Expecting a lot from Alito

Harriet didn't last too long, but stayed around much longer than many conservatives would have liked. President Bush has made a new nomination, choosing an appellate court judge with a history of constitutional decisions to his record as his replacement nominee.

The name Alito was not on the list most pundits used when suggesting a replacement for Justice O'Connor, but still seems to have the jusicial philosophy that most of the conservative movement thought that they would be getting from a Bush appointee. Now, instead of an intra-party fracas, we can finally get down to business of embarassing the Donky Party for their maleable document mentality when it comes to the Constitution.

I am actually looking forward to the judiciary hearings. Though I believe that Sen Specter should not have been made chairman of the committee, I still think that he will do what he can to keep the democrats on topic, which is about as easy as herding cats through a dog show. Look to the democrats to waste most of their time making long speeches that lead to a particular response from the nominee. Also expect the Republicans to throw nice fluffy softball questions that allow the nominee to elucidite his opinions. Expect a lot of little battles over certain decisions that Alito has made during his tenure as a judge. In the end, it doesn't really matter.

The democrats can't risk a floor fight with the Republicans over a fillibuster. They seem to think that they have a chance at retaking the Senate and maybe the House of Representatives in the 2006 elections, but to be seen as holding up the business of Congress and the judiciary with a losing fight will only weaken them. The more people see the Democrats as the party of the hissy fit, the less appealing they will be to most voters.


Lying in State

Rosa Parks' body will lie in state at the Capitol Rotunda.

I think that this is a fitting tribute for the woman who sparked the Civil Rights movement, though not everybody agrees.

Some peopole complain that htis is setting the bar too low for precedent for such an honor, though this is doesn't seem too much of a problem to me. I don't expect to see Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton or or John Kerry given the same honor. This is a rare event, and will remain reserved for true heroes of the republic and for presidents.

Rosa Parks might not have done an extraordinary thing by keeping her seat on the front of the buys, but that simple act sparked a great movement. She might have been exploited by the NAACP and others to become a symbol of oppression, but she remained dignified in the situation and throughout her life. She was an unassuming person and accepted the notoriety heaped upon her humbly. She is a true example of what Americans can do when they grasp at the opportunities afforded them. She helped others to a better life, and I don't know whether she was able to parlay the fame of the movement into a pile of money, but I get the sense that she didn't. (I think I would have preferred if she had.) Once the goals of the movement were accomplished, she went back to her private life and lived quietly outside of the limelight.

The only regret I have about Rosa Parks lying in state in the Capitol Rotunda is that I will not have an opportunity to show my respects there.

Lie to Me

Lewis "Scooter" Libby was indicted for perjury and lying to investigators.

The point of the investigation was to find out if any laws were broken in revealing a covert CIA agent's name to the press. Apparently the answer to that question was no, because there were no indictments for that. But they were able to indict Libby.

I don't know what evidence they have against Libby, but I do hope that the charges are false. The fact that he was possibly covering up something that wasn't even a crime is very sad. One would think that he would have been able to take the 5th or get thorough testimony without having to lie about anything.

It has been pretty clear from the start that although outing a CIA agent is a terrible thing, it was not illegal in that instance, and it actually did help to put straight misinformation that the woman's husband was spreading. But that is not an excuse for revealing her identity. Not knowing that she was supposed to be covert does mitigate the incident, and definitely keeps all parties on the right side of at least the law.

But this much was already known when the grand jury was seated, so one is wondering why Libby thought it necessary to lie (if he really did.) Who was he trying to protect and what else is going on that we don't know about. If he was actually lying during his grand jury testimony, then he does desrve to be punished for that. I am not sure about ther obstruction of justice, since the grand jury presumably already knows the truth or they would not have known what Libby was lying about, and they still didn't get any other idictments. This pretty much tells me that even if Libby had been truthful the entire time, there would not have been any other indictments, which means that Libby did not really obstruct justice.

Libby's lawyer has already stated that he is totally innocent of all charges and will fight them, but I see a plea bargain in the future. If that happens, it will be really difficult to find out what really happened in the imroglio.


