Target Centermass

8/31/2005

Sheehan Departs Crawford, Vows Something

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:48 pm

Gold Star mother and leftist flavor-of-the-month Cindy Sheehan has left her ’60s reenactment in Crawford, Texas, hitting the road in an effort get the U.S. out of Iraq, meet (again) with the president, cry in front of more cameras and generally meander her way towards either a future as an obscure answer in a future Trivial Pursuit question or a train wreck before the public eye. In my opinion, had the journalistic treatment of the Sheehan matter been handled in a professional and balanced manner, the latter would have already taken place.

Sheehan, war protesters leave Texas camp

After a 26-day vigil that ignited the anti-war movement, Cindy Sheehan took her protest on the road Wednesday, while a handful of veterans pledged to continue camping off the road leading to President Bush’s ranch until the war in Iraq ends.

Rather than heading home to California, the mother of a 24-year-old soldier who died in Iraq boarded one of three buses heading out on tour to spread her message.

“This is where I’m going to spend every August from now on,” Sheehan said as she smiled and waved through a bus window, after hugging dozens of fellow protesters.

The group plans to stop in 25 states during the next three weeks, then take Sheehan’s “Bring Them Home Now Tour” to the nation’s capital for a Sept. 24 anti-war march.

It should be noted that, among these many stops, Cindy’s presence is expected at a protest of the Navy’s Blue Angels in Maine, a protest with the ridiculous theme “Stop the Worship of the Gods of War!”

to protest the false god idolatry of the Blue Angels Air Show, whose “ooh-&-aah”performances have one purpose: to promote badly-lagging military recruitment to protest the obscene waste of American tax dollars to stage these Blue Angels’ multi-million dollar extravaganzas [bolded text marked in original by underline]

No explanation of performances by the Blue Angels during healthy recruiting periods is given, nor the fact that the Navy is not suffering in enlistment numbers. Apparently, worshiping at the altar of Ares is reason enough to hate an air show.

Also, a poll has been released that shows the American public mildly supports the supposed cause of Cindy Sheehan, a meeting with the president.

Poll: Bush, protester should meet on war

Slightly more than half of the country says President Bush should meet with Cindy Sheehan, the mother of a soldier killed last year in Iraq, who is leading a protest against the war outside Bush’s ranch in Crawford, Texas, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

The survey found that 52 percent of the public says Bush should talk to Sheehan, who has repeatedly asked for a meeting with the president, while 46 percent said he should not. Fifty-three percent support what she is doing while 42 percent oppose her actions, according to the poll.

[…]

But the survey also suggests Sheehan’s anti-war vigil has done as much to drive up support for the war as ignite opponents.

Given my already stated belief that the mainstream media has generally failed drastically in its coverage of Cindy’s circus, I would like to see a poll with the following questions:

  • Should President Bush meet with Gold Star mom Cindy Sheehan?
  • Are you aware that President Bush has already met with Gold Star mom Cindy Sheehan?
  • Are you aware that Gold Star mom Cindy Sheehan has lied by giving two irreconcilable versions of that meeting?
  • Are you aware that Gold Star mom Cindy Sheehan apparently lied about the original contents of an email she wrote to ABC News?
  • Are you familiar with any statements by Gold Star mom Cindy Sheehan regarding Israel?
  • Should our foreign policy be decided by a vote of all Gold Star parents, including Gold Star mom Cindy Sheehan, a.k.a. Mother Sheehan?
  • Does the phrase “Able Danger” ring any bells?

Meanwhile, here’s a column that demonstrates that not all in the journalism field have been chugging the Gold Star mom Cindy Sheehan-flavored Kool-Aid and that her fifteen minutes may be about gone. I particularly liked the following:

When Cindy Sheehan knelt to place flowers on her son’s grave, alone with her pain, she was a sympathetic character whose loss would break a million hearts. When Cindy Sheehan knelt to place flowers next to a stage-prop cross erected for Nikons and networks in Crawford, she was an actress studiously performing for an audience that may easily find other places for their sympathies to repose.

Her supporting cast did her no favors by layering cliches onto what already was becoming a tired script, beginning with–fire up your bongs–Joan Baez.

