Friday, September 28, 2007

Silence From Syria: Hear No Evil, See No Evil, Speak No Evil.

U.S. Air Force photo

This is a U.S. Air Force F-16, similar to the Israeli F-16s that struck Syria on 6 Sep 2007.

There are interesting developments in the middle east regarding the Israeli air raids in Syria earlier this month. I don’t remember hearing much about it, except that there was a wave of conjecture about what the target of the raid was. The Israelis have been pretty tight lipped about it, but the Syrians have been even more quiet, if that's possible. Wonder why?

There’s been some speculation that the actual purpose of the raid was to test the Syrian high tech ground to air missile defense systems.

The Syrians have recently spent about a gazillion bucks updating and bulking up their air defense systems, with what is supposed to be the latest technology from Russia. Check out this excerpt from the report:

"...take a look at the map of Syria: Notice how far away Dayr az-Zawr is from Israel. An F15/16 attack there is not a tiptoe across the border, but a deep, deep penetration of Syrian airspace. And guess what happened with the Russian super-hyper-sophisticated cutting edge antiaircraft missile batteries when that penetration took place on September 6th. Nothing.

El blanko. Silence. The systems didn't even light up, gave no indication whatever of any detection of enemy aircraft invading Syrian airspace, zip, zero, nada. The Israelis (with a little techie assistance from us) blinded the Russkie antiaircraft systems so completely the Syrians didn't even know they were blinded. Now you see why the Syrians have been scared speechless. They thought they were protected - at enormous expense - only to discover they are defenseless. As in naked. Thus the Great Iranian Freak-Out - for this means Iran is just as nakedly defenseless as Syria."
(Bold mine.)

So it was a message raid, a shot across the bow. And the message was very clear:

"Syria, you’re not as safe or formidable as you think you are. And Iran, neither are you. Have a nice day."

It’s a very interesting report. Read the whole thing. Also check out this article at Strategy Page.
Oh, I thought this Dry Bones cartoon was hilarious, too!

Message to Robbery Victims in Richmond, VA: Don't Shoot Back

Here’s a story about a Baskin-Robbins manager who’s facing charges of felony dangerous discharge of a firearm when his store was robbed last month.

Career criminal Jerome Davis, 43, entered the store brandishing a BB gun made to look like a 9mm handgun, demanding all the cash in the till. Manager David Fielding, with his own real hand gun in his waistband, handed over all the money. Then the robber ordered everybody to go to the back of the store with him.

When they reached the rear of the store, Fielding pulled his own gun and opened fire. He shot three times while Davis fled from the store, then followed the robber out into the parking lot and fired eight more times. Davis was later found dead a short distance from his home. No one else was hurt in the incident.

This occurred in a neighborhood in Richmond, VA where armed robberies have been spiraling out of control. The store had been robbed once before in recent months.

It couldn’t be determined if the shot that cause Davis' death was fired inside the store or out. Hence, the charge of reckless dangerous discharge instead of manslaughter. It carries a maximum sentence of 6 years in prison.

The public response to the charge against the store manager has been one of outrage against the prosecuting attorney, Michael Herring. A petition has been circulated in the neighborhood in which nearly 600 signatures have been gathered opposing the indictment.

Mr. Herring has been quoted as saying the petition didn't sway him in his decision to seek an indictment. He didn’t think the trial of the robber should have taken place in the parking lot of the store, but he's willing to accept the decision of the Grand Jury.

He didn’t think the answer to the problem of escalating criminal violence was more guns in the hands of the public. But somehow, disarming the victims seems to be the right thing to do. The man is clearly an elitist.

Message to criminals: Carry a real gun during the commission of your crimes.

Message to armed robbery victims: Don't shoot back, lest you be charged with a felony and face the prospect of serving a long prison sentence.

I think the Grand Jury should do their duty and refuse to return an indictment. This is ridiculous.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Clever Taliban Strategy: Lose the Battle, Win the War

AFP/File/Shah Marai
An Afghan policeman stands guard at a checkpoint in Kabul

I think there’s probably a pretty good consensus that the Taliban can’t possibly achieve a military victory in Afghanistan as long as we maintain sufficient troop levels there. But, apparently, they’re determined to keep trying.

Recent reports, such as this story by Alisa Tang, an AP writer, tell of violent clashes between Taliban fighters and coalition troops in Afghanistan indicating that 165 Taliban were killed in two separate engagements in which they initiated the action.

In one battle, an ambush of coalition troops by "several dozen" Taliban, continued for most the day, while Taliban commanders brought in more reinforcements. By the end of the engagement they had lost 100 fighters, while the coalition lost one soldier killed and 4 wounded.

In the other battle, the Taliban lost 65 killed, while the coalition lost zero killed and zero wounded.

So let me make sure I understand what happened here. Taliban commanders initiated contact with coalition forces, presumably on terrain they chose, and at a time of their own choosing, and engaged in such a way that they were able to bring in reinforcements as needed.

And they lost. Big.

That’s an astounding kill ratio of 165:1.

It looks as if the Taliban is a freakish cult that glories in death and destruction, even if the only deaths they succeed in bringing about are their own.

How can they keep this up? What is the overall strategy behind the horrible ineptitude of these tactics? It can’t possibly be all about the myth of the 72 virgins, can it?

Could it be they’ve studied the Vietnam War and the tactics of the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese Army in the Tet Offensive.

That was an overwhelming military defeat for the V.C. and the NVA, but it scored a major propaganda victory when the U.S. press declared the war lost.

President Lyndon Johnson announced he wouldn’t run for reelection and the U.S. began looking for ways to disengage and withdraw its forces.

The NVA lost the battle, but won the war.

Is that what the Taliban is hoping to accomplish here? To win by losing?

I hope that is their strategy, and I hope they’re persistent enough to stay with it a good long time.

Here’s what’s different about the conflict in Afghanistan today and the Vietnam War back then:

In Vietnam we lost 58,000 killed and many more wounded and maimed. In Afghanistan we’ve lost what? A twentieth of that? All I can tell you is we lost Pat Tillman to friendly fire. Our media has been almost gleeful in reporting military deaths in Iraq, while Afghanistan has been virtually ignored. So, honestly, I don’t know how many casualties American forces have suffered in Afghanistan, and I’m willing to bet you don’t either.

