29 February 2008

Iraq News 29 Feb

The Good: The Iraqi Presidency council has approved the execution of Saddam's cousin, Chemical Ali. He was involved in the genocidal Anfal campaign and I don't think many people are going to be missing this guy. The Arba'een pilgrimage in Karbala has finished up and the Prime Minister has declared that "We have suceeded in eliminating sectarianism", a bit optimistic but it's a helluva lot better than report of mass casualties due to intrasect violence like the last pilgrimage in Karbala in August. Also, Turkey has actually listened to international diplomatic pressure and withdrawn its forces from northern Iraq.

The Bad: On a selfish note, as Jason mentioned on his most excellent blog, today is the 29th of Feb in a leap year, which means one extra day of deployment in Iraq for me and everyone else. You win this one, US military, but I'll get you back, I won't forget this!

The Ugly: While Afghanistan and Iraq are usually in the limelight, let's not forget about our other strategic defense interests in the rest of the world. Admiral Keating discusses the resource drain at PACOM.

No one will be shedding tears for this guy

Muddled over Ahmadinejad

The big news out here is that Ahmadinejad is coming to Iraq on March 2nd (Iranian media is calling it historic). Once again, the complexities of this war have presented me with a bit of a conundrum. Our stated mission is to assist with security and economic development, and good Iraqi-Iranian relations are helpful in achieving this. Believe it or not Iran has done some constructive things for Iraq such as planning to build a 320-MW power station for the city of Najaf. There are also numerous Iranian pilgrims taking part in the pilgrimage to Karbala (certainly I don't have anything against the people of Iran). But the reality of malign Iranian-backed militias wreaking havoc throughout Iraq is indisputable (EFPs, assassinations, etc.) That and the fact that Ahmadinejad is holocaust-denying nut. I'm guessing the Iraqi leadership will try and get Iran to halt it's nefarious violence, while encouraging its political and economic assistance. That or Ahmadinejad is going to turn the whole visit into a bitch session about "The Great Satan Occupation" of which I am part of. This goes to show how sometimes it is best to sit back and watch what happens. Your guess is as good as mine at this point. Maybe I should take a bunch of pep pills ala Saved by the Bell to study up on Iranian-Iraqi relations over the past three millenium so I can better understand this.

Not Quite as excited as Jesse Spano when she took those pep pills

Bush Sends a Zinger at the Senate

The Prez. Despite the fact that I'd jump off a cliff if the guy ordered me to, I'm not in the business of heaping praise upon Bush. After all his administration did give us a skyrocketing deficit, an overused-understaffed military, and a distrust for conservative values that will take years to repair. But I did like what he had to say at today's White House press conference about the Senate bickering over Iraq (via Bloomberg):

“Congressional leaders are still sounding the same old call for withdrawal. I guess you could say that when it comes to pushing for withdrawal, their strategy is to stay the course.”

The situation in Iraq changes rapidly. Last week it was whether or not Sadr would unleash the wrath of the Mahdi Army (he didn't). Then it was whether or not Turkey was going to invade northern Iraq (they did). Who knows what'll happen next week. Maybe Ahmadinejad will start break dancing at President Talabani's residence when he visits Baghdad. The fact of the matter is that the US leadership needs to stop being so damn intellectually lazy and start figuring out what's going on over here. Only then will we be able to begin the process of getting out of this place leaving behind a stable country. The bipartisan schism on Iraq of we need to withdraw now or we need to have permanent bases doesn't provide a solution to the mission at hand.

A not-amused POTUS

28 February 2008

Iraq News 28 Feb

The Good: Millions are in Karbala for the Arba'een pilgrimage. For those that think life was great under Saddam's "secular" tyranny of genocide should heed this quote from the AFP: "Under Saddam, those who went to Karbala were killed or had their legs shot so they could not walk again." It should be noted that sectarian strife was not a Cheney conspiracy to gain greater control of oil fields as some on the far-left have mentioned. There is talk about the Sadr trend turning the Mahdi Army into some kind of cultural/humanitarian organization. While Mr. Sadr's people aren't going to be waving American flags anytime soon, this is a welcome change of behavior from the violence preceding the ceasefire in August '07.

The Bad: WaPo is running a front page article slamming the US alliance with the Sons of Iraq (just in time for that debate about Iraq in the Senate, not coincidentally). It's not enough that American media are out to get these guys, but the Iranians are apparently conspiring to target the mostly Sunni-group of Al-Qaeda killers too. I anxiously await Mr. IraqPundit's response to this. Update on the fiasco with Turkey here, and the entire operation may be a clever ruse to divert the Turkish public's attention from...headscarves?

The Ugly: Gross incompetence is apparently the standard when providing Marines on the front lines with the gear they need. The Pentagon is establishing a probe into why it took 18 months to get them lasers that are utilized at checkpoints. This culture of draggin' ass is a complete embarrassment in a time of war.

That's a lot of pilgrims!

The Sons of Iraq and Other Random Oddities

The Sons of Iraq: This is the newest name for the Sahwa movement, who are the Sunnis in Iraq who have risen up to protect their neighborhoods and struggle for political power in post-invasion society. Teflon Don of Acute Politics notoriety has an excellent piece on the Long War Journal discussing their effectiveness at counter-insurgency. Rolling Stone has another take on them in Baghdad (thanks Iraqi Bloggers Central) portraying them as a racketeering goon squad. Toy Soldier offers up his first hand account of their poor handling of weapons, while Fuzzilicious Thinking talks with a soldier who has a more optimistic outlook. I've heard a lot of stories about these guys. I can only imagine the frustration of soldiers having to play diplomat, judge, politician, and enforcer out in these tribal areas, and I have found their stories the most interesting concerning this new technique in Iraq that began in Anbar province. All I can do is analyze the effect of this type of warfare, and this article may offer some insight on the troubled Diyala province entitled "Iraqi Ghost Town comes back to life":

In a corner of his barber shop Ahmed trims the moustache of a customer covered in a white cloth, as nearby broken window panes stand proof of a battered city in the dark of the night. "Thanks to the young men who are guarding the streets, I am no longer afraid to keep my shop open late into the night."

Small victories are important in some ways.

