Bring back the draft?

My brother sent me this link to a recent article in Rolling Stone magazine talking about how it is inevitable that the draft will be reinstituted. He was curious about my views on the matter, so here they are.

To begin, I am opposed to the draft. I believe we have the greatest military in the history of the world, not because of superior technology but because of the dedicated and professional soldiers who make that technology work on the battlefield. Our troops are our edge and our advantage. Their bravery, ingenuity, spirit, and savvy of our warriors is an awesome force to be reckoned with on the battlefield. Someday when the real story of Fallujah is told it will be a testament to the skill and expertise of the soldiers who overwhelmingly routed the enemy in urban warfare. I am not meaning to disparage the draftees from the past, I am just saying that today’s volunteers are better trained and better motivated than at anytime in the long and proud history of our armed forces.

So, I think a draft should be only considered in times of national emergency, and although we are in the midst of a global war against terrorism, the methods we have chosen to fight that war do not necessitate a draft. Yet. That day may come, and when it does, Americans will be called to serve and they will answer that call. Just as they have always done.

A couple of excerpts from the article and my thoughts on them:

The memo duly notes the administration’s aversion to a draft but adds, “Defense manpower officials concede there are critical shortages of military personnel with certain special skills, such as medical personnel, linguists, computer network engineers, etc.” The potentially prohibitive cost of “attracting and retaining such personnel for military service,” the memo adds, has led “some officials to conclude that, while a conventional draft may never be needed, a draft of men and women possessing these critical skills may be warranted in a future crisis.” This new draft, it suggests, could be invoked to meet the needs of both the Pentagon and the Department of Homeland Security.

The memo then proposes, in detail, that the Selective Service be “re-engineered” to cover all Americans – “men and (for the first time) women” – ages eighteen to thirty-four. In addition to name, date of birth and Social Security number, young adults would have to provide the agency with details of their specialized skills on an ongoing basis until they passed out of draft jeopardy at age thirty-five. Testifying before Congress two weeks after the meeting, acting director of Selective Service Lewis Brodsky acknowledged that “consultations with senior Defense manpower officials” have spurred the agency to shift its preparations away from a full-scale, Vietnam-style draft of untrained men “to a draft of smaller numbers of critical-skills personnel.”

Richard Flahavan, spokesman for Selective Service, tells Rolling Stone that preparing for a skills-based draft is “in fact what we have been doing.” For starters, the agency has updated a plan to draft nurses and doctors. But that’s not all. “Our thinking was that if we could run a health-care draft in the future,” Flahavan says, “then with some very slight tinkering we could change that skill to plumbers or linguists or electrical engineers or whatever the military was short.” In other words, if Uncle Sam decides he needs people with your skills, Selective Service has the means to draft you – and quick.

What a great idea. Not only is a draft targeted to meet specific needs an effective tool to maintain full fighting strength and readiness, it will carry much less political baggage than a general draft targeting everyone. This kind of forward thinking really is quite impressive. So, in the circumstances described in the article, I say yes to the draft.

Michael O’Hanlon, a military-manpower scholar at the Brookings Institute, believes a return to a full-blown draft will become “unavoidable” if the United States is forced into another war. “Let’s say North Korea strikes a deal with Al Qaeda to sell them a nuclear weapon or something,” he says. “I frankly don’t see how you could fight two wars at the same time with the all-volunteer approach.” If a second Korean War should break out, the United States has reportedly committed to deploying a force of nearly 700,000 to defend South Korea – almost half of America’s entire military.

Ok, if the nature of the war we are fighting changes and we need to massively increase the size of our military to succeed, a general draft is clearly in order. Again, Americans have always stepped up to the plate when America needed defending and will answer that call again if necessary. It’s cliché but true: freedom is not free, and the rights and privileges we enjoy in this country were bought with the blood of past generations of Americans. So yes, I would support a draft under these circumstances.

Charlie Moskos, a professor of military sociology at Northwestern University, says the volunteer system also limits the political fallout of unpopular wars. “Without a draft, there’s really no antiwar movement,” Moskos says. Nearly sixty percent of Americans believe the war in Iraq was a mistake, he notes, but they have no immediate self-interest in taking to the streets because “we’re willing to pay people to die for us. It doesn’t reflect very well on the character of our society.”

Even military recruiters agree that the only way to persuade average Americans to make long-term sacrifices in war is for the children of the elite to put their lives on the line. In a recent meeting with military recruiters, Moskos discussed the crisis in enlistment. “I asked them would they prefer to have their advertising budget tripled or have Jenna Bush join the Army,” he says. “They unanimously chose the Jenna option.”

One of the few politicians willing to openly advocate a return to the draft is Rep. Charles Rangel, a Democrat from New York, who argues that the current system places an immoral burden on America’s underprivileged. “It shouldn’t be just the poor and the working poor who find their way into harm’s way,” he says. In the days leading up to the Iraq war, Rangel introduced a bill to reinstate the draft – with absolutely no deferments. “If the kids and grandkids of the president and the Cabinet and the Pentagon were vulnerable to going to Iraq, we never would have gone – no question in my mind,” he says. “The closer this thing comes home to Americans, the quicker we’ll be out of Iraq.”

