July 31, 2007
“[A] wise and frugal government... shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned.”
A long weekend for Mars explorers
It appears that there is a globe-encompassing dust storm on Mars. And it has lasted for weeks.
Mission controllers received telemetry from both rovers this morning that indicates the power situation has stabilized and that skies might be clearing a little. Opportunity is now getting about 210 watt-hours of energy a day from its solar panels — allowing it to recharge its batteries a little — while Spirit is at 350 watt-hours. That is still a large drop from the approximately 800 watt-hours of energy that each was getting before the dust storm began swirling in late June. Spirit has enough power to maintain normal communications with Earth. Opportunity, with less power, will remain quiet until Thursday. “Everything else is fine on the rovers,” said John Callas, the project manager.
This is week-old news, but still interesting.
July 30, 2007
"No nation was ever ruined by trade, even seemingly the most disadvantageous."
-- Benjamin Franklin and George Whaley (Principles of Tade, 1774)
On constitutional government and helping your neighbor . . .
“Today, when a concerted effort is made to obliterate this point, it cannot be repeated too often that the Constitution is a limitation on the government, not on private individuals—that it does not prescribe the conduct of private individuals, only the conduct of the government—that it is not a charter for government power, but a charter of the citizen’s protection against the government.”
“This notion of giving both emotional and monetary support to a neighbor only with regard to the recipient’s will is precisely why man needs church to lead a moral life. I am tempted to ask some of these indiscriminant do-gooders whether they would loan Charles Manson a knife under the principle of always helping a fellow human in need. But, instead, I will take a few moments to quote Jesus of Nazareth who said it best as recorded in the Gospel of Matthew: ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and Prophets.’ Two things are important, here. First, the commandment to love God comes before the commandment to love our neighbors. Second, the two great commandments are ‘like’ one another but they are not one and the same... Life is full of uncertainty but without God two things really are certain: We will make a mess of our lives, and we will help others do the same.”
[Via The Patriot Post.]
The surge is working -- at home
Don Surber reports on poll numbers showing that Americans are coming around on the war in Iraq.
He discusses why Congress is struggling so mightily to get us out of Iraq despite clear indications that the surge is working. Money quote:
Democrats fear American success in Iraq more than they fear al-Qaeda.
Go read the whole thing.
July 29, 2007
“Amplification is the vice of modern oratory.”
July 28, 2007
"For the same reason that the members of the State legislatures will be unlikely to attach themselves sufficiently to national objects, the members of the federal legislature will be likely to attach themselves too much to local objects."
-- James Madison (Federalist No. 47, 1 February 1788)
July 27, 2007
"If Congress can do whatever in their discretion can be done by money, and will promote the General Welfare, the Government is no longer a limited one, possessing enumerated powers, but an indefinite one, subject to particular exceptions."
-- James Madison, 1792 - letter to Edmund Pendleton
Bad times for some in Iraq
Strategypage has posted an interesting summary of the current situation in Iraq. Here's how it begins:
The surge has basically been chasing the terrorist and criminal gangs around the suburbs of Baghdad, or even into northern or western Iraq. This has taken its toll. Time spent in flight cannot be spent planting IEDs or killing people. Putting all these guys on the road, also makes them more susceptible to capture. A lot of important terrorists have been captured this way. The chief liaison between al Qaeda headquarters and al Qaeda in Iraq was nabbed, as well as many mid-level terrorist cell leaders.
Go read the rest.
July 26, 2007
"The legislative department is everywhere extending the sphere of its activity and drawing all power into its impetuous vortex."
-- James Madison, 1788 - Federalist No. 48
OpinionJournal reports on a recent geographic survey that has determined that Syria has re-occupied 177 square miles of Lebanese territory.
I've reprinted the article in the extended entry.
Syria Occupies Lebanon. Again.
A land grab proportionally equivalent to a foreign power occupying Arizona.
BY BRET STEPHENS
Tuesday, July 24, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT
As of this minute, Syria occupies at least 177 square miles of Lebanese soil. That you are now reading about it for the first time is as much a scandal as the occupation itself.
The news comes by way of a fact-finding survey of the Lebanese-Syrian border just produced by the International Lebanese Committee for U.N. Security Council Resolution 1559, an American NGO that has consultative status with the U.N. Because of the sensitivity of the subject, the authors have requested anonymity and have circulated the report only among select government officials and journalists. But its findings cannot be ignored.
