Yesterday marked 16 years since the al-Qaeda sucker-punch known as “9/11” reached our shores. We are now far enough out that, if you were to survey high school seniors, very few of them would be able to speak of memories of that day. In a way, that’s a good thing - even adults have trouble processing evil of that magnitude. In a way, though, that means that they’ve grown up with an ever-present threat of terrorism within our homeland; we have always been at war in the Middle East, and getting on an airplane has always been a tedious process.
As we observe this particular anniversary, we are a few days past the 12th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina’s landfall; we are watching Texas’s recovery from Hurricane Harvey last month; and we are watching Hurricane Irma thrash through Florida up into Georgia, having devastated several islands in the Caribbean on her way up. Katrina was blamed for 1,833 deaths, while Harvey currently stands at 70, and Irma is at 26. Of course, these numbers are adjusted when emergency workers are able to fully assess the aftermath; but both Harvey and Irma will have U.S. death tolls less than 10% of Katrina, despite Harvey bringing (unexpectedly) more water and Irma bringing way more wind. These lower death tolls are not just dumb luck. We have poured lots of resources into identifying the threats these hurricanes pose to our mainland and territories, and we can give warnings far further in advance than we could 12 years ago. We evacuate people in harm’s way, and we provide a strong law enforcement presence to protect the homes of those who evacuated.
What does that have to do with terrorism? The goal is the same - preservation of the lives of our citizens. To do that, we rely on intelligence to give us as much advanced warning as possible. We warn our citizens of danger, and we do our best to mitigate its effects. Unlike weather, we do have the capability to eliminate this threat before it makes landfall; however, like weather, sometimes unexpected shifts occur. In these intervening 16 years, we have had occasional attacks that have been carried out, but we’ve had others that have been thwarted before they could be. As this post-9/11 effort continues, approaching the 20-year mark, let’s continue to pray for those who are defending us. Pray for their success, for their safety, and for them to complete this mission honorably.
There is one other way in which terrorism and the 2017 hurricane season are similar. I think I speak for all of us when I say “No way, José…”
I missed this in 2013, and this is not a 3-post series as usual. Instead of writing a lot about each topic, I’ll give a short reason I categorized it where I did. Please make no assumptions or conclusions about what I don’t say; the fact that people are so apt to do that should probably make the “Bad” list, but not this year. Since this is a single post, we’ll lead with…
No Terrorism at World Stage Events - 2014 saw the Winter Olympics in Russia and the World Cup in Brazil. Neither were marred by terrorism.
16 Out of 20 Ain’t Bad - Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood did not want to provide coverage for 4 of the 20 forms of “birth control” mandated by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), as they work post-conception (an “abortofacient”). The Supreme Court agreed, in a rare victory for religious freedom.
Plummeting Oil Prices - In spite of the current administration’s best efforts, our economy overcame them. The “Drill, Baby, Drill” crowd was vindicated, as an explosion in US oil production caused prices to drop substantially. Fracking has enabled this boom while preserving the environment, and the drop in prices has hit hostile-to-us oil-based economies hard. It’s a big win-win that progressives still can’t throughly grasp.
Republicans Win Control of Congress - This is a qualified “good” entry, assuming that they’ll govern as they ran. Hey, there’s a first time for everything, right?
Tennessee Football Rises - Playing an SEC schedule and non-gimme out-of-conference games with the youngest team in FBS is a recipe for a 3-9 season; the Vols made it 6-6 (and, since this is written after their bowl, 7-6) and have great momentum for 2015.
The Deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner - Neither the Brown nor Garner families had loved ones with them this Christmas that they had last Christmas. There may be speculation as to the incidents surrounding their deaths (and neither are going to trial, so we’ll likely never fully know), but even the public knowing every little detail of what happened will not bring these young men back to their families.
Colorado Going to Pot - The first year’s experiment with legalized marijuana has not gone well. Assurances that children will not be able to easily get it have evaporated, and nearly all the tax money it’s generated has gone to enforcement. Their governor caught some heat for saying that the citizens acted foolishly, but the facts certainly indicate he was correct in his assessment.
