« May 2006 | Main | July 2006 »

June 30, 2006

Day By Day

Posted by Mike Lief at 06:55 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 28, 2006

This is Eliyahu Pinchas Asheri

Eliyahu Pinchas Asheri.jpg

He's the 18-year-old son of an Australian man who converted to Judaism twenty years ago and moved to Israel shortly thereafter. Eliyahu's the eldest of five children and, according to his rabbi, an introverted young man, 'though that doesn't look like the smile of an introvert.

Eliyahu was thumbing a ride this past weekend -- a practice encouraged in Israel -- when he disappeared. His parents' worst fears were soon confirmed.

[A] spokesman for the PRC in the Gaza Strip revealed an authentic copy of missing teenager Asheri's identity card to the press, confirming claims that he had been kidnapped, the police's elite counterterrorist squad raided a home in Ramallah in the afternoon and arrested a fugitive. Publication of his identity was barred.

On Tuesday, a spokesman for the Hamas-affiliated PRC told Al-Jazeera that Asheri would be "butchered in front of TV cameras" if the IDF operation in Gaza did not stop. "Our patience is running out," he said.

"I am announcing for the first time that the kidnapped Zionist Israel is searching for is the same settler who is being held by us. He is aged 181⁄2... and is a soldier in a pre-military academy," said the spokesman, who identified himself as Abu Abir.

Israeli Defense Forces, acting on a tip today, found Eliyahu's body in a shallow grave. His kidnappers had shot him in the head, perhaps on Sunday, and left him to rot, letting his parents continue to hope they'd get their son back -- alive.

Look at him. He's what terrorists consider a "legitimate target."

Posted by Mike Lief at 08:19 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Born 30 years too late

When I was a kid, I dreamed of becoming a military pilot, counting men like Chuck Yeager, Richard Bong, Pappy Boyington and Joe Foss as colleagues and comrades in arms.

However, by the time I entered junior high school, my vision started deteriorating, and soon reading the 20/20 line on the eye chart without help was a fading -- and blurry -- memory. Glasses disqualified me from ever getting into military flight school, and so I made do with a life-long and continuing interest in military aviation, albeit from the sidelines.

When I turned 17, I joined the Navy, signing up for a shot at getting into the submarine service. Within six months, I was at the wheel of the USS Blueback, piloting the sub during a lengthy deployment to the Far East.

It wasn't a bad trade; the submarine service was an elite branch of the military, with high morale, extra money, and smart, motivated -- not to mention very odd -- guys crewing the sub. More than a few of us sported glasses, clearly having opted for the next-best-thing to being a fighter jock.

And, best of all, driving the boat was a lot like flying a plane, albeit on instruments.

Now, a quarter-century later, technology is giving guys with dreams of flight a second chance -- and hurting the submarine service.

Free laser eye surgery is causing a manpower crises in the U.S. Navy. That's because, for nearly a century, the submarine service depended, without much thought, on bad eyesight to get the high quality people it needed. While aviation has always attracted many of the best people, those who did not have perfect eyesight, despite all their other sterling qualifications, were turned away. In the navy, many of these eyeglass wearing hard chargers saw submarine service as a reasonable alternative to flying. Submariners were an elite force, but perfect eyesight was not required. For years, no one really paid much attention to the fact that many submarine officers wore glasses. But it's an issue now.

Over the last two years, all of the American military services have been offering free laser eye surgery. This was considered a good investment, as troops who didn't have to wear glasses were much better off. Every soldier knows what a hassle eyeglasses can be in combat, because they get a taste of it in basic training. The running and jumping, the dust, explosions and general chaos often send eyeglasses flying, or leave them damaged. Moreover, combat soldiers are now more likely to use eyepiece sights (sniper scopes, night scopes, or the sight for the main gun on an M-1 tank), and these are easier to use without glasses. Each of the services set up its own clinics on many bases, and allows troops elsewhere to get the procedure from civilian eye doctors. The procedure itself only takes about ten minutes, and activity must be restricted for 30 days after so the eye can heal. The laser procedure has gone through several generations and is quite fast, effective and safe. The problem rate for the troops is practically zero.

Laser eye surgery (often called "lasik") has also become a support item for combat pilots. The US Navy loses about eight pilots a year to failing eyesight. Laser eye surgery has proved capable of restoring that eyesight to standards required for carrier pilots. The procedure also expands the pool of potential pilots, as many promising prospects are turned away because their eyesight is not good enough. Many notable aces in the early years of air combat had eyesight problem that would have kept them out of flight school today. Modern warplanes are faster and less forgiving than in days past, so the near perfect eyesight has become a requirement.

But the military is finding out that all those eyeglass wearing warrior types used to end up somewhere, and where they aren't going these days, is missing them. Just ask the submarine admirals who can't keep their crews up to strength any more. The solution has been to offer large cash bonuses to those willing to serve in subs, or other critical jobs that used to be filled by people with eyeglasses.

Lucky bastids.


Ah, well. I wouldn't trade my time aboard the Blueback for anything.

Still, I wonder what it would have been like, hurtling down the flight deck in my fighter, soaring into the sky on afterburner, doing victory rolls, Immelmans and practicing the Thach Weave amongst the clouds.

Posted by Mike Lief at 07:46 AM | Comments (14) | TrackBack

June 27, 2006

Avenge U.S. servicemen killed in the Khobar Towers? These guys?


Hear no evil. Speak no evil. See no evil. And Evil.*

The Secretary of Defense. The President of the United States. The Secretary of State. And the National Security Advisor, circa 1999.

The picture was taken not long after the events described in Former F.B.I. Director Louis Freeh's eye-opening -- and infuriating -- article from the Wall Street Journal marking the tenth anniversary of the bombing of the Khobar Towers barracks.

Ten years ago today, acting under direct orders from senior Iranian government leaders, the Saudi Hezbollah detonated a 25,000-pound TNT bomb that killed 19 U.S. airmen in their dormitory at Khobar Towers in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. The blast wave destroyed Building 131 and grievously wounded hundreds of additional Air Force personnel. It also killed an unknown number of Saudi civilians in a nearby park.


The aftermath of the Khobar bombing is just one example of how successive U.S. governments have mishandled Iran. On June 25, 1996, President Clinton declared that "no stone would be left unturned" to find the bombers and bring them to "justice." Within hours, teams of FBI agents, and forensic and technical personnel, were en route to Khobar. The president told the Saudis and the 19 victims' families that I was responsible for the case.


It soon became clear that Mr. Clinton and his national security adviser, Sandy Berger, had no interest in confronting the fact that Iran had blown up the towers. This is astounding, considering that the Saudi Security Service had arrested six of the bombers after the attack. As FBI agents sifted through the remains of Building 131 in 115-degree heat, the bombers admitted they had been trained by the Iranian external security service (IRGC) in Lebanon's Beka Valley and received their passports at the Iranian Embassy in Damascus, Syria, along with $250,000 cash for the operation from IRGC Gen. Ahmad Sharifi.

We later learned that senior members of the Iranian government, including Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Intelligence and Security and the Spiritual Leader's office had selected Khobar as their target and commissioned the Saudi Hezbollah to carry out the operation. The Saudi police told us that FBI agents had to interview the bombers in custody in order to make our case. To make this happen, however, the U.S. president would need to make a personal request to Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah.

So for 30 months, I wrote and rewrote the same set of simple talking points for the president, Mr. Berger, and others to press the FBI's request to go inside a Saudi prison and interview the Khobar bombers. And for 30 months nothing happened. The Saudis reported back to us that the president and Mr. Berger would either fail to raise the matter with the crown prince or raise it without making any request. On one such occasion, our commander in chief instead hit up Prince Abdullah for a contribution to his library. Mr. Berger never once, in the course of the five-year investigation which coincided with his tenure, even asked how the investigation was going.


The Clinton administration was set on "improving" relations with what it mistakenly perceived to be a moderate Iranian president. But it also wanted to accrue the political mileage of proclaiming to the world, and to the 19 survivor families, that America was aggressively pursuing the bombers. When I would tell Mr. Berger that we could close the investigation if it compromised the president's foreign policy, the answer was always: "Leave no stone unturned."

Meanwhile, then-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Mr. Clinton ordered the FBI to stop photographing and fingerprinting Iranian wrestlers and cultural delegations entering the U.S. because the Iranians were complaining about the identification procedure. Of course they were complaining. It made it more difficult for their intelligence agents and terrorist coordinators to infiltrate into America. I was overruled by an "angry" president and Mr. Berger who said the FBI was interfering with their rapprochement with Iran.

Finally, frustrated in my attempts to execute Mr. Clinton's "leave no stone unturned" order, I called former president George H.W. Bush. I had learned that he was about to meet Crown Prince Abdullah on another matter. After fully briefing Mr. Bush on the impasse and faxing him the talking points that I had now been working on for over two years, he personally asked the crown prince to allow FBI agents to interview the detained bombers.

After his Saturday meeting with now-King Abdullah, Mr. Bush called me to say that he made the request, and that the Saudis would be calling me. A few hours later, Prince Bandar, then the Saudi ambassador to Washington, asked me to come out to McLean, Va., on Monday to see Crown Prince Abdullah. When I met him with Wyche Fowler, our Saudi ambassador, and FBI counterterrorism chief Dale Watson, the crown prince was holding my talking points. He told me Mr. Bush had made the request for the FBI, which he granted, and told Prince Bandar to instruct Nayef to arrange for FBI agents to interview the prisoners.

Several weeks later, agents interviewed the co-conspirators. For the first time since the 1996 attack, we obtained direct evidence of Iran's complicity. What Mr. Clinton failed to do for three years was accomplished in minutes by his predecessor. This was the breakthrough we had been waiting for, and the attorney general and I immediately went to Mr. Berger with news of the Saudi prison interviews.

Upon being advised that our investigation now had proof that Iran blew up Khobar Towers, Mr. Berger's astounding response was: "Who knows about this?" His next, and wrong, comment was: "That's just hearsay." When I explained that under the Rules of Federal Evidence the detainees' comments were indeed more than "hearsay," for the first time ever he became interested--and alarmed--about the case. But this interest translated into nothing more than Washington "damage control" meetings held out of the fear that Congress, and ordinary Americans, would find out that Iran murdered our soldiers. After those meetings, neither the president, nor anyone else in the administration, was heard from again about Khobar.


Tehran once again received loud and clear from the U.S. its consistent message that there would be no price to pay for its acts of war against America. As for the 19 dead warriors and their families, their commander in chief had deserted them, leaving only the FBI to carry on the fight.


Still, many stones remain unturned. It remains to be seen whether the Khobar case and its fugitives will make it onto the list of America's demands in "talks" with the Iranians. Or will we ultimately ignore justice and buy a separate peace with our enemy?

What? The Clinton Administration was more concerned with spinning the deaths of U.S. servicemen to its political advantage than in avenging their deaths?


One of the commenters over at VodkaPundit reiterates something said by Hugh Hewitt: Bill Clinton, perhaps not the worst president, but certainly the worst man to be president.

That anyone can still claim that Clinton, Berger and the detestable Albright were foreign policy "experts" is mindboggling; if anything, they're the intellectual heirs to the legacy left us by Neville Chamberlain.

*Lest you accuse me of hanging the "Evil" nom de stupid on Berger, it was his pick when the photo was taken.

Posted by Mike Lief at 07:46 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 26, 2006

Semper Fi, Mac!

The Rocky Mountain News has received two Pulitzer Prizes for this presentation documenting how Marines salute their fallen comrades.

Check it out.

Posted by Mike Lief at 05:46 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 25, 2006

Farewell to the Chief Justice

larrys_mom 1.jpg594733.jpg

I was saddened to read that Larry Elder's mother, Viola, passed away June 13, after suffering a heart attack. A regular guest on his radio show, Mrs. Elder reminded me a lot of my late grandmother; both women retained a sharp mind and incisive wit right up until the end.

Larry's mom would talk politics with her son, providing an authentic, non-Hollywood voice to the show, swiftly gaining popularity with audience. I know whenever I heard her voice, it brought a smile to my face.

The obvious love and respect in Larry's voice when he spoke to and about his mother was something to behold, and it's strange to think we'll no longer hear her on Friday afternoons, serving as a counterpoint to her ever-so-opinionated son.

He wrote a nice tribute to her here.

Perhaps Larry will be able to talk his dad into coming on the show; it'd be nice to hear from the Associate Justice.

Posted by Mike Lief at 01:34 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Day By Day

Posted by Mike Lief at 12:19 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Why do they keep betraying us?

What's behind the latest efforts by the MSM to provide classified data, reveal defense secrets to Al Queda and any other whack jobs interested in killing Americans? The folks at PowerLine offer a possible explanation.

