Target Centermass

8/31/2004

Riders Clinch

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:58 pm

I’ve spoken before about my newfound affection for the game of baseball at the minor league level, especially the local Frisco RoughRiders. Just wanted to point out that the Riders clinched a playoff spot in the Texas League’s East Division last night.

Swiftboat Vets Offer a Deal to Kerry

Filed under: — Gunner @ 10:23 pm

… and there’s no way he can accept it.

The following letter was delivered to the Kerry Campaign today by Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.

Swift Boat Veterans for Truth
P.O. Box 26184
Alexandria, Virginia 22313

August 31, 2004

Senator John Kerry
901 15th Street NW
Washington, DC 20005

Dear Senator Kerry:

As you prepare for your address before the American Legion in Nashville, Tennessee, Swift Boat Veterans for Truth encourages you to use this opportunity to clarify your actions in Vietnam and your statements about your fellow Veterans and shipmates when you returned home. Since you have made your four-month tour in Vietnam the centerpiece of your campaign, we respectfully insist that you be truthful. The public is owed a full and honest accounting of your actions. Veterans are owed an apology from you and an acknowledgement that there was no basis in fact for the accusations you made against them.

We urge you to:

1. Apologize for your conduct once you returned from Vietnam. Your exaggerated testimony before the US Senate; the blanket indictment of your fellow veterans; throwing away medals and ribbons; all of these actions dishonored America and the armed forces. Your rhetoric and actions were not only wrong, they aided the enemy and brought great pain to POW’s, veterans and their families.

2. Clarify the conflicting accounts involving the Bay Hap River incident of March 13, 1969 (Bronze Star and 3rd Purple Heart). You have now described three different versions of this incident. In the first version of this incident presented during the Democrat National Convention, you stated: “No man left behind,” suggesting to the American people that you alone stayed on the river to rescue Mr. Rassmann. Later, when forced to acknowledge conflicting eyewitness testimony from fellow swift boat veterans, you said that your boat left the scene to return moments later to retrieve Jim Rassmann from the water. Yet, in another version of the same incident discovered in the Congressional Record, you reported that your boat struck a mine and Rassmann fell off the boat. Mr. Kerry, please explain to your fellow veterans and the American people which version is the truth.

3. Affirm that the injuries for which you received your purple hearts never required any medical treatment beyond perhaps a bandage and that, in all instances, these injuries were self-inflicted and came from your own weapon. Further, that if any of these purple hearts were falsely awarded, that you would not have been eligible to leave Vietnam after serving only four months.

4. Acknowledge what your own biographer is now saying, that the Christmas in Cambodia claim is “obviously wrong,” that you were never in Cambodia over Christmas or any other time during your brief, four-month tour in Vietnam and that your statements before the United States Senate in 1986 were false.

If you undertake these steps we will be satisfied that the American public has been sufficiently apprised as to these aspects of your career, and we will discontinue the media advertisements you have sought so fervently to silence.

Please know that Swift Boat Veterans for Truth are eager to close our own personal chapters on Vietnam and instead focus on the war we’re currently fighting — the ongoing war on terrorism. In the absence of full public disclosure and a public apology, we will continue efforts to carry our message to an ever-expanding base of grassroots supporters.

Senator Kerry, we want to get Vietnam behind us. But, we can only do so if the truth is told.

We respectfully await your reply.

Sincerely,

Swift Boat Veterans for Truth

EDIT: I’ve been checking through my blogroll and I have yet to see a mention of this, even from The InstaMeister. Wow, thank you TexAgs. Of course, I’m sure I’m overlooking somebody.

Upcoming Smithsonian Exhibition Honors Service Members

Filed under: — Gunner @ 6:16 pm

The Department of Defense is working with the Smithsonian Institution on a new permanent exhibit scheduled to open on Veteran’s Day.

“The Price of Freedom: Americans at War” will occupy about 18,000 square feet in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History here. The exhibition will cover 250 years of American history, beginning with the French and Indian War of 1756 and running through the current war on terrorism.

“The overall theme of the exhibit is that wars have been defining episodes in American history,” said David Allison, project director for the exhibition. “But wars have multiple dimensions — political, economic and social — and this exhibition explores how Americans everywhere were impacted by wars.”

The exhibition will focus on the servicemembers who fought the nation’s wars, but it also will examine the sacrifices made by American individuals, families and communities during wartime, Allison said. It contains more than 800 artifacts, including weapons, uniforms, equipment, flags and medals. Hundreds of images, diary entries, video and audio pieces will help tell the story of what servicemembers and other Americans experienced during war.

“It’s not our words, but the words of those who lived these experiences that tell the story. It’s their words that carry the message,” Allison said. “The personal stories are really a very important part of this exhibition.”

Most of the stories in the exhibition will focus on the servicemembers who fought in the campaigns, rather than on senior military or civilian leaders.

“This exhibit is less about military strategy and grand campaign plans, and it is more about the soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen,” Allison said. “We are telling their story in their words, using voice narratives.”

