Sunday, July 31, 2005

US Army Sheiks It Up In Iraq

US Army SSGT Dale L. Horn is making a difference in Iraq:

Sheik Horn floats around the room in white robe and headdress, exchanging pleasantries with dozens of village leaders. But he's the only sheik with blonde streaks in his mustache - and the only one who attended country music star Toby Keith's recent concert in Baghdad with fellow U.S. soldiers.


Horn ... was now thrust into a job that largely hinged on coaxing locals into divulging information about insurgents.

Horn ... acknowledges he had little interest in the region before coming here. But a local sheik friendly to U.S. forces, Dr. Mohammed Ismail Ahmed, explained the inner workings of rural Iraqi society on one of Horn's first Humvee patrols.

Horn says he was intrigued, and started making a point of stopping by all the villages, all but one dominated by Sunni Arabs, to talk to people about their life and security problems.

Moreover, he pressed for development projects in the area: he now boasts that he helped funnel $136,000 worth of aid into the area. Part of that paid for delivery of clean water to 30 villages during the broiling summer months.

"They saw that we were interested in them, instead of just taking care of the bases," Horn said.

Mohammed, Horn's mentor and known for his dry sense of humor, eventually suggested during a meeting of village leaders that Horn be named a sheik. The sheiks approved by voice vote, Horn said.

Some sheiks later gave him five sheep and a postage stamp of land, fulfilling some of the requirements for sheikdom. Others encouraged him to start looking for a second wife, which Horn's spouse back in Florida immediately vetoed.

But what may have originally started as a joke among crusty village elders has sprouted into something serious enough for 100 to 200 village leaders to meet with Horn each month to discuss security issues. ...

The whole article is worth the read.

Good on ya, Staff Sergeant!

Naiveté and Cynicism

To believe all men honest would be folly.
To believe none so is something worse.

John Quincy Adams

Saturday, July 30, 2005

All the Arabic Speakers You Could Want

The US has a communications problem with the world. Part of that problem is language: There are simply not enough Americans who are fluent in certain foreign langauges, like Arabic and Chinese.

If the rebuilding of Iraq is a success, one of the biggest fruits of that victory will be 26 million Arabic speakers who suddenly have the freedom to say whatever they want and the means to do so. Yes, some of those Arabic speakers will oppose the US, will even hate the US and preach violence against it. But a great many will also have a positive view of the US, and given the means to share their views with the rest of the Arabic world, this will result in a huge net increase in the amount of pro-Americanism the rest of the Arab world is exposed to.

Another major problem the US has is its lack of ability to gather human intelligence. This is something else a free Iraq will help solve, as a number of Iraqis will be willing to work with the US in intelligence gathering in the rest of the Arab world.

These two factors are far more important than they sound: The role of propaganda in anti-Americanism is vastly underestimated. Propaganda has been far more important than any US policy in creating and sustaining anti-Americanism in the world.


In a coincidentally related post, Dr. Demarche discusses how we can deny Al Qaeda its next generation of jihadis.

Iraq Is Now Like Vietnam

Oh, the nostalgia.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Unconstitutional Activities At Gitmo

After some research and consideration, I am forced to admit there appears to be some violations of the US Constitution at the prison at Guantanamo.

First and foremost, we have the US government distributing the Koran to the prisoners. That seems to be a clear violation of the no-establishment-of-religion rule. Can you imagine the uproar if they distributed Bibles? In addition, the direction to Mecca for the prayers of Muslims is marked and halal food is served, clearly creating an Islamic atmosphere in the prison. I would like to point out that it is all at taxpayer expense as well.

What message does all this send to non-Muslim prisoners being held? To non-Muslim guards and other US government employees at Gitmo? Do any non-Muslim prisoners feel like they must pretend to be Muslim to be socially acceptable there? Can a Christian US Marine get issued a Bible, and if not, what message does it send that the US government provides enemy combatants with the Koran, but will not provide a Christian Marine a Bible? How do the taxpayers feel, paying for Korans and halal food?

Finally, there is no rule of war that prisoners have to be given their scriptures or food appropriate to their religion, so the US government is actually going way above the "call of duty" to cater to their prisoners' religion.

