November 23, 2004
This will be my last post, and so I wanted to say goodbye to all of you and thank you so much for reading and sharing your thoughts in the comments section. You have entertained me, provoked me, at times challenged me, made me think furiously, smile, laugh, cry, even scream. One thing is certain: I have never been bored.
Getting to know all of you has been one of the greatest privileges of my life. In some odd way, I have come to think of a few of you almost as family and many of you as friends. The Internet is strange that way – it connects people and things far distant in time and space almost effortlessly. I hope that it will allow me to see you again from time to time in the future.
But I cannot continue here. I never meant to become a blogger; I agreed to do a few guest posts while joatmoaf was sick. But writing is addictive and I got sucked into it. And Jet Noise has never been my weblog; it belongs to joatmoaf.
He has certain standards which are quite reasonable, and he is fully within his rights to want them enforced. I have never had any quarrel with that. I have twice now violated those standards, the first time simply without thinking and the second (yesterday) because I was rushed and tired and did not notice I had pasted in some text containing profanity. This was careless of me and I regret the error. It was an error of omission, not of intent: I had taken the trouble that same morning to warn of profanity in two linked articles in another post. But it was entirely my responsibility to ensure that the content I used was free of profanity, and I failed to fulfill this responsibility. That is my fault.
Be that as it may, the Internet is a wild and woolly place, and I find that I have neither the time nor the energy to scan the reams of text I read daily looking for bad words or objectionable content. Nor do I have the energy to constantly scan and edit the comments section when people slip up and swear. This, frankly, is something I would probably do if I had my own blog. It is by no means an unreasonable request. And I want no misunderstandings: I am not angry, or feeling victimized, nor is there any bad feeling on my part.
I am simply unwilling to be accountable to someone else for something that, in the end, is not a standard I devised. It takes all the joy out of what ought to be a labor of love. This is not his fault, it is mine. My presence is pulling the blog in the wrong direction, I am unwilling to conform to his quite reasonable standards, and that is unfair to joatmoaf.
Thanks to everyone who linked to Jet Noise, or stopped by and read and commented. I hope you'll continue to give joatmoaf your support as he takes the blog forward. I truly wish him all the best, and thank him - and you - for giving me one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I will never forget it.
And a special thanks to John Hawkins of Right Wing News for his support and encouragement. I couldn't have done this without you - thanks so much :D.
Because I'd like to end this on a high note, I have some excellent news: Robert Prather of Insults Unpunished has returned to blogging over at Signifying Nothing, so just as a load of hot air is removed from the Blogosphere, one of its finest voices returns to take the wheel.
Just another sign that God's in his Heaven and all's right with the world :)
November 22, 2004
I need to apologize to joatmoaf and to all of you.
This morning on the Kevin Sites Responds post, I pasted in some text from Mr. Sites' blog that had some profanity in it. I failed to catch it at the time, and unfortunately I was busy most of today so I never caught my error.
Joat brought it to my attention tonight, otherwise I doubt I would have noticed it at all. I rarely re-read a post once it's up there. It truly was not intentional. I apologize if I have offended anyone, and to joatmoaf for violating his no-profanity policy.
The Empty Chair
At one of my first Marine Corps Balls, we stopped and lit a candle in remembrance of fallen comrades. It cast a strange pall over the evening, which until then had been filled with the usual laughter and hilarity you expect when young people gather to celebrate the birthday of their Corps.
This Thanksgiving our table will be very full, but there will be an unlit candle on the table and an empty chair, even as crowded as our small dining room will be with three families present to celebrate all the blessings this year has brought us.
We have much to be thankful for, but many of our families will be missing someone they love at their holiday celebrations this year. Please take a moment to say a special prayer for them, or observe a moment of silence, in their honor.
We owe them so very much.
Color Me Crushed...
Sacre bleu! We are despised!
Who knew? I must renew my subscription to the NY Times so I can keep up on the latest developments! Apparently my flexible urban viewpoint has lapsed along with my subscription to that epic epistle. NYT reporter Chris Hedges is not happy with the land of his birth:
"We're absolutely reviled around the world, as we should be," Hedges said. "Our only friends are war criminals" -- a reference, he explained, to Ariel Sharon and Vladimir Putin.
America's amoral, bloodthirsty ways and the hate they generate would be much plainer to the American people, Hedges said, if only so many journalists weren't "trapped" by the government's war clichés and oriented to a Washington-centric view of the world. This group, he said, included his bosses at the Times.