Ace of Spades makes an interesting point about the incessant publication of national security leaks by the New York Times, Washington Post, etc.:

The left continues to undermine national security in the most despicable, cynical way. I'm quite sure the reasonable liberals at the NYT and WaPo know full well that programs like this are absolutely vital, and their secrecy is likewise vital. However, they have made the most anti-American and evil sort of decision: While tools like this are vital for saving American lives, they will not permit any Republican President to use them. Only Democratic Presidents are permitted to employ the full panoply of powers for protecting American lives.

It's blackmail, pure and simple. Either let a Democrat into the White House, or we will continue to sabotage American security and, in effect, kill Americans. We will keep secrets when a Democrat is in office, but not a Republican. So we offer the American people a choice: Let the politicians we favor run the country, or we will help Al Qaeda murder you.

I think this is actually the subtext not only of the leaks, but of a lot of news coverage. If you don't want news coverage that constantly deprecates the economy, for example, and thereby undermines consumer confidence, the solution is simple: elect Democrats.

Seems as reasonable an explanation as anything else I've heard, and it's certainly more plausible than any drivel about the press being concerned with our freedoms -- the freedom to be free from homicidal moonbat muslims not foremost amongst them.

Posted by Mike Lief at 12:05 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 24, 2006

The LA Times is siding with the terrorists


There's been a heated debate raging over at Patterico's site, ignited by the decision of the LA Times and the NY Times to publish stories outing yet another classified program to catch terrorists -- despite the fact that the U.S. begged them to spike the stories; despite the fact that the program is legal; despite the fact that Congress has been briefed about the program; despite the fact that it works.

Let's be clear about this: someone within the government leaked secret and/or top secret information, which is a crime; the newspapers knowingly disseminated classified information -- which is also a crime. And the enemy has been alerted -- yet again -- to our methods and efforts aimed at keeping them from killing Americans.

Patterico wrote about his reaction when he first learned of the newspapers' conduct.

I am biting down on my rage right now. I’ll resist the temptation to say Ann Coulter was right about where Timothy McVeigh should have gone with his truck bomb. I’ll say only this: it’s becoming increasingly clear to me that the people at the New York Times are not just biased media folks whose antics can be laughed off. They are actually dangerous.

He also points to proof that the LA Times is worse than the NY Times when it comes to anti-American, flat-out deceptive articles. The LA Times fails to note that the secret operation they outed was working.

The New York Times article lists several examples of successes by the program ... these many successes were touted by “several officials.”

By contrast, the authors of the L.A. Times article apparently couldn’t seem to find a single official willing to give evidence of the program’s successes.

So, enraged by the perfidy and arrogance of the press, Patterico asks if journalists can be prosecuted for aiding the enemy.

Can the reporters and editors at the New York Times and Los Angeles Times be prosecuted for knowingly publishing classified information in an unauthorized manner, resulting in harm to the security of the United States? And if so, should they be?

I don’t know the answer for sure. When I call for an independent prosecutor (as I did in a previous post), I am seeking to find the people in the government who leaked this information. To find those people, we are going to have to demand that the reporters tell us who they are. Consequently, I want subpoenas issued to Eric Lichtblau, James Risen, and Bill Keller of the New York Times, and to Josh Meyer, Greg Miller, Doyle McManus, and Dean Baquet of the Los Angeles Times. If the reporters won’t disclose their sources, I want them thrown in the pokey, Judy Miller-style, until they do. This is far more important than the Valerie Plame case and I want to see it treated as such.

As to the separate question of whether these folks can and/or should be criminally prosecuted, I haven’t made up my mind. I lean toward the conclusion that prosecutions are possible and wise. But it’s not as obvious as you might think. In the context of the current situation, the answer may seem obvious. But it is easy to imagine other situations where it is not.

He goes on to lay out some interesting hypotheticals, some favoring prosecution, others militating against it. But he does provide -- in the extended post -- arguments and citations from legal experts supporting criminal action against the press.

Moving on, Patterico notes more distortions by the LA Times in its coverage of the (once) secret, (usted-to-be) effective program.

The distortions make the program sound both more menacing and less effective than it actually is.

For example, today’s article says:

In a major departure from traditional methods of obtaining financial records, the Treasury Department uses a little-known power — administrative subpoenas — to collect data from the SWIFT network, which has operations in the U.S., including a main computer hub in Manassas, Va.

Let’s compare the paper’s assertion of how “little-known” administrative subpoenas are to the 2004 testimony of Rachel Brand, Principal Deputy Attorney General of the United States:

Administrative subpoenas are a well-established investigative tool, currently available in a wide range of civil and criminal investigations. A 2002 study by the Office of Legal Policy identified approximately 335 administrative subpoena authorities existing in current law.

But what does the Principal Deputy Attorney General of the United States know about criminal procedures? The Los Angeles Times says these subpoenas are a “little-known power.”

The paper also says:

The subpoenas are secret and not reviewed by judges or grand juries, as are most criminal subpoenas.

Really? They are? That’s news to me!

My office issues subpoenas every day — hundreds of them. People appear in court pursuant to them. Police deliver records pursuant to them. We subpoena cellular phone records, hospital records, and all sorts of other records with them, all the time — and judges almost never look at them. The subpoenaed parties simply comply.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys reading this blog, feel free to chime in. Tell me if I’m wrong.

I’d be fascinated to know the source of these reporters’ contention that “most criminal subpoenas” are “reviewed by judges or grand juries.” I have a hunch that the source is “the reporter’s ass.”

Well, as I told Pat, he's not wrong. As a prosecutor, I've issued hundreds -- maybe thousands -- of subpoenas over the years, and in my experience, the only time a judge gets involved is when the recipient doesn’t comply; or to simply release subpoenaed documents to the ADA for copying and discovery to the defense, never having done more than glance in the file to see that they’re present.

Summarizing the case against the newspapers, Patterico quotes approvingly from an article in the Weekly Standard, including the statute covering the actions by the press.

Whoever knowingly and willfully communicates, furnishes, transmits, or otherwise makes available to an unauthorized person, or publishes, or uses in any manner prejudicial to the safety or interest of the United States or for the benefit of any foreign government to the detriment of the United States any classified information . . . concerning the communication intelligence activities of the United States . . . shall be fined not more than $10,000 or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both [emphasis added].

The author of the Weekly Standard article concludes that to fail to enforce the law would have terrible consequences for us.

Given the uproar a prosecution of the Times would provoke, the attorney general’s cautious approach is certainly understandable. But what might look like a prudent exercise of prosecutorial discretion will, in the face of the Times’s increasingly reckless behavior, send a terrible message. The Comint statute, like numerous other laws on the books limiting speech in such disparate realms as libel, privacy, and commercial activity, is fully compatible with the First Amendment. It was passed to deal with circumstances that are both dangerous and rare; the destruction of the World Trade Center and the continuing efforts by terrorists to strike again have thrust just such circumstances upon us.

If the Justice Department chooses not to prosecute the Times, its inaction will turn this statute into a dead letter. At stake here for Attorney General Gonzales to contemplate is not just the right to defend ourselves from another Pearl Harbor. Can it really be the government’s position that, in the middle of a war in which we have been attacked on our own soil, the power to classify or declassify vital secrets should be taken away from elected officials acting in accord with laws set by Congress and bestowed on a private institution accountable to no one?

I think he -- and the Weekly Standard -- have it absolutely right. We must act to impress upon everyone the seriousness of the fight in which we are engaged, and the consequences that must befall anyone who provides such assistance to our enemies.

In matters of life and death, moral equivalence and fence sitting cannot be indulged. While some may find the sentiment uncomfortably simple-minded, the reality is that in a war, as long as you live in one of the nations involved in the fight, you're either for your side ... or the other.

Finally, Patterico does what I have long urged my friends and family to do: cancelled his subscription and tell the newspaper why he did so.

I explained to the person who answered the phone that I was cancelling because I am outraged that the newspaper revealed classified details of a successful anti-terror operation.

They put me on with a “specialist,” and I repeated the reason for the cancellation. He said they were sorry to lose me as a subscriber. “I’m sorry, too,” I said. And I am. I’ve had my differences with the paper — plenty of them — but I’ve been subscribing since 1993. That’s thirteen years.


I told him that this has nothing to do with disagreeing with what I read in the newspaper. I disagree with the newspaper all the time. This is different. The newspaper made a deliberate choice to print classified details of an anti-terror operation that, by all accounts, was effective and legal. Key members of Congress had been briefed on it and had no problem with it. Strict controls were in place to prevent abuse, and those controls appear to have been effective.


I told the man that officials from the Bush Administration had begged the newspaper’s editors not to print this story, but the editors ran the story anyway. I told him that I think publishing the story was completely irresponsible, totally lacking in any justification, and has posed a threat to the safety of our country. And I just can’t continue to subscribe to a newspaper that would do such a thing.

He didn’t argue with me after that.

Can anyone argue with his reasoning?


Michelle Malkin has a nice assortment of WWII posters, photoshopped by her readers to illustrate this week's perfidious actions by the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times.

Check them out.

Posted by Mike Lief at 09:37 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 22, 2006

Handicapping our GIs

Posted by Mike Lief at 11:32 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Do journalists know anything?

The LA Times has an editorial today, backing another gun control law (big surprise). The unsigned editorials in a newspaper reflect the official position of the editorial board, and are usually thought of as being the "voice" of the paper.

I can guarantee that the editor who wrote this one has absolutely no hands-on experience with guns -- or any other machinery.

THE CALIFORNIA SENATE is expected to vote on a bill today that would require all semiautomatic handguns sold here to include a device that marks bullets with a unique identifier so police can more easily trace cartridges found at crime scenes. The Legislature should approve the bill, and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger should promptly sign it into law.

The technology, known as microstamping, is simple and has been shown effective in tests. It uses small lasers inside the gun to make precise engravings on the face of each bullet. As the weapon is fired, a serial number and the gun's make and model are stamped onto the cartridge. No two guns leave exactly the same markings.

Uh, no it doesn't. Microstamping theoretically works by having very small numbers on the firing pin or the slide SLAM into the casing with enough force to leave an impression of the numbers on the cartridge.

There are no miniaturized lasers burning identifying info into the casings.

Now, volcano-lancing lasers are a good idea. So are sharks with frickin' laser beams on their heads.

This is what happens when you let metrosexuals with no experience in the manly arts of shooting critters and blowing things up real good try and write outside their comfort zone.

Research is apparently passe at the Times.

And in case you're wondering, I think the microprinting idea is worthless. The legislation presumes that crooks won't swap out the parts with the serial numbers on them. But then again, I don't believe it's intended to do anything about crime; it's just another way to discourage gun manufacturers from selling their products in California.

Yet one more reason to cancel your subscription.

Posted by Mike Lief at 09:04 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Think of the children

Joe Sherlock points out an interesting suggestion from Peter Hitchens, brother of the acerbic British journalist Christopher Hitchens.

"Given that all the social evidence shows that children from stable homes with two parents are more likely to do well at school, more likely to do productive work when they grow up, less likely to take to crime than those who come from fractured and fatherless homes, why doesn't the state use the sort of efforts it uses to curb smoking, to encourage marriage?"


It's for the children! Just like car-seat laws, bike helmet laws, childproof gun locks, pre-school for all and the V-Chip.

Why do I suspect this one's going to languish, unloved by the cultural elites?

Posted by Mike Lief at 08:46 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

June 21, 2006

Good luck, Mr. Whitney

This is Gabriel Whitney, reaching to hug President Bush during Monday's commencement at the United States Merchant Marine Academy.

Ensign Whitney had a tough time at the Academy. According to The New York Times, his family wore t-shirts emblazoned with some interesting information about the soon-to-be graduate.

Mr. Whitney's sister, who works in an advertising office, had designed T-shirts for the 15 family members who attended the ceremony. Mr. Whitney's many difficulties in reaching graduation were emblazoned on the front of the shirt: 4,872 demerits ("painful"); four and a half years on academic restriction ("wounding"); two visits to the committee that weighs student expulsions ("agonizing"); two reprieves from the admiral ("necessary"); and six years of school with only an undergraduate degree to show for it ("humbling").

The back of the shirt, which bore a photograph of the midshipman and the American flag, celebrated his crowning achievement: "Passing all licensing exams, first try: Priceless."

The class anchorman, overcome with joy, gave the president an unexpected hug; the Secret Service deemed the 6'7" lug to not be a threat.

A heart-warming story, right?

Well, not if you're a Bush-hating leftist member of the entertainment community.

Playwright Christopher Durang has a less-than-amused response to the hug.

Some people sure can be happy. The young man in the picture above lives in an alternative universe from me, clearly. Upon his graduation from Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, N.Y, he was overcome with an irresistible desire to hug President Bush.

Bush had given the commencement address, since he seems to like and need to give at least one speech a day. The article didn't say what the President said, but I should imagine it included the words "post 9-11," "stay the course," "step down once they step up," "has made America safer," "they hate our freedom," and "I believe it is my destiny to spread freedom throughout the world, causing death and destruction while I do so." Well, perhaps not the last sentence.

But this young man is just SO HAPPY to see the President, I felt like I was looking at an alien creature.

