I happen to be watching Bill Sammon a Cspan tonight and he mentioned this passage. I thought I'd reprint it here.
We are here in the middle hour of our grief. So many have suffered so great a loss, and today we express our nation's sorrow. We come before God to pray for the missing and the dead, and for those who love them.
On Tuesday, our country was attacked with deliberate and massive cruelty. We have seen the images of fire and ashes, and bent steel.
Now come the names, the list of casualties we are only beginning to read. They are the names of men and women who began their day at a desk or in an airport, busy with life. They are the names of people who faced death, and in their last moments called home to say, be brave, and I love you.
They are the names of passengers who defied their murderers, and prevented the murder of others on the ground. They are the names of men and women who wore the uniform of the United States, and died at their posts.
They are the names of rescuers, the ones whom death found running up the stairs and into the fires to help others. We will read all these names. We will linger over them, and learn their stories, and many Americans will weep.
To the children and parents and spouses and families and friends of the lost, we offer the deepest sympathy of the nation. And I assure you, you are not alone.
Just three days removed from these events, Americans do not yet have the distance of history. But our responsibility to history is already clear: to answer these attacks and rid the world of evil.
War has been waged against us by stealth and deceit and murder. This nation is peaceful, but fierce when stirred to anger. This conflict was begun on the timing and terms of others. It will end in a way, and at an hour, of our choosing.
Our purpose as a nation is firm. Yet our wounds as a people are recent and unhealed, and lead us to pray. In many of our prayers this week, there is a searching, and an honesty. At St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York on Tuesday, a woman said, "I prayed to God to give us a sign that He is still here." Others have prayed for the same, searching hospital-to-hospital, carrying pictures of those still missing.
God's signs are not always the ones we look for. We learn in tragedy that his purposes are not always our own. Yet the prayers of private suffering, whether in our homes or in this great cathedral, are known and heard, and understood.
There are prayers that help us last through the day, or endure the night. There are prayers of friends and strangers that give us strength for the journey. And there are prayers that yield our will to a will greater than our own.
This world He created is of moral design. Grief and tragedy and hatred are only for a time. Goodness, remembrance, and love have no end. And the Lord of life holds all who die, and all who mourn.
It is said that adversity introduces us to ourselves. This is true of a nation as well. In this trial, we have been reminded, and the world has seen, that our fellow Americans are generous and kind, resourceful and brave. We see our national character in rescuers working past exhaustion; in long lines of blood donors; in thousands of citizens who have asked to work and serve in any way possible.
And we have seen our national character in eloquent acts of sacrifice. Inside the World Trade Center, one man who could have saved himself stayed until the end at the side of his quadriplegic friend. A beloved priest died giving the last rites to a firefighter. Two office workers, finding a disabled stranger, carried her down sixty-eight floors to safety. A group of men drove through the night from Dallas to Washington to bring skin grafts for burn victims.
In these acts, and in many others, Americans showed a deep commitment to one another, and an abiding love for our country. Today, we feel what Franklin Roosevelt called the warm courage of national unity. This is a unity of every faith, and every background.
It has joined together political parties in both houses of Congress. It is evident in services of prayer and candlelight vigils, and American flags, which are displayed in pride, and wave in defiance.
Our unity is a kinship of grief, and a steadfast resolve to prevail against our enemies. And this unity against terror is now extending across the world.
America is a nation full of good fortune, with so much to be grateful for. But we are not spared from suffering. In every generation, the world has produced enemies of human freedom. They have attacked America, because we are freedom's home and defender. And the commitment of our fathers is now the calling of our time.
On this national day of prayer and remembrance, we ask almighty God to watch over our nation, and grant us patience and resolve in all that is to come. We pray that He will comfort and console those who now walk in sorrow. We thank Him for each life we now must mourn, and the promise of a life to come.
As we have been assured, neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, can separate us from God's love. May He bless the souls of the departed. May He comfort our own. And may He always guide our country.
God bless America.
--George W Bush, September 14, 2001
It appears I was wrong. I had concluded that Osama bin Laden was dead. It now seems that he still breaths – unfortunately. However, from the tone of his last missive, he seems much reduced. He seems to be begging for us to leave him alone. Although Bush hasn’t caught or killed him yet, Bush seems to have hurt bin Laden badly.
One of my concerns is that I am either too smart or too educated to be a successful businessperson. Now there is some evidence to support my worry.
It seems that 40% of successful entrepreneurs have an high school degree or less. 60% have some college or less. While 12.6% have advanced college degrees. That doesn’t put my odds to be very good.
I was very intrigued by this article in Science News. This appears to be some of the most effective method for changing organizational behavior I've seen. I was especially interested in how important failure was to the learning process.
About 3 years ago, psychologist Lia DiBello surmounted a business challenge that would have stumped Donald Trump. Armed with an unconventional theory of how people learn, DiBello and her colleagues coaxed some key employees at three financially endangered companies to confront their organizational failures and to devise new, successful operations. What's more, these transformations of workplace thinking and culture unfolded in a matter of just months after DiBello's team ran mere 2-day exercises at each site. The National Science Foundation partially underwrote this effort as part of a larger attempt to encourage research on how learning occurs in organizations.
All three outfits in DiBello's project appeared in dire need of reversals of fortune. A biotechnology company that made devices for treating neurovascular disease had lost millions of dollars in its first 9 years. When a larger firm acquired this money loser, the new owners spent more than $300,000 on consultants who failed to reverse the financial freefall. Reluctant senior-staff members attended DiBello's training sessions as a last resort.
Also participating in the exercise was a foundry that makes industrial products. It had teetered on the edge of financial ruin for years. Although the cost of each item made at the foundry exceeded the price at which it was sold, no one in the company had realized it. Plant managers, faced with a bank debt of $8 million, desperately sought DiBello's aid.
Rounding out the group was a company that manufactures fuel for nuclear power plants that had consistently lost money for a half century. Different departments of the company operated in stubborn isolation. For instance, the maintenance and production divisions refused to coordinate equipment repairs with fuel-making schedules, so orders were usually shipped late. Personal animosities festered among top staff members.
Within months of completing intensive exercises designed by DiBello's team, each company showed dramatic signs of financial recovery. Two years after the intervention, each firm was turning a healthy profit. Managers and employees told DiBello that they their participation in the brief exercises had sparked a rapid overhaul of what were potentially fatal business practices.
Many elaborate and pricey programs attempt to foster better management by senior staff or train workers to deal with new technologies. Most of these efforts focus on classroom instruction, memorization of new material, and exhortations to think "outside the box." Participants typically nod their heads, do what they're told in class, and then return to their old ways of working, says J.C. Spender, a visiting professor at the Open University Business School in Milton Keynes, England, who studies how managers make decisions.
DiBello, who heads Workforce Transformation Research and Innovation, a private company in San Diego, takes a different instructional approach. She designs fast-paced, stressful simulation exercises in which small groups must assemble products, ship them to customers, and turn a profit, at least as determined by computer software that tracks each mock venture.
In line with psychological positions known as activity theory and situated cognition, DiBello holds that what experienced workers understand about their jobs grows out of their daily goals, such as making products on time or quickly satisfying a few major clients' demands. If a business' goals change, then employees must reorganize what they have come to know intuitively about their jobs, or that company won't succeed.
This type of learning requires a hands-on challenge that mirrors workplace demands and enables employees to tap into their collective knowledge, in DiBello's view.
Three decades of learning research coincide with this approach, says psychologist Lauren Resnick of the University of Pittsburgh. Evidence indicates that what a person already knows about a subject or an activity lays a foundation for new learning and achieving expertise in that area, she adds. Data also show that knowledge is best cultivated through active participation in relevant tasks, not through memorization or drills.
One line of research, for example, finds that children who adopt multiple problem-solving strategies on math tasks, including wrong strategies, usually learn more than do peers who start out with only one or two strategies, even if they're correct ones Kids' mental strategies typically draw on their intuitive knowledge about numbers and other topics.
Over the past decade, staff members at nearly 30 firms of various sizes have negotiated simulated enterprises devised by DiBello, who is affiliated with the City University of New York, and her coworkers. Participants routinely begin as vocal skeptics of the approach and end up using the experience as a framework to revitalize their workplaces. In the three-firm project, the "financial benefits [of the simulation exercises] were shockingly great for each company," DiBello says. "We think we're tapping into basic principles of cognitive acceleration and learning."
Research papers on this project are in preparation.
The resuscitated medical-device company offers a vivid illustration of how DiBello's simulation exercises work.
In initial interviews, her team noticed that company personnel held diverse views about the business' mission. Senior staff regarded the enterprise mainly as a laboratory for research and development. They paid little attention to its commercial side.
The company made nearly 150 products. Many sold poorly yet were still in production and had to be bought back from distributors who couldn't sell them.
Moreover, the firm's departments of marketing, production, and research and development failed to strategize together. The company nearly went out of business after badly designed clinical trials for one new medical device had resulted in failure to gain Food and Drug Administration approval for the product.
DiBello's group developed an exercise in which 20 top staff members had to run a simulated version of their company. Participants tried to achieve goals set by the researchers. These consisted of getting the research-and-development division to pay for itself by focusing on products with good sales potential, shipping customer orders on time, eliminating products that didn't sell well or were frequently returned, designing clinical trials for two new products, and completing the FDA–approval process for those products within the simulated equivalent of 15 months.
Staff assembled in a large meeting room, openly complaining that the exercise would never work. Resistance of this sort, which reflects an allegiance to old ways of working, actually paves the way for people to learn new approaches, in DiBello's view.
Participants split into groups representing divisions of finance, production, research and development, marketing, and sales. Group assignments weren't based on people's actual jobs.
Research-and-development employees used materials provided by the researchers and a hollow, wooden model of a person's body to develop and test possible new products to treat aneurysms.
Computer software developed by DiBello's group over the past decade and modified for this particular setting issued customer orders for an existing product that had to be assembled and shipped. The computer also provided regular feedback on each division's financial gains and losses, customer responses to products, and the status of clinical trials.
Each 20 minutes of this exercise represented a month of actual time. In this pressurized setting, separate divisions worked as fast as possible in blissful ignorance of what the others were doing.
Familiar results ensued. Late orders piled up. Customers canceled orders. A new product was recalled. The company lost about $2.6 million in 15 simulated months.
Participants returned the next morning and were given an hour to examine financial and performance data from the previous day. In that time, they had to figure out how to do their jobs better.
A series of innovations quickly emerged. Workers set up easels at the front of the room to track production. Marketing employees talked with R&D workers about the needs of the company's surgeon customers. On a sheet of paper posted on a wall, R&D tracked progress in reaching specific FDA milestones. Different divisions met jointly every 90 simulated days to examine data on the company's overall performance.
By the end of the second day's session, the simulated medical-device company had achieved the goals set by DiBello's team.
When the researchers returned 9 months later, the company had developed several new products with considerable sales potential that were expected to gain FDA approval in no more than 15 months. The value of the firm's stock had more than doubled.
Moreover, staff members had posted charts and graphs of production schedules and performance. Members of different divisions convened for weekly performance meetings.
"Their own knowledge had become available to them in new ways," DiBello says. "They no longer reverted to their traditional ways of doing things in stressful situations."
The chief executive officer told DiBello that the simulation exercise had made the firm resilient to bad breaks. For example, when the company lost exclusive rights to a profitable product in a lawsuit with a competitor, its staff developed a substitute product, obtained FDA approval, and began marketing the product to customers in a 90-day span.
As the firm's CEO told DiBello, employees "set a nonnegotiable goal and then organized to achieve it," just as they had done in the simulation exercise.
The other two firms followed a similar pattern. On the first day of training, participants resorted to familiar ways of operating. Then, the staff reassessed their ingrained beliefs and practices.
At the foundry, managers and floor workers—who make molds in which metal items such as engine parts are cast—operated a pretend business in which they manufactured small molds and had to fill a series of customer orders on time.
After the first day, the participants realized that they needed to reduce the amount of scrap generated during mold making. They then developed a way to monitor scrap output and to identify inefficient molds. Back at work, personnel set up an area on the shop floor to test new ideas for improving molds. As profits increased over the next year, floor workers—none with more than a high school education—formed a group to purchase the foundry, which they now operate successfully.
Spender asserts that a person's identity revolves around activities at the core of his or her life, such as making molds in a foundry. When managers of a failing firm are forced to institute changes in employees' self-defining behaviors—say, by requiring shop-floor workers to learn to use a computer system to track inventory—these directives naturally elicit resistance.
DiBello's simulation exercises prod workers to redefine themselves by inventing successful new practices, Spender says.
Psychologist Gary Klein regards the simulated failure that occurs on the first day of DiBello's sessions as critical to their success. "The failure is carefully designed to promote cognitive change," he says.
Klein runs Klein Associates in Dayton, Ohio, which works with government and private organizations to improve their business practices. He and his coworkers are now beginning to incorporate simulation exercises into their efforts.
DiBello's approach fits into an emerging movement in on-the-job training, remarks James C. Spohrer, director of IBM Almaden Services Research in San Jose, Calif. Large corporations are increasingly incorporating simulation exercises into the actual work process, Spohrer says. For example, some corporations use computerized game systems to simulate work environments, where several teams working on a common project from disparate locations can jointly test their ideas and coordinate their efforts.
