Saturday, August 06, 2005

Casualties of War 

Body counts. Collateral Damage. Numbers the Pentagon does track.

From AMERICAblog:
But they won't count these as a casualties of war:
On Wednesday, nine days after Sherwood returned from a tour in Iraq, he apparently shot and killed his wife before turning the gun on himself in their Fort Collins home, Army spokeswoman Dee McNutt said. Sherwood's wife's name was not released.

Investigators had not determined a motive and results of a planned autopsy had not been released. The couple's 8-month-old child was in the care of a neighbor when the couple were killed, said Eloise Campanella, a spokeswoman for the Larimer County sheriff.

Sherwood, 36, had returned from Iraq on July 25 after spending nearly a year there and was on leave at the time of the shootings, McNutt said.
Very sad. We'll probably never know how many uncounted domestic casualties were the product of this completely unnecessary war.


Next Stop Iran? 

Ed Partridge takes a look at this, and this, and this and predicts that the U.S. will invade Iran next. And he asks the two critical questions:
Will the Commander-in-Chief interrupt his five-week vacation for another war?

Where are the troops going to come from?
I'm going to address his second question.

This week marks the 60th anniversary of America's use of weapons of mass destruction against the Japanese mainland, forcing an end to the Second World War. The dropping of those bombs changed American warfighting doctrine and mind set. The Air Force created the myth, one that some of their deep thinkers continue to push today, that the outcome of military conflicts can be decided through the use of high-tech weaponry, making ground forces second class citizens, if not obsolete altogether.

This philosophy bumps up against a military axiom that should be tattooed on the forehead of every think tank weenie who gets a senior position at the Pentagon (especially anyone who thinks that wars can be fought "on the cheap"). That axiom is called the "Boots on the Ground" rule. I'm sorry I can't cite the exact quote (friggin' internets must not be working right today), but it goes like this:
You can bomb it from the air and run tanks across the plains, but you will only own the ground when the Infantryman places his boots on the ground and takes it.
Which brings us to Iran. It's no secret that the U.S. ground forces are already over-extended in Iraq. The force structure to conduct ground operations in Iran or Korea is simply not there.

But the neo-cons are incredibly slow learners (serious denial might be a better description). So they will push for military action against Iran using a combination of air power, high tech weapons, and special operations forces. There have been reports since last year that U.S. forces have been conducting reconnaissance missions inside Iran, gathering targeting data in preparation for military action against the next member of the axis of evil.

And yes, the U.S. Air Force has the capacity to kill people and break things in Iran, just like it does in Iraq. But without some long-term plan for what the U.S. is going to do after those attacks on Iran's budding nuclear capability, any unprovoked military action will only add to the ranks of those who volunteer to die in order to inflict serious damage on the U.S. and its allies.

Another bad idea from those folks who lied their way into the current disaster. I don't think we really want another one. If you or your kids are draft age, you definitely don't.


Friday, August 05, 2005

War, Law, and Torture 

I just want to point out that there is a very interesting discussion in the comments section of Intel Dump concerning prisoner operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Gitmo, how these relate to the various articles of the Geneva Convention, and what long-term effect these will have on the image of the U.S. around the world.

The participants are quite knowledgeable (some from a legal standpoint -- others in terms of actual army doctrine and operations on the ground). There was a wee bit of name calling at first, but then it settled down into in informative and often contentious discussion. It's also a bit long, but I found it quite interesting.


Hearts, Minds, and Road Bombs 

Juan Cole posted some interesting insights from military historian Tom Collier. This, in particular, caught my eye:
There seem to be two developments in Iraq that are "more than eerily Vietnam speak." The first is the increasing use of bigger and better mines: bundled 155mm artillery shells, 500lb aircraft bombs, shaped charges, and clever booby traps to kill the mine clearers. All of that is old hat dating back through Vietnam and at least to WWII, but the insurgents seem to be able to plant their mines without either being detected by our surveillance [e.g., drone aircraft] or being reported to the police by the local people. (emphasis mine)
This is a dead givaway that the U.S. has lost the mission of winning the "hearts and minds" of the Iraqi people.