2000 OR SO

It was officially announced on Tuesday.

The vote count for the nationwide referendum on ratifying the Iraqi Coinstitution is complete, and the measure has passed. The citizens of Iraq now have a structure for their democracy, and a vote to replace their interim government with a pemanent one will take place in December. Once that vote is complete, the first item of business will ber to amend the Constitution they just approved.

This might seem laughable but it is not unprecedented that a new constitution won its ratification only because of promises to make immediate changes if it were passed. A good example of this can be found by looking to New York City circa 1789.

The new Iraqi constitution has its problems. Though it does sy many of the right things about religious and other freedoms, it also pays too much homage to sharia law. It sets up a democratic government for the Iraqi people, but this is probably not a Constitution I would prefer to live under. The point of the matter is that I don't have to live under it. The people who do have voted overwhelmingly to pass it, and that is another milepost along Iraq's road to freedom.

I am truly amazed at how muich Iraq has progresses in such a short time. That country could have a very bright future, and might just halp democracy illuminate the entire region.

Rarely, however, is progress acheived withyout a cost. On the same day that the Iraqi Constitutions ratificatrion was announced, the AP reported that the number of U. S. servicemembers to die in Iraq had reached 2,000. The Department of Defense puts the number slightly lower, but this did not sop many opponents of the war to bemoan the cost in human life. The problem with them is that the number is their only argument that the operation is a failure.
Too many Iraqis now have their freedom, and we continue to advance democracy in the country. We cannot pull out of there now without the strong possibility of a breakdown in the area, which would have much more dire consequences for the U. S. than continuing the work until we are certain that the new way for Iraq has taken root and the country can take care of itself without our assistance.


Tips on Happiness part IV

Last time that I delved into this topic, I tried to establish that you will be much happier if you don't take offense too easily. This time we will flip that coin over.

If you want to be happy, you should try not to give offense to others. I am not saying that you should be all PC all the time, but you should treat others with a certain modicum of respect. Don't use offensive language, don't use racial epithets, don't use ethnic slurs. Do speak your mind honestly, but defend your thoughts with at least a little bit of logic and try not to belittle people who are attempting the same.

How does treating others respectfully make you happier? It helps you to avoid conflict, and assists in your relations with others. It makes life a lot easier to navigate if you don't go out of your way to find trouble, and you will find that others are a lot more likely to be helpful if you treat them nicely, and God knows that we all have times when we can use all the help we can get.

A couple of caveats here. Respect means treating other people as they should be treated, which doesn't necessarily mean how they want to be treated. As an old platoon sergeant used to be fond of saying, (paraphrased to avoid vulgar language) If a guy is an excrement bucket, I'm gonna treat him like an excrement bucket. Some people are deserving of derision and contempt, but these people are much better left ignored if possible.

Yes, people, the Golden Rule is a good starting point on the road to happiness.


Warranted? I Think Not

Spanish Judge Santiago Pedraz issued warrants for the arrests of three US soldiers on Tuesday. SGT Shawn Gibson, CPT Philip Wolford and LTC Philip de Camp are under investigation for returning fire at an enemy combatant firing from the Hotel Palestine in Baghdad during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Their response to this enemy action resulted in the death of two cameramen, Spaniard Jose Couso of Telecino and Ukranian Taras Protsyuk of Reuters.

So far, the soldiers have been cleared of any wrongdoing by two seperate Pentagon investigations, and one conducted by an organization called the Committee to Protect Jounalists. The Spanish National Court has claimed jurisdiction in the case despite the fact that the incident took place in Iraq during military operations conducted by an international coalition because one of those killed was a Spaniard.

The soldiers could be investigated for murder, which could carry a sentance of 15-20 years in prison. I have seen some reports that the three soldiers were members of the same tank crew, but I believe the reports that state that Gibson was the commander of the tank that actually fired the round, Wolford his company commander and de Camp their battalion commander. This seems more in line with normal manning procedures.

I have also seen reports that stated it is very highly unlikely that the soldiers would ever be extradited. The warrant could only be served in Spain, not the greater European Union.