Ebola - 2014 was the year Ebola came to America. While there were some ridiculous things with how it was handled, the bad was limited, with some who contracted the disease surviving, and a new set of medical protocols helping to protect those who care for people.
ISIS - Nearly 10 years after being freed, Iraq fell back into enslavement thanks to a group coming in to make a hostile takeover, combined with an army that was not willing to fight for what it had won. Islamic law marches on, while Christians die, in a place where thousands of Americans gave their lives to win freedom.
Russian Aggression Versus Ukraine - Russia invaded and took over part of another sovereign nation. They do not appear to be done yet.
The Handling of the Death of Michael Brown / The Reaction to the Brown Grand Jury Verdict / The Reaction to the Garner Grand Jury Verdict - Ferguson and Missouri police handled the initial aftermath of Brown’s shooting about as poorly as you could. The riots once the grand jury failed to indict Darren Wilson were unnecessary and unhelpful (and unwanted by Michael Brown’s family), and the “Hands Up Don’t Shoot” gesture would have been impactful had it been based in verified fact (which it was not). This was also the case where “unarmed teen” is supposed to imply harmless, peaceful, law-abiding child, but video showed a certain store owner who would dispute that characterization. Once the Garner verdict came out, there were die-ins all across the country, proving nothing, but inconveniencing people who had nothing to do with anything surrounding the case. Two dead New York policemen and one in Florida, at last reports, still hadn’t brought Michael Brown or Eric Garner back to their families. (If I have a chance, there will be much more on this in my MLK post.)
p.s. ALL lives matter.
Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Missing E-mails - Under oath, and subpoena from Congress, IRS chief Lois Lerner claimed to have lost her e-mail. This was after other e-mails came out that pretty much confirmed their deliberate targeting of conservative groups leading up to the 2012 election. While those e-mails were “found” toward the end of the year, this Watergate-esque dodge was pathetic. IT does not work that way, and if it does, those people need to be fired.
Computer Security - This was a bad year for computer security. “HeartBleed,” “Shell Shock,” and “Poodle” were names given to long-existing exploits that were discovered in the software that runs much of the Internet. Target fessed up about how large their breach was, and Home Depot let a lot of customer information get away as well. Finally, targeted attacks released iCloud data from celebrities, while an (internal? North Korean? We don’t know yet…) attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment released salaries, movies, even e-mails among leaders and actors. (Maybe we should sic the Guardians of Peace on the IRS!) Hopefully some good will come of this; if nothing else, it will make people think about security before they trust a “cloud” service with their information.
Kaci Hickox - Kaci is a nurse who was exposed to Ebola. She defied quarantine, though, and created a lot of concern. While she ultimately was not found to have the disease, her foolish, selfish actions stirred up a lot of concern in her community. As a medical professional, she should have known better. But, of course, if she had, then her name wouldn’t be on some random guy’s blog in a year-in-review post, would it?
Patriot Day. 9/11. The day the world stopped turning. Whatever you call it, today is a day of remembrance. Remember those who died for the crime of being on-time to work that day. Remember those who loved those who died; every year is a new time to be reminded of their loss.
In the remembering, though, we would be remiss if we did not remember the complacency which left us vulnerable, and the lack of response to previous attacks that left the attackers emboldened. I fear that, 12 years removed from that day, we are once again sliding into that complacency; we’re war-weary, as evidenced by the general public’s opposition to any action in Syria. I’m right there with them; I have no desire to continue or start any conflict, I simply want to live in peace.
However, peace requires vigilance against those who would use our peace and freedom against us. It also requires vigilance against those who would restrict our freedom in the name of peace. And, so, we will never see true peace while evil remains with us. Earlier this year, Boston showed us that just because we’ve “won” wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the problem of terrorism persists. We are stuck with evil for the rest of our nation’s existence; my hope is that, doing my part for my generation, we can push that succumbing to evil out to many, many years in the future.
