Saturday, December 15, 2001

Justice, Taliban Style

From the Post. Unsettling accounts of people whom had limbs amputated for various crimes. Some points of interest:
"They did this to hundreds of people," Agha said, cradling a young son in his good arm. "There were no real trials. No justice, no reason. It was just terror."

The Taliban based its system of justice on its reading of the Koran, which contains language calling for punishing thieves by cutting off their right hands.

"Yes, that is written in the Koran, but this was wrong," said Mohammed, deputy director of the main military hospital here, who, like many Afghans, goes by one name. "There are many things written in the Koran, but in the century we are living in, this should not be done. Maybe 1,000 years ago, but not now."
These things are done in Saudi Arabia to this day. I have personally witnessed a public amputation myself. They're done in large stadium type areas, and feature dozens of amputations and beheadings in a single day. If you want to know where the Taliban predilection for public amputations and executions came from, you need look no further than their Saudi masters.
The doctors involved in the amputations remain anonymous. Cairo said it is clear that trained medical personnel performed the amputations because they were done precisely: The limbs were severed neatly at the wrist and ankle joints, often with a flap of skin left intact to cover the wound.

Mohammed denied involvement by doctors from his hospital, which the Taliban military controlled from 1996 until last month. Asked how any doctor could be persuaded to participate, Cairo replied, "Bastards you can find everywhere."
The sad thing is, these "doctors" are probably still around Kabul, safe from prosecution. Amnesty International has not publicly announced any investigations into Taliban atrocities.



Rant of the Week

Peter Freundlich has a not too friendly essay in the Washington Post about the revising down the number dead in the WTC attack, and poses some questions.
Suppose the towers of the World Trade Center still were standing, that no jetliner crashed in Pennsylvania, and all that happened on Sept. 11 -- all! -- was that a jetliner was flown into the Pentagon. The numbers there have been known for some time: 189 dead or missing, 64 of them, including 5 hijackers, aboard American Airlines Flight 77. The heart breaks, but can strain to take in 184 victims


And there lies the truth. The press, and the American people by extension, has a body count threshold that determines how much attention and care they wish to bestow on any given tragedy. It's also telling that Freundlich uses the Pentagon as an example. If it were just the Pentagon that were hit, do you think the American people would've really cared that much? Would there have been as much support for military action? Of course not. Hell, the Pentagon seems to have already been eclipsed and forgotten due to the high body count and damage involved in the WTC tragedy.

It's not that surprising. A lot of us in the military realize that the American people, in all honesty, just don't give a damn about us. Sure, they get all patriotic and send out platitudes of support when there's a big war on, but they're just bandwagon fans, worthy only of contempt. Where've you been the last ten years? After the parades from Desert Storm were over, where'd you go? Were you when they were slashing us down to a skeletal force, but constantly deploying us as if we had our original numbers? Where was your support when they drug the bodies of our men through the streets of Mogadishu? Where were the American people's care and support when some of Osama's bastards blew up 19 of my friends in Saudi Arabia? Oh, that's right. Oklahoma City had already happened, killing scores of people. Sorry guys, you just didn't rate high enough. Besides, it happened to military people, so who gives a shit? Where were you when our embassies were bombed? Two large buildings were leveled and hundreds killed, but it rated barely a blip in the American consciousness. I guess not enough "real" Americans were killed for you to care. Here's a couple of cruise missiles into Afghanistan. Yay America!

And now we come to the Cole. I'm at a loss to explain this apparent aberration in press coverage. Perhaps it had been awhile between terrorist incidents, or perhaps somebody up the chain was aggressively going after the press to at least pay attention this time. I don't know. What I do know is that the lives of those sailors lost didn't even rate a real response, and their heroism and bravery were soon eclipsed by the election. Where were you America, when the Democrats were threatening to throw out military absentee ballots? Did you know that some of those ballots were from those killed on the Cole? Or did it even matter? "Ah, it's the military, who gives a shit? They all vote Republican anyways." The list goes on.