Random De-Motivators: A couple things that don't make me happy are the American economy getting its ass whooped by the Euro and Fox News (except for Red Eye):

I have nothing bad to say about Alex P. Keaton, but there has to be something more important to a national news network. I'm no snob, but man, this is torturous.

The Life I Should've Lived: There's pictures of some gutter punks, in what looks like Portland, from Social Daily News (thanks Moonbattery) .

Sure these poorly-fed, possibly-diseased, yet very attractive young ladies may not be appetizing to some. But looking around at my current lifestyle, I'm certainly not above it. At least there would be an element of freedom to it, and I find the homeless/grunge look common amongst Northwestern gals very seductive for some reason. Maybe I've just been in the Navy too long.

27 February 2008

Iraq News (27 Feb)

The Good: The massive Arba'een pilgrimage is ongoing in Karbala to honor Imam Hussein, and so far so good in reports from the holy city, despite some atrocities on the pilgrimage route. Coalition forces and Iraqi security forces are working hard to make sure that violence is kept to a minimum for the millions of travelers. General Casey, Army Chief of Staff, may announce reduction in combat deployments from 15-month to 12-month tours. While the Army will remain overburdened, this is certainly a welcome change.

The Bad: Violence in northern Iraq as a suicide bomber kills 8 by detonating his suicide vest on a bus near Tal Afar. Tal Afar is west of Mosul in Ninawa province, which is the only province that has not seen a decline in violence similar to the other 17 provinces after the Surge was implemented. One of the British contractors that was kidnapped last May at the Ministry of Finance in Baghdad by a group of thugs has gotten air time on Al-Arabiya. Note to Al-Arabiya, you're not helping with the release of the hostages and only making things worse.

The Ugly: The Iraqi government in Baghdad tells Turkish forces to get the hell out of our country as diplomatic uneasiness progresses concurrent with this questionable operation against the PKK. Also, Clinton-era Secretary of State Madeline Albright says the reputation of the US sucks on international TV.

Madeline not helpin' with furthering diplomatic relations for the US, nice broach BTW

26 February 2008

VoteVets.Org takes on McCain

VoteVets released a 30-second ad that targets the McCain camp to come clean on how they are going to support a long term presence in Iraq. Predictably, the response from the McCain campaign was quick and partisan as they sought to portray the attacks as a liberal smear job. VetVoice has the reply posted:

National Liberal Democratic groups are rolling out their strategy for the General Election. It appears that the politics of "hope and change" are euphemisms for even more vicious attacks than we've ever seen before. All the usual liberal suspects; MoveOn.org, the Democratic National Committee, The New York Times and others are adding to the efforts under way by VoteVets and are plotting to spend over $20 million to smear John McCain. A line has been drawn in the sand.

This is reminiscent of Melanie Morgan, hack queen pundit of the "You don't support Bush, You Don't Support the Troops" meme, who had a similar attack on VoteVets last year deriding the group for taking donations from various left-wing groups. Of course, this is a case of the pot calling the kettle black, as her Move America Forward is in bed with big-money Freedom's Watch. Other pundits may liken this to some sort of "Swiftboat" campaign against the Senator, but Jon Soltz says McCain's military record is honorable in this AFP article. The skeezy politics involved cannot distract from the point of the ad which seeks an answer from McCain on his plans for foreign and defense policy with a troubled military and economy.

Hot Air called attacking McCain's "100 Years in Iraq" comment a "distortion". I give props to Hot Air because they tried to rationally dispute the claim, instead of calling the patriotism or "military credentials" of VoteVets into question. They retorted with the following:

the “100 years” comment isn’t a call for another century of hot war; it’s a projection of a token presence in a stable country along the lines of our “occupation” of Okinawa, one that certainly wouldn’t require the trillions of dollars being disingenuously tossed around here.

In response to that, the comparison of Cold War era bases in a stable country to bases in a country with an active insurgency is a bit foolhardy. Herschel Smith at the superb Captain's Journal has routinely questioned the need for bases in South Korea and Germany, while the nation fights two wars on extremism with an over-stretched military. I tend to agree with him. Most importantly, the fact that the military is at the breaking point has not been addressed by Sen. McCain (do we need a draft? more defense funding? fill us in on your master plan, sir). I only need to step outside my trailer in the IZ to understand this grim reality. Overuse of contractors, 55-year old reservists in uniform, active duty guys on their 3rd/4th tours, etc. Not that I'm bitching about my personal situation as a member of the military, but I'm quite concerned as a citizen about the future of our military as a whole. Sure partisan politics might be nasty business during an election year, but let's not stray too far from getting the McCain response to how, as commander-in-chief, he plans to support an enduring presence in Iraq with a military in trouble. While I do write at the Vetvoice blog (part of Votevets) frequently, I don't think I have political affiliation with the left or the right. I just want to see our military not all fucked up, but still able to win the Long War against Islamic extremism. I think it's a reasonable ad, IMHO. But I'll get off this proverbial soapbox and let you decide.

Flurry of controversy, just my style!

Tuesdaze Bloggin' Roundup of Iraq (26 Feb)

All the stuff they forgot to print in the "normal" news:

Some stuff I dropped on VetVoice:

Iraq News (26 Feb)

The Good: Iran to help rebuild Iraq to help spruce up the Baghdad Municipality ? I know what you're thinking, that LT Nixon is some stooge for the theocracy in Iran by linking to the Tehran Times in "The Good" portion. My friends, if there's one thing I've learned it is to put ideology aside and savor small victories, and money from Iran to help with Baghdad's sub-par services is a lot better than EFPs and 240mm Rockets coming from Iran. Also, Minister of Oil Shahristani wants foreign companies to start coming in and investing in Iraq's oil infrastructure. That's sure better than US tax dollars. The paratroopers from the 82nd detained a special groups thug in Baghdad, good stuff, thanks for looking out guys.

The Bad: More violence during the Arba'een pilgrimage yesterday where terrorists attacked Shi'ite pilgrims in the Baghdad district of Karrada. It turns out that the mythical 130,000 personnel in Iraq by July isn't going to hold. It will actually be 140,000 troops as the Pentagon announced yesterday. This is bad since the military remains on an unsustainable deployment cycle, which even our top brass have acknowledged.

The Ugly: One of the managers at Al-Fourat TV has been detained by coalition forces for connections with Special Groups. The station is run by the Hakim's Supreme Islamic Council and I'm expecting the rumor mill in Iran and the Arab world to be rife with conspiracies for the next few days.