This is part 2 (either way you read it) in this year’s “2008 Year in Review - The Good, the Bad, and the Ridiculous” series. The bad things are things that either were bad, or will be in the future. All opinions are mine, obviously, and you are welcome to adopt them as your own. :)
Where do I begin? There was not much about this election that I liked. The campaign was way too long. The Republicans nominated the wrong guy. The outcome was bad. I’ve already covered Sarah Palin’s treatment in the “Ridiculous” entry. My biggest problem with this election was how it was spun. It’s safe to say that the majority of Obama voters didn’t know what they were voting for; how could they, when he wouldn’t get any specifics? His campaign of “hope” (who doesn’t want to have hope?) and “change” (which would have happened either way) struck me as a focus-group phrase that got way out of control.
Then you have the last few months of the campaign itself. First, there was a hurricane at the same time as the Republican convention, with people saying “How can they have a convention at a time like this?” Next came the “crisis” that had been brewing for years in the sub-prime mortgage market. McCain foolishly decided to suspend his campaign to deal with it, which gave Obama the chance to make the speech where he said “A president has to deal with more than one thing at a time” (which is very, very true). It seemed the Republicans were “darned if they did, darned if they didn’t” during this cycle! Personally, I thought that both things should have continued on schedule.
Then, there was “Joe the Plumber,” roundly ridiculed for asking a question that elicited the “spread the wealth around” response from Obama. All of a sudden, we have all these reports popping up. “His name isn’t even Joe!” (as if they’ve never heard of someone who goes by their middle name) “He doesn’t even make enough money to have to pay more!” (which didn’t matter - he one day wanted to make that much money) “He’s not even a licensed plubmer!” (but was working towards that - all part of his plan to better his life) In the end, a government worker was dismissed from her job for digging up dirt on Joe using government resources. (Speaking of government, an organization called ACORN submitted thousands of voter registrations, hundreds of which were found to be fraudulent. However, the governments continued to accept these registrations from them, and courts ruled that they could be accepted.)
Regarding the actual outcome, I’d describe myself as skeptically optimistic. Obama’s selections for his cabinet haven’t been quite what I would like, but I didn’t really expect that they would be; however, they’re not nearly as left-leaning as he could have made them. He does seem to be actually trying to govern towards the left side of the middle. I can’t help but think that maybe he outsmarted everyone in the Chicago political machine, where there’s as much corruption as there is snow off the Great Lakes. Could it be that he joined their machine to use it to get to the top, only to jettison it once he got there? We’ll see.
RIP, Tim Russert and Tony Snow
People die - that’s part of life. However, this year saw the somewhat-unexpected deaths of both Tim Russert, long-time anchor of Meet the Press, and Tony Snow, Fox News anchor and former White House spokesman. Both these men had a gift for journalism, and were not afraid to ask balanced questions of their interview subjects. I remember Tim Russert’s expert analysis in both the 2000 and 2004 election seasons, opening the 2000 election coverage saying “Florida, Florida, Florida” and the 2004 coverage with “Ohio, Ohio, Ohio” - both the eventual states that decided the election. And, I remember Tony Snow as the first anchor of Fox News Sunday, as Fox decided to get into the Sunday morning political show alongside Meet the Press on NBC and This Week on ABC. (Am I old if I remember the latter as This Week with David Brinkley?) Tony also did an excellent job as spokesman during Bush’s second term, deftly handling the questions he was asked, and clearly expressing the intents and desires of the administration. (If only GWB would communicate that clearly…)
Terrorism Reminds Us that It Isn’t Gone Yet
This was a pretty quiet year on the terrorism front - Iraq is going well, the surge seems to have stamped out the final pockets of resistance, and rival factions are now participating in the democratic process. Afghanistan has been hit-or-miss, with a bit of instability still there as this year draws to a close. However, in late November, terrorists struck in Bombay, India, killing over 100 people, citizens of several different nations. This was a stark reminder that the quiet that we have experienced did not happen by chance, and that we need to keep our nose to the grindstone to protect our nation.