The fact of the matter is that these were soldiers in battle. They got shot at by people in the Hotel Palestine, and they returned fire. It is the the policy of the United States and an integral part of its military operating procedures and training to do all that is possible to avoid harm to non-combatants, but sometimes that is not possible. Especially when the non-combatants purposely insinuate themselves into the battle. The fact that Jose Couso and Taras Protsyuk were killed is unfortunate, but it is a reality of war that civilians somtimes are are regretably victimized.

That does not make it criminal.

But pressure on the Spanish National Court by the family of Jose Couso have instigated the investigation, and kept pressure on the Pedraz, who is an investigative magistrate, to come up with something. In Europe, an investigative magistrate acts more like a a grand jury would in the U.S. than what we would envision when we use the word "judge." He said that he issued the warrants because of a lack of cooperation from authorities in the U.S.

It is my belief that there should be absolutely no cooperation from any agency of the U.S. government of any kind in this investigation. There are several reasons for this. The United States must protect its own sovereignty, and to subject its citizens to justice from other governments would violate that. We cannot consider ourselves an independant nation if we accede to the whims of foreign powers. We also should not encourage other countries to overstep their rightful powers. If a Spanish tourist gets mugged in New York City, are we to send his assailant to Barcelona for trial? No. It is also vital that we protect the soldiers who are fighting our wars. This does not mean that we are to ignore true malfeasance, but we do need to allow members of our military to do their job without worrying that every time they pull the trigger at a muzzle flash could result in rotting away in a foreign jail.

The State Department needs to make a strong statement of support for the United States by demanding that these baseless warrants be rescinded immediately.


Army Recruitment Down

The U.S. Army has fallen short on its recruitment goals for fiscal year 2005 by about 7,000 soldiers, attaining about 91% of its goal for the year. There are obviously many reasons for this, among them the healthy economy and concerns about going to war.

Contrast this with the re-enlistment levels of those who are already in the war. The army has been able to re-enlist a far greater number in the past year than they were expecting, with deployed units leading the way in re-enlistments. Why is this? Possible reasons include the fact that those who are already serving are more likely to be those with the sense of duty to country that one would expect to enlist. It could be that soldiers enjoy the comaradarie and sense of adventure. It could be the benefits. It makes sense that deployed units would have more re-ups for two simple reasons; one, these are the people who see what a great thing we are doing for the people of Afghanistan and Iraq, and two, any re-enlistment bonus they are entitled to is tax-free if received while deployed.

I have been in the army for over fifteen years now, though I must come out up front and say that I have never had a weapon fired at me or been in the vicinity of any explosive intended to take life, (accidents, however, are another matter.) I have been to places that most Americans couldn't find on a map, and have seen the aftermath of warfare, but have not so far been a participant. I mention this because it matters, in that my service might not have so far been typical, but I do want to say that being in the army has given me a great life. I have had opportunities to do things and go places that most people only dream about, even if some of those dreams are nightmares. I have met a wide variety of people, and been exposed to cultures that I would not even be aware of without my deployments.

I have had people tell me in broken English how much they appreciate what America has done for them. I have had my chest swell with pride at the recognition I received simply for being born in America. True, I have seen the reverse of that coin too, but the odds of this coin flip landing on the obverse are definitely greater than 50%.

If you know of anyone who is thinking about joining me in the Army, or one of my brothers in the Marines or Navy, or entering my father's Air Force, (yes, we have wonderful times at family gatherings) please do what you can to encourage them. The services are not government jobs programs for the unemployable. Most of those I work with would have no problem working in the civilian sector. (This is probably a good time to point out that both of my brothers are rocket scientists.) Most of them stay in the service because they enjoy what they do.

And they realize that it is a job well worth doing.


On the Dock

Saddam on Trial

Saddam Hussein is finally facing justice for the massacre of almost 150 people after a failed assasination attempt. Saddam and seven others have been charged with murder, torture and wrongful imprisonment charges resulting from the 1982 killing of 148 men, women and children in Dujail. After a reading of the charges all defendants entered pleas of not guilty.