Ah, of course. The left in America does not give a damn about maintaining an effective fighting force to defend America. This is just a cynical attempt to generate popular support for the anti-war movement. That their ideas were roundly rejected at the ballot box does not compel them to rethink their positions on national defense, they just move on to other tactics. Sorry, Rangel, you have been exposed for what you are. I will be kind and just say in response: Idiot.

“It’s so completely unethical and immoral to induce people that have limited education and limited job ability to have to put themselves in harm’s way for ten, twenty or thirty thousand dollars,” Rangel says. “Just how broke do you have to be to take advantage of these incentives?” Seducing soldiers with cold cash also unnerves military commanders. “We must consider the point at which we confuse ‘volunteer to become an American soldier’ with ‘mercenary,’ ” Lt. Gen. James Helmly, the commander of the Army Reserve, wrote in a memo to senior Army leadership in December.

I call bullshit on this. The military is not only a time-honored profession, today’s soldiers are relatively well paid and have some outstanding benefits. Anyone who has spent anytime around our troops quickly realizes that we have some outstanding people at all levels and ranks who are serving because it is a calling. I personally have met soldiers who could make much more money on the outside, but have made a decision to serve their country out of love and patriotism. My awe and honor for them is boundless. Without people like this America would be Canada or God forbid, France. And generation after generation has come forward to answer the call to serve. It is what sets Americans apart. We are different and unique in this respect.

The Reserve, Helmly warns, “is rapidly degenerating into a broken force.” The Army National Guard is also in trouble: It missed its recruitment goals of 56,000 by more than 5,000 in fiscal year 2004 and is already 2,000 soldiers short in fiscal 2005. To keep enough boots on the ground, the Pentagon has stopped asking volunteer soldiers to extend their service – and started demanding it. Using a little-known provision called “stop loss,” the military is forcing reservists and guardsmen to remain on active duty indefinitely. “This is an ‘all-volunteer Army’ with footnotes,” says McPeak. “And it’s the footnotes that are being held in Iraq against their wishes. If that’s not a back-door draft, tell me what is.”

Admittedly, this is a concern. We have overtaxed our vital Reserves and National Guard troops. I think the answer is a larger standing Army. Even John Kerry has called for increasing the size of our military forces, so perhaps we will find a bipartisan solution to this problem.

What I would really like to see is a mandatory two or three year commitment of public service for all Americans between the ages of 18-21. It could be military, police, conservation corps, peace corps, or other needs based activities. They have a similar program here in the ROK. John Kerry was in favor of such a program before he was against it. Perhaps his next flip will bring him back on board.

Anyway, guess it turns out I am not opposed to the draft after all. If it is targeted or if it is part of an overall national service requirement, it could be a good thing. Let’s hope we never need to force people into the military, but should our national defense demand it, I have full confidence that this generation of young Americans will get the job done, just as their ancestors did. It is a great American tradition.

cross posted at The Wide Awakes.

A week of curve balls…

All right, let me tell you about my week in the land of the morning calm. (This is a LONG post. If you get bored, just scroll down to the photos).

Monday was the first of a three day “new arrivals” training program we are encouraged to attend. Monday sucked. The presenters were just going through the motions for the most part, seemed rushed and disinterested, and failed to convey much useful information. The group (about 20 of us) was a mix of military, civilians, and dependents. It was often unclear what information was applicable to the military folks exclusively or whether civilians were also expected to abide by those rules of conduct. Near as I can tell, unlike my military brethren, I am permitted to use off post barbers and I am not required to use the “buddy system” when I go into town. One thing was made very clear, the 1200-0500 curfew applies to everyone here, and it will be strictly enforced. A contractor in Osan was suspended for three weeks without pay for a curfew violation. The streets of Itaewon are crawling with MPs so it is likely you will be caught if you are not on base or in your residence after midnight. The curfew is very controversial amongst the civilians, but I for one will willingly submit to General LaPorte’s authority to impose “force protection” measures as he sees fit. He’s the boss, and I am here to serve, not make demands.

Anyway, except for the female sergeant who barked out her ten minute presentation like we were a bunch of recruits and the EAP guy who was a dead ringer for the counselor on South Park (he actually said “hmmkay” repeatedly) there was not much to keep us entertained.

After Monday’s fiasco I was not looking forward to Tuesday, but I was very much pleasantly surprised. Mr. Lee gave us an introduction to Korean history that was fascinating. He is a history professor at a local university and he was quite passionate about his subject. For centuries the Koreans have lived in the shadow of the big gorilla called China, and have had to fight repeatedly to keep their culture from being assimilated by the Chinese. He talked about the methods China used in Manchuria and Mongolia, and warned that China was a force to be reckoned with in the future. He said the Chinese are a very patient people, but their dream of dominance is being actively pursued. He talked about the Japanese a lot too. Although Asians look similar to many Americans, the cultures of Korea, China and Japan are very unique. Each has its own language and customs that define them as a people, and they have struggled mightily to preserve those identities for thousands of years.

Mr. Lee also talked about the special relationship the Republic of Korea has with the United States. He noted that over 7,000 South Koreans died fighting alongside their American brothers in Vietnam. I never knew that. He said that bonds forged in blood are difficult to sever, but it was very important for each of us to be positive examples as Americans. He talked about how we will leave his country after a couple of years, but the image we leave with the people we meet here will remain with them for a lifetime. I do take that responsibility very seriously. In the short time I have been here I have come to realize that you definitely want the Koreans on your side.

