Memorial Day is one of the holidays that I feel gultiest about. Perhaps it's because I never had the courage to try the military myself, perhaps because I feel I can never adequetly repay those who have served to protect my freedom. The happy medium I find is to dedicate each Memorial Day weekend to doing something to honor our military. After all, for every scumbag like Lynndie England or that Sivitz guys, there are literally millions on current and retired tough, moral, and dedicated members of the millitary who have earned our undying gratitude. My gradfather was one of them. He served in WWII, actually spending 7 years in the Army, from the peacetime draft of 1939 to his final return home from Europe in 1946. He was an MP, recieved a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart, and served in three campaigns, North Africa, Italy, and while he did not land at Normandy, he served with Patton's 3rd Army in Europe and got quite close to Berlin. As an MP, he dealt with AWOL soldiers, brawls, and of course enemy prisoners. He never had a problem talking about his experiences, probably because he never really saw much combat, except during 3rd Army's infamous march to Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge. Before he passed away in May of 1999, my mother was smart enough to record his memories of the war, and I will always have that with me. As Washington opens the WWII Memorial on the Mall tomorrow, I will be watching on TV, as I am packing my apartment. Despite all the critical crap about how the Memorial isn't good enough, I can't help but wonder what WOULD have been good enough for these people. The Memorial had to go on the Mall. It may not be perfect, but why must it be? The intentions of all was a lasting tribute to not just the Veterans, but also to the war they fought, maybe the "last good war", and a more worthwhile cause I could not imagine. I may make it down to the Mall Saturday. Washington DC is rolling out the red carpet to the heroes who now decend on her like never before. If you're in Washington, I'd recommend heading down there as well. Maybe stopping by the story tent, or just going up to a vet and thanking them. Without the supreme scarifces their generation endured, we, as a country, would be very different. I never liked vacations on Memorial Day. It seemed to cheapen the day. Tonight, I shall raise a glass, toast my grandfather with his favorite beer, Budweiser, and thank God above that we still have people who will sacrifice for us. God bless them all.
In today's NY Times, there's a rather telling paragraph about John Kerry's supporters. Here it is, and I totally stole it from Mickey Kaus:
"Mr. Kerry has arrived at big-dollar fundraising dinners to find empty chairs. In their eagerness to defeat Mr. Bush, donors have written large checks to purchase a seat, but have not bothered to turn up to hear Mr. Kerry speak."
Yikes! Will anybody show up to the Convention? Perhaps Kerry should accept the nomination the REAL old fashioned way, and just send a letter. That's what Lincoln did. Also, maybe Nagorney should have written "In their eagerness to defeat Mr. Bush AND not be bored to the point of Coma-inducement.."
:: C.M. Burns 5/27/2004 10:34:00 AM [+] ::
Ah, Nixon, We STILL Hardly New Ya
Richard Nixon, the President who brought himself down with scandal and created a culture in which Americans distrust their government, continues to be a source of hilarity now, 10 plus years after his passing. a new audio tape shows that Tricky Dick was too drunk to take a call from the British PM during the Arab-Israeili "Yom Kippur" war of October, 1973. The PM called up the White House and asked to speak to Nixon, as it appeared the mideast might go boom big time. Nixon was sauced. Kissinger's line to his deput, Brent Scowcroft, is so priceless:"Can we tell them no? When I talked to the president, he was loaded." Whoops! Good thing the Soviets didn't invade, as the US had no VP at the time, since Agnew had just resigned, and Gerald Ford was still just House Minority Leader. Man, that Nixon White House must have been party central!
Things seem to be getting better in Iraq. Finally, the Washington Post ran a story about al-Sadr's thugs falling back in Karbala, essentially giving control of the city to the Marines. This is good news, and the Post is also finally covering the story of the seven Iraqi men who were flown to the US by private donations and given prostetic limbs to replace the ones Saddam's people cut off in Abu Gharib prison 9 years ago. As Colin Powell said, look at how America is responding to the shame of Abu Gharib. We're trying to make up for it. We are embarassed, and we are trying to attone. Plus, in reading the latest reports from the Abu Gharib mess, it seems that two of the worst offenders may have learned their tricks at US Prisons, which are a disgrace of course, but at least it may not be a military problem, and the psyche evals seem to indicate that the abuse was not widespread. Finally, it seems that the "wedding" that was shot up was not a wedding at all, and the veracity of that tape that has been aired is questionable at best.
