Sunday, December 31, 2006

President Bush, Pardon the Pendleton 8! Quang Pham On President Ford

It is New Year's Eve, time to look back on the past year, appreciate our good fortunes and mull over those moments that weren't our best.

Then it is time to make resolutions for the coming year.

My suggestion for the first thing on President George W. Bush's To-Do List is to pardon the Marines and corpsman being held at the Marine Corps brig at Camp Pendleton, California on murder charges involving an action against terrorist bombers in Haditha, Iraq, last year.

I have written before about the group of seven Marines and one corpsman who were arrested and charged with illegally killing civilians in Haditha. The case, the treatment of the men involved, the duplicity of the Iraqi government, the paucity of evidence against them, and the fact that the charges are ludicrous, all say that they are not criminals but political pawns, being used by some in Iraq to push America out of that country before it becomes an independent democracy.

Unfortunately, our own politicians are looking the other way and letting this case go forward when the only place it should go is in a trash can.

So what can be done? Well, as I pointed out in my last column on this issue, if officers who were not on the scene can be charged with dereliction of duty, as they have been, then the commander-in-chief, President Bush, also can be held accountable, and even face impeachment if the Democrat-controlled Congress decides to go that route.

Think how horrible that would be for the country. Think how divisive, how painful, how harmful to us as we continue to face a world where terrorist attacks are a way of life not an aberration.

President Bush can do the right thing here on many levels. He can pardon the Pendleton 8 and avoid any further erosion of morale in our armed forces. He can win back the support of everyday Americans who believe this is a crock. And he can reassure the mothers and fathers across America who are having second thoughts about their sons and daughters serving in a military that may well use them as political pawns and punish them for doing their jobs.

Also, by pardoning the Pendleton 8 the president can avert any unpleasantness in a Congress that has shown a willingness to embrace unpleasantness as a means of gaining power. A pardon would shunt that issue to the far edges of the political universe where it would remain frozen and unseen.

There have been far too many reports out of Iraq from our troops regarding this and other instances of alleged crimes against Iraqi citizens, where the evidence is either non-existent, or has been manufactured by insurgents. There are far too many reports of the US taking the word of the very people who are bombing and shooting our troops over the word of our troops and the evidence.

It is time for President Bush to step up and take some decisive action here. The news has been non-stop for weeks that all is not well in Iraq and that Mr. Bush intends to make some changes. Well, let's start with changing our attitudes about believing whoever came up with the idea of prosecuting troops, when by all trustworthy on-scene accounts they were doing their jobs.

Rather, issue a pardon to all involved, and then let's change direction in Iraq by putting a smackdown on the insurgency and making sure the new government understands it better be taking up the slack and asserting itself rather than engaging in chicanery against the people who fought so Iraq could be free from terrorism and internal butchery.

A Word From Quang Pham

Quang X. Pham was born in Saigon and escaped literally as South Vietnam fell to the communists in 1975. He and some members of his family made it to America where he went to school, enlisted in the Marine Corps as an officer candidate, went to flight school, and served as a CH-46 helicopter pilot in the Persian Gulf War. He flew with HMM-161, the same unit I served in during the Vietnam War.

I met Quang in California when HMM-161 came back from the Gulf. Past members of our unit had banded together to support the squadron while it was in combat and I was invited to join the homecoming ceremonies when the war ended. Quang met my wife and me at the airport when we arrived in California.

Quang now is a businessman and the author of "A Sense of Duty: My Father, My American Journey."

He wrote an article on the passing of President Gerald Ford that was carried in the Washington Post. I refer to it here partly because it is a great article, but also because many media commentators have been saying that Ford was defeated by Jimmy Carter because he pardoned Richard Nixon.

I don't think so. I think Ford was defeated because he didn't take action to save an ally. That is my opinion, and it matters here because of what I just wrote about President Bush issuing a pardon to the Pendleton 8.

Please see Quang's article here:

I wrote to Quang to let him know that I have been wrestling with my own feelings about the late president, but that Quang's perspective certainly was an eye opener.

President Ford is the man who was at the helm when South Vietnam fell, and he was the man who takes responsibility for that. Marine officers are taught that you can delegate authority, but not responsibility.

President Ford was the Commander in Chief when the south fell to the communist
army, thus he bears the ultimate responsibility.

It would be easy to blame President Ford for all that happened to Vietnam, even though he was just one of many who were in on the decision to abandon an

Yet, Quang chose to remember that Ford made it a priority to help the
Vietnamese refugees resettle, and thus Quang and many others became Americans, contributing to and participating in the democratic process. That action alone stands as a credit to our nation and to President Ford.

As with so many other leaders, history will be the ultimate judge. For the moment, I would like to express my condolences to the family and close friends of the late President and join the nation as it mourns his passing.

And I would like to wish all who read this column a Happy New Year, filled with health, prosperity and peace.
Friday, December 29, 2006

Snap Hussein's Neck and Be Done With It!

I can't help but wonder just how much preparation the government and media think we need to be comfortable with Saddam Hussein's impending execution.

For several days now we have been hearing that his death sentence has been upheld, that there is no further appeal, that he will be hanged, and that Iraqi and American officials expect an upsurge of violence in Iraq when he is executed.

OK, we get it. Now do it and be done with it.

The most recent dispatches have been about all the paperwork that needs to be filed before the execution can proceed officially. First off, we, meaning the coalition forces, primarily the United States, had to cede physical possession of the convicted mass murderer and he has been turned over to the Iraqi authorities who will have to fill out some forms before he swings. Probably a lot more than he filled out before he murdered people by the hundreds of thousands.

Well, well, well. More evidence that no job is done until you're finished with the paperwork. I saw that written on a wall in a bathroom someplace.

So file the paperwork, walk him up to the gallows and snap his neck already!

It shouldn't be a surprise to anyone that there still are some Saddam supporters lingering in the shadows of the new Iraqi state. Those who had found the key to staying on his good side, apparently by showing an unswerving willingness to kill anyone he deemed needed it at a moment's notice, had a pretty good life for themselves if you can sleep at night knowing you are no better than a petty murderer no matter what kind of palace you live in.

But the time has come to be done with this. There is plenty of good reason to consider that much of the sectarian violence that has plagued Iraq since we defeated Saddam's army has been instigated by Saddam himself through the remaining supporters of his regime.

But with him dead, there really isn't anyone for those people to follow with such fervor, and no reason to believe that somehow there will be a rebirth of Saddam's government, authority or power. So the few worms left over from his regime who haven't faced reality yet would do themselves and their country a favor to face up to the new Iraqi order and find something else to occupy their time.

And if there is an upsurge in violence from Saddam sympathizers, the Iraqi government may well want to consider killing all of them on the spot, without lengthy trials and publicity. That isn't to be considered an invitation to anarchy. That is a realistic assessment of the fact that internally Iraq is at war, not necessarily with itself, but with some elements that have to include Saddam leftovers.

In war, the primary goal is to kill the enemy. OK, Saddam and his followers are the enemy. Kill them, kill him, and get on with the process of building a democracy.

Oh, yeah, and Happy New Year.


US news reports at 10 p.m. USA Eastern Time, (6 a.m. Baghdad time) quoted Arabian news services reports that Saddam Hussein had been hanged by the neck until he was dead for crimes against humanity.
Tuesday, December 26, 2006

We Are Losing In Iraq; The Sky Is Falling; and Other Fairy Tales

I restrained myself from writing about the latest tsunami of "We Are Losing The War" opinion out of Iraq over Christmas, but now, let's deal with this.

There have been pundits saying we are losing in Iraq virtually since we got there. First it was considered impossible for us to defeat Saddam's vaunted army of murderers and thugs, which took all of about three weeks to disprove.

Then it was impossible for us to help the Iraqi people create a provisional government and arrange for a countrywide, democratic vote after they had endured decades of rule by a cruel and merciless dictator. That took a bit longer, but nonetheless was successful.

Then there couldn't possibly be a successful election for a national parliament. There was. And now, there is no way the factions in Iraq can ever join in a common purpose, nor can we ever win against the insurgents.

To which I say Bull S**t!

Don't these geniuses every get tired of being right all the time?

It amazes me how the World Terrorist Media and its local subsidiary, the American Terrorist Media, can so blithely ignore the realities of Iraq, and focus solely on what they want to happen, so they can engineer their desired outcome.

What do the WTM and ATM think is going to happen if we take their lead and fold up shop in Iraq? Well for starters, the Middle East and Far East, which are relatively quiet despite all the efforts from Syria and Iran to stir things up in Lebanon and Israel, go straight to hell in a hand basket.

The terrorists are emboldened, the fence sitters who were silently pulling for our side decide to support the terrorists because they know what will happen to them if they don't, and people who were our allies get slaughtered, just like the four million or so Cambodians, South Vietnamese and Laotians a generation ago.

Then the Islamo-fascists really gear up for world war, and start taking out country after country either by threat or force. We find ourselves fighting for our very existence, with only limited help.

Great Britain will join in, as will "new" Europe, Poland for starters, and the numerous republics which are free because we helped them cast off the Russians. But "old" Europe which has pretty much already given in to the Muslim extremists will sit it out. (Remember the Patrick Swayze, Charlie Sheen movie Red Dawn?)

Appeasement got us World War II in 1939, but obviously Old Europe didn't learn anything from that little fiasco. They aren't there for us now, so why would they help when the going really gets tough?

In the long run, the US will finally elect some Congressional leaders with both backbone and gonads who will unleash the full power of all our weaponry on the countries attacking us, and we will emerge victorious, albeit exhausted and terribly weakened.

Then China, Russia and a handful of their allies who have been secretly working for a return of communism all along will step up to fill the void. As they have done for so many years in so many places, the communists will gain early support from the weary populaces through preaching an end to religion, the rise of secularism, the dominance of the state, and an equal share of the world's wealth.