In meticulous detail--supplemented by photographs, satellite images, archival material and Lebanese military maps predating Syria's 1976 invasion (used as a basis of comparison with Syria's current positions)--the authors describe precisely where and how Lebanon has been infiltrated. In the area of the village of Maarboun, for instance, the authors observed Syrian military checkpoints a mile inside Lebanon. In the Birak al-Rassass Valley, they photographed Syrian anti-aircraft batteries. On the outskirts of the village of Kossaya they found a heavily fortified camp belonging to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, in violation of U.N. resolutions and Lebanese demands.
This is a story to which I can contribute my own testimony. In May 2005 I paid a visit to Lebanon, just a month after Syria had announced that it had fully withdrawn its 14,000 troops from Lebanon in compliance with Resolution 1559. The rumor in Beirut was that a company of 200 or so elite Syrian soldiers remained encamped within Lebanon near the Druze village of Deir al-Ashaer. I decided to have a look. After a long drive over rutted roads, I found it.
Or rather, what I found was a hillside outpost that I was able to enter without crossing any apparent international border. The man in charge was a Syrian intelligence officer who "invited" me into a sweltering tent while he phoned his commanders for instruction. After a few tense minutes of silence with the soldiers inside, the officer reappeared, explained that the camp was 50 yards inside Syrian territory, and ordered me to go. From there I went to the village, where the mayor insisted the camp was several hundred yards inside Lebanon.
Who was right? Inclined as I was to believe the mayor, it was hard to sort out contending claims over remote parcels of land. A week later, then Secretary-General Kofi Annan announced the U.N. had "verified all [Syrian military units] had withdrawn, including [from] the border area." It seemed that was the end of the story.
I should have known then that anything "verified" by the U.N. must be checked at least twice. I should have known, too, that anything to which Mr. Annan devoted his personal attention would inevitably become worse. Last September, Mr. Annan paid a visit to Syrian dictator Bashar Assad after the latter had declared he would treat any attempt by the U.N. to deploy peacekeepers along the Lebanese-Syrian border as a "hostile act." To defuse the impasse, Mr. Annan simply accepted Mr. Assad's assurances that Syria would police its border and prevent arms smuggling. "I think it can happen," said the diplomat at a press conference. "It may not be 100%, but it will make quite a lot of difference if the government puts in place the measures the government has discussed with me."
What happened, predictably, was the opposite. In May, Fatah al-Islam, a terrorist group whose leadership was imported from Damascus, attacked Lebanese army outposts outside the Palestinian refugee camps of Nahr El-Bared and Biddawi, causing a bloody standoff that continues till this day. In June, current Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon issued a report citing numerous instances of arms smuggling from Syria to Hezbollah and the PFLP. Yesterday, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah boasted that he once again has missiles that can reach Tel Aviv--missiles he could only have obtained via Syria. Israel confirms his claims.
Mr. Ban's report is notable for its clarity and seriousness. Taken together with the border report, it paints an alarming picture. Though the land grabs are small affairs individually, they collectively add up to an area amounting to about 4% of Lebanese soil--in U.S. terms, the proportional equivalent of Arizona. Of particular note is that the area of Syrian conquest dwarves that of the Israeli-occupied Shebaa Farms. The farms, which Israel seized from Syria in 1967 and which amount to an area of about 12 square miles, are claimed by Hezbollah as belonging to Lebanon--a useful pretext for it to continue its "resistance" against an Israeli occupation that ended seven years ago.
Needless to say, Hezbollah--which purports to fight for Lebanese sovereignty--makes no similar claims against Syria. For his part, Mr. Assad refuses to agree to a demarcation of his border with Lebanon, just as he refuses to open an embassy in Beirut. The ambiguity serves him well: He can seize Lebanese territory without anyone appearing to take notice, supply terrorist camps without quite harboring the terrorists, and funnel arms to Hezbollah at will--all without abandoning the fantasy of "Greater Syria" encompassing Lebanon, the Golan Heights and Israel itself.
It would, of course, be nice to see the Arab world protest this case of illegal occupation, given its passions about the subject. It would also be nice to see the media report this story as sedulously as it has the controversy of the Shebaa Farms. Don't hold your breath on either score. In the meantime, the only countries in a position to help Lebanon are France and the U.S. They could strike a useful blow by closing their embassies in Damascus until such time as Damascus opens an embassy--with all that it implies--in Beirut.
Mr. Stephens is a member of The Wall Street Journal's editorial board. His column appears in the Journal Tuesdays.