Best Picture Goes to a Not-Terrible Movie

The self-serving Oscars have seen a fair share of crap lousy movies get all the props throughout the last 20 years. Titanic, Forrest Gump, Shakespeare in Love...all movies that are supposed to make you feel "good" about yourself... I hate those movies. We have entered some dark days and we need Hollywood to make us realize that in new and creative ways. The Cohen Brothers (of legendary Big Lewbowski and Barton Fink fame) made a movie about a stone cold psycho who goes on a rampage with a silenced shotgun and retractable pneumatic boltgun. The rational and intelligent protagonists weren't able to save the day, which does a good job explaining the current malaise in our fight against ideologists. I thought the movie was excellent and was privileged enough to see it on the big screen during R&R and not on a fuzzy bootleg. Well "No Country For Old Men" won for Best Picture and I can at least say there is still some good tastes in film.

Of course, the perpetually outraged on the moral right weren't happy with this movie. Take Debbie Schlussel who proclaims:

And the bizarre, violent, weirdly-ending "No Country for Old Men" won Best Director and Best Picture. Yup, more Hollywood rewarding movies glorifying killing for no reason. Blood and the macabre.

She also likened McCain's babealicious daughter to being a Nazi and/or KKK member in her blog today, so I remain a bit skeptical of her commentary. I've always been a fan of the dark and strange movie and I welcome the recognition of film geniuses like the Cohen brothers.

On the other hand, apparently the troops announcing one of the awards didn't get a lot of applause (CJ at Soldier's Perspective was not impressed), but at least they didn't get booed or called "babykillers". I'll take that as a small victory.

The Oscar would have been "morally" acceptable if this guy was the villain

25 February 2008

Iraq News 25 Feb

The Good: Washington Post discusses joint operations between Coalition Forces and Iraqi Security Forces in Mosul. Ninawa province, which contains Mosul (third largest city), is the only province where violence has actually increased since 2007, so security operations in Mosul will be crucial. The WaPo article focuses on some of the challenges faced by our troops and the Iraqi troops.

The Bad: Over 40 Shi'ite pilgrims were killed by a suicide attack on the road between Baghdad and Karbala. The pilgrimage is for the upcoming Arbaeen and Al-Qaeda operatives, most likely, purported this attack near Iskandariyah to inflame sectarian tensions. What a bunch of savages.

The Ugly: The PKK, The "Maoist revolutionary" or terrorist group as I would call them, have encouraged violence in Turkey in response to the ground operations launched by the Turkish military into northern Iraq. This whole thing is becoming a diplomatic hot potato, and meanwhile the Iraqi Prime Minister is AWOL getting medical treatment in London.

24 February 2008

Excellent NYT Story

No, it's definitely not the McCain sex scandal nonsense. Read this piece here from an embed out in Afghanistan. Good stuff! Although, IAVA has some beef with the printed version. I cannot confirm this, since the NY Times doesn't deliver to Iraq yet, but the online report is excellent.

That Mortar Attack and Disinformation in the Media

Take with a grain of salt

I normally don't discuss much about the Green Zone due to OPSEC considerations. But this recent mortar attack has been making a run in the media, and by the tone of the reporting you'd think it was Tet '08 or something. Huffington Post commenters were virtually masturbating with bloodlust as this meant the demise of the Bush administration's stronghold. Fox News decided to air some file footage that looked like a cross between battle damage from a truck bomb followed by a cat-5 hurricane (I have no idea where this footage came from). I remain in my normal zombie-like state and realize that this was probably the handiwork of a bunch of thugs and not part of a large-scale offensive.

Now for a little gallows humor, I'm assuming that this was NOT the work of Mr. Sadr's people, rather a rogue cell. But in case someone didn't get the memo on the ceasefire, I've solicited the help of Bill Lumbergh of Office Space acclaim to get the message out.

The Good, Bad, and Ugly of Iraq News (24 Feb)

The Good: Despite a lot of hullabaloo in the media about one lousy attack on the IZ, Baghdad violence is way down from 2007 according to Brig. Gen. Milano. He cites numerous statistics to support this statement, and the recent Sadr ceasefire will help things remain that way. Also, 11 Al-Qaeda operatives were killed by Iraqi Security Forces near Tikrit.

The Bad: The fog of war is certainly in effect up north as both Turkey and the terrorist group PKK are citing different numbers of combatants killed in northern Iraq. The PKK have claimed to have downed a Turkish helicopter as well. There has been significant international pressure for Turkey to conduct "limited" operations to avoid civilian casualties and destruction of infrastructure. But, hey, at least the oil is still flowing to Turkey from a pipeline in Iraq. No need for a silly thing like war to upset the price for a barrel of crude.

The Ugly: More upcoming mass pilgrimages and religious festivities in the holy city of Karbala. I'm definitely no Theology scholar so I have trouble keeping up with them all, I just hope the pilgrimage goes off without loss of life. Hopefully, those members of that strange Mahdi cult who launched attacks during Ashura stay out of the mix for this one.

23 February 2008

My Take on Obama-Platoon-Gate

All Hail the Future Commander-in-Chief

Meet Daniel Kingery. He's running a 2008 presidential campaign out of his '86 Crown Vic, thereby earning a lot of respect for his gumption and providing a humble view of America's future, instead of more hubris mixed with ignorance. More importantly, this allows me to be free of the partisan shackles of endlessly apologizing for a political party on this blog, rather than attempting an objective analysis. One issue I would like to discuss is this recent ruckus about Obama, a CPT in Afghanistan, and the tie-in to Iraq.
During a recent debate with Hillary, Sen. Obama mentioned that he received notice of a Captain who was ill-equipped to fight the war in Afghanistan:

You know, I've heard from an Army captain who was the head of a rifle platoon--supposed to have 39 men in a rifle platoon. Ended up being sent to Afghanistan with 24 because 15 of those soldiers had been sent to Iraq. And as a consequence, they didn't have enough ammunition, they didn't have enough Humvees. They were actually capturing Taliban weapons, because it was easier to get Taliban weapons than it was for them to get properly equipped by our current commander in chief.
Matthew Yglesias says that the story is true, despite skeptics from numerous conservative outlets like Weekly Standard. I'm a little concerned since the whole issue might turn into some sort of "phony soldier" type inquiry, which ultimately denigrates the political awakening of OIF/OEF vets. One thing the blogosphere hasn't come to grips with is that people in the military aren't unilateral in their political opinions like some Smurf village. Rather, you will see a variety of different commentary. Allow me to illustrate by opposing a dichotomy of views:
Criticism of left-leaning pundits: Certainly there has been equipment shortages in Iraq and Afghanistan under the Bush administration. But there has also been a lack of resources for probably every other soldier in every major conflict as Thus Spake Ortner at The Sniper mentions. However, it's not like the US Army is as ill-equipped as the Soviet Army during the Siege of Stalingrad. I hold the equivalent rank to a CPT in the Army, and I could easily make some off-hand comment to Sen. Obama's staff about being over-equipped. Case and point being the lousy 9mm that I have to schlepp around that was issued to me by the Army at FT. Jackson. As a Naval officer, I am a horrendous marksman, and also I certainly don't need it to perform my routine duties in Iraq of powerpoints, answering emails, and preparing briefs. A comment by a disgruntled officer like myself could provide some insight, but is not a basis to decide the entire US defense policy.
Criticism of right-leaning pundits: Please discontinue your belief that every member of the US military holds the same views as Rush Limbaugh. The presumption that everyone who isn't politically aligned with the neo-conservative world view must be "phony" or telling "bullshit" makes you look childish and emphasizes that you hold a weak argument. I can staple a DD 214 to my head when I'm out of uniform to appease you, but the CPT in question probably does have a legitamate gripe. The military IS stretched thin as thinking conservative Jules Crittenden mentions, and yes, that is the largely the fault of the Iraq war acrhitects who thought this thing would be over in a short period of time.
Just my .02, and vote Kingery for a brighter future. Uh, hopefully that prosperous future does not involve me being duct taped in the trunk of an '86 Crown Vic.

God Awful Article about the "Angry White Man"

As a member of the surly male coalition of bloggers, I find that this article is incredibly silly and sets our movement back ions: "In election 2008, don’t forget Angry White Man". I guess I'm white, but I don't think about it much since I don't believe in identity politics. None of the presidential candidates in the primaries exploit the race card either, so I'm not sure why this type of criticism was dredged up into the public domain. Gary Hubbell sounds off on why white males shouldn't vote Democrat (by way of Wonkette):

The victimhood syndrome buzzwords — “disenfranchised,” “marginalized” and “voiceless” — don’t resonate with him. “Press ‘one’ for English” is a curse-word to him. He’s used to picking up the tab, whether it’s the company Christmas party, three sets of braces, three college educations or a beautiful wedding.

I'm guessing Gary has some kind of chip on his shoulder about having three kids and they all needed braces, and that all his tax dollars went to those damn illegals. This could quite possibly make him the most persecuted man on planet Earth. I have a lot of reason to not be running to the Democrats with open arms, but Gary's not highlighting any of them. He then regales us with what a true "man" is:

He’s a man’s man, the kind of guy who likes to play poker, watch football, hunt white-tailed deer, call turkeys, play golf, spend a few bucks at a strip club once in a blue moon, change his own oil and build things. He coaches baseball, soccer and football teams and doesn’t ask for a penny.

This 1950s tough guy-speak of a man's man is falling on deaf ears as he tries to lump all caucasian males into Ward Cleaver at the Gentleman's Club (not that I'm above that sort of thing). This is a foolish attempt at playing on people's need to feel like an alpha-male in order to vote Republican. Politics is never that simplistic, and we must take the painful route of thoroughly examining all issues in this modern, complex world instead of meaninglessly voting for the candidate with the best hair or who "seems like a guy I would go fishin' with". Gary pretty much puts the nail in his own coffin with this line:

He’s not a racist, but he is annoyed and disappointed when people of certain backgrounds exhibit behavior that typifies the worst stereotypes of their race. He’s willing to give everybody a fair chance if they work hard, play by the rules and learn English.

There's certainly a lot of other events going on in the world to be angry at than the Denny's restroom sign being in Spanish and English. I admit to harboring a lot of bitterness and anger towards our current society of gross consumerism and apathy, but it's certainly not at the same level of rubeness as Mr. Hubbell. What gets my goat is that this article is in an Aspen paper. That's right, Aspen, home of ski bunnies, unaffordable housing, and apparently lots of "Angry White Men" who lounge in their sprawling estates and fuck their gorgeous wives in the hot tub overlooking the mountains. I don't believe in the politics of victimhood, and somehow, I'm not seeing this dude's plight.

An Angry White Man of Aspen (pictured grinning on the right with LL Bean scarf)

22 February 2008

Sadr Ceasefire Extended and Turkish Incursion

Two very important news items (no it doesn't have to do with Obama sneezing) that beg your attention. The Sadr Ceasefire has been extended for another 6 months in Iraq, and Turkey has launched a ground invasion of ~10K troops into the Kurdish provinces in northern Iraq. Read what I wrote at VetVoice...both very big news items.

21 February 2008

Important and Un-Important News

Important: Decision on Sadr ceasefire to be read tommorow at Friday prayers. Whatever the verdict, it will have a huge impact on security in Iraq.
Unimportant: Lame sex scandals about DC politicians (in this case McCain and some lobbyist) that make me vomit in my mouth. Why do aging boomers think we want to hear about their sex lives? How self-important can you get? Blegh!

Code Pink to Conquer LA

I took a shot at Michelle Malkin for waxing faux-patriotic in response to the whole Obama ruckus, but I'm giving her a big hat tip to an alert on those aging hippies that don't go away, Code Pink. Despite massive amounts of negative publicity for their shenanigans in Berkeley, they think it'll be a good idea to do a "Counter-Recruitment" campaign against a Navy Recruiting Center in LA:

Join CODEPINK outside of the Navy Recruitment Center in Santa Monica! Wear your pink for peace as we gather to spread the anti-war message and to educate the public about the risks associated with military recruitment and why it’s smart to OPT OUT. To attend, meet us outside our new location at the U.S. Navy Recruitment Center located at 2708 Wilshire Blvd. in Santa Monica (90403) at 12 noon this Friday the 22nd.