Putin Okays Iraqi Arms Sales

Filed under: — Gunner @ 2:48 pm

Iraq’s interim government got another boost in its legitimacy when Russian President Vladimir Putin okays arms sales by Russian firms to Iraq.

The document calls such sales part of efforts to fulfill a U.N. Security Council resolution in June that endorsed the interim Iraqi government. It says the transactions are not subject to earlier arms embargoes against Iraq.

The order says the sales of weapons and military equipment are to support the new Iraqi government and multinational forces in the country.

8/30/2004

Polish Commander Urges Early Iraq Vote

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:04 pm

Leading up to and throughout the Iraqi campaign, the Poles have been among our staunchest and most valued of allies. Personally, I rank them with the Aussies and behind only the Brits. Today, the commander of the Polish contingent suggested shortening the Iraqi political process and moving planned elections from late January to December.

“The sooner the better,” Maj. Gen. Andrzej Ekiert told The Associated Press in an interview from the Polish-led multinational force’s headquarters in Iraq. “With a very long political struggle you can have all sorts of unexpected situations.”

His warning came amid signs that radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, whose forces have been battling U.S. troops in the holy city of Najaf, may be ready to join the political process. Al-Sadr called on his followers across Iraq on Monday to end fighting against coalition and Iraqi forces.

I’m torn on this and will have to chew on it for a while. Unlike the success of the surprise early handover of power, this could not be handled in a stealthy manner. We can’t wake up one December morning and yell, “Hey, you Iraqis, go vote now.”

There are certainly advantages and disadvantages to such a move. Looking at some of the obvious plusses, the first and most important one is it shortens the time until the Iraqis have a vested interest in an elected government. It also shortens the political process, cutting al-Sadr’s opportunity to cause trouble and still play a role in the political realm. A huge disadvantage is that it abbreviates the opportunity for candidates to reach the voting public, which would definately play into the hands of already known names like al-Sadr.

Aside from his election suggestion, Ekiert tells a story that carries hope of settling down the simmering situation.

As an alternative to military action, the general cited a meeting he had Sunday with nearly 60 sheiks from Babil province, who presented him with a white rose of peace and promised to help end attacks on coalition troops in the area. He also noted that Karbala province, which is in the Polish-led force’s area of responsibility, has not been inflamed by al-Sadr’s insurgency.

“I hope that this meeting and the balanced situation in Karbala … will pour some cold water on the hot swords,” Ekiert said.

Ekiert also sent messages of caution to his countrymen opposing the continuation of the Polish mission.

He rejected the notion of an immediate pullout being pushed by some Polish opposition parties.

“It would lead to large-scale fighting, a national revolution and blood flowing in the Euphrates and Tigris instead of water,” he said.

Poland has said it will scale back its commitment in early 2005, when it expects the situation in Iraq to have stabilized after the elections. Still, Ekiert cautioned against pulling out too many troops before Iraqi forces have demonstrated that they can provide security for the country.

“I know that democracy is born in pain and here, in Iraq, you have to be very, very cautious in assessing whether this democracy is indeed complete.”

This seems to be a reasonable, rational man in charge of fine troops. This will be in the back of my mind as I give further thought to his election suggestion.

8/29/2004

Does Bush Hold All the Aces?

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:31 pm

Mark Steyn from the London Sunday Telegraph seems to think so.

At the beginning of the year, Thomas Lifson, who was at Harvard Business School with George W Bush, made an interesting observation about the President. He notes that young George “was a very avid and skillful poker player” when he was a Business Administration student and that “one of the secrets of a successful poker player is to encourage your opponent to bet a lot of chips on a losing hand. This is a pattern of behavior one sees repeatedly in George W Bush’s political career”.

Indeed one does. In the months following Mr Lifson’s observation, the President sat back, as John Kerry’s consultants, the Iowa caucus voters, the Democratic Party at large, and the media convinced themselves that the one card that trumps Bush’s leadership in the war on terror was Kerry’s four months in Vietnam, and bet everything on it. They have just lost that hand.

Kerry is in seclusion, unable to expose himself to any but the most sycophantic interviewers, and getting whumped by hundreds upon hundreds of fellow Swift boat veterans, plus former POWs, plus retired admirals, over every aspect of his brief stay in the Mekong Delta.

The Senator put his money on the wrong war. After a couple of entertaining weeks of the aggrieved Swiftees driving down his poll numbers in battleground states, it seems a shame to interrupt the implosion of the Kerry campaign for the Republican convention. But I’m sure the seared Senator is grateful for the intermission, and for the rest of us the next week affords a rare opportunity in this election campaign to catch up with the issues of the current millennium before the inept Kerry resumes bogging us down in his personal Vietnam quagmire again.

While Steyn gives credit to the Swifties, he does not fall in lockstep with the Kerry campaign about their reasons.

My sense is that the Swiftvets have changed the dynamics of the race. With the candidate’s retro braggadocio on ice for the foreseeable future, the Kerry campaign late on Friday revived that old favourite, the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy, releasing a flow chart full of multi-coloured arrows showing that Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison is a “close friend” of Merrie Spaeth, a public relations consultant to Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. Yawn.