We next learned of some “do’s and don’ts” of Korean manners. Some things are common sense (respect the elderly) and others require changing some habits (using two hands to pour drinks or when paying for something). I am more comfortable in social settings with each passing day and once I master some of the language, I think I will get along quite well with the people here.

Ah, the Korean language. I guess I have a vocabulary of twenty or so words, some useful (hello, thank you) others not so helpful (various body parts and items of clothing). But I am learning, and Koreans are always appreciative of the effort and quite friendly about correcting your pronunciation. We were introduced to the Korean alphabet (Hangul). It has 24 “letters”, 10 vowels and 14 consonants. Interestingly, no capital letters. The Hangul symbols that are so alien now will make sense once I have memorized the alphabet. Each symbol represents a consonant-vowel or consonant-vowel-consonant. Unlike Chinese, where each symbol represents a word (thus requiring learning thousands and thousands of words), once you have memorized the Hangul characters and the sounds they represent, you can read the language. Of course, you won’t know what it means until you can associate those words with the objects they represent, but comparatively speaking, it is not all that difficult. Or so I have been assured. I will soon find out as I have signed up for Korean lessons, and will be attending class twice weekly for the next three months. At last, a social life!

Wednesday was our field trip day. We took a bus from Yongsan garrison into downtown Seoul. Of course it was snowing a bit, but it was warm enough to keep down the accumulation on the streets. We toured a museum, and observed the Blue House, where President Roh keeps residence. It is built at the base of Bugak Mountain, which serves as a natural barrier to missile attacks from North Korea. Well, unless they are armed with nuclear warheads, but that is a recent development. Security around the Blue House is incredibly tight, and photography is strictly limited. I was allowed to take a photo from one location, so here it is:

I will come back on a sunny day and remember to use my zoom next time. Still, you get a sense of what I described. Next, I have a picture of Mr. Lee in front of the north gate of Guyongbokgung Palace, which was the seat of the Choson dynasty.

Yes, I know I have no skill with a camera. Use your imagination!

After our visit to the Blue House, we bussed over to Lotte World. A pretty interesting place. It has a big amusement park (indoor and outdoor), large shopping area, and museums. It reminded me a little of the Mall of America in Minneapolis-St. Paul. We had a very nice guide who led us around the place. Here’s a picture of the entrance:

So, we walked around inside the museum and observed depictions of Korean life from the stone age forward. It was pretty nicely done. I snapped this picture of one of the displays of Palace life during the Choson dynasty:

Then there is this guy, who is not much like the Koreans I have had the good fortune to encounter:

Next we had a traditional Korean lunch at a restaurant inside the museum. They had the short tables, but also some western style tables better suited for us big Yanks. That’s where we were seated. Of course we had two types of ever present kimchi (which I like quite well), soup, and then a big bowl of something (bindaettok?) I can’t recall the name of. Anyway, it had rice and shrimp and sprouts and a raw egg on top and was served in a sizzling bowl (like fajitas). We stirred up all up together, added some soy and hot sauce, and dug in. Well, I didn’t exactly dig in. I have been practicing and practicing with the wooden chopsticks I received as a going away gift, but damn, those metal chopsticks the Koreans prefer are difficult to master. I was disappointed with my performance to say the least. I was able to manage small bites with great effort, but anyone who has seen me eat knows I am not a small bite kinda guy. Well, at least I didn’t have to ask for a fork, so that is some progress I suppose.

After lunch it was on to the amusement park where we were treated to some free rides. We did the jungle river, the monorail, and some of us braved the roller coaster. I had something very strange happen on that ride. When I got near the front of the line, the guy who holds the stick to make sure you are tall enough to ride looks at me and says “how old?” I was dumbfounded so I just stared at him. “How old, how old?” he repeated. I blurted out “49″. He looked doubtful but nodded and walked off. My new American friends were laughing their asses off. I saw a sign completely in Hangul except for the numerals “55″, so I surmise that you can’t ride if you have reached that particular milestone. Looks like I need to buy a bottle of Grecian formula or something. Well, I was so disconcerted that when I was boarding the coaster, I tripped on the seat and knocked the restraining bar of the car ahead of mine into the head of a young Korean girl. She yelped but was gracious to my humble “meean-hamneeda” (sorry). Of course, the restraint locked into the down position, but she was able to squirm under it and into her seat. I sheepishly looked at the Korean teenagers in line who appeared equally bemused and disgusted. So much for my contribution to international good-will. At least the ride was a blast! Here’s a photo of the inside portion of the amusement park:

And here’s one of a vending machine I thought was kind of interesting. You can’t tell in this picture, but the English label on a can of DelMonte orange juice reads “squash orange”. Guess something was lost in translation.

After leaving Lotte World, we took the subway back to Yongsan, including a station change. This was to get us familiar and comfortable with riding the really fine public transportation system in Seoul. It is actually easier than the Metro in DC. You buy a ticket that is used to enter and exit the station. The trains are all color coded and the stops are sequentially numbered which is real handy. They also make station announcements in English. So this may prove to be my preferred mode of travel, as I am not at all comfortable driving with locals quite yet.

Wednesday night I spent with my new friend Howard drinking far too many beers in the hotel bar. He is an amazing man with many talents. He is an actor, artist, writer, swordsman, and all around good guy. He has been a lifesaver for me during my first few weeks in Korea. Sorry to say he is moving to Japan (left tonight). I am really going to miss him. But he sold me his car and gave me his cell phone, so at least I have those tokens to remember him by.