Wings of Wind Crash
We’ve enjoyed the International Balloon Fiesta here in Albuquerque the past two years. On the final Friday this year, the balloon Wings of Wind crashed into some power lines, catching fire. Both pilots jumped from the balloon, fearing that the fuel tanks would explode. One survived, one did not. It was the second year in a row that there has been a fatality at the Fiesta, but this one touched our family somewhat closely, as Michelle and Jordan had spent Thursday evening set up right by that balloon, and talking with its’ pilots and crew. Then, to add insult to injury, a truck belonging to the balloon crew was stolen before they left town, causing them to lose their pictures of that week. (I hope that whoever stole that truck gets some special attention from God over the next year.) Keep the family of Stephen Lachendro, the pilot who perished, and Keith Sproul, the primary pilot and the pilot who survived, in your prayers.
So, there are some of the things that I thought were bad about this past year. What did you think was bad?
Lost amid the race vs. gender war that is the Democrat primary season and the focus on the next administration is the pure genius in the current administration. Sure, they say Bush is still the mindless dolt that somehow managed to outsmart them twice; and yes, he’s certainly given them enough anguished English ammunition to come up with quite a rotation for their “Bushism of the Day” quote machines. However, Bush has flashes of political genius, and one of them cam during his speech to the Knesset, the Israeli governing body, celebrating 60 years of Israeli independence. (The below quote is found about half-way down the page.)
Some seem to believe that we should negotiate with the terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along. We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: “Lord, if I could only have talked to Hitler, all this might have been avoided.” We have an obligation to call this what it is - the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history.
There are no names in this. Really, it could apply to a host of people who call for diplomacy even once diplomacy has failed, or those who call for diplomacy with terrorist organizations or terrorist-supporting nations. However, as Jeff Foxworthy once said, “There’s no sense confessing to something she don’t know about yet.” (This is in response to an upset wife - do you start saying “sorry” for everything she might be mad about, or do you simply ask “What’s wrong?”)
Being all sophisticated and everything, the Democrats must not be aware of this technique, and through their responses showed us that President Bush struck a nerve. Barack Obama (D-IL) was livid, blaming the current administration for strengthening Iran. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said that such words were “beneath the dignity of the office of the president.” Joe Biden (D-DE) threw the BS flag (literally), and Harry Reid (D-NV) said that Bush should explain the “inconsistency between his administration’s actions and his words today.”
So, basically, here’s how it went down:
Bush: “Appeasers are dangerous.” Obama, Pelosi, Biden, and Reid (in unison): “No we’re not!”
On Monday, FBI agents broke up a terror plot against Fort Dix. A clerk at a video store alerted authorities when they dropped off video to have a DVD made, that showed them firing guns and speaking of the plot. They attempted to buy weapons from an undercover agent, and were arrested.
Now, there’s news that three of the six arrested were in the country illegally. There were three brothers with the last name of Duka - they are to whom this is referring.
The Duka brothers were born in the former Yugoslavia and residing illegally in the U.S. Shnewer, a native of Jordan; Tatar, a native of Turkey; and Abdullahu, who was born in the former Yugoslavia, are legal residents. Eljvir Duka called himself “Elvis.”
So, there you have it. For years, folks have pooh-poohed the idea that illegal aliens (or, as their fans like to say, “undocumented workers”) represent a national security threat. Now, we have the first example of the fact that they do. Will Congress still push through their amnesty bill?
Here’s part 2 of the 3-part series “2006 Year in Review: The Good, the Bad, and the Ridiculous.” While part 1 dealt with items that are bad on a ridiculous level, there is nothing humorous about these happenings during 2006.
I covered this in depth with my post “Why the Republicans Lost” earlier in the year. Now, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi are going to be in control of the legislative branch. While our nation can survive, this does signal the end of many meaningful reforms. Immigration enforcement, strict-constructionist judicial nominees, and meaningful energy reforms are all distant memories. In their place we’ll get amnesty for illegal aliens, judicial activists, and economy-crushing minimum wage increases.