You have to start to wonder if people like this and those "hardcore kids" who "totally trashed" a recruiting station in DC (thanks Chickenhawk Express) are all a clever ruse to stifle any sort of intellectual discourse on the immensely complex Iraq war. The fact that this Code Pink "protest" is at noon on a Friday ensures that only unemployed lowlifes and easily-misled high school kids will show up to the damn thing. Can't wait to see the media coverage of this event.

Maybe this whole thing is personal since I was recruited for the Navy out of Los Angeles way back in 2002. I may have harbored some bitterness over the years, but like every vet I've talked to (both for and against the Iraq war), I'm glad I did it.

Submariner Stands Accused of Kid-Touchin’ and My Prompt Disassociation

Argh! This is terrible. Not only was I also a Pearl Harbor sailor like this joker, but the USS Olympia was in my squadron too. My friend, who is “livin’ the dream” as a nuclear shift engineer in Charleston, sent me this little tidbit today about some tree-jumper's exploits while he was on a plane. Oh yeah, he's also a sub guy:

The complaint said the girl told Cole she was 13 years old and in the eighth grade, that they watched a movie on his laptop computer and then watched an in-flight movie together.
With blankets on both their laps, the girl said she was resting with her eyes closed when she felt Cole sexually grope her both inside and outside her underwear, as he fondled himself.
According to the criminal complaint, the girl "pretended to be asleep during the incident because she was afraid."

The public already has a negative perception of the Navy which prevents me from meeting normal people at cocktail parties. Certainly we have a surly demeanor and drink heavily lest we be chastised as douchebags by other members of the Navy, but to be associated with kid-touchin’ is some rough publicity. By the media’s portrayal, you’d think we were all in cahoots with the infamous bicycle shop owner who molested Dudley on Different Strokes. Here’s what the media opened up the article with:

A Pearl Harbor-based sailor was arrested on suspicion of molesting a 13-year-old girl on a Hawaiian Airlines flight from Hawaii to Arizona….Cole is stationed aboard the USS Olympia submarine at Pearl Harbor, where he's a chief storekeeper.

Of course it’s not wrong for the media to state the pederast in question’s credentials, but I just wanted to set the record straight publicly that I’m not part of the NAMBLA conspiracy and most other Navy folk aren’t either. Here’s the list of sex offenders from my current county of residence, you’ll see I didn’t make the cut! While another guy who was the Command Master Chief at my last command probably should've, I can assure you my socially deviant thoughts are strictly limited to women of legal age.

LT Nixon: He's not the Bicycle Shop Owner, Mr. Horton

19 February 2008

Castro's Out, Socialism Sucks

Just read the news over at Hot Air that Castro is finally gone and all I have to say is good riddance. This might come as a shock to a lot of youngsters on college campuses across the country but communism, socialism, or whatever "ism" that involves granting tremendous amounts of power to the state will ultimately lead to calamity. This holds especially true with socialism as it seeks to collectively "benefit" society by not respecting the individual. This inevitably leads to the loss of rights or "purging" of a few million people or so as seen with Stalin's Gulags, Mao's Cultural Revolution, and the "Year Zero" campaign under the Khmer Rouge. Castro's ideology was a reminder of these genocides that will hopefully remain 20th-century history (although people like Kim Jong-Il and Chavez scare me).

I'm a little disturbed that despite the atrocity, people still view low-level socialism as a viable option (aka "creeping socialism"). Crooks and Liars ran an article on the happy Danes who "don't have to worry about basic necessities", because the all-powerful nanny state takes care of them (see my response at comment #14). I'd rather be a free and miserable person than a well-behaved slave to the state, IMHO. Spokesman for the naive Hollywood Left, Michael Moore, talked about why the state needs to control health care. I purchased the bootleg of "Sicko" (you heard me Moore! a bootleg, and I want my $1.70 back!) and saw how he portrayed Cuba's health industry as a shining example on the hill. Give me a break. This might play well for all the cool college kids rebelling against their upper-middle class parents with Che shirts, but I'm not buying into this scam that has been proven by history to be a total disaster. Adios Castro, another stooge for a movement that sought to destroy civilization in the 20th century.

The Workers Paradise that was Mao's Cultural Revolution

Tuesdaze Bloggin' Roundup of Iraq (19 Feb)

Well Castro's out and the results of Pakistan's elections are being tallied, but don't forget that there's still stuff happening in Iraq. Check it out:

My VetVoice stuff this week:

And finally, this tasteless video I made this week. I really hope Iraq gets better, seriously. But in the meantime, here's some satire to make you feel bad about it. If you haven't seen National Lampoon's Vaction with Chevy Chase, then you're probably too young to get the joke.

I'm probably going to hell for this, but I was headed there anyways, so whatever.

18 February 2008

Iraqi Shopkeeper and Policeman Save the Day

Recently, the Say Anything blog opined why Americans weren't fighting back to prevent calamity following the tragedy at Northern Illinois University. I agree that an armed society is a polite society, but I would certainly not criticize the victims of this horrible massacre for not reacting with cat-like reflexes to avert tragedy. These remarks as well as dropping memes like the following made the gentleman nominated for Operation Yellow Elephant:

Meanwhile, back here in the United States, the Democrat front-runner for the commander-in-chief job is still mired in defeatism describing our soldiers in the battlefield as “wondering when it will end".

Off topic, I don't exactly understand the logic of how wondering when a war will end is defeatist propaganda. But I digress.

Well, out here in Iraq, a vigilant policeman and shopkeeper prevented a female suicide bomber from wreaking mass havoc in the heavily-populated Baghdad district of Karrada with some quick thinking. NY Times has the story:

The 42-year-old electronics store owner peered outside and saw an Iraqi soldier draw a pistol on a young woman wearing a black robe. The woman raised her arms. “I have nothing on me,” she pleaded. But she did: Mr. Ali saw wires protruding from her clothing. The soldier, hands shaking, fired two bullets at the woman as she began to run toward the shops. Then another shop owner shot the woman again with a Kalashnikov assault rifle that he said he keeps in his store for protection. The young woman fell hard, Mr. Ali said, but “managed to press the detonation button with her last breath.”