In work under way with other troubled companies, DiBello plans to explore how successful simulation exercises transform the workplace. It's not clear whether advances at, say, the medical-device company rested on individuals reevaluating how to perform their respective jobs or on the formation of information-sharing teams that made it easier for each member to contribute.
A simulation exercise also provokes a range of ultimately constructive feelings in participants. "This is usually a very bonding experience," DiBello says. At the nuclear-fuel facility, formerly feuding managers began to consult one another in the months after working in a simulated version of their company, she reports.
DiBello concludes, "The world actually looks different when you learn to think about it in a fundamentally different way."
With the looming battle for Fallujah, this note from StrategyPage.com makes for interesting reading.
A new generation of tank gun ammunition is proving very useful in Iraq and Israel. The new shells are better at killing infantry, and destroying bunkers and buildings. In the 1990s, new shells were developed for this, but in the last few years, 19,000 M830A1 multipurpose 120mm tank gun rounds were modified (to become M908 shells), to make them more lethal against bunkers, buildings and unarmored vehicles. In addition, there is the M1028, which is a 120mm shotgun shell (containing 1100 10mm tungsten balls, that can kill or wound at up to 700 meters), that began production in 2002. This shell, and the M908, are what American M-1 tanks use nearly all the time in Iraq. Israel pioneered both types of tank ammunition, and has been using their versions heavily in Palestinian areas during the last four years. These two shells make tanks much more useful in urban fighting. Hostile gunmen often take cover in buildings, or trees and crops. The M908 can knock down buildings, and the M1028 can clear out anyone sniping at you from lighter structures or vegetation.
I would sure hate to be downrange from that little piece of gunnery. Let’s hope that al-Zarqawi gets some of that.
When on the away mission I had little time to keep up with what’s going on in politics. Upon my return I went to the Iowa Electronic Markets with some trepidation, fearing what I might find. So far Bush is looking good. Currently, in the Winner Take All market, Bush contracts are selling for $0.554 while Kerry contracts are fetching $0.445. The holder of the winning contracts gets $1.00.
I also checked with TradeSports.com. The have Bush shares selling for $55.30 and Kerry shares trading at $44.70. Remarkably close to the Iowa Electronic Market.
I jus wonder what “surprise” is in store for the current occupant of the White House. My take is, the media is pulling out all the stops to elect Kerry.
Reasonable people can question the feasibility of Bush's nation-building and democracy-spreading ambitions. But, having taken up that burden, America cannot prudently, or decently, put it down. The question is: Which candidate will most tenaciously and single-mindedly pursue victory? The answer is: Not John Kerry, who is multiple-minded about most matters.
Tuesday's winner will not start from scratch but from where we are now, standing with the women of Bamiyan, Afghanistan. Back in Washington recently, Zalmay Khalilzad, U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, said those women were warned that Taliban remnants would attack polling places during the Oct. 9 elections. So the women performed the ritual bathing and said the prayers of those facing death. Then, rising at 3 a.m., they trekked an hour to wait in line for the polls to open at 7 a.m. In the province of Kunar an explosion 100 meters from a long line of waiting voters did not cause anyone to leave the line.
Which candidate can be trusted to keep faith with these people? Surely not the man whose party is increasingly influenced by its Michael Moore faction.
Bush sometimes confuses certitude with certainty, but he understands that to govern is to choose, and that some choices must make one lonely. Kerry constantly calls to mind a three-time Democratic presidential nominee, William Jennings Bryan: "The people of Nebraska are for free silver, and I am for free silver. I will look up the arguments later."
Yesterday, around 15:30 I sat in Dasher-1 going through my pre-launch countdown. Part of that countdown was to call Karol and tell her my launch was eminent and I hoped to be back at home base by 18:00.
A review of the instrument panel indicated that all systems were go. I released the hold-down clamps and Dasher-1 jumped off the launch pad. The clock was running and I felt fine.
Traffic was light and the return trip was uneventful. My way to travel. I only had to fire the retros at the tollbooths in the Garden State Parkway, exiting the Parkway to the New Jersey Turnpike, exiting the Turnpike to Route 55, and exiting Route 55 into Vineland.
I glided into the home-landing pad at 17:50.
I unpacked had something to eat and then accompanied Karol to a Halloween party. I’m not very enthusiastic for these types of affairs. A plain party is fine. It gives me a chance to practice my “meet and greet” skills. But I’m just not very desirous to put on make-believe costumes.
I wore a sport coat and tie with a President Bush mask. Most of the people at the party said they hoped I would win. My response was, “I approve of this message.”
I was pretty tired from the three-day away mission. During these missions I tend to live on adrenalin and caffeine. Once I’m back the adrenalin wears off and I don’t usually consume enough caffeine to keep me going. We left the party early and I went to bed. The extra hour of sleep was greatly appreciated. I really envy those individuals that can go continuously on four hours sleep a night.
It is still the season for Mums. Although the ones you buy at the nursery and Home Depot are starting to fade, Karol’s are just coming into bloom. Unfortunately I don’t think they get as much sun as they would like so they tend to be a little leggy and not as thickly blossomed.
But they're still pretty.
All systems are go for launch. Dasher-1 is loaded, fueled and ready to fly. Weather conditions have been reviewed and conditions look favorable for a successful mission. The goal of this mission is to accumulate as many billable hours as possible.
Blogging will continue upon my return, which is expected 18:00 October 30. Upon my return I am scheduled for a Halloween costume party that night.
I’ll see you then.
I would contend this is NOT a war on terror. It is a war against Islamic Fascism. It is a war against those whose goal is a world wide conversion to Islam. Since the enemy cannot match us on the battlefield they have resorted to terrorist tactics. Iraq is currently the center of gravity of that war. I would liken our success or failure in Iraq to the importance of the battle for Wake Island in WWII.
Although the MSM rarely reports it, there is good news in Iraq. Little by little our magnificent troops are standing up an Iraqi army that can fight like a western one. With the Iraqi's at the tip of the spear and American support, the terrorists will likely be driven from Iraq or they will join the 15,000 that have already died there.
I just don't see Kerry with Bush's resolve. Should he be elected he will likely face both a Republican Senate and House. Those majorities are likely to increase in 2006 (the party in power typically loses seats in the off-year elections). Kerry will also have the problem that over half his party is against the war and are for an early "Exit Strategy." I see no good coming from that.
Although jobs and health care are important, I feel that survival overrides everything. The Islamic Fascists would like to give us two choice - convert or die. I find neither very attractive and so I vote to fight.
StrategyPage.com has more good stuff about how our magnificent troops train befor they ship to Iraq.
Before American units head for Iraq, they go through a lot of training, especially practicing what they would do when encountering typical emergencies in combat. Headquarters units also practice, even though most of their time in Iraq is spent in front of computer keyboards and large, flat panel displays showing overhead and ground level video, as well as maps of operations and the status of supplies and equipment. One headquarters preparing to ship over and spend a year in Iraq is the 18th Airborne Corps headquarters, and its support units (1st Corps Support Command, 18th Airborne Corps Artillery, 44th Medical Command, 20th Engineer Brigade, 525th Military Intelligence Brigade, 18th Aviation Brigade, 18th Soldier Support Group and 35th Signal Brigade.) This headquarters will control all army combat and support units in Iraq. If anything big, and unexpected, happens, the corps headquarters crew is expected to respond quickly and accurately with orders to combat and non-combat units. Before shipping over to Iraq, the 18th Airborne Corps went through many training exercises, having “what if?” situations thrown at it to see how effective the reactions would be. These scenarios included things like; attacks against Kurdish politicians, the use of new weapons against coalition troops (like anti-tank missiles or home made napalm), a cholera (a highly contagious disease) outbreak in Sadr City and the killing of an important witness in the trial of Saddam Hussein.
Units like the 18th Airborne Corps headquarters would accumulate a lot of information about Iraq, stored in computer databases, before it left for Iraq, just so it could practice using all that stuff. It would also just take over a lot of computer equipment from the corps headquarters it was replacing, as would many of the units attached to the headquarters. The smooth the switchover process, an advance party from the 18th Airborne Corps headquarters would arrive in Iraq weeks before the rest of the troops did. The advance party people would start working with the outgoing troops, to make the transition as smooth as possible. The objective is to have the transition be unnoticed by the opposition.
StrategyPage.com has news that shows just how badly the "insurgency" is doing in Iraq.
The action around Fallujah has turned into something of a classic siege, except that the main road (from Baghdad to Jordan) that goes through the town, is still in use as American smart bombs hit targets each day, and night, and American troops raid compounds and houses in the suburbs. Abu Musab al Zarqawi's terrorist organization, which is responsible for most, if not all, of the suicide bombs going off in Iraq, has concentrated most of his men in Fallujah. But the locals, unhappy with al Zarqawi's men (they tend to have an attitude) and the suicide bombs (which kill mainly Iraqis) keep passing on the locations of al Zarqawi hideouts, which get bombed. As a result, al Zarqawi's guys have been running around accusing and killing "suspicious" locals, further diminishing the popularity of the al Zarqawi crowd. In an attempt to get away from the smart bombs, many of the hundreds of al Zarqawi followers have taken over homes in the outskirts. But these moves were noted and reported, which led to smart bombs, and some raids by American troops which has captured some of the al Zarqawi followers.
Abu Musab al Zarqawi has something of an inflated reputation. He was never very successful as a terrorist in his native Jordan. He fled to Iran, where he worked with the Kurdish al Qaeda group Ansar al Islam. This bunch caused some trouble in northern Iraq, along the Iranian border. But then a combined American Special Forces/Kurdish operation broke up Ansar. Some of these terrorists are still around, but they are no longer much of an organization. After that, Abu Musab al Zarqawi went south, and, fell in with the Baath Party crowd and organized the al Qaeda volunteers pouring in from neighboring Arab countries. These included a few people who knew how to rig bombs, but no one who knew how to penetrate the security of coalition military camps. So al Qaeda came to be a very unpopular. Osama bin Laden considered Abu Musab al Zarqawi second rate, and that assessment was apparently accurate. Al Qaeda is reduced to using people it had previously dismissed, and killing the same people it appeals to for support.
In Phoenix, Arizona, a 26-year-old mother stared down at her son who was dying of terminal leukemia. Although her heart was filled with sadness, she also had a strong feeling of determination. Like any parent, she wanted her son to grow up and fulfill all his dreams. Now that was no longer possible. The leukemia would see to that. But she still wanted her son's dreams to come true. She took her son's hand and asked, "Billy, did you ever think about what you wanted to be once you grew up? Did you ever dream and wish what you would do with your life?"
Mommy, "I always wanted to be a fireman when I grew up."
Mom smiled back and said, "Let's see if we can make your wish come true."
Later that day she went to her local fire department in Phoenix, Arizona, where she met Fireman Bob, who had a heart as big as Phoenix. She explained her son's final wish and asked if it might be possible to give her six-year-old son a ride around the block on a fire engine.
Fireman Bob said, "Look, we can do better than that. If you'll have your son ready at seven o'clock Wednesday morning, we'll make him an honorary fireman for the whole day. He can come down to the fire station, eat with us, go out on all the fire calls, the whole nine yards! And if you'll give us his sizes, we'll get a real fire uniform for him, with a real fire hat-not a toy one-with the emblem of the Phoenix Fire Department on it, a yellow slicker like we wear and rubber boots. They're all manufactured right here in Phoenix, so we can get them fast."
Three days later Fireman Bob picked up Billy, dressed him in his fire uniform and escorted him from his hospital bed to the waiting hook and ladder truck. Billy got to sit on the back of the truck and help steer it back to the fire station. He was in heaven. There were three fire calls in Phoenix that day and Billy got to go out on all three calls. He rode in the different fire engines, the paramedic's van, and even the fire chief's car. He was also videotaped for the local news program. Having his dream come true, with all the love and attention that was lavished upon him, so deeply touched Billy that he lived three months longer than any doctor thought possible.
One night all of his vital signs began to drop dramatically and the head nurse, who believed in the hospice concept that no one should die alone, began to call the family members to the hospital. Then she remembered the day Billy had spent as a fireman, so she called the Fire Chief and asked if it would be possible to send a fireman in uniform to the hospital to be with Billy as he made his transition. The chief replied, "We can do better than that. We'll be there in five minutes. Will you please do me a favor? When you hear the sirens screaming and see the lights flashing, will you announce over the PA system that there is not a fire? It's just the fire department coming to see one of its finest members one more time. And will you open the window to his room?"
About five minutes later a hook and ladder truck arrived at the hospital and extended its ladder up to Billy's third floor open window. 16 firefighters climbed up the ladder into Billy's room. With his mother's permission, they hugged him and held him and told him how much they loved him.
With his dying breath, Billy looked up at the fire chief and said, "Chief, am I really a fireman now?" "Billy, you are, and the Head Chief, Jesus, is holding your hand," the chief said. With those words, Billy smiled and said, "I know, He's been holding my hand all day, and the angels have been singing." He closed his eyes one last time.