Which brings us to today. I had high hopes for getting much accomplished, but was only partially successful. I caught up with Howard a little after 0800 and we went about our business of doing the car transaction. First I had to buy insurance, so he took me to a place in Itaewon. Unfortunately, the insurance person didn’t get to work until nine, so we spent the time chatting about his Irish ancestors who were pirates in the 18th century. Fascinating. So, we finally got the insurance purchased at a fair price of $353 per year. Then it was off for the vehicle inspection, done by one of the garages on base. Then we had to go to the vehicle registration building at Camp Kim, but it was closed on Thursday until 1300. So I took Howard back to the hotel so he could finish packing, and I went off to get my ration card and pay situation straightened out.

No luck, the ration place and civilian personnel were both closed until 1300 for “sergeant’s time”. Don’t know what the hell is up with that, but seeing as how my unit gets no such benefit, I reported to work. I had a message from my realtor saying she wanted to meet me at 1700, so I figured we would complete the paperwork on my apartment so I could move in next week as planned. Being out of the office for three days meant a full inbox and lots of email accumulation. Plus, the Chief of Staff (a person that must be kept happy) was not satisfied with the results of a big project I had worked on last week, so that elephant is back at the top of my to do list. Let’s just say work wise, things are heating up.

At 1300 Howard and I went back to Camp Kim to finish the vehicle registration process. Went off without much trouble, except we needed an officer to sign the bill of sale. Luckily, there was a Lieutenant waiting to register her car, and she graciously fulfilled that requirement for me. Here’s a photo of the nice Korean soldier who affixed my USFK decal to the window of MY car (a 1992 Mitsubishi Expo).

And here is the former owner of MY car and good friend, Howard:

Oh, all right. Here’s one of me. And yes I know that the great food in this hotel has not been kind to me. I’m working on it. Really. Once I move and stop eating like a king on the government’s dime (and start walking to work) I will be fine. Honest. (In the meantime, I need to learn to use photoshop so I can make that “pe” (stomach) disappear).

When I got back to the office I had an email that my pay situation has been straightened out, so I at least accomplished that. A car and a paycheck. Now for the house.

Well, the realtor met me with the news that there was a “small” problem with the apartment I had chosen. Seems the owner has decided to sell the place rather than rent it to me. I was quite disappointed. Ms. Kim and her trusty companion Ms. Jeong took me back to a place I had previously considered but rejected for reasons of location and lack of furnishings. It is a very nice place. Brand new, which I do like. Modern appliances and plenty spacious. I met the owner and his wife and they were quite pleasant. The man’s zipper was down, and Ms. Kim kept whispering to me to tell him about it. Hell, I didn’t want to embarrass him, but Ms. Kim was insistent, so when she left the room I just pointed at his crotch. I don’t think he understood what I wanted at first, which made me a little nervous that I might cause yet another international incident. Then he got it, blushed, zipped up and mumbled something in Korean that I choose to believe was kind. I know losing face is a bad thing, especially during a financial negotiation. Oh well. He agreed to furnish the place and with the horrible exchange rate that currently exists, I am getting what appears to be a good deal.

The villa is in Hamman-dong, which is just down the road from Itaewon, probably a mile or so farther out than the villa I was supposed to rent. I’m on the second floor and the view is not nearly as nice as I had hoped for, but it is on a slightly better street (not as narrow and steep). There is a great rooftop area set up for party’s: tables, and a kitchen and the view is great. So I guess when the weather is nice I can spend time up there. Anyway, I still get to move next week and that is important to me. I think it will work out fine, but I will have to purchase a TV/DVD, appliances, dishes, linens, towels, etc.

Ok folks, I have worked on this post for over two hours. Hope you found it of interest. Now, I’m off to bed. Big day at work tomorrow, plus I have to be at the housing office at 1500 to sign the lease. I just want to be done with all the BS and settled into a life. Any life but this hotel room experience. Good night!

Busy day

Sorry that I have not given y’all an update recently. Yesterday was a full and interesting day. I will give a full accounting of my activities later today.

This morning I have to go register a car, find out why I didn’t get paid, secure my permenant ration card, meet with my realtor to go over the lease on my apartment, and see the transportion office to find out what’s involved in getting some stuff shipped over here from home. Oh yeah, I need to devote some time to my actual job too.

Things will settle down soon and I will once again be able to regularly provide you with the fascinating and thought provoking insights you have come to expect here at LTG. :)

Freedom of Speech

In today’s civics lesson we will review the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America:

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Freedom of expression consists of the rights to freedom of speech, press, assembly and to petition the government for a redress of grievances, and the implied rights of association and belief. The Supreme Court interprets the extent of the protection afforded to these rights. The First Amendment has been interpreted by the Court as applying to the entire federal government even though it is only expressly applicable to Congress. Furthermore, the Court has interpreted, the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment as protecting the rights in the First Amendment from interference by state governments.

The right to freedom of speech allows individuals to express themselves without interference or constraint by the government. The Supreme Court requires the government to provide substantial justification for the interference with the right of free speech where it attempts to regulate the content of the speech. A less stringent test is applied for content-neutral legislation.