So we in the military will enjoy this brief bit of faux support and concern that these fair-weather fans have given us. We'll keep in mind that such support is vacuous and fleeting. Our minds will boggle at how terrorists can kill us every year without so much as a peep from the American people, but as soon as the question of battlefield casualties comes up, they suddenly seem to develop an interest. "Are the American people ready to accept body bags of American soldiers coming home?"

The body bags have been coming in for years. Nobody's given a damn before, why should they now?

Alright, that's enough of that shit.



Friday, December 14, 2001

World's Most Famous Ass-Kisser

Who is that gimpy shiek, the Arab world's answer to Eddie Haskell in that bin-laden tape? Well, U.S. sources believe it's Ali Ben Said al-Ghamdi, a low-level cleric who apparently was trying to score brownie points with the Big Boys by appearing in the video with binny. You know how you'll walk into an office, and the person who works in it will have all these pictures of him shaking hands with important people? "Look! My close proximity during this 3 second encounter with someone who can't pick my face out of a line-up and forever captured on film proves I'm a major player! So please respect me."

Same thing with Gimpy.
Dutch Boy the Browser

For those of you running Internet Explorer 6, download this critical update. It supposedly prevents bad people from doing very bad things to your computer.
No Prayer For You!

Fox News reports on an ACLU case seeking to stop cadets from having a prayer before dinner.
Hurd asked Judge Norman K. Moon to declare VMI's daily prayer constitutional. Hurd also said organized prayer is common in the military, and the dinner prayer helps VMI in its mission of developing citizen-soldiers. "This case is not about whether prayers in the military are constitutional," said ACLU lawyer Rebecca Glenberg. "This is a state university."


This is something I've always wondered about. The ACLU is always going after schools when it comes to church/state issues, but has never taken on the military over the same things. Right now, there's a Christmas tree on my base with a nativity scene. The town hall down the road can't have that, but a federal reservation can? The saying of a prayer is commonplace at a lot of military functions, but as far back as I can remember, the mighty ACLU has never taken the military to task for it. I wonder why.

Powell Interview

The Daily Telegraph had an interview with SecState Powell recently. He talks about the war, terrorism, multilateralism, Arafat and Israel -just about everything. It's a great read.
Yet more signals

In a previous post, I referenced an article talking about Americans in Somalia doing some intel work in that country. Now comes word from the Washington Post that we have advisors in the Philippines to train forces there to fight radical Muslim insurgents.

I think what we're seeing is the beginnings of our worldwide strategy to combat terrorism. In countries friendly to us, we will use the infrastructure already in place to wipe out terrorists with minimal military commitment on our part. In countries that are hostile (or anarchic in the case of Somalia), we will use more covert methods to neutralize cells possibly in conjunction with overt military action depending on circumstances. It's a strategy that allows us to be everywhere at once, without diluting our resources by going everywhere at once. We can concentrate the bulk of our intel/military assets in a hostile area, and if the terrorists run, they'll find that no matter where they go, there we are. We're steadily closing off exits and boxing them in.

Laws, not men

The Brits have instituted their own anti-terror legislation. While I'm sure that these measures will work for the British, they also highlight a key difference between our system and theirs. Our Congress and President may enact as many anti-terror laws as they wish, but all of our laws are subject to judicial review by the Supreme Court for their constitutionality instead of review by
seven "wise people" ...after two years
I have a great admiration for the British system, and I know it has served them well for quite a long time, but the rights of British citizens are at the whim of men and women who can reduce or expand liberty as they see fit. There's no independent body to keep their ambitions in check, much less a set of guarantees in writing that protect the rights of citizens against legislative exuberance.

At any rate, here's to hoping that the British enjoy success at defeating terrorists, both foreign and domestic.
A good story about American kids

You hear so much in the media these days about kids gone bad. From the Columbine killers to Johnny Walker, the media has so many stories about misfits and losers as to make people lose faith in the younger generation. Well, here's a story about an Air Force humanitarian effort that delivered 140,000 pounds of winter coats, tents and gifts all bought solely with money raised by American kids.
Kennedy [American ambassador to Turkmenistan] said the goods are going to some of the most distressed areas in Afghanistan.