Considering the US Supreme Court's recent ruling that the 10 Commandments cannot be posted in a court of law, and other judicial rulings regarding school prayer, etc., I think it is clear that the US government has established Islam as its religion in Guantanamo.

Someone please contact the ACLU. I am sure their lawyers will salivate over this one.


PS Yes, it's been a very dry summer for humor.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Blogging Consternation

What to do with this blog?

Or, Tubular Or Not Tubular, That Is The Question.

For your consideration and commentary:

As I noted in an earlier post, I am attempting to start a freelance writing career. As part of that, and because I enjoy it, I'd like to maintain a 'Web presence' (ooh, learning fancy words now, aren't I?). My options, as I see them, are:
1. To start a new blog under my real name and either forget (delete?) this one (or only use it surreptitiously).
2. To completely revamp this one to meet professional requirements, meaning I would delete anything that doesn't really contribute (like purely snarky or just-about-me posts), rewrite what's left, and effectively re-launch it. I would probably move it to my own hosting service at some point.

Whichever option I choose, I will probably open it up to either blog partners, or to guest contributors.

Okay, loyal readers, what are your thoughts, if any, about this?

Monday, July 25, 2005

Getting Along

For anyone who might be tracking my reintegration to North American society, I just thought I'd post that it's a crazy country, much more polarized. There's lots and lots of good things, which more than make up for the weirdos and juvenile losers.

Overall, I would say my re-entry shock is only somewhat abated. Anyone else out there have experience with 'reverse culture shock'? I wonder if the anti-Bush crowd are going through culture shock at certain realizations they've been forced to accept ... (You know, like their sudden realization last November that just over half of their fellow citizens might be crazy?) After all, Bush's victory eased my internal cultural tensions with America.


PS I dislike the term 'reverse culture shock.' What does that mean, I'm having culture shock backwards? Which would be a good thing, right? I prefer 're-entry culture shock,' which is much clearer, but hey, no one asked me.

PPS It's kind of like 'reverse racism,' which I find a particularly racist phrase. Racism is racism, and there's no forward or reverse about it.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

So, SO Funny

Went to see 6 Women With Braindeath Friday night. It was hilarious! My favorite line, from one of the six white actresses was:

Do you know what the worst thing about being a white woman is? You'll probably marry a white man.

Ba-da-BING! The play got a standing ovation! Woo-HOOO!!!

I know everyone in those Blue States thinks we in Oklahoma are sexist racists -- and there it is! Proof!


Update: As commenters have pointed out, I should have noted this was a play I went to locally, and that the sexism part came from a rant in the play specifically against men.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Happy Bastille Day!

Maybe France is at last waking up from its long, socialist slumber.

The Guardian reports:

Many believe France has another crisis coming. For 30 years the country ignored warnings that its system needed an overhaul, that it could not sustain its massive public expenditure, enormous bureaucracy, expensive public services, high taxes and crippling social charges. Paradoxically, French people often say they want changes, and then bring the streets to a standstill when their politicians try to introduce them. Instead of pressing ahead with difficult reforms, ministers have all too often taken the soft option of retreating.

"The French do not change things by consensus, they change things by conflict," said Pascal Perrineau, a professor at the Paris Institute for Political Science.

"The French model is no longer accepted as universal because it doesn't work. The French are at a crossroads. They know they must change and adapt to a more liberal, global world, but they are hesitating and it may well be that they need a push. From time to time a man of history, like Bonaparte and de Gaulle, comes to force us to accept change, but we have a revolutionary history which makes this period particularly risky."

But what exactly is wrong? Why is the home of a 35-hour working week, long holidays, generous benefits, fine gastronomy and TGVs riddled with self-doubt?

The whole article is worth reading.

All things considered, today I'll remember the good things France has done for the US -- it's help in our own revolution, the Statue of Liberty, the roots of Cajun cuisine.

I'd also like to remember a Frenchman, Marc Bloch, a history professor who taught us how to write history with The Historian's Craft, a French patriot who served in both world wars and then fought the Nazis as a member of the Resistance, and who was executed by them after his capture.