They will be aided and abetted by the WTM and the ATM, both of which are dominated by gullible and easily duped philosophers who have spent entire lifetimes ignoring the mass slaughters that have ensued wherever communism triumphs, to say nothing of elimination of personal freedoms including freedom of speech and freedom of the press.

That will last for about a nanosecond before the weary populaces find out that it was all talk and just a vehicle to get another band of cutthroats to the top of the pile. Then the brave among them will stand up and speak out, only to be shot, imprisoned, sent to labor camps and otherwise silenced.

The WTM and ATM will morph into latter-day versions of TASS and PRAVDA, will discover way too late that they were working for murderers who were conning them all along, have no intention of following through on their promises, and now that the media rulers are no longer needed, they too are expendable.

That is not a threat. It is an uncannily accurate prediction of future events.

Yet if you read the news today, you will see a rising chorus of voices claiming we are losing in Iraq, starting with Colin Powell, and going on from there.

So, once again, we must resort to the basics. First let us define losing. Since virtually all the WTM reporting out of Iraq is based on our limited military operations and the slaughter of civilians by Islamic factions in the small portion of the country called Baghdad, it follows that we are losing militarily, hence the oft-repeated phrase we are "losing the war."

For us to lose militarily, we must be getting our asses handed to us time and time again, across the length and breadth of Iraq. Our troops must be on the run, holed up in medieval-like sanctuaries, afraid to venture out, and totally ineffective.

Somewhere there have to be entire divisions and armies that have been defeated on the field of battle, and commanders who are ready to, or who already have, given up their men, their swords and their flags. The terrorists must be holding most of the territory, and they must be holding tens of thousands of coalition prisoners of war.

Funny. I haven't seen any of that happen. Not once, not anywhere.

It would help if we had some casualty figures to give us some kind of idea how our guys are really doing over there. But, just as happened in Vietnam, the WTM and ATM only report on American casualties, so it is impossible to judge the impact we are having on terrorists.

In Vietnam, the all-knowing, all-powerful media decided that since the American troops weren't in the habit of piling up dead communists to showcase for the evening news, the military obviously was lying about its successes on the battlefield. Yet when the final stats came out decades after the war was over, the Americans had lost 58,000 troops over 15 years, while the communists had lost 1.4 million, more than twice the number of troops in the North Vietnamese Army at the start of the war.

HMMMM. Think someone was lying to the American public back then? I wonder who? Think someone is lying to the American public now? I wonder who? Why? Please refer to the above paragraphs on China, Russia and communism.

The latest breaking news on the Iraq front is that the military death toll from combat actions there now equals or surpasses the number of Americans killed on 9/11.
The implication behind that statistic apparently is that the war is now too costly, because we have exceeded the concept of one eye for one eye, so we should cut our losses and get out.

Based on that line of thinking, we should have quit fighting Japan after we won at Guadalcanal, and we never should have gotten into it with Germany at all. That doesn't stop the WTM and ATM from harping on the casualty county though.

There also is a lot of noise about the latest poll that shows most Americans don't support the war. Really?

Where do most Americans get their news, thus the basis to form their opinions on the war? Uh-huh. The WTM and ATM. First-rate, totally objective information dissemination there.

And let's not get too gushy over polls. Remember, we don't know who was asked to participate, what they were asked, or what they based their opinion on.

I will be the first to aver that we don't have enough information coming out of Iraq. I have said this before and nothing has changed my mind. I don't know what the overall strategy is, other than killing terrorists until the government stabilizes, which I believe we are doing with considerable success.

President Bush has made a tremendous effort to get out and speak to America. But he needs some help and I don't mean this sporadic, talk-show type help where one voice is always being shouted down by an opposing opinion. I mean, he needs some major league communications help out there to keep the public informed and involved.

As far as the current talk about a change of strategy in Iraq I will make only one point, and I hope President Bush reads or hears about it. We defeated Germany and Japan because we leveled them. We did not hold back, we did not have 'discussions' with Hitler and Tojo, and we put everything we had into beating them.

When we occupied those countries after their surrenders, we made it very clear that we were in charge. There were plenty of Japanese and Germans who resented us and worked against us, but they weren't successful because the general populace knew better than to screw around with us. We had already shown them.

If we are going to do something different in Iraq, it should be on the order of beating the living hell out of any group, faction or armed force that is opposing us. As they say in Poker, Come Big, or Stay At Home.
Friday, December 22, 2006

Marine Squad Surrounded, Under Heavy Fire! Kerry: More Troops = More Targets! Wow!

Members of a United States Marine Corps squad who were fighting terrorists in the Iraqi town of Haditha last year have been charged with 24 counts of "unpremeditated" murder of civilians caught in the crossfire and are facing courts martial.

"Unpremeditated?" They were in a war where you are supposed to kill people and one of the most unfortunate offshoots of all the unfortunate offshoots of war is that innocent people get killed. That is why it is called a war, instead of a 'shootout' or a 'home invasion,' or a 'tea party.'

Premeditated killing in society is murder. Actions that cause death unintentionally in society are relegated to the category of manslaughter or lesser degrees of murder whereby injury but not death may have been intended.

But in a war? Unpremeditated murder? I'm sorry, if it was in a war and it was unpremeditated then it was war, not murder. Case closed, end of story, let my people go.

The Marines have been confined in the brig at Camp Pendleton, California, at times shackled in solitary confinement, since being returned 'home' from the fighting, in conditions that make the terrorist containment facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba look like a country club. (OK, Guantanamo IS a country club, but you get my drift.) The treatment of these Marines should have the Red Cross, the Red Crescent and every human rights group on the face of the earth raising hell.

These Marines aren't vicious, lying, murdering terrorists who want to kill, torture or enslave every living person who doesn't agree with their version of 'religion,' starting with every woman on earth. These Marines voluntarily enlisted to defend our country and our way of life, they were in a war zone doing just that, and now they are going to trial for doing what they were trained to do. This is an outrage!

Nonetheless, there has been no outcry over this travesty. After all, they are just Marines, sworn to uphold and defend the United States of America, the bastion of democracy and freedom. Why on earth would you want to give them the benefit of the doubt?

No, according to the World Terrorist Media (WTM) and its local affiliate, the American Terrorist Media, (ATM) these Marines don't deserve due process, or high priced legal representation for free. They're just Marines. What do they know?

The internet is rife with allegations that this squad was chasing a bunch of terrorists who had just set off a roadside bomb, killing a member of the squad. Then like all the cowardly scum who fall into that category, the terrorists were running from house to house with the Marines chasing them, and the terrorists were using the occupants of the homes as human shields.

Unfortunately for everyone involved, the Marine Corps, while it does work miracles on a regular basis, has not yet developed recruit training that teaches fighters how to see through solid walls. So the Marines have two choices when they approach a building that they believe is shielding the enemy.

They can call out "Knock, knock" and wait for someone to answer, "Who's there?" before entering to a hail of bullets and grenades. Or, they can use the preferred method which is to open the door a crack, toss in a fragmentation grenade, and then burst in with weapons firing.

The preferred method plays hell on the terrorists hiding inside, and unfortunately on the 'civilians' they are using as human shields, but it keeps our guys alive. I vote for our guys.

Don't like the realities of war? Find a way to take out terrorists before having to resort to the brutal conditions of inner city street combat.

Besides my belief that these Marines are being made scapegoats for a bunch of hand-wringers who have never, ever, in their entire lives, had to fight on the wrong side of a broken bottle, there are ramifications of this case that our esteemed Commander in Chief, George W. Bush should look at very closely.

For starters, according to widely circulating internet reports, which I find to be generally far more credible than the WTM or the ATM, two of the people originally charged, who pled out to substantially lesser charges in return for their testimony, were under extreme pressure from the military. This included restriction of benefits to their families.

Do you know what 'benefits' means to military families? It means your home, your allowance for food and utilities, medical care, you know, the things that non-military types take for granted.

If there is an indicator of just how much B.S. is connected with this case, it is in the offers these two accepted. Bad Conduct Discharges and 18 months of confinement, most of which has already been served!

A Bad Conduct Discharge, by the way, can be upgraded to a general or even honorable, at the discretion of a number of people, one of whom is Mr. Bush.

This is the penalty the military imposed for pleading out to murder charges?? Anyone else smell a rat here?

Another factor that has come into play here is that four officers who were not on the scene, and probably had no reason whatsoever to suspect any kind of wrongdoing on the part of the infantry squad, also have been charged with dereliction of duty. Do you have any idea what a conviction in this case would do to our officer corps and the military in general?

Marine officer candidates are taught that they can delegate authority, but not responsibility. That means you can send your men out to do the job they were trained to do, and expect them to do it right. But if something goes wrong you also can be held accountable.

For many things this is appropriate. It encourages close cooperation and supervision between officers and enlisted, requiring intense and effective training methods. But if the military prosecutors' charges are upheld, it means four men who weren't on the scene and had no reason to believe anything other than what they were told in the initial After-Action Report not only will have their careers destroyed (actually they already are) but also could face lengthy confinement.

Want to see the world's most aggressive, effective fighting force turned into ineffective purveyors of trepidation? Charge, try, and convict them for doing their job! That will send one hell of a message to the troops and to the world of terrorism.

If those guys are guilty of murder, then every pilot who ever dropped a bomb that hit a civilian instead of an enemy troop is guilty. Every artilleryman who put a fuse into a shell, fired the shell, or gave orders to fire a shell that hit even one civilian is guilty. So is every member of every Navy gun crew that shelled a beach or inland target where civilians were unintended victims.

How about President Clinton's order to fire cruise missiles at terrorist training camps and a pharmacy? He should be held accountable as well as everyone involved in firing those missiles.

Think about D-Day in Normandy! How many French, who were held against their will by the Nazis, were killed in the initial shellings, and the ensuing combat?