The article (from the New York Times) includes that he said to the President: "you're the man!" And that he had trouble getting through the Academy, having received 4,872 demerits, he was almost thrown out twice, and he got his bachelor degree there in 6 years rather than 4.

He has no immediate plans except to "achieve greatness someday." But for now "I'm trying not to think farther than the next couple of days." His view of the President is so different than mine -- is the young man not too smart? does he not read the newspaper? is it exciting to see a President no matter what? does he only listen to Fox News? does he feel the President is protectng us all? But he sure does look happy.

That's all. Just felt struck and ... confused by the photo. Time to take my antidepressant. (That's a joke. I don't take one. I'm willing to FEEL my depression.

What a snarky, supercilious bastard. I'd posit that you have to be a retard from another planet to not feel a little happiness for the guy. I thought it was the artsy-fartsy types who are always whingeing on about "empathy" and "feelings," but I guess those sentiments are reserved for Third World types and unwashed, patchouli-scented moonbats, rushing to hug Comrade Castro or some other totalitarian dictator, redeemed by his hatred of the West and the eeeeeevil capitalists.

One of the comments left at the Huffington Post to Durang's bilious vent was quite well put.

Mr. Durang, what the hell is the matter with you?

Is this the best you can do - smear graduates of the service academies because you despise President Bush? Has Mr. Whitney harmed you in some manner that you elected to omit from your article? I suspect not.

It has never been the President who has defended our country; rather it has been, and will always be, the men and women (like the one in the picture) who volunteer to stand in between you and anyone who would do you harm.

You make a point of noting Mr. Whitney's transcript, as if that is something of which to be ashamed. Mr. Whitney was free, during his tenure at the Academy, to give up and return home (perhaps to write self-serving blog articles) but he remained. And that deserves nothing but your utmost gratitude.

Between the two people depicted in this photo and the author, there is one embarrassment to himself and his country. And that is you, sir.

I'll second that.

Congratulations, Ensign Whitney! Thank you for your service. And don't let the Christopher Durangs of the world get you down; the only thing you could have done to please them is refuse to shake the president's hand -- and burn the flag while wearing a Che! t-shirt.

Fair winds and following seas.

Posted by Mike Lief at 02:04 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

It's not a job for the courts

Captain Ed slams a muddle-headed editorial by the Washington Post today, wherein the paper lapses back into the treat-our-enemies-like-criminals meme.

He rejects the argument, and delivers a concise statement of why it's the wrong way to deal with our enemies.

When nations capture enemy combatants during wartime, they either get classified as POWs or as illegal combatants, usually by some sort of short tribunal. By all accounts, those have already taken place for all of the Guantanamo Bay detainees. When well-known leaders get captured, the need for such tribunals disappears; no one needs to determine the status of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, since he has repeatedly self-identified as a member of the terrorist ring that declared war on and repeatedly attacked the United States.

The detaining country has no obligation to provide trials for war crimes at that point; in fact, for POWs, the Geneva Convention forbids them. Only after the war has concluded does the capturing nation have an obligation to either charge their detainees with specific crimes or to release them.

The Bush admnistration had to reach back to World War II in order to develop their policy because the US has tried to pretend that its military actions in other venues did not amount to wars but instead were "police actions." No one refers to the Korean Police Action or the Viet Nam Police Action, of course -- because the rhetorical dodge fooled no one. However, it does indicate that the American ruling class has avoided the entire notion that we have warred with anyone since 1945.

One of the more ridiculous effects of this self-deception of late has been an insistence on applying a civil criminal justice system to issues arising from war, an application for which our justice system and its precedents is almost completely unsuitable. Can you imagine a defense attorney not insisting on Miranda rights for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and the identification of the interrogators who got incriminating information from him?

In wartime, no enemy has any right to a trial until the war has finished. For instance, the British did not try Rudolf Hess in 1941 despite his one-man invasion of Britain. The Brits simply kept him imprisoned in the Tower until the Nuremberg trials sentenced him to life imprisonment. Hess, as Deputy Fuhrer, had no need of tribunal for that imprisonment, and the British had no need to try him until after victory had been secured.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed has no right to trial or even to an administrative hearing during wartime. The Bush administration has correctly determined that al-Qaeda (and its affiliated terrorist groups) is an enemy at war, and that those who have identified themselves as leaders have given the US all it needs to hold them indefinitely. Trying to give them a right to a trial in the middle of a war does not serve victory or even legitimacy, but instead undermines the truth.

In order to provide a legitimate trial, the defendant has to have a chance of being released if no conviction can be obtained. Does the Post truly think that the US and the war effort will be served by Mohammed's release if a court cannot make a specific trial determination of his connection to an act of war (9/11)? If the Post doesn't agree to his release under that circumstance, then isn't insisting on a trial a highly cycnical and hypocritical act?

We need to remember that Islamist terrorists declared war on the US almost a decade ago and initiated a series of escalating attacks on us to prosecute it. That effort culminated in 9/11, which the Bush administration correctly determined as an act of war. We need to continue fighting it as a war. We do not need to make ourselves feel good by pretending that our enemy has the same legal standing as urban gangs.

The calls by "civil libertarians" for us to shutter the prison at Gitmo ignores the fact that it is entirely consistent with international law to hold combatants -- lawful and un -- for the duration of the hostilities. "What if the war lasts for thirty years?" they plaintively cry.

"Too bad," says I.

Unlike earlier eras, where soldiers might have been paroled upon a promise they'd no longer participate in the war, we live in a time when a man's word cannot be trusted. Some of the detainees released from Gitmo returned to the battlefield and resumed killing our troops and our allies.

It is entirely proper to keep the enemy from returning to the fight. The alternative to holding them indefinitely is to simply take no prisoners. There are no easy, feel-good choices here for the We-Are-The-World crowd, but letting the prisoners go is not one of them.

Which is as good a reason as any to place Michael Ramierz' cartoon depicting WW2 as fought according to the strictures of the ACLU at the top of this post.

Posted by Mike Lief at 08:24 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Dell makes some hot laptops


Gizmodo has the story behind the pictures.

Does my laptop feel hot to you?

What? No, I'm not trying to be fresh. Cripes, you people are suspicious.

Posted by Mike Lief at 07:12 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 20, 2006

It's a WAR, dammit!

I've been arguing for a long time that Pres. Bush made a tremendous mistake when, in the aftermath of September 11 and the destruction of the Twin Towers, he told Americans that the way to respond was for us to go on living our lives as we did before, working, spending, playing as we had on September 10th. To do otherwise, to change the way we live as a result of the attack on our nation would, according to Pres. Bush, hand the terrorists a victory.

I said then -- and I maintain now -- that we must live our lives differently. How can we be engaged in a war if we're asked to sacrifice nothing in pursuit of victory? Why should we believe we're fighting a war against an implacable enemy when our own government insists on treating our enemies as merely criminals?

Mark Levin nails it.

It’s time to reorient our thinking toward victory. In fact, it’s time to not only celebrate “the Greatest Generation,” as the media has characterized the World War II generation, but to emulate it in many respects.

For the past few years, we’ve watched the Senate debate, the Congress adopt, and then the president sign legislation that would confer constitutional rights on unlawful enemy combatants captured on the battlefield and detained at Guantanamo Bay, while we watch as our Marines are accused of war crimes at Haditha without the benefit of any due-process rights. (And notice, not a word from John McCain, Lindsey Graham, or Chuck Hagel.)

We’ve watched as self-labeled human-rights groups have demanded that the Geneva Conventions be applied to terrorists, even though they’re applicable only to those who honor the rules of war.

We’ve watched as the ACLU and Julius and Ethel Rosenberg’s offspring have brought lawsuits before activist courts challenging the conditions of the detained terrorists.

We’ve watched as virtually every intelligence gathering technique is attacked as a civil-liberties and constitutional violation, from the Patriot Act and the NSA intercept program to data-mining and interrogating the enemy.

We’ve watched as the Supreme Court and now lower federal courts have intervened in the president’s constitutional commander-in-chief duties, substituting their policy preferences for his despite their lack of information, experience, or competence.

We’ve watched as the media have used every opportunity to undermine our war effort with flat-out false reporting (the phony story about flushing of a Koran down a toilet at Gitmo), the exploitation of Abu Ghraib (with overkill coverage), the promotion of irresponsible antiwar voices (such as Cindy Sheehan and Michael Berg), and the support of antiwar politicians like John Murtha (who went from a relative unknown to an overnight media sensation because of his shrill and irresponsible antiwar allegations).

And we’ve watched as the media have splashed some of our nation’s most important war secrets across their front pages, and then give themselves awards for aiding and abetting the enemy.

No branch of government is acting as they acted during World War II. Rather than undermining the president’s leadership, Congress should be looking for ways to contribute to the winning this war. They’re few and far between.

Rather than intervening in war-making decisions, the courts should acknowledge their limitations during war as past courts have. And even the administration appears tentative about using more military might to destroy this enemy, a hesitation which rarely entered FDR or Truman’s thinking.

And, of course, whereas the media in the 1940’s focused their reportage on the evil that was the enemy, much of today’s media view George Bush as the real problem.

Meanwhile, two kidnapped U.S. soldiers were apparently brutally tortured and murdered today. And the question I pose to those who rightly honor the Greatest Generation is this: What would our country have done 60 years ago in response to this war crime? How would our political and military leadership have acted?

By all accounts, they would have demanded severe retaliation and retribution. And by that I don’t mean “bringing the perpetrators to justice,” as if we’re talking about some law-enforcement response to a white-collar crime.

No, I’m talking about a military response of such devastation that the enemy fears the consequences of future kidnappings and executions of our men and women in uniform. And that’s what’s missing in this war — the enemy does not fear us (at least not enough) and defeatism (rather than victory) is being preached from Capitol Hill and the news and editorial pages.

Bravo. We must pursue victory vigorously, killing our enemies with great dispatch, leaving the survivors to fear the wrath of the United States. As a matter of national survival, we must adopt the credo of the Marines: No greater friend; no more deadly enemy than the U.S. (Marines).

Posted by Mike Lief at 01:24 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


From the You Have to Be F#$%ing Kidding Me Files, comes this gem: Saudis Offered Scholarships for Aviation Courses in US.

JEDDAH, 20 June 2006 — The Ministry of Higher Education and the General Authority of Civil Aviation are offering scholarships to Saudi men and women to study various majors related to civil aviation in the United States.

The forms are available online at the ministry’s website until July 12 for both bachelor’s and post-graduate studies. Nominations will be announced on July 31. Interviews will take place in August and final scholarship winners will be announced on Sept. 2.

The scholarships are available in majors such as communications, electrical and computer engineering, computer science, systems analysis, air traffic control, flight safety, and other majors related to the airline transport industry.

Applicants for the bachelor’s program must have a minimum score of 85 percent in the science section and 90 percent in other sections, such as Qur’an memorizing, administrative and commercial sciences. Prospective medical students must also have scored more than 70 percent in the abilities determination exams to become eligible. For other specialties the requirement is 65 percent. Students must have graduated within the past three years to qualify.


There are various scholarships this year being offered by the Saudi government to the US, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, India, China, Australia and New Zealand.


The ministry will issue a letter to the concerned embassy in order to facilitate the issuance of visa.

Further information can be found on the Ministry of Higher Education’s website www.mohe.gov.sa.

No word on if landing will be included in the course curriculum.


Via Little Green Footballs.

Posted by Mike Lief at 08:06 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Murtha's shame

Did you catch the Democrat's military expert on Meet the Press? Rep. John Murtha -- whom we're constantly reminded is a veteran, when he's not busy accusing GIs of being war criminals -- was stupendously incoherent on Tim Russert's show. A review of the transcript reveals the emptiness at the center of the Moonbat left's critique of the war: they've no viable alternatives -- just cut and run.

REP. MURTHA: Well, “stay the course” is “stay and pay.” This is the thing that has worried me right along. We’re spending $8 billion dollars a month, $300 million dollars a day. And to give you some perspective of what that means, Gates said, “I’m going to quit the corporation, or I’m going to—less time with the corporation.” Well, you weigh $30 billion dollars. That’s four months of the cost of this war. This port security, if you want to spend more money, it’d would take 47 years the way we’re spending it. Education, the No Child Left Behind, a couple months of the war would pay for that. Whose going to, whose going to pay for this down the road? Our children and grandchildren are paying for this war. And then you have the, the, the emotional strain, the, the, the people who are being hurt.

On the floor the other day, you may have heard this, one fellow says, “We’re fighting this war.” We’re not fighting this war. One percent of the American people, these young men and women are fighting this war, with heavy packs, with 70 pounds of equipment, with helmets on in 130 degrees. That’s who’s fighting this war. And they say “stay the course.” There’s no plan. You open up this plan for victory, there’s no plan there. It’s just “stay the course.” That doesn’t solve any problem.