[Used with permission from OpinionJournal.com, a web site from Dow Jones & Company, Inc.]
Surge report: Baghdad
Michael Totten is with the 82nd Airborne in Baghdad, and he has posted an encouraging report about the progress of the surge.
“This is not what I expected in Baghdad,” I said.
“Most of what we’re doing doesn’t get reported in the media,” he [Lieutenant Wolf] said. “We’re not fighting a war here anymore, not in this area. We’ve moved way beyond that stage. We built a soccer field for the kids, bought all kinds of equipment, bought them school books and even chalk. Soon we’re installing 1,500 solar street lamps so they have light at night and can take some of the load off the power grid. The media only covers the gruesome stuff. We go to the sheiks and say hey man, what kind of projects do you want in this area? They give us a list and we submit the paperwork. When the projects get approved, we give them the money and help them buy stuff.”
Not everything they do is humanitarian work, unless you consider counter-terrorism humanitarian work. In my view, you should. Few Westerners think of personal security as a human right, but if you show up in Baghdad I’ll bet you will. Personal security may, in fact, be the most important human right. Without it the others mean little. People aren’t free if they have to hide in their homes from death squads and car bombs.
He also reports on Iraqi adults and children smiling and waving at our troops, community improvement projects, and peaceful interactions with Iraqi citizens.
The job is not finished yet, but great strides are being taken in the right direction.
Go read the whole thing. Mr. Totten has included lots of pictures in the post. Balanced reporting at its best. Many journalists could learn from Mr. Totten's example. Highly recommended.
July 25, 2007
"If the present Congress errs in too much talking, how can it be otherwise in a body to which the people send 150 lawyers, whose trade it is to question everything, yield nothing, & talk by the hour? That 150 lawyers should do business together ought not to be expected."
-- Thomas Jefferson, 1821 - Autobiography
New life for John Doe?
It appears that some of our congressmen do, in fact, have backbones. Allahpundit has the rundown on how the John Doe provision is back in the Homeland Security bill.
After nearly a week of intense, behind-the-scenes wrangling, congressional negotiators late Tuesday agreed to include in the pending Sept. 11 security bill sweeping liability protections for citizens who report suspicious activity they fear might be linked to terrorism…
Iraq combat veteran, Pete Hegseth, takes exception to Sen. Carl Levin's anti-war arguments:
As an Iraq war veteran who participated in combat operations and political reconciliation efforts, I take issue with some of the arguments repeatedly being made on Capitol Hill. Most recently I was bothered by statements from Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), who cited three common antiwar arguments in his June 21 op-ed, " Lincoln's Example for Iraq," all of which run counter to realities on the ground in Iraq.
I missed this article last month, but it is still relevant today.
'Petraeus or betray us'
Investor's Business Daily has an excellent opinion piece out describing the tremendous progress being made in Iraq under General Petraeus' leadership.
On Saturday, members of the 1st Cavalry Division based near Taji brokered a formal agreement between Sunni and Shiite tribal leaders to join forces against al-Qaida and other jihadists. The Sunni and Shiite agreed to use members of more than 25 local tribes to protect the area around Taji, just 12 miles north of Baghdad.
The deal is just the latest example of the progress Democrats claim isn't happening in Iraq — a series of deals with various tribes and militia groups that at one point were part of the insurgency. But it's the first involving both Sunni and Shiite sheiks together.
Last October, al-Qaida in Iraq declared Baqouba to be the capital of the Islamic State in Iraq, and claimed to control both Anbar and Diyala provinces, of which Baqouba is the capital. But that was before Operation Arrowhead Ripper. Of the 1,000 al-Qaida who were thought to have been in Baqouba, those who haven't been killed or captured have fled.
And we're not doing it alone. Despite mainstream media reports, Iraqis are fighting and dying for their freedom in ever greater numbers. Progress is being made. But as even New York Times reporter John Burns notes: "The most likely outcome of an American withdrawal any time soon would be cataclysmic violence."
The politicos and mainstream media who continually beat the drum of defeat are really missing the boat on this one.
Go read the whole thing.
July 24, 2007
"It would reduce the whole instrument to a single phrase, that of instituting a Congress with power to do whatever would be for the good of the United States; and as they would be the sole judges of the good or evil, it would be also a power to do whatever evil they please. Certainly no such universal power was meant to be given them. It [the Constitution] was intended to lace them up straightly within the enumerated powers and those without which, as means, these powers could not be carried into effect."