What about firebombing Tokyo, or Dresden, or Hamburg, or Berlin? This line of thought says that everyone who was even remotely involved in any killing of any civilian is guilty of a war crime and if still alive should be brought back onto active duty to be charged and tried in a military court.

I guess that means we should give France back to Germany and the entirety of the South Pacific back to Japan.

If these Marines and their officers are guilty of crimes in a war zone, instead of just doing the jobs they were trained for and ordered to do, then by that line of thought, so is George W. Bush.

Our president would do well to think this through. If you can court martial a Lt. Colonel for the actions of a Sergeant, then you can impeach the Commander in Chief for the actions of a Lt. Colonel.

I don't know who is pushing this case. But I do know it smacks of the same kind of tactics the American communists used in Vietnam to try to discourage American troops from fighting. The Communist Broadcasting System even did a news report on a miniscule number of soldiers who refused to take to the field based on communist efforts to convince them that the war was illegal.

Whoever is pushing this case is NOT proving to the world that America is a land of laws. Whoever is pushing this case is pushing the end of the volunteer military and the end of the American way of life, because they are making it impossible for our troops to do their jobs which will make it impossible for military recruiters to do their jobs.

Whoever is pushing this case either thought about that, or didn't. The end result is the same.

Did these Marines knowingly drag innocent civilians out of their houses and knowingly execute them? Not even the prosecution is alleging that. Then they should never have been arrested, charged and confined in the first place and they should be released immediately.

Think about it Mr. President. You really don't want to do this.

Kerry Really Has It Together!

The once and possibly future presidential candidate John Kerry made a trip to Syria to meet with the leaders of that country, who by the way, are backing, funding and supplying the terrorists we are fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Aside from the comparisons to his illegal meetings with members of the communist delegation in France back in the 1970s when we were fighting in Vietnam, there are many questions circulating about the appropriateness of unofficial visits to the leaders of the enemy camps.

The troop morale issues on both sides alone are worthy of debate. The terrorists see this as a good sign, our guys don't like it. What possibly could be wrong with that picture?

One result of the Senator's trip however, is his declaration that we shouldn't send more troops to Iraq because that would just mean more targets for the terrorists to shoot at. Wow! I never thought of that. That is some kind of original thinking and you obviously have to be a hardened combat veteran to come up with that kind of reasoning.

Otherwise you might take the position that more troops means more guns on our side, and if our troops are using their guns, instead of standing around debating the Rules of Engagement and whether they are fighting for freedom or training for civilian jobs as mob hit men, then the terrorists are going to endure one hell of a smackdown.

Boy, the Democratic Senator from Massachusetts sure put the world straight on that one! And such original thinking too. This is just the kind of ahead-of-the curve thinking that is pushing Mr. Kerry toward making a second run for the gold, excuse me, I mean the presidency.

No one else has come up with that line of thought.

What? Wait a minute, I'm getting an instant message here from a regular reader. Oh, really? Kerry isn't the first to come up with this line of reasoning?

Gee, I didn't know that. Oh, well. Never mind. Erase the preceding paragraphs from your memory banks.
Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Battle of the Bulge; On This Day in History

It has been warm in the northeast this December, but this commentary isn't about the continuing debate on global warming and why George Bush supposedly has caused every calamity that has hit mankind in the past twenty years.

I am thinking about the weather because I recently was asked a question about the infamous World War II Battle of the Bulge that was raging in December 1944 in Europe between the Americans and British against German forces. It was bitter cold then, and snowing day after day, which worked in the favor of the Germans and against the Allies because they couldn't use their air power.

The battle started on Dec. 16 when the Germans launched a surprise counterattack against the Allies. German armored divisions backed by massed artillery and tens of thousands of infantry knocked the Allied forces back all along the line of attack. American and British casualties were in the thousands. Tens of thousands of American troops were taken prisoner.

The Allies were caught unawares for a number of reasons. First, their intelligence was lousy. They had virtually no idea that German troops and armor were massing in preparation for an attack.

Also, the Allied commanders had become complacent since D-Day. They had been pushing the Germans back mile by mile, day by day since June 6 and saw no reason to expect anything other than a continuation of that progress.

Many of the upper echelon commanders were thinking of the approaching Christmas holidays and taking leave in Paris or other major population centers. Then reality hit with the force of incoming artillery.

For the next thirty days the Allies were faced first with stopping the retreat of their forces, then consolidating their air, artillery, armor and infantry divisions. They had to deal with the loss of entire units and incredible confusion caused by German troops who had infiltrated the allied lines wearing American uniforms, speaking fluent English and creating havoc through various forms of sabotage.

But ultimately the tide turned. The Germans ran out of gas, American Gen. George Patton turned into the attack and fought German armor with his armor, the 101st Airborne Division put up a much better and more successful fight than the Germans had anticipated, and slowly but surely their attack was halted, then reversed.

The last day of fighting in that battle was Jan. 15, 1945, thirty days after it started. In that time the Germans lost 80,000 troops captured, and 20,000 killed or wounded.

American losses were horrendous. Our forces lost 19,000 killed, 23,554 captured and 38,000 wounded. There were also 1,400 British casualties of which 200 were killed.

But for the purposes of understanding American sacrifices and losses in past conflicts, the Battle of the Bulge, so named for the huge bulge that German troops caused in the Allied lines, stands right up there with places like Iwo Jima, Okinawa and Antietam.

Another reason I was thinking of this was that I heard someone from the US Congress, I think it was Ted Kennedy, but it could have been John Murtha or John Kerry, talking about the war in Iraq the other day. They were going on about how American troops couldn't win because after fighting there for nearly four years we have lost nearly 3,000 troops.

Beating Saddam Hussein's army apparently doesn't count. Helping create a democratically elected government doesn't count. Luring thousands of terrorists to Iraq where they are being killed every day, terrorists who otherwise would be carrying out attacks in the American homeland, doesn't count. At least it doesn't count to those in the US Congress and their supporters who would have us believe America is worn out, broken, and incapable of victory.

America is not worn out, it is not broken, our military is not stretched too thin and we most certainly can win. It has become fashionable in elitist circles recently to compare the War on Terror to World War II and Vietnam.

Both comparisons are false. There is no comparison. Unless, as they did in Vietnam, Congressmen like Kennedy and Murtha, abetted by the likes of John Kerry, once again desert an ally, hand victory to our defeated foes, set the stage for the murder of thousands if not millions of innocents, and drive America closer than ever to true defeat and irrelevance.

The Battle of the Bulge. Total American losses one more time for effect:
81,000 American casualties, including 23,554 captured, 19,000 killed and 38,000 wounded. All in 30 days. And we came back to win. Sobering view of reality isn't it?
Sunday, December 17, 2006

On Kerry, On Dodd! On Fact Finding Tours? Junkets? Or Treason?

Members of Congress have fled Washington in the past week, not heading home for the holidays, but instead heading off to faraway places, such as Israel, Iraq, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Cuba.

The nature of these trips is unsettling in many instances, but the planned visits to Cuba and Syria are especially troubling.

Among the occasional tourists making these treks are John Kerry and Chris Dodd, contenders for the Democratic nomination to run for president in 2008. In their case, the trips will be used to bolster their credentials for foreign affairs expertise, but even there questions arise.

Going to Iraq has become a rite of passage for anyone in Congress who wants to be up on the status of the war, and give credible information to their constituents, the media, and other members of Congress. Visiting Egypt, Israel and Saudi Arabia helps them make contacts with our allies in the region and get a better understanding of our strengths and weaknesses.

But Syria? Visiting Syria, one of the two main backers of the terrorists creating so much havoc in Iraq, is analogous to Jane Fonda visiting North Vietnam and providing aid and comfort to the enemy while we were still fighting them in South Vietnam.

Please, don't give me that sectarian violence crap. The biggest offender in Iraq, right behind Al Qaeda, in terms of murders, bombings, kidnappings and fomenting unrest, is Muqtada Al Sadr, who is getting his money, his weapons, many of his fighters, his expertise and his support from Iran and Syria. Take those two players out of the equation and Al Sadr is just another wannabe dictator running a Mom and Pop insurgency using two-bit hoods posing as freedom fighters.

Going to visit Syria is not a matter of one-upmanship over George Bush. Talking to our enemy while that enemy is locked in battle with us gives the enemy an exalted status amongst his fighters and an unwarranted morale boost, gives the enemy the false impression that American will is cracking, and gives the enemy reason to continue the struggle against us even if it means overwhelming losses to him on the battlefield.

Just look at the North Vietnamese. They lost 1.4 million troops fighting the US and South Vietnamese and were on the verge of surrender at least twice, but were convinced to hang on by the actions of American politicians and Kerry's Vietnam Veterans Against the War, many of whom weren't Vietnam veterans but were in favor of communism. In the 1973, with help from the pro-Communist media led by Walter Cronkite, and the duplicitous or incompetent negotiating skills of Henry Kissinger, the US pulled out of Vietnam just when the communists were beaten and seeking to surrender for the second time. Over the next two years members of Congress, including Jack Murtha and Ted Kennedy, halted all military and economic aid to the south, setting the stage for the ultimate defeat of South Vietnam by the communists.

Going to Syria is a bad move. Since Kerry was illegally involved in private discussions with the communists in Paris while he was still a reserve US Navy officer I am not surprised to see him consorting with the enemy again. But Dodd, on the other hand, may be making the biggest mistake of his political career.

Dodd has been plagued in his quest for the presidential nomination by the name recognition issue, but if his advisers are telling him this is one way to get a higher profile, they are wrong. Does anyone see Hillary Clinton heading off to Damascus?

Dodd's advisers seem to be overlooking a key factor in American politics. Despite what the polls may say, even the most popular American politicians rarely have the support of much more than 25 percent of registered voters. I say this because it is rare that the turnout in any election gets much above 50 percent.