In Vietnam we knew the NVA couldn’t possibly attack us or cause us harm on our own shores. The sentiment that Vietnam was the wrong war to fight eventually gained nearly universal appeal. In Afghanistan, there was a verifiable link between the Taliban and al-Quaeda, and they brought the fight to our country on Sept. 11, 2001.

Basically, the American people have said, "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me." So they are resolved to keep fighting as long as it takes.

That’s the difference between Vietnam and Afghanistan. Taliban commanders don’t get it. And that's okay with me.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Bizarre Catch-22 in Wisconsin Gun Case

A Wisconsin judge has ruled that the state’s concealed carry law prohibiting concealed carry of a dangerous weapon is unconstitutional in view of the fact that the state constitution allows citizens to be armed for the purpose of self defense. The judge issued the ruling while dropping charges against a pizza delivery man who had been charged in the case of an armed robbery in which he drew his weapon and shot his would be robber. He faced up to 9 months in jail if convicted.

I don’t know if this is a situation where the law becomes clearer or more confused. It sounds like the Wisconsin State Legislature needs to take this issue in hand and come up with a solution to the problem. I think the right solution would be to repeal the concealed carry law, or at least make it legal for law abiding citizens to carry concealed weapons. They can do it like Vermont, which doesn’t require a permit. Or they can do it like 39 other states and issue permits. Or they could just make it a felony for convicted felons to carry concealed deadly weapons, and forgo all the expense of background checks and permits. Just one man’s opinion.

Here’s a link to the story.

Monday, September 24, 2007

ZING!! Ouch!!

(AP Photo)

The president of Iran is nothing if not controversial. His visit to NYC has stirred a hot debate about free speech. In this AP story, Lee Bollinger, president of Columbia University, defends the decision to give Ahmadinejad a podium, lending credibility and prestige to the embattled Iranian president.

Columbia President Lee Bollinger has promised to grill Ahmadinejad on subjects such as human rights, the Holocaust and Iran's disputed nuclear program. The Iranian leader previously has called the Holocaust "a myth" and called for Israel to be "wiped off the map."
Bollinger said Monday it was a question of free speech and academic freedom.

"It's extremely important to know who the leaders are of countries that are your adversaries. To watch them to see how they think, to see how they reason or do not reason. To see whether they're fanatical, or to see whether they are sly," he told ABC's "Good Morning America."

Hmmm. Don't we already know the answers to those questions?

Among the critics of Columbia U. is Michael Rubin at National Review Online, who points out the blatant hypocricy of giving our enemies a forum, while denying others the same.

The issue we see with Columbia is deeper than freedom of speech but rather the inconsistency with which university faculties choose to support it. If men like Richard Bulliet and Lee Bollinger, and women like Lisa Marie Anderson cared about freedom of speech, they might want to enable those who don't have it, rather than celebrate the men who have taken it away.

Update: an advance list of the questions Bollinger will ask Ahmadinejab has been "leaked" to Instapunk. Some of the questions follow.

Moving on, Mr. President, there are embarrassingly large numbers of Jews in the Columbia student body and alumni ranks. Could you please explain to them how sick and tired the rest of us are of hearing them whine about the so-called holocaust in Europe 50 or 80 years ago or whenever it supposedly happened?

As you may know, Mr. President, Columbia University also has a considerable faculty and student population that specializes in the natural sciences. I'm sure they'd welcome it if you could summarize recent Iranian biological research -- which has, of course, been suppressed here in the Great Satan -- demonstrating the direct genetic link that exists between Jews and pigs.

Speaking of pigs, could you explain to us the redevelopment plans you have for Israel after it has been wiped off the map? I mean, how do you clean, disinfect, and sterilize an area as large as a whole country so that it doesn't, you know, reek permanently of smoked fish and pickels and the baby blood they use in all their filthy rituals? Would a technology that can accomplish such a cleanup have any application in our great global war against climate change?

Yeah, sounds like hardball to me.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


age 6 or 7 months, 1979

1979, about the same age

Christmas '79, 1 year old

Broken leg, age 2 1/2, 1981

Spanish Fork Fiesta Days, City of Fun Carnival

Salem Duck Pond

Off in his own little world

School Pic


At the Provo Temple

at Disneyland, summer '89

at the MTC, 1998


Our Family

Chris is married to a lovely woman named Susan and they have a cute little daughter named Hattie Mae. She's a year old. They have a blog, check it out.
Happy Birthday, Chris!


John Murtha, Jim Moran, Peter Visclosky:

These people are above the law. They’re untouchable, unreachable, unassailable, and they know it. They make muggers and thieves look honest by comparison.

From Don Surber:

You want to make the big bucks? Rent a congressman. Your return on your investment can be as high as $75 for every dollar invested.
Just ask the good folks at PMA Group, a lobbying firm. They sank $1,333,074 into the campaigns last year of 3 Democratic members of the House defense appropriations subcommittee and walked away with $100.5 million in defense earmarks for PMA clients

That means for every buck they spent, their clients got back $75.39. In less than 1 year.

Money is not the only object. The firm was founded by Paul Magliochetti, who worked for Murtha on the defense appropriations subcommittee. Richard Kaelin went from being Visclosky’s chief of staff to lobbying for PMA.

Culture of corruption? Congressional Democrats seem to have invented it.
(Bold Mine.)
Please read the whole post.

Monday, September 17, 2007

New Zealand Man Shot Himself With "Unloaded" Gun

I just read this incredible story about a man in New Zealand who shot himself while showing a handgun to his room mate. The roomie recoiled in horror when he saw the gun. The erstwhile gunman racked the slide of the semi-auto pistol, ejecting a cartridge onto the room mate’s bed. Assuring his friend that the gun was now safe, and displaying a seriously misplaced sense of bravado, he held the gun to his own head and pulled the trigger. Imagine his surprise when his brains splattered all over the wall.

The room mate told investigators that he was convinced his friend had no intention of taking his own life, he just wasn’t aware that the gun was still loaded and ready to fire.

Guns don't kill people. People who aren't familiar with firearms and the rules of safe gunhandling kill themselves by showing off.