-- Thomas Jefferson, 1791 - Opinion on a National Bank
Painted-on solar cells
A group at the New Jersey Institute of Technology is developing an organic solar cell.
The science goes something like this. When sunlight falls on an organic solar cell, the energy generates positive and negative charges. If the charges can be separated and sent to different electrodes, then a current flows. If not, the energy is wasted. Link cells electronically and the cells form what is called a panel, like the ones currently seen on most rooftops. The size of both the cell and panels vary. Cells can range from 1 millimeter to several feet; panels have no size limits.
The solar cell developed at NJIT uses a carbon nanotubes complex, which by the way, is a molecular configuration of carbon in a cylindrical shape. The name is derived from the tube's miniscule size. Scientists estimate nanotubes to be 50,000 times smaller than a human hair. Nevertheless, just one nanotube can conduct current better than any conventional electrical wire. "Actually, nanotubes are significantly better conductors than copper," Mitra added.
Mitra and his research team took the carbon nanotubes and combined them with tiny carbon Buckyballs (known as fullerenes) to form snake-like structures. Buckyballs trap electrons, although they can't make electrons flow. Add sunlight to excite the polymers, and the buckyballs will grab the electrons. Nanotubes, behaving like copper wires, will then be able to make the electrons or current flow.
I liked this quote:
"Someday homeowners will even be able to print sheets of these solar cells with inexpensive home-based inkjet printers. Consumers can then slap the finished product on a wall, roof or billboard to create their own power stations."
July 23, 2007
"On every unauthoritative exercise of power by the legislature must the people rise in rebellion or their silence be construed into a surrender of that power to them? If so, how many rebellions should we have had already?"
-- Thomas Jefferson, 1782 - Notes on Virginia, Query 12
Democrats kill John Doe amendment
It looks like the Dems want you and I to be held liable for reporting suspicious activities to the authorities.
As a result, be prepared for signs like this to be posted in public areas.
To be honest, it looks like Congress is on the side of the terrorists . . .
Quiet in Baghdad
Michael Totten is in Baghdad, and has an interesting post up about his experiences. He remarked about how much quieter it seemed than what he would have thought from all of the news reports back home.
I watched helicopters fly over the city in the distance and launch burning white countermeasure flares to confuse heat-seeking missiles as the pilots flew over hostile parts of the city. This was the only evidence I saw that I was in a war zone. I heard no shots fired, and I heard no explosions.
After having spent several days Baghdad’s Green Zone and Red Zone, I still haven’t heard or seen any explosions. It’s a peculiar war. It is almost a not-war. Last July’s war in Northern Israel and Southern Lebanon was hundreds of times more violent and terrifying than this one. Explosions on both sides of the Lebanese-Israeli border were constant when I was there.
You’d think explosions and gunfire define Iraq if you look at this country from far away on the news. They do not. The media is a total distortion machine. Certain areas are still extremely violent, but the country as a whole is defined by heat, not war, at least in the summer. It is Iraq’s most singular characteristic. I dread going outside because it’s hot, not because I’m afraid I will get hurt.
Lots of interesting stuff in his report. Recommended.
July 22, 2007
"We are not to consider ourselves, while here, as at church or school, to listen to the harangues of speculative piety; we are here to talk of the political interests committed to our charge."
-- Fisher Ames, 1789 - speech in the United States House of Representatives
Progress report: Iraq
Michael Yon has posted a dispatch from Diyala province that shows substantial progress being made among the citizens -- including many insurgents -- there.
Today marks D+30 since the start of Operation Arrowhead Ripper. The initial goal of Arrowhead Ripper was to clear Baqubah of al Qaeda, and then attempt to “jump start” the city back into civic life, which had all but ceased while the terrorists were in control. Though relatively minor clearing operations are still underway, there is little combat in the city.
Today Colonel Steve Townsend, the American commander of the 3-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team, presided over a meeting with Iraqi Army officers and former insurgent leaders. The insurgent leaders who seem to be sincerely working toward peace are now collectively referred to as “the Baqubah Guardians.” I was allowed to attend the meeting, but was—understandably—not permitted to photograph or videotape the proceedings.
Colonel Townsend clarified the purpose of the meeting; it was not to formalize relations or to establish a chain of command, but to work out ways of cooperating to bring better days to Baqubah.
Go read the rest.
July 21, 2007
“It is not honorable to take mere legal advantage, when it happens to be contrary to justice.”
We're winning -- pass the word!
