Wednesday, November 23, 2005


These Stats on Iraq Should be on the Front Page, Not in the Editorial Section

Iraq's a lost cause? Ask the real experts - Los Angeles Times: "Yet in a survey last month from the U.S.-based International Republican Institute, 47% of Iraqis polled said their country was headed in the right direction, as opposed to 37% who said they thought that it was going in the wrong direction. And 56% thought things would be better in six months. Only 16% thought they would be worse.
American soldiers are also much more optimistic than American civilians. The Pew Research Center and the Council on Foreign Relations just released a survey of American elites that found that 64% of military officers are confident that we will succeed in establishing a stable democracy in Iraq. The comparable figures for journalists and academics are 33% and 27%, respectively. Even more impressive than the Pew poll is the evidence of how our service members are voting with their feet. Although both the Army and the Marine Corps are having trouble attracting fresh recruits no surprise, given the state of public opinion regarding Iraq reenlistment rates continue to exceed expectations. Veterans are expressing their confidence in the war effort by signing up to continue fighting.
There are also positive economic indicators that receive little or no coverage in the Western media. For all the insurgents' attempts to sabotage the Iraqi economy, the Brookings Institution reports that per capita income has doubled since 2003 and is now 30% higher than it was before the war. Thanks primarily to the increase in oil prices, the Iraqi economy is projected to grow at a whopping 16.8% next year. According to Brookings' Iraq index, there are five times more cars on the streets than in Saddam Hussein's day, five times more telephone subscribers and 32 times more Internet users.
The growth of the independent media — a prerequisite of liberal democracy — is even more inspiring. Before 2003 there was not a single independent media outlet in Iraq. Today, Brookings reports, there are 44 commercial TV stations, 72 radio stations and more than 100 newspapers."

Isn't it interesting that the Pew poll and Brookings report weren't covered on any front page that I have seen? I read several newspapers a day and have not seen any of this. I have heard people argue that the poor Iraqis must hate us being there. These figures suggest that they may be thankful. It suggests they may have taken Democracy and run with it. It also suggests that the people who think by suggesting pull-out they are doing good by our troops haven't bothered to talk to those troops. There has also been the argument that there is no fresh water and electricity still. I have trouble with that argument. If there was no electricity, there would not be all the new telephone subscribers and internet users. In fact, there couldn't be all the new media outlets either. They all require hydrated people and electricity to run them. Part of the problem for those of us lucky enough to be here in America is that we don't have a sense of what it was really like before the war in Iraq. It seems to me that there were probably just many more people out of work, without life's basics and fearful than any of us can imagine. I admit that it is hard to imagine life being better even as bombs go off in your cities. I also admit that I can't imagine living in a place where it was common that the leader of your country would feed people to lions and hang citizens from buildings in the town square to keep everyone else under control. Maybe knowing that the new leaders won't be hauling off family members to fill large holes in the ground is enough to deal with bombs in their cities. Maybe they see an end to this we don't. Maybe they see their sons and nephews signing up to learn how to protect their country. Maybe they have a new lease on patriotism that they can truly believe in. From now on, before our leaders speak for the Iraqi people and our soldiers, maybe they should talk to them first.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005


A Marine Reports From Iraq, A Must-Read!!

A Marine reports from Iraq�-�Editorials/Op-Ed�-�The Washington Times, America's Newspaper: " The Iraqis are a mixed bag. Some fight well, others aren't worth a s***.
Most do okay with American support. Finding leaders is hard, but they are getting better. It is widely viewed that Zarqawi's use of suicide bombers, en masse, against the civilian population was a serious tactical mistake.
Many Iraqis were galvanized and the caliber of recruits in the Army and the police forces went up, along with their motivation. It also led to an exponential increase in good intelligence because the Iraqis are sick of the insurgent attacks against civilians. The Kurds are solidly pro-American and fearless fighters.
According to [name redacted], morale among our guys is very high. They not only believe they are winning, but that they are winning decisively. They are stunned and dismayed by what they see in the American press, whom they almost universally view as against them. The embedded reporters are despised and distrusted. They are inflicting casualties at a rate of 20-1 and then see s*** like 'Are we losing in Iraq?' on television and the print media.
For the most part, they are satisfied with their equipment, food and leadership. Bottom line, though, and they all say this: There are not enough guys there to drive the final stake through the heart of the insurgency, primarily because there aren't enough troops in-theater to shut down the borders with Iran and Syria. The Iranians and the Syrians just cannot stand the thought of Iraq being an American ally -- with, of course, permanent U.S. bases there."

