Right Thinking From The Left Coast
Chance favors the prepared mind - Louis Pasteur

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Meet Sgt. Alva
by Lee

This is a powerful story of American heroism.

Alva had no such specialized skills, but he was a decorated staff sergeant who had served in Somalia and Japan. As troops began to push into Iraq, on March 21, 2003, Alva was leading 11 Marines among 75 or so sailors and Marines in a 50- to 55-vehicle convoy on its way from the desert in Kuwait to Basra, Iraq.

It was a logistical convoy moving through the desert at night, lights out, night-vision goggles on.

The sand was so kicked up it was nearly impossible for Alva to even keep track of the vehicle in front of him.

At one of three stops along the way, Alva, who hadn’t eaten for a full day, was heating up an MRE when he went to get something out of his Humvee.

“I took maybe a step or two,” Alva said, “and that is when the explosion went off.”

It was a land mine.

“I stepped on a land mine with my right foot,” Alva said. “The explosion went off and threw me about 10 feet. I was in severe pain.”

His hearing was temporarily lost, so he couldn’t hear his own screaming. His hand was covered in blood; the tip of the index finger on his right hand was blown off, and the nerves had been damaged forever. Marines ran to him.

“They lifted my left foot and cut the bootlaces from the bottom, and they lifted my heel, and they took the boot off from the heel,” Alva said. “And they never touched the right leg. So I remember even asking the chaplain, ‘What is wrong with my legs? What is wrong with my legs?’ And the chaplain — because we had chaplains with us — and he said, ‘There is nothing wrong. You are fine. You are fine.’”

But he wasn’t. Evacuated to Kuwait by helicopter, Alva woke up hours later in the post-op recovery room. His leg was gone.

“It felt like a nightmare,” he said. “And I remember just crying like for a few minutes, and I fell back to sleep because the drugs were really heavy.”

This young man sacrificed a leg in the service of his country, which is a damn sight more than most people, even those who have served in the military, will ever do.  He’s an American hero.  And he’s also a homosexual.

Alva says that losing his leg forced him out of the closet.

“It made me realize everything that I had to actually speak up for,” Alva said to ABC News in an exclusive TV interview, “basically the rights and privileges of what I as an individual have earned in this country.”

He imagines conversations with the political opponents he knows he will now face.

“‘OK buddy,’” he said, “‘you pick up a gun and you go fight in Iraq or Afghanistan for a while, then you could come back and we can have a talk because I’ve actually sacrificed, I’ve actually done duty and served in this country for your rights and freedom.’” … Alva hopes that he can change minds by arguing the ban is simply unfair to gays and lesbian service members who are already serving their nation honorably, not to mention Americans who want to serve.

So, what kind of people are we losing because of these policies?

Of 742 such dismissals in fiscal year 2005, the highest number than in any category — 49 — were medical personnel. An additional 40 were law enforcement officers, along with 14 intelligence officers, 35 infantrymen, and seven nuclear, biological and chemical warfare specialists.

This generally squares with the Government Accountability Office’s 2004 study, which found that of the 9,488 service members who at that point had been discharged from the military for gay and lesbian conduct since 1993, approximately 757 — or 8 percent — “held critical occupations,” meaning the kinds of jobs for which the Pentagon offers selective reenlistment bonuses.

That number included 322 with “skills in an important language such as Arabic, Farsi or Korean.”

Now, as I’ve said a million times before I have no problem with homosexuality in the slightest. It just doesn’t bother me, it never has.  I’ve never understood why it is such a big deal to people.  But I think we’re getting to a point now where this is an issue that has to be confronted.  If you believe, as I think most people participating on this blog do, that America is in a fight for its survival against an enemy determined to destroy our way of life, don’t you think there’s a legitimate need to get over this anachronistic policy?  I’m open for discussion.  Keep gays off the front lines, for example.  But really, we’re firing Arab linguists, for God’s sake.  We’re hampering the defense of our nation simply because some guy happens to like penis instead of vagina.  Does this make sense to anyone?

Update: I think this post from five years ago (yes, five years) is worth revisiting, because everything I said then is perfectly applicable to what I’m saying here.