It’s worse today than it was six months ago when I spoke out initially. When I spoke out, the garbage wasn’t being collected, oil production below pre-war level—all those things indicated to me we weren’t winning this, and it’s the same today, if not worse. Anbar Province. There’s not one project been done in Anbar Province. Two million people live there. They have no water at all, no oil production, they have no electricity at all in that province where is the heartland of the defense. The first six months we went in there, no—there—not a shot was fired, so it shows you how it’s changed.

It’s getting worse. That’s why I feel so strongly. All of us know how important it is internationally to win this war. We know how important. We import 20 million barrels of oil a day—we use 20 million barrels of oil. We know how important, international community. But we’re doing it all ourself, and there’s no plan that makes sense. We need to have more international cooperation. We need to redeploy our troops, the periphery. What happened with Zarqawi could have been done from the out—it was done from the outside. Our planes went in from the outside. So there’s no reason in the world that they can’t redeploy the troops. They’ve become the targets, they’re caught in the civil war, and I feel very strongly about it.

Was that all perfectly clear? And he only gets more disjointed as the interview goes on.

This is the guy the Donks sent out to carry their water on the war, the standard-bearer for the Democratic plan for the Middle East.


Don't take my word for it; watch his appearance. It's worse than you can imagine. There really is no one to challenge the GOP as the party that's serious about national security.

P.S. Murtha's line about basing troops in Okinawa is so retarded as to beggar the imagination. As pointed out by Blackfive, it's 4,200 miles to Baghdad from Okinawa, requiring either permission to overfly the ChiComs or take the loooong way 'round.


Where's the loyal opposition?

Posted by Mike Lief at 12:38 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Navy studies risk to thin-skinned ships

During the 1980s I did my reserve time aboard the USS New Jersey (BB-62), one of the last WWII-era battleships in service at the time.

Commissioned in 1943, she was mothballed in 1948 and recalled to duty several times, providing sea-based support for troops with her massive 16-inch guns during Korea, Vietnam and several dustups in the Middle East.

While naval aviators and submariners proved that the massive battlewagons were anything but invulnerable, they did offer substantial protection for their crews due to their thick belts of armored steel.

Those sheets of steel came from steelmills and foundries that no longer exist; we simply can't make the stuff anymore.

As naval tactics evolved, so too did maritime design principles. Ships got smaller, faster and lighter. Relying on technology and tactics -- rather than brute strength -- military planners gambled on new manufacturing and damage-control techniques to make the ships survivable.

Unfortunately, the damage suffered by the USS Cole from a suicide attack by a small boat proved that the pendulum had swung too far away from the heavily-armored ships of the past.

The U.S. Navy, facing ongoing threats from jihadi terrorists wielding relatively low-tech weaponry, decided to see just how vulnerable modern ships are to attack.

Strategy Page has the story, and frontloads the bad news in the headline: Machine-Guns Disable Destroyers.

On June 7th, the U.S. Navy held another "Sink-Ex" (Sinking Exercise) some 450 kilometers off North Carolina. A Sink-Ex uses decommissioned navy ships for target practice, or, as in this case, to test new tactics.

What the navy wanted to examine was the ability of current naval guns (from .50 caliber machine-gun to 5-inch cannon) to disable ships without sinking them. The subjects of the Sink-Ex were two decommissioned Spruance-class destroyers (Comte de Grasse and Stump). These 7,800 ton ships, two of the largest destroyers ever built, were to be first subjected to gunfire, then Harpoon and Maverick missiles from air force B-52 and B-1B bombers overhead.

The missiles did not get used, because the hail of gunfire sank the two ships within 90 minutes. With cameras and sensors recording the damage, a variety of guns were turned loose on the ships, to see what kind of damage could be inflicted, how quickly and how accurately.

Most of the results are classified, but it did appear that the .50 caliber and 20mm machine-gun were very accurate and effective, and capable of quickly disabling a ship without sinking it. Also tested were 40mm automatic grenade launchers. The two ships were quickly sent to the bottom (12,000 feet below) with 5-inch gun fire directed at the waterline of the toe 28 year old ships.

This simply confirms what we knew back in the '80s. The joke aboard the New Jersey was that if hit with the same French-made Exocet missiles that had sunk the HMS Sheffield during the Falkland Islands War, the only response needed from the damage control teams on the battleship would be to respond to the 1MC message, "Sweepers, sweepers, man your brooms, sweep down topside decks fore and aft!" If the incoming missile somehow survived the CWIS 20mm-gatling guns firing depleted-uranium shells, the Exocet would simply leave a smudge and a smattering of parts scattered around the decks when it hit armor more than a foot thick.

That modern vessels are so vulnerable to essentially small-arms fire presents a challenge to modern militaries, who find themselves as vulnerable to suicide attacks as their land-based comrades.

In no small sense, this represents a repeat of history; the Japanese kamikaze attacks of 1945, while a desperate tactic, were devastatingly effective, causing huge losses for the Americans at a relatively small cost to the enemy.

Posted by Mike Lief at 12:11 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

June 19, 2006

Pop goes the (housing) bubble

Ben Jones has a blog focusing on the bubble in real estate values, and what may happen if -- or when -- it pops.

It's called -- oddly enough -- The Housing Bubble Blog. Check it out.

Posted by Mike Lief at 05:34 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Another reason to hate the death tax


Exceedingly well-informed comments by CPT AP -- clearly an expert in the field -- explaining why I'm out to lunch on this issue, merit a perusal by those of us who have supported the repeal of the Death Tax. What do you think? Is CPT AP right?

Aside from the essential unfairness of the government taxing income while you earn it, then taking another bite before your kids get it, there's another reason why most Americans hate the death tax: they instinctively know that it's bad for business. Family businesses.

EconoPundit explains.

My theory -- add it to all the others -- is based on many decades' personal involvement in a family business.

The theory is simple. Once we lived in an America with a bewlildering array of corner lunch counters, interesting bookstores, individualistic neighborhood clothiers, tailors, dressmakers, appliance shops each with its own unique spin on what the owner thought you wanted -- lots of small individualistic enterprises that, like family farms, got passed down through the family from one generation to the next.

The estate tax replaced all these with McDonalds, Borders, The Gap, the ubiquitous extended warrantee, and ADM.

So the theory is simple: the basic method of passing business expertise from one generation to the next -- the family business enterprise -- has been replaced by the franchise operation, all thanks to your friendly neighborhood death tax.

And the next time some smart social reformer demands you watch his heart bleed for all the small local businesses Wal-Mart is killing, just ask him -- "so what do you think the inheritance tax is doing?"

Via Joe Sherlock.

Posted by Mike Lief at 03:50 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Adapt and overcome

This dog is simply amazing. Not knowing that she's handicapped, she gets around town in a fashion that seems completely normal to her -- and astonishing to us.

Posted by Mike Lief at 12:19 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 18, 2006

Happy Father's Day, Dad

A look at the best Dad a guy could have, from the 1930s through the 2000s.

Dad 1937.jpg

Dad 10-50.jpg

Dad lifejacket.jpg

Dad pharmacy.jpg

Family 1965.jpg

Dad 1970s.jpg


Posted by Mike Lief at 09:50 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

June 17, 2006

Dixie Chicks still don't get it

Some bloke from the Daily Telegraph has a sit down with the Dixie Chicks, to see how their Bush-bashing, country-fan slamming remarks have affected their careers, three years on.

It seems, how shall I say this, that the Chicks are doing everything possible to further alienate the fans that made them one of the top acts on the country music scene. Check out the opening 'graph of the profile.

Will it be the salmon teriyaki with organic greens, or asparagus tempura and tuna sashimi? As the waiter hovers with pencil poised, the Dixie Chicks debate the menu with the practised air of professional restaurant critics. The Chicks have traditionally been branded a country band, but clearly it's some time since their diet consisted of ribs, tacos and pancakes.

'Cause country fans don't like nothin' that ain't battered an' deep fried. Corndogs an' Bud is whut a body needs. Yee-haw!

Sisters Emily Robison and Martie Maguire project a polished Fifth Avenue elegance, and vocalist Natalie Maines is a vision of sculpted cheekbones and smoky eye-shadow.

With their origins as bouffant-haired ingénues playing bluegrass music long forgotten, the Chicks are in Miami to attend a Sony BMG conference, where their new album, Taking the Long Way, is high on the corporate agenda. It's their first release since the group weathered the storm of outrage triggered by Maines's expression of shame that President Bush was from her home state of Texas. Although they've sold 30 million albums, the company was concerned about their commercial future.

When Maines made her comment on March 10 2003, 10 days before Operation Iraqi Freedom unleashed "shock and awe" over Baghdad, the Dixie Chicks were probably the biggest act in country music. Yet within days, their music vanished from the charts and the airwaves, apoplectic rednecks crushed piles of their CDs with tractors, and the FBI was feverishly monitoring death threats against the trio. It was the most heinous pop-star outrage since Ozzy Osbourne urinated on the Alamo.

Did that Brit really say that country fans were climbing on their tractors? To indulge in vein-bulging hate crimes against CDs? Now that's funny.

"The reaction was as if Natalie had said 'Death to the President' or something," says violinist and vocalist Maguire.

"It was the bullying and the scare factor," shudders banjo and guitar player Robison. "It was like the McCarthy days, and it was almost like the country was unrecognisable."

The level of debate can be gauged from the way Maines was compared to "Hanoi Jane" Fonda, who was photographed manning a North Vietnamese anti-aircraft gun at the height of the Vietnam war.

My God! People criticized the Dixie Chicks! Stopped buying their CDs! Exercised their First Amendment rights to express disagreement with their politics! It's exactly like the dark days of the McCarthy-era blacklist.

The Chicks can't hide their disgust at the lack of support they received from other country performers. "A lot of artists cashed in on being against what we said or what we stood for because that was promoting their career, which was a horrible thing to do," says Robison.

As opposed to kissing Brit ass while touring in the U.K., or sucking up to the rock and roll crowd -- not a flag-waving bunch -- to sell your music.

"A lot of pandering started going on, and you'd see soldiers and the American flag in every video. It became a sickening display of ultra-patriotism."

"The entire country may disagree with me, but I don't understand the necessity for patriotism," Maines resumes, through gritted teeth. "Why do you have to be a patriot? About what? This land is our land? Why? You can like where you live and like your life, but as for loving the whole country… I don't see why people care about patriotism."

Well, that's apparent. Allow me to provide a reason why some "people care about patriotism."


How about a picture from the Dixie Chicks' post-Bush Bashing U.S. publicity tour, left, and their poster from the Dixie Chicks 2011 Islamic States of America Tour, right.

There can be no rational explanation of how Maines's remark came to drive a red-hot poker into America's divided soul, but it's only now that some of the poison has begun to dissipate.

Early concerns about the premature demise of the Chicks' career subsided when the furiously unapologetic single Not Ready to Make Nice became the most downloaded track on iTunes, despite a lack of radio airplay. Then the album went to number one on the Billboard 200 after selling half a million copies in the week after its release in America last month. It looks set to be their first UK top 10 album this Sunday.


[I]t would be disappointing if the album's thoughtful range of subject matter (from IVF to Alzheimer's) was overshadowed by the Bush episode.

"I think for longevity's sake, our music had to mature and we had to mature as people," says Maguire. "Not that this particular event had to happen, but it sped up the process for us and helped us make a record that's really meaningful to us, whether or not other people see that."

AIDS, Alzheimers; piss on patriotism, flag and country. That constitutes the Dixie Chicks maturing, as people and artists?


I'm glad they're engaged in producing music that's meaningful to them. And relieved that they understand that it probably won't appeal to many of us.

But give the martyrdom routine a break, will ya? I'm afraid that when it comes to the three gals I used to enjoy listening to, they're "Long time gone."

Posted by Mike Lief at 06:24 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 16, 2006

Prof. Irwin Corey: Moonbat


I remember seeing Professor Irwin Corey in a number of guest appearances on TV shows during my childhood, as well as a few roles in films during my teen years -- most notably, "Car Wash," a wild-haired, double-talking clown in tails and tennis shoes. Hadn't really given him much thought in years, just another oddball bit player on the entertainment scene.

Then I stumbled across this profile, providing a whole 'nother dimension to the guy. Corey claims credit for a number of well-known sayings: "Wherever you go, there you are;" "You can get further with a kind word and a gun than you can with just a kind word;" and "If we don’t change direction soon, we’ll end up where we’re going."

But he's also an unapologetic moonbat.

According to Corey, he did his best to avoid serving in the military during World War II. "Three times I was called in, then rejected as 4-F," he said. "When they called me back a fourth time, I went in with a letter from the producer, saying I was indispensable to the show. The guy at the draft board told me, ‘This is wartime–there’s no entertainment!’ and shoved me straight through, without even giving me a physical."

He was discharged within six months after convincing the Army that he was a homosexual, quickly returning to the clubs and stage while his former comrades fought, bled and died on the battlefield.

But it's his politics that prove most unsettling, making him the intellectual forefather of the current generation of Hollywood moonbats.