This is the first of what could prove to be many trials involving Hussein for crimes against humanity while he was the dictator of Iraq. At the hearing, Saddam denied that legitimacy of the tribunal, and claimed that he was still legally president of Iraq, thus immune from any prosecution.

Some people, many of whom are even considered to be "human rights activists", have stated that this trial is a sham and should not go on. They doubt the ability of the new Iraqi government to give a fair trial and have suggested that any trial should be held by an international tribunal at the world court. This thinking is wrong.

First of all, crimes against humanity trials in the Hague tend to become circuses that have much more to do with appearances of fairness than justice. They also go on too long and give the defendants too much of a podium to filibuster and run out on tangents. (Can you say "Milosovic"?)

More importantly, this trial is an important step in returning Iraq to the world community. They need to show that the rule of law will be followed, and there is no better way to accomplish this than to have a high-profile trial in which justice is the main goal. This does mean that the judges have to ensure that the trial is fair- Saddam and his henchmen need to be able to defend themselves by bringing forth witnesses and having their arguments considered. There cannot be any manufactured evidence allowed at the trial, and the trail must remain focused on the events surrounding the Dujail events and not run off into Saddam's other evil doings.

It is also vital that the Iraqi people see what type of a court system they can expect under the new constitution. The people of the greater middle east also need to see what the rule of law in a democracy can mean, and they need to see that it is Arab people that sit in judgement of the Arab accused, and not some made-up tribunal in a foreign land.

I fully expect to see Saddam convicted, and receive the full measure of justice. I also fully expect that there will be many who bemoan the fact that he is swinging from the end of a rope, but it is undeniable that he will be fairly judged, which is a hell of a lot better than the people of Dujail were treated.


Ink It Approved

This is premature, but all early indications lead me to be optimistic about the Iraqi referendum. It appears that the Constitution has gotten enough "Yes" votes to carry it and make it binding. Next up is the campaigning for the new government and the vote in December. I am truly excited by these events, but not without some trepidation. Being that the document will not affect me personally, I have not taken the time to read it through, but I have seen enough Supreme Court decisions in the US to realize that what a Constitution says and how it is interpreted are not always the same thing.

Some of the articles I have heard about are encouraging, but how stridently do we really expect the Iraqi people to enforce provisions for the free exercise of religion? An approved Constitution is a giant step for democracy in Iraq, but it is far from the end of the struggle to achieve a true Constitutional rule. Just as the storming of the Bastille and the calls for "Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite" led to a sawed off Corsican rampaging across Europe, this expiriment in the Middle East could lead to greater strife later, if it is not properly nurtured by Iraqis who believe in the rule of law and armed forces (American, coalition and Iraqi) that will protect the people by continuing the fight against the terrorist thugs that are trying to sabotage the new government.

This is a good start, but the finish line is still a great distance away. We need to continue our support for the democracy movement, which means that we cannot abandon the people of Iraq by pulling our forces out yet. It might sound trite and simplistic, but for Iraq to be considered a success, we really must "Stay the course."

Bring on the World

The World Series, that is. What an amazing performance the White Sox pitchers put on this week. I know for most, that will probably get lost in some of the controversies over the umpiring (which was well below par) but the White Sox starting pitchers were just incredible. Congratulations to the team (none of whom, I am quite sure, will ever read this) and good luck in the next series.


Caveat Emptor

Last month, my wife convinced me that it would not be such a bad idea to get our son a hamster for his birthday, and after a little bit of convincing, I agreed. A few days before his birthday, my wife went to the pet store to check them out, and saw one available that seemed to be a bit more active than the others. She came home to tell me about it, so and went back to get it the day before the big day.

Needless to say, my son was overjoyed by the gift, (the Good Puppy and the Fur-Covered Demon were a bit disappointed to find out it was another pet and not a snack) and we set up a terrarium in his room.