So if 50 percent of the voters don't come out to vote for you, then they aren't supporting you. If, out of the other 50 percent, you get 51 percent of the vote, that means you actually have the support of only 25.5 percent of registered voters.

Candidates who get a real surge of support from across the political spectrum are pretty rare. Only John McCain has done it lately, but he was sidelined when he got into an argument with the religious right.

One reason the majority of non-voting registered voters don't come out year after year is because they don't see any difference between the candidates from one party to the other, one year to the other. Following the crowd to Syria, especially when the crowd is led by the likes of John Kerry is not a smart political move, and could well open unaware candidates up to claims of treason when the Syrians live up to their basic nature and sabotage us on the fighting front.

In the meantime, a total of 10 American Congressmen went to Cuba this week, to pay homage the Raul Castro, the shadowlike brother of near-dead communist dictator Fidel Castro. News reports this week said Fidel is near death, although the definitions of 'near' varied from days to weeks to months.

They also said Raul, who was rarely heard of outside communist circles, has been acting dictator in his brother's time of need. Raul doesn't have as much support as Fidel, reports claimed, because he lacks the 'charisma' shown by the leader of the revolution that toppled the Batista dictatorship in 1957 and replaced it with the Castro dictatorship.

Fidel may have had charisma among his followers in the 1950s, but after he shot all the Batista regime members who weren't able to get off the island before he took over, Fidel, like virtually every other communist dictator before and after him, went on a rampage of murder, torture and imprisonment. The only 'charisma' he had after that came out of the barrel of a gun.

It is easy to be seen as popular when the penalty for not making it to the 'spontaneous' support demonstration is death.

The leaders of the Congressional delegation, which included Democrats and Republicans, said they were laying the groundwork for future economic relations with Cuba when Fidel dies. They specifically want to end the decades old embargo on trade with Cuba.

My question is "Why?"

The best thing that could ever happen to that island nation after Fidel dies is for his communist government to die with him. That would open the way for thousands of Cuban expatriates to return to their native home, create untold opportunities to increase the standard of living in that impoverished nation, and give Cuba an opportunity for real freedom.

Why would you want anything less? Why especially would any member of Congress want to help continue a brutal communist dictatorship?

One last note. Massachusetts senior Senator Edward "Ted" Kennedy said on Fox News Sunday today that victory is not possible in Iraq, and that the war there has been going on longer than the war in Vietnam. Really?

It has been five years since the terrorist attacks of 9-11-01. We were in Vietnam for 15 years. Math must not have been the senator's strong point. Does anyone know if he actually has a strong point?

Victory not possible? The only people I hear make claims like that are people who spend the entire lives as losers. You can draw your own conclusions about that.
Thursday, December 14, 2006

John Kerry to Invade Iraq! War to End Soon!

[1,transitive verb]
2 : to make good-natured fun of

Democratic Senator John Kerry the self-proclaimed war criminal, torturer, hero and statesman without portfolio is going to Iraq this weekend to personally take charge of the War Against Terror with an eye to a speedy resolution, relieving the burden on our troops, ending sectarian violence and probably picking up a Medal of Honor in the process.

Kerry claims hero status after being awarded a Silver Star during the Vietnam War by political friends in high places, none of whom actually was in Vietnam when he single-handedly tamed the wilds of the Mekong Delta region in a whirlwind 90-day tour as a Swift Boat commander. His heroics included applying the coup de grace to a wounded, unarmed, teen-aged Viet Cong, and after enduring that level of hardship the wannabe president figures solving the Iraq dilemma will be a piece of cake.

Still, there is somewhat of a cloud over the visit. Kerry came under intense criticism from the military and veterans just before the November election when he told a group of California college students that if they studied hard and did their homework they wouldn't wash out and end up in Iraq.

Kerry protested til he turned blue that he wasn't saying people in the military are stupid and lazy, but no one was buying it so he eventually apologized, kind of, by saying he was only making a joke at President Bush that went over the heads of the military types, but he was nonetheless sorry that their feelings were hurt.

That is an apology isn't it? You think?

When asked what kind of reception he expects from the troops he was ridiculing, the very people who are putting life and limb on the line in tours far exceeding 90 days just so people like him have the right to say stupid things, Kerry responded, "What do they know? People in the military have no sense of humor anyway. Just look at Abu Ghraib."

Kerry said he has ordered several thousand copies of the Al Gore Comedy Tour, both paperback and CD versions, to distribute to the troops in Iraq so they can get an idea of what real comedy looks like. "Wait til they hear Al going on about global warming, and the receding glaciers. It's a hoot. Al doesn't even mention the mini-Ice Age from the 1300s to the 1800s when he talks about weather trends, or volcanic eruptions, or sunspots, or crop circles or anything. It's a real masterpiece of slight of hand, er, uh, slight of mind! Get it? Slight of mind? I guarantee the troops will get it. They'll laugh so hard their sides will hurt, I promise you."

Kerry also said that his close relationship with Gore, who invented, copyrighted and patented the Internet, has worked in his favor by keeping news of his so-called joke from reaching the troops anyway. "Al still has some secrets up his sleeve about internet technology that the 'geniuses' in the Pentagon can't figure out. So I'm reasonably sure that the troops never saw or heard of that unfortunate incident," Kerry maintained, adding, "Stupid Californians."

"If those kids had just laughed a little everyone would have seen that it was a joke, and that you had to have a brain to get it, and even if they didn't get it they would have covered up their stupidity by laughing to make it look like they did get it, and they weren't the only stupid person in the room, and the whole thing never would have happened."

"Stupid Californians."

Kerry also said he believes the Republican-dominated Military-Industrial-Petro-Chemical-Pharmaceutical-Geriatric-Homophobic-Tricycle-Islamofascist complex has been far too lenient on the terrorists and he will take care of that little oversight immediately.

"I refer you to my testimony before the Senate Select Committee back in the 70s regarding my experience in convincing reluctant combatants to see our side of things," Kerry said.

"The Bush Administration has no experience in this area, and obviously, despite his one-point advantage on the IQ scale, has no real ability to learn," Kerry added.

Further bolstering his credentials in the torture and abuse arena Kerry maintained, "The entire Rambo series was based on my adventures in the Vietnam War. In fact, I knew John Rambo, and believe me, George Bush is no John Rambo!"

Kerry said he taught "the real John Rambo, not this Sly Stallone character. In fact, Richard Crenna played me in the movies and I had many, many, long and productive discussions with Crenna to ensure that he played his role properly."

"Look," Kerry told reporters, "I'll be taking a boxful of new weaponry with me to show our troops what they really should be doing. I have several old hand-cranked telephones so I can attach wires to genitals, scalping knives for collecting ears, and a few surprises I won't reveal until the proper time.

"Remember, I am the guy who really did drive tanks, fly helicopters and jet fighters, applied computer technology to surveillance a generation before the rest of the world even heard of it, speaks 17 obscure languages fluently, and invented napalm. I didn't just serve in Vietnam, north and south, Laos and Cambodia.

"I also served in Tibet, Nepal, under the South Pole, in outer space, and I even spent one night in Bangkok, heh, heh."

"OK, OK, you media types probably didn't understand that last comment. That's an inside joke among my brother combat vets."

"By the way, my testimony on the Senate floor about Christmas in Phnom Penh was true, but the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy has been trying to discredit it for years. Why? Because they're jealous of my accomplishments."

"Anyway, I'll also be taking my official John Rambo combat knife with the serrated brass knuckle hand guard, my Rambo bow and arrow set with the nuclear-tipped arrow heads, and of course my Daisy Red Ryder, 200-shot repeating BB Gun with the compass in the stock."

"Wait til those bad guys get an eyeful of that weaponry. Why, I'll be the new Messiah."

Kerry says that through his membership in the exclusive brotherhood of heroic combat veterans the troops will understood what he meant when he 'flubbed' the joke about students who don't study hard getting "stuck in Iraq."

Kerry wants to meet with soldiers, military officials and political leaders during his nine-day trip that also includes stops in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Israel where he will outline the new world order, and lay down the law to recalcitrant Muslims and Jews who haven't seen the wisdom of non-sectarianism.

Kerry said that after surviving the beating he took from mainstream Americans over his botched 'joke' he doesn't anticipate much difficulty in convincing leaders in the Middle East to see his point of view.

"Besides," Kerry said, "These guys are smarter than the average American. I think I may have another opportunity to redeem that joke before an audience that will understand and appreciate it, much as the communists saw my potential back in 1970."

Kerry says smart Americans, which may include some soldiers, got what he was trying to say, and he promises to apologize again to anyone who still doesn't get it.

Pressed for his possible reaction if neither the military nor the Middle Eastern leaders still get his 'joke,' an obviously exasperated Kerry snapped, "Then they're probably just a bunch of ignorant college dropouts from some obscure school in California."

"Stupid Californians. They'll probably end up in the Army."
Monday, December 11, 2006

We Invaded Iraq Because ... We Thought Kofi Annan Was There!

This past Sunday morning I caught the Fox News Sunday broadcast, as usual, and nearly choked on my breakfast omelet, as usual, during Juan Williams' turn to offer his view on the world.

I have to admit, the ongoing debate between Williams and Brit Hume, who puts aside his weeknight anchor duties to sit on the Sunday panel hosted by Chris Wallace, is about the best television a political junkie can hope for on a Sunday morning. Juan is hopelessly locked in to Democratic talking points, rarely offers anything that remotely smacks of independent thought, and has a tendency to so thoroughly frustrate Hume, as well as most of the viewing audience I bet, that Hume at times is relegated to a roll of the eyes or a knowing glance at the camera as opposed to actually verbalizing his retorts.

This Sunday Juan was out on a limb that he has been on before and as a result of his comments, and outgoing Untied Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan's related verbal barrage at the United States today, a response is necessary now, not next Sunday.