"The aid will be trucked immediately to the Balkh and Faryab regions in northwestern Afghanistan," she said. "The shipment is being handled by the American Red Cross, the International Red Crescent and the International Organization on Migration."


Fight the good fight

Rewards for Justice, a new State Department program for people wanting to help fight the terrorists, is up and running. It'll be going into the "War Links" section over to the left. Check it out.
American Muslims react with skepticism to tape. Big surprise

As I had guessed, a lot of American muslims are doing the conspiracy thing when it comes to the bin-laden tape. The fact that these people, even in the face of clear evidence, refuse to believe in bin-laden's culpability really gives me the willies. These are the same types of folks who make the standard, "I condemn the acts, but" line. It's not far from understanding to actually doing, in my humble opinion. All it takes is some sort of event to make someone remove the "I condemn" part of his or her arguments.

I'm not one to damn a whole group of people living in this country, but I can't help but shake the "fifth-columnist" thoughts that creep into my head when I read things such as this. I don't like thinking that at all about Muslims, but damned if it doesn't seem like the Muslim community has more wackos and subversives per capita than any other minority group, and these wackos seem hellbent on causing maximum destruction. It's not right to slam a whole group of people based on the words and actions of a few, but not admitting such fears would be less-than-honest on my part. As they used to say, " A few bad apples spoil the bunch."

Hopefully, my fears wrong, unfounded and just plain silly. Time will tell.
Bush on Arafat and Fairweather Fans

The New York Times reports on a meeting President Bush had with several high-profile Jewish guys. In this meeting, he had some good criticism about Arafat:
Criticizing Mr. Arafat's handling of arrests of people suspected of being terrorists, Mr. Bush was quoted by participants as saying, "He can't close the front door of his prisons and let prisoners out the back."
Good analogy, George. He also talked about the scope in the war on terror:
Mr. Bush said that winning means not only getting rid of the Qaeda network but also other groups like the Palestinian organization Hamas, the Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah and Egyptian Islamic Jihad. He did not specify what he intended to do to these groups, and did not mention any military action against Iraq, participants said.
And he doesn't let our European "allies" off the hook either with probably the best quip in the article:
One participant in the meeting quoted Mr. Bush as saying that America must keep its European allies buoyed, and that "they have a tendency to wilt."
You know, when Bush speaks, I feel good about how this war's being prosecuted and how it will go. He speaks plainly and directly, and you feel that all the nonsense of the past ten years is gone for good. Yet when his various cabinet secretaries speak (exception: Rumsfeld), the doubts start creeping in, and you wonder if they're really going to see things through to the end this time.

Anyways, that report is a great one all around. I can't recommend it enough.
International Service Now Available to Kandahar

The Marines have taken Kandahar Airport. The small, unimproved landing strip at Camp Rhino is suitable for C-130's, but the Kandahar airport can accomodate the heavies who can bring tons more palletized cargo as well as outsized cargo (re: armor).

Thursday, December 13, 2001

I don't know if it's art, but I like it

An angry woman, in a fit of performance artistry, egged the dude who won the Turner contest with an incredibly insipid work of art. They cleaned up the egg remains from the walls, oblivious to the fact that they were destroying, in essence, a work of art. I guess one man's artist is just another man's unruly egg thrower.
The Benji Strikes Back

Okay, I know everyone's been waiting with baited breath over who the new Benji would be. Well campers, you're patience has paid off: Presenting the new Benji!. This new Benji was found in an animal shelter, so you know he's got the necessary street cred. Benji will be pimpin' down tha street and into our hearts in an as yet to be filmed movie due out sometime.
I smell a rat

We apparently have the bastard surrounded. If we're lucky, we'll have him for Christmas. Buh-bye, binny.
From Politics to Porn (Is there really a difference these days?)