Now we come to the real point of this story. If any of you ever find yourself in a position in which you are going to buy a hamster, you might want to ensure that said hamster is not pregnant at time of purchase. It was six days later that the population of the terrarium jumped from 1 to 8. The hamsterlings are all healthy and doing well, but are growing quickly and we will need to take measures to relocate some of them soon.

What Will You Remember?

Millons More Upstaged by 15

Yesterday, the Nation of Islam, Louis Farrakhan's organization, held a rally in DC to help launch the millions more movement, with speakers attending from Cornell West to Al Sharpton, Russell Simmons and Congressional Black Caucus leader Rep. Mel Watts. Have you heard anything about this? No?

Maybe it's because the only news footage you've seen of a large group of African-Americans was that of the rioters in Toledo. There was looting, vandalism and random violence, all because a group of 15 clowns wanted to dress up and chant stupid slogans. Right now there are rumors that the violence was spurred on by anarchists and gang members in the counter-protest crowd, but it is still a sad state of affairs that an American city because people don't know how to handle themselves.

So a bunch of morons want to feel good about themselves by speaking bad about other groups, in the long run it doesn't really matter that much. There were only 15 of them, it wasn't exactly a threatening group. Counter-protests seemed like a reasonable idea, especially since they far outnumbered the idiots sporting swastikas, but once things turned violent and out of control, the Nazis' protest had more than acheived its aims. What should have been a local display that was denounced by community leaders and the local media suddenly became fodder for the national media, with the added bonus of showing African-Americans in a particularly dim light.

The most recognizable leaders of the African-American community were on the Mall in Washington demonstrating peacefully and trying to effect change in the political process as it should be done, (even if some of what they were saying was as full of hate and racism as anything the Nazis in Toledo were spouting), and thousands attended to show their support for the movement. It seems that they wasted their time. The people they most need to convince didn't see it. They were too busy looking at video of a riot in Toledo and wondering "What is wrong with these people?"


To the Polls

Get the India ink ready, Ahmed. The voters are coming.

In just a matter of hours, the people of Iraq are going to vote for the ratification of their constitution. This is an important day in the democratic process, but the outcome of the vote is not vital. From the transitional constitution, a translation of the law now governing the Iraqi ratification election.

Article 61 [Deadlines]
(A) The National Assembly shall write the draft of the permanent
constitution by no later than 15 August 2005.
(B) The draft permanent constitution shall be presented to the Iraqi people
for approval in a general referendum to be held no later than 15 October 2005.
In the period leading up to the referendum, the draft constitution shall be
published and widely distributed to encourage a public debate about it among the
(C) The general referendum will be successful and the draft constitution
ratified if a majority of the voters in Iraq approve and if two-thirds of the
voters in three or more governorates do not reject it.

If the constitution is approved, there will be some coverage in the MSM about it. There will be a few mentions of it on the 24 hour news channels and a guest or two saying what a wonderful development this is, but the coverage will soon be overshadowed by Bush approval ratings poll numbers and the fact that we have had soldiers killed there. For the Iraqis it will mean:

(D) If the permanent constitution is approved in the referendum, elections for a permanent government shall be held no later than 15 December 2005 and the new government shall assume office no later than 31 December 2005.

If the measure is defeated, it will result in wall to wall coverage
of the story, with all manner of commentators filling up the television screens
trying to explain how this is a major defeat for Bush and the democratic process
in Iraq.

Don't let them fool you. Though a no vote is quite possible, in fact, almost guaranteed with the very high standard of approval for the document, it is not the end of the world, the end of the process or the first indication of a total breakdown of the Iraqi government. Yes, it will be a great disappointment to many people, especially those who worked so hard trying to cobble this thing together, but there are too many Iraqis, Shia, Kurd and yes, even Sunni, who believe in the process too much to let a setback be the end of it. But it has already been provided for. Going back to the interim constitution;

(E) If the referendum rejects the draft permanent constitution, the National Assembly shall be dissolved. Elections for a new National Assembly shall be
held no later than 15 December 2005. The new National Assembly and new Iraqi
Transitional Government shall then assume office no later than 31 December
2005, and shall continue to operate under this Law, except that the final
deadlines for preparing a new draft may be changed to make it possible to
draft a permanent constitution within a period not to exceed one year. The
new National Assembly shall be entrusted with writing another draft
permanent constitution.