A quick look a the Iowa Electronic Market shows Bush contracts trending slightly upward. As of right now Bush contracts are selling for $0.611 while Kerry contracts are fetching $0.397.
In the past, this as been proven to be MUCH more accurate than any poll. I am very cautiously optimistic for November 2.
I’m a little irritated and puzzled at Kerry campaigning from the church pulpit. Those same people that seem to excoriate the President for is professed religious beliefs turn a complete blind eye to Kerry campaigning form church pulpits.
I’m rather a strict constructionist on this. I believe the purpose of a church is to praise and worship the Lord, not to fulfill a political agenda. If a church pastor wants to promote candidate as a private person that’s fine. But he should not do it from inside a church during church services. I find that rather sacrilegious.
If a candidate wants to worship at any particular church he is completely free to do so. But he should do so in somewhat silence.
If you’re not reading the Belmont Club, you should be. I find it a must-read and always thought-provoking. Tonight he compares the present combat situation in Iraq with the U.S. experience on Okinawa during World War II.
The battle began to go against them from the start. In essence, Ba'athist-terrorist coalition was unable to inflict the losses necessary to disrupt the organizational learning curve of the American forces. Unlike the conscript Soviet Army, the American Armed Forces were a professional force that retained its core of officers, NCOs and to a large degree, even their enlisted men. Forces were rotated out of Iraq largely intact, where they incorporated lessons learned into the training cycle in CONUS; and relieving forces were improved accordingly. In 1980s, the Al Qaeda and not the Soviet Army had turned Afghanistan into a training ground but in 2003-2004, it was the US Armed Forces and not the terrorists that were coming away with organizational memory. Simply not enough of the enemy survived to pass on their experience and simply too many American lieutenants left Iraq to return as captains. The terrible enemy losses on the battlefield could not be wholly overcome by media plaudits, which they received. At least 15,000 enemy cadres have been killed in the 17 months since OIF. Recently, the remains of a French jihadi were identified in Fallujah and his fate is probably a common one. While Afghanistan was once where the young fundamentalist fighter went to get experience, Iraq was now where the fundamentalist fighter went to die.
One indication of the unfavorable trend faced by enemy forces face was the rapid transformation in US operations. It is interesting to compare Marine preparations to assault Fallujah in April 2004 with those apparently under way today, just months later. The Marine methods of April would have been instantly familiar to any military historian: hammer and anvil, seizure of key terrain; feint and attack. Today, many of the military objectives in the developing siege of the terrorist stronghold are abstract. They consist of developing a network of informers in the city; of setting up a functioning wireless network; of getting close enough for smaller US units to deploy their line-of-sight controlled UAV and UGV units to create a seamless operational and tactical environment to wage "swarm" warfare; of getting artillery and mortar units close enough to play hopscotch over everything the network decides to engage. To the traditional methods of warfare the Americans were adding a whole new plane, which only they could inhabit.
Faced with a force increasingly familiar with Arabia, with deep combat experience, nearly unlimited technical resources and growing lethality, the enemy, like Yamashita in the Cordilleras and Ushijima in Okinawa, can only hope to be saved by the bell.
I think you’ll see the play out over the coming months. All the Cassandra’s will be without rational response after this is over.
The internet is all-atwitter about Kerry’s apparent lie during the first debate when He said he met will all members of the UN Security Council. He said he did this just before the vote on authorizing the President to go to war. It turns out he didn’t.
I guess I’m rather nonplussed about this. I think everyone already know that Kerry lies. From his Christmas eve in Cambodia story to his magic hat, he has shown he will say whatever he thinks it takes to get elected.
I don’t really think it will hurt Kerry very much. All it will do is embarrass the Mainstream Media. They been trying their darnedest to get Kerry elected and it makes them look rather foolish.
I think those that are voting for Kerry are really voting against Bush. If the Democrats had nominated Donald Duck, they would be doing just about as well as they are now.
Come to think of it, maybe Kerry really is Donald Duck in disguise.
The people at PoliPundit are advocating that Bush campaign in Hawaii. Although Hawaii is traditionally a Democratic state, this year it appears to be in play. I don’t see how the President could spare the time, but it would definitely make the evening news and probably really unnerve the Kerry campaign. Can you picture Bush campaigning in from front of all that beautiful Hawaiian scenery?
I have a three-day away mission coming up this week. Launch is tentatively schedule for 17:00 on October 27 with, Lord willing, return landing expected to occur about 18:00 on October 30. Expect very light Blogging after October 27 until my return on October 30.
Transit time each direction is expected to run about 2 ½ hours each way. I have cleaned Dasher-1’s windows and interior. The scheduled countdown calls for checking and adjusting tire pressures the evening of October 26.
StrategyPage.com has a very informative take on standing up an army in Iraq.
With great effort, and difficulty, the concepts of "Inspector General" and "Internal Affairs" have been introduced to Iraq over the past year. The result has been the firing of thousands of policemen and army officers. We take the idea, of an incorruptible (most of the time) "Inspector General" and "Internal Affairs" to keep police and soldiers honest, for granted. But in Arab countries, these concepts, if used at all, are tainted by corruption and outside influence. Honest discharge of ones official duties is still seen as odd, and even suspect, behavior.
Under pressure from the coalition, and with the cooperation of Iraqis who want to try something different, the new concepts are taking hold. It's unclear of there will be continued progress, as the forces of tradition, and corruption, are well entrenched in Iraq. A year ago, it was thought that over 200,000 security personnel could be recruited and trained by the end of 2004. But, due to desertion and dismissal (for inability, or refusal, to do the job), only 108,000 are at work. By using more exacting (and lengthily) training programs, 270,000 security troops (police, army and paramilitaries) will be available by the middle of 2006.
In the last year, much has been learned about what it takes to recruit and train security personnel in an Arab country, especially one so corrupted as Iraq has been by decades of Baath Party rule. Jordan has been a big help, having always had one of the least corrupt, and most efficient, security forces in the Middle East. Also of great use were Americans who had served as trainers (of security personnel) in Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern nations. Israeli advice was useful as well. The lessons learned allowed the development of a training program that can overcome the climate of corruption, distrust of government and poor attitude towards personal responsibility. Several excellent Iraqi units have already been recruited, trained and put to work, using the new methods.
It’s proving to be harder that we anticipated. So what else is new? But progress is being made. I still feel much is at stake here. Our success or failure in Iraq will either haunt us or help us in the war against Islamic Fascism.
I hope the American people have the fortitude to see this through to a successful conclusion. I don’t believe Kerry does. I think his mind is mired in Vietnam and sees everything through that lens. Although I never served in Vietnam, I’m old enough to remember it quite vividly. Iraq will only become Vietnam if we make it so.
I have decided to change the name of this journal. I never really like the name “Ted’s Blog.” It was so unimaginative. I don’t know if I’m really in love with the new name, “Vorlon Whispers,” but I’ll try it for a while.
There will be no change of content, you’ll still get whatever nutty or consequential things I feel like posting.
If you think you have a better name, I’m open to suggestions. I can’t offer money or prizes or anything, but I will give you recognition – for whatever that’s worth.
If you’re wondering where I got the name Vorlon Whispers, I’ll give you a hint. I’m a bit of a science fiction fan. I’ll just leave it there and see if you can figure out where I got the name.
From the New York Times comes this tidbit. Bush haters, eat your heart out.
To Bush-bashers, it may be the most infuriating revelation yet from the military records of the two presidential candidates: the young George W. Bush probably had a higher I.Q. than did the young John Kerry.
I know two votes for Bush. My barber and his wife. They are voting for Bush because of the War on Terror and against Kerry’s wife. Hey it's not pretty, but I'll take 'em.
Perhaps Kerry supporters could help the Kerry campaign by sending duct tape to them. They could use it to keep Teresa from making ill considered comments.
Can you imagine this woman as first lady?
A few weeks ago I observed that the clock light in my car (Dasher-1) had gone out. That meant I could no longer tell the time, when it was dark outside. The clock uses an LCD display, so when it’s dark outside, I need the light to read it.
I feared I would need to replace the whole clock ($40+). After all, the light might be integral to the clock. I really miss not being able to see the time, when I’m in the car.
I did some digging today and discovered the light bulb can be replaced. I have the official manual for the vehicle. In the manual they show how to remove the clock with only a small screwdriver as a pry tool. They do warn you to be very careful to not mar the surfaces.
Today, with documentation in hand, I went to Dasher-1 to try. Surprisingly the clock popped out into my hand with very little effort. After a little inspection, what I thought was a screw on the back of the clock, I found was the light bulb.
I removed it. It is VERY tiny. The bulb itself if only a little larger than a pinhead. The plastic holder for the bulb is about the size of the head of a No. 8 pan head screw.
I called the dealership and they had one in stock with more on order. $3.15 later I had replaced the tiny tiny bulb and my clock is as good as new.
This little project has given me another tiny project. The indicator light on the cruise control does not work. My research indicates that my also only need a new bulb. Now if I can just figure out how to remove the switch.
I read in the paper this morning that Target stores are going to ban the Salvation Army from soliciting on their premises this Christmas. I was rather upset by that and posted the following email to them.
I just read where you are banning the Salvation Army from soliciting on your premises this Christmas.
I feel you are doing the wrong thing. The Salvation Army helps those that cannot help themselves. The Salvation Army gives a greater percentage of money donated to it's intended recipients than any other organization.
The argument that if you allow the Salivation Army to solicit you'll have to allow others is wrong. Just as you discriminate what products to display on your shelves, you can just as easily discriminate what organizations you allow to solicit on your property.
I think Target management has made a decision that is unlike what they want to convey to the public. They have inadvertently made a moral comparison between the Salvation Army and the local soccer team. They are not the same.
Christmas is a time of sharing to those less fortunate than ourselves. I would think the Target stores would want to show themselves as good citizens of the community.
I urge you to reverse this decision and permit the Salvation Army back on your premises and yourselves back into the hearts of your community.
If you’d like to also send them an email just click here.
The Press of Atlantic City printed my letter to the editor this morning. Here's the text of that letter.
Osama Bin Laden is dead.
That’s the only conclusion that makes sense. Ayman al-Zawahri recently released a tape wherein he called for attacks against the infidels. Bin Laden has never been shy, so why would al-Zawahri put the tape out, when Osama could have? Because Bin Laden is dead.
He died not as a martyr, but rather as the cornered miserable piece of scum that he was. That means no 72 virgins for him. Bush doesn’t worry about Bin Laden anymore because he longer breathes.
Al Qaeda and terrorism are still very real and deadly threats, but Bin Laden is not. Thanks to U.S. forces, one way or another, he as assumed room temperature.
Now it's al-Zarqawi's turn
It is the fall season. Mums are now in bloom. Here are some that are left over from last year. Although there are only a few blooms, I love bright yellow flowers. I happen to think that bright yellow flowers contrasted with dark green foliage is a beautiful picture.
The Carnival of Recipes is up. Take a look and see if you find anything that sounds tasty.
StrategyPage.com has an interesting analysis of why so many Arab countries are dictatorships.
Why has Iraq, and other Arab countries, tolerated a long string of dictators and tyrants? For the same reason many other countries, like China and Russia, have; it's the only form of government those nations could come up with that created some form or order. The price was a general loss of personal freedom, economic mismanagement, and wars with neighbors. Democracy is a far superior form of government, but it requires a lot more from the population. More personal responsibility, less corruption, and a greater willingness to work out compromises. Many Iraqis are not sure their country has enough of all that to get a functioning democracy off the ground. Should the new Iraqi democracy prove weak, a new strongman will surely appear. There are many waiting in the wings. For over a decade, Iraq's neighbors, and countries like the U.S., hoped to replace Saddam Hussein, not with a democracy, but with a "more reasonable" dictator.
In a pattern that is very common in the Middle East. A successful dictator takes control of the security forces (especially the intelligence agency and secret police), and then uses the national wealth to pay off enough people to keep himself, and his inner circle, in power. The majority of the population is kept in line via terror and poverty. This was how Saddam did it, and there are many Iraqis who know how this works and would not mind being a part of it. The part on top, of course.
What is radically different this time around in Iraq is that the Shia and Kurdish majority, for the first time, have the firepower to keep the usual source of dictators, the Sunni Arabs, from taking over. So the most likely elected president, or next dictator, will be a Shia Arab (which comprise 60 percent of the population.) At the moment, Shia leaders are not very respected.
Many collaborated with Saddam (who bought off, drove into exile, or killed off, powerful business, tribal and commercial leaders.) Shia religious leaders are the most respected, especially those who stood up to Saddam (and usually had to flee the country, usually to Shia Iran).
It's something of a gamble, the upcoming elections. The people elected to the presidency and parliament could simply get together, decide to restore dictatorship (in the name of "order"), and that would be that. But there is a new idea circulating around the Arab world. Since the 1990s, many among the chattering classes have been suggesting that, perhaps all the woes of the Arabs (economic, political, and diplomatic) are not the fault of others, but of the Arabs themselves. This is not a popular concept, but it has been getting louder, and more acceptable. Personal responsibility is not well received among Arabs, many of whom consider it "un-Islamic." After all, "Islam" means, literally, "submission." What happens is God's will, not, as the Infidels (non-Moslems) say, individuals acting as their consciences dictate.