"There was absolutely no interest in my newspaper in presenting the views of the French" as the U.S. moved toward war in Iraq, Hedges said. Instead, there was lots of guffawing over anti-French jokes, which he termed "racist."
Now the Phrench are a race? Donnez-moi une break, sil-vous plait. I'm having a hard enough time with the current move to turn Hispanic into a race (which no one seems to be able to define, in physiological terms, but then scientific rigor no longer seems to be a requirement in the touchy-feely tarpit of political correctness in which we seem to be trapped).
Fortunately there are still a few deluded souls left across the pond...
Kevin Sites Responds
Via JHD, Kevin Sites responds to the furor over his reporting of the Marine shooting incident:
I see an old man in a red kaffiyeh lying against the back wall. Another is face down next to him, his hand on the old man's lap -- as if he were trying to take cover. I squat beside them, inches away and begin to videotape them. Then I notice that the blood coming from the old man's nose is bubbling. A sign he is still breathing. So is the man next to him.
While I continue to tape, a Marine walks up to the other two bodies about fifteen feet away, but also lying against the same back wall.
Then I hear him say this about one of the men:
"He's f**king faking he's dead -- he's faking he's f**king dead."
Through my viewfinder I can see him raise the muzzle of his rifle in the direction of the wounded Iraqi. There are no sudden movements, no reaching or lunging.
However, the Marine could legitimately believe the man poses some kind of danger. Maybe he's going to cover him while another Marine searches for weapons.
Instead, he pulls the trigger. There is a small splatter against the back wall and the man's leg slumps down.
"Well he's dead now," says another Marine in the background.
I am still rolling. I feel the deep pit of my stomach. The Marine then abruptly turns away and strides away, right past the fifth wounded insurgent lying next to a column. He is very much alive and peering from his blanket. He is moving, even trying to talk. But for some reason, it seems he did not pose the same apparent "danger" as the other man -- though he may have been more capable of hiding a weapon or explosive beneath his blanket.
But then two other marines in the room raise their weapons as the man tries to talk.
For a moment, I'm paralyzed still taping with the old man in the foreground. I get up after a beat and tell the Marines again, what I had told the lieutenant -- that this man -- all of these wounded men -- were the same ones from yesterday. That they had been disarmed treated and left here.
At that point the Marine who fired the shot became aware that I was in the room. He came up to me and said, "I didn't know sir-I didn't know." The anger that seemed present just moments before turned to fear and dread.
I wish I had more time to think about this. I have a full plate this week. I did note two interesting things about Mr. Sites' commentary. First, he seems to go out of his way to paint himself as sympathetic to the Marines, stressing the difficulties of war and how hard it is to make life-and-death decisions:
During the course of these events, there was plenty of mitigating circumstances like the ones just mentioned and which I reported in my story. The Marine who fired the shot had reportedly been shot in the face himself the day before.
I'm also well aware from many years as a war reporter that there have been times, especially in this conflict, when dead and wounded insurgents have been booby-trapped, even supposedly including an incident that happened just a block away from the mosque in which one Marine was killed and five others wounded. Again, a detail that was clearly stated in my television report.
No one, especially someone like me who has lived in a war zone with you, would deny that a solider or Marine could legitimately err on the side of caution under those circumstances. War is about killing your enemy before he kills you.
In the particular circumstance I was reporting, it bothered me that the Marine didn't seem to consider the other insurgents a threat -- the one very obviously moving under the blanket, or even the two next to me that were still breathing.
I can't know what was in the mind of that Marine. He is the only one who does.
Mr. Sites, that tells you -- or should have told you, if you had stopped to think at any time in this tortured process -- two things: that this Marine wasn't killing indiscriminately, because he shot only the man he thought was 'faking' death because he was not moving. He ignored the other men because they were breathing and moving under their blankets. And this disturbs you?
You would have been happier, perhaps, if he'd sprayed the entire mosque with fire? By your own admission, the Marine's targeting of this particular Iraqi was based on prior experience where "dead and wounded insurgents have been booby-trapped, even supposedly including an incident that happened just a block away from the mosque".
Secondly, you had two options, having witnessed this incident. I agree that you probably could not have lived with yourself if you'd destroyed the tape. But if we can believe your disingenuous prose, you once thought the Marines were honorable men:
I interviewed your Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Willy Buhl, before the battle for Falluja began. He said something very powerful at the time-something that now seems prophetic. It was this:
"We're the good guys. We are Americans. We are fighting a gentleman's war here -- because we don't behead people, we don't come down to the same level of the people we're combating. That's a very difficult thing for a young 18-year-old Marine who's been trained to locate, close with and destroy the enemy with fire and close combat. That's a very difficult thing for a 42-year-old lieutenant colonel with 23 years experience in the service who was trained to do the same thing once upon a time, and who now has a thousand-plus men to lead, guide, coach, mentor -- and ensure we remain the good guys and keep the moral high ground."