One thing Corey was never very shy about, however, was politics. From his earliest union days to the blacklist to the present (presidential bid aside), he’s been mighty outspoken.

"It was never a conscious decision," he said of his admittedly strong beliefs. "It was never something I set out to do." Nowadays his walls are adorned with pictures of Corey posing with Castro (he gave $50,000 to send medicine to Cuba). He’s also made large contributions to the Mumia Abu-Jamal defense fund, as well as the Communist Party.

In some ways, being blacklisted continues to haunt him ("Though it’s more of a gray list now," he told me). He says he was never asked back to Letterman after his first appearance there in 1982, because the blacklist was still in effect at NBC. Being blacklisted also earned him a hefty FBI file.

Because Letterman, that notorious Right Winger, Johnny Carson and Jay Leno were all afraid to have any members of the Moonbat Left on their shows -- which is why all the late-night shows were cancelled after Corey's 1982 appearance.

What? They ignored the Blacklist? Whattaya mean, "What Blacklist?"

Back to the profile of Comrade Corey.

Much of his political outrage these days is aimed at Israel, so much so that he’s made hefty contributions to Palestinian relief efforts.

"You know, in 1492," he began, "when the settlers came to this continent, they killed the Indians and took their land. Then they brought black people to this land and made slaves out of them. And then George Washington, who was the first president of the United States, had 250 slaves–which is a felony.

"At that time–and I use that expression ‘at that time,’ for the simple reason that you cannot say, it was okay to kill the Jews at that time. You know? A felony does not lose its dimension by the passing of time... And I always say, if God wanted the Jews to have Palestine, why’d he give the Chinese a whole continent? Understand that?

"The fact is, East Prussia was part of Germany. By 1914, there was a thing called the Polish Corridor, which allowed Poland access to the Baltic–it was a land-locked country. After World War II, they gave them East Prussia. They gave the Poles East Prussia–they could’ve given the Jews the Rhineland, and the world couldn’t’ve said anything. After all, they took the lives and the property of 600,000 German Jews. What happened to that property? Who has it now?

"Israel says that God gave them the land that now belongs to Palestine. That little piece of land. We are part of a solar system. Nine planets revolving around the sun. There are billions and billions of planets throughout the universe, in billions and billions of galaxies. How did God even find this planet, let alone that little tiny piece of land to give them?"


What a louse.

Posted by Mike Lief at 12:39 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Better than a sunroof

I like the view this offers of the sky, without the noise or potential leaks of a sunroof. It's only available in Europe -- I don't think Vauxhall ever imported cars to the U.S. -- but maybe one of the other Automakers will give it a try in North America.

Via AutoBlog.

Posted by Mike Lief at 08:28 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Foggy Bottom Blues

Lest you think that the U.S. State Department is actually looking out for the interests of Americans, The Jerusalem Post points out that they've been working for years to protect and defend the world's most murderous thugs -- including people who have killed . . . the State Department's own people.

Last week it was reported in the United States that among the secret documents that the State Department recently released after 30 years is a document demonstrating that the US was aware from the outset of the key role Arafat played in murdering those American diplomats. “The Khartoum operation was planned and carried out with the full knowledge and personal approval of Yasser Arafat,” said an official US intelligence memorandum dated June 1973. It added that representatives of Fatah, Arafat’s faction of the PLO, “participated in the attack, using a Fatah vehicle to transport the terrorists to the Saudi Arabian Embassy.”

At that time, Arafat tried to distance himself from all responsibility for the murder of the diplomats in Khartoum and the PLO, just as he tried to distance himself from the massacre of the Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics in September 1972, diverting responsibility to the Black September faction. Indeed, despite the fact that the American administration was well aware of the truth, it placed official blame for the murders on the Black September.

THE ADMINISTRATION of US president Richard Nixon was in its final decline in the wake of the Watergate affair. The attack in Khartoum appalled and outraged the world. Eight terrorists had seized the diplomats during a Saudi Arabian embassy function in Khartoum.

On March 2, 1973, the Palestinians murdered US ambassador Cleo Noel and US charg d’affaires George Curtis Moore, along with a Belgian diplomat, Guy Eid.

The secret American report from 1973 that has just been released notes that the murder was carried out only after the terrorists received orders from Fatah headquarters in Beirut: “The open participation of Fatah representatives in Khartoum in the attack provides further evidence of the Fatah/BSO relationship,” a relationship that Arafat denied.

I believe a plausible argument can be made that the State Department -- and the CIA -- are rogue agencies, beholden and subordinate to no one, pursuing their own agendas, decade upon decade, administration after administration, viewing presidents as temporary interlopers.

This is an issue that ought to enrage Americans, more so than a failure to serve lukewarm tea and stale scones to the terrorists at Gitmo.

Via Little Green Footballs.

Posted by Mike Lief at 07:25 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 15, 2006

Well, that's a surprise

Things you wouldn't expect to find at Target.

And just to be clear, notwithstanding my job, I think it's pretty damn funny.

Via Kim Du Toit.

Posted by Mike Lief at 08:28 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

National suicide

Mark Steyn takes on the seeming desire of Canada -- and much of the Western world -- to commit national suicide, given the aftermath of the jihadi arrests in Toronto.

According to Steyn, it's a willful failure on the part of multi-culturalists to put aside their own prejudices and see the would-be bombers for who they really are -- not how multi-cultis wish them to be.

The best summation [of the jihadist mindset] is a line I first quoted in 2002, when a French oil tanker was attacked off the coast of Yemen. Back then, you'll recall, the French foreign minister was deploring American "simplisme" on a daily basis, and M. Chirac was the principal obstructionist of the neo-con-Zionist-Halliburton plan to remake the Middle East. If you were to pick only one Western nation not to blow up the oil tankers of, France would surely be it.

But they got blown up anyway. And afterwards a spokesman for the Islamic Army of Aden said, "We would have preferred to hit a U.S. frigate, but no problem because they are all infidels."

No problem. They are all infidels. In the scheme of things, launching a plot to behead the Prime Minister of Canada would not seem to be an obvious priority. No doubt they would have preferred to behead the President of the United States. But no problem. We are all infidels.

The multicultural society posits that each of its citizens can hold a complementary portfolio of identities: one can simultaneously be Canadian and Jamaican and gay and Anglican and all these identities can exist within your corporeal form in perfect harmony.

But, for most Western Muslims, Islam is their primary identity, and for a significant number thereof, it's a primary identity that exists in opposition to all others. That's merely stating the obvious. But, of course, to state the obvious is unacceptable these days, so our leaders prefer to state the absurd.

Steyn praises author Melanie Phillips and her book, Londonistan, to illustrate his point, extending it beyond London, to include Canada and the rest of the self-loathing West.

"Minority-rights doctrine," writes Phillips, "has produced a moral inversion, in which those doing wrong are excused if they belong to a 'victim' group, while those at the receiving end of their behaviour are blamed simply because they belong to the 'oppressive' majority."

If you want to appreciate the forces at play among Western Muslims in societies enervated by multiculturalism, Londonistan is an indispensable read. "It is impossible to overstate the importance -- not just to Britain but to the global struggle against Islamist extremism -- of properly understanding and publicly challenging this moral, intellectual and philosophical inversion, which translates aggressor into victim and vice versa."

"With few exceptions, politicians, Whitehall officials, senior police and intelligence officers and academic experts have failed to grasp that the problem to be confronted is not just the assembly of bombs and poison factories but what is going on inside people's heads that drives them to such acts."

These are not Pushtun yak herders straight off the boat blowing up trains and buses. They're young men, most of whom were born and all of whom were bred in London, Toronto and other Western cities. And offered the nullity of a contemporary multicultural identity they looked elsewhere -- and found the jihad. If we try to fight it as isolated outbreaks -- a suicide attack here, a beheading there -- we will never win. You have to take on the ideology and the networks that sustain it and throttle them. Does [Toronto Mayor] David Miller sound like a man who's up to that challenge? A reader in Quebec, John Gross, emailed me to distill the mayor's approach as: "Don't get mad, get even . . . wimpier."

As always, with Mr. Steyn, read the whole thing.

Posted by Mike Lief at 07:32 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 13, 2006

Whatever happened to . . .


Jabba the Hutt?

Apparently he went to lawschool and is currently presiding over the Vioxx trial.

Via Independent Sources.

Posted by Mike Lief at 10:24 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Day By Day

Posted by Mike Lief at 07:05 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 12, 2006

Sun, sand, surf, SUV on your sternum

This what-a-way-to-go tale just happened a few miles away down the coast from us, at a hotel that's hosted many a D.A. function.

Police run over, kill sunbather

A sunbather lying on the beach was killed this afternoon when she was run over by Oxnard police officers on routine beach patrol near the Embassy Suites Hotel Mandalay Beach Resort, authorities said.

Two officers were driving a Chevy Tahoe, an Oxnard Police Department vehicle, when they ran over the woman about 2 p.m., police said.

The officers weren't immediately aware they had hit someone . . . A witness called 911 to report that the vehicle had run over a sunbather and didn't stop. The witness also tried to flag down the police.

... [T]he vehicle had gone over a quick drop in the sand before hitting the woman, and the officers didn't see the sunbather or the witness trying to flag them down.

I've never understood why beaches are patrolled by full-size trucks and SUVs, for precisely this reason. Seems like quads -- or similar ATVs -- provide an effective means of covering lots of ground, while lessening the risk of snoozing sunbathers becoming speedbumps.

A bad day for Oxnard's finest; a worse day for the hapless sun worshipper.

Posted by Mike Lief at 07:03 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

An open letter to a soon-to-be ex-politician

Dear Judy Mikels,

The voters of Ventura County gave you the sack last Tuesday, after three terms on the Board of Supervisors. You placed third, behind Jim Dantona and Peter Foy, much to your shock and dismay.

The Ventura County Star ran a profile of the soon-to-be ex-politician -- that's you! -- wherein you let us know how you really feel about the election -- and the electorate.

"Between Dantona and the mega-landfill and the absenteeism, and Foy and the immigration issue, they got me, there's no doubt about it."

That's right, "they" got you. They're all out to get you. Your record -- including a common perception that you were hostile to law enforcement and public safety funding -- certainly had nothing to do with the voters deciding to say, "No thank you, we've had quite enough of her."

Judy, I'm going to translate some of your comments, m'kay?

"The public says they don't like dirty campaigning but they somehow always respond to it."

Translation: Stupid voters. They're too emotional, too easily manipulated. And they lie about wanting clean campaigns! Oooh, they make me so mad!

"I've had a good run. I'm very, very proud of my record. I'm proud of my supporters. I'm still supervisor until January. Between now and January, I'll decided what to do when I grow up."

Translation: Sod off. I think I'm doing a great job. Besides, you're stuck with me for another six months. Did I tell the voters to sod off?

"I'm a Gemini. I can't sit still," she said. "I have to keep working."

Translation: Astrology is an accurate predictor of a person's behavior. The stars also foretell the future. It's a scientific fact. Between the Daily Horoscope and my Magic 8-Ball, I'll dominate the Board until my sell-by date arrives.

Hey, Jude, honestly. I can't believe you've lasted as long as you have. What a remarkably graceless way to respond to an electoral defeat.

Whatever happened to issuing a statment something like, "While I'm disappointed that the People have decided my time to represent them has come to end, I'd like to thank the voters for giving me the opportunity to serve them for these many years. I congratulate Mr. Dantona and Mr. Foy, and am confident that -- whatever our differences -- my successor will do his best for the people of the 4th District."

One of your supporters complained to me that low voter turnout played a big role in your defeat. I'm not sure I understand the complaint. Did the voters care? Well, apparently not enough of your supporters cared enough to vote. Too bad you couldn't motivate them.

Low voter turnout is not in and of itself a problem -- why would we want people who aren't informed or don't care to cast a ballot? Unfortunately for you, the voters who did come to the polls had a good idea of what they could expect from you if reelected -- and they weren't buying.

I understand that the ag interests were happy with your representation; I suppose if I were a farmer or rancher, your anti-law enforcement bias might not bother me quite so much.

But the reality is, for all the good you may have done for the ag community, Judy, you forgot the first principles of good government: fight crime, put out fires, maintain the roads. That means funding for cops to catch the crooks, money to prosecute them, simoleans to jail them, and moolah to supervise 'em when they get out.

Judy, you held yourself out to be a friend of cops, DAs and firefighters, but proved to be nothing of the sort. Which might explain why you couldn't win the backing of any public safety groups this time 'round.

But you did get the Star's endorsement.


Thank you, Judy, for not running a better campaign.

Sincerely yours,


Posted by Mike Lief at 01:57 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

If it looks too small, you're projecting


Hmmmm, a new front projector from Mitsubishi. What's the big deal? Okay, $899 seems kind of cheap, but then the resolution isn't anything to write home about.

What? It weighs how much? A pound? As in 16 ounces?

That's really light for a projector. How big is this thing?