When evaluating any policy a cost/benefit analysis must be performed.  For example, consider your standard infantryman.  They are in plentiful supply.  If the “benefit” of the military’s policy against homosexuals means that a few of them get discharged the cost of doing so is not going to hurt the operational readiness of the armed forces, nor the national security of the nation.  With Arabic-speakers, however, it’s a different situation entirely.  Arabic linguists who can both pass the security checks and have the desire to work for the US government are in drastically short supply.  The “benefit” of getting rid of these men, under these circumstances, is far outweighed by the cost of their departure, in terms of operational readiness and national security.

Assuming the ban on gays in the military is necessary, shouldn’t there also be a provision that the president can, in the interests of national security, use his discretion to override the ban?  This identical argument was made in the case of the homeland security bill, and if the logic of the argument rang true under those circumstances it, in my mind, rings true here.  Bush could really win a lot of converts if he came out publicly and stated as much, and had these men reinstated.


While it personally wouldn’t bother me in the slightest, I am open to the argument that openly gay soldiers serving in front-line units might erode unit cohesion, and thus reduce the effectiveness of the unit and the mission.  And, ultimately, the mission is the whole reason for being there in the first place.  But I do think that the idea that gay people being prohibited from serving in the military in any capacity is asinine, and nothing but a detriment to our efforts to safeguard America, especially when it comes to mission critical jobs like linguists. 

When we have brave men like Sgt. Alva, who are perfectly willing to sacrifice life and limb in service to their country, I find it patently offensive that we refuse to let them do so on the basis of something as totally immaterial as their sexual orientation. 

Posted by Lee on 02/28/07 at 11:20 AM in Politics  • (1) TrackbacksPermalink

Ruuuuuuu-dy!
by Lee

I like Giuliani primarily because of his leadership skills, and the fact that he’s not a rabid Christian fundamentalist lunatic who hears voices in his head like some other presidents we know of.  But the fine folks over at Cato have begun looking at his fiscal record.  Their conclusion?

The data suggest that Giuliani exerted reasonable fiscal control, particularly in comparison to prior NYC mayors, or President Bush. For example, NYC debt more than doubled in the five years prior to Giuliani entering office. But more analysis needs to be done. 

And considering that the election is still two years away we’re going to get analysis out the wazoo.  But, at this early stage of the game, this is welcome news.

Posted by Lee on 02/28/07 at 11:04 AM in Election 2008  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Thanks for the Imammaries
by Lee

America’s Islamophobia really knows no limits.  It seems that every day some innocent Muslim, just minding their own business, exercising their First Amendment rights to practice their religion, are harassed and hassled by our government.  You know, people like this guy.

The imam of a Georgia mosque who pleaded guilty to providing support to the militant group Hamas was sentenced Tuesday to more than seven years in prison.

Mohamed Shorbagi, 42, could have faced up to 15 years in prison.

Shorbagi pleaded guilty in August to providing material support to the militant group Hamas in a case in which the agreement, charges and even the plea hearing were handled in secret. U.S. District Judge Harold Murphy sentenced him Tuesday to seven years and eight months in prison.

At the sentencing, Shorbagi said he realized that some of his actions were wrong.

Some?

He pleaded guilty in August to a charge of providing material support to Hamas and also testified in a Chicago case against a man identified by authorities as a Hamas operative.

My God, when will America’s fascist persecution of innocent Muslims end?

Posted by Lee on 02/27/07 at 11:12 PM in The Religion of Peace™  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Time Warner Sucks
by Lee

Hot on the heels of my success with 1-800-FLOWERS, here is the text of an email I just sent to Time Warner Cable.

Almost three years ago I moved from the San Francisco area back down to Los Angeles.  My local cable company was Comcast.  I had never used Comcast before, but a friend who lives on the East coast had told me horror stories about their service My experience, however, was exceptionally good.  In over two years I can only think of one outage, and that was only for a few hours.  I was thrilled, both with the channel line-up and the high speed internet access.