I feel sorry for his family and those who may have loved him. I'm not particulary sorry for him. Anybody that stupid would have killed somone sooner or later. Clearly this person was a danger to himself and those around him. Luckily, he only killed himself.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Dems Continue Valiant Struggle For Retreat, Defeat

Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.--Mark Twain

Two articles worth reading in their entirety:

Defeat At Any Price
by David Gelernter at the Weekly Standard

Americans traditionally like their two opposing parties to differ on domestic affairs but agree on basic foreign policy--not because things are nicer that way; rather because foreign-policy arguments are good for our enemies, bad for our friends, and hugely dangerous to ourselves--especially in an age when swarms of maniac, murderous jihadists blacken the Middle East like toxic locusts.

Listen to what the Democrats are really saying. Consider what they actually want. And pray God they never get it.
(Bold mine).

Ready, Willing, and Able
by Thomas Donnelly at the Weekly Standard

For better or worse, it is and will be for quite a while the duty of America's land forces to fight the Long War. Of the three great security challenges of our time--the rise of China, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and the dangers of revolutionary Islam--it is the third that requires of us strong land power capabilities. The way to manage the risks of this extended struggle is to rebuild and reshape our land forces to respond to the challenge.

While not all the battles of this war will be exactly like Iraq, the bitter experience of the last four years should serve as a reminder that we must adapt to the war as it is rather than pretend we have the option of fighting a war we would prefer. Nor should we pretend that there's something more important for U.S. ground troops to do. If they are ordered to retreat from this battle, their next battle is likely to be a lot harder.
(Bold mine.)

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The Hearings Are Not about "Hearing"

I posted a couple of days ago about the clever tactics resorted to by Democrats (and RINOs) in the Senate hearings.

I was unable to see most of the hearings, but I watched with contempt as Barbara Boxer (D-CA) lectured Petraeus and Crocker, using up all her time and agreeably suggesting that she would be happy to accept their answers in writing, and Chairman Biden cheerfully accommodating her.

I’m not the only one who noticed this trend. Apparently, later in the day, Barack Obama spent his time lecturing the witnesses and then using the last minute to pose a 266 word question. Unfortunately, there was no time for the witnesses to respond, and he expressed regret. Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) didn’t let the moment pass unremarked, however. Opening his remarks he observed dryly, "As you have found, our hearings are more about listening to ourselves than listening to our witnesses."


Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit says the best Bush strategy is to put Congress on TV as often as possible.

Politicians who resort to such clever tactics don't appear intelligent or astute, but rather shifty and craven in their attempts to frame the debate without giving their "opponents" an opportunity to rebut them. I don't believe it's lost on the American public.

If You Support Our Troops and Their Mission in Iraq, Please Sign the Victory Caucus Petition

You’ll notice I’ve made some additions to the sidebar. I’ve added two links to the Victory Caucus petition to support the military mission in Iraq; One near the top of the sidebar, and one at the bottom. They both take you to the same place, so there’s no need to click on both. I only added the one at the bottom for convenience, in case readers missed the top one.

I agree with General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker that the achievements we are hoping to accomplish in Iraq are by no means certain, but they are obtainable if we press on. If we choose to disengage in Iraq, the consequences are dire for the entire Middle East. Civil war, chaos, and genocide will rule the region as all the different ethnic groups and neighboring nations rush to take advantage of the power vacuum that is sure to follow. If we abandon Iraq, we must abandon all our interests in the Middle East, including our allies, even Israel. Iran is sure to become more powerful and influential, but nations like Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria and Egypt are not likely to stand idly by and let that happen uncontested. If Iran gains control of Iraq’s oil fields, the price of oil will skyrocket, affecting global economies, including our own. We have so much of our own national interests tied to Iraq and the entire region that abandoning them is idiotic and insane. Those who claim nothing bad will happen if we get out are shortsighted, shallow, craven and immoral. Yes, immoral. To abandon the millions of Iraqis to civil war and ethnic cleansing is akin to firefighters letting a house burn down with women and children still trapped inside. It’s unthinkable.

So, please, click on the link and sign the petition. Add the link to your own blog if you like. Instructions are here. It's amazingly easy. I did it, for crying out loud. Or send emails to your contacts.

Democrats have often pointed to our failure in Vietnam as justification for pulling out of Iraq. They don’t see the irony in the fact that Osama Bin Laden used our Vietnam retreat as part of his rationale for declaring war on the U.S. and attacking our interests wherever he could.. He assured his followers that we were cowardly and weak, and we proved him right, for a long time. All the attacks of terrorism were ignored and went unanswered until Sept. 11, 2001. When the Twin Towers fell, Bin Laden got our attention, because we realized that we could no longer ignore him.

And now, six years on, we are at the crossroads, trying to decide if it’s worth it to press on, or should we turn back and retire from the field. If we turn back, we prove Bin Laden right, we are cowardly and weak, and lack the resolve necessary to remain a great nation. If we abandon the Iraqis in their struggle to establish a stable country in which they can live in peace and safety, we will deserve whatever evil comes of it.

But what about the Iraqis? Will they be deserving of the chaotic hell that is sure to descend upon their heads? I think not. They were powerless to prevent Saddam Hussein from rising to power. They were impotent to depose him once he gained power. He reigned in terror for decades. They were powerless to stop the U.S. led invasion in 2003. Once elections were held and a constitution ratified and representatives selected to the Iraqi Parliament and government, the ball was in their court. For the first time in history, the fate of the Iraqi people was in their own hands, if they would take the opportunity and not waste it while America and others in the coalition spent blood and treasure on their behalf. True, they haven’t made as much progress as we would like, and there’s too much bickering and infighting, as well as violence, assassinations, suicide bombs, and attacks against innocent and unarmed civilians, including women and children. But for us to throw our hands up and walk away in despair would be reprehensibly cowardly, weak, and cravenly immoral.

Democrats are claiming that this is "Bush’s War" or perhaps "the Republicans’ War", but its an American army and Marine Corps that’s fighting in Iraq, for vital American interests. If we choose to quit the fight, we lose so much more than just a war. The Democrats don’t see that, and are eager for our defeat, because they see it as a political victory for them. They believe it will lead them to the White House in ‘08. What they apparently don’t see is that if we are successful in Iraq, they won’t share in that victory because they’ve worked so hard against it. But if we fail, the American people will lay it at their feet, and the stench of treason will be carried by the Democratic Party just as it was after the Civil War, and it will be a generation or more before they come back into power, if ever. People won’t trust Democrats to look after American interests, and rightly so.