Despite popular misunderstanding the right to freedom of the press guaranteed by the first amendment is not very different from the right to freedom of speech. It allows an individual to express themselves through publication and dissemination. It is part of the constitutional protection of freedom of expression. It does not afford members of the media any special rights or privileges not afforded to citizens in general.

Source: Legal Information Institute, Cornell University

So now that we have re-familiarized ourselves with the Constitution’s free speech protections, we know that Congress can pass no law infringing on of freedom of speech. We also know that the federal and state government can not deny this right to its employees.

Today’s question: What in the U.S. Constitution prohibits a PRIVATE employer from terminating an employee who exercises free speech in a manner that is considered inappropriate by the employer? For example, had CNN chosen to fire Eason Jordan for what he said at Davos, would CNN have been in violation of Jordan’s Constitutional rights?

Correct answer: NO. As several bloggers have recently learned, an employer can and will terminate an employee for the otherwise protected freedom of expression. Which is why we commonly say, free speech isn’t free. In our great nation we can say almost whatever we want, but sometimes those words will carry consequences. As long as it is not the government imposing those consequences, there is nothing illegal about it.

Thank you for your attention. Class dismissed.

The Captain Responds

Now, I don’t have any reason to believe that Ed Morrissey of Captain’s Quarters posted this in response to my commenter Carol, but he may as well have. Oh yeah, the Washington Times wrote an editorial agreeing with Ashley. Makes me proud to know that the big boys have stepped up to the plate in response to this little inter-family squabble….

READ THIS POST!

All I can say is I wish I had said it. Since I didn’t, let me just say “ditto”.

Valentine’s Day message from OBL

Well, I meant to link this earlier but it is technically still V-day in the States, so here it is straight from Osama’s latest video:

“This Feb. 14th on the Western infidels’ calendar, may all Americans receive no valentines from their beloved ones,” bin Laden said. “May the homemade construction-paper mailboxes taped to the desks of the American schoolchildren remain empty, as well. May whomever you ask to ‘bee yours’ tell you to ‘buzz off.’”

Bin Laden called for “romantic humiliation for all Americans of courting and betrothal age.”

“Allah willing, embarrassment and tearful rejection shall rule this day,” bin Laden said. “Paper hearts shall be rent and trod upon, and dreams of love delivered stillborn. Body language shall be misinterpreted, crushes unrequited, and sincere expressions of affection mocked. Invitations to dinner will be rejected, just as Americans have rejected Allah, the one true God.”

There’s more where that came from over at the Onion. It’s all pretty funny.

My Valentine’s Day was yesterday, but it was all very low key. I was in the first day of a mandatory three day “new arrival” orientation, and it was pretty awful for the most part. After work, I did my laundry, ordered bbq ribs from room service, and fell asleep watching “Down with Love” on one of AFN’s movie channels. What can I say, these days my life is just full of romance!

Jack Kelly gets it….

His Sunday column in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette makes the point I have been arguing for over a week now:

A controversy you’ve probably heard about, and one that many people haven’t, illustrate why readers cancel subscriptions.

“It’s fun to shoot some people,” Lt. Gen. James Mattis said at a conference in San Diego on Feb. 1. “You go into Afghanistan, you’ve got guys who slap women around for five years because they didn’t wear a veil. Guys like that ain’t got no manhood left anyway, so it’s a helluva lot of fun to shoot them.”

Mattis’ remarks caused conniption fits throughout the news media. Typical was the Miami Herald, which said Mattis should have been given a tougher punishment than the verbal reprimand he received from the commandant of the Marine Corps. “His callous remarks make light of the terrible toll of war,” the Herald whined.

Mattis — arguably our most effective combat leader — already has been ably defended by my friends Ralph Peters and Mac Owens. But I enthusiastically second his sentiment. If I were still a young Marine, I would take enormous pleasure in personally sending Islamofascists to hell.

Journalists who got their panties twisted over Mattis apparently see nothing newsworthy about having the executive vice president and head of news for CNN accuse the U.S. military of deliberately killing journalists.

Eason Jordan, who resigned Friday, told a panel at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, that “he knew of about 12 journalists who had not only been killed by American troops, but had been targeted as a matter of policy,” said Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., who was there, and demanded proof, which Jordan could not supply.

The Davos confab ended Jan. 30. Many journalists were there. Yet in my column published last Sunday, I became the first “mainstream” journalist to mention Jordan’s remarks.

If what Jordan said were true, it would be a bigger scandal than Abu Ghraib, about which we in the media have made sure you have heard. And if CNN’s top news executive slandered U.S. troops, that also is — or ought to be –news.

And to those who are arguing that Jordan is somehow a “victim” of blogger McCarthyism, I will defer to the response of the folks who write PowerLine, and were among the most aggressive in pursuing this story:

Now that Eason Jordan has resigned, folks are eager to defend him instead of trying to ignore his situation. The defense comes in two forms: first, that he made a mistake but that the mistake should not have cost him his job; second, that he is the victim of McCarthyism, sacked for expressing unpopular views.

The answer to both defenses is essentially the same. Once strong evidence emerged that Jordan had accused the U.S. military of systematically murdering journalists, his legitimate options were the following: (1) he could try to show, through the tape of his remarks, that he made no such accusation, (2) he could present evidence to support his charge, (3) he could retract his charge and apologize, or (4) he could modify his charge and present evidence to support the new charge.