What should be the reaction to a no vote? First of all, it needs to be stressed that the activities of the terrorists have no bearing on the vote. Anybody who so much as implies otherwise should be held in contempt. The very fact that the Iraqi people show up at the polls to cast their ballot is a not only a rejection of the terrorists, but an act of defiance against all they stand for. To say that the terrorists who did not have the ability to frighten people away from the polling places scared them into voting against the constitution is ridiculous.

Is it a defeat for Bush? I don't think so. Bush had nothing to do with the writing of this constitution, (except for setting the conditions that allowed for it to be written in the first place), and whether it passes or is rejected is no commentary on him or his administration. I am sure that he will be disappointed by a rejection, but it does not reflect upon him.

Is it a defeat for the democratic process? What kind of alternate reality does one have to occupy to think that deferring to the results of a vote is a defeat for democracy? Remove the tinfoil from your head and have a burger. All those vegetables are obviously not providing your grey matter with enough nutrition. it is not the defeat of democracy, but the implementation of it. The Iraqis will get a chance to go back to the polls and try it again.

I am excited about the Iraqis heading to the voting booths, and am very hopeful that they will have an approved Constitution at the end of the day. It will probably be some time before the results are known and released. Until then, I can only hope for the best, and pray that God protect the American soldiers that are providing the necessary security for those going to the polls and freely expressing their desires.


100 Years

This post is inspired by the song "100 Years" by Blues Traveler. If you don't already own every Blues Traveler album, you need to go get them if it does not cause your financial ruin and you actually have the means to play them. (It would just be silly to buy CD's if you don't have a CD player.)

The gist of the song is that nothing we do today will mean anything to anybody 100 years from now, and generally stated that is true. Not many people get to be Leonidas at Thermopolae, Ceasar at the Rubicon, Jesus at Gethsemane, Luther in Worms, Columbus at Isobella's court, or Washington at- take your pick, when the actions you take and the decisions you make will change the course of world history. Most of what we do is rather mundane and affects nobody outside our immediate circle of friends and relations and even then generally does not cause much of a ripple in the waters of life.

There are things, however, that we do have influence over that do matter. Currently my country is engaged in what is popularly called the Global War on Terror, better known to others as Haliburton Stock Support. The current focus of the war is on the Iraqi battlefield, and is being fought not only with bullets and bombs, but with pens and ideas. In two days, the people of Iraq will be heading back to the polling places, defying terrorist thugs, to vote on the new Constitution. Make no mistake, ladies and gentlemen, this could well be one of the history changing moments, but it will take more than the votes of the Iraqi people to pull it off. If the Constitution is approved, it will still take a great amount of assistance from the U.S. and its coalition partners to ensure that Iraq is able to put it into practice despite the violent wishes of foreign terrorists and a minority of home-grown thugs.

If the proposition fails, it requires an even greater act of will to ensure that the parties peacefully reconcile their philosophical and political differences and the desire of different groups to wield authority into a constitution that can be accepted by a broad consensus. It will be a great test on our belief in democracy and the right of self-determination, but one that we must pass.

There is no guarantee that even a successful outcome to establishing a democratic government in Iraq will truly lead to changes throughout the region, but doing so will be the most significant historic event since Ronald Reagan stood in Berlin and demanded, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall."


Tips on Happiness part III

So, there is a difference being having pleasure and being happy. So how does one become happy?

It helps to have a rhino hide. Being thin skinned is definitely a disadvantage to attaining happiness. If you are going to build up blood pressure every time somebody says something silly or doesn't give you all the respect you feel you deserve, you are going to be in for a lot of miserable moments. There are some offenses that must be addressed, but the fact that somebody says deaf instead of hearing-impared, or calls you a midget instead of vertically challenged, or uses the term liberal instead of sanity-free is really no reason to get your entire support group together to picket his grocery store. Just because somebody says Merry Christams to you does not mean that they want you to turn your back on Wicca and join a monestary.