So in Iraq, it's not just a matter of politics, but religion and culture as well. It's not a matter of who the next dictator of Iraq will be, but whether the Iraqis are willing, and able, to rid themselves of thousands of years of dictators to try democracy.
A Reservist named James writes from Iraq.
Good days and bad days are easy to figure out in Iraq. It's a simple test by which I determine how my day went when I lay down to sleep at night. Good days are when you get any type of mail...snail mail, e-mail, packages, phone calls. Mail is a way by which the soldier keeps in touch with that which he loves and a grip on reality; a way in which he realizes that this place and time will pass and soon enough, he'll be home. A bad day is when you get shot at...by small arms fire, by rockets, by improvised explosive devices (IED), by vehicle borne IEDs (VBIEDs), or by suicide VBIEDs (SVBIEDs) (the military loves its acronyms).
Today (Sunday 17 October 2004) was a good and bad day. It was a good day because I got a wonderful letter from my wife with an enclosed letter from a high school friend. It was a two for one deal when I opened the letter and connected me with her and my friend, Steve. It was a reminder of all I hold dear to my heart, a little piece of America on ink and paper.
It was also a bad day as I received news of a friend and fellow Civil Affairs company commander's death. Rob was a good officer that I had the privilege to meet while at our pre-deployment training this last summer. The quiet professional that you trusted from the first moment you met him; in his civilian life he was an optometrist who felt the call to make a difference. He volunteered out of the Medical Corps to Civil Affairs because he wanted to have a direct impact with people. He, like most of us here, felt compelled to leave our wife and children to follow the call for Duty, Honor, and Country. Rob was on a convoy when his vehicle was hit with an SVBIED.
Some will argue that Rob and our country threw away his life on a war that should have never been fought. I can understand the sediment but from my viewpoint as a soldier on the ground, there are things worth putting your life at risk for. The saying that freedom isn't free is as true today as it was for our forefathers in 1776, in 1812, in 1864, in 1914, and in 1941. The individuals who initiated this current conflict did so long before September 11, 2001, but the bulk of Americans were thrust into the battle on that day. For me, as for so many of my fellow Reserve service members, our world changed that day too.
What strikes me most about Iraq having been here for a while is it is a place of dichotomies. The environment is harsh with the dust (not dirt but fine dust) everywhere contrasted by trees that have thousands of birds in them. Insurgents trying to kill you contrasted by a barber that spends thirty minutes trying to teach you his language when you say hello in Iraqi. Hot, hot days contrasted by clear, starry nights. Little boys mixing and pouring cement under the guidance of Seabees contrasted by the wholesale killing of families.
The one thing that is constant, however, is the Iraqi people's desire to be free and determine their own destiny as a nation. No matter who you talk to, they are a proud people that desire to make their own way. Freedom and the right to choose is something they have not experienced for thousands of years. Just as Afghanistan held its first elections in 5000 years, the elections in Iraq will provide the freedom this nation has not seen for generations.
The insurgents here use fear, just as Saddam did, to try to make the people submit to the insurgents control. They blow up, behead, and execute those that refuse to submit. Fear remains an effective tool pushing the average Iraqi around sapping their will to fight back. However, they are. I have seen and read of so many brave Iraqis fighting and dying for the privileged to vote and the ability to be free. It's when that freedom and self-determination has matured that we, the dog-footed soldier, will go home.
So as you sit, read the newspaper, and drink your cup of coffee this morning, say a word for Rob's family. He'll be coming home before the rest of us. He paid the price to keep freedom free.
U.S. Military Code of Conduct
I am an American, fighting in the forces that guard my country and our way of life. I am prepared to give my life in their defense.
I will never surrender of my own free will. If in command, I will never surrender the members of my command while they still have the means to resist.
If I am captured, I will continue to resist by all means available. I will make every effort to escape and aid others to escape. I will accept neither parole nor special favors from the enemy.
If I become a prisoner of war, I will keep faith with my fellow prisoners. I will give no information or take part in any action which might be harmful to my comrades. If I am senior, I will take command. If not, I will obey the lawful orders of those appointed over me and will back them up in every way.
Should I become a prisoner of war, I am required to give name, rank, service number, and date of birth. I will evade answering further questions to the utmost of my ability. I will make no oral or written statements disloyal to my country and its allies, or harmful to their cause.
I will never forget that I am an American, fighting for freedom, responsible for my actions, and dedicated to the principles which made my country free. I will trust in my God and in the United States of America.
Question: Did Kerry violate the Code of Conduct when he protested against the war? At the time Kerry was still in the Naval Reserves and still subject to the Code of Conduct.
Is this an indicator of whats to come November 2?
American teens have spoken, and they want George W. Bush for president. Nearly 1.4 million teens voted in the nation's largest mock election, and the Republican incumbent wound up with 393 electoral votes and 55 percent of the total votes cast.
In an exit poll taken after making their pick for president, teens weighed in on the issues most important to them. A majority of respondents-- 44 percent-- said that the war in Iraq was the most important issue facing the candidates today. The economy was the first priority in the minds of 22 percent of teens, followed by education (14 percent), national security (12 percent) and health care (8 percent).
A GI in Afghanistan writes about the election that recently took place.
Sorry it has taken so long for me to update you on the situation in Afghanistan. As you can imagine, it has been busy over here! It hasn't slowed down a lot, but we are certainly proud of the accomplishments of the past week or so over here--it has been exciting, to say the least.
The successful elections are certainly the big news. Well, at least the big news for a day or two. Don't worry too much about the alleged "fraud;" while the ink mistake was unfortunate, it was not widespread and probably won't affect the election results at all, from what I hear in the press over here. It's good that the ink and several other charges are being investigated, but even the U.N. says that the election was well done, and I can tell you they'd be one of the first to speak up if there were problems!.
The real story is the desire of the Afghan people to vote. The weather here for election was the worst I've seen since I got here in May--snow in the mountains, rain, a sandstorm in the south, and low clouds. It hardly stopped these people. We worry about rain affecting voter turnout in the States, even though we drive cars to vote--these people didn't let the weather bother them, and most walked to the polling centers!
I heard stories of lines over a mile long, with people waiting patiently to vote. I also heard of people standing in those lines on crutches, with legs amputated because of landmines, and families who pulled their grandparents to vote in oxcarts, because they were too old to walk. I also heard of people standing in lines at 3:00 in the morning, in the snow, so that they could vote. (The polls opened at 7:00AM). There are also a few stories of people angry because the polls closed early, or mad that they couldn't vote a proxy vote for members of their village that couldn't walk to the polling place, but those were actually rare.
The Afghan Army and Police did a great job. We've trained them well, and these patriots took their lives into their hands to guard polling centers, villages, and cities to ensure little or no violence. Sure, we helped them prepare, but they found explosives, suspicious vehicles, rockets, and people who wanted to disrupt things all on their own. No running from a fight for these folks!
Finally, I leave you with a personal experience. We have a group of Afghan men who clean the building where I work. They're here every day and I see them in the hallway seven days a week. They like to practice their English, or at least the English phrases they're learning in books or class: "Good morning, How are you? I am fine, thank you..." You get the idea. They didn't work on election day, because they were voting, and the roads were pretty congested. I asked them the first morning they were back to work if they had voted. They all got smiles a mile wide, had to show me their thumbs with ink on them, and each of them wanted to shake my hand and I got to congratulate each of them on their new country! Now, if that doesn't bring a tear to your eye, then you have ice water in your veins!
As good as this is, we're not done yet. There are still some out there that would like to cut off thumbs, rather than stain them with ink. But that group is up against a dedicated, capable Coalition that will not accept failure. They may have come over here "just doing their job;" but that changes with most as soon as they meet these great people--most in the Coalition are fighting not only for their own countries, but also they fighting for the great people of Afghanistan.
We will continue the fight here. As I've written before, you can be very proud of this young generation--whether soldiers, sailors, Airmen, Marines, or civilians, they are impressive! Someday they'll take over the leadership of America, and from what I see over here, we'll be in great shape!!
Everybody take care--be proud of what's happening here! I just wish you could have seen the pride in the eyes of those Afghans in the hallway; then you'd understand what we've done here!
Section 3 of the 14th Amendment makes the following statement.
No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.
When you consider what Kerry did upon his return from Vietnam, does Kerry qualify for the Presidency?
Kerry seems to feel it’s OK if American troops die fighting under the UN flag, but not the American one.
Kerry's belief in working with allies runs so deep that he has maintained that the loss of American life can be better justified if it occurs in the course of a mission with international support. In 1994, discussing the possibility of U.S. troops being killed in Bosnia, he said, "If you mean dying in the course of the United Nations effort, yes, it is worth that. If you mean dying American troops unilaterally going in with some false presumption that we can affect the outcome, the answer is unequivocally no."
"A good plan, violently executed now, is better than a perfect plan next week."
“A good solution applied with vigor now is better than a perfect solution applied ten minutes later.”
General George Patton
StrategyPage.com has a column on the Air Force's goal of putting a bomb on target within one minute of target identification.
The US Air Force wants to ultimately cut the time it takes to attack any target on the ground – fixed or moving -- to within one minute. But this is roughly the time it takes a bomb to fall from 50,000 feet to strike the ground. They also want to be able to so to at distances of up to 1600 kilometers away. It is an aggressive goal that may not be feasible without substantial breakthroughs.
During combat operations in Afghanistan, it took around a day or so to work up the various orders to strike a target, but the Air Force now says it can strike moving targets of opportunity within an hour. For several years, the Air Force had a goal of cutting the time to put a bomb on a moving target, such as a SCUD mobile missile launcher, within 10 minutes from the time it was detected by a battlefield sensor. To meet the 10 minute goal, improvements are being made in target identification and "machine to machine" communication to improve passing along data directly from sensors to an orbiting aircraft's bombs. One of the current bottlenecks is getting approval from commanders to strike an emerging target. Commanders don't want to hit either friendly forces or inadvertently hit civilians or culturally sensitive sites.
Another issue is to have a weapons system capable of striking targets within the minute time frame. If there's an orbiting manned or unmanned aircraft overhead, it's a simple matter of dropping a bomb. Pentagon and Air Force officials are pushing to develop "persistent" smart bombs and long-endurance UAVs "hunter-killer" that can loiter over target areas for at least 24 hours, striking targets as they appear. This appears to be the key to the "one minute" program.
Striking well-protected targets under an air defense umbrella from longer distances within a shorter time-span is expected to be much more difficult. Currently. It takes a cruise missile an hour or more to fly to a target several hundred kilometers away. The Air Force and Navy have been working on high-speed "hypersonic" cruise missiles for the past decade. A hypersonic cruise missile traveling at Mach 5 would be capable covering around 100 kilometers in under a minute – not bad, but it would still take 16 minutes to reach a target 1600 kilometers away.
General Tommy Franks (Ret) refutes Kerry's claim the U.S. screwed up the battle in Tora Bora. Since General Franks was CentCom at the time, I think his opinion is a knowledgeable one.
First, take Mr. Kerry's contention that we "had an opportunity to capture or kill Osama bin Laden" and that "we had him surrounded." We don't know to this day whether Mr. bin Laden was at Tora Bora in December 2001. Some intelligence sources said he was; others indicated he was in Pakistan at the time; still others suggested he was in Kashmir. Tora Bora was teeming with Taliban and al Qaeda operatives, many of whom were killed or captured, but Mr. bin Laden was never within our grasp.
Second, we did not "outsource" military action. We did rely heavily on Afghans because they knew Tora Bora, a mountainous, geographically difficult region on the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan. It is where Afghan mujahedeen holed up for years, keeping alive their resistance to the Soviet Union. Killing and capturing Taliban and Qaeda fighters was best done by the Afghan fighters who already knew the caves and tunnels.
Third, the Afghans weren't left to do the job alone. Special forces from the United States and several other countries were there, providing tactical leadership and calling in air strikes. Pakistani troops also provided significant help - as many as 100,000 sealed the border and rounded up hundreds of Qaeda and Taliban fighters.
Contrary to Senator Kerry, President Bush never "took his eye off the ball" when it came to Osama bin Laden. The war on terrorism has a global focus. It cannot be divided into separate and unrelated wars, one in Afghanistan and another in Iraq. Both are part of the same effort to capture and kill terrorists before they are able to strike America again, potentially with weapons of mass destruction. Terrorist cells are operating in some 60 countries, and the United States, in coordination with dozens of allies, is waging this war on many fronts.
Many hurdles remain, of course. But the gravest danger would result from the withdrawal of American troops before we finish our work. Today we are asking our servicemen and women to do more, in more places, than we have in decades. They deserve honest, consistent, no-spin leadership that respects them, their families and their sacrifices. The war against terrorism is the right war at the right time for the right reasons. And Iraq is one of the places that war must be fought and won. George W. Bush has his eye on that ball and Senator John Kerry does not.
The Blemont Club makes an interesting observation on the current civil war in Iraq.
The neoconservative assumption that Middle Eastern societies were transformable has been described as the product of excessive hope when it is really the counsel of despair. It is the remainder which 'however improbable, is all that is left after all the impossibles have been eliminated'. The fact that America, without resorting to mass murder, has kept such a fractious country intact, that many Iraqis daily risk their lives in the effort to beat back this darkness, is testimony to a quality of work which deserves better than the scorn that has been heaped upon it.
