Monday, July 30, 2007

Finally, facts top ideology in Iraq news coverage

I'm not a conspiracy theorist, but I've noticed that the anti-President Bush mass news media's Iraq coverage has taken a noticable turn toward the center over the last few days, away from the simplistic "Out of Iraq now" chant of the far left:

Wednesday, July 25: "Reality Check: Withdrawing from Iraq" by Pat Kessler, WCCO-TV. Kessler explains why any withdrawal from Iraq would be "complicated and dangerous."
The Pentagon said it will take a good year to safely bring home troops, transport equipment and move support personnel. At the same time, 50,000 civilians working for private contractors will also depart, leaving Iraqis behind amid certain chaos and violence.

There's MORE. More than 2 million Iraqi refugees have already fled, with most going to Syria and Jordan. Two million more are displaced within Iraq.

When U.S. troops leave, humanitarian groups say hundreds of thousands of Iraqis may try to leave also to avoid bloodshed, creating a refugee crisis.

Saturday, July 28: "Iraq withdrawal: five difficult questions," by Bill Marsh, New York Times. An abridged version ran in Saturday's StarTribune; see the Times web site for the full text. Marsh examines five practical questions of a withdrawal:

1. How Fast Can the Troops [physically] Leave? "Large numbers of American soldiers have left a modern war zone, but never so many from a still-hostile region."

2. Can Departing Soldiers Be Shielded From Attack? "Troops concentrated in convoys that are transporting huge quantities of supplies out of Iraq make tempting targets...Withdraw with casualties now, or risk a better exit in a few years? How great is that risk?"

3. What to Take? What to Leave? What to Destroy? "'The faster you move out, the more you have to leave behind or destroy,' said Mr. Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. 'There’s no ideal.' Voters and political candidates, he says, are looking for a quick-exit 'fantasy.'"

4. How Long to Repair and Ship Vital Equipment? "At the end of their duty, sophisticated combat aircraft aren’t simply loaded on to ships bound for the United States. They must be thoroughly washed of sand and contaminants until sterile, then shrinkwrapped to protect them from sea air. 'Everything has to be cleaned and pass an agricultural inspection," said William G. Pagonis, a retired three-star Army general who directed logistics in the 1991 Persian Gulf war. 'It’s not an easy task.'"

5. Who Stays Behind? "There are up to 100,000 Iraqi contractors, perhaps more, working for the United States. After a pullout, many of them could be at risk from reprisals by anti-American forces."

Sunday, July 29: "Sounding off: Iraq veterans look back," by Curt Brown and Mark Brunswick, StarTribune. Minnesota National Guard troops returning from their 16-month deployment in Iraq tell it like it is, and amazingly, most of the stories published are supportive of U.S. presence in Iraq. Check out the web site for audio clips of these soldiers' stories in their own words.

Monday, July 30: "A War We Might Just Win," by Michael E. O'Hanlon and Kenneth M. Pollack, New York Times. Excerpts:

Here is the most important thing Americans need to understand: We are finally getting somewhere in Iraq, at least in military terms.

Today, morale is high. The soldiers and marines told us they feel that they now have a superb commander in Gen. David Petraeus; they are confident in his strategy, they see real results, and they feel now they have the numbers needed to make a real difference.

In war, sometimes it’s important to pick the right adversary, and in Iraq we seem to have done so. A major factor in the sudden change in American fortunes has been the outpouring of popular animus against Al Qaeda and other Salafist groups, as well as (to a lesser extent) against Moktada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army.

How much longer should American troops keep fighting and dying to build a new Iraq while Iraqi leaders fail to do their part? And how much longer can we wear down our forces in this mission? These haunting questions underscore the reality that the surge cannot go on forever. But there is enough good happening on the battlefields of Iraq today that Congress should plan on sustaining the effort at least into 2008.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

William L. Traynor, 1920-2007

United States Marine Corps sealWorld War II veterans are passing away at the rate of 1000-2000 each day, according to estimates. Last week, my uncle, a retired Marine, died at age 86. He was very humble and didn't talk much to this nephew about his military career (neither did his wife, my aunt, a Navy nurse). In retirement, he enjoyed golf, the New York Times Crossword Puzzle, and living in Pensacola, Florida.