And I'll celebrate a Frenchwoman who is fighting for change, Sabine Herold. A French university student, she is the editor and spokeswoman for Liberté j'écris ton nom (Liberty, I Write Your Name), a think tank and activist organization in France. (Be sure to read the linked article.)

Finally, let me point out the French representative to my blog bagel, ¡No Pasarán! Definitely worth the read.

I wish them the best for this new revolution, that it does not turn violent (as the article suggests it might), and that it leads them into a better life and better relationships with the US and UK.

Viva la France!

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Durbin Spokesman Threatens Group

Move America Forward has been running TV ads defending US servicemen and women from Senator Durbin's remarks comparing US soldiers to Nazis, gulag guards, and minions of some mad dictator like Pol Pot. You can see the ad on their Website.

In a response that, if you didn't know it was from an American senator's spokesman, you would think came from the Gestapo, KGB, or the intelligence apparatus of some mad dictator like Saddam Hussein, Sen. Durbin's (D, IL) spokesman, Joe Shoemaker, said, "Have you ever seen that H &R Block commercial where the guy leans in and says, 'I see an audit'?"

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Terrorists Murder Civilians in London

Bloomberg Reports:
Terrorists set off a series of bombs across London's subway system in the financial district and on a bus in the center of the capital, killing at least eight people and shutting down all public transportation.

"It's reasonably clear that there have been a series of terrorist attacks in London," U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair said at the Group of Eight summit, which began today in Gleneagles, Scotland. "Our determination to defend our values is greater than theirs to impose extremism. Whatever they do, it is our determination that they will never succeed."

Seven explosions occurred, starting at 8:50 a.m. local time, at financial district Underground stations, including Liverpool Street, Moorgate and Aldgate East, police said. Casualties were on a bus that exploded near Russell Square, a firefighter said.

And the Blame Israel First gang was already ready ...

From CBS News:

Denying an earlier report, Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said that Israel was not warned by Scotland Yard in advance of the blasts.

Did Scotland Yard know of the blasts in advance? Why would they warn Israel? So the Israeli ambassador could activate the super-secret-Alert-the-Jews-mindrays only Jews can hear so all the Jews could get out of the subway / off the bus?

And as soon as the America-hating Western pundits wake up, we will get the first waves of Blame America First and Blame Britain First, of course. Let's see, 'Little Eichmanns' has been used already ...


Chrenkoff has a good post on it, and he also notes the Blame the Jews move I mentioned.

Instapundit has an excellent roundup, including this link to Tim Worstall's blog with commentary, a roundup of news and first-hand blog reports, and photos, that is pretty good.


From the Guardian's blog:
1513 Respect MP George Galloway says: "We argued, as did the security services in this country, that the attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq would increase the threat of terrorist attack in Britain. Tragically Londoners have now paid the price of the Government ignoring such warnings."

15:13, it only took a few hours. Of course, Galloway ... This wasn't a surprise.

Also, the report above states there were 7 explosions, but now it seems there were only 4.

(Mug tip to democracy guy via Instapundit.)

Friday, July 01, 2005

Gitmo Safer Than California Prisons

From The Times-Herald:

A federal judge on Thursday said he will appoint an independent authority to oversee the health care system in California's prisons, so plagued with problems that inmates die of neglect or maltreatment at the rate of one a week.


"The judge has clearly recognized the ongoing risk of death and harm to patients is unconstitutional and basically horrifying," said Alison Hardy, an attorney with the nonprofit Prison Law Office, which represents the plaintiffs.


The lawsuit initially involved 10 inmates - including a pair at Vacaville's two prisons. It alleged that prison officials across the state routinely violated inmate rights to adequate medical care. Specifically, the suit listed a paraplegic whose catheter went unchanged for months, a prisoner with AIDS whose pain medications were cut off eight times, and a former inmate at California State Prison, Solano, who had a degenerative disc disease and was denied required orthopedic surgery.

It alleged that prison officials relied on inadequately trained and poorly supervised medical assistants, failed to provide adequate nursing coverage on evenings and weekends, and failed to treat inmates with chronic disorders.

To date, not one prisoner has died at Gitmo.