The majority of Americans don’t seem to understand that the latter is a ploy by union workers, who want raises but are contractually tied to a level above minimum wage. When it goes up, their pay goes up. However, businesses only have money as they collect it from their customers - increased payroll expense will only drive prices higher, at which point the buying power of the new minimum wage is about the same as the buying power of the old. Higher minimum wage levels also reduce the number of entry-level jobs held by students and retirees - I’m really surprised that the same party who panders to seniors and says that everything they want to do is “for the children” is in favor of such a move.
The Supreme Court decision in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld established that military tribunals could not be used to try detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. This ruling, in effect, gave unlawful combatants official status, and required that they be given access to our justice system. President Bush asked Congress to clarify rules for detainee treatment, leading to what some have dubbed the “Terrorist Bill of Rights.” During debate on this and other bills throughout the year, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and others were adamant about adding “no torture” language into bills. Techniques such as water-boarding (where a person feels like they’re drowning, but they really aren’t), which had been used to extract intelligence that prevented attacks, were now no longer allowed.
This is a trend that I hope and pray does not continue into 2007. We Americans are gracious to our enemies, sometimes to a fault. But, there comes a point when we need to realize that they are our enemies. When they take up arms against us, when they align themselves with organizations that have, as their stated goals, the destruction of our nation - if we capture you, expect to be made to talk.
Eight Marines have been charged with murder and other charges relating to an incident in the Iraqi town of Haditha. These men were part of a patrol in this city, when their patrol was attacked with an IED (improvised explosive device). After the IED went off, they were also receiving hostile fire from both sides of the street. As their training taught them, they laid down suppressive fire to remove the casualties that they had taken, then launched a counter-offensive to kill the insurgents that had inflicted this attack on them.
Once the shooting had stopped, some of the Iraqis in that town began complaining about the counter-offensive, saying that the people who had been killed were innocent civilians who had nothing to do with the attack. These stories were often contradictory, but that didn’t matter to the folks here who never miss a chance to broadcast bad news. The link above is very lengthy (and the other information it links are also lengthy), but it is a detailed analysis as to what happened that day, and how it is being prosecuted. Even an embedded CNN reporter does not believe these allegations.
This is disgraceful, and I hope that the court-martial comes out in favor of these dedicated Marines. “War is hell” isn’t just a quip - it’s reality.
With current concerns over terrorism, and nukes that Russia can’t find, two nations hostile to the United States declared their nuclear capabilities this year. North Korea has been testing missiles (although these tests were, by all accounts, an abject failure) and nuclear warheads. Iran claims that their nuclear capability is only to be used for power. Why do I not trust Iran? Let me count the ways… They are the primary supplier of personnel and weapons for the insurgency in Iraq. They teamed up with Syria to support Hezbollah in their attacks on Israel earlier this year. They hosted a holocaust denial conference. And that was all this year!
All nations have a right to defend themselves. However, when these nations have proved themselves hostile to us and friendly to our enemies, we must demand that they pursue their defense using conventional weapons.
That is certainly not all of the bad things that happened this year, but I believe they are some that will have the most enduring impression on our world and our nation. Next up - the good!
V for Vendetta, the latest film from the brothers who brought The Matrix to the big screen, hit theatres this past Friday. The movie has generated hyper-hype from both the left and the right. I had the occasion to view this film on Friday, and I’ll have to say that the film did not live up to the hype on either side. This is a good thing - because of this, I found it to be a very entertaining film.
The plot can be spun to sound like the most rabid anti-Bush conspiracy theory out there. The scene is 20 years after 9/11, where the U. S. has collapsed, and Britain has been overtaken by a Christian government whose iron fist looks similar to that of the former U. S. S. R. The state-run television station spins the news the way the government wants, and their city-wide surveillance and announcement system makes Britain’s current CCTV setup look amateur. The government has imposed a militant Christian law, in the mold of some of today’s current militant Islamic countries. Of course, though, the entire government is corrupt - their Christian beliefs are only used to keep the people in fear. (I’ll stop there so as not to give up the plot for those of you who may wish to see it.)