Like many if not most veterans of military service, my uncle probably thought of his extraordinary service as just doing his part. But from my perspective, he was one of many who validate the inscription on the Marine Corps War Memorial, that among these, "Uncommon Valor Was A Common Virtue."

Semper Fi, Uncle, and OO-RAH to the United States Marine Corps.


Colonel William L. "Moose" Traynor, USMC (Ret), died on July 17, 2007 in Pensacola, Florida.

Colonel Traynor was born in Koshkonong, Wisconsin, December 21, 1920. As a junior at the University of Wisconsin, Whitewater, in 1942, he left college and enlisted in the Navy as a Naval Aviation Cadet. He completed flight training and entered the Marine Corps as a Lieutenant at NAS Corpus Christi, Texas in July 1943.

He served in World War II as a dive bomber pilot in the Central Pacific, Okinawa and Japan. His service in the Korean War included 104 missions as a fighter attack pilot. During the Viet Nam War he served as Deputy Chief of Air Operations, MACV, Saigon.

During the period 1958-1961 Colonel Traynor served as Commanding Officer of VMA-121 during successive WestPac tours aboard USS Ranger, USS Ticonderoga and USS Coral Sea. VMA-121 became the first jet attack squadron to win both the CNO Flight Safety Award and the Commandant's Efficiency Trophy. Col. Traynor completed his Marine Corps Career as Commanding Officer, MAG-14 and as Program Manager, USMC Harrier Project, Naval Air Systems Command.

Colonel Traynor earned his BS and MA degrees from the University of Maryland, with advanced studies at George Washington University and the University of Virginia. He retired from the Marine Corps in 1971 and joined Stencel Aero Engineering Corp. of Ashville, NC as Vice President for Plans and Programs.

Burial will be at Arlington National Cemetery, Washington DC, with full military honors.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Letting the secular left define Christianity

Christopher Adamo's recent column about commentator Cal Thomas makes some timely points about the dangers of letting the secular left define Christians and Christianity or equate Republicans with the Nazis (as Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison did recently).

Adomo recommends that we check out the eighth chapter of William L. Shirer's seminal Rise And Fall Of The Third Reich:
There he will find that in their efforts to reorder the German culture, Goering and his kind were enabled in large part by a "church" that had gladly abdicated any role in differentiating between such things as spiritual or unspiritual, patriotic or unpatriotic, and eventually, good or evil.

Germany's multifaceted and fractured "church" helped dispel any clear understanding of Biblical absolutes, whereby the time honored definitions of faith, patriotism, and even "right and wrong," had been upheld. In its place, the Reich stood ready to forcibly substitute its own warped and poisoned version of such things to a pliable population.

Today, many mainline churches in the United States shy away from (what not long ago would have been considered uncontroversial) expressions of patriotism and acknowledgement of our country's Christian heritage, such as the singing of "God Bless America" on the Sunday before Indpendence Day, or recognizing former members of the military on the Sunday closest to Veterans Day.

This brings to mind some of my favorite cautionary quotes:

"Take away a people's heritage and they are easily persuaded." —attributed to Vladimir Lenin

"All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing." —attributed to Edmund Burke

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." —George Santayana, Spanish-born American author (1863-1952)

Friday, July 20, 2007

Thank you for your service, Red Bulls

1/34th Red Bulls patchThe Minnesota National Guard 1st Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division (1/34th BCT, in military parlance) has proudly returned home to Minnesota. The 1/34th web site concisely summarizes the "Red Bulls's" amazing tour of duty in Iraq:
The 1/34 BCT conducted its Transfer of Authority ceremony with the 1/82 BCT(A) at the Ziggurat of Ur on 11 July 2007, ending another chapter in Red Bull history.

During the longest deployment of any unit to date in Operation Iraqi Freedom, they drove 2.4 million miles with 99% on time starts;

discovered a significant number of IEDs before they could detonate;

achieved a 98% vehicle readiness rate;

processed 1.5 million vehicles at entry control points without incident;

completed $29 million in Iraqi reconstruction (seven water plants, 90 miles of road, numerous schools, and hundreds of miles of roadside cleanup);

closed eight redundant radio relay points and improved the remaining three;

and provided $55 million in force protection improvements for four bases.