No insurgency can succeed without the support (or at least the acquiescence) of the people. It's rule number one in insurgency (and counter-insurgency) warfare.

Winning the hearts and minds of the people is a job that, at the operational level, belongs to the special operations community, in particular Special Forces, Civil Affairs, and Psychological Operations. But the hearts and minds mission in Iraq is often at odds with another mission, the kill people and break things mission (to use the jargon of an anonymous captain who worked in the S2 shop of the 75th Ranger Regiment back in the day).

Through a combination of really bad choices at the strategic level (from Secretary Rumsfeld through Central Command) that included the well-publicized detention and interrogation techniques used in Abu Ghraib and other facilities, the Iraqi people are not helping the U.S. forces. That explains why the insurgents are able to continue to operate with a great deal of impunity in much of the country.

That is the clearest sign that George Bush's misadventure in Iraq is doomed to failure. And, sadly, many more will die in perpetuation of the policies of a president who is too stupid to understand how badly he has blundered.

Thanks to Armando for the link.


Worst President Ever 

Glad I'm not the only one who uses that term with a high degree of certainty.

Bill in Portland Maine who has been writing the Cheers and Jeers entry at Daily Kos since I started reading there, is going to take a well-deserved break. But before packing his bags, he offers this poignant observation:
JEERS to the bottomless poll plunge. George W. Bush makes "worst president ever" Warren Harding look like Thomas Jefferson. The public's approval rating for his War in Iraq Related Program Activities has fallen to 38 percent. Thirty eight percent! Proof that if you're going to spend two hours a day exercising to "clear your head," you should probably have something to clear in the first place.
Worse than Warren G. Harding must be akin to lower than whale shit. Enjoy your vacation, Bill. You've earned it.


Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Nurses Taking it to the Governator 

One thing I learned at the convention in Boston last summer: Nurses throw better parties than defense contractors.

Now they're taking on Ahnold, and they've got their own blog that's dishing up the dirt on the Governator and his failing administration. Thanks to Josh Marshall for the link.


Roberts, Toads, and the Commerce Clause 

Avedon noticed a good piece by my old friend Bill Adair at the St. Petersburg Times (who, as far as I know, doesn't read this blog). Bill looks at a minority vote by Supreme Court Nominee John Roberts to try to get a clue on how Roberts views the far-reaching "commerce clause," also known as the "everything clause."

If you're into constitutional minutiae, it's an interesting read.


Digitally Challenged 

Flounder says that the Chimp-in-Chief wasn't flipping off the press, he was giving them the old thumbs up.

Watch the video. We report. You decide. Just another example of returning dignity to the White House.



Just read that the Great American Patriot Rush (couldn't serve -- boil on my ass) Limbaugh refered to Major Paul Hackett (USMCR) as a "staff puke" several times yesterday on his radio show.

I don't think I can write anymore right now. My mind is overcome with visions of getting a good site picture on a large, loud, slow moving target and carefully squeezing the trigger. You know, sort of a fraternity prank.


Red State Blues 

First, congratulations to Major Paul Hackett and his team for running a great, honorable campaign for the vacant congressional seat in Ohio's second district. He scared the bejesus out of the national Repulsive machine and made them spend a chunk of money they didn't really want to spend. While not winning, Hackett beat the expectations of most of the beltway chattering classes:
If Schmidt's victory margin is in double digits, this tells us that there is not much of an anti-GOP wind in Ohio right now. If the margin is say six to nine points for Schmidt, then there is a wind, but certainly no hurricane. A Schmidt win of less than five points should be a very serious warning sign for Ohio Republicans that something is very, very wrong, while a Hackett victory would be a devastating blow to the Ohio GOP.
And as Billmon notes, the stories out of certain Ohio precincts (once again!) seem outright Floridian:
At about 9:00 PM ET last night, however, things didn't look nearly as good for Ms. Schmidt. In fact, her name looked more like Schmud. With 88% of the district's precincts reporting, including more than half of Clermont's, the count was almost evenly split -- with Schmidt holding a lead of less than 900 votes.