Then a few months ago Time Warner bought Comcast here in Southern California.  I can’t even begin to recount the number of letters and brochures and pamphlets I received from TW promising all the “exciting” changes which were planned, not to mention the “improvements” in my channel line-up.

In the six months or so since Time Warner took over for Comcast my service has gone out at least four times.  Four.  In almost three years with Comcast I had one outage.  In six months with your astonishingly inept company there have been four. What has changed?  The cable coming into my house is the same.  It’s the same channels.  It’s the same hardware.  The technicians are the same.  Everything is the same.

In fact, the only thing that is different is Time Warner’s commitment to providing a quality product to its subscribers.  Comcast at least tried to sweet talk me into bed before they screwed me.  Time Warner just leaves a couple of twenties on the nightstand and tells me to get the hell out.

As I sit here right now there are MPEG-2 compression artifacts all over my television image.  The cause of this is that your signal is not buffering fast enough to account for variations in the stream.  Again, Comcast managed to provide exactly this same service without these technical issues.

Now, allow me to make a prediction here.  Tomorrow morning there will be a polite form letter in my email inbox.  It will be from a support representative in India or the Philippines or Sri Lanka or some other third world nation where people work for pennies on the dollar.  The content of this email will be profusely apologetic, telling me that at Time Warner Cable customer service is your top priority, and that I should rest assured knowing that trained professionals were hard at work to deliver the best possible service.

What a load of crap.  Here’s the fact.  Your service sucks.  Your company sucks.  If I lived in an area where I could get a satellite signal I’d dump your worthless company in less time than it takes to say “satellite.” For now, however, I am stuck with you.  My brother, who lives in Texas, also has Time Warner cable.  His experience is no different.  The signal goes out every time a grasshopper farts.  When you call for service, someone with a completely unintelligible foreign accent reads from a script designed specifically to placate the usual group of drooling hordes who will accept your dismal performance and stunning incompetence as merely the cost of doing business.

So, here is my question.  Are you planning on ever improving your service?  Or is the crap I have had to put up with the past six months what Time Warner had in mind when it spoke of “improvements” and “exciting” changes?  Because, frankly, I could go to any special needs class in any public school in this city, randomly grab ten retarded children, and the service they would provide could not possibly be any worse than what I have experienced since Time Warner took over Comcast.  Actually, it would be better, because at least retarded children have a legitimate excuse.

And please, don’t insult me by copying and pasting a form letter into an email.  Escalate this one up the chain.  If I wanted to talk to someone in India I’d get myself vaccinated against the plague and go visit the Taj Mahal.  I’m in America, I want to speak to an American, preferably one who speaks English and can actually do something about this problem.  Don’t patronize me or think you’re going to be able to placate me with soothing words and phrases.  There is one way to solve this problem, and that is for you incompetent bunch of tools to improve the service you provide me.

I anxiously await your trite, condescending form letter.

I have to admit, this is actually kinda fun.

Posted by Lee on 02/27/07 at 10:44 PM in Decline of Western Civilization  • (1) TrackbacksPermalink

A Big Misunderstanding
by Lee

There was a tense standoff today at the University of Missouri.

A distraught graduate student claiming to have a bomb and anthrax sparked a scare early Tuesday that shut down the University of Missouri-Rolla for several hours, officials said.

After he was arrested, it turned out that the student only had a copy of the Among the Living CD and the DVD release of the film Battlefield Earth.

Posted by Lee on 02/27/07 at 02:59 PM in Life & Culture  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

The Littlest Hero
by Lee

Honestly, this could be the coolest story you’ll read in a long time.

Weakened by his lifelong battle with cystic fibrosis, 14-year-old Riley Woina dreams of being strong like the war heroes he watches in movies.

The Army’s 6th Ranger Training Battalion on Eglin Air Force Base recently helped him realize this unusual dream.

Susan Woina joked that her son could have taken his Plymouth, Conn., family to Walt Disney World or gone on a shopping spree through the Make-A-Wish Foundation instead of spending a week crawling in the mud with soldiers in the Florida Panhandle.

“You always want what you cannot have and he’ll never be able to join the Army because of his cystic fibrosis, so of course he wants that more than anyone else would. He would join the Army today if he could,” she said.