In a few weeks many social liberals will feel impelled to vote as Mahatir Mohammed suggests, for entirely different reasons but for the same man nonetheless. Some conservatives have already accepted the idea that the only proper reaction to the "bloody borders of Islam" is to recoil as Ronald Reagan did once upon a time in Beirut, hoping nothing more will follow. But there is nowhere left to run and having learned so much about the problem, nothing really before us but our trepidation.
It’s raining this morning some badly needed rain. It rained all night and it’s still raining now. The really good news is I don’t jog in the rain. That means I got another 45 minutes of sleep this morning. That is also much appreciated.
I think the tide for the election has really turned. Bush looks like he is rolling to a big victory in two weeks.
Bush showed up in the People’s Republic of New Jersey today. Why waste your time coming to New Jersey unless you think you’ve got a chance of winning? I think the Kerry campaign is in serious trouble.
Tonight the Iowa Electronic Market shows Bush contracts selling for $0.63 while Kerry contracts are only getting $0.38.
The Democrats are starting to sound desperate. They are promoting the draft rumor, when there is no basis in fact. They are falling back on their old playbook. They’re trying to scare retirees that the Republicans are going to take away their Social Security. The are trying to scare minorities that the Republicans are trying to stop them from voting.
Well it is Halloween so it’s a great time to be scared. But it seems that’s all the Democrats have left – FUD. Fear, uncertainty, and doubt.
We hear a lot of bad news coming out of Iraq. Sometimes it seems that Iraq is a lost cause. Fortunately, with today’s technology one is not bound by the Mainstream Media. StrategyPage.com has some interesting observations on Iraq.
Local leaders in Fallujah insist that terrorist leader Abu Musab al Zarqawi is no longer in town. but many of his supporters are. Government and American troops continue to fight their way towards the center of the city. Pro-al Zarqawi web sites report that a senior aide of al Zarqawi was killed in the bombing. Car bomb attacks continue to be directed at government officials and police. But there is no shortage of people eager for those jobs. Despite this violence, it's safer being in the police, than with the people attacking the police.
Anti-government forces are taking a pounding, and are believed to have lost over 15,000 dead in the last 17 months. That's more than five times the government and coalition losses. About 80 percent of the dead are Sunnis, who comprise 20 percent of the population, and ran the country for centuries until Saddam was deposed and democracy now threatens to end the Sunni dominance. The only other threat to that is Shia religious leaders, like Moqtada al Sadr, who wants to establish a Shia religious dictatorship. Al Qaeda, which al Zarqawi now says he supports, wants to establish a Sunni religious dictatorship. Many people, inside and outside the Middle East, believe that Arabs, particularly Iraqis, are not ready for democracy, and would be better off under another dictator. Saddam's followers, al Qaeda and al Sadr all agree.
Putin was recently quoted as saying a vote against Bush is a vote for the terrorists. OK, he didn't say exactly that, but it translates pretty good.
"Any unbiased observer understands that attacks of international terrorist organizations in Iraq, especially nowadays, are targeted not only and not so much against the international coalition as against President Bush," Putin said.
"International terrorists have set as their goal inflicting the maximum damage to Bush, to prevent his election to a second term.
"If they succeed in doing that, they will celebrate a victory over America and over the entire anti-terror coalition," Putin said.
An Iraqi blogger sounds off about what he sees at stake in this election. I think he's scared and with good reason.
[D]espite the fact that most emphatically, the majority of the Iraqi people are for the new Iraq, and that the “insurrectionists” do not represent but a small minority, nevertheless the balance of forces on the ground would be seriously upset were it not for the support of the American and allied forces and nations. This small minority is dangerous, desperate, ruthless and absolutely prepared to commit any kind of atrocity to further their aims and vent their spleen, as has been clearly demonstrated almost everyday. They are well financed and connected with parties and interests beyond the border who consider it a matter of life and death to thwart all U.S. efforts and abort this attempt at creating a democratic state in the area. President Bush now represents a symbol of defiance against the terrorists and it is a fact, that all the enemies of America, with the terrorists foremost, are hoping for him to be deposed in the upcoming elections. That is not to say that they like the democrats, but that they will take such an outcome as retreat by the American people, and will consequently be greatly encouraged to intensify their assault. The outcome here on the ground in Iraq seems to be almost obvious. In case President Bush loses the election there would be a massive upsurge of violence...
On the other hand if President Bush is reelected, this will prove to them that the American people are not intimidated despite all their brutality, and that their cause is quite futile. Yes there is little doubt that an election victory by President Bush would be a severe blow and a great disappointment for all the terrorists in the World and all the enemies of America. I believe that such an outcome would result in despair and demoralization of the “insurgent elements” here in Iraq, and would lead to the pro-democracy forces gaining the upper hand eventually .... Unfortunately, it seems to me that many in the U.S. don’t quite appreciate how high the stakes are. The challenge is mortal, and you and we are locked in a War, a National Emergency; and in such circumstances partisan considerations must be of secondary importance. If you lose this war, you are no more, and you will have to withdraw within your boundaries cringing and waiting for terror to strike you in your homeland, afraid to move around, afraid to travel, afraid to do business abroad....
You think I am exaggerating, you think I am being paranoid? I just pray that destiny would not prove all these things; I pray that these horrors will not come to pass. And all this for what? For failing to confront few thousands ex-baathists and demented religious fanatics and some common criminals, concentrated in some rural areas of a country of the size of just one of your states; and that for a nation that has defeated Natzism, Imperial Japan and the Soviet Empire!
Blogger Steven den Beste has done yeoman’s work in analyzing the election polls over the last few months. He notes.
In my opinion, the polls were being deliberately gimmicked, in hopes of helping Kerry. In early August, it looks as if there was an attempt to engineer a "post-convention bounce", but it failed and was abandoned after about two weeks. But I'm not absolutely certain about that.
The data for September, however, is clearly an anomaly. The data is much too consistent. Compare the amount of jitter present before September to the data during that month. There's no period before that of comparable length where the data was so stable.
The September data is also drastically outside of previous trends, with distinct stair steps both at the beginning and at the end. And the data before the anomaly and after it for both Kerry and Bush matches the long-term trend lines.
If I saw something like that in scientific or engineering data, I'd be asking a lot of very tough questions. My first suspicion would be that the test equipment was broken, but in the case of opinion polls, there is no such thing. My second suspicion would be fraud.
In September, I think there was a deliberate attempt to depress Kerry's numbers, so as to set up an "October comeback". Of course, the goal was to engineer a bandwagon.
Public opinion isn't usually as ephemeral as these polls suggest that it is. But there can be long-term trends, and I find it interesting that such a thing actually does show through. It's quite striking how close some of the data falls to the long-term trend lines, which I've drawn in.
The reason the Democrats and the MSM are getting frantic is that they're losing.
Take a look at the Iowa Electronic Market. Bush contracts have taken a jump up. Currently Bush contracts are selling for $0.584 and Kerry contracts are selling for $0.413. This does not bode well for the Kerry candidacy.
But it sure heartens me.
I know [he] because a publicity whore and grandstanding scumbag like UBL could not possibly resist the multitude of opportunities to inspire his cult members. His number 1, Zwahiri, has appeared on video or audio broadcasts every few months since 9/11. UBL has not been heard from since Tora Bora despite developments in the GWOT in Afghanistan and Iraq that make it unthinkable for him to have remained silent. Not to mention successful attacks in Bali, Madrid, Turkey, and Jakarta to name a few that remain unremarked upon by UBL. The invasion and occupation of an Islamic state by the US and not a word. Elections held for the first time in Afghan history, and he had nothing to say about it in the lead up. AQ tried once early on to air a tape that never mentioned key developments in the Afghan campaign and was quickly discredited as an attempt to put one over on his followers by airing a previous recording. Zwahiri decided that it was better to just pretend that UBL was alive because there was no plausible martyr story to tell. UBL went out running for his life like a coward. He is dead. His remains are turds shat by scavenging animals in the mountains of Afghanistan blown by the wind and stomped on by US troops.
By why not make it public? After all, this is the one thing that could ensure the President's re-election. Have you noticed how coy DOD officials and high-ranking officers are when the question is posed? They know. They certainly have intelligence to this effect. Of course, the President could have instructed subordinates to start saying that intel indicates UBL is dead. This would have put pressure on him to prove otherwise by issuing a statement, which he is clearly unable to make. This process could have started 6 months ago, and if UBL did not answer, it would in effect prove the case. But it didn't happen. Why not?
Because the President knows that making UBL a martyr would serve to further inspire his minions, and he realizes that preventing this from happening is more important than his re-election. Instead, UBL remains forever silent even as his recruits yearn to hear his voice. Eventually these cultists will realize themselves that UBL went out like a punk, not a martyr and that the AQ head shed has been lying to them for years. That realization combined with US combat boots knocking their teeth down their throats will go a long way to beating this cult into submission. But it is important to recognize that the President's commitment to killing terrorists supersedes his commitment to his own re-election. I'm sure he hopes that the American people will come to this conclusion on their own and vote for him anyway, but it is quite a risk to take in the ultimate ME situation.
This kind of integrity and commitment stands in stark contrast to his opponent. Kerry has proved to be a Blue Falcon, a traitor, a louse, a shameless opportunist, and a lazy bureaucrat that pads his resume. Kerry is a smart guy too, and he realizes what is going on. But it hasn't stopped him from trying to bait the President into abandoning a critical propaganda victory in the GWOT by incessantly peddling his Tora Bora "outsourcing" charge in all three debates. He knows that the President will not respond to this charge so he is free to make it. Just like the Cheney lesbian scheme, this is a coordinated hatchet job, but this is on an issue that Kerry knows the President must choose to either defend the SOF troops that got the job done or remain silent. To his personal credit, he never took the bait, but to his professional detriment, he must let an unanswered charge linger. Do you have that kind of discipline? Especially in crunch time? I don't know if I do, and I'll be happy to never have to find out.
The media complains about the Bush House’s secrecy, I don’t blame Bush. If I were in his shoes, I’d keep as mum as possible. No matter what you say, it will be construed against you. Better that they make stuff up, like the bogus CBS TANG memos than to give the media any ammunition.
If Bush said, “The sky is blue.” The media would respond, “The president declared today the sky to be blue. That is an open assault on those individuals that are colorblind and cannot tell the sky is blue. Worse, he insults those poor individuals that are totally blind and will never be able to tell for themselves whether or not the allegedly blue sky is really blue. This goes to show how much the Bush and his Republican co-conspirators have no empathy for the visually impaired of this country.
In a related matter today, John Edwards said that when John Kerry is elected President the visually impaired will have their eyes opened. Then they can judge for themselves, whether the President’s claim of a blue sky is in fact true, or if it is just another one of his lies.
I wonder why Kerry’s current rich wife has not changed her name to Teresa Kerry. Instead, she retains the name of her former husband. Every time she uses her name, she reminds folks that Kerry is not her first choice. I wonder how Kerry feels about that. Perhaps, since she’s the one with all the money, he doesn’t have much say in it.
I’ll give Kerry credit; he certainly knows how to marry rich women.
Did this escape your notice? There has been a report that 25 Chechen terrorists have entered the U.S. through Mexico.
U.S. security officials are investigating a recent intelligence report that 25 Chechen militants illegally entered the United States from Mexico in July.
The group, linked to separatists in Chechnya that took part in the deadly Beslan school siege last month, reportedly crossed into a mountainous part of Arizona from northern Mexico, wearing backpacks, The Washington Times reported, citing officials speaking on conditions of anonymity.
The area was said to be difficult for U.S. border guards to monitor.
Do you recall what Chechen terrorists did in Beslan? They were wearing backpacks. Perhaps they’re carrying candy to give out to schoolchildren.
If this report is true, I hope they find them soon. It is very worrisome.
Kerry has proposed requiring all high school students to mandatory service. Here's what he says.
On September 11th, 2001, America experienced the most terrible and deadly attack in its history. John Kerry believes we need to think big and do better and get more young Americans serving the nation.
As part of his 100 day plan to change America, John Kerry will propose a comprehensive service plan that includes requiring mandatory service for high school students and four years of college tuition in exchange for two years of national service.
Karol and I were down to the shore last weekend and we noticed that the Goldenrod was in bloom. I took this picture to give some idea how much there is. I didn’t realize there was that much Goldenrod at the shore.
Kerry and Edwards have been trying to convince people that Bush is preventing people from being cured of their maladies. Charles Krauthammer, himself a quadriplegic, weighs in.
First, the inability of the human spinal cord to regenerate is one of the great mysteries of biology. The answer is not remotely around the corner. It could take a generation to unravel. To imply, as Edwards did, that it is imminent if only you elect the right politicians is scandalous.
Second, if the cure for spinal cord injury comes, we have no idea where it will come from. There are many lines of inquiry. Stem cell research is just one of many possibilities, and a very speculative one at that. For 30 years, I have heard promises of miracle cures for paralysis (including my own, suffered as a medical student). The last fad, fetal tissue transplants, was thought to be a sure thing. Nothing came of it.