Grabbed this off Fox News. Instead of just making the site a porn referrel URL, put up pictures and stories about politicians and their sexual escapades. I think Monica's looking for some work, so sign her up to do a column.
Mad Frenchmen Disease

The EU ruled that France must accept British beef. The French feared the spread of Mad Cow Disease in tainted British beef, but the EU ruled that they were just being silly and to please knock it off. At the ruling, the French ambassador was made to kneel before the British representative who told him, "Accept my meat. Take it in your hands and taste it. Tell your friends about the amazing tenderness and succulence of my meat. God Save the Queen."

Preserving a captured moment

The New York Times has a nice story about people trying to save and archive the last electronic messages sent by their friends and loved ones on September 11th.
Weird Science

Wired reports that scientists at the University of Nebraska have made a plastic magnet. Will wonders never cease?
The Laughing Bastard

I decided to reference the Washington Post article for this one, although you can obviously find the story everywhere. This is the so-called "Smoking Gun" tape, but I think that people hoping for a sudden sea-change in those who support bin-laden are fooling themselves. This tape certainly shows bin-laden displaying advance information on the attack, as well as some of the finer operational details, but those who support bin-laden and his toadies will claim that it's a forgery, it proves nothing, the whole spiel. The one danger that I see in all of this is personalizing this war too much. bin-laden is an evil bastard, but after we kill him people have to be aware that the fight isn't over yet. There are still terrorist cells around the world that need to be destroyed. Whether they are done in through military action or other means, these cells must be annihilated, and people should be prepared to see our forces going somewhere else in the world until the job is finished.

Anyways, on to the tape. The tape confirms that bin-laden used his architectural knowledge in planning the attacks:
We calculated that the floors that would be hit would be three or four floors" but that "due to my experience in this field, I was thinking that the fire from the gas in the plane would melt the iron structure of the building and collapse the area where the plane hit and all the floors above it only."
He didn't count on the full collapse of the towers, but he knows that its the jet fuel fire which will weaken the structure, causing it to collapse. He also talks about the operatives themselves and how most of them didn't know what they were doing, and laughs about it.

I doubt the turd's laughing much right now.

Wednesday, December 12, 2001

And that, as they say, is that

From the Post: Israel has told Arafat and the Palestinian Authority to take a flying leap.

You know, after all is said and done, I actually support an independent Palestinian state. I believe it's called Jordan. In fact, I've always entertained the idea of Israel ceding the West Bank back to Jordan just to piss off the Palestinians. I'd just like to see what would happen. It's not like the Palestinians are suddenly going to stop bombing them or anything, so I think it's worth a shot.

Alternatively, take the West Bank, form "Palestine" and call the arab world's bluff. If the arab world truly wants to see an independent Palestinian state, it would effectively take the wind out their sails as far as their claims that this is a major source of Anti-American and Israeli feelings over there. If the bombings still continue, or the Palestinians and Arabs still keep asking for concessions of any sort, then we will know that they've been full of shit all along.

In related news, I'm going to bitch-slap the next person who says the phrase "peace process". It's turned into an overused bullshit term like "Total Quality" and "cycle of violence". There is no peace, there is no "process" ("do we have some metrics on that?"), therefore, no "peace process".
Bah!

I hate Washington, D.C.. I really do. Went on a futile quest to see the national christmas tree on the ellipse. One problem: No fucking parking anywhere! They have the jersey barriers up all over the place, so its hard to get aorund as it is, but add to the fact that the only parking is along the street, and you have problems. Finally gave up after awhile after deciding walking half a mile in the dark in DC was not such a great idea.

Bonus: We saw the Tree while driving on Constitution Ave, and there were hardly any people in the barriered area looking at it.
Blogger bogged down

Blogspot was down again. I have a backup using a different blogging program ready to go should this service fail for good.