Anyway, here's a very interesting story out of Fallujah, the site of the horrible slaughter of those security contractors, and a place where it looked like America was falling into a long trap. This is
a transcript of a Press Conference given by the Iragi mayor of Fallujah, the commander of the all-Iraqi Fallujah brigade, and Maj. Gen. James N. Mattis, the commander of the 1st Marine Division. It's unedited, and read in it's whole, it paints a very positive picture of what the Marines and Iraqis have accomplished together. Plus, you get some very clear postions from both the Iraqi and American leaders. It's a good thing.
:: C.M. Burns 5/24/2004 11:30:00 AM [+] ::
:: Friday, May 21, 2004 ::
Piss on Michael Moore!
I am in no way condoning using this target of Michael "I'm a Fat Bastard" Moore for anything other than recreational usage. Please, do not use it to plot any harm to Mr. Moore. Just shoot at it to make yourself feel better, or throw rocks at it. Or put it in a urinal and use it for that kind of Target Practice. Oh, I'm totally doing that when I go out tonight! Remember, pissing on Moore is your patriotic duty, as he enjoys pissing on America, no matter how much he claims to love this country. If you don't piss on it, the terrorists have already won.
:: C.M. Burns 5/21/2004 10:57:00 AM [+] ::
Not All Of That Hersh Article Was Bad News
Seymour Hersh is the New Yorker reporter who wrote the article that made public the abuses as Abu Gharib prison. However, the article was about a lot more than that, as Byron York points out in NRO. Hersh talked to alot of current and former intelligence people who paint a picture of Rumsfeld and the administration trying very hard after 9/11 to gather good intelligence. The black bag program that some are alledging led to the prisoner abuses was widely praised by Hersh's sources, and there is currently no direct correlation between Rumsfeld's secret program and the abuses at the prison. Also, Hersh's article doesn't say Rumsfeld or the Joint Chiefs knew about Abu Gharib in advance. York, it seems, managed to read the whole article and not just the stuff that makes Rummy & Co. look bad. But the rest of the media can't handle that, because they don't want to. SO instead of any good news in Iraq, which exists, by the way, you get more abuse photos from last November in the Washington Post today. I don't see how this helps anything. Anyway, I'm going to try to find good stuff happening RIGHT NOW, instead of bad stuff that happened 6 months ago.
Note: There is another Hersh profile on NRO that deals with his past. Hersh wrote the unflattering "The Dark Side of Camelot" that made the Kennedy's, specifically JFK and Teddy, look rather bad, which is why when it came out in 1997, Hersh was called a fool. Roundly condemned, most notably by Ted Kennedy who said it was all BS. Now Kennedy uses Hersh's article to slander US troops. Personally, you could tell me that JFK used to snort coke off the chest of a Cuban hooker in the Pentagon every night and I'd believe it. I don't doubt Hersh at all. He's an excellent reporter who brings up ugly truths. It's just interesting that the Left now praises him after just 7 years ago they wanted his scalp and called him gullible. The Right, if I recall, didn't really care much about the JFK story, since I think conservatives knew that JFK was no prince since he was in office. But don't tell the left one of their hero's was flawed. Did I mention Ted Kennedy was an unconvicted Murderer?