In a discussion on the Iraq Study Group's report, Williams retreated to the Democrats' old PR position, that we invaded Iraq because we believed that Saddam Hussein had Weapons of Mass Destruction that he was going to unleash on us. I thought we had that issue pretty much in hand, we as a country I mean, when it was revealed last summer that vast stockpiles of WMDs actually have been found there, as well as equipment to use in developing fuel for nuclear bombs.

But more important, plenty of information has been developed that Al Qaeda terrorists had migrated to Iraq from Afghanistan after US troops went there and kicked the crap out of them. The number one terrorist in Iraq, Abu Al Zarqawi, who was visited by a US bomb last June, and hasn't been the same since, went directly to Iraq after he was wounded in fighting against us in Afghanistan.

In Iraq he was provided sanctuary, security, medical treatment and a lengthy recuperation period at a major hospital in Baghdad, run by Saddam's son Uday. When he was sufficiently recovered he headed out to the Iraqi countryside where Saddam had provided training camps, allies and even mockups of airliners so his terrorist recruits could practice hijacking techniques.

Iraq, in short, was to be the next launching pad for terrorist attacks against the US. So we attacked first, unseated Saddam, killed his sons, captured him, put him on trial, got a genocide conviction and death sentence, and along the way dropped a bomb in Zarqawi's back pocket.

Juan Williams and the Democratic National Committee haven't figured that out yet. They're still stuck in Basra. Remember all the nay-sayers who claimed before we attacked Iraq that we would still be stuck out in the desert to this day, unable to progress against Saddam's vaunted troops. Uh-huh. Don't hear much about that from the World Terrorist Media do you?

Then when we got into Iraq we found billions and billions of dollars in cash squirreled away in various hiding spots, which Saddam got by circumventing UN sanctions against his regime, while Kofi Annan not only looked the other way, but put his hand out for regular greasing through the Oil for Food program. Remember that? How Saddam was supposed to be restricted from selling his oil on the world market except for just enough to provide food and medicine for his subjects, but he sold it on the black market anyway, with help from the Untied Nations while the Iraqi people went hungry?

Remember all that? I bet most Americans do, Juan Williams excluded.

So today, Kofi Annan blasts the United States for supposedly trying to enforce our way of life and government across the globe by using our military. Looks like Ol' Kofi has taken too many trips to Crock O' Bull City.

But while Kofi Baby was quick to bad mouth the US, there were certain subjects that he avoided at all cost. There were no Oil for Food comments; there was no mention of all the ongoing scandals at the UN.

I guess if you are Kofi, then everything you do is fine, everything American is not.

We have to ask ourselves, as Kofi heads out on the speaking circuit to make up for income he'll be losing now that he is no longer chief in charge of graft and corruption, "How much is he getting paid to paint himself forever as the ultimate hypocrite?"

This crook, this loser, this phony, this pseudo-elitist cad has the nerve to lecture the US.

What about Darfur, what about Rwanda, what about human rights violations in country after country that this despicable excuse for a diplomat supports and from which he will in all likelihood receive speakers' fees?

Just last week, President Bush, the focal point of this all-too-serious roasting, hosted Kofi at the White House for a farewell dinner. In that encounter our president was the quintessential elegant host, polite, diplomatic and urbane.

Then Kofi shows his appreciation for our country providing him with an opportunity to make it appear his life meant something by running his mealy mouth at us. Kofi claims to be sophisticated, but up close he turns out to be nothing more than a dressed up street thug.

Just goes to show, you can't make silk out of a sow's ear.
Friday, December 08, 2006

It IS All About Israel

When the Iraq Study Group finished its all-night cram session and released its term paper just in time for finals, (Media Day) one of its recommendations was that we should be talking with Iran and Syria independently without the presence of Israel, our only true ally in the Middle East.

Stupid, stupid, stupid. I usually don't take to calling people stupid, especially when they are supposed to have some brains and may just be uninformed. But this is stupid.

Pundits all across the political spectrum, with the exception of those masochists who advocate surrender so they can be beaten, whipped and humiliated to their heart's content, are hard pressed to find anything of value in this recommendation.

Why, oh why didn't we think of that in WWII? I'm sure Hitler or Tojo would have loved to sit down and talk with us while their armies solidified their positions, resupplied, and continued work on developing jet fighters and A-bombs.

Let's get this right out on the table. Israel has been carrying the baggage for the United States and the rest of the free world in the fight against terrorism for more than a generation. Israel is at the tip of the spear, fighting our fights, doing our dirty work and taking the brunt of the damage that in the long run is intended for us.

In the wider view of the World War of Terror, Israel is not about religion, or culture, or ethnicity. Israel is all about being a visible and effective symbol of the refusal of freedom-loving people to knuckle under to extremists, sadists, sexists, bigots, murderers, rapists and fascists.

Israel has stood solidly against the very people who want to defeat, subjugate and enslave the rest of the world, enduring invasions, homicide-bombings, kidnappings and near daily rocket and mortar attacks, while many of the very people who continue to enjoy their freedom due to the sacrifices of the Israelis, now are working against them.

Just look at the people endorsing the concept of talking with Iran and Syria.

Former President Jimmy Carter! The very guy who got this all started by his namby-pamby, turn-the-other-cheek approach to foreign relations. The guy who stood around and did nothing when Green Bean Almandine, now the leader of Iran, then a vicious big-mouthed "student" leader, invaded the American embassy in Tehran and took our people hostage. Need I remind you that the hostages were released almost immediately after Ronald Reagan took office because he made no bones about what would happen to Iran if they weren't?

Then there is former President Bill Clinton! This is the guy who ignored signal after signal of the terrorists' true intent toward our country, bragged about ineffectively winging four-dozen or so cruise missiles into a training camp and a pharmacy, while his law-and-order approach to terrorism brought only more destruction and death to us!

Who in their right mind, other than the World Terrorist Media and its local subsidiary the American Terrorist Media, would take these guys seriously?

We gain nothing from talking to our enemies while they still are our enemies, other than buying them time to continue to build their forces against us, meanwhile weakening our own resolve.

Do you know why the American public rejected the Republicans in Congress and the Senate last month? Not because of Israel, not because of the war in Iraq, not because of the myriad false claims by the Democrats.

The American public rejected the Republican Congress, primarily by not voting at all, because Congress got weak, Congress got mushy, Congress got indecisive. The Republicans in Congress didn't tell the president in no uncertain terms to unleash the full power of our military to beat the terrorists so hard that their ancestors quake and their offspring shake.

America backs winners and America wants to be the ultimate winner. Period. We want the Super Bowl, the World Series, the most Olympic gold -- summer and winter -- and we have no qualms about working to achieve those goals. Americans do not tolerate people posing as strong leaders who, when the going gets tough, turn out to be weak, ineffectual losers.

Think I'm wrong? Look at the stands at any National Football League game this weekend. Winning teams, packed stadiums. Losing teams, plenty of empty seats. Hell, watch any game in progress. If the home team is playing like a bunch of bums the stands will be emptying out long before the end of the third-quarter.

This country is comprised of people who rejected the simpering, hand-wringing, aristocratic, autocratic, despotic, elitist governments that existed elsewhere. This country is comprised of people who wanted an effective voice in their future and the future of their children. This country is comprised of people who know what needs to be done, how to do it and when to do it, and they will not back anything that remotely smacks of the failed systems elsewhere.

But what did they get from the Iraq Study Group? European style appeasement, hand-wringing and whining. That report essentially said this elite group couldn't come up with anything better than what President Bush is already doing, although you won't find that assessment widely circulated by the WTM, especially not in the Associated Press.

So if that is the best they can do, it just might mean that we already are doing what needs to be done, but perhaps not enthusiastically enough. Meaning, untie our troops' hands, back off these stupid rules of engagement that at the whim of terrorists posing as downtrodden Sunnis or Shiites can put our people in brigs and stockades that are far harsher than Guantanamo, and let our people fight!

We are not losing as the WTM and ATM are claiming. But we will if we don't step up and get deadly serious about this war. Which means no back channel or back room appeasement discussions with our enemies and no excluding our allies, particularly Israel.

It has been reported that James Baker III, the co-chair of Iraq Study Group (who came up with that candy-assed name anyway?) has a long history of anti-Israeli comments and actions, going back to his time as Secretary of State for the first President Bush. Fox News reported Thursday that the report is seen as containing many of the anti-Israel positions he took nearly two decades ago, which for me, is a prime reason why it should be rejected out of hand.

Baker may not be anti-Semitic, but he sure makes a good case that he is anti-Israel.

These guys even want to give back the Golan Heights, won by Israel at such a terrible price in the 1967 Six Day War! Give back the Golan Heights? Are they nuts?

There is a reason why the military puts such an emphasis on capturing the high ground. The vantage point the high ground affords gives a decided edge in intelligence gathering since you can see more in all directions, it gives the edge in launching artillery and air strikes and protecting your own forces, and it is much, much harder for the opposition to retake a high position, fighting uphill all the way, than to overrun a position that is on the flatlands.

Why on earth would Israel give up such a strategic spot? Why does Syria want it? Are there precious mineral or oil deposits there, historic or religious sites that are part of the essential fabric of Syrian existence? Nope, none of the above.

Syria wants the Golan Heights because they provide all the advantages I mentioned above. Syria wants the US to pressure Israel to give up the Golan Heights through 'diplomacy' because Syria has a snowball's chance in hell of taking them back militarily. Which is exactly why Israel should never give them up, and we should reject out of hand any recommendation from any panel that even broaches this subject.

Once and for all, Israel is our forward artillery post, our forward air control position, our forward listening post. Whatever you see happening there, eventually is coming here, unless we stand by our ally and ensure that the continued existence of the Israeli state is the bedrock of any strategy we undertake.