Enter “V”. He is inspired by Guy Fawkes, a 16th-century man who was arrested while trying to blow up Parliament. Throughout the film, we come to understand V’s motivation for planning to do what Guy Fawkes could not. The government consistently refers to V as a “terrorist,” which is a term he embraces as well. This does not deter him from his goal, however; it only emboldens him as he goes on not only the populist “vendetta” of blowing up Parliament, but a personal vendetta against those who are responsible for his motivation.
Given what I’ve laid out above, it’s not a stretch to think that it’s a commentary on the Bush administration. (As a matter of fact, the original book could not have been - it was written in the late 70’s about Margaret Thatcher’s administration in Britain.) But, as a Republican and a fan of the Bush administration, I wasn’t offended by the plot line. Apart from the “conservative” label of the oppressive government, there was no resemblance to the Bush administration (or the Clinton, Bush, or Reagan administrations). Maybe, if you believe every one of the paranoid conspiracy theories, and if you assume that anyone with an ® beside their name hates everyone except heterosexual white people - just maybe you might be able to see some of our country’s leadership in the ficticious British government. Personally, I don’t think that our country would ever get to this point - the people would rise up long before that and squash the totalitarian regime.
Again, if you haven’t seen this film yet, be careful about following these links - some contain spoilers…
On the left, the commentary has been just atrocious. In particular, I sam an MTV News special called “Unmasked” (link is near the top of the first page), in which Gideon Yago and Natalie Portman interviewed some young people about the film. These kids had swallowed the liberal ideology hook, line, and sinker; and Hugo Weaving’s (Agent Smith from The Matrix and Elrond in the Lord of the Rings trilogy) views were even worse. In Natalie Portman’s defense, she said that she didn’t think the film, even with it’s updated screenplay, was necessarily a commentary on any particular administration; rather, it was an illustration that unscrupulous people on either side of the political aisle could create problems. On the right, we’ve got lots of hyperbole as well. I remember hearing about this movie over 3 months ago, as a “here they go again, glorifying terrorists” type of report. More recently, Townhall.com’s Megan Basham (who, by the way, I normally agree with - and, I love the fact that she’s a movie critic whose last name sounds like “bash 'em”) has a scathing review of the film, where she decries the glorification of a “terrorist”.
One review I’ve read that pretty much gets it right is the one from Focus on the Family’s Plugged In online magazine. Their review of V for Vendetta gives a plot synopsis, and lists both positive elements (which he does pick up on) and content that parents may find objectionable (this being a somewhat intense R-rated movie, there is some of that for them to chroincle.) The reviewer also brings up some good points about both the implications in the film, and the questions that it raises. My kudos to Adam Holz for a great open-minded review of this film.
For me, what I took away from the film was… well, … nothing new. The story was interesting, the movie was well-done, and the special effects were pretty cool. But, as I said, the government was such a caricature of any conservative government that I would support that I didn’t identify myself (or my political beliefs) as being part of the villainous government. This government really looked like the U. S. S. R. to me; and who wouldn’t support someone who was fighting for the overthrow of that type of oppressive government? Yes, V (the character) has some issues, especially with his personal vendetta against those people who had abused him. Their murders were little more than vengeance killings, and aren’t right at all.
To say something along the lines of “One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter” is flat-out wrong. You’re only a freedom fighter if you’re on the side freedom. The terrorists that attacked our country on 9/11 were not fighting for their freedom - they were attempting to instill terror in us. The colonists in this country who threw the Boston Tea Party were considered terrorists by the British empire - were they wrong to stage this demonstration of their belief that taxation without representation is wrong? V certainly doesn’t have all the answers - but the questions it raises are important ones, and ones that we all should ponder - especially in our current world. Do we have the fortitude to stand up against a government like that? Should we?