I listened carefully when he said those words. I believed them.
So why turn over a copy of the tape to the media? Why not keep a copy of the tape in a safe place and give a copy to the Marines, demanding they look into it? We are at war with a ruthless enemy. You could have fulfilled your duty to your conscience and your country without handing our enemies a propaganda victory, protected that Marine, and done the right thing. If the Marines failed in their duty, you would always have had the option of going public at a later time.
I'll bet that never occurred to you, did it? Because you wouldn't have had the scoop then. And more importantly, you wouldn't have had the whip-hand over the military. You just couldn't trust the process.
Because the media have never believed that we're the good guys.
Hideous Rock 'n Roll Starz
I noticed Rolling Stone put out their 500 greatest songs of all time and immediately thought "oh no.. here we go...". I'd have a tough time coming up with my favorite songs. Luckily for me, John Hawkins put up a list of his 50 favorite songs, because I'm not going there. At least right now.
Instead, looking at Rolling Stone's list got me thinking, because none of my favs were even in their top 50...or even 100. And THAT got me thinking about all hype in the music world. There are a lot of overrated rockers out there. So I think we owe it to the listening public to correct this egregious state of affairs. I thought perhaps we here at Jet Noise should come up with our own little list:
The Worst 20 Rockers of All Time
Like the gentleman in the picture... what is the deal with him? I admit he has some talent, but how long did he spent on this Monument to the Mundane...20 seconds?
I'm crazy for this little lady
I'm freaking for my little baby
'Cause she makes me feel good
She's so fine
Don't need all my other ladies
I'm beggin' for this little lady
'Cause I tell you she's cool
I know she's a super lady...
Never knew there was such a lady
That would make me want to straighten
Out my life at this time but I find
I'm thinkin' 'bout this little lady
'Cause you know she's no fool
I know she's a super lady
Anyway, to get you started here are some suggestions. Warning: this link contains some profanity. Post your suggestions for 20 Most Hideous Rockers Of All Time in the comments section and I'll collate and post the winners in a few days.
How many times have you purchased a CD or album, only to be disappointed once you got it home? If only the covers were subject to truth-in-advertising laws... Again, not profanity free.
November 21, 2004
Debt Of Honor
Jules Crittenden of the Boston Herald was in DC last week visiting wounded vets at Walter Reed Army Hospital. Once an embedded reporter with our troops in Iraq, Jules has continued to follow the stories of wounded vets like LCpl. James Crosby and Sgt. James Lathan, Jr.. You'll be happy to know LCpl. Crosby is as irrepressible as ever; he recently gave a pep talk to a group of Marine recruits en route to Parris Island and in the words of Mr. Crittenden, "knocked 'em dead".
The warrior spirit is indomitable: nothing keeps these guys down. A look inside a rehabilitation center at Walter Reed shows a scene little different from that in any gym on any base in CONUS, or anywhere soldiers gather to push their minds and bodies to the limit:
It could be an upscale gym anywhere, full of purposeful activity. The good-natured but harsh ribbing among the men working out is relentless.
``Hey, how long has that guy been here?'' says one kid, who is practicing with his new titanium alloy leg. He is talking about a man who is working his stump on a leg-press machine.
``About five months,'' another man tells him.
``He's been here three months longer than me, and he can't walk yet? I can walk already!'' the first amputee gloats.
``Hey! He's above-the-knee! You're below-the-knee!''
A cellphone rings, and someone says, "think that's yours,'' to a man who is working his stomach muscles.
``Yeah, let it ring. I don't feel like getting up right now,'' says the man, who is missing both legs.
This is Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where the human cost of America's war in Iraq is seen in naked stumps and scars. The 46 soldiers hospitalized here are among the more than 8,000 war wounded.
What does it mean to be a Marine when you are one of the maimed at Walter Reed on Veterans Day?
"Everything,'' Cpl. Peter Bagarella, 21, of Falmouth said simply.
Theirs is the story of service and sacrifice behind the statistics.
When these men lined up in neat rows for recruit training, it's a safe bet that this is not the vision of the future they had in mind.
Now, months, or even years later, the training in military discipline and teamwork they shared is standing them in good stead as they work together towards a common goal. It is a far different enemy they face these days, but they are no less determined. The fight is not any easier, either, than the one they engaged in not so long ago in exotic places half a world away.