In Iraq, that is. Even though it looks like a rout in Washington, D.C., these days, with the Dishonorable Harry Reid presiding . . .
It's pathetic when a major political party holds a pajama party to publicize its desire to surrender during a war. But it's even worse when such shenanigans drown out a vital message from a real leader.
Go read about what is really happening in Iraq . . .
July 20, 2007
"The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse."
-- James Madison (speech in the Virginia constitutional convention, 2 December 1829)
“The Islamists believe we can’t win; so does The New York Times. But it falls to the American people to decide the issue.”
—Victor Davis Hanson
“We are seeking to create order in Iraq, while al-Qa’ida seeks to create disorder. It is orders of magnitude easier to create chaos than it is to create order. That doesn’t mean it is impossible. But it will require patience and above all, will.”
“How the threat of a resurgent al-Qa’ida is ameliorated by a hasty U.S. withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan, no Democrat, liberal Republican or member of the media has yet explained.”
July 19, 2007
"In a society under the forms of which the stronger faction can readily unite and oppress the weaker, anarchy may as truly be said to reign as in a state of nature."
-- James Madison (Federalist No. 52, 8 February 1788)
A new development for an old technology: exploding metals.
At press time, Pennsylvania-based DE Technologies said it was weeks away from demonstrating a defensive warhead that can detonate near an incoming grenade, mortar round or missile, spraying it with explosive RM shrapnel. Part of the Army's Active Protection System program, the warhead will detonate threats at a safe distance, while possibly limiting the risk of friendly fire. (Unlike steel shrapnel, RM shards can be made to burn out quickly.)
July 18, 2007
"Nevertheless, to the persecution and tyranny of his cruel ministry we will not tamely submit - appealing to Heaven for the justice of our cause, we determine to die or be free...."
-- Joseph Warren (American account of the Battle of Lexington, 26 April 1775)
July 17, 2007
"It is not necessary to enumerate the many advantages, that arise from this custom of early marriages. They comprehend all the society can receive from this source; from the preservation, and increase of the human race. Every thing useful and beneficial to man, seems to be connected with obedience to the laws of his nature, the inclinations, the duties, and the happiness of individuals, resolve themselves into customs and habits, favourable, in the highest degree, to society. In no case is this more apparent, than in the customs of nations respecting marriage."
-- Samuel Williams (The Natural and Civil History of Vermont, 1794)
July 16, 2007
"There is a rank due to the United States, among nations, which will be withheld, if not absolutely lost, by the reputation of weakness. If we desire to avoid insult, we must be able to repel it; if we desire to secure peace, one of the most powerful instruments of our rising prosperity, it must be known that we are at all times ready for war."
-- George Washington (Fifth Annual Message, 3 December 1793)
July 15, 2007
"I was summoned by my country, whose voice I can never hear but with veneration and love."
-- George Washington, 1789 - First Inaugural Address
July 14, 2007
"The consciousness of having discharged that duty which we owe to our country is superior to all other considerations."
-- George Washington, 1788 - letter to James Madison
July 13, 2007
"Every post is honorable in which a man can serve his country."
-- George Washington, 1775 - letter to Benedict Arnold
We're winning overseas -- and losing in Washington, D.C.
Even the BBC recognizes this. Why can't our politicians?
Al Qaeda on the wane
Michael Yon reports from Diyala province about the substantiated effectiveness of the current surge operations in Iraq. He also has a video interview with Abu Ali, the commander of the formerly insurgent 1920s Brigades (now allied with coalition forces against al Qaeda).
Before the tape was running, I asked Abu Ali why he and the 1920s turned against al Qaeda in Buhriz. Speaking through LT David Wallach, a native Arabic speaker, Abu Ali said that “al Qaeda is an abomination of Islam: cutting off heads, stealing people’s money, kidnapping . . . every type of torture they have done.”
The recent stories of baked children came to mind. I asked if Abu Ali had heard about children being baked. Ali said no, he had not heard such a story, but he would not be surprised if it were true because al Qaeda had done so many crimes, such as cutting off a man’s head, putting it up on a stick and parading it around town.
Ali said people had been afraid in their own homes because of al Qaeda. I asked if he had fought Americans and Ali laughed and said through Wallach, “What kind of question is that?” I chuckled. Unfortunately, we had to go to other meetings, so the time for taping was short. In closing, I asked Abu Ali if there was something he would like to say to Americans. The markets that had been closed under al Qaeda were bustling around us.