There is word today from the fight for Fallujah that we have now uncovered a kidnapper’s area where they housed, and eventually butchered, innocent civilians. (Story linked here) This is the place we couldn’t find back when they were taking what seemed like a hostage a day, in a mostly futile attempt to get nations to pull their troops or businesses out of Iraq.
This makes my blood boil, and I’m tired of skirting the issue. Our pre-election policy on Iraq was driven by what appeared, to the President, to be an unwillingness on some parts of our nation to continue a large push - plus, had he started the Fallujah offensive before the election, he would have been accused of wagging the dog. Thanks to this delay, several people who were not combatants (oil truck drivers, reporters, construction workers) have been kidnapped, their families tortured beyond belief by seeing their loved one on Al-Jazeera, and eventually killed. There has also be a toll we’ve paid in servicemembers’ lives, due to ambushes that have been set up by holdouts in Fallujah.
Those who oppose our troops when they are on the ground are traitors. Debates over what plan to use are valid, but this “wrong war, wrong place, wrong time” rhetoric wasn’t intended to spark policy debate - it was intended to pander to anti-war and anti-American people here and abroad, while still trying to pander to those who feel that a strong defense is essential to our national security. Now, we find that if we’d just pressed into Fallujah the way we did in Baghdad, no matter what “sacred” landmarks may be there, we would have denied these kidnappers their capability to carry out these dastardly acts.
Whether you’re for or against the war - whether you like or don’t like President Bush or Secretary Rumsfeld - it is vitally important that, now that we’re there, we don’t tie our military’s hands, especially with partisan political concerns. The only way out of Iraq that will keep us safe is to go through it - anything less will be seen by the terrorists as “the point” up to which we can be pushed, at which point we’ll back down. I’m all for “bringing the troops home” - but not in a way where we’d have to send more over in a few years. Fight on!
By the way - they just came on the news and said that Yassir Arafat has died. That’s the best news for peace in Isreal we’ve gotten this century. The man was an avowed terrorist who did nothing but foment hate among his people against the rightful occupants of that land. Let’s hope that their next leader will put an end to violent groups such as Hezbollah, and denounce rogue terrorists.
(This one’s long, but I hope you take the time to read it and think…)
Three years ago, our country was attacked. It was not the first terrorist attack on our interests, or even the first attack on our own soil. But three years ago was, by far, the most successful (from the terrorists’ point of view) attack on us yet. Over 2,500 innocent Americans lost their lives over the span of a few hours. Looking back, the fact that this number is so much lower than it could be (around 100,000 people were employed in the two WTC towers) is due to the grace of God, and the heroic efforts of firemen and policemen who helped thousands of folks flee to safety after the towers and the Pentagon were hit. Still, the fact remains that we were attacked on our own soil, and that attack resulted in a large loss of life.
Sit back from the computer for a minute or two and think back to where you were, and the thoughts that went through your mind that Tuesday morning. I remember very vividly where I was. A co-worker said “someone flew a plane into the World Trade Center!” It clicked for me right away, although it took some time to accept it - with all the talk about it being an accident, I didn’t buy that. Moments later, as we all watched on our IPTV windows, we saw the second plane hit. All the talk of an accident evaporated in an instant - we were under attack. More bad news - another one hit the Pentagon - was there an explosion outside the State Department? - a plane went down in Pennsylvania - FAA grounds all flights - international flights are turned back. We went to FPCON Delta, the post-attack posture under which every vehicle coming on and off base is searched, and, for a time, no traffic is allowed on or off base.
I also remember clearly that all these things weren’t what was foremost in my mind. My oldest child was going to school only during the mornings on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, so they weren’t gone when it happened. I live on base, so I knew that I wouldn’t have to leave the base, and neither would my family. I was still concerned for them, though - what if our base is on the target list? At this point, we didn’t know nearly as much about al-Qaeda as we do now. I came home and just held my wife, then my kids. My second child was barely over 1, so he was pretty much oblivious; but my 2 1/2-year-old (who even then was very bright) couldn’t understand why they would fly those planes into those buildings. He also didn’t understand why mom and dad were crying, or near tears, the whole time.