The family has no connection to the military, except through the many war movies Riley loves to watch. Inspired by his favorite movies, “Black Hawk Down” and the HBO World War II series “Band of Brothers,” he researched Ranger training and learned about 6th Ranger Training Battalion.

Riley said he couldn’t think of anything better — not even visiting a chocolate factory — than seeing Camp James E. Rudder, where Rangers face their final and most difficult training challenges.

“I knew I probably wouldn’t be able to do anything like this again. They do everything down here, the swamp training, everything,” he said, while eating with his new Ranger buddies in the chow hall.

And the 80-pound 14-year-old, weakened by his degenerative illness, said he doesn’t feel any sympathy for the physical punishment Rangers experience for 18 days at Camp Rudder.

“It’s a way of life for them; they are the ones that signed up for it so it’s their fault,” he said to the chuckles of the Rangers around him.

What he likes most about the Rangers: “Their determination to leave no man behind.”

I know I end a lot of articles by saying “Read the whole thing,” but trust me, read the whole thing.  If you don’t get a little choked up there’s something wrong with you.

Posted by Lee on 02/27/07 at 01:15 PM in Life & Culture  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Carbon Dating
by Lee

As we all know by now, Al Gore, the environmentalist’s wet dream, lives in a mansiion which uses 20 times the amount of energy that the average American puts out in a year.  Well, thankfully, there are some Americans who understand how to live frugally and naturally.

The 4,000-square-foot house is a model of environmental rectitude.

Geothermal heat pumps located in a central closet circulate water through pipes buried 300 feet deep in the ground where the temperature is a constant 67 degrees; the water heats the house in the winter and cools it in the summer. Systems such as the one in this “eco-friendly” dwelling use about 25% of the electricity that traditional heating and cooling systems utilize.

A 25,000-gallon underground cistern collects rainwater gathered from roof runs; wastewater from sinks, toilets and showers goes into underground purifying tanks and is also funneled into the cistern. The water from the cistern is used to irrigate the landscaping surrounding the four-bedroom home. Plants and flowers native to the high prairie area blend the structure into the surrounding ecosystem.

No, this is not the home of some eccentrically wealthy eco-freak trying to shame his fellow citizens into following the pristineness of his self-righteous example. And no, it is not the wilderness retreat of the Sierra Club or the Natural Resources Defense Council, a haven where tree-huggers plot political strategy.

This is President George W. Bush’s “Texas White House” outside the small town of Crawford.

Which just goes to show what most people know all along.  Liberals are elitist snobs who think they know how the world should work, but would never lower themselves to actually living their lives according to the rules they hope to set for everyone else.

Oh, and on the odd chance someone at the White House happens to read this, I’d get a press release on this subject out IMMEDIATELY.

Posted by Lee on 02/27/07 at 11:44 AM in Left Wing Idiocy  • (3) TrackbacksPermalink

Here Come Tha Boom, Ready or Not
by Lee

It seems that one of Allah’s warriors tried to get Cheney and, much like all of Islamic society, totally failed.

“I was provided quarters overnight,” he said of his Bagram stay. “It seems to me it was 10 occlock in the morning. I heard a loud boom… The Secret Service came in and told me there had been an attack on the main gate.”

This is great news.  As much of a scumbag as I think Cheney often is, he’s still the second in command of this country, and I think it would be devastating if something happened to him.

Update: Well they didn’t get Cheney, but the operation wasn’t a total bust.

A suicide bomber attacked the entrance to the main U.S. military base in Afghanistan on Tuesday during a visit by Vice President Dick Cheney, killing up to 23 people and wounding 20.  … Associated Press reporters at the scene saw 12 bodies being carried in black body bags and wooden coffins from the base entrance into a market area where hundreds of Afghans had gathered to mourn.

Nothing succeeds like success.

Posted by Lee on 02/27/07 at 10:16 AM in War on Terror/Axis of Evil  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Monday, February 26, 2007

Algoritis
by Lee

If you want to see rank global warming hysteria in action, take a look at this story from a couple of days ago.