Jordan opted for none of the above. At that point, the question became whether CNN would be led by a monger of vicious and unsupported anti-American rumors. CNN, hoping to remain distinct from Al Jazeera at least for the time being, apparently answered that question in the negative. Where’s the injustice to Jordan in this scenario?

I will concede that Jordan’s right of free speech allows him to make his sick accusations. Will you concede that the exercise of free speech also comes with consequences? Jordan was told to put up or shut up. At the end of the day, CNN told him to shut up. Works for me.

Media bias redux

It truly is a new world. Eason Jordan’s resignation is an incredible victory for the blogosphere as it demonstrates that the MSM can no longer set the agenda on what will be considered news.

Jordan’s exposure as a biased anti-American hack would never have occurred ten years ago. Through the power of the Internet and some incredible first rate reporting by Michele Malkin, Ed Morrissey and many, many others this story became a news event that ultimately could not be ignored. Even now the MSM’s grudging acknowledgement of what occurred at Davos fails to fully report the depth of Jordan’s transgressions over several years, instead spinning the story as Jordan being a victim of bloggers bloodlust. As Captain’s Quarters notes, Howard Kurtz of the Washington Post reports:

Gergen said last night that Jordan’s resignation was “really sad” since he had quickly backed off his original comments. “This is too high a price to pay for someone who has given so much of himself over 20 years. And he’s brought down over a single mistake because people beat up on him in the blogosphere? They went after him because he is a symbol of a network seen as too liberal by some. They saw blood in the water.”

Which of course completely ignores similar remarks Jordan made in Portugal last November:

Eason Jordan, chief news executive at CNN, said there had been only a “limited amount of progress”, despite repeated meetings between news organisations and the US authorities.”

“Actions speak louder than words. The reality is that at least 10 journalists have been killed by the US military, and according to reports I believe to be true journalists have been arrested and tortured by US forces,” Mr Jordan told an audience of news executives at the News Xchange conference in Portugal.

Apparently, the MSM still doesn’t get it, which is sad. But in the end that does not matter. Because in this brave new world in which we live, thousands of bloggers will report the news traditional media wants to hide or ignore. And with each passing day more and more viewers of the networks and major newspapers are discovering that alterantive news sources are available that are proving to be more reliable and fair. Which is not to say that bias does not exist in the blogosphere, but that bias is acknowledeged up front. The traditional media’s insistence on maintaining the charade of impartiality will only serve to diminish what remains of its crediblity.

It is good that Jordan is gone. It is exceptional that the tide has turned in the power struggle for fair and balanced reporting. How many more frauds like Dan Rather and Eason Jordan will it take before the MSM understands the peril of bias?

The big blogs did the heavy lifting here. But all bloggers can take pride and satisfaction from their part in spreading this story and keeping it alive until it had to be reported by the mass media outlets. The pajamadeen have prevailed in this battle. And the taste of victory is sweet indeed.

cross posted at The Wide Awakes

Little Johnny

Ok, I know I have been long on “humor” and short on substance here for awhile, but I just don’t want to think about nukes in the DPRK right now. Instead here is a little Johnny joke I found over at More Sense Than Money. Mrs. LTG is a master of the little Johnny genre and I thought of her when I read this one:

Little Johnny’s neighbors had a baby.
Unfortunately, the baby was born without ears.
When mother and new baby came home from the hospital,
Johnny’s family was invited over to see the baby.

Before they left their house, Little Johnny’s dad had a talk with him and
explained that the baby had no ears. His dad also told him that if he so much as mentioned
anything about the baby’s missing ears or even said the word ears he would get the
spanking of his life when they came back home. Little Johnny told his dad he understood completely.

When Johnny looked in the crib he said, “What a beautiful baby.”
The mother said, “Why, thank you, Little Johnny.”
Johnny said, “He has beautiful little feet and beautiful little hands, a cute little nose and really beautiful eyes.”
“Can he see?” asked Little Johnny.
“Yes”, the mother replied, “we are so thankful; the Doctor said he will have 20/20 vision.”
“That’s great”, said Little Johnny, “cuz he’d be shit outta luck if he needed glasses.”

All right, everyone is now invited to share their favorite little Johnny joke in the comments section. And Carol, I expect at least one from you (it can be an old one, how about your personal favorite?)

Afterthought/disclaimer: This joke is not exactly PC, and I hope no one takes offense. Little Johnny mocks everyone and everything, an equal opportunity offender if you will.

A license to kill….

If I happened to be a dictator, oh, in say, North Korea, I would be nervous right now. Very nervous.

I don’t know where he gets his stuff, but euro yank is always a treasure trove of great material. Now, he might think I’m missing the point, but it works for me! Thanks, from one expat to another.

Itaewon

Yesterday I escaped for awhile into the fantasy world of CivIII. Put a whuppin’ on the Iroquois. They fought bravely but ultimately their infantry was no match for my tanks, not to mention my flawless strategic planning.

I don’t know why it always seems to be the coldest here on days I’m not working. Yesterday was no exception. It was in the low 20s and the wind was blowing. Still, I needed to get out of this hotel room so I took a walk into Itaewon (pronounced E/tay/wawn). Thought I would walk by my apartment. So I get on that twisty narrow road (about as wide as an alley really) and discover that I don’t remember exactly where it is. One thing for sure, after hiking up that hillside and wandering around, I was no longer feeling the cold. Anyway, I never did find the place, but one of the roads led me back down into mainstreet Itaewon, so I decided to just see what was going on there.

