Saturday, February 10, 2007

The Four Way War

Over at Slate, Iraq war veteran and regular contributor Phillip Carter tells us that the US is fighting four wars simultaneously in Iraq. Stategies in one war complicates our success in the others.


Blog Rolling, Rolling Along

The brouhaha over blogrolling ignited when Kos purged his The DailyKos blogroll has produced some spirited responses, most notably skippy and Maryscott O'Connor. skippy, in particular, has taken his blog in the opposite direction from Kos and will now list every blog that links to him. Since I've linked to skippy since I put up my first blogroll, I am now part of what no doubt will be the biggest blogroll in blogtopia (and Yes! skippy coined that phrase).

All this discussion of blogrolls got me to thinking about my own roll, which is pretty modest. It also doesn't amount to a hill of beans to be listed here since my average of 12 to 15 daily visitors is nothing compared to skippy or Maryscott who get about 1800 hits per day, which in turn pales next to Kos with somewhere around half a million hits each day. Rather than generating traffic to sites I like, I see my blogroll as acknowledging other good sites, some of which I read regularly and others that I visit occasionally.

With that in mind, I updated my roll today and added a few more names. Two are regular stops for me. Harp and Sword is home to Minstrel Boy who writes on an ecclectice variety of topics including politics, food and music. His post on knife fighting is a chilling reminder of war's bloody reality. BadTux the Snarky Penguin writes on an equally wide range of issues and is a fellow re contributor to Mockingbird's Medley, where I also post. The other additons to the roll are my fellow contributors at Mockingbird's: The CultureGhost, Spontaneous Arising, Coffee House Studio and Eccentricity. I stop in at these less frequently but always find something interesting. I think I got all the correct links. If you find any that don't work, leave me a comment and I'll make the needed change.

I'm not inclined to delete blogs unless I find that they have somehow become something I no longer want to associate with or if they stop blogging all together. No "amnesty" here at Unsoliticed Opinion.

Oh yeah, I updated this site to Blogger. Once I saw that Mockingbird had gone over, I couldn't handle the discrepancy on my dashboard.

So there you have it. We now return you to regular programming.


Jennifer Parcell, 1986-2007

Because I cannot say it better than BadTux, Fixer or Attytood, check out their words.

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Thursday, February 08, 2007

A Letter to St. John

I sent the following letter to my senator today:

Senator McCain:

According to today’s Washington Post you called Democrats disingenuous for declaring support for U.S. troops while denouncing their commander in chief's strategy. Troops serving in Iraq "won't buy it. A vote of no confidence is a vote of no confidence." Implicit in your remarks is the idea that soldiers will see those actions as inherently contradictory and cynical. You suggest that the only way that one can support the troops is by supporting any mission established by the commander-in-chief.

You distort the situation. The US military is far more diverse than you imply. Many of our service men and women do in fact question their mission, especially those now serving second, third and fourth tours in an increasingly deteriorating situation. Far from being the liberators as promised by the architects of this war, Americans are now, in the words of one soldier, “just driving around waiting to be blown up”. I have no doubt that even those who question their mission continue to serve diligently and with pride if for no other reason than their loyalty to their comrades. Still many ask the larger question about why they are continually put into harm’s way.

My view is influenced by Vietnam combat. I went to that war with grave doubts about its purpose and necessity. Throughout my tour I took solace in every expression of antiwar sentiment I read about and in hearing debate in Congress to force the president to end the war. All that really mattered to me was keeping myself and my buddies alive and ending what was a tragic mistake for my country. Opposition to the war did nothing to discourage my morale. That opposition, especially from my brother Vietnam Veterans Against the War, encouraged me immensely during my time in combat. I welcomed the questioning because it meant that my fellow Americans were moving in a direction that, even if it did not save me, would spare others my fate.

So don’t tell me that the “troops won’t buy it.” I’ve met enough Iraq veterans to know that disagreement is far more widespread than you acknowledge. What I find disingenuous is the way you and other pro-war politicians use “the troops” as a shield to continue this disastrous war.


Mark Fleming
Co A, 2nd Bn 8th Cavalry
1st Cavalry Division (Air Mobile)
Vietnam 1970-72

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Debating the Debate

Fixer over at Alternate Brain has the best comment on yesterday's Senate (in)action.
What's going on in the Senate is pure and utter horseshit and if the American people can't see it for what it is at this point, they don't deserve to live in a free and democratic republic. Ladies and germs, when debate is squelched, the prime tenets of our society are being ignored.


Today, many are of the opinion that debate is somehow unAmerican. That talking about something, namely stopping the bloodshed being wrought in our name, will somehow hurt the troops, undermine them in some way. Ladies and gentlemen, the right of free debate is the reason they are supposedly 'fighting to preserve our freedoms'. As for undermining our troops, please pardon me but it doesn't matter what the troops think. It's their responsibility to follow their orders, regardless of the debate taking place in Washington. The only thing that undermines the troops is turning our backs on them when they return injured and maimed, and we've done a hell of a lot of that since this disaster began.


Ladies and gentlemen, the enemy is emboldened when we don't debate. If we are now fighting the 'War on Terror', Osama bin Laden won the first battle because he has caused us to stray from the principles this mighty nation was founded on. If we stifle debate, usurping more of the 'inalienable rights' we (well, most of us, thank you Mr. Rutlege) have taken for granted for two centuries, he will have won another.

Read the whole post here. Then check out Russ Feingold on Crooks and Liars.

At least some people are making sense these days.

Dollars and Nonsense

Fred Kaplan has a good review of BushCheney's FY2008 military budget at Slate. He sums up all the spending in and out of the Defense Department for a total of $739 billion.

The military budget that President Bush released today is much bigger than the official summaries let on. It's not $481.4 billion, as the Defense Department is claiming. No, a squint through the fine print of the White House and Pentagon budget documents reveals that the true request for new military-spending authority comes to $739 billion.

Measured in real terms (that is, adjusted for inflation), that's about one-third higher than the previous record for U.S. military spending, set in 1952, when more than 30,000 American soldiers were dying in the Korean War and the Pentagon was embarking on its massive Cold War rearmament drive.

Kaplan goes on to point out that no other nation can even remotely match the United States military. The irony is that this invincible force cannot prevail against determined bands of guerilla insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan, which tells me that the US is either a) fighting the wrong war or b) poorly used in a world of assymetric warfare. Or both.

If I were king or president, military spending would drop precipitously. I think this nation can defend itself with far less. As Pierre Tristam notes, America spends more on its military than the rest of the world combined. We could dial it down a bit at little risk to ourselves, despite all of the alarums and fearmongering by the polititians and military bureaucrats who seek to protect their favored programs and weapons,no matter how dubious.

Even more pernicious than the dollar cost of all this military might is the increasing militarization of American society. Tristam makes this point with the example of the Lichfield, Pennsylvania police department, now ready to defend (or attack) its citizens with a full array of military weaponry.

This is the America my generation will bequeath to our heirs?