1/34th BCT has earned the Operation Iraqi Freedom Campaign Streamer for its service in Iraq from March 2006 to July 2007.
Transfer of Authority, July 11, 2007 (Photo:

Fortunately, these brave soldiers will be helped in significant ways after the yellow ribbons come down:

After experiencing the intensity of combat, Minnesota Guardsmen will reunite with their families and resume their civilian lives. The Minnesota National Guard, under the leadership of men like Maj.Gen. Larry Shellito, Col.Kevin Gerdes and Chaplain John Morris, have developed a unique combat veteran reintegration program in hopes of changing the way soldiers and airmen are reintegrated into their communities.

The "Beyond the Yellow Ribbon" program has proven an effective means to prepare every combat veteran and his family for a safe, healthy and successful reintegration following deployment.

"As a 25-year veteran of the Marine Corps, I remember the joys and difficulties of coming home from deployment," [Minnesota Congressman Rep. John] Kline said. "Minnesota’s 'Beyond the Yellow Ribbon' includes extensive reintegration efforts, and Minnesotans can be proud of this pioneering program. I was pleased to work with the National Guard Bureau and the Minnesota National Guard to introduce legislation that would create a national program.”[1]

If you enjoy your freedom in America, thank a Red Bull or any veteran. Well done, Red Bulls, and welcome home!

UPDATE: Congratulations to MOB member The Patriette on the homecoming of her favorite member of the 1/34th Red Bulls: her husband! Tune in to her blog for details!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

No, I didn't snub the MOB

Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy. —Benjamin Franklin

Pass the beernuts. —Norm on Cheers

I was on a family vacation last week, so I missed hobnobbing with my fellow wizards at the third annual MOB summer bash at Keegan's. Mitch Berg has the lowdown.

Miller Girl in the MoonSpeaking of beer, my family was vacationing in the Milwaukee and Chicago areas last week. Although my planned pilgrimmage to the Miller brewery gift shop did not happen, I did notice two new summer-friendly Miller brews (at least I have not noticed them in the Twin Cities market):

Miller High Life Light - a light version of the High Life brand, better tasting than the original less filling, tastes great, Lite.

Miller Chill - a chelada style beer flavored with lime and salt, which, depending on whom you ask is either a bold challenge to Corona, or an abomination. Unfortuntely, I didn't try it so I can't review it.

Another refreshing summer beer served in Chicago and here in the Twin Cities is Blue Moon, a Belgian-style "white" wheat ale, spiced with coriander and orange peel. Try it in a clear German wheat beer glass (or other clear glass) to enjoy its characteristic cloudy color.

Although Goose Island brews are available on tap throughout Chicago, the waitress at the Dock Street Cafe on Navy Pier had no idea which "seasonal" Goose Island variety was on tap (for $4). In response to my question, she returned from the bar with some beer names copied from the kegs on a scrap of paper, but none of them looked like any Goose Island variety I have ever heard of. Perhaps it was the flagship Honkers Ale, a good choice in any season, but it would have been nice if it was the Summertime pale ale. How disappointing it is when the waitress is clueless about the beer being served, especially when it's being brewed only a few miles from her tables.

Recently at the Sam's Club liquor store in Saint Louis Park, I noticed a 24-bottle variety pack of beers from the Milwaukee craft brewery Sprecher. Their Sprecher Hefe Weiss is a fine summer beer, especially at the end of their brewery tour, freshly brewed and served in a Sprecher tasting glass.

UPDATE: For the record, I rechecked that scrap of paper before I tossed it into the recycling. It was scrawled with "Summertime Ale" and another beer name.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

The difference between a Republican and a Democrat, Part II

"Republicans believe every day is the Fourth of July, but the Democrats believe every day is April 15." —Ronald Reagan

The difference between a Republican and a Democrat, Part I

Fred Thompson and Hillary Clinton were walking down the street when they came across a homeless person. The Republican, Fred Thompson, gave the homeless person his business card and told him to come to his office for a job. He then took $20 out of his pocket and gave it to the homeless person.

Clinton, the Democrat, was very impressed by Thompson's actions, so when they came to another homeless person, she decided to help. She walked over to the homeless person and gave him directions to the welfare office. She then reached into Thompson's pocket and got out $20. She kept $15 for her administrative fees and gave the homeless person $5.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

In Congress, July 4, 1776

The Unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America.

WHEN in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the Powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness...

We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the Protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.