This letter confirms much of what many of us suspected. Things are not perfect, but they are not as bad as many of the anti-war folks would like us to believe. This Marine says we need more people and the right equipment. I hope the big-wigs at the Pentagon see this letter for that point. This Marine also says that the Iraqi's are siding with the Americans, if only because our enemy is in common. They don't like the civillian targeting, so they want us to win. Go figure. It only made sense, and it is good to see someone who is over there confirm this. Another amazing point is that our service men and women believe they are winning. Let me repeat. Our service men and women on the ground believe we are winning. I think this is one of those columns that all Americans need to read. It may just focus the criticism to the things that matter, weapons and on-the-ground military head-count. I also hope it helps put focus on winning, and not getting these heroes home before they finish a job they clearly feel like they are successful doing.

Sunday, November 20, 2005


This Would Be Very Good News!

Jerusalem Post | Breaking News from Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World: "At least one Arab television media outlet reported that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the head of the al-Qaida in Iraq, was killed in Iraq on Sunday afternoon when eight terrorists blew themselves up in the in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul.
The unconfirmed report claimed that the explosions occurred after coalition forces surrounded the house in which al-Zarqawi was hiding."

Na Na Na Na
Na Na Na Na
Hey Hey Hey
Goo-oo-d Bye!!!


No. 1 Trojans Survive Bulldog Effort - New York Times

No. 1 Trojans Survive Bulldog Effort - New York Times: "In other words, it may be nearly as memorable as U.S.C.�s last-minute victory at Notre Dame this season, which was deemed one of the greatest games in school history. The Trojans were not as impressive against the Bulldogs, but they remained resilient."

It is good to see Fresno sports covered this way in the NYT's. It was the best college football game I have ever seen. I am not normally a big college football fan, but you didn't have to be one to truly enjoy this battle. Fresno proved a lot in this game and gave the city much of the accolades it needs to become a national name. Everyone that watched was proud, impressed, and/or respected the way Fresno played last night.

Friday, November 18, 2005


This Guy's An Idiot

BREITBART.COM - Just The News: "An audiotape purportedly from the head of al-Qaida in Iraq said Friday the group's suicide bombers did not intend to bomb a Jordanian wedding party at an Amman hotel last week, killing about 30 people. The speaker on the tape, identified as Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, also threatened to kill Jordan's King Abdullah II and bomb more hotels and tourist sites.
'Your star is fading. You will not escape your fate, you descendant of traitors. We will be able to reach your head and chop it off,' al- Zarqawi said, referring to the king.
Al-Zarqawi told Jordanians to stay away from bases used by U.S. forces in Jordan; hotels and tourist sites in Amman, the Dead Sea and the southern resort of Aqaba; and embassies of governments participating in the war in Iraq _ saying those areas would be targeted.
Al-Zarqawi said the bomber who detonated his explosives in the Radisson SAS hotel on Nov. 9 was targeting a hall where he claimed Israeli and American intelligence officials were meeting.
That bomb caused part of the roof to fall in the wedding hall.
'We didn't target them. Our target was halls being used by Zionist intelligence who were meeting there at the time,' he said. 'Our brothers knew their targets with great precision.' "

On the one hand, Zarqawi says that he never meant for the innocents to be killed, but moments later says that his bombers knew their targets with great precision? Is it just me or is that dopey? On top of it all, he suggests that he kill King Abdullah II. Uh, he is well liked. Zarqawi's poll numbers in Jordan are not so good right now, and I can't imagine how this bit of ignorance is going to help him recruit or maintain support. His lack of judgement on the bombing itself and this follow-up press piece are to the free world's advantage. Let's hope he continues to make these kinds of mistakes.