I’m going to link that amazing site that’s linked at the bottom of the page - never forget what happened that day. Since that day, we’ve engaged in two major theater wars - one in Afghanistan and one in Iraq. Despite warnings of quagmires the likes of which we haven’t seen since Vietnam, we have been successful in both these operations, installing democracy and freedom into two areas of the world that desperately need it. During that time, we’ve lost 1,000 combined in those two theaters. In Vietnam, that number was over 58,000. (source: DoD) It’s a tribute to our men and women in uniform who have shown ceaseless dedication to their country, and to the development and use of the best tools of war on the planet. Although some may classify me in that category, as stateside support, the only thing I’ve sacrificed for this war is a few longer hours. I am deeply grateful to my comrades in arms who are out there in the desert, on the lines, loading bombs, driving patrols, doing everything they can to keep us free and return home to their families.
This is the reason it is so important to have a leader in this country who is not afraid to stand up to terrorists. When the WTC was attacked the first time in 1993, we did nothing. When the Kenyan embassies were bombed, we did nothing. When the USS Cole was bombed, we did nothing. Could we not see this coming? When I was in school, I was told that studying history was important, because “those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it.” I believe that. We’ve seen what inaction brings, and we cannot afford inaction any more, not even if it’s cloaked in the term “diplomacy.” Since 9/11/01, al-Qaeda has struck in Bali, Madrid, and most recently, in Russia, as well as cooperating with Hezbollah in bringing terrorism to Israel.
Americans are, collectively, the most kind-hearted people in the world. We recognize the true threat that lies before us, and we are choosing to take the fight to them. I have a really hard time not questioning the intelligence of someone who thinks we shouldn’t have gone into Iraq. Saddam Hussein was a dictator who used instant execution, limb removal, and rape as methods of governmental punishment. He used WMD on his own people in the north, and was completely uncooperative with United Nations inspectors who were verifying that he had stopped production. And the “there were no WMDs” crowd doesn’t seem to consider enough Sarin gas to kill 60,000, or a large stash of low-enriched unranium, to be weapons of mass destruction. I say to those folks, how would like for what we’ve found to be detonated or released in your neighborhood? Would it become a WMD then?
So, we’ve got a dictator, who rapes, mutilates, and kills his own people, who has taken a hit out on a sitting United States President, and who is sympathetic to terrorists. Even the most obtuse among us should be able to see that we do not need that man in possession of WMDs, or even parts that can be made into such. Russia is our ally, and even they have some suitcase nukes they can’t find. How much more easily would it be for nuclear or chemical weapons to find their way into terrorists’ hands if the leadership of the country just hands it to them?
During the Republican National Convention, just after President Bush’s speech, I listed to the talking heads dissect it. (I think the channel was on CBS.) The folks there said that the parts of the speech that dealt with domestic issues got applause, but with nowhere near the passion of the applause in the national defense portion. I think that’s because the vast majority of Republicans (and a lot of Democrats, which is why I predict Bush will roll in November) know that without a secure national defense, domestic programs are meaningless. You may have seen this, but I’m posting it here in case you haven’t. Stephen Ambrose said “It is the soldier, not the poet, who gives us freedom of speech. It is the soldier, not the reporter, who gives us freedom of the press. It is the soldier, not the campus organizer, who gives us freedom to protest. It is the soldier who serves beneath the flag, who salutes the flag, and whose coffin is draped by the flag, who gives the demonstrator the right to burn the flag.”
So, on this Patriot Day 2004, remember the lives of those whose crime was only that they got to work early that morning. Remember the 1,000+ defenders of freedom who have lost their lives while ensuring that anything like 9/11 never happens again. Remember the sons and daughters who will be celebrating Thanksgiving and Christmas this year, for the first time, without their mom or dad. Remember the spouses, who have lost a life partner and best friend. Thank the Lord that you live in a country that does not let these acts of aggression stand, and thank the Lord that George W. Bush made the tough decision to defend our nation. May God bless this great nation.