Caroline B. Glick, deputy managing editor of the Jerusalem Post, wrote this:

Governmental competence is imperative because as Petreaus explained, "the fundamental source of the conflict in Iraq is competition among ethnic and sectarian communities for power and resources." Petreaus continued, "The question is whether the competition takes place more — or less — violently."

What is notable about Petreaus's statement is that it can be equally applied to all countries. Politics and warfare are both about the relative distribution of power. What separates democracies from tyrannies and failed states is that democracies determine power's distribution through deliberation and debate while tyrannies and failed states are governed by the rule of the gun and the laws of the jungle.

That the political party now in control over both houses of Congress, and well-positioned to form the next administration seems to have discarded this basic truth is far more dangerous for Iraq, the Middle East and indeed the entire world, than the chronic weakness, incompetence, double dealing and corruption of the Maliki government or any successor government.

The strategy that the US has adopted in Iraq, that has met with such success even in the brief time it has been operative is a long-term strategy. Unless the Democrats regain their senses, it will be difficult for anyone to trust that the US won't simply abandon Iraq and with it, its responsibility as the leader of the Free World in the midst of a global war.
(Bold mine).

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

What If The Current President Has Found His Grant and a Better “Strategery”?

Okay, sorry, I couldn't resist adding that little bit of embellisment to irritate the defeatists.

I remember with disgust on election day in November 2006 when the Democrats won majorities in the House and Senate by decrying the Republican "Culture of Corruption"®, and claiming that we needed to take a new direction in Iraq. Well, the Culture of Corruption was clearly bogus, at least in terms of being exclusively a Republican product. But the "new direction in Iraq" apparently resounded with the president, because on the very next day he accepted the resignation of Secretary of Defense Ronald Rumsfeld, and within mere weeks, General David Petraeus was installed at the head of the Multi-National Force in Iraq, and General Casey was relieved. The complete turn around of the president had me concerned, because it seemed so out of character. It seemed as if he was caving in.

And now here we are 10 months later, with Gen. Petraeus reporting to Congress how things have changed in Iraq, making victory possible if we don’t now shun the fight, but press on. So they’ve changed course in Iraq, but they’re still saying press on. This is not quite what the Democrats had in mind, and they’re clearly irritated and panicked.

Donald Kagan at National Review Online has a long article highlighting the similarities between the current conflict in Iraq and the Civil War. It’s well worth reading the whole thing, but here are some long excerpts.

The results of the recent change in leadership and strategy in Iraq have made it plain that the war there is not lost nor is defeat inevitable. And yet, the war’s opponents, even as the situation improves, have rushed to declare America defeated. They offer no plausible alternative to the current strategy and take no serious notice of the dreadful consequences of swift withdrawal. They seem to be panicked by the possibility of success and eager to bring about withdrawal and defeat before events make it too late.

So it was, too, in the midst of America’s Civil War. As late as 1864, after three years of fearful casualties, victory for the Union forces was not in sight. Lincoln was determined to continue the fight to restore the integrity of the Union and to abolish slavery. Original opponents of the war were joined by great numbers who were simply weary, and others who were ready to seek peace at any price, which was for some the persistence of slavery and for others the dissolution of the Union. One English friend of the Union cause expected such politicians to compromise with the South in order to take it back, slavery and all. Such an event would be shameful, he said, but still "it would leave the question to be settled by a similar process of blood by another generation."
In 1864 Lincoln changed generals, and undertook a more aggressive strategy, but the war continued to drag on. A hostile newspaper, wrote, "that perhaps it is time to agree to a peace without victory." Like Pericles, Lincoln was assailed by attacks on his policies and by personal vituperation. At the Democratic convention in August 1864 a speaker told a crowd in the streets that Lincoln and the Union armies had ‘‘Failed! Failed!! FAILED!!! FAILED!!!!" The loss of life ‘has never been seen since the destruction of Sennacherib by the breath of the Almighty and still the monster usurper wants more men for his slaughter pens."

No one would have predicted that within a matter of months the war would end with a total victory for the Union forces, slavery abolished and the Union restored, but events took an unexpected turn. A series of Union military victories changed the course of the war. The Democrats, having declared or predicted defeat were, as one historian has written: "Tarred as traitors, regardless of their actual positions on the war, Democrats were … roundly thrashed in November. In fact, the stench of treason clung to the Democrats for years; nearly a generation would pass before another Democrat, Grover Cleveland, occupied the White House."
Victory in the war Americans confront today is not certain. If it comes it will arrive only after long and hard effort, but it is well to remember that the United States has lost war only when it has chosen to fight no longer. There are defeatists aplenty among us today, and they too, shout that the war has been lost, that the government that conducts it is stupid and incompetent, that the war is not necessary and that our leaders lied to us in bringing it on, that nothing terrible will ensue if we abandon the fighting. They, too, bewail the casualties incurred in the war and proclaim their support for the troops even as they delay voting a budget to sustain the military.
Such stratagems may work so long as a war goes badly. But what if the current president has found his Grant and a better strategy? Like the Copperheads of the Civil War, today’s defeatists have a huge investment in defeat and live in dread of success in the field, which could turn into disaster at the polls. In this, they would do well to understand that they are at odds with most of the American people, who are tired of the war and deplore the casualties and expense that goes with it. They want peace, but not one that is an illusion and will not last. Nor do they want a peace at any price that will bring fearful consequences and disgrace. If the defeatists have their way that is the kind of peace we will get; the American people will know whom to blame and will not quickly forget.
(Bold mine).
Well, I couldn't have said it better myself, and I didn't. But this is pretty much what I had in mind when I posted last week about Frederick W. Kagan's article about the likelyhood that the recent successes in Anbar represent the Gettysburg of this war, that we've turned the corner and achieved at least the possibility of victory.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Live Blogging Petraeus/Crocker Report to Congress

7:55 a.m. Amb. Crocker is reviewing his statement. It sounds like he's going over ground he covered yesterday. It's hard to tell if the Congressmen are listening. Chris Dodd looks skeptical. John Kerry is stone faced. Others have heads down, reading the statement.

Iraqi provinces don't have the power of taxation, so they must receive all their resources from the central government in Bhagdad.