First time I had actually been in town when the sun was out. How would I describe it? Hmmm, not exactly charming, but interesting. Like a faded beauty who is wrinkled and sagging, and tries to compensate with too much make-up and skirts too short for a woman her age. Well, maybe that’s harsh. There is an undercurrent of sleaze (it is a military town), but the streets are clean and safe. And the houses and apartments are built up on the hillsides surrounding the town, sort of like in San Francisco. That has some visual appeal. And it is winter. I understand the springtime is especially nice when the cherry trees bloom. So I am just relating a first impression, I will reserve final judgment until I have spent more time here.

Yesterday was the last day of a three day Korean holiday celebrating the Seol-nal, or Lunar New Year. It is a real big deal (like Christmas in the States) and most of the businesses were closed. The street vendors were still there, although there were fewer than normal. So, it was a good opportunity to walk the streets. Did I mention it was cold? Eventually, I needed a restroom but I couldn’t find an open restaurant or bar for awhile (it was early afternoon, bars didn’t open until 4:oo). Ah, Outback Steakhouse was open. I felt obligated to have a beer in exchange for restroom privalages, so I sat at the bar. The waitress brought me a loaf of bread, so I figured I had to order something from the menu, even though I had already eaten at the hotel. The Clam Chowder was actually delicious, and I enjoyed watching a Korean infomercial on the bar TV. I don’t have a clue about Hangul (the written language) nor do I understand much Korean (other than hello and thank-you), so it is really strange being an observor of the surrounding environment under those conditions.

Here are a couple of pictures I took along the way:


Itaewon street scene


A bar called Frog. It was closed but I might have to go check it out someday.


I have no idea what’s up with this. Nazi party headquarters? Not likely, but since I don’t read Hangul I can’t imagine what the nature of this business is.


Another ambiguous sign. I can’t tell if this is a comedy club or a strip joint. I didn’t go in to find out…..


And I will leave you with this Seoul sunset.

Happy Lunar New Year!

Today is the day that Seol-Nal is officially celebrated. It is a 3 day holiday for our Korean employees, and US employees get tomorrow off.

This holiday is a real big deal, most businesses close and lots of people travel out of the city to honor their ancestors. And of course, Koreans are all one year older today!

So, I doubt I will be able to find any collard greens, black-eyed peas, butter beans and cornbread on the menu anywhere, but Happy Lunar New Year to you where ever you may be, and welcome to the year of the Rooster!

Thoughts on the blogging experience

Ok, a little disclaimer. I admit to keeping an eye on my numbers. And I do like knowing people are coming by for a read and hopefully a comment. I went into this almost two months ago, and I did so with low expectations. But I also knew that if my only readers were family and friends, it would still be a great way to stay in touch and document this period of my life.

And I am having a great time blogging. I post things that I find interesting. Selfish or not, that really is my standard. Obviously, a lot of the stuff I write or link to is not for everyone. So if at times I bore you, I hope I keep things varied enough that you will come back another day. Or not if my view of interesting is something that rarely appeals to you. I don’t know how I would catergorize this blog or its readers, but I appreciate you all. If I attract a larger audience over time that would be great. If it remains just “us”, hey, that’s cool too. Sometimes it’s not the destination that matters, it’s the ride.

So, last week I got linked for the first time by the blogfather himself, Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit fame. It was actually a “sub” link (an update to a previous post, which does not generate the traffic of a “unique” link.) For those who don’t know, Glenn gets 200,000 readers a day on average, I am somewhere just over 100 (a little rodent in ecosystem). Take a look at this chart for an idea of what even a sub link from Glenn will do:

Pretty amazing, huh? Anyway, it is truly an honor to be linked by anyone, whether or not it generates a spike in traffic. It means someone likes something you posted well enough that they are willing to send people your way to check it out. That’s the ultimate compliment in the blog game.

So what I guess I meant to say when I started this post is thank you all. Sincerely.

A portrait in bias

Today I wanted to briefly share my thoughts on media bias. Not the obvious kind we see from the likes of Dan Rather or Bill Moyers. The examples are countless and displayed on a daily basis, so I’m not going to rant about the liberal slant in the way news is reported. If you haven’t figured that out by now you likely aren’t the type of person who cares about the truth. And if you have, then you have found other resources to fact check what we read in our newspapers.

What is more insidious is the liberal bias in what the MSM chooses to call news, and just as importantly, their bias in what they choose not to report.

Exhibit 1: The media feeding frenzy over the remarks of LT GENERAL James Mattis. Yes, this warrior had the audacity to say killing the bad guys was fun. Every major news organization in the US (and throughout the world) jumped all over this “story”. OK, maybe it was not a delicate or PC thing to say. And maybe the harsh truth of the General’s feelings towards our enemies was shocking to some. Was it news? If so, did it warrant the level of coverage the media devoted to the story?

Exhibit 2: The Eason Jordan affair. “CNN’s top news executive, said last week at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, that the U.S. military had killed a dozen journalists in Iraq, and that they had been deliberately targeted. When challenged, Mr. Jordan could provide no evidence to support the charge, and subsequently lied about having made it, though the record shows he had made a similar charge a few months before, and also earlier had falsely accused the Israeli military of targeting journalists.”