GLOBAL warming will take a toll on children’s health, according to a new report showing hospital admissions for fever soar as days get hotter.

The new study found that temperature rises had a significant impact on the number of pre-schoolers presenting to emergency departments for fever and gastroenteritis.

The two-year study at a major children’s hospital showed that for every five-degree rise in temperature two more children under six years old were admitted with fever to that hospital.

The University of Sydney research is the first to make a solid link between climate changes and childhood illness.

Okay, so the hotter it gets, the more sick kids get.  Now, with that in mind, take a look at this.

Half of young children are anxious about the effects of global warming, often losing sleep because of their concern, according to a new report today.

A survey of 1,150 youngsters aged between seven and 11 found that one in four blamed politicians for the problems of climate change.

One in seven of those questioned by supermarket giant Somerfield said their own parents were not doing enough to improve the environment.

The most feared consequences of global warming included poor health, the possible submergence of entire countries and the welfare of animals.

Okay, so let’s assume that the results of these studies are accurate, even though they are dubious at best.  Which do you think is more likely the culprit behind children being sick, a minuscule rise in the temperature of the earth, or the fact that parents are literally scaring the shit out of their kids, telling them that we’re destroying the planet and about to kill all of humankind?

To put it another way, if you tell your children than there is a bloodsucking monster who lives in their closet and comes out at night, which do you think will be more responsible for ill effects on your children, the fear you are putting into them, or the fact that there actually is a bloodsucking monster who lives in their closet?  Fantasy is usually far more terrifying than reality, which is what makes it such an excellent propaganda tool.

Posted by Lee on 02/26/07 at 11:58 PM in Left Wing Idiocy  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Weekly Straw
by Lee

Just a reminder that it’s a new week, and you can once again vote in the Pajamas Media straw poll in the top left corner.  Last week Giuliani kicked some serious ass, not only among the people on this blog but on the blogosphere in general.

Go Rudy!

Posted by Lee on 02/26/07 at 11:42 PM in Election 2008  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

European Future
by Lee

Multiculturalism will kill us all.  And it’s going to start killing us in Europe.

Sharia laws have a broad space to follow and certainly parts of Sharia are applicable in Europe since it concerns religious norms like praying, fasting, building of mosques, according to Professor Dr. Matthias Rohe, a judge at the court of appeals in the German city of Nuremberg and an expert on Islamic law.

In an interview with IRNA, Rohe said even some legal aspects of Sharia are applicable in Europe.

He noted that in two countries in Europe, Bulgaria and Thrace in Greece, Muslims are living under Sharia law.

The freedom of religion is granted in all European societies, said Rohe who was in Brussels to take part in a conference on multiculturalism.

This is the grand plan.  They make their backwards 11th century law palatable and give it a legal basis recognized under European law.  Then, as the Muslims begin to breed themselves into a majority, they have a legal toehold upon which to gain further legitimacy for Sharia.  Then they begin to impose it upon the continent. 

If you have the opportunity, take your children to Europe sometime in the next ten years or so.  It’s a wonderful place, with priceless artwork and the origins of western democratic civilization. It’s truly one of the best places on earth.  And 50 years from now, it’s going to be full of minarets and morality police and women wearing veils.

Posted by Lee on 02/26/07 at 11:32 PM in Europe and the UK  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Bob Rock Is Dead
by Lee

Considiering the discussions here of late, be sure and take a look at St. Anger, a post from last year sometime which is astonishingly appropriate for today.  Here’s a snippet.

Put yourself in my shoes for a second.  I go to work every day where I am considered the arch conservative, the radical right-winger.  Why?  Because I dared to publicly express support for the Iraq War and for some of Bush’s policies.  Then I come home, and conservatives accuse me of being some limp-wristed leftie.  I’m getting attacked from all sides.

As you can imagine, this gets frustrating after a while.

One thing you guys have to realize.  If you were to map out the structure of a blog like this it would look sort of like a wagon wheel.  At the center is me, the guy who writes the majority of the content.  At the end of the spokes are the readers.  If you choose the end of any spoke, there is only one level of interaction, between the reader (you) and the writer (me).  So, from your perspective, you and I are basically having a one-on-one conversation.  From my perspective, however, I’m having conversations with 100 people at once.