Sunday, November 13, 2005


Clarence Page Makes Another Good Point

Chicago Tribune | `Racial' is not always `racist': "Whatever the reason, if we Americans can't find some reasonable ways to talk about these relatively trivial matters without pointing accusatory fingers at each other, we don't stand much of a chance to talk about the really serious problems of race in America."

The first constructive thing that can happen is for African-Americans and blacks of other descents to allow a white person to discuss race without trying to shut off the conversation by yelling racist. It ends the conversation without any real thought being brought to the fore by both sides. It is an obvious and common avoidance to really open discourse about the similarities and differences in the races. This is experienced much less (or not at all) with people of Asian or Eastern European origin, for example. Maybe we should first explore what causes them to be so much more open to such discussion.


When You Come to Pat Robertson, Press Mute

Chicago Tribune | Keeping ID out of science classes: "Call me paranoid, but sometimes I think the mainstream media give maximum coverage to Pat Robertson in order to discredit him.
Or, at least, to discredit politically active TV evangelists who have enough connections to get their phone calls returned from the White House.
Either way, it hasn't worked. Robertson is still in business. His latest fatwa, delivered on 'The 700 Club,' his daily Virginia-based television show, is directed at 'the good citizens of Dover,' a Pennsylvania town that Robertson says has 'rejected' God.
Their sinful deed, Robertson says, was to vote out of office all of Dover's school board members who were up for re-election and supported intelligent design. That's the politically charged theory that challenges Charles Darwin's 1859 theory of evolution, 80 years after John Scopes was found guilty of teaching it in public schools in Tennessee.
'If there is a disaster in your area,' Robertson told Dover, 'don't turn to God, you just rejected him from your city. ... And if that's the case, don't ask for his help because he might not be there.'
God could not be reached for comment. But Robertson said in a later statement, 'If they have future problems in Dover, I recommend they call on Charles Darwin. Maybe he can help them.'"

Argh. This guy has had a platform on TV for too long (five minutes would be too long), but to think he has the ear of the leader of the free world...I shiver. It also makes me shiver to know that people follow his lead, think the way he does. Clarence Page and I don't often agree, but on this, he is absolutely right. 'God forbid' we respect the separation of Church and State as it relates to the teachings of Creationism. I don't mind the idea of Creationism being taught as it would be sad for kids to graduate from High School without knowing what the word means. That is different, however, from teaching it as a scientific equal. Touch on it in history or in literature, but not in science, or at least not as a scientific theory.


Review: Good Night, and Good Luck

It was a "Wow" film. The Saturday evening crowd clapped. We all meant it. First of all, it had an incredible cast that worked. Because we know of some of their real lives, the movie begins with the audience questioning whether we will actually buy them in these roles. Downey, Jr. in any role at this point makes an audience wonder. Soon after that, the audience is sucked in by the music, the incredible music! We are similarly drawn to Strathairn who maintains a stiff neck, a nearly emotionless Murrow. If I had seen him in any other role, I certainly couldn't recall it as I watched him tell me a story of a time that is integral to this country's maturing. The era was covered perfectly, down the the clocks on the wall that always seemed to say 10 o'clock. There were no jokes in this film, thank God. There was perfect off-handed wit. It was the kind of banter that would happen amongst co-workers with intellect. The single most brilliant part of the film was the use of the actual footage. We are used to watching re-enactments of these kinds of historical moments where words are changed to make the film more evocative. The makers of this film wisely knew that the footage would serve the purpose better than any actor. Another movie-making choice, a close second, was black and white presentation. For the elderly women next to me, I could feel them being drawn in all the more as it was the way they remembered watching Murrow all those years ago. I could hear those women, as well as my Mother, saying "I remember that". There was no sex and no violence. There was little cursing. These, too, were brave choices in a Hollywood era that nary goes without such elements. Admittedly, it is hard to watch George Clooney in a role like this one and not see George. With the man playing Murrow, however, he had me at "Good Night".