My overall impression is that this is not so much a report as a televised debate. Clearly a lot of Congressmen have already made up their minds where they stand, and they're eager to rebut whatever Petraeus or Crocker say.

Crocker says failure in Iraq will be followed by massive human suffering beyond the magnitude that has been suffered already, and that other nations, particularly Iran, are poised to fill the vacuum that would be created. He says our present course is hard, but the alternative is even harder.

At the conclusion of Ambassador Cocker's remarks a Code Pinker stood and made a loud, incoherent statement and was led away by Capitol police. Goofs.

8:10 a.m. General Petraeus is giving a statement. Sounds a lot like what he said yesterday.
(Well, duh--he gave the same statement to both Houses of Congress!)

The source of the conflict in Iraq is the competition between all the different political and ethnic groups for power and resources. This competition will take place. The question is will this competition be less or more violent?

He's busy "cherry picking" statistics now to show the declining trend of violence and attacks in and across Iraq. In other words, he's emphasizing the positive.

More disruption. A red faced, white haired man in a white suit is apoplectic, loud but still incoherent. He too is escorted from the room.

8:30 a.m. C-SPAN has switched coverage to something else. CNN and MS-NBC are only providing partial coverage. They're not really interested in anything Petraeus or Crocker have to say, I'm sure.

8:44 a.m. Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN) is questioning Petraeus and Crocker. He is minimizing the effects of the surge. He's emphasizing the hardships of the Iraqi people, and the incompetence and ineptness of the Iraqi Parliament. Sounds like he's cherry picking, to me.

I suspect Lugar is a RINO.

Crocker says that Iraq is unlikely to come out of this conflict looking like a smaller version of America, and we shouldn't expect that.

8:10 a.m. Chris Dodd (D-CN) has his turn now. He's cherry picking, using an anecdote, because he doesn't want to go back and forth debating the statistics that Petraeus has presented. This situation is not going to get better. How can we justify extending this effort?

Petraeus points out some of the smaller intermediate steps that have been taken toward where we want to go.

8:59 a.m. Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) points out "bright line contradictions" between his report and the GAO report and others. He concludes that the Iraqi government is disfunctional. Flooding a zone with U.S. troops, it's logical to assume that there will be some success there. We've lost the four southern provinces to thugs and militias. We're paying tribute to these thugs to keep the ports open. British troops are huddled in the Basra airport. He's citing the 7 NCOs who wrote an article in the New York Times desputing the progress that has been reported in Iraq. Are we going to dismiss their report? Are we going to continue to pour blood and treasure into Iraq when there is so little real progress, especially on the political front? He lays the blame for the lack of progress on "this administration". He's clearly a RINO. I'm glad he's announced his retirement.

9:15 a.m. Senator Kerry (D-NY) says this is a historic moment. Not since General Westmoreland addressed Congress during the Vietnam War has an American General addressed the Congress; a clever reference to the quagmire that was Vietnam, similar of course to the present quagmire in Iraq. Is it acceptable that the British troops are stationed at an airbase and militias are fighting it out in 4 southeastern provinces under the influence of Iran?

What I see is a general unwillingness to give the Iraqi government any more time to get their act together. I think the U.S. Congress is extremely hypocrital to criticize Iraq's parliament and government as disfunctional when our own government is nearly as corrupt, inept, and disfunctional. Add to that a measure of cravenness. There's a clear reluctance to keep pouring American blood and treasure into this conflict. No one is talking about the alternative, and what would happen if our forces were to withdraw by next spring.

9:30 a.m. General Petraeus is reponding to Sen. Biden (D-?) He misspoke, saying that he was going to "go home"--meaning go back to Iraq and work on some things. I thought that was an interesting little slip of the tongue. Clearly, Gen. Petraeus is fully invested in Iraq and it's outcome. Nothing wrong with that. In spite of that investment, he has responded to all the questioning and quibbling dispassionatley and respectfully, and yet, I believe, he has responded to every question with an answer.

9:45 a.m. General Petraeus was responding to a question and Sen. Biden cut him off because he was taking too much time. He cut him off and called on Russ Feingold (D-WI) to pose his questions. Feingold is going on and on about all the bad things that are going on in the world other than Iraq, and has now asked for a response. Which is more important, Pakistan or Iraq?

This is clearly an attempt to muddy the waters. What are we going to do, redeploy to Pakistan?

Feingold calls this "myopia", "the myopia of Iraq". His point is that we're over committed to Iraq at the expense of the overall effort against al-Quaida.

When can we tell the American people that combat deaths will go down in Iraq?

What a grandee.

10:00 a.m. It strikes me that Petraeus and Crocker need to be careful to not paint too rosie of a picture in Iraq, lest Congress use that to justify a precipitous withdrawal of our forces from the region.

Crocker is saying that to threaten the Iraqis with our withdrawal will have the effect of pushing them in the wrong direction. Self-preservation, instead of reconciliation, will become a priority, as Iraqis prepare for a massive civil war.

10:03 a.m. Biden cuts off the general again citing time constraints, gently chiding the general and the ambassador, saying it's in their own best interest to shorten their answers. Incredible arrogance. He's not interested in the answers, it's more important that they get the opportunity to be on television, making their own points.

Barbara Boxer (D-CA) is making a statement. I haven't heard a question yet. She'll use up all her time and then give them a minute or two to respond. She's accusing them of cherry picking, again. Now she's quoting the BBC poll of Iraqis.

Sen. Boxer has taken up her time and Petraeus and Crocker will have to respond in writing. Great job. Pose questions on T.V. and deny the witnesses an opportunity to respond. Craven. Not interested in answers, but eager to grandstand and rail against the present administration.

They say that war is politics by other means. Apparently, conversely, politics is war by other means, but still war, all the same.

10:20 a.m. I have to sign off. Today is my wife's birthday, and I need to turn my attention to that. Also, it's election day here in Spanish Fork, and we need to do our civic duty.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Loud, Hysterical, Incoherent and Shrill

I’ve been watching the Petraeus/Crocker Report on C-SPAN.

As General Petraeus concluded his remarks several protesters erupted in the back of the hearing room. I was struck by their apparent hysteria and loud incoherence. Do these people have no idea how idiotic they look by resorting to these tactics of disruption and anarchy? They do themselves and their cause a disservice by resorting to this kind of thing because it makes them look buffoonish and moronic. Apparently, that’s not obvious to them, but it is to me. If I was a Code Pinker or a sympathizer, I’d be embarrassed. What a bunch of goofballs.