Edwards and Kerry constantly talk of a Bush "ban" on stem cell research. This is false. There is no ban. You want to study stem cells? You get them from the companies that have the cells and apply to the National Institutes of Health for the federal funding.
In his Aug. 7 radio address to the nation, Kerry referred not once but four times to the "ban" on stem cell research instituted by Bush. At the time, Reeve was alive, so not available for posthumous exploitation. But Ronald Reagan was available, having recently died of Alzheimer's.
So what does Kerry do? He begins his radio address with the disgraceful claim that the stem cell "ban" is standing in the way of an Alzheimer's cure.
This is an outright lie. The President's Council on Bioethics, on which I sit, had one of the world's foremost experts on Alzheimer's, Dennis Selkoe from Harvard; give us a lecture on the newest and most promising approaches to solving the Alzheimer's mystery. Selkoe reported remarkable progress in using biochemicals to clear the "plaque" deposits in the brain that lead to Alzheimer's. He ended his presentation without the phrase "stem cells" having passed his lips.
The U.S. Navy is conducting experiments with a SSBN (nuclear powered ballistic missile submarine.) The 16,700 ton, 22 year old USS Georgia is a Trident class boat, and normally carries 24 ballistic missiles, and a crew of 154. But the missiles, and the crewmen and equipment needed to maintain them, have been removed. This has created lots of free space. The original plan was to give navy about 60 SEAL commandos most of the now vacant space, and two of the empty missile silos. The other 22 silos would be loaded with 154 Tomahawk cruise missiles. But that plan is being reconsidered as new equipment becomes available. Better communications gear, and more new UAV, UUV (unmanned subs) and USV (unmanned little ships) designs, create new opportunities. So the Georgia is having a high tech command center built into it, for handling additional robotic recon vehicles, and the operations of the SEALs. This series of submarine alterations and tests at sea is being called “Operation Silent Hammer.”
The nuclear powered Georgia can move, underwater, at a steady rate of about 800 kilometers a day. This means that within a week or ten days, it can reach just about anywhere on earth. Most of the earth’s population lives close to the ocean, and the SEAL sub like the Georgia could get to a hot spot, send off robotic recon vehicles and SEALs to quickly check out the situation. Still carrying about a hundred cruise missiles, the Georgia would still have sufficient firepower to take care of many situations. If new work is not found for SSBNs like Georgia, they must be scrapped, in compliance with a nuclear disarmament treaty.
Did you hear about that girl Laura Hatch. She was involved in an auto accident and was stranded in the wrecked vehicle for eight days. Here’s how she was found.
Hatch's parents organized a volunteer search Saturday, and that night Sha Nohr, the mother of Hatch's friend, said she had dreams of a wooded area and heard the message, "Keep going, keep going."
On Sunday morning, Nohr and her daughter drove to the area where the crash occurred, praying along the way. "I just thought, `Let her speak out to us,'" Nohr told The Seattle Times.
Nohr said something drew her to stop and clamber over a concrete barrier and more than 100 feet down a steep, densely vegetated embankment where she barely managed to discern the wrecked car in some trees.
Google has released their search engine for your desktop. It searches all the files on your computer for you. I’ve downloaded it and tested it. It’s very fast.
My only complaint is it doesn’t search my server. That’s where my important files are stored.
It does, however, search all my email. It’s much quicker than Outlooks search. It’s pretty cool technology. I hope they improve it so I can use it on my server.
The market has been very erratic this year. I’m certainly no sage. But I think there are two things currently troubling the market: The price of oil and the election. The market really hates uncertainty. With oil doing what it’s doing that adds a level of uncertainty into the world. The Presidential election is very uncertain. I would not be surprised to see the market settle down after the election regardless of who is elected.
I have very little sympathy for those people who recently registered to vote but it’s too late to get their registration processed. Oh well.
How long have they known this election was going to happen? Presidential elections come around every four years, just like clockwork. Procrastination can be a costly behavior.
If you show up at the airport 10 minutes before the plane leaves and want to buy a ticket, they’re going to say no way José.
If you waited too long to register to vote, oh well. I guess you should have registered earlier.
Recent research has found that not all saturated fats are bad for you. One fellow has come up with a saturated fat from beef that lowers your cholesterol.
Beef tallow is condemned by association as “bad for you.” Not so fast. Nutrition Scientist Tim Carr said animal fats’ potential benefits have been overlooked because of this blanket indictment. “We are re-examining those beneficial components that might be in animal fat that have long been ignored,” Carr said of his research. This led to his discovery that “all saturated fats are not created equal.” In research several years ago, he found one saturated fat — stearic acid — actually lowers cholesterol. Americans eat few fats and oils rich in stearic acid, except beef tallow. Carr blends specific proportions of raw tallow with plant sterols to create his new cholesterol-lowering compound.
From the University of Nebraska
The story of vitamin D would appear simple. Take in enough sun or drink enough fortified milk to get the recommended daily amount, and you'll have strong bones. Take a supplement, if you want insurance. But recent studies from around the world have revealed that the sunshine vitamin's role in health is far more complex. More than just protecting bone, vitamin D is proving to preserve muscle strength and to give people some protection against deadly diseases including multiple sclerosis (MS), diabetes, and even cancer.
What's now clear is that vitamin D is a potent force in regulating cell growth, immunity, and energy metabolism, observes David Feldman of Stanford University School of Medicine. He's the editor of a new 1,300-page compilation of research findings from more than 100 labs working on this substance (2004, Vitamin D, Academic Press). Not only is the vitamin gaining increasing respect as a governor of health, he notes, but it's also serving as the model for drugs that might tame a range of recalcitrant diseases.
Ironically, observes bone-metabolism specialist Robert P. Heaney of Creighton University Medical Center in Omaha, Neb., vitamin D is a misnomer. "A vitamin is an essential food constituent that the body can't make," he explains, but people have the capacity, right in their skin, to produce all the vitamin D they need from a cholesterol-like precursor.
Once vitamin D is available, the body converts it first into 25-hydroxy vitamin D and then into 1,25-dihydroxy vitamin D (1,25-D). This final form, which is actually a hormone, is the only active variety. Researchers loosely refer to all three substances in this biochemical cascade as "vitamin D."
The human body can generate 10,000 to 12,000 international units (IU) of vitamin D from a half-hour of summer-sun exposure. The National Academies recommend that adults, depending on their age, get from 200 to 600 IU of the vitamin each day.
In practice, however, most people in the United States get a daily intake from food and sun exposure well below that recommended intake, especially during winter. People living in the United States and Europe or farther from the equator have trouble getting enough sun to maintain adequate blood concentrations of the vitamin. When people heed dermatologists' warnings about preventing skin cancer by limiting sun exposure and using sunscreen, they also reduce their vitamin D production.
By studying the subtle effects of vitamin D deficiency and boosting animals' exposure to it in laboratory tests, researchers have been slowly teasing out the vitamin's myriad benefits.
Leg weakness is a common symptom of severe vitamin D deficiency. Five years ago, nutritional epidemiologist Heike A. Bischoff-Ferrari began wondering whether vitamin D affects muscle function in apparently healthy people as well. She was particularly concerned about senior citizens, who typically suffer from an inexorable muscle wasting that begins by age 40. So, she measured vitamin D blood concentrations in elderly men and women and found that individuals who had higher readings also had greater thigh strength.
Bischoff-Ferrari and her team at the University of Basel in Switzerland then launched an intervention trial with 122 women in their mid-80s. The researchers administered 1,200 milligrams of calcium to all the participants, and another 800 IU of vitamin D per day to half of them. At the end of 3 months, each woman was tested for leg strength and rated on how easily she could get up from a chair, walk around an object, and sit back down.
Not only did vitamin D¨Csupplemented women perform dramatically better on these tests, but they sustained only about half as many falls during the trial, according to the researchers' report in the February 2003 Journal of Bone and Mineral Research.
Bischoff-Ferrari, now at the Harvard Medical School in Boston, teamed with other Boston researchers to analyze past studies of falls in elderly people. Falls are a leading cause of fracture and disability in that population and account for U.S. medical bills exceeding $20 billion a year.
The researchers reevaluated five previously published vitamin D¨Csupplementation trials that together included more than 1,200 elderly people. Overall, a daily vitamin D intake of at least 400 IU cut a woman's risk of being injured in a fall by more than 20 percent, and higher doses had an even greater effect. Bischoff-Ferrari notes, "We showed that to get the best protection from falling, you likely have to get 800 units or more [daily]." She and her colleagues reported the findings in the April 28 Journal of the American Medical Association.
More recently, the team combed through a national diet-and-health survey of some 4,100 men and women 60 years and older. The researchers report in the September American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that blood concentration of vitamin D directly correlated with leg strength and function in these people.
Other correlations between vitamin D and health have captured researchers' attention. Kassandra L. Munger of the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston recently presented evidence of what appears to be a protective effect of vitamin D against MS. In two ongoing studies of 187,500 U.S. nurses, women getting at least 400 IU of vitamin D per day showed only 60 percent the risk of developing MS compared with women getting less of the vitamin, Munger and her colleagues reported in the Jan. 13 Neurology.
These findings not only confirmed a link seen earlier in animals but also fit with several long-standing geographic observations. The incidence of MS and other autoimmune diseases—in which a person's immune system attacks parts of his or her own body—tend to be rare near the equator, where ultraviolet light from the sun is intense and people produce abundant vitamin D.
For 2 decades, scientists have known that certain immune cells in the blood possess receptors for 1,25-D, the active form of vitamin D. To probe why, Margherita T. Cantorna of Pennsylvania State University in University Park and her colleagues incubated white blood cells with 1,25-D. The team found that the hormone inactivates a type of immune cell called a killer T lymphocyte. These are the cells that launch immune attacks against material invading the body, as well as native cells that have become infected or malignant. Killer T lymphocytes also drive autoimmune diseases.
Over the years, Cantorna's team has shown in animal models of MS, lupus, inflammatory bowel disease, and type 1 diabetes that autoimmune symptoms diminish or disappear after the animal receives either 1,25-D or chemical analogs of it. The group has even shown, in a mouse study, that such drugs can prevent rejection of a transplanted heart.
Cantorna and others have turned to 1,25-D analogs for potential therapeutic applications of vitamin D because excessive amounts of 1,25-D can raise blood-calcium concentrations to toxic levels, which can lead to kidney stones and heart disease.
The analogs that drug companies have devised mimic many of the vitamin's effects on cells but produce less of an increase in blood calcium. Cantorna explains that her animal studies have benefited from the analogs because the 1,25-D doses needed to have an anti-autoimmune effect "were pushing the envelope of what's safe." Companies are now beginning trials with such drugs in patients with autoimmune diseases.
Recently, Cantorna has focused on the mechanism of vitamin D's immune benefits. Her findings indicate that the vitamin's availability during T cell development influences how the mature cells operate. Vitamin D deficiency leads the cells to produce agents that are more reactive to other cells than are those produced when the killer T cells grow up with abundant vitamin D.
Cantorna suspects that once full-blown autoimmune disease appears, "you've already lost your window of opportunity to change the kind of T cells that develop."
The immune reaction known as inflammation can also be a leading player in gum disease and tooth loss. Low blood concentrations of vitamin D were linked to gum disease in a study of 11,200 men and women who had taken part in the federally sponsored National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, Thomas Dietrich of Boston University's dental school and his colleagues report.
The rate of loss in tooth-gum attachment was 25 percent higher among those participants with the least vitamin D compared to those with the most vitamin. Since poor attachment correlated with low vitamin D even when bone density was taken into account, the investigators say that the observed effect probably stemmed from the vitamin's effect on immunity. They conclude in the July 1 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that vitamin D "may be important for preventing tooth loss."
Like autoimmune diseases, several cancers—though not skin cancer—become less common in populations the closer they are to the equator. Recent research suggests that vitamin D underlies that geographic pattern, says JoEllen Welsh of the University of Notre Dame (Ind.). In the July 2003 Journal of Nutrition, she and her colleagues reviewed laboratory evidence that the vitamin signals colon, breast, and prostate cells to differentiate into mature forms, stop growing, and eventually succumb to programmed cell death. Cancer cells, in contrast, remain immature, rapidly divide, and are immortal.
Says Welsh, "We've shown that if you give [a chemical analog of 1,25-D] to an animal that already has a mammary tumor, that tumor will regress." Other researchers, she notes, have used 1,25-D analogs to inhibit the spread of cancer or the growth of blood vessels that feed new tumors in laboratory animals.
Feldman's group has shown that giving men 1,25-D analogs for 2 years can reduce the buildup in blood of a protein marker of cancer—prostate-specific antigen (PSA). The result suggests that the treatment slowed prostate cancer growth, Feldman says. Several human trials are now testing higher doses of the drugs against prostate cancer and a precancerous condition known as benign prostatic hyperplasia.
Scientists are also investigating whether vitamin D can prevent cancer. Welsh and her colleagues are giving lab animals large doses of vitamin D, rather than 1,25-D or an analog. Whereas 1,25-D is toxic at high does, vitamin D is less so. It's converted to 1,25-D only in specific tissues in response to a signal. The kidneys make most of the 1,25-D and put it into circulation throughout the body. Recently, scientists have discovered that cells of the colon, breast, and prostate can also make this substance for local use. In that case, there's no risk of a toxic systemic effect, such as calcium overload in the blood.