What? Did you just say it measures 4.85 inches wide, 1.85 inches high and 3.85 inches deep?

Okay, now I'm impressed.

Posted by Mike Lief at 12:11 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 11, 2006

Literary lion Oriana Fallaci still roars

The New Yorker's interview with Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci is a fascinating read, both for the insight into her life's experience, as well as her more recent role as a vocal opponent of the spread of Islam into the West.


Fallaci, energized by the attacks of September 11, has seen three non-fiction tomes (The Rage and the Pride, The Force of Reason, and The Apocalypse, published in Europe and not yet available in the U.S.) on the topic become bestsellers -- and faces trial in several nations for blasphemy and hate crimes.

As in past years, she remains particularly repulsed by perceived acts of rank hypocrisy.

According to Fallaci, Europeans, particularly those on the political left, subject people who criticize Muslim customs to a double standard.

“If you speak your mind on the Vatican, on the Catholic Church, on the Pope, on the Virgin Mary or Jesus or the saints, nobody touches your ‘right of thought and expression.’ But if you do the same with Islam, the Koran, the Prophet Muhammad, some son of Allah, you are called a xenophobic blasphemer who has committed an act of racial discrimination.

"If you kick the ass of a Chinese or an Eskimo or a Norwegian who has hissed at you an obscenity, nothing happens. On the contrary, you get a ‘Well done, good for you.’ But if under the same circumstances you kick the ass of an Algerian or a Moroccan or a Nigerian or a Sudanese, you get lynched.”

The threat we face is nothing new, according to Fallaci, merely a more recent iteration of a struggle in which she participated more than 60 years ago, when she was a young teen living in Mussolini's Italy.

Fallaci sees the threat of Islamic fundamentalism as a revival of the Fascism that she and her sisters grew up fighting. She told me, “I am convinced that the situation is politically substantially the same as in 1938, with the pact in Munich, when England and France did not understand a thing. With the Muslims, we have done the same thing.”

She elaborated, in an e-mail, “Look at the Muslims: in Europe they go on with their chadors and their burkas and their djellabahs. They go on with the habits preached by the Koran, they go on with mistreating their wives and daughters. They refuse our culture, in short, and try to impose their culture, or so-called culture, on us. . . . I reject them, and this is not only my duty toward my culture. Toward my values, my principles, my civilization. It is not only my duty toward my Christian roots. It is my duty toward freedom and toward the freedom fighter I am since I was a little girl fighting as a partisan against Nazi-Fascism. Islamism is the new Nazi-Fascism. With Nazi-Fascism, no compromise is possible. No hypocritical tolerance. And those who do not understand this simple reality are feeding the suicide of the West.”

Fallaci, who was shot three times during the 1968 riots in Mexico City, is no stranger to controversy and danger, and she refuses to back down when questioned on her seeming intolerance.

I started wondering if Fallaci would tolerate any Muslim immigration, or any mosque in Europe, so I asked her these questions by e-mail, and she sent back lengthy replies.

“The tolerance level was already surpassed fifteen or twenty years ago,” she wrote, “when the Left let the Muslims disembark on our coasts by the thousands. And it is well known . . . that I do not accept the mendacity of the so-called Moderate Islam. I do not believe that a Good Islam and a Bad Islam exist. Only Islam exists. And Islam is the Koran. And the Koran says what it says. Whatever its version.

"Of course there are exceptions. Also, considering the mathematical calculation of probabilities, some good Muslims must exist. I mean Muslims who appreciate freedom and democracy and secularism. But, as I say in the ‘Apocalypse,’ . . . good Muslims are few. So tragically few, in fact, that they must go around with bodyguards.”

(Here she mentioned Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Somali-born former member of the Dutch parliament, whom Holland, shamefully, declared last month that it would strip of her citizenship, citing an irregularity in her 1997 asylum application.)

She wrote that she found my question about whether she would tolerate any mosques in Europe “insidious” and “offensive,” because it “aims to portray me as the bloodthirsty fanatics, who during the French Revolution beheaded even the statues of the Holy Virgin and of Jesus Christ and the Saints. Or as the equally bloodthirsty fanatics of the Bolshevik Revolution, who burned the icons and executed the clergymen and used the churches as warehouses.

"Really, no honest person can suggest that my ideas belong to that kind of people. I am known for a life spent in the struggle for freedom, and freedom includes the freedom of religion. But the struggle for freedom does not include the submission to a religion which, like the Muslim religion, wants to annihilate other religions. Which wants to impose its ‘Mein Kampf,’ its Koran, on the whole planet. Which has done so for one thousand and four hundred years. That is, since its birth. Which, unlike any other religion, slaughters and decapitates or enslaves all those who live differently.”

The whole interview is a fascinating picture of a woman who, despite the best efforts of cancer and age (she's 77), remains a vigorous, articulate and impassioned intellectual force, as much a threat to the forces of political correctness and appeasement today as she was to tyrants and politicians 40 years ago.

Read the whole thing, will ya?

Posted by Mike Lief at 08:57 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 09, 2006

Murdering thug still dead; moonbat says it's all about the Booosh

"This is just to cover Bush's [rear] so he doesn't have to answer" for Iraqi civilians being killed by the U.S. military and his own sagging poll numbers, said Rep. Pete Stark, California Democrat. "Iraq is still a mess -- get out."

Posted by Mike Lief at 08:11 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Don't take it from me; listen to an expert

Charles Johnson points to an interesting speech in Anti-American Terrorism and the Middle East: A Documentary Reader given by the gaseous Iranian dictator Khomeni; note the year it was given.

Islam is Not a Religion of Pacifists
Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, 1942

Islam’s jihad is a struggle against idolatry, sexual deviation, plunder, repression, and cruelty. The war waged by [non-Islamic] conquerors, however, aims at promoting lust and animal pleasures. They care not if whole countries are wiped out and many families left homeless. But those who study jihad will understand why Islam wants to conquer the whole world. All the countries conquered by Islam or to be conquered in the future will be marked for everlasting salvation. For they shall live under [God’s law]. ...

Those who know nothing of Islam pretend that Islam counsels against war. Those [who say this] are witless. Islam says: Kill all the unbelievers just as they would kill you all! Does that mean that Muslims should sit back until they are devoured by [the unbelievers]? Islam says: Kill the [the non-Muslims], put them to the sword and scatter [their armies]. Does this mean sitting back until [non-Muslims] overcome us? Islam says: Kill in the service of Allah those who may want to kill you! Does this mean that we should surrender [to the enemy]? Islam says: Whatever good there is exists thanks to the sword and in the shadow of the sword! People cannot be made obedient except with the sword! The sword is the key to paradise, which can be opened only for holy warriors!

There are hundreds of other [Koranic] psalms and hadiths [sayings of the prophet] urging Muslims to value war and to fight. Does all that mean that Islam is a religion that prevents men from waging war? I spit upon those foolish souls who make such a claim.

Any questions? Any doubts? Or am I missing some subtlety of the non-Western mind? Sounds to me as if the most prominent Muslim leader of the 20th Century knew exactly what he was trying to say, and said it quite clearly.

Posted by Mike Lief at 07:44 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

June 08, 2006

Religion of Peace?

Theodore Dalrymple puts pen to paper for the City Journal and turns in a deeply pessimistic review of Islamic Imperialism: A History, by Efraim Karsh (Yale University Press, 288 pp., $30).

The week following the Muslim protests in London against the Danish cartoons—with marchers carrying signs calling for the beheading of infidels—other Muslims demonstrated to claim that Islam really meant peace and tolerance. While their implicit recognition that peace and tolerance are preferable to strife and bigotry did these Muslims personal honor, the claim regarding Islam was both historically and intellectually preposterous. Only someone ignorant of the most elementary facts could believe such a thing. From the first, Islam was a religion of pillage, violence, and compulsion, which it justified and glorified.

According to Dalrymple, the obligatory, "Not all Muslims are terrorists" disclaimer is not as reassuring as one might hope, noting that an unwillingness to wield the knife or the bomb -- as well as the ability to be personally charming -- may only be a public personae, forced upon the wearer by "historical circumstance." He uses a famous Englishman to make his point.

Consider, by way of illustration, Eric Hobsbawm, the famous, much feted, and unrepentantly Marxist historian. No one would feel personally threatened by him at a social gathering, where he would be amusing, polite, charming, and accomplished; if you had him to dinner, you wouldn’t have to count the spoons afterward, even though he theoretically opposes the idea of private wealth. In short, there would be no reason to suspect that he was about to commit a common crime against you. In this sense, he is what one might call a moderate Marxist.

But Hobsbawm has stated quite openly that, had the Soviet Union managed to create a functioning and prosperous socialist society, 20 million deaths would have been a worthwhile price to pay; and since he didn’t recognize, even partially, that the Soviet Union was not in fact on the path to such a society until many years after it had murdered 20 million of its people (if not more), it is fair to assume that, if things had turned out another way in his own country, Hobsbawm would have applauded, justified, and perhaps even instigated the murders of the very people to whom he was now, under the current dispensation, being amusing, charming, and polite. In other words, what saved Hobsbawm from committing utter evil was not his own scruples or ratiocination, and certainly not the doctrine he espoused, but the force of historical circumstance. His current moderation would have counted for nothing if world events had been different.

Dalrymple concludes that for Islam to become something other than a justification for jihad, it must, in essence, cease being Islam. He is not, to be certain, optomistic.

Take a few minutes and read the whole thing.

Posted by Mike Lief at 07:42 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Day By Day

I received an e-mail from Hugh Hewitt the other day, stressing the importance of the upcoming mid-term elections. Hewitt has been beating the drum, repeating his terse -- and effective -- fifteen-word mantra:

Win the war.
Confirm the judges.
Cut the taxes.
Control the spending.
Secure the border.

And the way to ensure that happens is to support conservatives in the primaries; hold your nose and vote for the GOP candidate -- even if a RINO -- during the general election, so the Dhimmicrats don't get control of Congress.

Hugh writes:

Are you willing to invest in the future by contributing $50 to each of the ten GOP Senate candidates that are best positioned to either retain their seats or take a blue seat red?

It's a big commitment, but the stakes are incredibly high, including success in the war on terror, and the ability to confirm good judges to the Supreme Court and the lower federal courts.

In fact, no matter what the problem is, the answer can't be more Democrats.

If that's just too much, then how about $25 each, or $10 each? It all matters.

Go online and support the Big Ten right now:

Arizona's Jon Kyl
Maryland's Michael Steele
Minnesota's Mark Kennedy
Missouri's Jim Talent
Montana's Conrad Burns
Nebraska's Pete Ricketts
New Jersey's Tom Kean
Ohio's Mike DeWine
Pennsylvania's Rick Santorum
Washington's Mike McGavick


Life would look a whole lot different without the majority. No Justice Alito. No Judge Kavanaugh. Guantanamo hearings. Impeachment proceedings. Majority Leader Reid "compromising" with Speaker Pelosi on immigration.

We all know the plan for victory in '06 and '08:

Win the war.
Confirm the judges.
Cut the taxes.
Control the spending.
Secure the border.

None of it will get done with Democrats at the helm in the Senate. Dig deep. Go online and support the Big Ten today.

I'm going to give to individual candidates; the GOP as a party still pisses me off way too much to give to their general fund (illegal immigration, anyone?). But Hugh's right; the Republicans aren't perfect -- they just seem that way when you consider the alternatives.

Posted by Mike Lief at 01:10 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Welcome to Hell, Mr. Zarqawi!

Well, this is a good way to begin the day.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The al Qaeda leader in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, was killed in a joint attack by U.S. helicopters and Iraqi forces, ABC news reported on Thursday.

Keep looking over your shoulder, Bin-Ladin. You're next.

Posted by Mike Lief at 01:04 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

June 07, 2006

Army misses the target


Depicted from left to right are 7.62mm, 6.5mm and 5.56mm rifle rounds. Above right are cutaway views of the 5.56 (left) and the 6.5 (right), revealing the substantially larger bullet responsible for the 6.5mm's increased lethality.

This is disappointing. It seems the military has reached a decision about replacing the 5.56mm round with something packing a bigger punch . . . and the bad guys have nothing to worry about. Unfortunately, the GIs do.

The U.S. Army completed a study of current 5.56mm M855 round, in response to complaints from troops that this ammunition was inadequate in combat. Troops reported ... enemy fighters were hit with one or more M855 rounds and kept coming. The study confirmed that this happened, and discovered why. If the M855 bullet hits slender people at the right angle, and does not hit a bone, it goes right through. That will do some soft tissue damage, but nothing immediately incapacitating.

The study examined other military and commercial 5.56mm rounds and found that none of them did the job any better. The study concluded that, if troops aimed higher, and fired two shots, they would have a better chance of dropping people right away.

The report recommended more weapons training for the troops, so they will be better able to put two 5.56mm bullets where they will do enough damage to stop oncoming enemy troops.