:: C.M. Burns 5/21/2004 10:37:00 AM [+] ::
:: Thursday, May 20, 2004 ::
Good News From Iraq
If all you read were the NY Times or the Post, and the only national news you watched was the three networks, like most Americans, you would definitly think that Iraq is a step away from Anarchy. Thankfully, I have free time at work to read firsthand reports in blog-form from Iraqis living through what the medial has described as "hell". One of the best Iraqi blogs out there is IRAQ THE MODEL, blogged by 3 Iraqi brothers who actually give me hope about the place when I read them. Today they have a quich transcript of a run-in with a taxi driver in Baghdad who rants about how most Iraqis wish al-Sadr and his relatively few crazy followers would leave so that Iraq could actually make some progress. It's a different take on the situation, and since most reporters don't actually leave the green zone, it's not one they're likely to tell. Also, I've become convinced that the media for the most part wants this to fail. They want America and the vast majority of Iraqis, to lose to the fundamentalists because it means Bush is out. I admit, if the toss up was a stable, decently democratic Iraq or 4 more years for Bush, I'd take a stable Iraq, but to the media, both are losing propositions. All I know is that when I read blogs by Iraqis, I feel better. When I turn on the news, or read the paper, I feel worse.
:: C.M. Burns 5/20/2004 10:02:00 AM [+] ::
:: Tuesday, May 18, 2004 ::
Give Them Points for Consistency...
This is a really odd story. It's actually so bizzare that I think it could only involve the European Left, which is way, way out there. Roger L. Simon reports on a pro-Palestinian rally in London attended by two Gay rights groups. They came to support the Palestinians, and ended up being verballt assaulted by an "angry, screaming mob of Islamic fundamentalists, Anglican clergymen, members of the Socialist Workers Party, the Stop the War Coalition, and officials from the protest organizers, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC)".
Why were they attacked? They simply wanted the Palestinian Authority to stop arresting homosexuals. Don't they know that the PA is never wrong? What's even wierder is that they continue to support them now, after they were essentailly assaulted by the people who they want to help. Of course, the Arab world views homosexuality in such a negative light that the religious fundamentalists who oppose gay rights in the US look like progressives. It's just strange. I guess you could say that they Gay groups are sticking to their principles, but if they got a fully free Palestinian state the gays and lesbians there would be even more oppressed. As someone pointed out in Simon's piece, "gays opposing the war on terror is as stupid as Jews opposing the US fighting WWII". Yeah, I agree with that.
Oh, and on gay marriage, I have nothing to say. Why? Because I feel that gay marriage is inevitable. Why fight it? Also, I really don't see the problem with people who want to get married getting married. I think it helps the economy, the family, and will lead to more homosexuals embracing economic conservatisim, which is always a plus. Neither party will support gay marriage because due to the poll numbers there is more strong opposition to it than string support, but I think the GOP will write off a strong demographic if they persue this anti gay marriage amendment. Better to let the process go on, don't pass any laws, and keep the government out of it. The GOP is the family values party, right? So more families is a better thing. Getting married and setteling down has long been a standard way of moving people is small ways toward the right on some issues. In a generation or so, perhaps the Dems won't be able to count on the gay vote. Anyway, gay marriage is here. Complaining about it won't solve anything, and accepting it will help the party in the long run. Not that the GOP will accept it, it's just a thought.
:: C.M. Burns 5/18/2004 11:05:00 AM [+] ::
:: Monday, May 17, 2004 ::
Would You Deny I Dying Man A Last Drink?
When it comes to society's various wars on controllable substances, ie cigarettes, booze, and drugs, I come down firmly against society. As an ex-smoker, I remember how annoying the hetoring over how bad ciagrettes were for me. Like I didn't know. Those damn "Truth" ads, which seem to have disappeared, thank god, were full of eager, young puritan liberals of tomorrow, telling us cigarettes were essentially evil. Fuck you kids. I knew that. But what's the point of life if you can't enjoy something every so often?
With alcohol, same thing. I like to drink. Sometimes to excess, sometimes not, but again, it's my right. I woman at work almost came out and straight up called me an alcoholic one day because I had gotten drunk over the weekend and was telling some coworkers abotu my goofy, self-efacing adventure. She was married an "alcholic"(Yeah, he was an alcoholic 20 years ago. Now he's just stone cold sober and stuck with this hag) and she knows the signs. In fact, she said, you can be an alcoholic without ever getting drunk. Wow, that got to be the worst alcoholism ever. You've never been drunk, yet you go to meetings. I think she was crazy, but her nanny attitude doesn't help anything. It's my life, I know my limits. And if I really was a drunk, well, than I would seek help. But I'm not, so fuck you.