Having Baez show up for a war protest is like having Oprah show up at a Weight Watchers meeting. You get instant bona fides along with your gratification. With Baez, you get to bask in the real thing–a been-there, done-that star straight from the annals of anger. Speaking to a crowd of about 500, Baez said: “It was the final tear for the overflow and you can’t stop running water. Cindy’s was the final tear.”

Whatever that means. I think something sad and poignant. In any case, Baez’s folk singerese seems an improvement over her declamations at a concert last year in Charlottesville, Va., where Baez revealed that she has “multiple personalities,” including a 15-year-old poor black girl named Alice from Turkey Scratch, Ark.

Tick … tick … tick … tick …

Iraqi Stampede: Mass Tragedy with Questions

Filed under: — Gunner @ 10:14 pm

Today’s story of a mass stampede, driven by panic, grew more horrific as the announced death tolls grew. First 600. Then 800. Then this.

A thousand pilgrims crushed and drowned in ‘bomb’ panic

The death toll in the worst single loss of life since the start of the Iraq war was last night heading towards 1,000 after a crowd of about one million Shiite pilgrims making their way across a bridge in Baghdad panicked at reports of a suicide bomber in their midst and stampeded.

Most of the dead were women and children.

Insurgents had already targeted the pilgrims with mortars earlier in the day, killing at least seven, and there were rumours circulating in the crowd that a number of people had also died after eating poisoned food.

But according to Iraq’s interior minister Bayan Jabor, and two leading Shiite officials, the stampede was triggered by a rumour of a suicide bomber in the crowd. Mr Jabor blamed terrorists for starting the rumour.

Hundreds of thousands of Shiites had been marching across the Azamiyah bridge, which links a Sunni and Shiite neighbourhood, heading for the tomb of Imam Mousa al-Kadhim, a 9th century Shiite saint.

As the crowd panicked and began to push and shove to get away, many were trapped against a security checkpoint at the western end. Some fell, only to be trampled under foot, and others plunged off the sides of the bridge into the waters of the Tigris river below. Some reports suggested that the railings at the side of the bridge had given way.

“We were on the bridge. It was so crowded. Thousands of people were surrounding me,” said a survivor, Fadhel Ali, 28, barefoot and soaking wet. “We heard that a suicide attacker was among the crowd. Everybody was yelling, so I jumped from the bridge into the river, swam and reached the bank. I saw women, children and old men falling after me into the water.”

Abdul-Mutalib Mohammed, the health minister, said that there were “huge crowds on the bridge and the disaster happened when someone shouted that there is a suicide bomber on the bridge”.

“This led to a state of panic among the pilgrims and they started to push each other and there were many cases of suffocation,” he said.

Police said hundreds of people started running and throwing themselves off the bridge into the river.

“Many elderly died immediately as a result of the stampede but dozens drowned. Many bodies are still in the river and boats are working on picking them up,” said one police officer.

However, at least one report raises questions after surveys of the aftermath.

Questions Arising about Alleged Bridge Stampede in Baghdad

Accompanied by both U.S. and Iraqi army officials, VOA arrived at the Kadhimiya bridge about two o’clock Wednesday afternoon, roughly three hours after news agencies and television news stations began reporting that a deadly stampede had occurred at the site.

[…]

The Iraqi army brigadier general in charge of security on the Kadhimiya side, Jaleel Khalaf Shuail, says he did not witness the stampede, but was told how it began. General Shuail says someone apparently screamed that a suicide bomber was among the crowd of people and triggered the panic.

On the bridge itself Wednesday afternoon, there was one striking sight, which did suggest that something catastrophic had occurred earlier. Hundreds of pairs of shoes littered both sides of the two-lane bridge, which some Iraqis said belonged to the more than 900 Shi’ites who allegedly perished in the stampede.

But there was also a strange absence of ambulances, medical personnel and rescue activities on the bridge or in the river. There was no sign of blood anywhere on the bridge and not a drop of blood could be found on a row of knee-high concrete barriers, which many of the victims were said to have been crushed against.

The barriers had been placed there the day before to deter suicide car bombings. Iraqi and U.S. military personnel, stationed at guard towers at a nearby base with a clear view of the bridge, report that they saw nothing out of the ordinary occurring on the bridge all morning.

