July 8 - (Updating continuously and time stamp intentionally keeps this on top.)
06:29 - The no-good, m-f'ing, murderous pscyopath is dead: Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi Killed in Bombing Raid. I wonder how he likes it in Hell?
My son called me at work at 4 a.m. this morning and said "You want to hear some good news?" Heh. I hope my, um, enthusiastic response doesn't get me fired. The downer: I told the other people, and none of them knew him by name and I had to list some of his crimes.
And it looks as though they used my fav-ou-rite weapon: Predator and Hellfire.
This is huge, and I mean huger than capturing Saddam Hussein or killing Udai and Kusai, and in terms of the immediate strategy for Iraq, this may well be the turning point. More later, perhaps, when I settle down.
One last word: I can never think of Zarqawi without thinking of Nick Berg. Well, he has been avenged at long last. Rest in Peace, Nick, and all those who fell victim to that monster.
07:32 - I'm still blushing over the language that I used when I first heard the news. I so need to wash my mouth out with soap.
How wonderful and appropriate that Iraqi police made the identification! He has orchestrated the murders of so many of them -- as well as those who stood in lines to join the police (and army) -- that I can easily imagine their grim satisfaction that a vicious foe has been "eliminated."
Pres. Bush is speaking on this, and although he is far more cautiously optimistic than I, I do echo his closing: God Bless the Iraqi People, and God Bless America.
Okay, so now U.S. officials are being cautious. Lord give me strength: I was not convinced that capturing Saddam was going to stifle the insurgency but they thought such was the case however, as I stated at the outset, I think this is bigger than they are saying (maybe because their own optimism has led them astray before? They really need to read more blogs.)
Now Dan Senor is speaking, and he is hitting the nail on the head: this latest instance of "blasting the bastard to Kingdom Come" shows that it take time and patience, but the days of people like Zarwawi are numbered.
I haven't heard anyone say it yet but I just know some wanker is going to try to throw cold water on this and prattle "but Bin Laden is still loose" to which I will pre-emptively respond "what's your point?" I don't care about Bin Laden, I want the strategists and the architects of terror like Zarqawi and al-Zawahiri. I want bin Laden to watch helplessly as his followers fall one by one because more and more people choose to stand up to those who try to rule them by terror, and finally for him to die a lonely, disillusioned man with only bitter dreams of glory to comfort him. I want him to know utter despair before he dies.
8:03 - Rats. Not Predator/Hellfire. Oh well, he's still dead.
08:09 - Australian PM John Howard is more enthusiastic:
"The reported death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is great news for the people of Iraq, the real victims of his murderous behaviour," he said.I love that guy.
"He has been the principal architect of terrorism in that country.
"Not only does his death remove a cruel terrorist, but it's also a huge boost for anti-terrorist forces in Iraq."
The Prime Minister said the Iraqi Government's determination to destroy terrorism should be supported.
"The determination of the Iraqi Prime Minister, Nuri al-Maliki, and his new Government to confront terrorism and the insurgency is something that everyone should support," he said.
Tony Blair was concise as always:
In London, British Prime Minister Tony Blair said al-Zarqawi's death "was very good news because a blow against al Qaeda in Iraq was a blow against al Qaeda everywhere."Properly his words should be up on the BBC website but I couldn't find his comments there and I haven't seen any comments yet from Canadian PM Harper. The CTV does quote "terrorism expert" Eric Margolis, though, at that link. They just can't help themselves.
08:39 - Michael Yon's post is aptly titled Death Finds the Devil's Second Most Favored Serpent and concludes:
His death will not likely fracture the terror campaign in Iraq because of the disparity of the insurgency itself, comprised of many distinct and disjointed elements, not all of whom were following al-Zarqawi.08:47 - In the press briefing, Caldwell is calling the information collected at the site "a treasure trove" and confirming that they were 100% convinced they were hitting Zarqawi at the "safe house." Heh. Another humourous concept is that Zarqawi's "spiritual advisor" was also killed.
Nevertheless, this is an important victory in the GWOT showing that persistent effort can and will produce definitive results. But al-Zarqawi was largely a media-produced terror hero, now that he is gone, let us not produce another.
I may as well admit it: I really, really wish that the kill had gone to the Iraqis. It would have been appropriate given how many of them he has killed as well as a tremendous confidence booster for the police and army. Again, though, I think that being the ones to identify his body parts was a great source of satisfaction.
The press briefing showed Zarqawi's head. Of course there was no intentional irony.
One dead Zarqawi
Courtesy of FoxNews.
I want to extend a hearty congratulations to the people of Iraq, who have endured more than their share of monsters. This may not be the end of their road but I hope this represents a significant turning point for them.
I need to get some sleep, and it occurs to me that a great many mothers in Iraq are settling their kids down for bed about now. None of us can predict what tomorrow will bring, but is it really too much to hope that tonight, if only this night, all of Iraq's children can sleep without fear?
June 8 - How can we miss her if she won't stay away? Streisand announces yet another stupid concert tour.
June 8 - Judi McLeod in The Truth about Toronto Terrorism reveals something that had already been revealed on a talk show in the U.S.:
Did you know that Monday, June 5, 2006 was the chosen date for a terrorist attack on Toronto?Actually, yes. I connected that dot. Anyone with an ounce of skepticism should have wondered that there were so many conflicting stories about the strike and that it was seemingly called on some fairly flimsy pretexes -- much as I deplore some of the civic service unions, the men and women who work for the TTC are not prone to frivolous strikes much less one with so little notice. Besides, anyone who spoke to a TTC driver Tuesday morning as to how this strike evolved should at minimum have had some kind of Hmm thought -- espcially after the arrests of the 17 terror suspects and the wearisome repeated claims that the TTC was not a target which, as they say, did protest too much.
At first I was dismayed that this became public, but I came to recognize that this disclosure serves the greater good because, if there is one lesson we have learned during the past few years, it is that each of us are on our own when a terror attack (or any calamity) strikes and the best, if not only, means of survival is to be prepared.
Never leave home without them. The life you save may well be your own.
But there's also an implicit question in this story: do you feel safer because our civic leaders have deemed it best that you are in the dark rather than go public and disclose the enormity of the dangers you face?
That answer is fairly obvious: had the strike not occured and the arrests not taken place when they did, how safe would you have been? Do you really believe that they got them all? Is there really any doubt that there are more people out there who want to intimidate Canadians and force their withdrawal from the valuable mission in Afghanistan and their participation in the war on terror?
Do you believe that freedom is God's gift to us all? And how far will you go to cherish and protect that gift?
That is what it comes down to. That is always what it has come down to, and my answer is that I will do whatever it takes -- up to and including keeping faith with the missions in Iraq and Afghanistan and with those we have asked to carry out those missions and to remain vigilant on the homefront.
Somehow the inconvenience (and weight) of carrying Implements of Survival in my bag pales in comparison with the enormous tasks which we have asked of these exemplary men and women, and I would be ashamed to fail a task which truly asks so little of me.
And to my family: I told you so.
June 8 - Ann Coulter has caused a big brou-ha-ha (that's news?) over calling 9/11 widows "witches".
That was so wrong. She should have shown them the same level of respect as Mark Steyn and referred to them as "the sob sisters."
June 7 - I've been off-line as the phone company didn't come through and then Munuvia was hit with yet another DNS attack. We must have pissed someone off, which I'll take as a compliment.
The international attention to the terror arrests up here has been astonishing, and all the more so in that the Canadian security agencies involved in the arrests have been more forthcoming than usual about those accused and their alleged specific targets. And too, the accusation that one of them wanted to behead the prime minister adds to the sensationalism in the case.
The Toronto Sun has archived the reports coming out in the aftermath of the arrest of 17 alleged terrorists here.
Judging from my own observations, I would say that awareness by both private citizens as well as by institutions has been increased -- but I'm sticking with generalities for the same reason as I cited in the previous post: give nothing away and make the bastards do their own legwork.
I will only report on the responses of those I know (and those who know me, and my American flag lapel pin intentionally acts to forewarn folks) yet I think it's fair to say that the astonishment here in Toronto is mixed with gratification. After the dismal failure to convict the defendents in the Air India trial which was, in part, attributed to turf wars between CSIS and the RCMP coupled with the revelation that the RCMP was involved in some questionable Adscam doings and had become highly politicized was disenheartening, but the arrests seemingly signaled that those responsible for public safety were in fact making us safer:
The RCMP led the investigation, but the probe included significant co-operation with partners through an Integrated National Security Enforcement Team, or INSET, made up of RCMP, the CSIS spy organization, federal agencies and provincial and municipal police.That means the teams were created when Chretien was prime minister, which is significant and asks a question of those who parrot the sorry "it sends a message" line: Why do you vote for people who say one thing and then do another rather than voting (or at least respecting) those do what they say they will do?
INSET teams were created in April 2002 under a five-year, $64-million investment by the federal government.
Chretien and his ministers continually pooh-poohed the terror threat in Canada, yet established a high-profile committee to counter terror threats and it was highly successful. The arrests and detainment in Canada under this country's Anti-Terrorism Act (and which was opposed in an open letter from Muslim and civil rights organizations in part due to provisions permitting secrecy and long-term detentions without the formal filing of charges) should have been enough to persuade Canadians that (a) there was a security threat and (b) some strong measures had been taken to contain that threat.
The most striking feature of the case is that the targets were total Cancon -- nary an American business concern or MacDonald's were on that list. Even the dumbest dunderhead should have to concede that their hated for Canada and her institutions went beyond any imagined connection with the USA and spoke to their hatred of the West in general, but I'm not counting on it. The readiness with which many up here blame the USA for everything and anything is so deeply embedded that I doubt anything could excise it, but it is those others who are thinking about this and doing their own math and, if they think about it from this perspective, the aborted attacks say so much about Canada's worth that it may help counter the sense of inferiority that marks much of what is called Canadian self-deprecation.
In short, Canada is a force of good in the world and that makes her a target -- just not in the way that those at the CBC and Toronto Star would project. It is more evident in the West, but folks in the Maritimes, Quebec and Ontario too have it as part of their heritage: the courage to pick up roots and settle in a foreign country (including the
Tories Loyalists* that fled from the American War of Independence;) the willing self-reliance and confidence such a decision requires; the optimism and hope that life here will be better than it was "back home."
Okay, I'm going all Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle on you, but there is a lot of wisdom in that movie (and some grrr-eat humour) but I do have a point: people don't come here (especially given the damned winters) unless they have confidence and yearn to build a better life for themselves and their children. I actually believe that at least some of the familes of the accused had no idea what their kids were up to because that spark and optimism drove them to take a chance and move here and I feel as badly for them as for any family that sees - and disbelieves - that their kids are trashing every gift their parents gave them.
Those who want to invoke the 60s might want to look a little deeper: one of the accusations of my generation was that our parents were too materialistic and insufficiently spiritual and "close to nature." That this accusation was directed at people who had grown up with war-time scarcities was not even a consideration, yet how different is that blindness from the young fundamentalists who have disavowed every reason for which their parents migrated here?
It should be said that recognition of and gratitude for that gift can be perverted if the schools and communities don't celebrate the very heritage that enabled people of all colours, religions and ethnicities to come here and succeed, and by that I am referring specifically to the shared English heritage of both the USA and Canada which molded our institutions and gave legal recognition to individual merit and free will, despite its inconveniences, and just maybe what Canada and Canadians need is to accept that the two countries have that in common as well as a geographical boundary.
Instead of Canadians prefacing sentences with "unlike Americans," maybe we can all say that we -- Canadian, American, Australian, New Zealander, and British -- are all engaged in promoting the genuine values of an Anglosphere which decrees that all are equal and can rise on the basis of individual merit and worth.
On Canadian Appeasement
All the protests, anti-Americanism, Bush-bashing (including that by elected officials) and a refusal to support the Iraq War only fooled the fools -- it did not fool those who allegedly plotted attacks on institutions and landmarks and, had the plot actually gone forward, the death toll as well as the impact on the Canadian economy would have been substantial.
They are even accused of plotting an attack on the Toronto CBC studio, one of the most liberal if not leftist institutions in Canada. The CBC has been lukewarm on Canadian involvement in Afghanistan and their hostility to the USA as well as US efforts in Iraq is unmistakeable, yet they were a target.
Again, only the fools were fooled.
As I noted in an earlier post about some pre-Sept. 11 difficulties between the French and British in their respective perceptions of the international scope of conspiracies to commit terror acts, the French may talk a lot about discourse and negotiations but their security services tell a different story: they are focused, hard-nosed, and sometimes ruthless in their determination to eliminate threats. The problem with the French governments is their hypocrisy, or perhaps it would be better to say that the security agencies operate in such deep shadows that the French people can pretend that they are far too sophisticated to indulge in cowboyish maneuvers or do things like blow up the Rainbow Warrior just because it was attempting to expose the environmental impact of continued nuclear testing in Polynesia. After all, their government was "sending the right message."
There are indeed two Canadas, but it is not divided so much between French and English as between those who recognize that terrorism is an international threat and Canada is vulnerable, and those who will not concede the fearsome reality. Given the need for public vigilance in noticing stray bags, gunfire in the night, or an imam who preaches beyong the fiery, the extent to which these arrests are a wake-up call are yet to be determined.
As it has in the USA, though, I fear the retreat to partisan trench warfare between right and left will be rapid and unashamed, and far too many will not be able to find it within themselves to take the necessary steps to admit that we need to pull together now if only for self-preservation. But I really hope to be proven wrong.
* I should have said Loyalists, not Tories. Thanks to Keith for the correction.
June 3 - There was a curious story yesterday about some men who were behaving quite peculiarly in the subway. The description of their activities was enough to raise terror concerns:
These two men, spotted May 23 at the Keele subway station, have brought this to the forefront. It could be nothing. It might be something! Who knows? "Two guys with video cameras were hanging around the platform and were on the trains filming the inside and under the seats," a TTC source said. "It was strange." (Emphasis added)Strange indeed, yet one would think a real terror planner would be considerably more circumspect .. and I figured there was little to the story.
Newsbeat1 linked to a partial transcript of an Al Jazeera interview last May with Taliban military commander Mullah Dadallah (breathless CTV version here) and a veiled threat to Canada was followed by the suggestion that, should Canada withdraw from Afghanistan, there would be no reason to attack:
Mullah Dadallah: "America now wants to avoid the heat of battle, so it pushes other countries towards it. Our operations may increase even more. Our advice to Canada and Britain is to refrain from defending the American propaganda, and from standing by this historic American crime. America wants to get other countries entangled in the crimes it committed in Afghanistan. Our advice to these countries is to avoid the heat of battle, because we will wreak vengeance upon them one by one, like we are doing with the Americans, if they remain here when the Americans are gone."When I left work this morning, there it was on the front page of the Toronto Sun: GTA Terror Sweep:
"Our main enemy is the United States. As for Canada and the other countries - we have no historical enmity with them. But if they want to come here as fighting forces, we will view them just as we view the Americans, and will conduct resistance against them. But if they return to where they came from, and withdraw their forces from here, we will not view them like the Americans, but as countries which we have nothing to do with."
In a stunning development yesterday, police made a sweeping terrorist bust within the GTA and expected to make several more arrests throughout the night.Home grown terrorists tranining in home grown training camps:
"The RCMP, CSIS and the Integrated National Security Enforcement Team arrested individuals throughout the GTA today in relation to terrorist-related offences," confirmed RCMP spokesman Corp. Michele Paradis.
As of about 9 p.m. last night, Paradis also added "there are ongoing arrests."
Though unconfirmed, sources have told the Sun police arrested a possible home-grown al-Qaeda terrorist cell operating in Toronto that had planned to bomb the subway as early as Monday.
Police had been watching several alleged terrorist camps since 2004 -- one of which is reported to be in the Muskokas near Bracebridge and another near Thunder Bay, a police source told Warmington late last night.There are reports that the suspects were "amassing weapons" -- including explosives.
"Recently some officers followed two men who left the camp near Thunder Bay and headed to Toronto," said the source.
Another Sun source said there was a similar "terrorist" camp near Barry's Bay -- within an hour's drive of several Ontario nuclear operations.
Now we return to something curious:
But sources also tell the Sun that the RCMP "planted" that story [see first paragraph of this post] with the media, though reasons remain unclear.It is regrettable that this cat was let out of the bag, and if this item is true, the "source" should be disciplined.
Iraq fired a Scud missile into Kuwait shortly after the invasion into Iraq began. A CNN correspondence told the world precisely where the missile landed -- not thinking that the information would be of value to the Iraqis and help them correct their aim.
I don't want to seem overly harsh on this, but one of the hardest parts about being a terror and war blogger is that sometimes the dots line up and you gasp "Wow!" and rush off to the keyboard ... only to realize that, if you truly care about helping the war effort, you can not publish your Eureka moment.
We aren't supposed to give out operational information! (Yes, I know, the U.S. news media violates that dictum as a matter of routine. Shoot them. Please.)