The army had been considering a switch of a larger (6.8mm) round, and the Special Forces has been testing such a round in the field. But a switch is apparently off the table at the moment. The U.S. Marine Corps is doing its own study, but has not finished it yet.

The army report is not likely to be well received by the troops.

GIs have been complaining for years about the 5.56mm round's inability to incapacitate enemy fighters quickly; excluding lucky shots that destroy the central nervous system or cause rapid exsanguination, wounds that may ultimately prove lethal still allow wounded jihadis to continue firing their weapons. That translates into more dead good guys.

The Army Rangers in Mogadishu in 1993 reported seeing Somalis hit multiple times by troopers wielding M-16 variants chambered in 5.56mm; they fought on, a result of both the caliber's poor performance and the use of a local narcotic that dulled their sensitivity to pain.

The recent experience in Afghanistan and Iraq has added to the chorus of complaints from the battlefield, which has spread to the 9mm army pistol's inability to reliably kill or incapacitate the enemy -- not suprising, given the prohibition on using hollowpoint ammo. Police departments have abandoned the 9mm because of its poor performance as a man-stopper -- even with good hollowpoints -- opting instead for the .40 cal. or the ever-popular .45.

The Army's decision to stick with the 5.56 mm is troubling, especially given that it's officers have acknowledged the problem as recently as last year. Major Robert E. Berg, an Army ordnance and aerospace engineer, wrote about it for Military.com.

In conflicts around the globe, it is becoming apparent that this venerable bullet [the 5.56 mm] may not have enough oompf to take down an enemy -- and keep him down.


The need to increase ammunition lethality is a pressing issue. For evidence, look no further than the Soldier Weapons Assessment Team Report 6-03, published by the United States Army Infantry Center, Directorate for Combat Developments, Small Arms Division. The report made the following recommendation:

A Government Lethality IPT has been stood up to standardize GEL block testing and an engineering study will be conducted extensive, soft target terminal effects of COTS and military 5.56mm ammunition. The characteristics of each bullet terminal performance will be determined. Based on requirements and using the engineering information, a new round should be type classified and made available.


Advantages Over the 5.56 NATO

Lethality is the first advantage. The 6.8 SPC edges both the 6.5 Grendel and the 5.56 NATO at short range against unprotected personnel. However, against light armor protected personnel, the 6.5 Grendel has an edge over the 6.8 SPC. Both are an improvement upon the 5.56. (Lethality at long range has not been tested.) For long-range engagements, both cartridges can be compared to the 7.62 NATO, currently in use by the U.S. military.

Telling our troops that the solution to the inadequate ammunition they're given is to carefully aim and double-tap the enemy is insane; combat is an intense environment -- one good shot may be the most any soldier can hope for when the targets are shooting back.

When there appears to be a technological solution that will give our soldiers a better chance of making sure the other guy ends up dead, the GIs deserve a better answer than, "Sorry, shoot straight; shoot twice."

Posted by Mike Lief at 11:44 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

June 06, 2006

D-Day plus 62 years

American GIs push through the surf on Ohama Beach, in a photo by famed war photographer Robert Capa.

It was a cold morning in Normandy 62 years ago today, when Allied troops slogged through the surf to begin the arduous task of retaking Europe from the Nazis. Supreme Allied Commander Dwight D. Eisenhower had a few words for the soldiers, in a memo distributed to the troops.

Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force!

You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers-in-arms on other Fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.

Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped and battle hardened. He will fight savagely.

But this is the year 1944! Much has happened since the Nazi triumphs of 1940-41. The United Nations have inflicted upon the Germans great defeats, in open battle, man-to-man. Our air offensive has seriously reduced their strength in the air and their capacity to wage war on the ground. Our Home
Fronts have given us an overwhelming superiority in weapons and munitions of war, and placed at our disposal great reserves of trained fighting men. The tide has turned! The free men of the world are marching together to Victory!

I have full confidence in your courage and devotion to duty and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full Victory!

Good luck! And let us beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.

Ike was less sanguine the night of June 5. The invasion had been delayed due to bad weather, and the decision to go on June 6 was based on the assurances of Ike's meteorological staff that the skies would clear enough for Allied aircraft to protect the invasion fleet, the seas calm enough to allow landing craft to ferry troops ashore.

But were they right? And what about the Germans? Field Marshall Irwin Rommel, the Desert Fox of Afrika Korps fame, was in charge of defending Festung Europa from the vengeful Allies. Would this masterful tactician recognize that the main Allied thrust was in Normandy -- and not in Calais, where the Germans had expected it? Rommel knew -- as did the Allies -- that the success or failure of the invasion would be determined within the first 24 hours. If the Americans, Brits and Canadians could be kept on the beaches, prevented from breaking out, the initiative shifted to the defenders, and the invasion would fail.

It would be Dunkirk and Dieppe rolled into one big, bloody mess.

Chain smoking his cigarettes, pacing restlessly, reviewing in his mind the last-minute orders, the distribution of troops, the latest intelligence on the German's defenses, Ike put pen to paper and wrote a very different letter.


Our landings in the Cherbourg-Havre area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold and I have withdrawn the troops. My decision to attack at this time and place was based on the best information available. The troops, the air and the Navy did all that bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt it is mine alone.

As it luck would have it, Ike never needed his responsibility-for-defeat statement; the skies cleared, and the German High Command refused to shift it's armor held in reserve to Normandy, believing D-Day to be a feint, drawing attention away from the main invasion site.

But that's not to say the beaches were lightly defended. The Americans were savaged by Wehrmacht machine-gunners and mortar crews, pouring concentrated fire into pre-marked killing zones.

"The Jaws of Death." Photo by Chief Photographer's Mate Robert F. Sargent, USCG. A Coast Guard-manned LCVP from the U.S.S. Samuel Chase disembarks troops of the First Division on the morning of 6 June 1944 at Omaha Beach.

The 1998 film Saving Private Ryan captured the horror of the moment when the landingcraft's ramp dropped, allowing thousands of rounds of 8mm machinegun rounds to slam into the waiting GIs, turning the inside of the craft into a charnel house.

Somehow, GIs moved forward through the hail of steel and shrapnel; many drowned under the weight of their gear, others watched their blood turn the surf red before sinking beneath the surface.


They sought brief respite from the murderous fire, hiding behind the steel obstacles placed by the Germans to prevent tanks and landingcraft from having an easy approach to the beaches. But the clang and whine of bullets hitting steel all-too-often gave way to the sickening thwack of steel-jacketed rounds ripping into flesh, and the GIs resumed the push to get ashore, find shelter, kill the enemy -- instead of sitting out in the open like targets in a Coney Island shooting gallery.

By the time June 7 dawned, it was clear that D-Day had succeeded. Although the breakout bogged down in the French bocage, the window of opportunity for the Wehrmacht to throw the invaders back into the sea had passed.

Now began the long march to Berlin.

Ike had assembled a force of 156,000 men for D-Day. The Americans landed 73,000 troops: 23,250 on Utah Beach, 34,250 on Omaha Beach, and 15,500 paratroopers. The Brits and Canadians landed 83,115 troops: 24,970 on Gold Beach, 21,400 on Juno Beach, 28,845 on Sword Beach, and 7,900 paratroopers.

The Allies suffered approximately 10,000 casualties on D-Day, with 2,500 men killed. Every last one of them gave up his life, his future, everything he hoped and dreamed, so that Hitler's Thousand Year Reich would expire more than 980 years ahead of schedule.

On this day, take a moment and think about those young men, forever young, sleeping the eternal rest of heroes beneath the Normandy skies, and reflect upon the debt we owe them -- and all the men and women who go into harm's way to protect us from our enemies.

God bless them all.

Posted by Mike Lief at 11:39 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

June 04, 2006

Portfolio: Camp Roberts, California



Posted by Mike Lief at 05:36 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Judge spanks U.S. Attorney

A federal judge has taken a U.S. Attorney to the woodshed for his dogged pursuit of a prosecution of a man already convicted on similar state charges.

These comments are going to leave a mark.

In an abrasive court hearing Tuesday, Montana's chief federal judge reviled U.S. Attorney Bill Mercer, accusing him of federalizing criminal cases arbitrarily and because it's politically popular.

"Do you ever concern yourself with justice?" Chief U.S. District Judge Don Molloy asked Mercer during a federal court session in Missoula.


"This is a state case," Molloy said. "What is the federal interest in prosecuting this case? Clearly this person was rehabilitated. You know what this seems like to me? This seems like a number. This seems like a statistic."


"Foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of a small mind," Molloy said, quoting Ralph Waldo Emerson. "Your job is not to get convictions. Your job is to ensure that justice is done. I think that's just a real problem for you. Blind persistence to a technical claim. You're not pursuing justice. You're pursuing statistics."


"Your lawyers are not getting their briefs in on time," Molloy said. "You're in Washington, D.C., and you ought to be here in Montana doing your work. Your office is a mess."

Molloy also criticized the case's "convoluted history," noting that Mercer's office had previously moved to dismiss the case, a motion Molloy granted, but now wishes to re-indict Rothacher.

"I have a very significant concern about how the U.S. attorney's office has handled this," Molloy said.

"You have no credibility," he said. "None."

The defendant's attorney commented, "If I had a federal judge talk to me that way I would seriously consider changing professions."

Me too.

Posted by Mike Lief at 05:32 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Religion of Peace Update: MSM plays "Muslim? What Muslim?"

Michelle Malkin is all over the Muslim terrorists in Canada, and the efforts by the Main Stream Media to hide the identity of the would-be bombers.

Posted by Mike Lief at 05:25 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

It's all about American atrocities

Belmont Club points out the media's inability to see the forest for the trees, as a result of the profession's willful myopia when it comes to the actions of anyone but the West and its nefarious figurehead, Chimpy McBushitler.

Question: what's the most important news story of the past week? Haditha, Haditha, Haditha, Haditha, Canada, Britain. Ooops. Haditha, Haditha. Haditha. That's not to say the possible misconduct of US military personnel is not news, but the characteristic of correctly functioning sensory organs is that objects appear in their due proportion. If mice seemed the size of elephants and elephants the size of mice a visit to the doctor would seem in order. The press is the public's sensory organ.

Pajamas Media has a roundup of stories on the recent terrorism arrests in Canada involving suspects, many of them teens, who had never been to Afghanistan or Iraq, were as Canadian as Molson Beer or American as Apple Pie and had in their possession three times the explosive used in the Oklahoma City bombing. But large as the Canadian story is it is probably only part of something even larger.


A week back the FBI and the Justice Dept announced that they were conducting "urgent" investigations into terror cells across the US, and in particular in NYC. The next day, British intelligence made a similar announcement.

Then, we had the London raid and the Toronto raid. Clearly, something massive is in the works, spanning at least three major Western countries. But, if Canada is a target, why not France, Holland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and Germany?

My guess is they are also targets. An early report out of London also said that police had ordered a five mile no fly zone around the site of the bust. This might also indicate they suspect rocket launchers.

Three tons of explosive. Suicide poison gas vests. MANPADs maybe. Home grown. Move along now, nothing to see here. Haditha is a story, but no matter how much anyone wants to keep it on the front page the sad reality is the really bigger stories won't stay still. They keep trying to climb above the fold.

There's something big coming; we all know it. The jihadis have been probing our defenses, looking for the blockbuster followup to 9-11. But you won't learn about the threat by watching TV, or reading the newspapers, all of which are notably reluctant to identify who the enemy is, and what they want to do to us.

Because, you see, it really is all about HadithaHadithaHaditha-Gitmo-Abu Ghraib.

Posted by Mike Lief at 05:23 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 02, 2006

This ship is England!

I finally got around to watching Master and Commander, starring Russell Crowe as the Napoleonic-era Captain Jack Aubrey of the HMS Surprise.

I'm not sure why it took me so long to see it, given my love of military history in general, and my service in the navy, but it was better than I'd hoped. Australian director Peter Weir has put as detailed and accurate an account of life in His Majesty's navy as we're ever likely to see, with incredible attention to detail. The monotony and hardship of 18th-century service aboard ship is balanced by the terror of enormous seas, cannon balls smashing through oak and limbs, sailors sweating and cursing in cramped gundecks, struggling to reload as smoke burns their lungs and blood slicks the decks.

The story is set in 1805; England is at war with Napoleon, and HMS Surprise is engaged in a deadly game of cat and mouse with the French frigate Acheron. More heavily armed and armored than its English counterpart, the French ship provides an uncharacteristically potent threat to the men of His Majesty's fleet.

Russell Crowe, a favorite since his portrayal as a violent 1950s-era detective in L.A. Confidential, is superb as the ship's captain, the very picture of what is an effective leader of men. His friend and confidante in the film is the ship's doctor, portrayed by Paul Bettany -- currently the albino killer monk in the DaVinci Code. The two men are radically different -- one a man of action, a master seaman and tactician, the other a man of science, a naturalist and philosopher. The depiction of their friendship is subtle and superb, as they play duets on the cello and violin, debating and arguing to pass the time during the long voyage.