Understand, I’m not upset by the fact that these people are dissenting. What I object to is the manner of their dissent. The only thing that can be said for it is that it’s at least non-violent. But it’s clearly shrill and idiotic.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Strict Gun Control Works---To Empower Criminals

Richard Munday in the London Times Online has a column decrying the failure of strict gun control in Great Britain, which has totally disarmed its law abiding subjects (I almost said citizens, but unarmed subjects aren’t truly citizens, at least in the eyes of their government). The author points to recent events in the U.S. and cites differences and similarities in the violent crime rates in both countries.

Virginia Tech reinforced the lesson that gun controls are obeyed only by the law-abiding. New York has "banned" pistols since 1911, and its fellow murder capitals, Washington DC and Chicago, have similar bans. One can draw a map of the US, showing the inverse relationship of the strictness of its gun laws, and levels of violence: all the way down to Vermont, with no gun laws at all, and the lowest level of armed violence (one thirteenth that of Britain).


In Britain, however, the image of violent America remains unassailably entrenched. Never mind the findings of the International Crime Victims Survey (published by the Home Office in 2003), indicating that we now suffer three times the level of violent crime committed in the United States; never mind the doubling of handgun crime in Britain over the past decade, since we banned pistols outright and confiscated all the legal ones.


As late as 1951, self-defence was the justification of three quarters of all applications for pistol licences. And in the years 1946-51 armed robbery, the most significant measure of gun crime, ran at less than two dozen incidents a year in London; today, in our disarmed society, we suffer as many every week.

Gun controls disarm only the law-abiding, and leave predators with a freer hand. Nearly two and a half million people now fall victim to crimes of violence in Britain every year, more than four every minute: crimes that may devastate lives. It is perhaps a privilege of those who have never had to confront violence to disparage the power to resist.
(Bold mine)
So, in the U.S., in states where law abiding citizens can legally carry firearms for self defense, crime rates are much lower than areas where it's strictly forbidden. And in Britain, where it's people are totally disarmed, they're suffering an even worse epidemic of violent crime. It's an interesting article, worthy of your time to read the whole thing.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Osama Withdraws Endorsement of Dems, Still Uses Their Talking Points

Osama Bin Laden, in a video that was intercepted by the U.S. before being released on the internet, is apparently cross with the Democrats for failing to surrender as they promised in 2006.

That's the story at Captain's Quarters, where Ed Morrissey notices that OBL still seems to take his talking points straight from the Dems. He talks about globalization, the Kyoto accords, global warming woes, and the recent mortgage crisis as a result of capitalists oppressing the poor.

Actually, I think it’s rather praiseworthy of the Democrats that Bin Laden has withdrawn his endorsement. But I’m not sure they see it that way. I think they’re secretly stinging from this most recent rebuke.

But, at least the main scream media refused to pile on. This AP story, for instance, despite its length, never mentions OBL's apparent disappointment with the Democrats' fecklessness. Instead, they emphasize the talking points, and the headline is "Osama Slams Capitalism." And they mention that he endorses Noam Chomsky as worthy of our consideration as a leader to follow.

In other words, they play along with the propaganda.

But Morrissey is, um, more skeptical. He mocks OBL's invitation to embrace Islam coupled with the mention of a 2.5% dhimmi tax.

Isn't that sweet? If we just agree to live as slaves under our new Taliban masters, we can finance our homes at a flat 2.5% fee. Think of how liberating that will be! Well, except for the burqas, the barbers, the end of music, dancing, Judaism, Christianity, voting, the press, the 13th-21st centuries, science ...

Not to mention that the Bill of Rights and the U.S. Constitution would be repealed, replaced by Sharia Law and the establishment of Islam as the State Religion. Or is that too obvious to point out?

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Utah Felon Uses Gun to Kill Attacker, Faces Felony Gun Possession Charges

Here's a story in the Salt Lake Tribune about a Hurricane man who justifiably killed a man who attacked him, but did it with a gun that he wasn't entitled to have in his possession--because he's a convicted felon.

Apparently nobody involved in this story can be described as a law abiding citizen; certainly not the attacker, not the victim/shooter, and not even any of the room mates. But the fact remains, this man’s life was in danger, or at least he was in danger of grave bodily injury, which is legal justification for use of deadly force in the state of Utah. So Danny Dutton is alive today because he was in possession of a handgun and was willing to use it to defend himself. He’s in danger of going to prison for a very long time, not because he used a gun to kill someone, but because he had a gun. The crime he committed was possession of the gun. The reason possession of a gun is a crime for Danny Dutton, but not for me, is because Danny Dutton has a prior felony conviction, and I don’t. The conviction, by the way, is for cultivation of marijuana, not exactly a violent crime.

I’m not a lawyer, so I don’t know all the nuances that go with a case like this. But let’s say, for the sake of argument, that one of Danny’s room mates was a law abiding citizen and legally owned a gun or guns and kept them in the house where they were accessible. Danny’s attacker breaks into the house and starts beating him and breaks his arm in the process, and continues to pound away at him with this blunt instrument. Danny retreats to the kitchen where he sees the gun on top of the fridge or behind the cookie jar or whatever, grabs it and dispatches his attacker. In this scenario, does Danny have a legal problem with felony possession of a firearm?

I think so, because technically, even though it wasn’t Danny’s gun, and he didn’t own the gun, when Danny picked up the gun, it came into his possession. As soon as Danny picked up the gun, he committed another felony, because he was then a convicted felon in possession of a firearm. That seems to be the approach that prosecutors are taking in this case.

So, in order for convicted felon Danny Dutton to stay alive, he had to commit another felony to defend himself. There’s something wrong here.

Do convicted felons have reasonable expectations to be able to defend themselves if their lives are in danger when they’re not committing a crime? If not, why not? The Second Amendment says "...the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." It doesn’t go on to say "unless you’re a convicted felon." That’s something that individual states tacked on later.

I think the State Legislature needs to revisit the law, and stipulate that even a convicted felon who is not committing any other crime, has the same right as any other law abiding citizen to defend himself in a deadly situation.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Q: Have We Fought and Won the Battle of Gettysburg in Iraq?