Think about it. Does the sleight really matter? Usually, it doesn't. Does it affect your life? Does it prevent you from working or pursuing your leisure activities or interfere with your family life? Was it intended to be offensive? Most of the things we get upset about leave other people wondering what is wrong with us.

Getting upset too easily gets you nowhere, and it takes away some of the control you have over your own life. If the opinions and attitudes of others can have such an affect on you, then you in some ways become their marrionette, jumping whenever they pull your strings. Mellow out a bit and allow others to think what they want.

Remember, the First Amendment gives others the right to free speech, which, by extension, means that you will most likely be offended from time to time. The best way to deal with it is to let the insults fall to the wayside and go on with your life.

Murphy's Laws of Armor

For those of you who don't know, Murphy was a great philosopher, and came up with his "Law" after a great amount of study into the human condition. Murphy's Law is stated in its simplest form as, "Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong." It sounds simplistic, but is really wonderfully complex. Of course, since its first inception, there have been many addendums, refinements and corrolaries to the original law to cover a vast array of situations and different occupations and hobbies. Clicking on the title of this post links to a corrolary set for tankers. It is a pdf link from Armor Magazine, so you probably need Adobe to read it.

When they really happen to you, they aren't all that funny.

UPDATE: Realizing that the stated laws make use of acronyms and military jargon that might be unfamiliar to some, here is a list of translations/explenations:

1: REDCON 1- Ready Condition 1, fully prepared to begin operations.

13: NMC- Non-Mission Capable, i.e. broken.
AO- Area of Operations, the part of the map you are concerned with.

19: TABLE VIII- Tank gunnery qualification table, where tank crews demonstrate their ability to hit enemy targets.

20: XO- Executive Officer- The second in charge of a unit, and the officer responsible for reporting to higher headquartes the maintenance status of equipment.
PAC- Powerpack, the engine/transmission of the tank.
DEADLINES- Faults on a peice of equipment that classifies it as NMC.
FMC- Fully mission Capable- In good (and we use the term loosely) working order.

25: FIRING CIRCUIT TEST- A means of verifying that the gun will go boom when you pull the trigger.

26: SABOT- A type of tank ammunition that is used against heavily armored vehicles.

27: NBC- Nuclear, Biological and Chemical
NBC TYPE- A soldier whose job is to detect NBC agents on the battlefield, help the unit to avoid them and decontaminate anything that didn't avoid them.
FOX- Vehicle used by NBC Types
BMP- Vehicle designed by the Soviet Union and used by most regimes that are unfriendly to American interests, aka- Target.

28: BLACKOUT DRIVE- Very dim colored marking lights on a vehicle for use when attempting to avoid enemy detection during darkness while allowing freindly vehicles to know where you are.



In 14 hundred and 92,
Columbus sailed the ocean blue.

This was one of the most significant events in world history. Hailed by many as a great explorer, and by others as an example of all that is wrong with western culture, the real truth is somewhere in between.

It is undeniable that Columbus was a man with a dream, and some sort of audacity to follow up on it. He had a beast of a time getting funding, and it was mostly through his force of personality that he was able to accomplish that.

Columbus should be celebrated by Americans. He should be seen as a symbol of our need to seek new areas, new enterprises, and to follow our dreams. We might not actually fulfill them (which, by the way, Columbus didn't, really) but we could just change the world with our pursuit.

Tips on Happiness part II

The chocolate worked, didn't it?

What's that? You are now out of chocolate, 10 lbs heavier and have three new cavities? Well, I guess that is part of lesson number one that you needed to find out for yourself to open up to some of the lessons I am offering. First of all, there is a great difference between "happiness" and "pleasure". Chocolate is pleasure, but pleasure is fleeting. Happiness is an attitude, not an emotion. There is a great difference between the two.

Often, the constant pursuit of pleasure can be an obstacle to happiness. Just look at my chocolate example. Sure, it was great while it lasted, but where are you now? More miserable than when you started.