Footage of the bridge from an American reconnaissance plane also shows no activity consistent with the reports of mass panic and deaths. The only confirmed incident on Wednesday in Kadhimiya was an early morning mortar and rocket attack, targeting the Shi’ite shrine where an estimated one million Shi’ites from around the country had gathered by day’s end.

VOA visited the nearby Kadhimiya Hospital and found eight bodies and 33 civilians being treated for wounds.

While certainly not a refutation of the story of mass death, the scene shortly afterwards does raise some points to ponder.

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Carnival of Liberty IX

I’d like to point that the latest installment of the Life, Liberty, Property community‘s Carnival of Liberty. Go read another fine collection of posts from a libertarian slant.

US air strikes on Syrian border kill ‘known terrorist’

The United States launched air strikes near the Iraq-Syria border yesterday, destroying three houses and killing a “known terrorist”, according to the US military.

Iraqi authorities said fighting had broken out in the area between a tribe that supports foreign fighters and another that backs the government.

The attacks by F-16 jets began in a cluster of towns along the Syrian border, near Qaim, 200 miles north-west of Baghdad. The US said four bombs were used to destroy a house occupied by “terrorists” outside the town of Husaybah. Two further bombs destroyed a second house, said to be occupied by Abu Islam, described as “a known terrorist”.

Scratch at least one bad guy. However, I find it interesting, in a disturbing kind of way, that we have identified a tribe that supports foreign terrorists and haven’t hit it with an iron fist.

Sunni leap of faith

Iraq’s proposed constitution can be faulted for its contradictions and ambiguities. If those were its only problems, however, the outlook for this democracy-founding document would look a lot better than it now does, for constitutions the world over share these characteristics.

The greatest flaw is not what’s in this draft, but how it was handled: presented to Iraq’s National Assembly on Sunday over the objections of Sunni negotiators. In effect, one of the major groups in the three-legged stool that makes up Iraq is missing.

A constitution derives legitimacy and power from national consensus. The document hammered out in Baghdad this summer rightly declares it is “the people” who are “the source of authority” for constitutional rule of law. No consensus, no country.

Leaders of the minority Sunnis, who ruled Iraq under Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship and who make up about 20 percent of Iraq’s population, now vow to wage a campaign of opposition to the constitution, which comes to voters for approval in October. If two-thirds of voters in three Iraqi provinces reject it, then a newly elected parliament would have to write a new document. With enough votes this fall, the Sunnis could indeed put the process back at square one.

But it’s not too late for a Sunni buy-in. And surprisingly, it’s the contradictory and ambiguous nature of the proposed constitution that could help bring Sunnis on board.

It’s an interesting look at the proposed Iraqi constitution and what it’s wording may mean to the Sunnis. Although I have not perused the constitution yet, I see that Sunnis as having two choices: mildly support the document and become more of a player on the scene or oppose it outright. Should they oppose it and it is still ratified, the Sunnis run the risk of perpetuating their errors of turning out in low numbers in January’s elections.

Arroyo likely to escape ousting

Lawmakers in the Philippines are due to resume their deliberations about which of three impeachment complaints to take up against President Gloria Arroyo.

They are expected to choose the weakest option, and are then highly likely to vote it down, effectively thwarting any attempt to oust her from office.

Mrs Arroyo faces accusations of corruption and electoral fraud.

She denies any wrongdoing but admits to a “lapse in judgement” in phoning an election officer during the 2004 poll.

This is truly looking like a shame. The Philippines are passing by an opportunity to remove a center of corruption. I will never forgive this woman, the Manila folder whose willingness to retreat from Iraq for one life while throwing money at the terrorists has quite probably cost lives, both innocent Iraqis and brave Americans.

Bush enters immigration debate

President Bush flew into the heart of the nation’s volatile debate over illegal immigration Monday and defended his administration’s efforts to control the nearby border with Mexico after a surge of criticism from across the political spectrum.

Two weeks after the Democratic governors of Arizona and New Mexico declared states of emergency along the border, Bush used a Medicare speech here to promise local residents an increasingly robust federal campaign that will deploy more agents and provide more detention space to stop those trying to sneak into the country.

