved," Blair said, spelling out his political vision in a pamphlet published by The Foreign Policy Center think-tank.

"The strain of, frankly, anti-American feeling in parts of European politics is madness when set against the long-term interests of the world we believe in," he said.

Blair, accused by critics of being Bush's poodle who slavishly follows Washington's line, sought to stifle a revolt in his ruling Labour Party last week by promising to quit within a year after almost 10 years in office.

His popularity has tumbled in opinion polls after government scandals over sleaze and mismanagement were compounded by controversy over the wars in Iraq and Lebanon.

As he did during the Iraq War, he sided squarely with Washington over the conflict between Israel and Hizbollah guerrillas, angering Arab nations and European allies by refusing to call for an immediate ceasefire.

Responding to those who have criticized the White House, Blair said in his pamphlet: "The danger with America today is not that they are too much involved."

"We want them engaged. The reality is that none of the problems that press in on us can be resolved or even contemplated without them," he added.

Laying out his vision for countering extremists, he said: "We need to construct an alliance of moderation that paints a future in which Muslim, Jew and Christian, Arab and Western, wealthy and developing nations can make progress in peace and harmony with each other."

Blair, returning from a trip to the Middle East, said the stand-off between Israel and the Palestinians remains "a -- perhaps the -- genuine source of anger in the Arab and Muslim world, going far beyond anti-Western feeling."

"The issue of even-handedness rankles deeply," he acknowledged.

Blair pledged to making Middle East "an absolute priority for the rest of my time in office."

But analysts believe his efforts are unlikely to break the logjam there, nor restore his reputation. His trip smacked of an attempt to burnish his reputation as his career draws to a close, they argue.

"He is not as instrumental as he needs to be, or would like to believe he is," said Rosemary Hollis, a Middle East expert at British think-tank Chatham House.