Friday, September 25, 2009

Stiffing Soldiers 

Many car dealers have not yet received their promised payments from the US government under the wastefully inefficient Cash for Clunkers program. Now we have this Washington Times report that payments promised to our veteran soldiers similary have not been paid:
Out of more than 277,000 veterans who have filed for the college tuition benefits this semester, more than 200,000 claims have been processed and approved, but fewer than 11 percent of the veterans have received the funding, according to the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA).

The group says it has been contacted by thousands of veterans who have not received their benefits and that they are forced to take out loans or pay the money out of their pockets.
The US government would be responsible for millions of payments under a single payer health care system. Washington politicians who care about their re-election should be unwilling to risk extending demonstrated government incompetence into such a huge and important sector of our economy.

My husband and I will be attending a departure ceremony at Ft Bragg, NC on Tuesday morning, as our son's army unit deploys to Iraq for a year.

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Friday, September 11, 2009

9/11 and 9/12 

We'll be quiet today and let you read honors to September 11th elsewhere. Here's an audio we played on the air last year. And check out Project 2,996; Ed Morrissey's turn at writing about one of the victims is here. (UPDATE: Chad suggests these videos too.)

Janet Adds: Today was doubly memorable for us. In addition to our remembrances of 9/11/2001, we saw our youngest son off at the airport this morning. He is an army 1st Lieutenant, deploying to Iraq at the end of this month, so it will probably be a year before we see him next. [End Janet.]

While I'm at it, for those who are wondering about the St. Cloud T.E.A. (Taxed Enough Already) Party, here's how you get to Lake George -- and pay particular attention to the construction in the area.

Lake George is across the street from Technical High School (233 12th Ave S, St. Cloud MN 56301), so using your GPS for the high school will take you there. That area is also your best bet for street parking. There is a parking lot on the south side of the lake as well. The organizers plan to set up in the northeast corner of the lake, which is where there is still construction for a new bridge and the 9th Ave underpass.

If you are coming from the east, remember that the bridge on Highway 23 over the Mississippi is still closed, so you will want to follow the detour signs. From any other direction, my advice is to come off Interstate 94 or U.S. 10 to State Highway 15, and turn east onto Division Street (which is labeled as Highway 23, Crossroads Mall will be to your west.)

I will be speaking around 10:15, just before Rep. Bachmann, and then hopping in the car to head to the Patriot. Live call-ins from St. Cloud will be on NARN Volume I, which is going to be hosted by Ed this week (Mitch will probably be there after noon.) So if you can't be there, you can at least listen to all the fun you're missing!

P.S. Yes, I'll stop by the MOB gathering too tomorrow night at Keegans. But I leave very early due to Sunday church singing, so if you snooze, you lose.

P.P.S. I'm glad Andy Levy preserved that Twitter stream. I was stretching before bed -- it's the only way my back can stay moderately healthy any more -- and as is my wont, I usually go to bed around 12:30am. My iPod Touch gave me the usual last hundred posts, which I read while listening to either Dennis (Miller, Prager) or music, and last night I chose Red House Painters. Stretching is about twenty minutes. I start reading and half my tweetstream is AllahPundit's stream. I got up, sat down, and refreshed until Twitterrific wouldn't let me any more. Music ran out at the same time, and I went to bed. I slept poorly.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Yep, We're Winning in Iraq 

Thank goodness for the Wall Street Journal or we might not know this: the Iraqi expats in Cairo, Egypt are GRATEFUL to we Americans. Why? For the first time they have a chance at a society not ruled by a dictator. Ok, not the first because they did have a leader whom Saddam removed but they have a chance now, and they know it.

Le Grillion is a restaurant-bar in the always-crowded downtown Cairo frequented by Iraqi expats. Take a look at what they are saying and also note their concerns.
"I am from Fallujah" says one man � an art agent � with a cigar ever between his fingers. "We should make the most benefit from the Americans while we can. It is a moment of history. We either get a state now, or we will always be like this."

Author, NUMAN AL FADDAGH, "I cannot keep my pleasure to myself. I saw my Iraq � one that I have only seen in poetry � in the near future: an oasis of peace and prosperity amidst the scorching desert, a home for its children and a sanctuary for its guests."

A female commented, "They (Iraqis) were of every color in the Iraqi rainbow, but you can speak of two common things among them: telling you about their plans to go home within months and considering the Americans to be partners in that home they are returning to."