“We have an obligation to enforce the borders,” Bush said to applause. “I understand it’s putting a strain on your resources. What I’m telling you is there’s a lot of people working hard to get the job done, but there is more we can do.”

Of course there’s more we can do. After this, I want a lot more done. Maybe it’s finally time we start considering our borders as one of the front lines in the war against radical Islamist terror.

8/30/2005

I’m the Duke

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:34 pm

John Wayne
You scored 45% Tough, 14% Roguish, 19% Friendly, and 23% Charming!

You, my friend, are a man’s man, the original true grit, one tough
talking, swaggering son of a bitch. You’re not a bad guy, on the
contrary, you’re the ultimate good guy, but you’re one tough character,
rough and tumble, ready for anything. You call the shots and go your
own way, and if some screwy dame is willing to accept your terms,
that’s just fine by you. Otherwise, you’ll just hit the open trail and
stay true to yourself. You stand up for what you believe and can handle
any situation, usually by rushing into the thick of the action. You’re
not polished and you’re not overly warm, but you’re a straight shooter
and a real stand up guy. Co-stars include Lauren Bacall and Maureen
O’Hara, tough broads who can take care of themselves.

Find out what kind of classic dame you’d make by taking the
Classic Dames Test.

My test tracked 4 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:

free online dating free online dating
You scored higher than 82% on Tough
free online dating free online dating
You scored higher than 32% on Roguish
free online dating free online dating
You scored higher than 26% on Friendly
free online dating free online dating
You scored higher than 43% on Charming

Link: The Classic Leading Man Test written by gidgetgoes on OkCupid Free Online Dating

I’m cool with the Duke, but I’d have rather been Bogey. After all, everybody comes to Rick’s. Hat tip to JohnL at TexasBestGrok.

On the Scene in Crawford

Filed under: — Gunner @ 1:22 am

On the return from my weekend escape in San Antonio, I was able to briefly swing out of the way and stop by Crawford, Texas, and the site of Cindy Sheehan’s “Camp Casey.” You just may have heard of them — seems they’ve been in the news a little of late. As I promised last night, here is my photoblogging of my little adventure.

I want to note that yesterday was a relatively quiet day, especially compared to the hubbub just the day before when Rev. Al Sharpton and president-of-television-land Martin Sheen stopped by to lend their support to Cindy, she of bottomless and rather public grief for a brave son. Also in the mix Saturday were more than three thousand who rolled into town to express their opposition to Cindy’s defeatist stance. Believe you me, Sunday was much more serene, with Sharpton having long since sped away from this quaint piece of small-town Texas.

Our visit started in downtown Crawford. Prominent on the scene was the store front of the Yellow Rose (as with all photos to follow, click to enlarge).

Just a week before, the store had been evacuated because of a bomb threat.

On the street-facing south side of the Yellow Rose, a sign had been hung for Proclaim Liberty.us.

Did you note the subtle vandalism? Here’s a closer look.

Ah, yes, a nice little Hitler moustache has been cut out of the picture. How very clever. And just what is the Proclaim Liberty site? Just the website of the travelling Liberty Bell tribute on display in front of the Yellow Rose. How very Naziesque.

All around downtown Crawford, there were displays of support for President Bush, the troops and the war efforts.

Support from bikers.

Support from a trucker.

Even support from twins.

There was a small contingent of opposition to the president on one corner.

They apparently had some unwelcome Protest Warrior accompaniment.

On the north side of the Yellow Rose, in a small vacant lot, a handful of displays and tents can be found. As I wandered into the area, a man approached me and quietly sought to engage me in conversation. He humbly introduced himself and I was taken aback. The site, now dubbed Fort Qualls, is the result of the efforts of the man who stood before me, Gary Qualls, a Gold Star parent like Cindy Sheehan. The Gold Star is where the similarities end, however. Ft. Qualls came about after Mr. Qualls grew tired of quietly trying to prevent the Sheehan crowd’s efforts to exploit his son’s death. After repeatedly removing crosses with his son’s name from the “Camp Casey” displays, Mr. Qualls decided to express his opinion a little more openly.

Mr. Quall’s objective is two-fold: to honor his son’s wishes by supporting the efforts for which his Marine son voluntarily fought and unfortunately paid the ultimate sacrifice, and to pay an honorable and lasting tribute to his son through a memorial fund.