I'm always bothered by actors who fake it when shown playing musical instruments, and Crowe looked like he was really playing the violin in these scenes; I later read that he had learned for the role, saying that the violin was the hardest thing he'd done for any film role.

Modern audiences unfamiliar with the era will undoubtedly be shocked by the youth of the junior officers, the youngest about 13, but many of England's finest naval commanders began their careers at sea as young boys, making the modern practice of referring to young adults as "kids" even more repellent.


The stress of maintaining military discipline, a necessary distance from the crew, is relieved by raucous dinners in the Captain's Quarters, where gentlemen may tell tall tales and offer toasts:

"To wives and sweethearts; may they never meet!"

Captain Aubrey offers a rousing speech to his crew before the final battle.

Right lads, now, I know there's not a faint heart among you, and I know you're as anxious as I am to get into close action. But we must bring them right up beside us before we spring this trap. That will test our nerve, and discipline will count just as much as courage.

The Acheron is a tough nut to crack ... more than twice our guns, more than twice our numbers, and they will sell their lives dearly.


Gun crews, you must run out and tie down in double quick time. With the rear wheels removed, you've gained elevation. and without recoil, there'll be no chance for re-load, so gun captains, that gives you one shot from the lardboard battery ... one shot only. You'll fire for her mainmast. Much will depend on your accuracy ... however ... even crippled, she will still be dangerous, like a wounded beast.

Captain Howard and the marines will sweep their weather deck with swivel gun and musket fire from the tops. They'll try and even the odds for us before we board. They mean to take us as a prize.

And we are worth more to them undamaged. Their greed ... will be their downfall. England is under threat of invasion, and though we be on the far side of the world, this ship is our home. This ship is England. So it's every hand to his rope or gun, quick's the word and sharp's the action. After all... surprise is on our side.

From the quiet beauty of the Galapagos Islands to the awful brutality of battle, this film is one of the best I've seen. The quiet moments are as impressive as the action scenes, and the realization that these men traveled so far and survived -- triumphed in their wooden ships is awe inspiring.

Do yourself a favor, though -- watch it on a big screen.

In an age when crossing the globe takes mere hours, and the definition of hardship has become lack of a signal for your cell phone, Master and Commander is a bracing reminder of the courage and sacrifice that was celebrated the world over.

Posted by Mike Lief at 07:47 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

June 01, 2006

The U.N. and Hamas, perfect together

Captain Ed points out that there's no situation the U.N. can't make worse, thanks to their dedication to the principal that only Western democracies are responsible for the aftermath of their actions -- and for picking up the tab of everyone else's screw ups and failings.

The UN again demonstrates its fecklessness by insisting that the world owes the Palestinians refuge from their own bad choices, requesting emergency aid donations to stave of a financial crisis of their own making. The UN wants almost $400 million to replace what the Palestinians threw away when they elected terrorists to control their protostate.


When we say that the UN exists only to ensure that change never occurs, this is exactly what we mean. The Palestinian elections gave the Palestinians an opportunity to decide whether they wanted to move forward in peace, or whether they wanted to endorse more terrorism. They chose the latter, despite knowing that their Western benefactors would not engage Hamas while the terrorist group refused to recognize Israel. It got worse once their government took power, as Hamas announced that they would not recognize any previous agreements with Israel or anyone else, and that any negotiations had to start from scratch.

The Palestinians know what they need to do to restart aid; they need to have Hamas recognize Israel, forswear terrorism and violence, and agree that previous agreements are binding. The last is especially important. If we had to renegotiate agreements from scratch every time a government changed hands, we would have no basis of trust on which to proceed. If the Palestinians want to argue that their word is worthless, then let them do so. It's only that much more reason not to support them economically or politically.

The Palestinian approach will not change while groups like the UN insist on buffering them from the consequences of their choices. They elected Hamas freely -- more freely than they elected Mahmoud Abbas as president -- and that choice carries consequences. If they do not like those consequences, it is up to them to pressure their government to respond in such a way that the international community can re-engage them economically. If we keep treating them as helpless children, they will continue to act that way. When they grow up, then we can lend a helping hand.

We've spent most of the last two decades pouring money into the Palestinian protostate, and it has resulted in nothing but two intifadas and the election of Hamas. Having them fend for themselves can hardly produce worse results than an election victory by an Islamist terrorist group.

One of the commenters suggests that if the Palis won't abide by previous agreements, then neither should the Israelis, rolling back all previous territorial concessions and givebacks. Of course, the Arabists at the State Department would squeal like pigs at such un-statesmanlike conduct from those Verdammt Jooooos.

Posted by Mike Lief at 08:00 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Automotive heaven or hell: your warranty knows

I'm one of those guys who loves cars -- new, old, classic, funky, sportscar, truck, limo, drop-top, there's something that triggers the wantsies in each and every one.

Except for the lemons, of course. Can anyone say, "Vega"?

But when it comes time to actually buying, the virtue that reigns supreme in my fevered, gasoline-addled brain isn't looks, handling, speed, or luxury features ('though they all matter). Nope, I'm moved by the only indicator of flawless superior engineering, the factor that determines whether in a few years the car will be a pleasure to climb in, or a rolling junk-pile, drawing imprecations and disgusted head shaking when I warily approach it each morning.

That's right, I'm a reliability junkie. I don't care how good looking it is, how many Car&DriverMotorTrendAutomobile Car-of-the-Year awards it gets, if it ain't reliable, I ain't buying.

I helped my mother buy a new car when I was in the Navy, 1984, I think. Mom, bless her heart, wouldn't listen to anything I had to say, insisting on a Buick. Dad went out and got himself a Mazda 626 5-door sedan.

By '89, Dad's Mazda was running great -- and looking good; all the trim and switch-gear worked like new. Mom's Buick . . . well, you could hear it coming a mile away. I have a clear memory of pushing a button on the dash and watching it launch itself into the backseat. Nothing -- and I do mean nothing -- seemed to work right, and it was clear that this example of Detroit's best efforts was destined for the tender ministrations of Fred Sanford & Son.

I've always relied on the reliability index compiled by Consumers Reports to weed out the auto-shop queens, but the biggest drawback to that list is the methodology used to produce it: self-reporting by car owners. Nonetheless, relying upon its stats have helped me enjoy four new cars, and the parents have done well, too, by it.

Someone seems to have compiled a better list, though, one that uses data from its own activities: warranty-related repairs.

The list, compiled by independent mechanical breakdown insurer, Warranty Direct, found that every car in the Top 10, and an amazing 16 out of the Top 20, were Japanese models. The Honda Accord was at number one.

Models were ranked according to the frequency of failure and based on a database of over 55,000 vehicles. Last year, over 7.5m Britons spent £25bn buying a used car - nearly seven times the number of people who bought a new car privately.

The highest placed non-Japanese model was the British built Jaguar X-Type in 13th with the mighty German automotive industry first appearing at number 25 with the sporty executive Mercedes-Benz SLK according to Warranty Direct.

Used car expert, James Ruppert says:

"Volvo's S/V40 was the highest placed Swedish manufacturer in 15th, with the nation's most popular manufacturer, Ford, delivering its best ranked model, the Ka, in 22nd. Hyundai's Lantra was the pick of the Koreans and the Citroen Xsara was the best-placed French model at number 26.

"Obviously reliability is not the main reason why someone might choose one model over another, but it is still an important consideration for the majority," says Duncan McClure Fisher of Warranty Direct.

"However, used car buyers are considerably more cautious. Japanese models may not be the most charismatic but you're unlikely to spend a great deal of money and time in the garage keeping it on the road."

Unfortunately, there is no list -- yet -- focused on the U.S. market, but I expect Warranty Direct will analyze their data for North America, too.

In the meantime, people like me will continue admiring the styling of the American marques -- love that Mustang, and the Dodge 300 looks sharp -- while we drive home in our Hondas and Acuras.

Posted by Mike Lief at 07:12 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

The role of honor and heroes in the West

There's an interesting interview with James Bowman, the author of Honor: A History, over at National Review. Well worth a read in its entirety, Bowman leaves me wondering if the West has the ability to save itself, given its near-terminal self-loathing nature.

Bowman points to the dearth of heroic tales for kids to read, internalize and emulate, as a symptom -- and a cause -- of our current woes. He notes that the one-time popularity of true-life stories of real men performing awe-inspiring feats of bravery were eclipsed by the rise of fantasy and comic-book superheroes.

I don't want to trivialize Bowman's work -- there's much more to it than what sounds like a facile bit of pop-culture bashing. In the course of the interview, Bowman mentions Major H. F. Fane-Hervey as an example of the kind of hero once celebrated, but now only found on the obituary pages of British papers.

A few key-strokes later and I'd found his story -- and it's as amazing as Bowman says.

In September 1940, a large Italian Army entered Egypt from Libya and advanced on Sidi Barrani where it constructed a forward base. On December 9, the British went on the offensive under the command of General Richard O'Connor.

Major Fane-Hervey, or "Fanny" Hervey, as he was known, led "B" squadron in a dawn attack by two squadrons on the camp at Nibeiwa, south of Sidi Barrani. It was defended by mined approaches, Italian M11 medium tanks, heavy AA guns and more than 120 machine-gun emplacements.

Fane-Hervey's troop broke through and engaged anti-tank and field-guns at point blank range, destroying several of them. By 10 a m, the camp had been captured, together with large quantities of guns, ammunition, lorries, and between 2,000 and 3,000 prisoners. Despite receiving a number of direct hits (one on his third tank), he rallied his troop and, later that morning, led his two remaining tanks into an attack on Tummar where he knocked out more enemy guns.

The next day, Fane-Hervey was once more in the leading troop in the attack on the base at Sidi Barrani. His tank took hits, and was finally immobilized with all radio communications gone. Fane-Hervey ordered his crew to bail out and set his tank on fire to avoid its capture.

Although it seemed that he was now a prisoner, he persuaded the Italians that they were surrounded and the Italian officer surrendered his force. For his part in the two-day action, Fane-Hervey was awarded the MC.

On January 3 1941 Fane-Hervey was again in the leading troop in the attack on the encampment at Bardia. After Phase One of the attack, Fane-Hervey withdrew his battered tank, which had received about 40 direct hits; his commanding officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Jerram, said, "There's my tank, Hugh. You're in Phase Two - off you go."

The C O was more than 6 feet tall and Fane-Hervey just 5ft 6in, but there was no time to adjust the height of the seat and Fane-Hervey went back into battle standing on the ammunition boxes.


On June 20 1942, Fane-Hervey was in action at Tobruk, serving as a major in the 7th Royal Tank Regiment. He was in command of a squadron supporting the 2nd South African Division, when his tank was hit and caught fire.

His gunner was wounded and trapped in the burning tank but Fane-Hervey freed him and threw him clear. According to one witness, German soldiers who saw the incident applauded openly.

Fane-Hervey, wounded and suffering from burns, was taken prisoner. But he and a brother officer escaped from the hospital during the night and made their way through the enemy lines with three other escapers. After eight days' hiding, with little food or water and moving only by night, they tried to steal a truck.

After an exchange of fire in which three Germans were killed, Fane-Hervey and most of his group were re-captured. He was subsequently transferred to Italy, where he was imprisoned. In September 1943, Fane-Hervey, as the senior British officer, was in command of 100 men when the PoW camp at Fontanellato was abandoned after the Italian armistice.

After making arrangements for the accommodation of those who hoped to wait for the arrival of the Allies, he and a Royal Marine headed south. In November, he was recaptured in the area of Monte Cassino, some 10 miles from the Allied lines, and incarcerated in a civilian prison at Frosinone.


The Germans decided to send the PoWs to a camp in Germany, and Fane-Hervey and his comrades were loaded into a freight train. On the way, he badgered the guards into allowing them a hot bath and a Polish refugee was ordered to chop up wood to heat the boiler. Fane-Hervey appropriated the man's hatchet, concealed it in his clothing and used it to hack through the side of the truck. Twenty-four PoWs escaped.

Fane-Hervey made his way to Rome ..., adopted the alias of "Count Paolo Fattorini", and regularly took a box next to the German commander at the opera, on one occasion obtaining his signature on his programme.

His contacts with the English College at the Vatican and with Monsignor O'Flaherty's resistance organisation stood him in good stead and, having obtained an apartment in the abandoned British Embassy, he used his ingenuity to gain access to the sealed wine cellar and was able to celebrate the Christmas of 1943 in some style.

After Rome was liberated in June 1944, Fane-Hervey captured and handed over five Germans to the Allies. He was awarded a Bar to the MC he had won in 1941.

X-Men? Superman? Spiderman?

Major Fane-Hervey's repeated escapes and courage under fire are far more exciting than the fictional exploits of any cartoon character, and today's youth and permanent adolescents are ill served by their ignorance of men like "Fanny" Hervey.

Posted by Mike Lief at 12:14 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack