Long Day, Time for Some Television

Long day today, but I got a lot done, so I am off to the couch to watch some movies. In the cue are March of the Penguins and Mr. and Mrs. Smith.

I wonder if I will experience the rapture from the penguin movie. I am pretty sure I will watching Angelina Jolie, who makes me titter like a nervous schoolboy every time I see her.

I will see you all tomorrow.

*** Update ***

I try to keep my religious beliefs to myself, but I am pretty firmly convinced that whoever decided that new DVD’s need to be shrinkwrapped and have that plastic damn tape adhered to every edge of the plastic cover making removing a new DVD a sisyphean ordeal has a special place in hell reserved for him/her. Right next to the jackass who decided that aspirin bottles need a plastic shrink-wrapped seal, a child safety lock, a seal over the container under the child safety cap, and then 3 inches of protective cotton stuffing, making pain relief from tequila hangovers almost impossible. Which is why I keep a hammer under my sink for just those occasions- there is more than one way into an aspirin bottle, I tell you.

*** Update #2 ***

Quick reviews- If you have seen the War of the Roses and are thinking about watching Mr. and Mrs. Smith, don’t. Jolie is still hot, but no one is hot enough for me to honestly recommend this. I didn’t finish the movie, and will try to watch it tomorrow when I am riding the exercise bike.

March of the Penguins– Everything that is right about movie making, in particular documentaries. While not as visually stunning as one of my all-time favorites, Winged Migration (which I really think sets the standard for this type of endeavor), March was amazing. I have long joked that I like Morgan Freeman’s voice so much I would enjoy listening to him recite the dictionary. I don’t think I am joking when I say that, anymore. There is just something about his voice that I really love. Amazing film, and a welcome addition to my collection.

BTW- If you enjoy documentaries/wildlife as much as I do, check out some of the IMAX films which you can buy for DVD. A lot of those are great. I have vvrtually every one, so if you want to know something about one before buying it, let me know. Personal favorites- Africa: The Serengeti, Ring of Fire (which I saw in an actual IMAX once), and Beavers. These are all family safe, if that is a concern.








Things That Make Me Laugh (A Never Ending Series)

MoveOn decides to make a commerical decrying the fact that American soldiers will be overseas for the holidays, and accidentally use footage of nothing but foreign soldiers:

The liberal political group MoveOn.org has yanked a video ad from its website after being criticized for using images of British soldiers to represent Americans in Iraq.

The 30-second ad, which also began running on CNN and cable stations during the Thanksgiving weekend, stated that “150,000 American men and women are stuck in Iraq” this holiday season.

But the ad showed soldiers who were “not wearing U.S. uniforms,” according to a Pentagon spokesman who was interviewed by Cybercast News Service Wednesday, approximately two hours before the Internet version of the ad was pulled from the MoveOn.org website.

“Some folks won’t be home this holiday season,” the 30-second spot declared before showing a video pan of a group of soldiers getting military rations. The narrator then stated that “150,000 American men and women are stuck in Iraq.”

Todd Vician, a spokesman with the U.S. Defense Department, told Cybercast News Service after viewing the ad that none of the men featured in the photograph was wearing U.S. uniforms. “We don’t have that style of desert camouflage,” he said.

Vician noted that combat fatigues worn by the Marines and the Army have “a pixilated design,” and Air Force BDUs (Battle Dress Uniforms) have a different pattern than the uniforms shown in the spot.

In addition to the men wearing foreign uniforms, Vician stated that he had never seen U.S. soldiers using meal containers like those shown in the ad.

Hehe. In their defense, I doubt many military guys would know their way around a “No War for Oil” sign or could tell the difference between gigantic protest puppets, so I can’t blame the MoveOn folks for not knowing what our guys in uniform, you know, ACTUALLY LOOK LIKE.








Even More on WP

John Pike finally drives it home and says, on the pages of a national daily, what all this WP BS really is- anti- American propaganda:

DESPITE EFFORTS to improve its image abroad, the United States has just suffered a damaging global propaganda defeat. And unfortunately, some of the wounds were self-inflicted.

Three weeks ago, the world’s news media erupted into a feeding frenzy over new charges that the Americans were up to their evil old tricks. The story was all too familiar: Once again, it seemed, the United States had committed unspeakable atrocities, then lied about its illegal activities and been exposed. Every day there were fresh revelations and allegations. There is just one problem. It isn’t true.

***

In early November, Italian state television aired a documentary about the use of white phosphorus in Fallouja. It showed video of mangled bodies said to be civilians killed by white phosphorus. The charges were sensational but, even on cursory examination, unconvincing. Nonetheless, in the days that followed, the story spread like wildfire as world news organizations gave credence to this absurdity.

The U.S. government only compounded the problem by denying that WP had been used in Fallouja for anything other than illuminating the battlefield. The government flatly rejected the charge that it had been used to burn enemy combatants. This claim, however, was untrue and easily disproved. An Army Field Artillery magazine article written earlier this year by soldiers who had fired the artillery in Fallouja described “shake and bake” missions — cannons firing WP incendiary rounds along with high-explosive shells to flush out insurgents from trenches and hiding places.

***

Another argument being made is that white phosphorus is an illegal chemical weapon, a poison gas. Bloggers soon found a couple of U.S. government websites containing documents that seemed to assert that WP was a chemical weapon. Closer reading revealed nothing of the sort.

Widely ignored in all this is the ultimate source authority, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which is the international agency supervising the global destruction of chemical weapons. It flatly states that “napalm and phosphorus are not considered to be [chemical weapons] agents.”

Even if Think Progress, DKos, and some unkown low-level analyst’s description of a conversation between a couple of Kurdish brothers on the phone state otherwise, WP is not a chemical weapon.

But enough carping- Pike gets down to what angered me almost as much as the obscene and unsubstantiated charges- where the hell was the administration and the Pentagon when it came to refuting this crap? The General Pace story below is the first I have seen of an organized pushback. Before that, it was me and a few milbloggers and bloggers fighting a sea of agitprop and anti-American cant.

So with no direct evidence of an atrocity, and the United States using lawful weapons, why does most of the world now believe just the contrary? And make no mistake: This slowly emerged as a story here, but it has been a big story around the world.

I was confronted with these disparate realities when I was interviewed both by CNN and CNN International a few days after the story broke. Domestic CNN, airing here in the United States, was skeptical of the scandal. CNN International, airing before an audience that had already accepted the Italian documentary as fact, took a far less skeptical approach. The two CNNs — one for the U.S. and one for everyone else — embodied the separate realities now occupied by the United States and the rest of the world. We see ourselves as well intentioned. Much of the rest of the world does not.

And where was the U.S. government while our reputation was dragged through more mud? Where was the State Department’s uber-spinmeister, Karen Hughes, all this time? U.S. officials were exacerbating the problem, providing easily debunked denials that simply stoked the feeding frenzy.

The only scandal here is that our government allowed the nation to fall victim to clumsy, cheap anti-American propaganda. At least during the Cold War, we made the Soviets work to discredit us.

I will tell you where they were. They were AWOL, and it has been a disgrace from the beginning, starting with sending out an ill-informed State Department spokesmen to talk about things he/she clearly did not understand, and then ignoring everything tossed out by our enemies abroad and their unwitting domestic allies.








About Damned Time

The military is FINALLY defending itself in regards to WP:

The United States’ most senior general has defended the use of weapons containing white phosphorus in Iraq.

General Peter Pace said that such munitions were a “legitimate tool of the military”, used to illuminate targets and create smokescreens.

Two weeks ago, the US admitted using it to flush out insurgents in Falluja last year – raising concerns that it might have hit civilians.

Gen Pace said no military went to greater lengths to avoid civilian casualties than the US army.

He said white phosphorus, a chemical that burns on exposure to oxygen, producing a bright light and lots of white smoke, was used primarily to illuminate a battlefield or to hide troop movements.

“It is not a chemical weapon. It is an incendiary. And it is well within the law of war to use those weapons as they’re being used, for marking and for screening,” he said.

If it comes into contact with human skin, white phosphorus can ignite and burn down to the bone if it is not exhausted or extinguished.

An Italian TV channel has reported that the US used white phosphorus against civilians in Falluja, and showed pictures of burned bodies.

The US has denied this.

“A bullet goes through skin even faster than white phosphorus does,” Gen Pace said.

“So I would rather have the proper instrument applied at the proper time, as precisely as possible, to get the job done, in a way that kills as many of the bad guys as possible and does as little collateral damage as possible.

“That is just the nature of warfare.”

It is about damned time, and merely reiterates what I have been stating from the beginning. Those who have been making charges that ‘chemical weapons’ were used against civilians, or the more sanitized charge, that we used WP ‘carelessly’ or ‘indiscriminately,’ with no regard for civilian life, have had their charges go without an official response for far too long.

WP is not illegal, it is not in and of itself ‘immoral,’ it is not a chemical munition, and as Gen. Pace points out, it is simply another tool that when used appropriately, is needed. The problem for critics is that ANY military behavior is de facto a ‘war crime,’ since they view the entire war illegal, and these WP charges have just been a dishonest canard used to attack the troops, the administration, and the nation.