Anything less and we are signing our own death warrants.
Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Johnny, (Bolton) We Hardly Knew Ye; Welcome Home Tony Blair

John Bolton is on his way out the door at the Untied Nations, even though he did a great job while there, at a time when more than ever we need a person in that position with the kind of backbone he possesses.

What do you think are the chances of an equally strong and capable replacement, considering that recently the Bush Administration is giving the appearance it is only too willing to fold its tents and slink away into the night on the UN front after the November election debacle? What chance does the United States have of a suitable replacement who won't simply bow to whatever pressures are applied at the sewage treatment plant on the East River?

I heard some pundits throwing around the names of some potential replacements on TV the last couple of days. I have to admit, I have never heard of most of them, and the people who did know them weren't talking in what I would call the most enthusiastic, favorable of tones.

While the concept behind the Untied Nations is valid, the fact is, we are nothing more than whipping boys for that organization, and we are paying to be treated like dirt by the very people who are making the most money off of our labors! The United States pays 22 percent of the annual UN operating budget and puts even more into voluntary payments for charitable missions around the world, as well as peacekeeping operations.

Yet, because the US withheld funding for programs that it disagrees with, all we hear about is how much we "owe!"

Guess who is right behind us in contributions? China the most populous country on earth? India, the second most populous country? Russia? How about Saudi Arabia, or Venezuela, or one of the other big oil producers?

Nope, right behind us, at more than 19 percent is Japan! Right behind the Japanese, with a big, big drop off, is Germany at more than 8 percent. Just beyond that you get Great Britain. See a trend here? The US, Japan and Germany alone pay more than 50 percent of the operating budget of the UN, while the overwhelming majority, some 128 countries, pay less than 1 percent IN TOTAL. All in all, the overwhelming bulk of the UN budget, more than 72 percent, is paid for by the top 8 contributors, all of which, right after the US and Japan are our European allies and Canada.

OK, I understand that some of the smaller developing countries are struggling and just don't have the money. But 128 out of 191? And what about the 55 countries that come between the top 8 and the bottom 128. Their contributions are piddling, and yet they spend a disproportionate amount of time criticizing us, and working against us.

I don't hold out much hope for our future in that organization, and frankly, I don't see why we continue to spend so much of our time and money there. Remember when the tidal waves (tsunamis) hit Indonesia two years ago, and the world was called on to help the millions of victims?

The US sent a task force including ships, aircraft and troops to help find, evacuate and care for the injured, feed the homeless and hungry and help with the rebuilding. The US public also sent hundreds of millions of dollars to the international relief effort, in addition to government contributions from the federal budget.

But what did we hear on the news? That because the US government, at OUR direction, is not set up to tax us to oblivion and doesn't have separate accounts for international charity, the US wasn't paying its 'fair share!'

We were the number one contributor when all sources were considered, but the big noises on the international criticism scene, aided and abetted as usual by the World Terrorist Media and its subsidiary the American Terrorist Media, didn't even count the millions of dollars each day it cost us to maintain a fleet and all its supporting units in that region!

This fair share stuff is a crock and it is far past time we dump it in the circular file where it belongs.

Do you know what the Business Council for the Untied Nations says about the US contributions? Get this:
The United States is assessed for the regular budget at the ceiling rate of 22 percent, which in 2006 was $423,464,855 of the total $1,924,840,250. This works out to be a contribution of about $1.42 per American citizen, according to 2006 census data. Japan, the second largest contributor to the regular budget at 19.47 percent, pays $374,727,900 or about $3.94 per citizen in comparison.

For the peacekeeping budget, the US is assessed 27 percent. In 2005, this amounted to about $1.28 billion, but by the end of 2005, the US still owed $521 million of that $1.28 billion to the UN for peacekeeping dues.

By 2005, the US owed $963.1 million in total to the UN in dues to the regular and peacekeeping budgets. At the same time, the US gave $8.7 billion to voluntary causes in 2003, the last year the UN released information on donations to programs funded in this manner.

Although the US does contribute a large share of the UN budget, one should consider this information in the context of World GDP (the total wealth produced on Earth). When GDP is measured by purchasing power parity (a method of calculation that looks at how much goods and services cost in different countries as opposed to exchange rates), the US takes in 20.9 percent of global GDP. If one divides the percent of US contribution to the UN budget by America's share of world wealth, the ratio is almost one-to-one. Other wealthy states contribute significantly more given their share of global wealth. For example, using the same formula as above: Japan: 2.9; Germany: 2.1; France: 1.8; UK: 2.2; Canada: 1.6; and Italy: 1.7. There are, however, nations that contribute much less, such as Russia: 0.4, and China: 0.2.

Enough, already. The Untied Nations has shown itself for decades now to be anti-Democracy, anti-American, and anti-Semitic. It has put some of its worst offenders on its human rights council which seems to have no agenda other than to blame Israel for everything and anything that is wrong in the world. If Israel hasn't done anything worthy of blame, the UN and its faux councils get the Associated Press and other members of the WTM to make something up.

Most Americans were fed up with this organization long, long ago. It is time for our politicians to get the message.

Either we get a replacement for John Bolton who is going to stand up for America's rights at the UN or it is time we start looking for a way to make a "graceful exit."

Welcome Back Tony Blair

It may just be coincidence but Tony Blair is due to visit the White House Thursday, a day after the Iraq Study Group released its long awaited report on what it thinks we should do in Iraq. Blair is the most stalwart of US allies, and unfortunately, to my way of thinking, is making what amounts of a farewell tour before leaving office.

The report came out earlier today and to the group's credit it did not advocate a cut and run plan, although much of what it did recommend sounded suspiciously like what President Bush has been saying for a long time now. The WTM, which attended a post-release press conference sponsored by the group, obviously wasn't too happy with the lack of criticism of the Bush Administration and immediately went on the attack, questioning why anyone should care what the group said. Interesting.

Considering that Great Britain has been alongside us step for step in both Iraq and Afghanistan Blair probably wants an update on Bush's plans, which stands to reason. I can only hope that Bush tells him we have but one plan, the one thing omitted by the Iraq Study Group, which is VICTORY.

My concern with a study group, other than its name sounding like something college kids do on weeknights to prepare for exams, is that it wasn't populated by military people, especially those with down in the dirt street fighting experience.

The group also advocates talking to Syria and Iran as equal partners in the process of mid-East stability. You can't get stability by talking to the people who are causing the instability.

The only talking we should be doing with Syria and Iraq is whispering "I Can't Hear You," in their leaders' ears right after we grab them by the throats and slam their heads repeatedly into a stone wall until they surrender.

And this comes at the same time the new Secretary of Defense designee, Robert Gates, says we are losing in Iraq. Or, well let's see, what did he say? First he said we aren't winning in Iraq. But then he came back and said we aren't losing either.

So we either are stagnant or in a period of decline ... or something. God, I just love it when the US shows the world it has an overabundance of strong, decisive leaders.

As I have said previously, the only other kind of meaningful discussion you can have with terrorists is when they are giving you the terms of your surrender, which you absolutely will not like.

How about this for a plan? Kick ass, take names, lay down the law. Anything else will only lead to the end of civilization as we know it.
Sunday, December 03, 2006

Iraq Lasts as Long as WWII! So What!?

For the past few days most American news organizations have made a point of noting that the war in Iraq has now lasted longer than our involvement in World War II. So what?

The implication here, as it was during Vietnam, is if we could defeat the Nazis and the Japanese in a slightly more than three year period beginning on Dec. 7, 1941, and ending for the Nazis on May 7, 1945 and for Japan on Sept. 2, 1945, why can't we do the same in Iraq (Vietnam)?

Well for starters, it is a false comparison. World War II actually started several years before the United States got into it - some say it was actually in 1921 when Adolph Hitler first was elected leader of the National Socialist Party (Nazis) in Germany, others say various dates in the early to mid-30s when Hitler opened the first concentration camp, and assassinated the Austrian Chancellor.

Regardless of the time line, the fact is that defeating Germany and Japan involved a more concentrated effort because in addition to the differing ideologies at play - they wanted to rule the world, we said 'No,' - they also existed in highly definable geographic locations where we could concentrate our forces against theirs.

The similarities now are that the Islamo-facists want to rule the world and we again are saying 'No!' But the enemy this time is nearly completely ideology based, not geography based, and though defeating their armed forces is certainly within our means, stamping out their extremist ideology is far more complicated and will take much more time. I have written in the past that I believe we are in a three-generation war and nothing has changed about that.

We first need to defeat their armies, which, due to the fanaticism of their fighters and the diverse locations that spawn them will probably take us more than another decade, twenty years in all. Why? Because we have to show that we not only can kill their fighters, but that we have the willpower and determination to keep killing their fighters for as long as it takes.

I don't like to forecast how many casualties it will cost the US, but I repeat that whatever number of fighters we lose, as sad and deplorable as that is to me, is a mere fraction of the number of American civilians who will be butchered if we just give up.

Eventually, and I believe it is when the current generation of Islamo-facists has seen nothing but constant loss and death and have become nothing more than extremist splinter organizations, the countries where they are allowed to recruit and train new fighters will start cracking down on them, and that will be the beginning of the end of the military phase.

But we still will have to show people who are alive now that it is useless to work against us under the radar, and that secretly training a new generation of terrorists will bring only the same results. That will take another 20 years, until a time when today's extremist leaders are relegated to a position not as elder statesmen, but as sad relics of a bygone time and disproven philosophy who are viewed with contempt not respect.

Then we'll still have to work with the countries where the terrorists originally operated with impunity, to educate the unborn generation to take a different view of the world and achieving their goals. Three generations. Sixty years. We may as well get used to it because it is not going away.

Still, the American Terrorist Media, (ATM) the regional subsidiary of the World Terrorist Media (WTM) has this fascination with bygone timelines and anniversaries, showing an unwillingness or inability to change their view even as the world around them changes. Sad isn't it?