There will be a press conference this morning at 10 a.m. EDT. and it should be fascinating. I'm certain Newsbeat1 will quickly provide links as to what information is given out if you can't watch it yourself.
Today is moving day and I'll be losing internet access at some point. More later (Toronto hydro, the cable company and Bell Canada willing.)
June 1 - Now that public smoking has been banned, it's time for True Believers to organize for their next assault. In Ottawa, Councillors vote to educate public on perils of perfume:
A citizens' committee on the environment submitted a proposal that the city phase in a bylaw banning people from wearing perfumes and scented products such as deodorants and soaps.Get in the game, Toronto! The Ottawa City Council is threatening to capture the coveted title for Can't Run the City But Can Run Your Life. But first they have to spend millions to explain to people why perfumed products are wrong:
The proposal suggested starting with a public education campaign,handled, no doubt, by advertising companies,
then following with a scents ban in city buildings and later a citywide ban.Sheesh, I could sympathize with (althought not support) any measures taken to deal with those who do not wear deoderants (particularly after this recent heat wave) but take away my Eternity? To the barricades!
Councillors agreed Thursday to a public awareness campaign in city-owned buildings to encourage people to stop wearing scents.Woo hoo! Four whole years for avid anti-aromaists to agitate and organize and get public funding and be a Major Factor in the next city elections which, I've no doubt, it will be a dirty but scent-free campaign. Candidates will resemble the newscasters in the Batman movie.
They plan to review the effectiveness of the campaign in 2010 before looking at the committee's recommendations for a scents ban.
I tremble to think of what these zealots will do. Throw water on those who wear perfume and after-shave? Distribute circulars on how Musk Is Bad and Roses Ruins Lives? Pontificate on the allure of natural bodily odours?
How about starting with the youngsters? Millions can be spent urging teens to "Just Say No to Scent." City ordinances could be passed requiring that all perfumed products are to be removed from shelves and cannot be sold to anyone under the age of 18.
What about potpourri? and incense? Pot Smokers and Orthodox Churches Unite?
It never fraking fails. The zealots came after the smokers and now smokers have been literally ostracized. Now the same argument is being advanced to go after people who thoughtlessly pollute the air with (shudder) artificial smells.
In the proposal, the environment committee argued that people have the right to breathe clean, fragrance-free air in the workplace.Today the workplace, tomorrow the buses and subways, restaurants, canopied outdoor patios, and child care facilities along with stiff fines for those who violate the law. Beware: the Perfume Police are on your trail.
Several places across Canada have implemented public awareness campaigns urging people to not wear fragrances to help reduce illness and discomfort by those with scent allergies or asthma.They are coming for You!
June 1 - Newsbeat1 often posts excerpts from Question Period in the Commons (which is another good reason to visit a couple of times each day) and today's post concerns questions from yesterday as to what the Conservative Government is doing to stop the pending requirement to present passports when entering the U.S. at the northern border.
First I should mention that U.S. tourism has decreased to Canada in the past few years, and provincial and national Liberal politicians and pundits have come up with a variety of explanations: Sept. 11, SARS, the dollar, in short, everything and nothing.
Some, though, have voiced the obvious reasons: Canada was a member of the Axis of Weasels; Chretien flew to Mexico (then a member of the UNSC) to encourage Pres. Fox to vote against U.N. action in Iraq; Canadians seem to love Michael Moore; there's a rather long lists of terrorists are out there with Canadian backgrounds (although some are dead or in Gitmo) yet the prime minister said "there are no terrorists in Canada"; and members of the Liberal Party and the news media persist in insulting us.
Now it escapes me at the moment why Americans might not choose to visit a country that has so much contempt for Americans and furthermore actively campaigned to derail American efforts to deal with a known threat and financial supporter of terrorsts, but the Minister for Public Safety, Stockwell Day, demonstrates considerably more sense on this issue than his predecessors.
Hon. Robert Thibault (West Nova, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, on the issue of the border with the United States, this government has abandoned Canadians. The Maritimes depend on American and Acadian tourism. American families have to spend more than $500—the price of passports—to enter Canada. Americans will avoid the Maritimes, and our tourism industry will suffer further. Canadian exporters who must travel to the United States have the same problem. [Americans will need a passport to enter the U.S., not Canada, although the previous government had threatened to enact such a policy as an act of retribution.]A number of speakers take to the floor to whine about how passport requirements will hurt tourism and they all take their shots at the U.S. -- although I should note that they do not for its value in the debate but because they think they're ingratiating themselves with Canadians who they fondly imagine like to hear that stuff.