Does this mean pleasure is a bad thing? Of course not, just remember that the pleasure that you are getting is not really happiness. Be ready for it to end.

We will delve deeper into this at some later time.

Courting the Spinster Meirs

I pretty much expected loud and overwrought wails of spite from Bush's Supreme Court Nomination, but not from the conservitives. That the liberals' heads aren't exploding, more than anything, seems to be the biggest problem that conservatives have. We were all expecting a solid strict-constructionist with a long record of being so.

W seemed to have something else entirely in mind. Harriet Miers has been pulled from the shadows, and nobody seems to know anything about her. She has no record as a jurist, so no history of writing to see what her judicial philosophy is. She does not even have a great amount of appelate court briefings from what I understand, to delve into how she would approach Constitutional questions. All that she seems to have going for her are her gender and a record as one of the better attorneys from Texas. That is all well and good, but there's a big defference between acting on a client's behalf and acting as an impartial arbitrator who applies the law.

That being said, I will also say right here that if it were up to me, W would have nominated Robert Bork for the position. Failing that, I think Micheal Luttig should have been the choice. Many have mentioned the names Priscilla Owen and Janice Rogers Brown for the position, either of whom would have been fine with me, except that nominating them would have seemed like an affirmative action choice, and the thought of a Supreme Court seat being reserved for any "group" is an affront to my sense of individual rights, so a white male would have been a great counterbalance to that. (For those of you who are keeping track, you could make an argument that I am being hypocritical there.)

It seems that W just didn't want to have a big fight about this nomination, probably because he is having perceived problems with other areas of his administration- Hurricane Relief, the fact that Iraq isn't a paradise on earth yet, and wanted to keep things quiet. So he nominated somebody that he thought the Democrats wouldn't get too up in arms about. He didn't expect to get so much anger from his own party.

In the end, I say that I must defend the choice. George W. Bush knows that his is a historic Presidency, and has had a clear vision of where he wants the country to go. He has not shied away from trying to make his visions a reality. He knows that other than executing the War on Terror, changing the direction of the Courts is his greatest opportunity to have a long-lasting impact on the direction of the nation. He knows Harriet Miers, and has more than likely had a very long interview process with her before making this decision. While I don't think that she will be able to articulate and defend the strict-constructionist view of the Constitution as Scalia and Thomas (and hopefully Roberts, who definitely has the intellect and seemingly the philosophy) I do think that she will at least follow original intent as best she can when she casts her votes.

Am I overjoyed by the nomination? No. Am I happy with the nomination? No. Am I content with the nomination? No. Am I able to tolerate the nomination? Yes. I think that we should support the nomination, and see Harriet Meirs take her place on the bench.


Can you...

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...stand up to the hot stare of the Fur-Covered Demon?

Tips on Happiness part I

I am often asked why I look so happy. (Of course, this is generally said in a sarcastic tone, but I don't think that is really germaine to this topic.) Well, there are many secrets to happiness, and as a public service from the Sulphur & Carbonite crew, we (okay, you see the blogger profile and know that it is really "I" and not "we", but for some reason "we" comes across better) will periodically post our (see previous parenthetical) Tips on Happiness.


Come back again for more insight on attaining happiness.


Fueled by coffee and nicotine, and in a perpetual flux between ennui, irreverence and anger, I don't even know what to expect on this blog. Yes, the info on the profile is correct, but don't expect too much military jargon or inside operational talk on this site. First of all, you see that I am stateside so I won't have any hirabah-monger hunting stories, and we have been discouraged from posting too much about operational/tactical information. It wouldn't go over very well with my comrades-at-arms if I started to complain about the vulnerabilities of the tank (not that it really has any) in a public forum where the so-called insurgents might pick up on it and and adjust tactics accordingly. (A little semantic point here; Once you cross a border into another country to blow up the locals, you are not an insurgent, no matter what Micheal Moore and the MSM say about you.)

I will comment about current events, and will at times be eloquent, at others hilarious and at others make very little sense to anybody. This is supposed to be fun for me. I hope that you enjoy it too.