Ali thought for a moment as some local people tried to interrupt him with greetings, and he said, “I ask one thing,” and now I paraphrase Ali’s words: “After the Iraqi Army and Police take hold and the security forces are ready, we want a schedule for the leaving of the American forces.”
“I will tell the Americans this,” I said. Ali seemed satisfied as he went off with another American unit. We loaded back into the Stryker and headed to other interesting meetings on other interesting matters, all dealing with the grinding gears of winning or losing this war, and with catching and killing al Qaeda.
As Treebeard, of Fangorn Forest in Middle Earth, said: "Don't be hasty, that is my motto."
We, as a nation, must follow that philosophy if we are to ultimately defeat the blight of terrorism that threatens our world. After all, it took five years after the Treaty of Paris was signed with Britain in 1782 before the Constitution of the United States was written -- and that was motivated by the failed attempt to govern the country under the Articles of Confederation (which were signed in November of 1777, a full 10 years before our Constitution was signed).
We must give the Iraqis no less an opportunity.
July 12, 2007
"I am not influenced by the expectation of promotion or pecuniary reward. I wish to be useful, and every kind of service necessary for the public good, become honorable by being necessary."
-- Nathan Hale, 1776 - remark to Captain William Hull, who had attempted to dissuade him from volunteering for a spy mission for General Washington
Judge Richard Posner has taken a controversial position advocating secret trials for terrorists.
A TOP-RANKING US judge has stunned a conference of Australian judges and barristers in Chicago by advocating secret trials for terrorists, more surveillance of Muslim populations across North America and an end to counter-terrorism efforts being "hog-tied" by the US constitution. Judge Richard Posner, a supposedly liberal-leaning jurist regarded by many as a future US Supreme Court candidate, said traditional concepts of criminal justice were inadequate to deal with the terrorist threat and the US had "over-invested" in them.
I disagree with his solution, but I completely agree that the threat to the U.S. from terrorism is as dire as he says. I just wish others in this country would wake up to the reality we face.
Victor Davis Hanson gives us a dose of perspective. And points out a mammoth flaw in our cultural elite.
It is hard to recall an enemy so savage and yet one so largely ignored by rich affluent and distracted elites as the radical jihadists, as we have to evoke everything from mythology to comic books to find analogies to their extra-human viciousness.
For a self-congratulatory culture issuing moral lectures on everything from global warming to the dangers of smoking, the silence of the West toward the primordial horror from Gaza to Anbar is, well, horrific in its own way as well...
July 11, 2007
"In the next place, the state governments are, by the very theory of the constitution, essential constituent parts of the general government. They can exist without the latter, but the latter cannot exist without them."
-- Joseph Story (Commentaries on the Constitution, 1833)
Michael Yon reports on Baqubah, Operation Arrowhead Ripper, and the silence of the media.
Since the beginning of Arrowhead Ripper—with the loss of one 3-2 SBCT soldier killed in action—troops found more than 130 bombs planted in ambush, about two dozen buildings rigged to explode, and more than half a dozen car bombs. (That’s only the beginning.) Yet street by street, house by house, step by step, the infantry soldiers cleared most of Baqubah, working under intensely stressful conditions. They cleared block by block, no place to sleep but the ground, no showers to wash away the sweaty grit of war. This combat-experienced brigade outsmarted the enemy. I’d like to say more, but the enemy will get no help from these pages.
Go read the whole thing.
We have better soldiers than politicians. Then again, we have better everything than we have politicians. . . .
-- Glenn Reynolds
July 10, 2007
"Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclination, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence."
-- John Adams (in Defense of the British Soldiers on trial for the Boston Massacre, 4 December 1770)
Baqubah at D+16
Michael Yon has posted an update on Operation Arrowhead Ripper in Baqubah. He spends a lot of time discussing how the Iraqi's perceive the U.S. contingent in their country.
Most Iraqis I talk with acknowledge that if it was ever about the oil, it’s not now. Not mostly anyway. It clearly would have been cheaper just to buy the oil or invade somewhere easier that has more. Similarly, most Iraqis seem now to realize that we really don’t want to stay here, and that many of us can’t wait to get back home. They realize that we are not resolved to stay, but are impatient to drive down to Kuwait and sail away. And when they consider the Americans who actually deal with Iraqis every day, the Iraqis can no longer deny that we really do want them to succeed. But we want them to succeed without us. We want to see their streets are clean and safe, their grass is green, and their birds are singing. We want to see that on television. Not in person. We don’t want to be here. We tell them that every day. It finally has settled in that we are telling the truth.