Now, drugs are a tad different. I only favor the legalization of pot. Why? Because pot is a non-addictive, calming drug that can help sick people feel better. I don't think using it all the time and becoming a waste of space pothead is a good idea, but then I don' think drinking all the time to get drunk is a good idea, either. Still, anti-drug laws regarding pot do more harm than the use of the drug does. So leagalize pot, I say, if only for people in pain. Hard stuff, like acid, Heroin, PCP, well, that never helped anybody, and can only wreck you, so I think society has a vested interest in keeping the hard stuff illegal. I'm almost a total libertarian on this issue.
Which brings me to something I think people should read. Radley Balko of the Cato Institute wrote today in National Reveiw Online about the anti-addiction movement and how society is obsessed with stopping certain behavior. He wrote of Bill Wilson, the creator of AA, surely a good organization, who, in pain on his death bed, asked for three shots of whiskey. Apparently, his biographer, a great admirer of the man, was shoceked and "chilled" that the man who was a drunk and saved thousands of people with AA wanted one last drink before he died, to dull the pain. He wasn't given it, for unspecified reasons, but the biographer was "relieved" that the man who got AA going didn't break his vow of sobriety. Even if it would have eased his pain. I think it's gross that she was relieved, and so does Balko, and he takes on the two aproaches we have to dealing with addiction, the first, the AA way, getting help if something becomes a problem you can't control. The other is the prohibitionist, stop it before it gets near you, school, that sends too many people to prison for drug use, seeks to ban tobacco, and led the prohibition movement of the last century. It's a good read, and the next time someone lectures you about your health, call them a facist and ask them if they would deny a dying man one last smoke, toke, or shot.
:: C.M. Burns 5/17/2004 09:22:00 AM [+] ::
:: Thursday, May 13, 2004 ::
Frasier Finale: An NBC Sit-Com I'll actually Watch
Appareently, my prediction for last weeks "Friends" finale, the killing spree ending, didn't happen. Damn. Well, tonight NBC is sending off "Fraiser", which debuted during my sophomore year of High School and which I watched faithfully for 8 years. I loved this show, because first I loved "Cheers". "Cheers" may will actaully be the greatest sit-com ever. Growing up, watching "Cheers" was a big thing with my friends and I, and we all talked about the episodes at school. Since a lot of what went on in the show involved sex farce elements, this was all the more reason to watch it and talk about it at my Catholic elementary school. "Cheers" was also hilarious right up until the end, with only a slight downturn in quality over the last season, mainly because they had to tie up loose ends. Of course, one of the cooler things about the show's finale was that it wasn't like other final episodes. The bar remained, and everyone pretty much stayed where they were. Not to sound nutty, but part of me thinks that out there is TV land, Cheers is still open, and Norm and Cliff still belly up to the bar, though of course Norm's liver would have failed by now and Cliff has probably killed his mother and himself, but I think Sam's still there. Anyway, the show's finale didn't dwell on tearful goodbyes. It was just over. A great ending, though I remember wondering why Fraiser, of all characters, was getting his own show. Why not Norm, or Woody. I tuned in to Fraiser to see how it was. And it was funny.
"Fraiser" managed to be as funny as "Cheers" but in a different way, owning much to the smaller cast and Kelsey Grammer's love of old comics like Jack Benny. Farce was played out, love came and went, and the show never talked down to it's audience, like, say, "Friends". It was, as Slate puts it today
situation comedy for adults. I admit I haven't watched over the last 3 years, mainly because "24" hooked me, and NBC moved that crap fest "Will & Grace" into the Thursday slot. But Fraiser was always good in reruns, like "Cheers" was, and the season finale from about 5 years ago, that ended with Niles, Fraiser and Martin in a bar singing the theme to "Goldfinger" to cheer themselevs up was one of the funniest things I've ever seen. I will watch all two hours of the Fraiser goodbye, because the clip show is worth it, and then I will mourn the passing of good TV comedy, because no other sit-com today is as smart as "Frasier" was. I like "Arrested Development" and "Scrubs", but "Fraiser" was the total package, much like "Seinfeld" was. NBC will probably replace it with another "Fear Factor". Their loss, but the cast and crew of "Frasier" can be proud they never sold out and remained true to the spirit of great TV comedy, which they inherited from "Cheers", and will hopefully, one day, be picked up by another worthy successor. Godspeed, the cast of "Fraiser". You deserve better than NBC, anyway.