Why is this government abandoning Canadian communities on the passport issue?
Will our government not represent us on this vital question or do we have to depend on U.S. governors to defend our interests? This is bush league leadership. Once again, the Prime Minister shows himself to be a shrub, a little bush. (Emphasis added)
Hon. Stockwell Day (Minister of Public Safety, CPC): Mr. Speaker, insults like that created a lot of problems for the Liberal regime.
Somehow I doubt passport requirements will radically affect American tourism up here any more such would affect tourism to other countries. A large number of Americans, as do Canadians, hold passports already, but what may be happening is that the Liberals are establishing the grounds for blaming the Tories for reduced American tourism, as though their own big mouths weren't a major factor.
There's a saying about being careful what you wish for. A common Canadian complaint is that Americans don't know anything about them, but Americans have become more acutely aware of the world since Sept. 11 and, I fear, of Canada -- or maybe I should say the version of Canada the news media up here likes to project.
June 1 - This story sickens me. A man raped his 2-year old daughter and posted pictures of the act on the internet.
The assaults continued for two years, and after his 2005 conviction, the man received a 15-year sentence -- but the sentence was reduced to 9 years by the Quebec Court of Appeals:
In a 2-1 ruling on Tuesday, the court ruled the man's crimes were not among the worst sexual assaults ever committed, and agreed to reduce his sentence from 15 years to nine.Because gagging, threatening or hitting the child would have been wrong.
"There was no violence, such as gagging, threatening or hitting the child," Judge Lise Côté wrote.
[...]Only two children (that we know of) have been damaged so we wouldn't want to ruin his life because of this.
When the court reduced that sentence on Tuesday, Côté cited the man's young age [32 years old] and the fact that he has only one other criminal conviction (for sexually assaulting another child when he was 17).
The prosecution's case was based on roughly 5,000 pictures and 5,000 videos found on the man's computer, some featuring very young children.The man has three other children.
(Via Neale News.)
June 1 - Peggy Noonan speculates about something that many of us have been thinking about: the need for a third political party.
Partisanship is fine when it's an expression of the high animal spirits produced by real political contention based on true political belief. But the current partisanship seems sour, not joyous. The partisanship has gotten deeper as less separates the governing parties in Washington. It is like what has been said of academic infighting: that it's so vicious because the stakes are so low.
The problem is not that the two parties are polarized. In many ways they're closer than ever. The problem is that the parties in Washington, and the people on the ground in America, are polarized. ..
May 31 - Jimmy Carter has some explaining to do. Judi McLeod of Canada Free Press reveals that the Censure Carter Committee has uncovered a paper trail which, it is alleged, traces funds from the Saudi Bin Laden Group to Carter.
A paper trail shows that more than $1 million has been funneled from Bakr M. Bin Laden on behalf of the Saudi Bin Laden Group to The Carter Center.The group lists a number of allegations here and it makes for some extremely uncomfortable reading.
"An investigation by the Censure Carter Committee into the financing for The Carter Center of Atlanta, Georgia founded by President Carter and his wife to advance his "Blame America First" policies reveals that over $1,000,000 has been funneled from Bakr M. Bin Laden for the Saudi Bin Laden Group to the Carter Center," says Censure Carter.Com in a mainstream media-ignored recent media release.
"In fact, an online report accuses former President Carter of meeting with 10 of Osama Bin Laden’s brothers early in 2000, Carter and his wife, Rosalyn followed up their meeting with a breakfast with Bakr Bin Laden in September 2000 and secured the first $200,000 towards the more than $1 million that has been received by the Carter Center."
I think there is a general assumption that Jimmy Carter lost his mind after the Tehran Embassy takeover and doomed rescue attempt. He's become much like that elderly woman you see on the street corner -- the one with several large message buttons pinned to her coat passing passing out leaflets produced by The Nut Factory.
But he's also family, so you let him button-hole you for the obligatory 10-minutes on Thanksgiving until you can escape.
But no degree of diminished capacity could absolve Carter of not going public after Sept. 11 to explain that he had accepted funds from a highly questionable source nor excuse his failure to return the money to the Saudi Bin Laden Group after Sept. 11.