Another female, this time a Christian who was forced to leave Iraq by Al Qaeda and now lives in Jordan, says, She told me "it seems that the Americans know what they are doing. They have been so patient with us, but it seems that we have learned our lesson now."

Numan then asked the gang at Le Grillion what they thought about the proposed long-term treaty with the Americans. The answer came immediately: "We have nothing to give the Americans; we are the ones who should be thankful!"

My greatest fear (Numan) � and it seems to be the case for all my new friends here � is the future of the American presence in Iraq. Our tongues and our minds have been freed, and yes we are heading home, but the Americans might run out of patience before we can make it.

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Thursday, May 08, 2008

A brief note on Iraq loans 

I am puzzled by the whole idea that we should expect Iraq to pay for reconstruction through loans rather than grants, as Rep. Tim Walz suggested yesterday, and which has been floated by senators including our Norm Coleman. The parallel story I would tell is to think about my own desire to educate my child versus the state's interest in an educated workforce. Both of us have the same interest; using a state subsidy to finance my child's education shifts the price I pay for education, but if the state does not want to buy as much as I would myself, it's just giving me money. The child gets the same education either way, it's only a question of who pays. The question is a question of marginal analysis.

Who has a greater stake in Iraqi reconstruction at the margin? If you believe the GWOT is aided by the establishment of a functioning democracy in Iraq, it seems reasonable to argue that Iraq would choose less reconstruction and transformation than would be best for U.S. interests, and so it makes more sense for the U.S. to pay. Besides, the Walz formulation of Iraqi oil money helping us finance war in Afghanistan sounds a little too mercenary. That would be made only worse if you do not believe our anti-terrorism strategy is advanced by stabilizing Iraq.


Friday, March 28, 2008

Forest Lake Rebuttal 

If you have been following the cowardly behavior of the Forest Lake School District personnel, you are aware that the principal, Mr. Massey, reneged on his word to alum Pete Hegseth, Executive Director of Vets for Freedom to allow Pete and his heroic buddies the opportunity to give students a chance to hear true events about Iraq.

Nick Coleman of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, ever the friend of the anti-military left, got his digs in yesterday. The school superintendent and principal cannot seem to decide why they went back on their word - was it parents? outsiders? the children? security? the press? Who knows - their story keeps changing.

In response to the unfair, unjust, and inconsistent comments made by Forest Lake administrators, Pete Hegseth has released the following statement:

"There was NO press conference called and there was NO safety threat.

"I called the superintendent 3 times, left 2 messages, he will not call me back.

"We did NOTHING wrong and we haven't piled on (can't say that about others in the media - Janet)...we haven't sent out anyone's contact information or asked anyone to email anyone (I chose to email to my list - Janet)"

Thanks, Pete

Pete, we thank you and the soldiers who were denied the opportunity to tell their real experiences, not media-biased experiences. Who lost? The students and anyone else who would be open to learning what really is happening in Iraq. All missed true stories of valor, leadership, calm in incredibly stressful circumstances. So many who could have learned much were denied by the politically correct (in reality, wrong) actions of so few.

Special thanks to you and our soldiers, agents of security, stability and therefore, peace.

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Friday, January 18, 2008

Iraq Numbers - Very Good 

Thanks to the plans of Generals Petraeus and General Odierno, and the execution of these plans by the US Military, deaths in Iraq have plummeted since December 2006. Go here to see the charts. (HT Powerline.)

It is extremely unfortunate that the MSM refuses to tell Americans and the rest of the world the whole story. Their bias and agenda driven behavior may well backfire and we will be in a far worse place that today. The Iraqis get it, the American Military gets it, people honestly concerned about freedom get it. Why won't the Dems? They don't want to get it, they want power. Remember this when you vote this fall.

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Monday, December 24, 2007

Shia + Sunni = Iraq - Where's the MSM? 

As this article shows Shia and Sunni in Iraq do have the capability of willing to work together and can get over the mindset of division and one-upmanship. Local Iraqis, regardless of Muslim sect, are taking charge of their neighborhoods and streets and sharing the space.

In their drive for "news," too many media pundits, all over the planet, focus on the abnormal, the aberration, the unusual, and anything that will divide groups. Just consider the mouths that constantly play the race card in the USA. But Iraqis have already discovered that what appears on western television is not necessarily what is happening in Iraq. This ability to discern truth from propaganda is a very healthy sign for a nation's population who were under the thumb of a dictator for more than one generation. It shows what people can do when given the opportunity for free thought. Our soldiers have made a significant impact on Iraqi society and the Iraqis "get it."

There is more to do but the Iraqis are making incredible progress, governmental, physical, religious and emotional. They are a shining example of what people can do when given a chance.

HT Captain Ed

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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Heroes? CBS? Yes, but 

While working out this morning, I happened to view one of the televisions near the machines. CBS was airing a segment, "Heroes at Home." They were showing Americans helping other Americans whose spouses are overseas. Americans do these kinds of actions and I am glad to see that the donors are getting exposure for their great work. It is wonderful to know that families also have support here at home.

But I have another question:

Where was and is CBS and their news and their opinions and their coverage on the brave heroes who are doing the fighting? You know, the ones protecting us, our children, and freedom for the future? If I recall, most of the alphabet soup coverage of the war by the mainstream media has been very, very negative, including incomplete, snap judgments on the actions of our military (while ignoring the documented barbaric behavior of our enemy).

It seems rather odd that now that victory is a definite possibility, CBS chooses to show those helping the families here as "heroes" but continues to ignore the heroes overseas. Could this be another MSM ploy, one to make soldiers "victims?" I certainly hope not but I do have to wonder.

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Sunday, December 02, 2007

HUGE Breakthrough in Iraq 

More good news from Iraq. The the leading Shiite cleric in Iraq, the Ayatollah Ali Sistani, has just issued a Fatwa (ruling) banning the killing of Sunni Muslims. The announcement was made at a conference between Sunni and Shiite clerics in Najaf, Iraq, a religious city for Shi'a Muslims. In addition, Sheikh Khaled Al-Mulla, a conference leader, quoted Sistani saying, "I am a servant of all Iraqis, there is no difference between a Sunni, a Shiite or a Kurd or a Christian,"

We Americans rarely comprehend the impact these kind of religious edicts can have. For a leading Muslim cleric to issue a Fatwa banning the murder of other Muslims is simply huge. In addition, it appears the Ayatollah Sistani is being watched very closely in Shi'a Iran where another Ayatollah, the radical Khameini, is claiming the top position in Shi'a Islam. As a result of all the positive events and leadership seen in Iraq, many Iranians are sending their religious donations (not insurgents, thugs, murderers, etc.) to Sistani, the Iraqi cleric. A final point, Ayatollah Sistani believes in the separation of mosque and state, again, a huge breakthrough in thought.

These events follow an earlier breakthrough between the Iraqi government and the USA. In summary, Iraq is asking the UN to leave and the US to stay. They have concluded that the lies they heard over the years are just that - lies and that Americans are decent people. It would be nice if our mainstream media and Democrat Party could reach the same conclusion.

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Monday, November 05, 2007

Economics is quicker than politics? 

Former Treasury undersecretary John Taylor pretends to give testimony at the Iraq hearings. I like the last paragraph best:
You have heard much about the need to secure an area before significant political progress can be made; the same is true for economic progress. But economics is quicker than politics. We should move in economically even before our teams start helping on political reconciliation. If the environment is secure, entrepreneurs -- both Shiite and Sunni -- can create jobs much more quickly than politicos can reach agreement, let alone pass legislation. Job creation, the economic integration of communities and the taste of prosperity will accelerate political reconciliation and the achievement of our ultimate objective in Iraq.
Is it really that easy, though? While I believe that economic order is largely spontaneous, I'm not sure it's fast. Many of us who studied transition of the successor states to the USSR puzzled over this for years, and I don't believe we have an answer yet.

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Monday, September 24, 2007

Reality, check. Logic, umm... 

I have thought of running the series "Spot the Non Sequitur", but the double entendre would be too cruel. And besides, I think this one is an example of a red herring rather than a non sequitur. My readers can decide.

Pat Kessler runs a series of "Reality Checks" for WCCO television in the Twin Cities. The media seems to love this sort of thing -- look at the wonders it did for Eric Black's career. So occasionally I read these looking for, well, reality. Instead I find this.
"They attacked us and they will again. They won't stop in Iraq," the ad says.

This is a DISTORTION of the facts.

There is no link between the 9/11 in American [sic] and Saddam Hussein in Iraq.
The statement quoted in the ad by Freedom Watch is not a fact; it's a prediction that "they" -- who are terrorists and extremists, not identified as Iraqis, at least not in that ad -- will attack "us", and that this is more likely if we pull out of Iraq. That's not a distortion of fact; it's a hypothesis with which you may reasonably agree or disagree.