Now that all those realizations and more have settled in, the dynamics here are changing in palpable ways.
We, as a nation, need to give Iraq some more time to get on their feet and be capable of standing on their own.
Land of the free
“Today, whole classes of people get their jollies and puff themselves up by denigrating and denouncing American society. Such people are a major influence in our media, in our educational system and among all sorts of vocal activists. Nothing illustrates their power to distort reality like the way they seize upon slavery to denounce American society. Slavery was cancerous but does anybody regard cancer in the United States as an evil peculiar to American society? It is a worldwide affliction and so was slavery. Both the enslavers and the enslaved have included people on every inhabited continent—people of every race, color, and creed. More Europeans were enslaved and taken to North Africa by Barbary Coast pirates alone than there were African slaves taken to the United States and to the colonies from which it was formed. Yet throughout our educational system, our media, and in politics, slavery is incessantly presented as if it were something peculiar to black and white Americans. What was peculiar about the United States was that it was the first country in which slavery was under attack from the moment the country was created. What was peculiar about Western civilization was that it was the first civilization to destroy slavery, not only within its own countries but in other countries around the world as well. Reality has been stood on its head so that a relative handful of people can feel puffed up or gain notoriety and power. Whatever they gain, the rest of us have everything to lose.”
July 09, 2007
"Nothing so strongly impels a man to regard the interest of his constituents, as the certainty of returning to the general mass of the people, from whence he was taken, where he must participate in their burdens."
-- George Mason, 1788 - speech in the Virginia Ratifying Convention
July 08, 2007
"The aim of every political constitution is, or ought to be, first to obtain for rulers men who possess most wisdom to discern, and most virtue to pursue, the common good of the society; and in the next place, to take the most effectual precautions for keeping them virtuous whilst they continue to hold their public trust."
-- James Madison, 1788 - Federalist No. 57
July 07, 2007
"Men of energy of character must have enemies; because there are two sides to every question, and taking one with decision, and acting on it with effect, those who take the other will of course be hostile in proportion as they feel that effect."
-- Thomas Jefferson, 1817 - letter to John Adams
July 06, 2007
"It has been a source of great pain to me to have met with so many among [my] opponents who had not the liberality to distinguish between political and social opposition; who transferred at once to the person, the hatred they bore to his political opinions."
-- Thomas Jefferson, 1808 - letter to Richard M. Johnson
July 05, 2007
"I suppose, indeed, that in public life, a man whose political principles have any decided character and who has energy enough to give them effect must always expect to encounter political hostility from those of adverse principles."
-- Thomas Jefferson, 1808 - letter to Richard M. Johnson
Thank you for not voting
I couldn't help but chuckle at this one . . .
July 04, 2007
"It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more. You will think me transported with Enthusiasm but I am not. I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure, that it will cost Us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. Yet through all the Gloom I can see the Rays of ravishing Light and Glory. I can see that the End is more than worth all the Means. And that Posterity will tryumph in that Days Transaction, even altho We should rue it, which I trust in God We shall not."
-- John Adams, 1776 - letter to Abigail Adams
Independence Day 2007
While I was in church on Sunday, we sang and listened to several patriotic hymns. They were all familiar ones, but the words in them struck a chord in me as the choir or congregation sang them.
After church, we had a picnic (indoors because of all of the rain in these parts lately) to celebrate Independence Day.
And those songs continued to play in my head.
I have reprinted the words to two of those songs -- traditional 4th of July music -- below. Please read the verses with your heart -- you will find that they describe the America that our founding fathers fought and died for, the country that many men and women have fought and died for throughout America's history.
My country,' tis of thee,
sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing;
land where my fathers died,
land of the pilgrims' pride,
from every mountainside let freedom ring!
My native country, thee,
land of the noble free, thy name I love;
I love thy rocks and rills,
thy woods and templed hills;
my heart with rapture thrills, like that above.
Let music swell the breeze,
and ring from all the trees sweet freedom's song;
let mortal tongues awake;
let all that breathe partake;
let rocks their silence break, the sound prolong.
Our fathers' God, to thee,
author of liberty, to thee we sing;
long may our land be bright
with freedom's holy light;
protect us by thy might, great God, our King.
America the Beautiful
O beautiful for spacious skies,
for amber waves of grain;
for purple mountain majesties
above the fruited plain!