And before you think General Pace is just another one of those dishonest Pentagon flacks, I offer you this, which Tim linked to earlier:

When UPI’s Pam Hess asked about torture by Iraqi authorities, Rumsfeld replied that “obviously, the United States does not have a responsibility” other than to voice disapproval.

But [Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Peter Pace] had a different view. “It is the absolute responsibility of every U.S. service member, if they see inhumane treatment being conducted, to intervene, to stop it,” the general said.

Rumsfeld interjected: “I don’t think you mean they have an obligation to physically stop it; it’s to report it.”

But Pace meant what he said. “If they are physically present when inhumane treatment is taking place, sir, they have an obligation to try to stop it,” he said, firmly.

Gen. Pace is a decent man trying to do the right thing by his troops, his country, and the Iraqi people. He should be allowed to continue to do his job without having to defend against outrageous charges leveled by activists and partisans with no evidence and lots of agenda.

*** Update ***

Here is another version of the same WP/Gen. Pace story from Defenselink:

White phosphorous is a legitimate military tool, but U.S. forces have been highly judicious about using it to avoid harming civilians, Marine Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Pentagon reporters Nov. 29.

Pace defended use of the substance, which U.S. forces use primarily as a smokescreen, to mark targets or to flush enemy combatants out of protected positions. “It is well within the law of war to use those weapons as they are being used for marking and screening,” he said.

U.S. troops used limited white phosphorous munitions against legitimate targets during Operation Al Fajr in Fallujah, Iraq, last year, defense officials confirmed. However, officials refuted recent news reports that U.S. forces have used the substance as an incendiary weapon. White phosphorous can cause serious burns if it comes into contact with skin.

U.S. forces have never used white phosphorous to target innocent civilians, officials said, and have taken great pains to avoid doing so.

Just as with any other weapon, troops use a variety of factors to determine the appropriateness of using white phosphorous, explained Air Force Maj. Todd Vician, a Pentagon spokesman. These include the target vulnerability and location, available munitions, and the potential risk to civilians and friendly forces, he said.



Bush’s Speech

Personally, I thought it was one of his better ones, and I thought his message was clear, as is the policy.

We are staying until the job is done. Period.

Here is the outline of the strategery.

This is all moot, though, since we know that the speech was rejected by certain quarters before it was even delivered.

*** Update ***

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid decided to send his response BEFORE the speech was over.



Even More on Torture

From the Corner:

am opposed to torture under all circumstances, and there should be laws against it. Those who break them, should be punished. As a former Army Counterintelligence Agent, I conducted battlefield interrogations of enemy prisoners of war as well as strategic debriefings of higher value targets, and I’ve served in bad places where bad things will happen if you don’t get the information.
On more than one occasion, I had discussions with some of our operators regarding the obtaining of information in the ticking bomb scenario. Our discussion ran along the lines of “It’s against the law. It’s against the UCMJ. We’d go to jail. But if we knew the bomb was ticking, and this guy had the information that could save dozens or hundreds or more people, or if the team (the operators and the unit) were going to be wiped out if we didn’t get it, I’d whip out a hatchet and an entrenching tool and go to work on him.”

We were comfortable with this fairly horrible ambiguity and the bad consequences that would accompany it only because the military ethos was to sacrifice ourselves for others, and the notion of incurring legal jeopardy to save others struck us as a righteous cause, but it had to be predicated on the necessity of the ticking bomb. We did not want torture legalized. We did not want a guide book. We were fine with the notion we’d be punished had we ever used it – we never got into the neighborhood, much less seriously considering using it on anybody, BTW, we were just prepared to do what we had to do because it occurred to use that we could be in that position. There are some things that are too horrible to give a moral and legal imprimatur to, and torture is one of them, just as the law doesn’t permit cannibalism but won’t convict shipwrecked sailors and air crashed rugby players for engaging in it. We know these taboo and downright wrong practices sometimes rear their heads for good reason, but they are animalistic behaviors that come from a bestial place in the human soul, and no civilized society can long withstand a handshake deal with such beasts. Better to keep them caged.

I always say “Read the whole thing” when I excerpt from others, but in this case, I really, really mean it. Read the whole thing.



Not Dead

I’m two weeks behind in preparing for a conference and massively pressed for time, so you won’t get much voluminous posting from me in the immediate future.

Nonetheless I’ll keep tossing up stuff that I think is pertinent and/or amusing. For example, this should entertain you.