A: Not if terrorist enablers in the media and Congress can help it!

On July 1, 1863, the Copperheads, who opposed the war, were powerful, influential, and loud in their objections to the high cost of the war in blood and treasure, and they were hateful in their denunciation of the president. (One of their favorite insults was to compare him to an ape.) England was seriously considering intervening on behalf of the Confederacy, which would have been disastrous for the North. Robert E. Lee had invaded Pennsylvania and was determined to threaten Washington, D.C. from the north. His intent was to force the Union to acknowledge the futility of prosecuting the war any longer and to sue for peace on terms the South would find very satisfactory. Union troops rushed to Gettysburg to block his way.

We all know what happened. For three bloody days the two armies locked in mortal combat. Thousands died on both sides, and many more thousands were wounded or maimed for life. The South came within a whisker of winning, but were turned back because of heroic sacrifices by Union troops. Let me point out here, that the Rebel troops were not in any way less brave or heroic, but their sacrifice and effort was only marginally less successful. That small margin was the margin of victory, and Lee lost many more men than he could ever hope to replace. That loss spelled the eventual doom of the Confederacy. Had Lee prevailed at Gettysburg, the war would have ended in 1863, with our nation divided and our Union at an end. But on July 4, as Lee began to withdraw what remained of his forces from the field of battle, the aura of invincibility that Southern soldiers had worn like a mantle was permanently dispelled. Overnight, sentiment for intervention evaporated in England, and the Copperheads, though still loud in their denunciation of Lincoln, began losing influence. The war dragged on for nearly two more agonizing, brutal, years, but it was at Gettysburg that the tide turned.

For years, the anti-war Democrats, aided by their allies in the media, have decried our efforts in Iraq as doomed to failure and defeat. They’ve fairly gloated whenever terrorists have succeeded in attacking and killing Iraqi civilians or coalition forces. They’ve long compared this war to the "quagmire that was Vietnam," and have openly supported and given comfort to the enemy in Iraq. For reasons that are beyond me, they’ve lobbied unceasingly for defeat. They’ve been unable to hide their worry whenever coalition forces have seemed to be on the verge of any kind of success, however temporary. Any time anything good happens in Iraq, they downplay and minimize it, or point to the latest suicide bombing or helicopter crash, or to any of a myriad of good things that aren’t happening, or haven’t happened yet.

Last week, President Bush began pushing back, comparing the aftermath of the Communist victory in southeast Asia, the massacres in Vietnam and Cambodia, the thousands of boat people desperate to escape oppression and genocide, and claiming similar consequences in the Middle East if we give up in Iraq. The Leftist response was immediate and vitriolic. How dare he? How dare the Chimp-in-Chief use their favorite analogy, the Vietnam quagmire, how dare he use that against them? What unfathomable arrogance! They were almost apoplectic in righteous indignation.

Last year western Iraq, particularly al-Anbar province was described in a Marine Corps intelligence report as a hopelessly impenetrable al Quaida stronghold. Monday, September 3, 2007, President George W. Bush met with members of his cabinet as well as with Nouri al-Maliki and other Iraqi leaders, in al-Anbar, to discuss how best to get money and projects going in the province as a reward to the people for turning against al Quaida and joining the fight to make it safe for Iraqis. Almost simultaneously, Frederick W. Kagan at National Review Online, published a column claiming that this represented an accomplishment similar to winning the Battle of Gettysburg, that we have turned the corner in Iraq. Other columns appeared elsewhere, claiming similar accomplishments.

Undeterred and unbowed, terrorist enablers in the main stream media published stories the very next day touting a GAO report that showed that the Iraqi government had not met 11 of 18 benchmarks critical to success in Iraq. They tiptoed carefully around the obvious assumption that there were 7 of the benchmarks that they had met, at least partially. They were following the time tested pattern. If anything good happens in Iraq, downplay it, point to something bad happening, or barring that, point to all the good things that aren’t happening.

There’s no question in my mind that good things are starting to happen in Iraq. It's obvious there’s much left to do, that won’t get done if we leave now or in the near future.
So have we, as Kagan claims, fought and won the Battle of Gettysburg in the current conflict in Iraq? I don’t know. Time will tell. Modern day Copperheads in the press and in Congress, still have power and influence. Terrorist enablers are still loud and influential. If they succeed in stampeding us out of Iraq where the jihadis and terrorists have failed to defeat our forces in the field, then the consequences for our world and the Middle East will be just as dire as the consequences would have been for the United States if Union forces hadn’t turned Lee back at Gettysburg in 1863.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Update: Why Scandals Hurt Republicans, Not Democrats

Something I hadn't considered, in my recent post about the Craig scandal and resignation: Republican voters hold their candidates to higher standards. Democrats expect their politicians to be crooks, as long as they provide pork for the hometown constituents. From a column by Jack Kelly in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: bias is not the main reason why Republicans suffer more from scandals. Democratic voters expect Democrats to steal on their behalf. Lawmakers are judged on the basis of how many goodies from the federal treasury they can shower on their constituents. The typical Democratic voter doesn't mind terribly if their senator or congressman takes something for himself along the way. (Time Magazine's story on Rep. Mollohan's re-election was headlined, "Pork Trumps Scandal.")

The typical Republican voter wants his senator or congressman to keep his taxes low, his government honest. He is furious when GOP lawmakers stick their fingers in the cookie jar, or give lip service to values they do not practice.

Republicans must be squeaky clean to win elections because their voters will crucify them for behavior Democratic voters wink at so long as the pork keeps flowing. This is why his GOP colleagues already have stripped Sen. Craig of his committee assignments, and many have called for his resignation, while Democratic senators are comfortable having among them a man who left to drown in his automobile a young woman with whom he was having an extramarital affair. (Bold mine).

Well, that explains a lot, doesn't it? The facts clearly seem to bear this out. Here's a list of corrupt Democrats who've been reelected despite being under an ethical cloud, shall we say:

  • Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-WV) is the target of a federal investigation, was forced (by Republicans) to step down from the ethics committee last year but was reelected in November.
  • Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA) was the target of a 2-year federal bribery investigation, had $90,000 in bribe money found in his freezer, and was still reelected last November.
  • Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) was involved in the ABSCAM scandal, also apparently steered millions in federal funding to companies that were clients of his brother's lobbying firm. He was also reelected in November.
  • Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA) found guilty in civil court of leaking an illegally recorded phone conversation to the media in March 2006. He too, was reelected last November.
  • Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) linked to countless scandals, was reelected last November.
  • Governor Rod Blagojevich (D-IL), linked to countless scandals, was reelected last November.