:: C.M. Burns 5/13/2004 10:22:00 AM [+] ::
:: Wednesday, May 12, 2004 ::
How Do I Get Honorary Australian Citizernship?
Australian Treasurer made my list of all-time coolest politicians the other day, as he referred to having sex as
a "patriotic duty" for Australians. Peter Costello was actually encouraging Aussies to have more children, stating that married couples should "have one for your husband, one for your wife, and one for your country". He was touting a new tax plan that gave breaks to couples with kids, designed to keep Australia from having a declinging population, but all I care about is the sex part. Peter Costello, I salute you, and will do my best to be a Patriotic Australian, if you can arange immediate honorary citizenship and access to Nicole Kidman.
:: C.M. Burns 5/12/2004 10:28:00 AM [+] ::
Should the Abu Ghraib Pictures Have Been Aired?
Since the release of the first photos from Abu Ghraib prison 10 days ago, the country has been torn up over them. Many journalists and politicians declared this the point that America "lost" Iraq. Unconvicted murderer Ted Kennedy, who is also a US Senator, said on the Senate floor that "Saddam's torture chambers reopened under new management, U.S. management". Now, the media and politicians on both sides of the aisle are considering releasing every photo there is, and apparently some are much, much worse than what we've seen, if that's possible. Frankly, I don't see how releasing more photos helps anyone. I sure don't need to see any more to know that horrible things happened over there. In fact, I wish we'd never seen the damn things to begin with. Why? Well, as Jonah Goldberg pointed out last week, they only inflame the situation. There was only shock value in them, no real news. Goldberg took a lot of heat on this, and responds today, questioning the ethics of releasing the photos that likely got American Nick Berg Beheaded. He responds with a kind of even handedness that his critics lacked. As he points out, it isn't censorship but ethics that should have kept CBS from showing those photos on TV. The story needed to be told, yes, but not in a way that is so damanging to so many people, not just the Administration.
Goldberg has an ally in Mickey Kaus, who agrees that CBS had no compelling interest in releasing the photos besides their sensationalisic and inflamatory nature. I agree. And I think more pictures will just make things worse. The term "Full Disclosure" is being bandied about far too much, and Senator McCain has gone batty, demanding every single awful photo be released to prove to the world we have nothing to hide. Well, hasn't the military's quick investigation of the scandal before the media even read the press releases on it proof we're operating in good faith? How about the reaction of every member of congress, the President, the Secretary of Defense, and the public to the photos. Are these the actions of a nation with more to hide? I'm sure the Kerry campaign would love to get it's hands on more photos so it could use their release to demand Donald Rumsfeld resign in it's fundraising letters, but I can't see how releasing more photos helps. (By the way, why is it OK for Kerry to use the torture case for fundraising put teh President can't show 3 seconds of teh WTC? I just want to know). The media has caused lasting damage here. If the uprising in Iraq gets worse, I know that the photos will be a root cause of it. Should the story itself have ran? Of course. The people have a right to know. Should the photos have run? Absolutley not. CBS, crowing about how tough it is, screwed up on it's quest for glory. Who knows how many will die for their ambition.
:: C.M. Burns 5/12/2004 09:32:00 AM [+] ::
:: Thursday, May 06, 2004 ::
Friends Finale Prediction
Two Words: Killing Spree
Oh, and Fuck NBC for preempting every show this week for Friends retrospectives. The show's sucked for years now. Compared to the final season of Friends, the final season of Seinfeld was note perfect. At least the damn promos will end.