The use of females as suicide bombers by terrorists in Iraq is a tactic employed to allow travel through checkpoints in the hopes of not being searched or scrutinized. Good on the policeman and shopkeeper for not falling for this ruse, or else Sunday in Baghdad could have been marred with an event like the pet market bombings two weeks ago. These guys deserve the respect for fighting terrorism, not angry bloggers (like myself).

The Key to Counter-Terrorism

17 February 2008

Iran Experiencing Technical Difficulties

There's been a lot of talk about an Iranian delegation coming to Baghdad to hold trilateral security talks with Iraq and the U.S. Too bad Iran hasn't gotten their act together yet. From WaPo:

"These negotiations have been postponed, not canceled," said a diplomat at the Iranian Embassy in Baghdad
. "We believe these negotiations should continue, but we postponed them for technical problems."

I'm guessing they are having a hard time explaining why EFPs keep finding their way into Iraq. According to the Embassy folks, these talks will be significant as Iran and Iraq are going to have to play nice with each other lest the region get even worse. These talks have been in the works for months and it's sounding more and more like the excuses I hear when I try to set up a hot date for "Zombie movie night" at my place back in WA:

Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said Iranian officials did not provide a reason for the postponement."The Iranians just told us that they are not coming on Friday," Dabbagh said. "We've been informed that it is a matter of a few more days."


For some not-so-good news, Pakistan had another suicide bombing as their elections draw near, and Afghanistan had a real bad one too. Bad juju.

Iran is having some issues

16 February 2008

The Crap Douchey White People Like

There's a pretty hilarious blog out there that mocks the doucheiness and hypocrisy of contemporary yuppie liberals. It's aptly titled "Stuff White People Like" (h/t to Junkyard Blog). Not that I hate all liberals or even contemporary, yuppie, douchey liberals, but the site is pretty damn funny. Here's a smattering of the stuff white people like:

Expensive Sandwiches: The waiters and waitresses in these places are highly coveted by the white population. They are not quite as cool as bartenders, not quite as snobby as coffee shop workers, but still artsy, young, and more than likely to be a musician/artist/writer (since they only have to work from 11-3).

Indie: First, it allows them to say “oh, this? I got this shirt at Goodwill for $3.” This statement focuses the attention on the shirt, taking attention away from the $350 jeans and $200 shoes. The white person can then retain that precious ‘indie’ cred.

Apple Products: White people also need iPods, iPhones, Apple TV, AirPort Express stations, and anything else that Apple will produce. Because you need to express your uniqueness by purchasing everything that a publicly traded company produces.

As of right now, there's over 60 of these things and they are all filled with the things "white" people love and cherish, but I feel way left out since I hate all this stuff. While I do admit complicity in #11, I'm going to try and get the folks at the website to post something on "Flying V Guitar Solos". It doesn't fit in with the anti-yuppie meme of the blog, but man, those licks totally rock!

130 dB of Kickin' Ass

So Much for Retiring in Cuba

I once heard Rush Limbaugh proclaim Guantanomo Bay (aka Gitmo) a tropical paradise for terrorists. Well I have no idea what it's like for the terrorists locked up, but I just got word from a fellow disgruntled Navy buddy who got his ass IA'd there recently. The dispatch reads:

I’m in cuba. I live in a tent. I shit in a latrine and shower with 20 other dudes. I work with a bunch of haircuts. It’s 8 am and I’m sweating profusely. They’ve banned alcohol for the first month I’m here. I guess at least there are no mortars, but there are banana rats.

Lucky bastard, he gets to booze it up after a month! And I'm sitting here sober like some Puritan. I have no idea what he's doing at Gitmo. Probably the same sort of thing I'm doing in Iraq, staff weenie work. You gotta love the Navy IA experience. Anchors Aweigh!

15 February 2008

My Alma Mater Gives Me No Love!

I graduated from UCLA many moons ago and I have no regrets. It was a great school, in a great town, and even a schlubb like myself could meet some hot babes once in awhile (it was California after all). So out of respect for the University which gave me so much, I try to keep up with what the college kids of today are saying and their concerns. There's been a lot of buzz in the blogosphere about the ruckus in Berkeley, where the Code Pink folks are trying to shut down military recruiting offices. I have explained before that this is ridiculous since the military is merely the tools of foreign policy not the implementers. UCLA is definitely a lefty institution, but not space-cadet left like the folks still hanging around Berkeley from the 60s. This political biasing always made for some pretty interesting conversations at 3 in the morning at house parties for myself (it beats passing out). So I was a little taken aback when I read this article in the UCLA student newspaper entitled "University Must Sever its financial ties with Toxic War". The Op-Ed speaks of solidarity with those Berkeley loons who have chosen to protest the USMC:

This past November, hundreds of high school students walked out of class across Washington state to rally against the war and in support of more education funding. More recently, UC Berkeley students and local community members came together with the Berkeley City Council in a widely reported decision to pass a declaration denouncing military recruiters. Here at UCLA, students got together in November to rally against the war and instead promoted peace and education.

Ah geez. Well isn't that embarrassing. Many UCLA alumni have been involved with our nation's wars. You'd think these youngsters would have given a least a pittance to us "misguided" folk who chose to sign up with the military. Instead the article only speaks of a foolish call to action:

This Valentine’s Day weekend, from North and South Campus to sorority row to Pauley Pavilion to Meyerhoff Park, dump the war and take hold of your voice for the intimate, loving, caring relationship we all know we want and all know we can have – with peace.

I want in on this intimate, loving, caring relationship! Instead it's totally exclusionary as evidenced by the proposed march to "Sorority Row" this weekend. I wonder if students will need to know the secret handshake to get in on the drum circle. In my day, the kids would protest down on Wilshire in front of the federal building for all to partake, what happened? Well, at least people still care about politics and aren't totally self-obsessed with text messaging their friends in class and Facebook. I just wish they would direct their frustrations towards the people that actually make the damn policies instead of dredging up tired old stereotypes about the military. Good thing the UCLA folks don't have my contact information, since the alumni association isn't squeezing any cash out of me this year.

Is this yahoo the role model of UCLA? (thanks Zombietime)

New Interview is Up

If you ever get tired of hearing me being surly and cynical about everything under the sun, you can read an interview I did with Dave M over at The Thunder Run on all things related to Iraq. I tried my best to be serious and on good behavior. Cheers, and thanks to Dave!