The sad, yet heart-warming, story behind the shirt pictured above is here.

In front of Ft. Qualls stands an updated dry-erase board that shows that other families are also tired of the usage of the memories of their fallen loved ones by the Sheehan cross-planting camp.

After leaving the Ft. Qualls site, my companions and I piled into the car and headed out of town towards the sites of the anti-war gatherings. Along the way, it was clear that the president and the military had the support of most of the neighboring residents.

Before I continue with the photoblogging, I’d like to suggest that you read this description of life at the site of Camp Casey, courtesy the Indepundit. The author spent two days on site, as opposed to my Cindy-less one hour. After you’ve read that, I hope my few photos can flesh out the feel of the tale.

Eventually, we passed the infamous original site of Camp Casey and its roadside crosses, a display that may very well be actually illegal in Texas.

The protestors at the original infestation made their views obvious — they were fighting against the fight against radical Islamist terror.

Across the road, those in support of the military efforts in Iraq expressed their opinions.



Now, on to the main site of the Sheehan insurrection. First, the field of crosses.

I can only assume that, in their efforts to honor the fallen, the protestors actually cared enough to verify that every single fallen soldier was actually a Christian. I certainly saw no sign of any of our honored dead having any other faith or lack of faith. Of course the anti-war group bothered to check that, right? After all, they’re supposedly only trying to pay honor and all that jazz.

I found the press sign-in sheet interesting. Apparently High Times digs the happening scene, though drug usage is posted as forbidden.

Funny, no press sign-in sheet at Ft. Qualls. Ah, but now we see the evidence of the difference between a man’s heart-felt outpouring and a political public relations campaign. That, and unlike Camp Casey 2, Ft. Qualls didn’t have a highspeed internet access.

There was no sign of Cindy during our brief visit. The residents of Camp Casey 2 were polite, almost in a Stepford Wives kind of way. They seem to have a recipe for protest and are following it, however chafing it must have been for the person who was chastised for throwing water at a passing car.

As we left, I admired the love of the left for bumper stickers.

I mean, we’re talking about a love of stickers, even if those stickers reinforce the love of the left for defeat, be it Texas, South Dakota or Iraq.

Oh yeah, as I left, a sculpture arrived. Cindy Sheehan is such an ispiration. I wonder what happened to that chunk of sandstone.

I want to close this by re-posting a tribute to the memory of Casey Sheehan, courtesy of Blackfive. This is a far better tribute than any I saw at his mom’s current digs.

8/28/2005

New Sculpture on the Battlefield

Filed under: — Gunner @ 10:55 pm

Well, I’ve returned from my weekend get-away in San Antonio. All in all, it was a fairly pleasant weekend. SeaWorld was enjoyable, great barbecue was devoured and slight progress was made on the wedding plans.

On the return trip to Dallas, my fiancee and I, along with the couple we car-pooled with, took a slight detour. As a military history buff, I have visited several Civil War battlefields. Obviously, these explorations were several years after the actual conflict. Today, with our little side jaunt, I was able to walk on a battlefield as the conflict was unfolding — Crawford, Texas. The conflict of ideas between surrender and support continues, as the circus around Cindy Sheehan’s vigil to annoy the president and impair our nation’s international efforts limps onwards towards its fifteenth minute.

I plan on photoblogging what I witnessed tomorrow, but tonight I wanted to post breaking news: Camp Casey has received the gift of a new piece of art. As we were leaving Camp Casey, a pickup truck arrived hauling a sizable stone artifact. Below can be found the first photo taken of the sculpture after its arrival in Crawford (click to enlarge).

I spoke very briefly with the artist, Ron. I apologize for not catching Ron’s last name. Ron professed to being so inspired by the saga of Cindy that he carved the sandstone piece in just over three days and toted it down from his home in Green County, Pa. Ron, below, estimated the sculpture to weigh between 800 and 900 pounds.

Ron had no idea what will be done with his weighty work of, well, whatever. Who cares? Crank up the nutfest, there’s something to pay homage to besides politically-motivated crosses and flag-draped fake caskets.

UPDATE: Planned photoblogging of my Crawford visit is here.