Friday, November 11, 2005


Letter to WaPo Says it Better Than I Can

The Truths of Veterans Day: "Michael is an amazing young man and every bit the U.S. soldier. He spends a lot of his days visiting his driver, Dennis, who was wounded in the same explosion.
Dennis, a 21-year-old private first class, is the son of Russian immigrants. His parents are working on gaining their U.S. citizenship. His mother was aided by an interpreter in her discussions with Dennis's doctors -- one example of the Army's 'leave no stone unturned' approach to making the best of a bad situation.
Both Michael and Dennis have undergone numerous operations in the past year. We have visited them often, taken them out to dinner and had them over to the house. On one occasion, shortly after the explosion, I asked Dennis what he hoped to do in the future. Sitting on my couch, with the tracheotomy tube still in his throat and his head bandaged, he said, 'I just hope I can reenlist.' I had to leave the room -- too emotional for an old soldier.
Veterans Day is for honoring all these brave young people who are the vanguards of freedom for this generation, as well as to honor those who suffered similarly in previous generations. Take a moment to remember the sacrifices they will have to live with -- God bless them.

I felt I needed to find a way to thank those that have gone through hell for us, but this letter seems to say it better. I encourage you to read the whole letter.
Yesterday, I talked to a fellow who was in the Navy. He didn't talk about it often, and it became clear he didn't even tell prospective employers. I asked why and he said that it didn't matter. Shouldn't it? Shouldn't employers, friends, family, and others care that this man signed up to work for all of us, to do the dirty work?
Not talking about it seems to be a common thread for those who have served. It doesn't often matter in what way they serve. In talking openly with former intelligence officers, former Marines, and other such service people, there is an obvious humility. It is not forced. Rather, it is felt deeply and genuinely.

Thursday, November 10, 2005


Jordan is Not Your Average Islamic Country

Blasts at hotels in Jordan kill 57�-�World�-�The Washington Times, America's Newspaper: "King Abdullah II cut short his official visit to Kazakhstan and was returning home.
'The hand of justice will get to the criminals who targeted innocent secure civilians with their cowardly acts,' he said."

King Abdullah is no wimp when it comes to terrorism. He hasn't a use for Al Quaeda, and has been a considerable supporter of the U.S. They have been an ally of the U.S., both in Foreign Affairs, but also in trade, education, etc. for a long time. A friend of mine in college was from a wealthy family in Amman. The lived down the road from the then-Prince. I was intrigued constantly by how similar and then different our cultures were. On the one hand, arranged marriages to cousins was not terribly abnormal, but yet women could run businesses and were not the property of their mate. Unlike other predominantly Muslim countries, Jordan was far more contemporary. When I think of these awful things happening there, I think of this great, kind, smart, and peaceful family. Though most of the family is likely stateside, I wish their family members in Jordan well.

Saturday, November 05, 2005


Jobs for Victims of 2005's Hurricanes Business: " Virtual career fair to help evacuees"

Please read this story and pass along to any evacuees you may know. The link for the job fair is on both and

Wednesday, November 02, 2005



Ma Bell, remarried - Los Angeles Times: "So SBC, based in San Antonio, will be taking over its former parent, which traces its roots to Alexander Graham Bell's experiments in Boston in the 1870s. The new AT&T won't be Ma Bell happily, most consumers have a wireless alternative for local and long-distance service, and gradually other options will appear as well. But even SBC loyalists have to admit that the AT&T name has a better ring."

This editorial makes an interesting point. This merger is much too complex for most of us outside of the company, but we wish them luck.

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