Update: Mark R. Levin at National Review Online:

There is indeed a culture of corruption, and it extends well beyond any single politician. It swirls around big government. It always has and it always will. It has become institutionalized in many ways. And that culture of corruption celebrates clever word games used by unelected judges to exercise power they don’t have as they rewrite the Constitution; it demeans people of faith who speak out against the culture of corruption and for — dare I say — family values; it undermines and seeks to demoralize Americans in uniform as they fight a horrible enemy on the battlefield; it demonizes entrepreneurs and successful enterprises; it uses race, age, religion, gender, and whatever works to balkanize Americans; and so on. This is the real culture of corruption. Let’s call it what it is — modern liberalism. And its impact on our society is far worse than the disorderly-conduct misdemeanor to which Larry Craig pled guilty and for which he has now resigned.
(Bold mine).

Botched (Wrong House) Raids—A BIG P.R. Problem For Police Departments.

...And sooner or later, someone’s going to get killed!

Oh, wait...never mind.

In Temecula, California the police department raided a two story house. Brandishing firearms and shouting expletives and threats, they quickly ordered two adults and four teenagers to the floor and placed them in cuffs. Then they trashed the place, kicking down interior doors and ransacking the house while they searched for drugs. When the couple’s 5 month old infant began to cry, the mother, who was still handcuffed and prone on the floor, asked a nearby officer about her baby’s condition. She was advised not to move or he’d shoot her in the head. The officers notified their superiors that both floors of the house had been cleared. The officers were informed over the radio, within hearing of the residents, that the house they were supposed to be raiding only had one floor.


Well, at least the city is apologetic, has temporarily disbanded the SWAT team, and is offering to settle in lieu of a lawsuit, with a promise that the officers involved will be reprimanded.

In Philadelphia, PA, the residents were out of town when the police broke down the front door, entered and searched the house. They disabled the security alarm system by tearing it from the wall, emptied cupboards, pulled out and overturned drawers, and then figured out they were at the wrong house. Another house just down the street was raided simultaneously, and several people placed under arrest. Apparently these bozos strayed to the wrong house, unsupervised. Philadelphia P.D. isn’t talking about this incident.

I know police officers are human beings trying to do a very difficult job, and in every human endeavor, mistakes happen. But supervisors need to make absolutely sure that they have the right address. People have been killed, and more will die if this trend continues. I agree with Glenn Reynolds, who says that this sort of thing will keep happening until the penalty for wrong house raids becomes much more severe. The careers of all involved in these incidents need to take a serious hit. If that means dismissal, so be it. Others think there should be some jail time involved. I don't know if I'd go that far unless corruption, not just incompetence, can be proven.

There's more here. The comments are kind of fun. It seems the drug using public is outraged, while others are downright gleeful about the law enforcement community's, um, discomfort.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

An Odd American Phenomenon: Sex Scandals, Even Non-Sexual Sex Scandals, Only Destroy Republicans.

...While Democrats get a pass. Why is that?

From Classical Values:

What is it with these guys that they can't even run a proper sex scandal?

Who ever heard of sex scandals without sex?

At least when the Democrats have a sex scandal, it involves real, honest to goodness sex. Yeah, I know, Bill Clinton said the sex wasn't sex. But let's face it, it was. Had Bill tapped Monica's foot, the most he'd have been accused of was playing footsie, and there'd have been little to no outcry, much less an impeachment. And as
Matthew Sheffield makes clear, the double standard is appalling; Democrats keep their jobs after drowning women in cars or keeping male brothels, while Republicans are hounded out of office for sex scandals without even the component of sex.

If I were the American people, I'd be totally sick of sexless Republican sex scandals by now.

The GOP needs to shape up.

The link in the middle of the quote is interesting. A pertinent quote:

Sen. Craig's political career is probably over. The abuse of power, however, was not Sen. Craig's but the media's, who pick and choose whose privacy they will violate on a partisan basis.
(Bold mine)

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Why I don't trust the media---They're propagandists pushing an agenda!

Recently, a Public Affairs officer within Multinational Force-Iraq privately expressed his concern to me that the media were spiking or deliberately misrepresenting reports made by the military about Iranian involvement and the capture of Persian fighters within Iraq. “We would arrest three members of the al Quds force (part of the Revolutionary Guard), and the story that would come out in the papers the next day would be, ‘Three Iranian diplomats arrested from embassy.’ I'd call the folks at the papers and say, ‘Look, these folks weren't diplomats, and they weren’t at an embassy. They’re Iranian soldiers and they were taken while fighting against the coalition in Iraq.’ I’d say to them, ‘We have evidence – from weapons to ID cards to uniforms – that proves beyond a doubt who and what they are,’ and I’d offer to bring them in and walk through each piece of evidence with them.“They’d never take me up on it, and would never correct their stories.”

From Jeff Emanuel, an independent imbedded journalist (i.e. blogger) in Iraq.

Clearly another example of the facts on the ground not fitting the narrative, so alter the facts to better fit the narrative. Way to go, MSM! Why don't the American people trust you, I wonder?

Karl Rove's Parting Thoughts

From his National Review Online column:

I have known George W. Bush for nearly 34 years and have had the privilege of watching from nearby as history has placed its demands on him and our country. I know his humility and decency, his intelligence and thoughtfulness, his respect for every person he comes in contact with, his unwavering commitment to principle-based decision-making, and the quiet and compassionate hearts of the man and his graceful wife, Laura.

I have come to understand true leadership leans into the wind. It tackles big challenges with uncertain outcomes rather than taking on simple, sure tasks. It does what is right, regardless of what the latest poll or focus group says. History demands much of America and its leaders and I am confident it will judge the 43rd president as a man more than worthy of the great office the American people twice entrusted to him.

Friday, August 31, 2007 was Karl Rove's last day at the White House.

Farewell, Mr Rove, and gentle winds. History will remember you as one who was devoted to the service of his president and his country. Your most bitter critics, if remembered at all, will not be remembered well. Thank you for your service.