America! America! God shed his grace on thee,
and crown thy good with brotherhood
from sea to shining sea.
O beautiful for heroes proved
in liberating strife,
who more than self their country loved,
and mercy more than life!
America! America! May God thy gold refine,
till all success be nobleness,
and every gain divine.
O beautiful for patriot dream
that sees beyond the years
thine alabaster cities gleam,
undimmed by human tears!
America! America! God mend thine every flaw,
confirm thy soul in self-control,
thy liberty in law.
The America described in these patriotic songs still exists today -- though it has been subdued by intellectual elitism, scientific materialism, and the generally prevalent self-centeredness of its citizens.
We, as the people of the United States of America, need to take the words of these songs to heart -- instead of taking them for granted. We need to make our country more important than ourselves in order to remake our country into the great nation it once was, and spread liberty and justice to those people in other countries who know only oppression and hopelessness.
Yes. I know. I'm being way too idealistic here. But I believe that God has great plans for America -- if we only turn from our selfishness, and seek His guidance.
I pray that God blesses America, and that America, without fail, shares those blessings with the rest of the world.
Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people he chose for his inheritance.
-- Psalms 33:12 (NIV)
Happy Independence Day.
We're off to the Houston environs to visit family. I'll probably not be able to blog much as a result ('cause I'll be having too much fun doing family stuff!).
I wish you all a safe and enjoyable Independence Day.
July 03, 2007
"It behooves you, therefore, to think and act for yourself and your people. The great principles of right and wrong are legible to every reader; to pursue them requires not the aid of many counselors. The whole art of government consists in the art of being honest. Only aim to do your duty, and mankind will give you credit where you fail."
-- Thomas Jefferson, 1775 - A Summary View of the Rights of British America
UPDATE to 'Bless the beasts and the children'
UPDATE: Michael Yon has an update to this tragic story. He also comments upon the virtual silence about this story at mainstream media outlets -- despite reporters being less than 4 miles away from the village that Al Qaeda eradicated.
Today, late afternoon on 3 July in Baqubah, Colonel Hiduit from 2nd Brigade 5th Iraqi Army was able to provide some additional details about the murders, as the ongoing investigation begins to yield more facts. The name of the village was not on any maps I examined while preparing the dispatch, but Colonel Hiduit said the name is al Hamira. Coordinates to the area of the gravesites are MC 679 381.
In my dispatch, I reported that six people were killed, but mentioned that Iraqi soldiers were still digging out bodies when I left. A few hours ago, Colonel Hiduit put the number at 10-14, and said the search for bodies had ended. I made video of the graves, bodies and of interviews with Iraqi and American soldiers while we still were at the scene and have been working to make material from this available on this website.
As the investigation unfolds more pertinent details, I’ll continue to update the story. But the biggest question rippling across the internet–“Why hasn’t the mainstream media picked this up?” –is something only representatives of mainstream media can answer.
Maybe we should call them, too . . .
Bless the beasts and the children
Michael Yon, along with elements of Charley Co., 1-12 CAV and the 5th IA, made a horrifying discovery in a village on the outskirts of Baqubah.
I told the Iraqi commander, Captain Baker, that it was important that Americans see this; he took me around the graves and showed more than I wanted to see. He said the people had been murdered by al Qaeda. I made video of him speaking, and of the horrible scene. The heat and stench were crushingly oppressive and broken only by the sounds of shovels as Iraqi soldiers kept digging.
This is the enemy we fight. Do we really want to pull out of Iraq and Afghanistan so that these inhuman monsters can have their way with innocent men, women, and children?
Go read the whole dispatch.
And then call your congressional representatives.
July 02, 2007
"The natural cure for an ill-administration, in a popular or representative constitution, is a change of men."
-- Alexander Hamilton, 1787 - Federalist No. 21
Energy price issues
Dr. John Felmy, chief economist for the American Petroleum Institute, answers questions about what factors are affecting the price of gasoline right now. As it turns out, and with not a little irony, Congress' deliberations on a new energy bill are a significant factor in why we're paying such high prices . . .
It kind of makes all the Congressional posturing and puffery in implicating "big oil" seem like hypocrisy, doesn't it?
July 01, 2007
"When occasions present themselves, in which the interests of the people are at variance with their inclinations, it is the duty of the persons whom they have appointed to be the guardians of those interests, to withstand the temporary delusion, in order to give them time and opportunity for more cool and sedate reflection."
-- Alexander Hamilton, The Federalist, no 71