But even if you disagree with that hypothesis, support of your proof is not begun and ended with a statement that there's no link between the 9/11 attack and Saddam Hussein. The proposal to stay or go in Iraq has nothing to do with Saddam at this point given that he has achieved room temperature. It has to do with whether who we are fighting includes those who would attack here if we chose not to fight. Again, that's a debatable point; there are no settled facts, and Kessler's conflation of Saddam with that debatable point is an example of using the editorial voice of "Reality Checker" to assert one side of a debate as a settled fact.

Perhaps WCCO could run a segment called "Logic Check". And start with its own reporting.

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Thursday, August 30, 2007

Broken Glass, Not 

As most of us have heard, the surge is working. As with most conflicts, there are levels of success: military, political, social, and business, among others.

A key sign of hope that things are improving is that small business people are opening shops. These shops are not being vandalized nor are they being targeted by those thugs who wish the Iraqi chance at representative government to fail. As the author of Badgers Forward notes, "There at the first corner, I see it. New glass. Someone has put new glass in a shop. Someone only installs new glass when they think it won't get broken. New glass is confidence."

Read the entire, short post.

Net, new glass equals new hope equals new chance for freedom.


Fabrications and Journalistic Standards 

Embedded Daily Princetonian reporter Wesley Morgan (see my earlier post here) reports (hat tip to Glenn Reynolds) that one story he had written up turns out to have been largely made up by the soldier:
An update on the story of the specialist at FOB Rusty: she took me for a ride. I'm pretty sure now she fabricated much of what she told me, which I'm pretty pissed about; when a soldier invents a story, no matter why, they denigrate the real sacrifices of their comrades, and through my gullibility I was complicit in that. Several soldiers of 2nd BCT, 2nd ID have raised very serious doubts about her story; apparently she has a tendency to do this. I'm on my way home right now and will not be able to visit the FOB to look into this further. Suffice it to say that the specialist, like many other soldiers, went through a lot, but not all that she said. I apologize for relaying the story -- I was so dumbfounded by it that I tried to convey the experience even though it was a passing conversation and not part of an embed, which I should not have done.
There are two lessons here.

First, no reporter is totally free from the normal human desire to believe stories that reinforce our view of the world. This sometimes reduces our skepticism about what people tell us they have experienced or observed in person.

Second, we readers want to be able to rely upon the reporters and news organizations that serve as our sources of information. We know that people and organizations make mistakes. No one is perfect. What is critical is how those mistakes are handled. Morgan understands that such mistakes must be promptly acknowledged and corrected. Unfortunately, all too many of those who claim to be professional journalists have resorted to sham defenses like "fake, but accurate."

I wrote earlier that
The openness and detail in reporting provided by Morgan stands in vivid contrast to the discredited Scott Beauchamp stories published by The New Republic.
Morgan's candid acknowledgment of his mistake makes that contrast even more vivid. I continue to commend Morgan's blog reports, such as those here and here. There is no better source of information about our soldiers than first-hand reports from Iraq.

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Monday, August 27, 2007

Embedded Reporter Wesley Morgan 

Glenn Reynolds noted last night two posts from Iraq here and here by embedded Daily Princetonian Reporter Wesley Morgan. In the comments to the second post, about an incredible female soldier identified as "Allison K.", Morgan has just said(8/27 at 5:45 am) that 'i confirmed the story with her sergeant." Morgan also says that he has " her full name but am not going to give it out without checking with her."

The openness and detail in reporting provided by Morgan stands in vivid contrast to the discredited Scott Beauchamp stories published by The New Republic.

The brief bio on Morgan's blog says that he
is a sophomore at Princeton University, where he writes for The Daily Princetonian. He is blogging from Iraq, where he will spend the month on the invitation of the commander of U.S. forces there, Gen. David Petraeus. Wesley is a member of Princeton's Army ROTC and lives in Watertown, Massachusetts.

Morgan has several excellent earlier posts from Iraq, including a long post about his day accompanying General Petraeus. Read as many of Morgan's posts as you can -- it is outstanding reporting.

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Saturday, August 25, 2007

New York Times, one-sided views 

This article printed in the New York Times (NYT) on August 19th was written by seven US soldiers who will be coming back to the USA shortly. The article is not optimistic about Iraq's future - not because the US military has failed but because the Iraqi people are simply too divided. Of course this NYT article plays right into the defeatist mentality of the main stream press and particularly that of the NYT.