:: C.M. Burns 5/06/2004 08:52:00 PM [+] ::
This May Well Win Bush Ohio
In a cynical election year, sometimes it's a small, genuine moment that tip the scale in one way or another. President Bush may have had that moment at a rally in Ohio. Bush was doing a meet and great with a crown, shaking hands, pictures, etc., and as he passed by a group of three people, a woman, her neighbor, and his daughter, the woman said "This girl lost her mom in the World Trade Center on 9-11." Bush stops, turns around, and has this little moment that is really best captured in the article. Look at that picture, snapped by the neighbor of the daughter, not by Bush people. I think more than anything else that has happened in a while that photo humanizes Bush, and his face shows general concern. Unless you are so convinced that Bush is Satan, and if you are, why are you visiting my stupid blog, you have to say this could be a big mover in Ohio.
:: C.M. Burns 5/06/2004 03:54:00 PM [+] ::
Well, At Least The Military Wasn't Asleep at the Switch
The pictures coming out of Iraq of prisoner abuse bu US Soldiers continues to sicken me. What the fuck is a person thinking when they pile people into a naked pyramid and take pictures? Outside of a college prank, I mean. Who thought it was right? Who is dumb enough to take pictures? Well, apparently the brass in Iraq got ahold of this stuff before the press did and was finishing up it's investigation when the story broke. The Mudville Gazette has a helpful timeline that chronicles what the military knew, and when, and shows that what was happening was not being tolerated. And that CBS did, in fact, hold off on the story at the behquest of General Myers. This is better news in general, as CBS did good investigative work and also held off a bit in deference to what the story might do to American hostages. It's still awful, but the whole story is slightly less awful because the first general media reports made it seem that the military had no idea this was going on. Why Rummie didn't know needs to be investigated, and obviously Congress is upset, but the military was taking action as early as December of last year. So lets kick the asses of the fuckers who did this, but not judge the whole military on these sickos, and also not be like Senator Kerry, who said the Pentagon had moved "slowly" on this issue, even though the timeline and facts tell an entirely different story. Perhaps Sen. Kerry shouldn't use the torture of prisoners for Political gain. That's not gonna help us in an incredibly bad situation, either.
:: C.M. Burns 5/06/2004 09:46:00 AM [+] ::
:: Wednesday, May 05, 2004 ::
I Agree With Ralph Nader-World to End Later Today
In a most disturbing development, Major League Baseball will begin
displaying ads for "Spider-Man 2" on bases, pitchers mounds, and warm-up circles starting three weeks before the film's release on June 30th. Previously, MLB had approved ads on players headgear during the opening series in Tokyo between Tampa Bay and the Yankees. In response to THAt move, consumer "advocate", egomaniac, and apparent baseball junkie Ralph Nader penned a letter to baseball commissioner Bud Selig, saying MLB has hit a new low. Sadly, he's right. While advertising has always been a major part of baseball revenue, putting Spider-Man webbing all over the place and putting ads on caps, turning the players themselves into ads, is just plain wrong. While a certain corporate synergy with baseball is fine, doing this does tarnish a game that Selig has repeatedly run into the ground. Nader is right, this is nearly prostitution. God help me, I agree with Nader.
Like everyone else, I was fairly sickened by the newly released photos and video of US soldiers torturing and humiliating Iraqi prisoners. I spent some time this weekend talking with various people about how this is bad, really bad, and gaddamned fucking bad on several levels. In today's NRO Jed Babbin does a good job of setting forth a way to get past this, both within the military structure and to right our now listing position in the Arab world over the action of these moronic guards. He argues for complete transparency in their court martials, and reminds us that these few rotten apples are the exception, and that the Chomskys of the world must not be allowed to paint all our troops with this one hateful brush. Good reading. It also might settle your stomach a bit after being so pissed at the reprehensible behavior we say in those images.
:: C.M. Burns 5/03/2004 09:12:00 AM [+] ::