So, let’s say we’re discussing a hot-button issue like religion or torture.  A reader logs in (let’s call him Bill) and reads a post of mine with which he disagrees.  He immediately scrolls to the bottom of the page and furiously writes what an idiot I am for saying such things.  I see the comment and write back something dismissive, telling him he’s using a stupid argument and I’m not even going to waste my time on a response.  “Wow!” thinks Bill.  “Lee’s a fucking asshole!  I just left one comment and he jumped my shit over it!” This is because, in his mind, this is a one-on-one experience.  However, what Bill doesn’t realize is that I’ve been on the blog all day, and other people have made the same stupid argument that Bill did, and I’ve already responded to it fifty times.  In Bill’s mind I got pissed off at him for no reason, whereas in my mind I’ve been arguing the same stupid point all day, over and over over again.

Frustrating?  You don’t know the half of it.

Read the whole thing.

Posted by Lee on 02/26/07 at 05:05 PM in Deep Thoughts  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Today
by Lee

Honestly, I’m not in much of a blogging mood today.  If something interesting comes up I’ll stick a post up, but other than that I’ll see you later.

Posted by Lee on 02/26/07 at 10:35 AM in Etcetera  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Look At What That Slut Is Wearing!
by Lee

I’m taking the rest of the night off.  Liveblog the Oscars here.  Dish dish dish!

P.S.  When Algore wins for best picture, I have no doubt that one of the first things he will do is admonish the crowd of gazillionaire leftists in the audience for living in their massive Bel Air mansions, all of which use copious amounts of energy to air condition and maintain.

Posted by Lee on 02/25/07 at 06:12 PM in Celebrity Idiots  • (1) TrackbacksPermalink

The Other George W
by Lee

You might have heard of him, his name was George Washington.  Sections in bold were hghlighted by me.

On December 25, 1776, General George Washington and a small army of 2,400 men crossed the Delaware River at McKonkey’s Ferry, Pennsylvania on their way to attack a Hessian Garrison of 1,500 in Trenton, New Jersey. The crossing, made during a time when morale was at its lowest point during the American Revolution, renewed hope among the Continental Army, Congress and the general population. Washington’s troop movements across the Delaware River were of great strategic and historic significance to the United States’ national beginning, and the resources associated with Washington’s Crossing are eligible for listing as a National Historic Landmark. Washington and his army had fallen back to McKonkey’s Ferry for two reasons. The first was that the American troops had been defeated in their attempts to keep the British forces out of New York City. The British occupation of the city and the heavy losses that the Americans suffered in men and material caused Washington to withdraw from the city and retreat across New Jersey, with British forces in close pursuit. His aim was to prevent another battle between the two armies and provide a resting place for his troops. Placing the Delaware River between himself and the British provided just enough protection. There were few ferries across the river, and those that existed could be watched and defended without much difficulty.

The second reason to fall back to this Bucks County, Pennsylvania location was strategy. Washington’s retreat allowed and forced the British to fill the void between New York and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and in doing so the British extended their forward lines and placed their outposts at too great a distance to be reinforced from New York. Thus, the garrisons in central New Jersey, such as in Trenton, were vulnerable to an attack. Washington was also in a better position to defend Philadelphia from an overland attack from New York. The British plan of attack, known to Washington, was to march across New Jersey, sweep the American army aside and occupy Philadelphia, the capital city. Because of the possibility of this attack, Congress abandoned Philadelphia.

While it was most likely true that Washington did not plan his exact movements to a fine detail, his overall strategy of a rearward march to Philadelphia created a perfect situation for a bold commander to take advantage of his enemy’s carelessness.

It’s fascinating.  Retreating, regrouping, and out thinking helped George Washington win independence for this country.  Now, two centuries later, there are many on the right who think that even advocating the same thing is tantamount to treason and defeatism.

Posted by Lee on 02/25/07 at 01:42 AM in War on Terror/Axis of Evil  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink
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