Vitamin D may play a role in the prevention of diabetes as well as of cancer. Many studies have linked vitamin D deficiency to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, which used to be called adult-onset diabetes. However, says Ken C. Chiu of the University of California, Los Angeles School of Medicine, no one knew what aspect of the disease the vitamin might be acting on. So, his team recently recruited 126 healthy adults and correlated their blood concentrations of vitamin D with their production of and response to insulin.
Both these insulin parameters were low, sometimes falling below the normal range, among people with low blood concentrations of vitamin D, the researchers reported in the May 1 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Vitamin D deficiency "is a double jeopardy for type 2 diabetes," concludes Chiu. He says he now worries that for people on the cusp of developing the disease, vitamin deficiency might tip the balance.
Today, during much or all of the year, a large share of the U.S. population doesn't even come close to achieving 200 to 600 IU of vitamin D daily. That's the minimum vitamin D intake recommended in 1997 by the National Academies' Food and Nutrition Board, which sets guidelines for vitamins. However, most recent research on vitamin D suggests that many of its health-promoting actions may require far higher doses.
Indeed, Heaney suspects that such high thresholds for vitamin D sufficiency may explain why many of the vitamin's benefits outside bones escaped notice for so long.
From Science News
Dr Mohammed Naseem, chairman of Birmingham Central Mosque, said: "They are sick people. We don't know who's done it and I can't put a motive on it.
Dr. Naseem's observation is the sole ray of light in this whole muddled affair. He and Steyn have put their finger on the simple error that everyone from Bigley to those campaigning for his release have made. Not only is it impossible to put a rational construction on these events, it is a waste of time to try. Bigley thought he was too old; the schoolchildren in Beslan thought they were too young; the French journalists thought they were too French to be the victims of terrorism. And they were wrong. Wrong because they assumed that enemy intent rather than capability was the limiting factor to their mayhem. It is an odd statistical fact that fewer Americans have died from terrorist attacks in Iraq than Iraqi children. The one thousand US combat deaths in the months since OIF is only slightly larger than the number of Canadians killed in the 1942 Dieppe Raid over the course of 9 hours; and not because the terrorists are eager to "show the world the justice and mercy which Islam teaches us" but because they cannot kill more.
Radical Islam is self-evidently at war with the West because their efforts are limited only by their capability. And the West is just as clearly not yet at war with radical Islam because its actions are still limited by its intent. Zarqawi sawed off Bigley's head simply because he could; America spares Fallujah from choice.
From the Belmont Club
The picture is of a U.S. Army Stryker that was hit by a 500 pound roadside bomb in northern Iraq on October 8th. The Stryker was hit on the right side while travelling down the road at about 60 kilometers an hour. The bomb was in a car parked by the side of the road, and went off as the Stryker drove by. The Stryker flipped over one and a half times and skidded about 30 feet. This bomb was so powerful that it knocked out lights in the rooms of soldiers at a base 2400 meters away. There were four soldiers in the Stryker, and none were hurt (aside from a ringing in the ears...). When the Stryker was flipped back upright, it was still able to move under its own power.
John Edwards said yesterday, "When John Kerry is president, people like Christopher Reeve are going to walk. Get up out of that wheelchair and walk again."
Rush responses with an email from a listener:
I have an e-mail from a 24/7 subscriber. Dear, Rush: I'm a pharmacologist working for a major drug company currently working on spinal cord injury and I can tell you from my own perspective, stem cells are not the hot issue in nerve regeneration. When the spine is mechanically severed, like all tissue, the healing process form a scar in order to allow inflammation response cells such as macrophages to deal with the inflammation. These scar tissue express proteins that inhibit neuronal regeneration by a variety of biomedical means. Unfortunately the scar tissue does not break down. Hence, reconnection does not readily occur. The current area of research is in overcoming these inhibitory molecules and the physical barrier of the scar. Stem cells are not really the big deal in spinal cord. Rather, they are in brain injury, most particularly in Parkinson's disease and stroke, not Alzheimer's.
"To be honest the only reason Christopher Reeve championed this cause is because he was being manipulated by scientists, most of whom are left-wing and will do anything to hit on Bush."
Chrenkoff, the Blogger from down-under, has a spot-on take on Kerry’s idea the terrorism should be reduced to just a nuisance.
John Kerry is right in a sense that terrorism cannot be completely eliminated; the best we can do is to marginalise the phenomenon. But he's wrong that we can ever return to previous normalcy - there is no "place" to "get back to" anymore. S11 might not have changed Kerry, but it certainly changed the international state of play. In the past, terrorism was used as a limited tactic to achieve limited objectives (unification of Northern Ireland with the Irish Republic, statehood for the Basques, elimination of the "Zionist entity" in favour of a Palestinian state); S11 was not the first, but certainly the most emphatic statement that for some, terrorism would now be used as a total tactic in a total war against the West to achieve a totalitarian objective of a global theocratic super-state. Too bad for Kerry that an Islamist genie is out of the bottle now - to turn terrorism back into a nuisance would require us to completely eliminate the spirit that animates al Qaeda and its cheerleaders and followers. And that will be neither easy nor quick.
I think Kerry’s pacifism came out in his interview in the NY Times Magazine. In it Kerry says that 9/11 didn’t change him.
I cannot identify with that. I will never forget seeing those two towers collapse like some kind of controlled implosion. I will never forget when and where I first heard about the attack. I will never forget seeing people jumping to their deaths because the fire inside was also death. And I will never forget the infinite sadness and sense of loss know that so many souls had died at the hands of pure unmitigated evil.
Kerry says he wants to go back to where is was a “nuisance.” Where only a few Americans died at the hands of the terrorists.
That’s not where I want to go. I want them wiped off the face of the earth. I want the message to go far and wide. ANYONE that does what these guys did or supports or harbors them will cease to exist. It will be as if they never existed in the first place.
Bush has been unequivocal in his support for the all-volunteer military. I don’t, however, remember Kerry being so adamant about not re-instating the draft. Is it possible that Kerry, not Bush, were he to become President (perish the thought!) be the one to re-instate the draft.
Do you remember the Presidential election in 1964? Goldwater was a Hawk and talked about going into Vietnam and finishing the job. Johnson made Goldwater look like a raving maniac that wanted to start WWIII. However, upon his re-election, it was Johnson the poured thousands of troops into Vietnam.
Kerry, having so vociferously promised to hunt down terrorists wherever they are could actually feel compelled to be more aggressive than Bush. Republicans rarely have to go to war to prove they are tough guys. It’s the pacifistic Democrats that have to prove their war credentials.
Kerry could prove to be more of a war monger that Bush.
The problem is we have not way of truly predicting a Kerry Presidency. All we have is what he says NOW. I think we are all aware of politicians and their allergy to the truth.
There are some people claiming that Bush wore an earpiece during the first debate. They claim that someone was feeding responses to him over his earpiece.
But what people don’t realize is Bush doesn’t use an earpiece. Rove had a surgical implant done into Bush’s brain. It’s pretty leading edge stuff. But during the first debate, the timing lights caused interference and generated what can best be described as a brain re-boot. That’s why Bush paused so much. He had to wait for his brain to come back on line.
During the second debate, they pretty much worked out most of the kinks in the system.
During the third debate they expect to have the entire Library of Congress online with hyperlinks and voice recognition software. When either Kerry or the moderator speaks, the software will automatically scan the Library of Congress as well as Google the internet. Then by just blinking his right eye Bush can view the appropriate response projected onto the back of his eye ball. If he blinks his left eye, he will instead “hear” the response hot-wired into the auditory nerve.
Watch which eye he blinks in the next debate and you can figure out which way he’s getting the responses.
John Howard, a Bush backer in the War on Terror, was re-elected to Prime Minister of Australia. His opponent, Mark Latham, had campaigned on a promise to pull all the Australian troops from Iraq. Latham lost big time.
This election probably does nothing for the Bush campaign, but had Howard lost, and the Aussies started to pull their troops, it would have hurt Bush.
There is a temptation to score the debates as, well, debates. I don’t think the American people will score them that way. The voters are picking a president, not a debating champion.
People make decisions emotionally and then find reasons to support that decision. The real question will be, and I don’t think any of us can accurately answer it, did the president move anyone emotionally? Or did Kerry?
Kerry has done an excellent job of masking his liberalism. I think Bush needs to do a better job of unmasking it and the 1991 Gulf War would make an excellent point.
It was a war in which 41 followed all of Kerry’s tests, and Kerry voted against it.
U.S. News & World Report takes on the WaPo about their scare headlines and how misleading and downright disingenuous they are.
U.S. 'Almost All Wrong' on Weapons" read the headline on the October 7 Washington Post. "Report on Iraq Contradicts Bush Administration Claims" read the subhead. But these headlines conceal the real news in the report of Iraq Survey Group head Charles Duelfer. For the report makes it plain that George W. Bush had good reason to go to war in Iraq and end the regime of Saddam Hussein.
First of all, Saddam retained the capability to manufacture weapons of mass destruction. On chemical weapons, "Saddam sought to sustain the requisite knowledge base to restart the program eventually and, to the extent it did not threaten the Iraqi efforts to get out from under sanctions, to sustain the inherent capability to produce such weapons as circumstances permitted in the future." On nuclear weapons, "Saddam did not abandon his nuclear ambitions. . . . Those around Saddam seemed quite convinced that once sanctions were ended, and all other things being equal, Saddam would renew his efforts in this field." Moreover, Duelfer concluded that Saddam in his missile program was developing missiles that exceeded the range limits set in U.N. Security Council Resolution 687.
Duelfer also reported that Saddam asked subordinates how long it would take to develop chemical weapons once sanctions ended. One Iraqi chemical weapons expert said it would require only a few days to develop mustard gas. Former Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz said that Iraq could have had a WMD capacity within two years after the end of sanctions.
If the weapons inspectors had been given more time to conduct inspections, as John Kerry has on occasion advocated, we now know they would not have found any WMDs. Nor does it seem possible that they would have uncovered Saddam's attempts to maintain WMD capability. There would have been heavy pressure then from France, Russia, and China—whose companies were given kickbacks and windfall profits from the Saddam-administered U.N. Oil for Food program, Duelfer reports—to disband U.S. military forces in the Middle East and to end sanctions. And once sanctions were gone, there would have been nothing to stop Saddam from developing WMDs.
In other words, we were facing a brutal dictator with the capability to develop WMDs and the proven willingness to use them. A dictator whose regime had had, as the 9/11 Commission has documented, frequent contacts with al Qaeda. We have no conclusive evidence that he collaborated with al Qaeda on 9/11—but also no conclusive evidence that he did not. Under those circumstances, George W. Bush acted prudently in deciding to remove this regime. He would have been imprudent not to have done so.
Kerry’s response to the question, "Senator Kerry, suppose you are speaking with a voter who believed abortion is murder and the voter asked for reassurance that his or her tax dollars would not go to support abortion, what would you say to that person?"
Now, I believe that you can take that position and not be pro- abortion, but you have to afford people their constitutional rights. And that means being smart about allowing people to be fully educated, to know what their options are in life, and making certain that you don't deny a poor person the right to be able to have whatever the constitution affords them if they can't afford it otherwise.
That's why I think it's important. That's why I think it's important for the United States, for instance, not to have this rigid ideological restriction on helping families around the world to be able to make a smart decision about family planning.
You'll help prevent AIDS.
You'll help prevent unwanted children, unwanted pregnancies.
You'll actually do a better job, I think, of passing on the moral responsibility that is expressed in your question. And I truly respect it.
How does abortion prevent AIDS, how does it prevent unwanted pregnancies, and how does it pass on a moral responsibility? No wonder Bush said, “I'm trying to decipher that.”
The election in Afghanistan is proving to be very popular with the people. They are waiting in long lines to vote. They can thank President Bush for that opportunity. They would certainly not have gotten it from Kerry and the Iraqi’s for darn sure would not have.
But the UN is screwing up the elections. One of the things they do in Afghanistan is to dip the voter’s finger into an ink well. That way, if he tries to vote twice, his ink stained finger would display his attempt at voter fraud.
It seems the UN, which supplied the ink, supplied Afghanistan with water-soluble ink. That means voters can wash the ink off their finger and vote again.
Is there nothing the UN can do right?
I really couldn’t bear to watch the debate last night. But there were several people live Blogging it, so I read their blogs.
It seems that Bush acquitted himself quite well. Of course, since most of the media wants Kerry to win, they all either said it was a draw or Kerry won. When they say it’s a draw, I take that as a Bush win.
But the debates are not like a sporting event in which the winner of two out of three becomes president. Instead, viewers watch the candidates and decide who best speaks for them.
Kerry may win on points, but the voters may feel more attracted to Bush or vica versa. We’ll see what the voters think over the next few days.
It seems that much of the European press thought Bush won – for whatever that’s worth.
The most recent Rasmussen national poll has Bush at 49.6% and Kerry at 45.9%.