Meanwhile, the terrorists either grow stronger on our vacillations, or give the appearance that they have done so, with the complicity of the WTM. Take the Hezbollah demonstrations in Lebanon this past week. Nearly a million people, a quarter of the Lebanese population, take to the streets.

Again, so what? That means that three-quarters of the Lebanese populace did not take to the streets. Regardless of the interpretations offered by the ATM and WTM you can bet that a significant percentage of the people at the demonstrations were there because they were told to turn out, not because they wanted to turn out.

Some did it out of belief, of course. And there may be a lot of them. Hezbollah, like centuries of well-organized terrorists before them, is a well-armed brutal organization. But they also have instituted some social programs that the Lebanese government has not be able to accomplish, in all likelihood because of obstructions from groups like Hezbollah that gain prestige if the central government is seen as ineffective.

But that does not mean they are right. It simply means they have figured out a sophisticated method for getting their point across that uses both weapons, and politics, both abetted by their Public Relations agents, the WTM and ATM.

Face it, North Korea's wacko leader Kim Jung Ill can get a million people out to highly orchestrated, highly controlled demonstration in a heartbeat if he wants. How many want to sign up to live under that nut job in a country where the population is decreasing daily due to famine and police state brutality?

Dictators have always been able to muster shows of support. Look at Castro, or Khrushchev, or Mao, or Mussolini or Hitler. But that didn't make their governments and ideologies viable. It just showed they were ruthless.

"Everyone show up at the demo today. Die if you don't." Works every time.

We have some serious issues to face on the international scene. Iraq is not going well for us, and it's going one hell of a lot worse for the citizens of Baghdad. We need to change things and we need to start doing it yesterday.

The NY Times published another leaked memo today, this one written by Donald Rumsfeld just before he was canned as Secretary of Defense. He recommended some bold changes in strategy, some I agree with, others I don't.

But historically I will note that after the Tet Offensive in February, 1968, President Johnson fired Defense Secretary Robert McNamara who had made a mess of the military effort in Vietnam, even though the United States won that offensive with such a lopsided victory that if the communists hadn't been abetted by Walter Cronkite and most of the rest of the American media they probably would have surrendered. While McNamara's successor eventually came to agree with many of the same political positions held by his predecessor, and was in my opinion horribly wrong in approving a cessation of bombing in North Vietnam while we were fighting in the south, the fact was that for the following year the US armed forces accomplished exactly what we had set out to do.

I have a personal stake in this period in history because I was there during the year plus after Tet, and benefited from the change in leadership. Under the new structure the ill-conceived and ill-fated McNamara Line between north and south Vietnam was demolished, the Marine infantry regiments took the field to fight in the manner in which they are trained and both the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army suffered horrendous losses, most of which was not reported on in depth back in the states.

Marine Major General Raymond Davis, who had started his career before World War II, took over command of Marines in northern I Corps, and took the fight to the communists with stunning results. General Davis had been in some of the most vicious fighting in World War II, had been wounded but refused evacuation in Pelilu, was awarded the Medal of Honor for leading the Marine breakout when surrounded by communist Chinese at the Chosin Reservoir in Korea, and saw to it that Marines in Vietnam did their job the way it is supposed to be done.

At the end of his tour he would take media personnel to the hilltops where a year earlier the incoming artillery had been nearly non-stop, and declare that they were safer there than on the streets of most large cities in America. This was all but ignored by the press and American politicians, but it happened nonetheless.

So I don't see change as bad, but I do see that making apples to oranges comparisons to bygone eras is meaningless in the real world. However, it can become meaningful if such comparisons are allowed to stand without being challenged and explained.

Since we now are in a time of change, I say, bring on the street fighters. Bring on the generals and colonels who have fought in the streets and alleyways, as well as in the textbook battles of training sessions and war games. We are battling street fighters who have no rules, and adhere to no philosophy other than winning at any cost.

It is time we take them on right where they live and defeat them at their own games. We have the people, the training and the equipment. We need the leaders who are fearless and understand multiple fighting disciplines.

Russia is now expanding its assassination activities to other countries, reaching out to kill its critics in England as well as at home, using advanced nuclear poisoning that can likely be expanded to hit entire populations, not just one target.

Although one person died in England and another is sick from Polonium poisoning, more than 30,000 may have come in contact with it. Think of what might have happened if there were 30,000 targets instead of a few.

As columnist and commentator Charles Krauthammer put it on Fox News Sunday today, "There is no mystery," as to what happened or who did it. Evidence may not lead directly to Russia's leader Vladimir Rasputin, but that despot isn't even trying to cover up his involvement. He is telling the rest of the world 'So What?' And the rest of the world is buying it.

It is time we as a people, our government, and our media start applying a little of the 'So What?' philosophy to our actions and our impressions of those actions. The war in Iraq has gone on longer than WWII. So did the Hundred Years War, but the real goal here is for our great-great grandchildren to live in a free society, and tell their grandchildren that they are descended from people of strength and vision who knew when to fight, and how to differentiate those things that mattered from those that don't.
Friday, December 01, 2006

Diversions, Diversions, Diversions; And Where is Juliet Huddy When We Need Her?

Vice President Cheney goes to Saudi Arabia. President Bush goes to Jordan. The Iraqi prime minister pitches a hissy fit when a White House memo saying he may not be the best guy for the job is leaked to the New York Times.

The world is focused on Iran's dictator Green Bean Almandine, as Lebanon's terrorist wackos, aka Hezbollah, push a million instant converts out on the streets to denounce their elected government. America waits breathlessly for the report from an unelected so-called Blue Ribbon panel that is reviewing our policy in Iraq, even though the panel has included input from such stalwart defenders of the American lifestyle as Henry Kissinger and Jimmy Carter, and leaks say its report will be more milquetoast.

Yet, the news coverage of these earth-shattering events is non-stop.

Meanwhile, short shrift is given to a Chinese submarine evading our best sonar capabilities and sneaking up to well within torpedo range of one of our aircraft carriers in the Pacific. Reports say the US Navy didn't know it was there until it surfaced. (The Chinese got access to our secret sonar capabilities during the Clinton administration according to some very well-placed sources, which may explain why such a gross violation of our national security isn't making headlines.)

The media also glosses over the revelation that a naturalized US citizen gave our stealth aircraft secrets to the Chinese, making the Stealth bomber more like a bull in a china shop than the ultimate sneak attack weapon. Meanwhile India successfully tests an anti-missile system while ours is hung up on a technicality, and oh, did anyone mention the Chinese shooting a laser beam at one of our satellites?

So what is going on out there? Well, in my humble opinion, we, the citizenry of the United States, are being deluded. We are focusing on nonsense while the real threats to our country and form of government are being studiously ignored.

I wrote months ago that the missile testing in Korea, and the on-again, off-again threats from Iran were diversions engineered by the Chinese and Russians trying one last time to impose a new world order of communism on the religious zealots who just can't seem to find enough room for each other to exist peacefully.

So, the Russians are poisoning people with food contaminated by Polonium, and the Chinese are testing out weapons that really can screw over our defenses. That the Russians have developed Polonium poisons that can be injected into the food system and injested by the target without catching on is remarkable.

That the Chinese "painted" a US satellite recently tells us exactly what is going on over there. They are trying to find ways to disrupt our military and civilian communications capabilities and working on ways to poison our food system using former Russian subjects who have fallen out of favor with Rasputin as guinea pigs.

Twice in the past week I have had conversations about the ongoing violence in Iraq, and how it is generated and sustained by the murderer posing as a religious icon Muqtada Al Sadr. Why, people are asking, don't we just terminate this fool and put an end to this nonsense?

The syndicated columnist and Fox News political analyst Mort Kondracke raised this point Thursday night, noting as many others have that we should have taken Al Sadr out back in 2003 when his limited army was shooting at our troops from inside a mosque. It bears noting that the US was all atwitter over us shooting at terrorists inside a mosque, but only last week Al Sadr's terrorist blew up three mosques where members of the Sunni Muslim sect worship.

Apparently in his view of the world only Shiite mosques rate protection.

The answer to Mr. Kondracke's question is that it is never too late to take out a bad guy. Whatever limited power he had three years ago has grown exponentially since then because we didn't do the right thing, and that power will grow even more so if we don't do it now. The longer you wait, the harder it will be and the worse the repercussions. It will never get easier or better so the less talk we do and the more action we take, the better.

It is the East, and Juliet is the sun!

OK, Fox News, I've been silent on this long enough. What have you done with Juliet Huddy? Where is she, why is she not on TV and how much is the ransom? I may not have it all myself, but I bet I can raise whatever amount it is within 24 hours.

I'm not the kind of guy who makes threats, but I would strongly suggest that you get her back in the public domain. Get it?

Juliet is one of the best newscasters on the national scene, and she certainly is not hard to look at. She was a weekend Fox News anchor before doing a short stint on the 1 p.m. weekday Fox lineup. Then she disappeared.

Apparently, the 1 p.m. show is having a hard time finding its niche, but what would you expect? That show is up against Rush Limbaugh and other conservative commentators so the core audience is already diverted.

But that isn't why I want Juliet back. First, someone else has already decided that she is the sexiest newscaster on TV. I agree. Beyond her unbelievable good looks and easy-going demeanor, that girl can shoot hoops, has no qualms about punching a male co-host on the shoulder and generally comes across as someone you could hang out with.

She knows her business too and gives an informed professional presentation.

Also, judging from comments I have received over the past year or so, many Fox viewers are tired of the type of ranting that Shepard Smith did on the intro to the Nov. 30, 6 p.m. news show. That is the one usually hosted by Brit Hume that Chris Wallace has hosted this week.

Smith was in the mideast covering the presidential visit to Jordan, and in his short stay there came to the expert conclusion that our troops in Iraq are actually causing all the hate and discontent that the muslim world feels toward us.