14 February 2008

The Obligatory Valentine's Day Post

I am not a big fan of Valentine's Day. Unlike other Hallmark holidays such as Father's Day and Mother's Day which at least demonstrates some respect towards the people that brought you into existence, Valentine's Day is a vapid excuse for people to be compelled to buy nonsense for their sweethearts. It also has the effect of making single people feel like lowlifes, and is frequently used by people with a partner to get out of work, while the single losers get stuck holding down the fort at their place of employment. I thought that being in an area of conflict would excuse me from the trite consumerism of Valentine's day, but I guessed wrong. I walked into the DFAC for lunch and saw little heart shaped balloons filled with helium elevated above the tables we eat at (lucky for me I ate outside). Besides being an egregious waste of taxpayer dollars, this reminded me that it was, indeed, a day to be angry.

In addition, my daily perusing of the Iraqi media brought notice of this story which shows how Valentine's Day is celebrated in the Kurdish autonomous region:

Red roses and romantic gifts are very much in demand in Kurdish Sulaymaniya as young people shop for Valentine Day. Gift shops in the northern Iraqi province enjoy brisk sales one day ahead of the occasion that falls on February 14. All the gifts sold for that day are symbols of love, a shopkeeper said.

The Kurdish region has been the big success story of Iraq that has gone largely unreported as economic development is the norm, the Peshmerga maintain such good security that the Coalition barely have a presence up there, and I heard you can even walk around with no body armor in Irbil. They also got the 17% of the budget that they were asking for. But I must urge the good Kurdish people to beware of what you wish for. While I don't advocate an outright banning of the holiday like Saudi Arabia did, I must forewarn that Valentine's Day will bring a flurry of compulsory spending to your peaceful region that will certainly drive you mad, like it did to us in the States. I revert to the same phrase I do around Christmas time, Bah Humbug.

Totally Shameless

13 February 2008

Pakistan, the Place to Keep You Up at Night

Being scared about the situation in Iraq is so 2007. With violence down, Al-Qaeda in Iraq frightened with getting schwacked by Sunni tribal members, and even Muqtada al-Sadr working on a deal to release the journalists that got kidnapped in Basra, the country has gotten better, despite still having a lot of problems. But nothing is quite as scary as Pakistan, which is replete with nukes, an unstable government, and a breeding ground for Jihadis up in the tribal region known as the "Northwestern Frontier".

So it was with a little bit of dismay that I saw news about 2 nuclear scientists being kidnapped (thanks Hot Air):

"We are trying to collect information.... We cannot disclose our strategy but we are hopeful we will find out where he has been kept and who is involved."

Then, I check over at Long War Journal and see that Pakistan's ambasador to Afghanistan has been kidnapped on the same damn day:

On the same day Pakistani security forces captured the former Taliban commander of southern Afghanistan, the Taliban retaliated by kidnapping Pakistan's ambassador to Afghanistan. The Taliban have offered to release Ambassador Tariq Azizuddin in exchange for Mansoor Dadullah.

These events have made me question whether I have been spending too much time focusing on events in Iraq. Maybe I should be more concerned about other regions...

The Good News Just Keeps Coming in from this place

12 February 2008

Celebrating 8 Months of Mediocrity in Iraq

Today marks my 8-month anniversary of being in Iraq. Being a Navy "body-fill" for an Army Staff definitely has it's perks. People don't know what to expect of you and they don't understand what the hell a Navy Junior Officer is doing in Iraq in the first place. This allows my superiors to forego any "career development" or "you should think about staying in" conversations that are always excruciatingly painful. My superiors actually appreciate my bitterness and despair, as long as it doesn't affect my responsibilities at work of course, which I haven't messed up too badly yet. I never go out on convoys and am lucky enough to be chained to a desk. However, one of my Navy chums that has to go out frequently with the senior brass describes it as "being like Ensign Ricky just waiting to get blown to smithereens" (note picture above). This dark humor may be disturbing, and if you were looking for someone embellishing their experience to doll myself up as some sort of "hero" who loves his country, I'm sorry, but you should look elsewhere. Sure there are American heroes in Iraq, but you're certainly not going to find any amongst my group of peers. We are mediocre at best.

Tuesdaze Bloggin' Roundup of Iraq (12 Feb)

Hmm... since Tuesday is my sorta day off, I managed to find the time to change my sheets. Hopefully this terrible rash will go away. I'm such a filthy SOB. Here's what the others are saying about Iraq that the MSM forgot to talk about:

Here's the stuff I did for VetVoice recently (note: lots of other good stuff on there from a variety of bloggers and activists, not just my crazy ass):
And I'm out!

Secretary Gates: Just an Average Schmoe Like the Rest of Us

Recently, the Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, dropped by Iraq to give some not-so-awesome news for the US Military:

Gates previously had expressed hopes that conditions in Iraq would permit withdrawals to continue through the end of 2008, until there were about 100,000 forces in the country, but two hours of talks with Petraeus apparently changed his mind. Speaking about Petraeus's desire for a pause, Gates said it "probably does make sense" for a "brief period."

This does not address how badly stretched-thin the military has become, which even the biggest of Bush apologists would find hard to argue. It also gives indications that this war will continue to go on for quite some time But before embittered Americans start taking out their rage on the SECDEF, I would like to remind everyone that he is indeed a public servant, and criticism should probably be levied at the elected leaders that got us into this mess. The current mission in Iraq is to provide stability, security, and capacity building for the Iraqis, and if we need 130K or 15 Brigade Combat Teams, then that's what we need. Where they are going to come from, I'm not really sure.

I'm defending the Secretary because I recently read a ThinkProgress post that indicates he's a regular Joe Six-Pack just like the rest of us (h/t Rock Richard):

A friend recently gave him an electronic key chain, inscribed “The Gates Countdown,” with a small screen reading out how many days remain till the end of the term. He carries it everywhere, in part as a joke but not entirely.

These types of countdowns to the end of your tour are common among all commands in the military. What I've generally seen is an Excel spreadsheet with a picture of a babe on a motorcycle that countdown until the time you're supposed to be leaving to the exact second. I've seen these called "The Countdown to Happiness" or "Never Again!" or simply "FTN" (note: the TN is for "the Navy" and F is for a word ending in "uck" that isn't firetruck) that are replete with pie charts and graphs charting your exodus. So I applaud the Secretary for "keeping it real", and I'm glad he's not the only one a little bitter about his job in the colossal undertaking of our current defense policy.