Alternate Site
Dastardly Dromedaries

A rogue camel entered entered Camp Rhino the other night, causing some excitement, reports Fox News. The whole article's pretty funny, but I like this part the best:
Sergeant Erik Knox, a 37-year-old from Chicago who said he signs up with the Marines every time he gets divorced, was also slightly alarmed
Check out the whole report.
One less to plane to piss you off at work tonight

One of America's shittiest bombers went down just off Diego Garcia. Well, that's one less cann bird. Luckily the crew is safe.
Top Dumb

The Washington Post says that CBS is planning a military reality show imaginatively titled American Fighter Pilots.
Described by the network as a '"Top Gun'-like reality series," the program follows fighter pilot trainees at work and home in footage shot before the attacks on New York and Washington.
Yeah, watching a bunch of guys learning to fly really gets the blood going. [Yawn]

How about a show detailing the lives of the people who maintain the planes these rookies break? Now that would be a neat show. None of that "Golly gosh" Apple Pie and Mom crap that officers project for PR's sake.

"After the pilots go to the club, these young mechanics will spend hours troubleshooting and fixing these multi-million dollar aircraft in all types of weather and conditions." I doubt the Air Force would allow cameras to accurately detail dorm-life, though. That's where the real ratings would be.


Oy

Some would-be Jewish terrorists were arrested for a failed bomb plot, says the New York Times. The FBI doesn't say what they were going to do or who they were going to bomb, but common sense would say an Islamic target of some sort presumably in LA.
Back and Forth

Some Palestinian terrorists blew up a bus in Israel. In a new twist:
three Palestinian gunmen tossed grenades and opened fire with machineguns on passengers fleeing after the explosion and on rescue workers who came to help the wounded
The Israelis managed to run over one of the terrorists with a car, thankfully killing him. There was the usual Palestinian Authority condemnation of the attacks, but guess who claimed responsibility?
The al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, an armed unit linked to Palestinian President Yasser Arafat's Fatah group, claimed responsibility for the attack
Why everyone keeps saying we can't kill Arafat is beyond me. The guy's killed Americans and Jews for years, and his own group is claiming responsibility for the recent terrorist bombings. In my opinion, he's just as open a target as bin-laden.

Of course, people will say, "Well, what happens after we kill Arafat? Who will replace him? It'll be even worse!" I don't know, how about letting the Palestinian people decide who their next leader will be? You know, self-determination and all that.
Putting all that one-handed typing to good use

The New York Times has a story about some guys using computers to compose operas using data culled from chat room logs. It's about a bunch of men who all claim to be teenage girls with large breasts masturbating and talking dirty to each other until another man enters quoting the bible and warning them to repent. Hilarity ensues.
Before there was porn, there were databases!

Check out this article on the very first web page. The story also has the typical pie-in-the-sky futuristic prediction crap from dudes who have more time than sense, but I never knew who designed it, and what it was for. Now you know, and knowing's half the battle. Yo Joe!
What, we're not so bad after all?

U.S. bombs were amazingly accurate, say residents of Kandahar. It looks like the propaganda of the Taliban and it's western disseminators was a crock after all. The people whose city was being bombed were impressed by the ability of our weaponry to hit one target but leave the surrounding area untouched. I found this part cool:
On Srajama Street, U.S. jets flattened three houses in a row. Residents said the houses had been rented by members of Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network. The houses are no longer there. But two 15-foot-high burlap tents belonging to the U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization, which abutted the compound, appeared unharmed.


The houses apparently belonged to a rich Arab:
"He's a really rich guy," said Mohammed Helmandi, a bicycle repairman, as he surveyed the rubble. "I guess not so rich anymore."


Tuesday, December 11, 2001

Skeletons in the closet

Go over and check out Google's groups sometime. They just added 20 years worth of Newsgroups postings.
The money's nice, but tell the generals Russia's on our side now

According to the Washington Post, President Bush in a speech called for a new commitment to the military (spending, I guess). I agree with him, of course, but I think that besides funding, the best thing that could happen would be a complete restructuring of our military. We are still configured to repel a Soviet invasion of Western Europe. This can't stand if we're going to effectively fight this new war. Just as Pearl Harbor showed us that Aircraft Carriers had replaced battleships as the means to fight war, we too must restructure our forces to meet this new enemy.