The fact is, even if Kerry was a Republican, these Swift boat guys would be hounding him. In a culture where “ABB” is now media shorthand for “Anyone But Bush”, you would think the press would recognise these fellows for what they are: the ABK constituency.

Steyn then moves on to two key pillars of the Kerry (or more accurately anti-Bush) campaign — hatred and lies.

Meanwhile, “Bush hatred” – another losing hand the Democrats put too many chips on – has peaked, and any saggy nudists or trust-fund anarchists who succeed in pulling off some camera-worthy stunt in Manhattan this week will only be boosting the President.

“BUSH LIED!!!!!!” is likewise a bust, given generally non-damaging official reports on 9/11, Abu Ghraib, etc, and that it’s Kerry who’s having to modify his claims on an almost daily basis, whether over his secret Christmas mission to Cambodia (false) and the question of whether his first Purple Heart was improperly awarded for a self-inflicted wound (true). As for Iraq, ever since the transfer of sovereignty that’s all but off the radar.

So unlike the touchy Kerry – threatening lawsuits, calling for bans and smearing his fellow vets as “Republican liars” – just by staying cool the President has let his many detractors exhaust the political capital of their obsessions.

Steyn wraps up with a zinger for his London colleagues.

So the most likely outcome this November is an increased Republican majority in the House, a couple of extra Senate seats, and a second term for Bush. I might be wrong. Anything is possible. But the reluctance of the British press to admit the possibility that Bush isn’t a loser suggests that they too have over-invested in John Kerry’s very weak hand.

I don’t have the same confidence possessed by this opinion peice. While Steyn may be up to date with the facts, I don’t agree that the American public so surely is. Months of “Bush lied” followed by a few seconds of “Never mind.” Silence on the air and in newsprint about findings and facts behind the Swifties’ claims followed by attacks on their motives and support. I agree that Bush is holding aces, but even as he plays them, the mainstream media will still be focusing on the nuanced manner in which Kerry laid down his pair of threes.

8/28/2004

Blogging Postponed

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:34 pm

Well, I’d planned to jump back in to blogging today. Unfortunately, half my day was eaten up by my fantasy football draft. I’ve been in the same league since early in my National Guard days. Four of the current league members are holdovers from the old days. One is still active in the Guard and has risen to first sergeant (congrats, Rene).

Anyway, now I’ve stumbled across a show on the Bismarck and Hood on the History Channel. Hopefully I’ll get back to Target Centermass after it’s over.

8/27/2004

Italy Mourns Hostage Killed in Iraq

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:13 pm

The news of the killing of kidnapped journalist has hit our allies in Italy.

Italians woke up to news of the killing of Enzo Baldoni, a 56-year old freelance journalist who had been held hostage in Iraq. His kidnappers, a militant group calling itself “The Islamic Army in Iraq,” had given Italy 48-hours to withdraw its troops from Iraq or Mr. Baldoni would be killed. The deadline expired Thursday afternoon.

Following news of the killing, Italian head of state Carlo Azeglio Ciampi wrote a message to the family saying all Italians are in mourning over the journalist’s death.

Prime minister Silvio Berlusconi condemned what he called the “barbaric” killing, saying there are no words to describe an act lacking any humanity.

The prime minister expressed solidarity with the family, particularly the two children who had launched an appeal “with love and dignity”, but which, the prime minister added, “unfortunately turned out to be useless because it was directed at people who evidently had no heart to listen.”

Mr. Berlusconi made clear Italy’s policies will not change and he says Italian forces will stay in Iraq to help restore peace and democracy in the country.

Berlusconi’s firm stance in continuing the war stands in stark contrast to the limp-wristedness shown by Spain and the Philipines. Unfortunately, not all Italians share this strength.

The Italian government has 3,000 troops in Iraq but anti-war sentiment runs high in Italy with many opposed to keeping Italian troops in the country. Mr. Baldoni was the second Italian hostage to be killed.

One member of the opposition, Green’s leader Alfonso Pecoraro Scanio, summed up the feelings of many people in the street after hearing of the killing.

“We are wondering”, the Greens leader said, “how many more deaths are necessary before we recognize this war was a tragic mistake.”

And I am wondering how many more murders, bombings and atrocities are necessary before the Greens and others like them recognize the nature of our enemy and the need for this war. Ah, well, they were also on the wrong side of history in the Cold War. Otto von Bismarck once said, “Any fool can profit from his own mistakes. The wise man profits from those of others.” Otto never met the Euro Greens or he would’ve amended “any fool” to “any but the really exceptional fools.”

8/26/2004

Welcome to the new Target Centermass

Filed under: — Gunner @ 9:38 pm

Well, there’s still some shaking out to do, but I’ve been delaying the move for far too long. I’ll still be working on correcting some formatting problems from the imported entries from my old site and readying the template. Because of this, I probably won’t be doing any real blogging tonight. Also, over the next few days, please bear with me as I’ve switched to new software, WordPress, and a new host, BlogHosts.

8/17/2004

Howdy

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:57 pm

I promise I haven’t stopped blogging. Please be patient — there are big changes coming.

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