Quote of the Week, 28 AUG 05

Filed under: — Gunner @ 9:45 pm

I have always been against the pacifists during the war, and against the jingoists at the end.

—Winston Churchill

8/25/2005

On the Road Again

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:48 pm

Well, nothing tonight but a couple of links as I’m currently packing for a company get-away to San Antonio. Blogging this weekend will be unpredictable.

First and foremost, I’m spending my breaks from packing reading the latest posting from Michael Yon on the ground in Iraq, Gates of Fire. It’s lengthy and, so far and as expected, fascinating. I especially like this early observation:

Although the situation in Mosul is better, our troops still fight here every day. This may not be the war some folks had in mind a few years ago. But once the shooting starts, a plan is just a guess in a party dress.

I’d also like to point that the latest installment of the Life, Liberty, Property community‘s Carnival of Liberty is up over at Searchlight Crusade. Go read another fine collection of posts from a libertarian slant.

Lastly, I wanted to point y’all to a new blogger, the Gunn Nutt. I have to say that I love the “about me” verbage.

Flag-waiving, gun-toting, unabashed patriot. I love the Constitution, the Founding Fathers and all the members of the U.S. Armed Services. I hate Commies more than broccoli.

Commies, broccoli … close call. Broccoli hasn’t killed millions, but if gross was fatal ….

Also, pay attention to the Gunn Nutt’s banner — that tartan is Gunn Modern, and the badge is that of the clan Gunn. The motto Aut Pax Aut Bellum translates to “Either peace or war” and is fitting for the fighting history of the clan. I should say that I’ve grown more partial to the Gunn Ancient version of the tartan, but tastes may vary. I’m looking forward to the Nutt’s blogging next April 6.

8/24/2005

Six in Calif. Guard to Face Courts-martial

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:12 pm

And the hits just keep on coming for the California National Guard.

Six members of a California Army National Guard unit will face courts-martial for allegedly mistreating detainees in Iraq, military officials said Tuesday.

The trials were ordered after investigators reviewed allegations of prisoner abuse by 12 soldiers with the 1st Battalion of the 184th Infantry Regiment.

Two cases involve a so-called general court-martial, reserved for the most serious infractions, while four involve a midlevel court called a special court-martial, according to Lt. Col. Robert Whetstone, a Task Force Baghdad spokesman.

Two additional cases have been completed in what is known as a summary court-martial, which hears lesser offenses, but the outcomes were not immediately available, Whetstone said. Four remaining cases were still under investigation, he said.

The soldiers, who were not identified, belong to the battalion’s Fullerton-based Alpha Company. Some face charges of mistreatment of a person under their control, assault and making a false statement, while one soldier was charged with obstruction of justice, military officials have said.

“We are confident that the military justice system will address these charges fairly and appropriately, and that a just outcome will be reached,” the guard said in a statement.

The announcement of these prosecutions comes just on the heels of a brief moment of good news for the Cali Guardsmen.

I first mentioned this alleged abuse story in this post and its effect on MilBlogger Major K., who rightly pointed out the problem of a few bad apples, in this follow-on post.

May justice be met, and I have confidence that it will be.

Major League Lacrosse Completes 2006 Expansion

Filed under: — Gunner @ 10:23 pm

Well, this sucks.

Major League Lacrosse, the premier professional outdoor lacrosse league, has secured its three remaining expansion cities to join Los Angeles for the start of the 2006 season, according to MLL Founder Jake Steinfeld. Major League Lacrosse will expand to include teams in Chicago, Denver and San Francisco in addition to Los Angeles, which joined the league on March 9, 2005.

L.A., Chicago, Denver and San Fran are the picks to bring the five-year-old MLL westward and grow from six teams to ten. The scuttlebutt was that Dallas was a leading contender. It certainly would have made sense, as the sport is booming in the area and across the state. Plus, the new stadium built in suburban Frisco for Major League Soccer’s FC Dallas seemed a perfect facility for the sport.

The league plans to add two more western teams for the 2008 season, and the leading cities are Dallas and San Diego. Or so the obviously unreliable rumor mill says. Should the professional level of the sport finally arrive in the Lone Star state, count me in on season tickets. ‘Til then, I’ll just spend the next two seasons stewing bitterly.

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