That means a small, flexible force capable of bringing concentrated power in a short period of time, then leaving off to somewhere else and repeating the process. The Marines are apparently the only ones so far who have been working on this the last decade and their success is evident at Camp Rhino in Afghanistan.
Not the last

The first man to be indicted in connection to the Sept. 11th attack.
Not holding my breath

The BBC reports that the Al-Queda fighters are going to retreat. Excuse my dubiousness. We've seen their notion of "surrendering" all throughout this campaign, and I highly doubt the the most fantical of the fanatical would simply give up. The only possible way I could see this happening is if bin-laden and his cronies are either dead or gone.
Remembering September 11th

Three months ago, at about the time I'm typing this, my wife woke me up two hours after I'd gotten home from work and gone to bed. She told me that two planes had just ran into the World Trade Center. Being half-awake, and figuring my wife was exaggerating, I nodded and tried to go back to sleep. A few minutes later, she came running back in and said the Pentagon had just been hit. I asked something about whether work had called, and kind of just lay there. As my mind began to wake up and comprehend what I had just been told, I got up and went downstairs to look at the TV. As I rounded the corner into the living room, the TV screen came into view just as the first Tower collapsed. For the first time in my life, I was stunned. The image that I was seeing with my eyes was completely alien to anything in my experience. A few minutes later, they showed a tape of the second plane crashing into one of the towers, and I was in for another shock. Then there was the image of the fire at the Pentagon, and stories of other planes in the air unaccounted for. Where would they hit next? Thank god I don't live on base, I thought to myself, then immediately felt guilty knowing that my friends and co-workers did live on base, and were possibly just minutes away from annihilation themselves. My wife was scared and worried, and wondered whether we should go pick our son up from school. I told her that he was safe there, but didn't really believe it myself.

For the first time in my life, I was scared to be in my own house. Death could come sweeping down from the sky at any moment and hit anyone. People were trying to kill us, and I couldn't fight back. All I could do was try to calm my wife down, and wait to see what would happen next. I was scared for my family and for everyone else. Then the second tower came down. Calls come flooding in from friends and relatives asking if we're okay. Still reports of planes still unaccounted for. One's heading towards D.C. they say. I call up work. Busy. More calls, more pictures of the plane hitting, the towers crashing, the Pentagon's on fire. They used our own planes against us. The goddamned Pentagon for Christ sakes. Still busy at work. I think we're in a honest-to-goodness war. Work calls me, I gotta go in. I say goodbye to my wife, tell her everything's alright as I drive off to the home of Air Force One.

I'm riding with my friend up to the base, and there is a convoy of cars trying to get away from the city. It looks even worse than rush hour in the afternoon. We drive up Route 5, and then I see it: The smoke rising from the Pentagon. We're five or so miles away across the river, and a huge black column of smoke rise from the treetops. We drive up to the gate and see more SP's gathered in any one spot than I've ever seen. They've got their M-16's at the ready, not slung across their backs like normal. Everyone's tense. The radio says only one plane left, and may be heading to Camp David. We're searched and let on base. As we drive down the road, there's the target: Air Force One's Hangar. I resolve that if that rogue airliner comes barreling in, the last thing that bastard sees will be me giving him the finger. It's the only way I can fight back. I look up and see the contrails of single-engine fighters in the sky. It's a clear day.

We get a briefing at work and are told to go home. We hear that the final plane may have crashed somewhere in Pennsylvania. The black column of smoke from the Pentagon is still there. We get home, and I look up again and realized that the only planes in the sky are ours. Our guys are up there and for the first time that day, I relax and feel safe. I've been in foreign countries and have had the experience of seeing our guys flying around up there providing cover, but I never thought I'd be sitting in my house experiencing the same thing. I'm supposed to be in a tent in another country while this is going on.