Another Schmuck in the Suck, Just Like Us!

11 February 2008

Crazy Lew's Crazy Blog Says the Military is Evil

I always like perusing the annals of Mr. Lew Rockwell. Now that the Ron Paul worship campaign is a bust (thanks Orcinus), he can drop the politically correct spiel and tell us blogosphere denizens how he really feels. I divert your attention to a recent article by Theology Scholar, Laurence Vance, entitled "For Christ and Caeser". The article discusses how if you're a Christian and want to join the service, well you're a sinner, mister. I felt it was best to counter this meme before it wades its way into the values stream of anti-American propaganda.

It's a piece that is flat out anti-military, without even the normal contextual references to errors made in the Iraq war. It doesn't cite any specifics except for the recruiting tactics at a small Christian college in Virginia, which I've never heard of. The article discusses what the military does not do:

The military does not defend our freedoms. The military does not secure our borders. The military does not patrol our coasts. The military does not guard our shores. The military does not fight terrorists over there so we don't have to fight them over here. The military does not protect our First Amendment rights. The military does not keep us safe. The military does not ensure that we can speak English. The military is not retaliating against the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks.

I give Mr. Vance props for not attributing the 9/11 attacks to being perpetrated by the Bush Administration, which puts him head and shoulders above most of Lew's followers. However, I disagree that the organization I volunteered for doesn't keep us "safe". Whenever there was trouble and our country was under attack from foreign enemies that sought to end our way of life, the US military has risen to the challenge without a lot of hemming and hawing. I'm not being self-righteous, I'm just saying we're public servants with an arsenal of weapons and I apologize to Mr. Vance if he thinks otherwise. But there's more:

It is bad enough when atheists, agnostics, pagans, and the irreligious join the military, but it is an indelible blot on Christianity when Christians do the same.

Now he's taken my agnosticism to task for being some kind of heathen in uniform. I have nothing against religion per se, but could he please stop making ridiculous broad-sweeping assertions about the morality of those that don't go to church every Sunday. I may not read the bible, but I know that killing civilians is wrong, war should best be avoided, and that allegiance to some fanatical satanic Army horde within our community is probably only happening when US military members get online and play World of Warcraft. Mr. Vance makes one last proclamation:

If they really want to honor Christ and the Bible, Christian colleges should discontinue all ROTC programs, ban military recruiters from all their campuses, and discourage their young people from enlisting in the military.

Yes, Mr. Vance, that's what we need. More reasons for people to not sign up for the service. It's bad enough we can barely make recruiting numbers, but your diatribe certainly isn't helping. Thanks.

The heathen minotaur military that exists in the minds of some religious scholars

10 February 2008

CPAC 2008: Help, Politics in America is in Trouble!

Help! My beloved conservative values of a free-market, small government, and a strong national defense are under siege. CPAC 2008 has illustrated that the only choices for President are a Christian Values bumpkin and John "Let's Bomb the Piss Out of Iran" McCain. Both presidential candidates want to step up the government spending, both have no plans on a responsible exit strategy for Iraq, and both shamelessly cater to the Moral Values Crusader cadre who think teaching abstinence in public school is more important than fighting terrorism or the economy. What's an American to do....

I requested pictures from Ms. Nicki over at Liberty Zone of hot young republican babes, but sadly, she fell ill. She was also not happy with the future of conservatism. Neither was Eric Dondero over at Libertarian Republican, which mentioned that the Libertarian party actually sent the GOP a funeral wreath. Predictably, John McCain got booed, and Reason discussesd young republicans who flipped out because Mitt Romney and his hair dropped out of the race. Ann Coulter got the boot from the main stage (good decision), but she made some crazy speech about "Islamofascists" that no doubt will alienate most of our moderate allies in the Middle East. Mr. Bellavia's interview on Captain's Quarters was interesting, but he isn't running for office.

The conservatives in this country are so divided after 8 years of apologizing and making excuses for the disastrous policies of BushCo, that there is no doubt a spendaholic Democrat is going to win. Hillary and her health care for free agenda is going to turn America into a pathetic socialist state as she attempts to pacify the population. Both Hillary and Obama have heinous plans for an exit strategy from Iraq that leave a lot of questions unanswered. Neither of these candidates have addressed how to fix our busted military either. They just intend to get the votes by selling entitlements and other free shit to the American people. Like Ms. Nicki, I also see the future, and it is terribly bleak. Maybe I can go move to Thailand and open up that nightclub I always wanted to: "Ashtray-a-Go-Gos". See you all in Pattaya Beach!

Also, CPAC-Iraq 2008: "Get your War On!" was a total bust. No one showed up to see my 100- powerpoint slideshow on "The Way Forward" in Iraq. I was very hurt =(. I did watch Fletch w/Chevy Chase though, so it's all good. Times have been tough, but I fear they will get tougher.

09 February 2008

Jericho Runs Afoul of Blackwater

These guys are lookin' familiar...

I'm no big fan of TV ever since the Simpsons started suckin' back in 1998, but I picked up the first season of "Jericho" when I was back in the states. I had never heard of it before, but I looked on the back and the description of the series reminded me of the Steve Guttenberg (of Police Academy Fame) classic "The Day After". Both take place in Kansas and both consider the ups and downs of small town life after the apocalypse. I actually thought the series was pretty damn good! Call me old fashioned, but the post-apocalypse genre is classic American media. This is despite the fact that the protagonist is more to draw the female audience. I was hoping for more of a Booger from "Revenge of the Nerds" type character, but in this day of television, you'll take what you can get.

Anyhoo, one thing that I thought was pretty funny is that there's a group of Private Security Contractors that go apeshit and shoot up a hospital in one of the episodes. The company is called "Ravenwood" in the show, which I guess is some Hollywood political potshot at Blackwater. It's cool though, they come to try and take over the town, but the nice folks of Jericho scare them off (reminds me to buy more weapons when I get back to the states). It's nice to know that I'm living in a place that can generate a pop culture reference, the Green Zone. Reminds me of my days in LA.

Just like when we took on the Blackwater guys for control of the ping-pong table at the chow hall