Unfortunately for Carter, another respected American, Rudy Giuliani, set the standard when, right after Sept. 11, he refused a donation for New York City from a Saudi prince.
We'll see if the U.S. news media picks up on this story; in the meantime, the Censure Carter Committee is raising money for ads to be aired on television.
May 31 - I feel as though my fingers have been poised over this keyboard for 3 days now, groping for words and trying to cut through the mingled humility, gratitude, and guilt that this day inspires.
I did not volunteer to serve my country in my youth. I believed, as do so many now, that it was better to work for peace. I had the feeling that, in ways I could not articulate even then, a general desire for peace could spread from belligerent nation to belligerent nation until we defeated all the warmongers.
I guess I believed that peace would spread by osmosis.
It's easy enough to laugh at such naivete now, yet my generation was inspired by Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. King: two men who successfully challenged two great nations in the cause of freedom, and they had done so not only without violence but by intentionally using non-violent methods. What we failed to take into account, though, was that both Gandhi and Dr. King knew that they were dealing with countries that, despite their flaws, believed in justice and thus would respond justly.
So, in our innocence, we believed communism wasn't evil but just a different economic system that offered hope to the Third World, and all the facts as to the deadliness of Stalin's gulags and the terrible death toll of Mao's cultural revolution were dismissed as American propaganda.
There were so many questions we should have asked about Russian and Chinese involvement but didn't, nor did we consider the Russian and Chinese propaganda machines. So we sang "Down by the Riverside" and "Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream" and protested the War in Vietnam, the draft, racial inequality and supported all the progressive things because we were so open-minded. We believed we were rescuing America from McCarthyism and the military-industrial complex. We believed ourselves pure.
When the U.S. finally withdrew from Vietnam, we felt proud because we had restored self-determination to the Vietnamese people who hated us and wanted nothing more than to be reunited with their Northern brethren.
And then we saw scenes like this one:
And there were other images: Vietnamese clinging to helicopter skids, and helicopters being shoved overboard to make room aboard carriers for as many people as could fit, and reading in the newspapers about the unspeakable horrors those people endured crammed on open flight decks and others who had boarded rickety boats rather than live under communism. Many of them in fact died -- of thirst, starvation, disease, and by drowning when their boats capsized in stormy seas.
The heartbreaking stories of the boat people forced thinking people to wonder why there was such a flood of refugees and the possibile answers were unsettling.
All this shook my sense of confident righteousness -- and then the shocking reality of Pol Pot's Utopia demolished it:
[Aside: The above is one grim picture, yet it is not entirely of an ugly past: were the bones of all those Iraqis beheaded, shot or blown apart by Zarqawi and others stacked in a pile, how high would it be?]
It was troubling, but maybe the "warmongers" were right after all. Maybe people didn't want to live under communism. Maybe communism really was evil and enslaved people. Maybe its spread had to be stopped. Maybe, just maybe we had been wrong.
And yet, despite our well-meant but unbearably foolish innocence, we were more fortunate than we could ever have imagined because those we had dismissed as brainwashed victims of U.S. propaganda remained vigilantly at the walls to protect us from the very dangers we had laughed off as simple-minded attempts at fear-mongering.
The American soldier stands between us and the monsters and often, because we are a compassionate people, he stands between people of other lands and the monsters. He has done so in Europe, the South Pacific, Africa, Korea, Panama, Grenada, Somalia, Vietnam, Kuwait, Afghanistan, Iraq, and too many places to count and too, because it is the right thing to do, has brought aid to people in far away countries devastated by tsunamais, earthquakes, and other natural disasters.
It is a curious thing, that calling to serve in a military and humanitarian capacity, and we are blessed that so many answer it.
I am humble because my youthful idealism was so misdirected, I am grateful because the men and women of the American military continue to protect me, my family, and billions of people in the world from monsters I once believed did not exist, and I feel guilty because, although I am wiser, the Pentagon thinks I am too old to serve so I can't make up for the foolishness of my younger years.
Neither words written nor spoken can ever repay this nation's debt to those souls lost in struggles to secure and protect our nation and our values, but we can vow to keep faith with them and, in the words of Lincoln, "highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain. . . that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom. . . and that government of the people. . .by the people. . .for the people. . . shall not perish from the earth."
And, if you haven't done so yet, go here and, in the name of those who gave their lives to secure your freedom, take advantage of the ways available at that site to show your gratitude to those who now serve.