Now that is news. If true, the press should be all over this story. A huge scandal. Mr. Jordan told a conference of world leaders that American soldiers had engaged in the systematic murder of journalists. Where is the outrage? Where are the Congressional investigations? This goes far beyond mere “torture”.

Oh wait a minute. Jordan has no evidence to support his scurrilous claims. And that is news too. Here we have the head of a major news organization disparaging our troops with false accusations, and for over a week the MSM has refused to report the story. As amazing as it is disgusting.

Well, the story will break soon. And I predict Eason Jordan is toast. But if not for the blogosphere, the MSM would have never exposed one of their own.

A soldier says he finds fun in killing the scum we are fighting. The press is outraged. A news executive blantantly lies when he calls our soldiers murderers. *chirp* *chirp* That’s the bias I’m talking about. It is sick and it is wrong.

“Good people sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.”

A special thanks to some of the many bloggers who have taken the lead to make sure this outrage does not stand:

Captain’s Quarters
PowerLine
LeShawn Barber

Hat Tip to: Cao’s Blog
and Mudville Gazette

cross posted at The Wide Awakes

Super Bowl ads

Ok, I missed the Super Bowl this year. Came on during working hours here Monday morning, and things are just too busy to get away. Sounds like it was a great game. NIF has kindly posted a link to the commercials so I can keep up with that particular piece of Americana. Haven’t watched them all yet, but I did enjoy the Anheuser-Busch “Thanking the Troops” spot. You can find it (and others) here.

I was at the airport in New Orleans last year and something very similar happened. I remember hearing all the commotion and figured some celebrity had arrived. Then I turned around and saw a small group of soldiers arriving in the terminal. The mixture of astonishment, pride, and happiness on their faces was priceless. It was a great moment.

When Johnny comes marching home again,
Hurrah! Hurrah!
We’ll give him a hearty welcome then,
Hurrah! Hurrah!
The men will cheer, the boys will shout,
The ladies they will all turn out,
And we’ll all feel gay
When Johnny comes marching home.

The old church bells will peal with joy,
Hurrah! Hurrah!
To welcome home our darling boy,
Hurrah! Hurrah!
The village lads and lassies say
With roses they will strew the way,
And we’ll all feel gay
When Johnny comes marching home.

Get ready for the Jubilee,
Hurrah! Hurrah!
We’ll give the hero three times three,
Hurrah! Hurrah!
The laurel wreath is ready now
To place upon his loyal brow,
And we’ll all feel gay
When Johnny comes marching home.

Let love and friendship on that day,
Hurrah! Hurrah!
Their choicest treasures then display,
Hurrah! Hurrah!
And let each one perform some part
To fill with joy the warrior’s heart,
And we’ll all feel gay
When Johnny comes marching home.

American folk song, circa 1863

Meanwhile, in Afghanistan

Arthur Chrenkoff has his latest comprehensive report from Afghanistan. Since only bad news is “news” in America, you likely have missed all the good that is being accomplished there. Well, now you can read all about here. Of course my favorite part talks about what our soldiers are up to these days:

THE COALITION TROOPS: Most of the time it’s providing security; often it’s helping to rebuild the country; always it’s an effort to make lives better in many ways, big and small. Recently, the troops have been instrumental in enabling pilgrims from Afghanistan to attend their annual pilgrimage to Mecca: “Scores of commercial flights from four locations in Afghanistan – Kabul, Kandahar, Mazar-e-Sharif and Herat – have been coordinated in some way or another by Air Force, Army and Marine personnel. [Marine Maj. John] Forti said the number of pilgrims processed through the four sites totals 26,387, up by nearly 2,000 from 2004. Some Afghans even came from refugee camps in Pakistan. The U.S. military provided broad assistance, from security and accommodations in Kandahar to fire trucks in Herat.”

The troops are also active in the reconstruction effort. These units have been working throughout the sixteen provinces of eastern Afghanistan:

“While continuing small-scale projects, the command is committed to initiating what [Army Col. Gary] Cheek called ‘capacity-building projects’ — creating road networks, revitalizing downtown areas, establishing irrigation and water systems, and bolstering economic infrastructure. ‘We are working with each of our provincial governors to develop five-year reconstruction plans that will set a course for reconstruction in each province,’ he said. ‘We will also continue to equip and train Afghan police forces to improve the security posture across the region.’

“Since June, Cheek said, eight provincial reconstruction teams within Regional Command East have spent more than $24.8 million on reconstruction projects. These projects have focused on education, water and sanitation, healthcare and governance, he said. They included full renovation of the Ghazni Public Health Directorate Civil Hospital, which serves an estimated 1.5 million people, and the nearly completed Matun electric grid project in Khost province, Cheek said. By late February, the Matun project will provide electricity to some 85,000 residents.

“Other successes included purchasing 110 police vehicles and 7,260 police uniforms, facilitating the first meeting of the Ghazni Women’s Council, and progress in promoting winter wheat and other crops in lieu of poppies.”

Hillary, I know you are out there somewhere doing good things. When you get a minute, write your daddy. We love you and miss you. Be strong, be safe.

Via Vodka Pundit

UPDATE: Carol sent me this picture of Hillary. She was the maid of honor for Ashley’s wedding last August. And deployed to Afghanistan two days later.