Less glamorous, less exciting, more painful, and requiring every ounce of strength and determination they can muster. The price we exact from our best and brightest has never been more tragically clear.
Their quality has never shone forth more brightly than at this moment. This nation owes them a tremendous debt of honor*
* Please don't forget the many ways you can show them you care
How Tom Friedman Got His Groove Back
What do I keep saying?.... "Quit the hand-wringing and go over there.... talk to the people on the ground...". Mr. Friedman seems to be feeling a bit more optimistic since visiting Iraq:
Cultures can change, though. But it takes time. And, be advised, it is going to take years to produce a decent outcome in Iraq. But every time I think this can't work, I come across something that suggests, who knows, maybe this time the play will end differently. The headlines last week were all about Falluja. But maybe the most important story in Iraq was the fact that while Falluja was exploding, 106 Iraqi parties and individuals registered to run in the January election. And maybe the second most important story is the relatively quiet way in which Iraqis, and the Arab world, accepted the U.S. invasion of Falluja. The insurgents there had murdered hundreds of Iraqi Muslims in recent months, and, I think, they lost a lot of sympathy from the Arab street. (But if we don't get the economy going on the Iraqi street, what the rest of the Arab world thinks will be of no help.)
Readers regularly ask me when I will throw in the towel on Iraq. I will be guided by the U.S. Army and Marine grunts on the ground. They see Iraq close up. Most of those you talk to are so uncynical - so convinced that we are doing good and doing right, even though they too are unsure it will work. When a majority of those grunts tell us that they are no longer willing to risk their lives to go out and fix the sewers in Sadr City or teach democracy at a local school, then you can stick a fork in this one. But so far, we ain't there yet. The troops are still pretty positive.
So let's thank God for what's in our drinking water, hope that maybe some of it washes over Iraq, and pay attention to the grunts. They'll tell us if it's time to go or stay.
Amazing. Wonder how long it will last?
November 20, 2004
As The World Turns
Bulgarian farmer cries "sue-eee" after learning to his horror that his prize-winning pig is gay...
Farmer Galen Dobrev, 43, from Shumen in Bulgaria told the court: "It's a disgrace, all he was interested in was other male pigs."
The farmer took pictures of the gay pig to prove the 220-pound boar was homosexual and had fellow farmers testify on his behalf as to the pig's sexual preferences.
But Dobrov may have been guilty of premature porcine evisceration:
But the breeder who sold the pig claimed that the farmer acted too soon by making pork sausages, and said that if he had waited until the pig was sexually mature he would have found it performed perfectly normally.
It is unclear exactly what this remarkable statement was based on, but the half-vast editorial staff here at Jet Noise are inclined to take his word for it.
A caped crusader for Fathers 4 Justice who described life without his daughter as "slow torture" handcuffed himself to British children's minister Margaret Hodge (the 'bogeywoman of family law) at a recent conference in the UK. A Department for Education spokeswoman said: "The matter is being dealt with by the police."
Reckless American Humanitarianism
Brother Hanson deftly admisters a few whacks with the clue bat:
Oddly, our enemies understand the long-term strategic efforts of the United States far better than do our own dissidents. They know that oil is not under U.S. control but priced at all-time highs, and that America is not propping up despotism anymore, but is now the general foe of both theocracies and dictatorships — and the thorn in the side of "moderate" autocracies. An America that is a force for democratic change is a very dangerous foe indeed. Most despots long for the old days of Jimmy Carter's pious homilies, appeasement of awful dictatorships gussied up as "concern" for "human rights," and the lure of a Noble Prize to ensure nights in the Lincoln bedroom or hours waiting on a dictator's tarmac.
Those on the left who are ignorant of history lectured the Bush administration that democracy has never come as a result of the threat of conflict or outright war — apparently the creation of a democratic United States, Germany, Japan, Italy, Israel, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Panama, Serbia, and Afghanistan was proof of the power of mere talk. In contrast, the old realist Right warned that strongmen are our best bet to ensure stability — as if Saudi Arabia and Egypt have been loyal allies with content and stable pro-American citizenries. In truth, George Bush's radical efforts to cleanse the world of the Taliban and Saddam Hussein, bring democracy to the heart of the Arab world, and isolate Yasser Arafat were the most risky and humane developments in the Middle East in a century — old-fashioned idealism backed with force in a postmodern age of abject cynicism and nihilism.
What a concept.
That vision thing, again.