My wife comes back from school with our son, and we decide to stay at our friend's house and watch the TV. We talk for awhile and agree that things will probably never be the same for us again. Mentions of Pearl Harbor come up. He's gotta go to work, so we go back to my place. I try to get some sleep before I go in to work that night, but it's futile. I see the plane hitting the tower and the towers collapsing in a constant loop. I keep imagining all thousands of people trapped in the towers as they collapsed in upon themselves. I had witnessed the deaths of untold numbers on live television. I cried, and felt a mixture of sadness and fury that wouldn't go away. It still hasn't. I hear the thunder from one of the jets up there, and a curious thought comes to mind. They say jet noise is the sound of freedom. For the first time in my life, I really believed it.

Monday, December 10, 2001

Remember

From CNN: President Bush wants radio stations across the country to play the Star-Spangled Banner at 0846, the time the first plane slammed into the World Trade Center. In the military, we have a ceremony called "Retreat", where the colors are lowered at the end of the day while the National Anthem plays. We stand at attention, and salute the flag as it is being lowered, or face the direction of the music if we're not at the flagpole. The ceremony is not only meant to serve the practical function of lowering the flag at dusk, it also serves as a time for everyone to reflect and pay their respects to those who've fallen in service to their country.

It would be nice if a similar tradition were started in the non-military world for those who were murdered on September 11.
Onward to Somalia?

Lots of rumors about where we're going next. The Times of London reports that feelers are being sent into Somalia. I'm starting to get the feeling that we're not only going after terrorist cells around the world, we're starting to settle some old scores as well.
God Help Me if they ever look up my online stuff

Interesting bit from the Weekly Standard. They went through DejaNews and dug up some of John Walker's newsgroup postings. It gets my vote for the "Most Obvious Use of Technology that No One Else Thought Of" Award.

Sunday, December 09, 2001

Thank you sir, may I have another?

More on that British dude who got the shit kicked out of him in Pakistan by some Afghan refugees. Even while he was being bludgeoned to death,
I understood. I couldn't blame them for what they were doing.
How noble. He spends much of the article basically talking trash about the war and claiming that American bombs have killed thousands, yadda, yadda, yadda. So anyways, as these people were trying to kill him, he remembered Lebanon:
I guess at this point I should thank Lebanon. For 25 years, I have covered Lebanon's wars and the Lebanese used to teach me, over and over again, how to stay alive: take a decision – any decision – but don't do nothing.

So I wrenched the bag back from the hands of the young man who was holding it. He stepped back. Then I turned on the man on my right, the one holding the bloody stone in his hand and I bashed my fist into his mouth. I couldn't see very much – my eyes were not only short-sighted without my glasses but were misting over with a red haze – but I saw the man sort of cough and a tooth fall from his lip and then he fell back on the road. For a second the crowd stopped. Then I went for the other man, clutching my bag under my arm and banging my fist into his nose. He roared in anger and it suddenly turned all red. I missed another man with a punch, hit one more in the face, and ran.
He lambastes this "War of Civilization" and all the harm it's causing, but when faced with annihilation, he does the same damned thing our country is doing, only on a more personal level. It appears that not even a few rocks to the head can give a self-righteous prick a healthy sense of irony.
And of course, that's the point. The people who were assaulted were the Afghans, the scars inflicted by us – by B-52s, not by them. And I'll say it again. If I was an Afghan refugee in Kila Abdullah, I would have done just what they did. I would have attacked Robert Fisk. Or any other Westerner I could find.
I have often wondered about this line line of thought. The thinking goes that while terrorism is vile, it's also understandable, and if you were in their shoes you'd do the same thing. Add to this the belief that there is no good or evil, and a truly dangerous person emerges. I wonder if the only difference between people like Robert Fisk and the terrorists is merely the will to act. Evil takes many forms. The most recognizable is the type that kills people and gets the headlines, but the more dangerous and vile type of evil is moral ineptness and equivocation. People have always wondered why the Germans let Hitler do what he did. This war has got me thinking that part of that answer may lie in the minds of folks like Robert Fisk.