At that point, though, the Clermont election bureau experienced a "technical malfunction" with its optical scan readers:
The Board of Elections in Clermont County, east of Cincinnati, says it's optical scanners haven't counted all the ballots yet because it was so hot -- and humid -- Tuesday.

Board member Tim Rudd says the ballots pick up moisture when it gets hot, making it tougher for the optical scan machines to sort and count.
According to some reports I've seen -- but haven't been able to confirm -- at least part of the count in Clermont's final 91 precincts ended up being done by hand.

In any case, when the humidity had cleared, so to speak, Schmidt had picked up another 9,451 votes, compared to just 6,300 or so for Hackett -- an edge which, interestingly enough, almost equaled her winning margin for the district as a whole.
Gee, voting irregularities in Ohio and another really bad Republican declares victory. Imagine that.


Why Does Bill Frist Hate Veterans? 

My fellow veteran and neighbor to the north Ed Partridge notes that the Senate Majority Leader has pulled the Defense Authorization Bill from further consideration until after Labor Day. Apparently there are now too many amendments looking out for veterans.

Can't have that kind of pork barrel spending in the middle of a war, can we. People have to make sacrifices.

Okay, so these are the men and women who already made their share of sacrifices for their country, but who's counting.


Warmed Over Rice 

Ayn Clouter assures me that the Draft Condi in '08 movement (see The Rice Card, below) is not high farce, but is, in fact, the real deal. Can't wait to watch Trent Lott try to sell that to the bubbas back home.

And while I'd love to see a black woman as president, do the Repulsives have to go with one who is as incompetent as the chimp who hired her?
Responding to Ben-Veniste, Rice acknowledged that Clarke had told her that al-Qaida had "sleeper cells" inside the Untied States. But, she added, "There was no recommendation that we do anything" about them. She gave the same answer when former Navy Secretary John Lehman, a Republican and outspoken Bush defender restated the question about sleeper cells. There was, Rice said, "no recommendation of what to do about it." She added that she saw "no indication that the FBI was not adequately pursuing" these cells.
But hey, it lets them check off two boxes in the big tent.


Monday, August 01, 2005

From your friends at Diebold . . . 

The winner is whoever the machine says it is. And that's the problem.

Avedon points to this report at ifeminists about all the ways a Diebold voting machine can put in the fix. It's worse than you thought.

Black Box Voting has an overview here and the full technical report here.


VA Priorities 

Since I'm headed for an appointment with a doc at the VA Clinic this morning, it seems appropriate to share this link to Susie's blog (where she quotes from San Diego Soliloquies). It puts the whole picture into perfect perspective.

It's short. Go read.


Sunday, July 31, 2005

No Fucking More 

Steve Gilliard is my kind of Democrat.
Now, I disagree with Bob, there is nothing perverted about BDSM. It's perfectly acceptable, as private behavior. It isn't my taste, but neither is yogurt.

What I agree with is this: Schmidt is running around, talking about the evil gays and family values, while her campaign manager is engaged in bashing people in alternative lifestyle. And no, that isn't just code for gay.

In the past, a lot of people would have been decrying this kind of thing as dirty politics.

My reply to that is: so fucking what? Max Clelland was lied about for political gain. The man lost three of his limbs as an Infantry officer in Vietnam, and he's soft on defense?

Gays are all thoughout the GOP, hidden in a closet.

They disrespect our patritoism, our service, our beliefs, and we're supposed to help them keep their secrets?

No fucking no. No more.

It's time to get scrunchy, get in the dirt and spread it around and play as dirty as they do. They can run on the issues if they choose. But if they don't, we don't have to either.
Thanks Steve. Time to start playing to win instead of just trying to look pretty.


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