But there is another point of view, from a group with Iraq experience. Problem is, they cannot get their op-ed in the New York Times because the NYT refuses to publish anything that even suggests the NYT just might be wrong. To read their thoughtful analysis, go here.

We hear from numerous sources, including other soldiers on the ground that the surge is working. Why? We are doing what we should have done years ago - when you send in a military, let the military do its job and clamp down on all aspects of an enemy. Only when you have the control do you move on to other options like setting up governing units, etc.

We forget - Germany and Japan, after being defeated, were not allowed to hold elections for 10 years and we still have troops stationed in both countries today. Yet to listen the mantra of the New York Times and the left, we are to get out of Iraq now and let the cards fall where they may. Too many on the left ignore the millions of southeast Asians who were murdered, reeducated, or harmed in many ways when our Congress after listening to the defeatist attitude of the western press bailed out on the Vietnamese government in 1973. Our enemies know us well - get our press to do their dirty work, add too many Democrats to the equation and they win.

Today we have other ways of communicating. We forget we still are the beacon of freedom for the rest of the world. Our press owes it to the world to do their job. Unfortunately, too many of the defeatists leftist organizations like the NYT, simply want to lose and leave. For some reason they think they are immune to any negative ramifications based on their behavior.

Our military is finally building the personal security the Iraqis need as the foundation for political stability. Iraqis want it and they can make it happen but they need time.

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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Teachers for death 

A group of teachers showed up yesterday at the local office of Michele Bachmann "to end her support of President Bush's Iraq surge." Since by all accounts the surge is working, they would like her to stop supporting an effort to win the war. They spread the usual disinformation that a draft is coming -- not even Nancy Pelosi thinks that -- and brought out a dozen teachers to help. Here's one local teacher:

For some, the event was personal. Louise Olson, a 30-year St. Cloud school district employee, said her grandson came home from Iraq with post-traumatic stress disorder two years ago and has required treatment at the St. Cloud VA Medical Center.

"I felt so bad for him," she said. "I hate Bush so much because he's a liar."

And I feel bad for you, Ms. Olson, and pray you receive the help you need.

Drew Emmer shows us the list of usual suspects that ginned up these dozen teachers.

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Monday, August 13, 2007

Why you have to have trade 

There is a fascinating article in Reuters this morning interviewing a U.S. Defense official on how we did not grapple with issues of trade in Iraq.
Years of economic policy mistakes after the fall of Saddam Hussein left unemployed young Iraqis easy targets for recruitment by al Qaeda and other insurgents, a U.S. Defense Department official said on Sunday.

Paul Brinkley, deputy under-secretary of defense for business transformation in Iraq, said Iraq's shattered industrial base had to be revitalised to bring down unemployment levels of about 60 percent and help reconciliation.

He said political, social and economic stability would be much easier if factories, many left idle since the 2003 invasion to topple Saddam, could win even a small fraction of the trade the United States conducts every year with economies like China, India, Indonesia and Thailand.

"If we could just get some of that factored into Iraq we'd uplift the lives of every Iraqi and al Qaeda wouldn't have any people to recruit," Brinkley told Reuters in an interview.

Brinkley said early economic planners had made the understandable mistake of assuming that a free market would rapidly emerge to replace what he described as Saddam's "kleptocracy", and create full employment.
Had you asked people like me, who had worked in advising in eastern Europe after the Soviet Union's collapse, we could have predicted this. Under the best of circumstances, a re-orientation of trade under free markets takes years. Djankov and Freund found that trade pointed inward after transition; 60% more trade happened intra-Russian rather than between Russia and the other ex-Soviet republics.

But Estonia and Latvia, two countries that quickly and energetically adopted free market reforms and made joining Europe a national priority, avoided these problems.

One of the most remarkable parts of the Iraqi transition process has been the utter failure of the leaders to learn from the Soviet experience. The Coalition Provisional Authority under Paul Bremer fell under the sway of the same market romanticism as did those in the early days of transition. Whether this is a systemic failure or a particular incompetence of Bremer and the State Department is debatable (some of which was encapsulated by Dan Drezner last year; I'm of the systemic camp, and have read this recent paper by Christopher Coyne with some head-nodding.)

What should be less debated is that we don't know how to create markets very well, in the sense of making big changes in the circle of potential traders one embraces. Trading involves trust as well as institutions; we at best can do something about the latter, and even that not so well.

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