Rant of the Week

You know, I read a lot of message boards. Some have a lot of liberals; others are predominantly conservative. While both have their share of crackpots, it’s a particular breed of idiot that that makes me shake my head in disbelief. This breed would be the creepy gun owner. Now let me preface my comments with the standard disclaimer: I happen to know a lot of guys who own guns. They're normal, good guys who just like to hunt and as long as they aren't hurting anybody or breaking the law, they just want to be left alone.

The folks I'm going to rant about are these wackos who belong to some sort of gun cult. You know them, and you wish you didn't. They're the guys with subscriptions to guns and ammo, soldier of fortune, and every NRA magazine under the sun. They have a penchant for wearing army surplus jackets, and may have a poster of Ted Nugent on the wall. They have armories in their homes that would make Osama envious "just 'cuz". They're fucking nuts. It's unfortunate that traditional, quiet American patriotism has been hijacked by these Uber-Amerikans who claim to be the true defenders of American freedom. They wrap themselves up in the flags (American and Confederate), and tend to expound, however erroneously, on the Founding Fathers' wishes for the country. Quite a few of these fellows also keep calling on America to return to it's "Christian Roots", while they go out on the weekends and train to fight the always imminent U.N. invasion. It's really sad that when a lot of Americans think of the word "patriot", they conjure up the mental image of these weirdoes.

Sooner or later, if you peruse conservative boards, you'll read something posted by one of these people. Now a lot of conservatives will justify the right of ordinary Americans to own guns based on the Second Amendment. This is really the only defense you need. Most realize this and tend to argue the finer points of the amendment itself, and most discussions usually tend to center around taking a loose interpretation as most do with the first amendment, or taking a stricter reading of it. Not so our gun cultists. They have to make outrageous doomsday scenarios to sufficiently scare and incite people. The most common of these is the "Police State" line of thought, and it is the focus of this rant.

These people think that once the government takes away their guns, that martial law will be declared and bad things will happen. Seriously. Apparently, the thinking behind this is that the only thing standing between us and a tyrannical police state is a few fucking loons with assault rifles. I have no idea where they get this over-inflated sense of importance, but to hear them talk, they're our last, best, and only hope against martial law. I guess that if the government were to come and take away their rifles today, then King George himself will rise from the grave and the Redcoats will be drilling on the Mall tomorrow. Even worse, the President will take away their guns and then immediately invite the U.N. to come in and assume control of the country. It is only the lonely vigilance of these trailer bound militiamen that keep us from such a fate.

Of course, such a line of thought begs the question: What fucking color is the sky in your world? Do you honestly think that the United States government has the slightest fear of a bunch of overweight weekend warriors who run around the woods and play soldier? If the U.S. wants to overrun your rights with abandon, it'll do it whether you're armed or not. We just got through bitch-slapping the Taliban back into the mountains. Do you think you'd fare better amongst the most powerful force on the planet? So what if the U.S. were to start trying to seize everyone's rights? Are you going to take up arms against it, little man? I don't think so. You'd sit your fat ass in the chair and boast on the internet about what you're going to do if the government goes just one step further like you've done for the past five years. See, the government knows you're a pussy whose bark is worse than his bite, and it has nothing to fear from you, so your whole line of reasoning that your guns are the only things that preserve liberty is bullshit. And what if you really were to take up arms against the government? Well then, you're a traitor who advocates the violent overthrow of the government of the United States, and have just become my sworn enemy. What's a gun nut to do?

Well, first of all, realize that there's more to the Constitution than the Second Amendment. Second, figure out that the Founding Fathers, in all their wisdom, actually found a way to prevent the government from overstepping its bounds that didn't require explosively propelled projectiles. The people and their votes are the final check on government power. Active and intelligent participation in your government, starting with the vote, is the only thing that will save us from a truly tyrannical regime. Third, stop trying to force your religion into the government. Your protestations to the contrary, this is and always has been a secular nation. We just got done wiping out one fundamentalist theocracy; we don't need to set one up here.

Finally, this is a democracy. Use the tools and processes provided to us by the Founders to work within the system. End rant.