They weren't there in the 70s when this all started, and were never there in any real strength during the 80s, 90s or even the early years of this century, but that didn't stop Ol' Shep. His rant reminded me of his whining from New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina when he was blaming the federal government for all kinds of nefarious conduct that it turned out didn't happen.

He also failed to note back then that the Posse Comitatus Act prevented President Bush from acting in that state until he got approval from the governor, but that sure didn't stop Shep from spewing his uninformed opinion.

I figure, if you want a pretty face out there, Juliet takes that competition hands down.

On the other hand, if Smith wants to be known as another Democratic operative with lots of rhetoric and little in the way of facts, let him go over to the Communist News Network.

Fox, bring back Juliet. The whole world is watching, but only if she returns.
Saturday, November 25, 2006

Connecticut's GOP; Hypocrisy in a One-Party State

News reports from the Connecticut political scene this past week were full of denunciations from Republican party leaders toward a Republican member of the state House of Representatives who switched parties two weeks after winning reelection.

The newly converted Democrat, Rep. Diana Urban of North Stonington, represents the district that previously was represented by former Republican US Congressman Rob Simmons when he was a state representative. Simmons lost his Congressional seat in the recent election by such a narrow margin that party chicanery has to be considered as much a culprit as the efforts by his Democratic opponent.

Urban's switch widened the state House Democrats' lead over Republicans to 107-44, which when combined with the state Senate Dems also exceeding the two-thirds margin needed to override vetoes from the Governor's office, relegates Gov. Jodi Rell to figurehead status, while ensuring that anything the Dems want, they get.

What was especially stunning, and outright hypocritical of the GOP leadership, was the argument that Urban accepted campaign money from the Republican party, but knew all along that she was going to switch. That her decision to switch was made long before the election may or may not have been the case. News reports focused on her close friendships with leading Democrats and voting patterns that were closer to the Dems' than her own party.

But the key factor is the money issue. All across Connecticut, throughout the campaign, viable candidates for the state House and Senate were pleading for financial help from party central in Hartford. But the reaction from party leaders ranged from ignoring the candidates, to cold shoulders, to in the case of the 19th Senate District, outright sabotage.

Pleas for financial help were rebuffed, with the explanation that there simply were no funds available. Yet the party found money to help Urban, who was considered a shoo-in.



How do you, as a party leader, justify leaving viable candidates withering on the vine with no means to distribute their message and positions, while simultaneously giving precious funding to a questionable candidate who has no opposition?

The answer may well be as simple as it appears - that the GOP leadership in Hartford is so out of touch with the electorate and reality that they think we all are too stupid to see what they are up to. Apparently, outside the grounds of the Capitol we aren't smart enough to see that only certain candidates get help, and if someone who doesn't fit their secret criteria comes along with a campaign plan that just might upset their apple cart, the party insiders go out of their way to ensure that the upstarts don't get elected.

Party wise guys make the claim that they are experts at predicting the outcome of state elections. I don't believe they make accurate predictions. I believe they work behind the scenes to make sure their little piece of turf stays intact no matter who is in power.

This is a self-fulfilling prophecy, not a prediction.

There also is the possibility that the party has been infiltrated over the last decade or so by RINOs (Republicans In Name Only) or for that matter, Democratic insurgents, who have succeeded in usurping real Republicans and are deliberately destroying the party from within.

I use the decade time measurement because until the mid-1990s the GOP had a majority in Hartford, and even when the Dems had good years the Republicans were still in the game, which has not been the case since before the turn of the century.

We also may consider that the system is so corrupt that Democrats and Republicans have been cooperating to maintain the status quo, meaning that some players will always get elected, while outsiders will either get no help or will be sabotaged.

If you think this scenario is too far fetched, consider that nearly a year ago the Connecticut Law Journal reported that Rell was raking in huge donations from liberal Democrats in the monied western section of the state. This as she eschewed donations from PACs and lobbyists, and called on other Republican candidates to do the same.

The Connecticut media ignored the revelation about Rell's new-found friends, and focused instead on what appeared to be a major gaff from Rell's chief of staff who distributed invitations to a Rell fund-raiser to her department heads on state time in state offices.

Rell gave back the $50,000 or so that she received from that event, but at the same time was more than making up for it at other, more private events that received scant media attention. How can you take money from your opponent's party to ensure your election, and at the same time bad-mouth someone else who did essentially the same thing by a different route?

Although the Democrats' campaign for governor was spirited at times, Rell was always at least twenty-five percentage points ahead of her challenger, New Haven mayor John DeStefano, whose sphere of influence didn't extend past the boundaries of Yale University, and was never able to overcome the name recognition issue.

Nonetheless, even candidates on Rell's underticket were complaining that they were ignored during the campaign, and not one of them was elected.

But Rell was, even though she will have no real job for the next two years at least, other than to cut ribbons and attend groundbreakings. Maybe she can watch videos of Queen Elizabeth waving at crowds from inside her royal carriage. Then at least she'll have the benign monarchy thing down.

All in all, the positions taken by the GOP leadership in the past week add up to hypocrisy. The GOP has been slipping in party enrollment for years, but the Dems aren't the majority player. Independents own that status, meaning most voters aren't enamored with the Dems' penchant for taxing everything and unchecked bureaucracies, they just don't trust the GOP to represent them anymore.

So the posturing for the media can run its course, but nothing is really going to change. And out where true Republicans live, the party faithful who at their core believe in limited government and taxation only to the level necessary to maintain limited government, have to be wondering at what point do they stop working inside the system and start planning on revolution?
Thursday, November 23, 2006

Thanksgiving Wishes For All Who Serve and Served; WWII; Korea; Vietnam; Beirut; Kuwait; Somalia; Afghanistan; Iraq; on land, sea and air.

Please take a moment to join with me and say a special thanks to all who serve and all who have served, to keep our world free.

Today, many who deserve our thanks the most will be the least likely to have the time or opportunity to celebrate this ever so special and ever so American holiday.

For them, for all who guard our freedoms, in every clime and place, my heartfelt thanks, and prayers for your safe return to your homes and families.

Semper Fidelis
Ron Winter
Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Remembering Quang Tri, Vietnam, and Fallen Marines on Thanksgiving

This originally was written for my agent Andy Zack's blog on Thanksgiving Day 2005. It is updated for today in this column. The message is still relevant. It has been 38 years, but the memory is as fresh as if it was yesterday.

Although I frequently lecture and write about the Vietnam War, and my book Masters of the Art is based on my service there, I don't have a repository of dates locked in my mind that steadily surfaces like a mental file folder reminding me of long ago battles and death.

But on Thanksgiving Day every year I make it a point to stop for a moment and remember one day, and one comrade. On that special day in 1968 I volunteered to fly gunner as helicopters from my squadron, HMM-161, delivered hot turkey dinners to our Marine infantry in outposts and firebases all over northern I Corps.

There was little action to speak of that day, and I was not involved in any firefights, so no flights were classified as combat missions. Just a long, long day delivering canisters of turkey, potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce and even cases of beer, to give the grunts a brief respite from the war.

I held no animosity about spending my entire day in a series of flights under leaden monsoon season skies. I knew what the grunts faced every day of that war and anything we could do to give them even the slightest break was fine by me.

After a day of seeing and smelling all that food, I was truly ready for a meal of my own by the time we returned to the air strip at Quang Tri. But a Thanksgiving dinner was not to be, at least not one prepared in a mess hall.

There had been a dinner. But it was consumed in its entirety by the troops who stayed back on the base that day. Little more than crumbs were left for those who had been flying. I returned to my hooch totally dejected, ready to curse out any and all who crossed my path and not at all looking forward to a meal of C-rations.

Enter a new guy, Billy Bazemore, only recently arrived from the states, who like me was a helicopter electrician, and like me volunteered to fly gunner. New guys had little to no status in Vietnam, and usually deferred to the veterans on virtually all matters. But seeing the look on my face prompted Billy to question its origin, and then to offer a solution.

Reaching triumphantly under his cot, Billy dragged out a box that had arrived in the mail from home, containing a canned turkey, potatoes, carrots, stuffing, and cranberry sauce. To add to my amazement, I also had received a package, bearing a Sara Lee chocolate cake that had survived the voyage from The World intact.

Billy could have kept his stash secret. He could have squirreled it away and hoarded it for himself. But he was a Marine and believed in the Marine code of sharing the contents of food packages from home. We spread the food out on boxes and proceeded to divvy it up among several other crewmen who also had returned to Quang Tri to discover there would be no dinner for them that day.

In short order, the dismal grayness of a monsoon day was forgotten, and probably for the first time in my life I completely understood the meaning of Thanksgiving.

Billy Bazemore's life ended a few short months later, in a vicious firefight with the North Vietnamese. I know the exact date, but I would rather celebrate his life than his death.

So this Thanksgiving, as our troops are once again fighting what has become yet another 'unpopular' war, I will remember where they are and what they are enduring for those of us back home who will be warm, and secure and well fed because of their sacrifices.

I'll offer a toast to my fellow Americans and all other freedom-loving troops who are fighting the terrorists in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. Because I know that out there somewhere, it is very likely that two Marines will straggle back to their base from a long day that held only harshness and death, only to find that there will be no traditional meal waiting for them.

But they will pull together, as we did 38 years ago, and will find a way to salvage their day. And a bond of brotherhood that can not be duplicated under any other circumstances will be forged, and it will endure. I will say a silent prayer for them, and ask that this time they both make it back home, safe and sound, to enjoy other Thanksgiving Days in the warmth and comfort of their homes, with families that may even make an effort to understand why this day has such meaning for their returned warriors.

And although I won't share it with my family and friends because it is just too personal and private, I will find a moment to remember Thanksgiving Day, 1968, Quang Tri, Vietnam, and I'll raise my glass to toast Billy Bazemore, a new guy who long ago taught a lesson in Marine brotherhood to a veteran.


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