Rush as said for many years that liberals don’t have a sense of humor. The JibJab guys have a new video out. A liberal blog I read mentioned it and I went to watch it. I read this blog to see what the enemy is up to.
Anyway, I watched the video and it is funny. But not to this blogger and his commenters. Since the video included a clip of McGreevy acting gay they took offense to it. These guy are just too serious for life.
Hey I’m as passionate as anyone out there about my politics and other things. But I enjoy having a good laugh very much. Apparently that is not a universally shared trait.
But it seems to prove Rush right. Liberals really don’t have a sense of humor.
In the debates, John Kerry keeps claiming to have various plans, but he's never eager to say what they are. Scrappleface has the scoop:
:(2004-10-09) -- The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) said today it has found what may be a cache of plans by John Forbes Kerry to address the crises in health care, the economy, Iraq and a host of other national traumas. "We were called in on the case after the plans had gone missing through two presidential debates," said an FBI spokesman. "I have to caution you, however, that it may take several months or more to translate these documents and discover whether they are, in fact, plans. It's still up in the air because the file folders in which we found them had no labels. Apparently, Mr. Kerry doesn't like to label anything."
A spokesman for the Kerry-Edwards campaign refused to comment directly on the FBI discovery.
"Sen. Kerry has said 'I have a plan' and we will leave it at that," said the unnamed source. "The FBI, at the direction of John Ashcroft, is on a fishing expedition to embarrass John Kerry just before the election."
The source noted that "when Martin Luther King Jr. said 'I have a dream' no one demanded that he prove it. Why should Sen. Kerry be held to higher standard?"
Hat Tip PowerLine
A cluster of yellow lilies. These are Karol’s flowers. I took this picture back in May. Lilies can be really beautiful.
Kerry keeps saying Iraq is the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time. He disparages our allies at the coalition of the coerced and the bribed. This includes the Brits and the Aussies. Then he says he’s so talented than But that he will get allies to help us fight this wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time – even though France and Germany have said no way José.
I wonder what he’s smoking these days.
Kerry has admitted that he will be unable to get France and Germany to join the coalition.
The Massachusetts senator has made broadening the coalition trying to stabilize Iraq a centerpiece of his campaign, but at a town hall meeting yesterday, he said he knows other countries won't trade their soldiers' lives for those of U.S. troops.
"Does that mean allies are going to trade their young for our young in body bags? I know they are not. I know that," he said.
Perhaps the Senator will tell us what he will do differently than Bush.
My worry is that Cheney will try for likeability. I think it is greatly overrated. Although it has some bearing, what people are really looking for is trust and respect. I think this is even more an issue in a post 9/11 world. I think voters are looking at candidates and deciding who do they most trust and respect.
StrategyPage.com talks about suicide bombers.
At this point it’s important to note that suicidal terrorism is an ancient tactic. The use of bombs is relatively recent, because compact high explosives (that could be “worn” by the bomber without attracting undue attention) were only developed in the late 19th century. Another important thing to remember is that suicide bombing tactics don’t work. They are a desperation measure favored by those supporting lost causes. They are the tactics of despair and a weapon of the defeated. Suicide attack campaign often give the illusion of success, and sometimes achieve small concessions. But in the end, the suicide attack campaigns always fail.
Now they’re using GPS to guide parachuted items to troops on the ground. Here’s what StrategyPage.com says about it.
GPS has now taken the unpredictability of aircraft dropping equipment and supplies. Since first used in the 1940s, to get equipment and supplies to isolated troops, there was always a problem of getting the parachuted stuff to land where it was wanted. Often, for surrounded troops, the supplies would land among the enemy forces. In most cases, there was the danger of the airdrop going into the water, or some other inaccessible area. Paratroopers had much less of a problem, as they could pull the chords to maneuver the parachute. The GPS solution uses a GPS unit, a small computer and a mechanical device that pulls two chords that maneuver the parachute to the location the GPS unit is programmed to aim for. The system is called Sherpa, and has the added advantage of allowing transport aircraft to drop stuff from a higher, and safer (from ground fire) altitudes. In the past, the most accurate drops were made at low altitude. But with Sherpa, you can be over 10,000 feet when making the drop. As long as you are close enough for Sherpa to handle the prevailing winds, Sherpa will find the drop point, and land within 200 meters of it. Without Sherpa, stuff can land a kilometer or more from the drop zone, meaning that the troops have to drive, or hike out, and haul the stuff back. Sherpa is being used by the U.S. Air Force in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Two recent studies A and B indicate that moderate exercise helps to prevent dementia. Both are from the Journal of the American Medical Association. The studies looked at walking. Among men that found that more that 2 miles a day was good. Among women they found that more that 1 1/2 hours a week was good.
A recent study found that not only does vitamin supplements possibly ineffective, but some may be detrimental to your health.
The combination of beta-carotene and vitamin A or vitamin E increased risk of premature death by 30% and 10%, respectively. Dr Bjelakovic said: "We could not find evidence that antioxidant supplements can prevent gastrointestinal cancers.
"In the meantime, it's probably sensible to avoid taking very large doses of vitamin supplements and to try to get the necessary vitamins from eating five or more portions of fruit and vegetables every day."
I’ve even seen some recommendations that you get nine servings of fruit and vegetables every day. How do you do that?
INDC posts the visual evidence that John Kerry violated the Memorandum of Understanding that set forth the rules governing Thursday's debate. It looks like Kerry brought in note cards, which he removed from his suit jacket, in violation of the rules. Bringing in such cards constitutes a material violation of the rules. One of President Bush's problems was that he was short on material and tended to repeat himself. Bush could have used a "cheat sheet" and there is reason to believe that Kerry did.
Hat Tip: PowerLine
The Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski is not pleased with John Kerry. Here is what he had to say about Kerry.
"It's sad that a Senator with twenty years of experience does not appreciate Polish sacrifice... I don't think it's a question of ignorance. One thing has to be said very clearly: this Coalition is not just the United States, Great Britain and Australia, but there's also contribution of Polish, Ukrainian, Bulgarian and Spanish soldiers who died in Iraq. It's immoral to not see this involvement we undertook because we believe that we have to fight terrorism together, that we need to show international solidarity, that Saddam Hussein is a danger to the world.
"From such a perspective, you can say we are disappointed that our stance and the sacrifice of our soldiers is so marginalised. I blame it on electioneering - and a message, indirectly expressed by Senator Kerry - that he thinks more of a coalition that would put the United States together with France and Germany, that is those who in the matter of Iraq said 'no'.
"President Bush is behaving like a true Texan gentleman - he's fighting for the recognition of other countries' contribution in the Coalition."
StrategyPage.com has an interesting take on the current War on Terror.
While it's a convenient fig leaf to cover the real nature of the war, we should understand that the "Global War on Terror" is not what current American military operations are all about. Terror is a tactic. Saying we're making war on "terror" is like saying we're making war against blitzkrieg or dive bombing.
What is going on is a global war on violent anti-globalization forces, mostly non-state and most particularly in the Islamic world. It will be like the Cold War, lasting a long time and with cultural, economic, and diplomatic maneuvers fully as important -- if not more so -- as military ones. It is likely to be characterized by even fewer "conventional" military clashes than the was the case during the Cold War, when we had Korea, Vietnam, the various Arab-Israeli Wars, and so forth. Reactionary groups in the Islamic world want to roll back history. They are not the first to try this, but no one has ever succeeded on a large scale.
In the Cold War we had “containment” and “massive retaliation,” with “flexible response.” The idea was to avoid World War III in the hope, eventually realized, that the other side would collapse due to internal contradictions. It worked, despite the disappointment on the part of some of the more enthusiastic anti-Communists that we weren't taking more aggressive action to “roll back” the Reds. Having said that, we need to have a debate about what our national strategy is going to be in this new Cold War.
So far there's not much of a debate. The Bush administration seems to be focused mostly on go-it-alone improvised responses. Tom Barnett's book, The Pentagon's New Maps, has some ideas, but the best use it can be put to is to use it as the basis for further discussion.
That said, keeping the term “Global War on Terror” and paying some attention to the non-Islamist anti-modernity forces is a useful idea.
I hope the final campaign to wipe out the remaining pockets of resistance in Iraq as begun. It takes time to stand up an army. It takes years to build a good one. This is likely a good test for the ING. They will gain some experience and, hopefully, some confidence.
It’s a little bit like teaching a child to ride a bicycle. You run along side them for a while holding up the bike. Then finally you let them go on their own. This battle and probably some more will involve U.S. troops. But eventually, if the Iraqi’s are the people we hope they are, they’ll do it on their own.
There has been much criticism for disbanding the army after our conquest of Iraq. Although it has been painful, I happen to think that was the right decision. Most Arab armies are worthless. The officers treat the enlisted guys like dirt. They are held together by intimidation and clan loyalty. A professional army has to be above that. The only way we could have a professional army in Iraq is by starting with a clean slate. That is what we’re doing and I think it will bear fruit.
No one knows what the future holds. I believe all we can do is pursue what seems right at the time. For every person willing to step out and lead, there are a thousand that will double-guess his/her every action.
I am heartened by Teddy Roosevelt, “It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes short again and again, who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause, who at best knows achievement and who at the worst if he fails at least fails while daring greatly so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”
Let us, as a nation, be the ones in the arena, not the spectators.
As promised, the government began its campaign to retake control of Sunni Arab towns and cities that had fallen under the control of al Qaeda, criminal gangs and Baath Party gunmen. For the last two days, some 4,000 American and Iraqi troops have surrounded and regained control of Samarra, a Sunni Arab city with 100,000 residents, a hundred kilometers north of Baghdad. So far, about a hundred Iraqis have been killed some 75 percent of them gunmen who have resisted the Iraqi police and American troops. Iraqi troops quickly seized major mosques in the city, preventing them from being used as fortresses by anti-government forces. At least one kidnap victim was released by advancing troops, and others will probably be found as well. A third of troops involved are Iraqi, and this includes a new Samarra police force, drawn from other parts of Iraq and led by more experienced and reliable commanders.
The nearby town of Tikrit, Saddam's home town, did not go the way of Samarra mainly because of local politics. The local power brokers in Tikrit make a deal with the coalition and kept it. In Samarra, the local tribal and political leaders were unable to cope with the various gangs, and lost control. The Samarra elite have complained to the new government, and promised to keep it together if troops were sent in to clear out the gangs once more. The main problem in Samarra was that the local police and tribal militias backed down when confronted with the firepower of the gangs and terrorists. The same thing happened in Fallujah, and some other towns in the Sunni Arab areas of central Iraq.
The real battle for Samarra will take place in the next few months. The people fighting American troops at the moment, and getting killed, are the dummies. The smart guys just hide their weapons and wait for an opportunity to take over the town again. If the new police force cannot hunt down and arrest most of the smarter gangsters and terrorists in the next few months, Samarra will lapse into anarchy again.
A recently published survey of attacks on police and troops in Iraq revealed what had long been taken for granted; over 80 percent of the attacks took place in just four Sunni Arab provinces. The other 14 provinces were pretty quiet, most a dozen or fewer incidents a month. Interrogations of captured gunmen has made it clear that most of the attacks are planned, and the attackers recruited, by the gangs that have found refuge in the "outlaw" towns like Samarra and Fallujah. Especially in light of last weeks terror bombing, that killed and wounded some 200 children in Baghdad, the new government, and most Iraqis, are determined to put down the gunmen, terrorists and gangsters, and restore law and order.
This is not one of Karol's lilies. Although beautiful, the picture was taken by a friend and emailed to me to post in my weekly Flowerblog. She grew it in her flower garden. From the color and lighting, it looks like the picture was taken near sunset. But I don’t really know.
I had an interesting experience with my voice mail this afternoon. I was out of the office and did not return until about 16:30. I tapped my voice mail and it announced I had six messages. I thought, “Wow. That’s a bit more than usual.”
● First Message: Jan called asking me to call her back. She was having difficulty understanding how to do a stock count. I typed her message into my note pad for a call back.
● Second Message: Opal called asking me to call her back. She was having a problem. I typed her message into my note pad for a call back.
● Third Message: Mary called asking me to call her back. She was having a problem exporting from Crystal Report to Microsoft Excel. I typed her message into my note pad for a call back.
● Fourth Message: It was Mary again. She said she solved her problem and I didn’t need to call her back. I deleted my previous note about her.
● Fifth Message: It was Opal again. She said she had solved her problem and I didn’t need to call her back. I deleted my previous note about her.
● Sixth Message: It was Jan again. She said she and Tim had figured out their problem and I didn’t need to call her back. I deleted my previous note about her.
I looked over my notes and there was not one left to call. I figured it was a good time to go home.
I wonder if Osama Bin Laden is still alive. A recent tape was released by Ayman al-Zawahri. On this tape he called for attacks against the infidels. Where is Osama? Where’s Waldo?
Why would Ayman al-Zawahri put the tape out, when Osama could have? Why have an underling do the work when the leader could have done the tape.
Perhaps al Qaeda could not get a tape from a corpse.
You may have noticed, I've posted a new theme song to my blog. Can you tell me where this comes from?
Although I'm not a very big music fan, I do like some music. I like the uplifting theme of this song. Believe it or not it makes me feel like I could fly.