Friday, March 21, 2003

Massachusetts' Episcopal Bishop Says:
"The war which President Bush is waging is a false war."
Looks mighty genuine, and successful to me.

Attacks On Government Internet Sites Reported

A Second US Marine Has Been Killed In Action
Requiescat in pace.

Baghdad Is Taking a Pasting
Hundreds of hits all across the city. Multiple hits on various presidential sites are reported. Daisy Cutters and MOABs may be used, but not on Baghdad, perhaps on Republican Guard defenses outside the city.

An Nasiriyah Has Been Reached By the Third
It is held by an Iraqi regular division reinforced by Republican guard units. Thee is a battle going on for this city. It was the northern limit of the post 1991 war DMZ. Check its position on this map. Air strikes are being called in to clear the way for the armor.

A Brilliant Comparison
Someone named Cindy Osborne composed this brilliant comparison of the credentials of the leaders of the Bush Administration's national security policy and the leaders of the Hollywood left. It is long but worth the read. If anything, she gives the credentials of Vice President Cheney and Secretary Ridge short shrift. And she omitted the equally impressive CV of Attorney General Ashcroft.

President George W. Bush: Received a Bachelors Degree from Yale University and an MBA from Harvard Business School. He served as an F-102 pilot for the Texas Air National Guard. He began his career in the oil and gas business in Midland in 1975 and worked in the energy industry until 1986. He was elected Governor on November 8, 1994, with 53.5 percent of the vote. In a historic re-election victory, he became the first Texas Governor to be elected to consecutive four-year terms on November 3, 1998 winning 68.6 percent of the vote. In 1998 Governor Bush won 49 percent of the Hispanic vote, 27 percent of the African-American vote, 27 percent of Democrats and 65 percent of women. He won more Texas counties, 240 of 254, than any modern Republican other than Richard Nixon in 1972 and is the first Republican gubernatorial candidate to win the heavily Hispanic and Democratic border counties of El Paso, Cameron and Hidalgo. (Someone began circulating a false story about his I.Q. being lower than any other President. If you believed it, you might want to go to URBANLEGENDS.COM and see the truth.)

Vice President Dick Cheney: Earned a B.A. in 1965 and a M.A. in 1966, both in political science. Two years later, he won an American Political Science Association congressional fellowship. One of Vice President Cheney's primary duties is to share with individuals, members of Congress and foreign leaders, President Bush's vision to strengthen our economy, secure our homeland and win the War on Terrorism. In his official role as President of the Senate, Vice President Cheney regularly goes to Capital Hill to meet with Senators and members of the House of Representatives to work on the Administration's legislative goals. In his travels as Vice President, he has seen first hand the great demands the war on terrorism is placing on the men and women of our military, and he is proud of the tremendous job they are doing for the United States of America.

Secretary of State Colin Powell: Educated in the New York City public schools, graduating from the City College of New York (CCNY), where he earned a Bachelor's Degree in geology. He also participated in ROTC at CCNY and received a commission as an Army second lieutenant upon graduation in June 1958. His further academic achievements include a Master of Business Administration Degree from George Washington University. Secretary Powell is the recipient of numerous U.S. and foreign military awards and decorations. Secretary Powell's civilian awards include two Presidential Medals of Freedom, the President's Citizens Medal, the Congressional Gold Medal, the Secretary of State Distinguished Service Medal, and the Secretary of Energy Distinguished Service Medal. Several schools and other institutions have been named in his honor and he holds honorary degrees from universities and colleges across the country. (Note: He retired as Four Star General in the United States Army)

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld: Attended Princeton University on Scholarship (AB, 1954) and served in the U.S. Navy (1954-57) as a Naval aviator; Congressional Assistant to Rep. Robert Griffin (R-MI), 1957-59; U.S. Representative, Illinois, 1962-69; Assistant to the President, Director of the Office of Economic Opportunity, Director of the Cost of Living Council, 1969-74; U.S. Ambassador to NATO, 1973-74; head of Presidential Transition Team, 1974; Assistant to the President, Director of White House Office of Operations, White House Chief of Staff, 1974-77; Secretary of Defense, 1975-77.

Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge: Raised in a working class family in veterans' public housing in Erie. He earned a scholarship to Harvard, graduating with honors in 1967. After his first year at The Dickinson School of Law, he was drafted into the U.S. Army, where he served as an infantry staff sergeant in Vietnam, earning the Bronze Star for Valor. After returning to Pennsylvania, he earned his Law Degree and was in private practice before becoming Assistant District Attorney in Erie County. He was elected to Congress in 1982. He was the first enlisted Vietnam combat veteran elected to the U.S. House, and was overwhelmingly re-elected six times.

National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice: Earned her Bachelor's Degree in Political Science, Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa, from the University of Denver in 1974; her Master's from the University of Notre Dame in 1975; and her Ph.D. from the Graduate School of International Studies at the University of Denver in 1981. (Note: Rice enrolled at the University of Denver at the age of 15, graduating at 19 with a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science (Cum Laude). She earned a Master's Degree at the University of Notre Dame and a Doctorate from the University of Denver's Graduate School of International Studies. Both of her advanced degrees are also in Political Science.) She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and has been awarded Honorary Doctorates from Morehouse College in 1991, the University of Alabama in 1994, and the University of Notre Dame in 1995. At Stanford, she has been a member of the Center for International Security and Arms Control, a Senior Fellow of the Institute for International Studies, and a Fellow (by courtesy) of the Hoover Institution. Her books include Germany Unified and Europe Transformed (1995) with Philip Zelikow, The Gorbachev Era (1986) with Alexander Dallin, and Uncertain Allegiance: The Soviet Union and the Czechoslovak Army (1984). She also has written numerous articles on Soviet and East European foreign and defense policy, and has addressed audiences in settings ranging from the U.S. Ambassador's Residence in Moscow to the Commonwealth Club to the 1992 and 2000 Republican National Conventions. From 1989 through March 1991, the period of German reunification and the final days of the Soviet Union, she served in the Bush Administration as Director, and then Senior Director, of Soviet and East European Affairs in the National Security Council, and a Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs. In 1986, while an international affairs fellow of the Council on Foreign Relations, she served as Special Assistant to the Director of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In 1997, she served on the Federal Advisory Committee on Gender - Integrated Training in the Military. She was a member of the boards of directors for the Chevron Corporation, the Charles Schwab Corporation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the University of Notre Dame, the International Advisory Council of J.P. Morgan and the San Francisco Symphony Board of Governors. She was a Founding Board member of the Center for a New Generation, an educational support fund for schools in East Palo Alto and East Menlo Park, California and was Vice President of the Boys and Girls Club of the Peninsula. In addition, her past board service has encompassed such organizations as Transamerica Corporation, Hewlett Packard, the Carnegie Corporation, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, The Rand Corporation, the National Council for Soviet and East European Studies, the Mid-Peninsula Urban Coalition and KQED, public broadcasting for San Francisco. Born November 14, 1954 in Birmingham, Alabama, she resides in Washington, D.C.

So who are these celebrities? What is their education? What is their experience in affairs of State or in National Security? While I will defend to the death their right to express their opinions, I think that if they are going to call into question the intelligence of our leaders, we should also have all the facts on their educations and background:

Barbra Streisand : Completed high school Career: Singing and acting

Cher: Dropped out of school in 9th grade. Career: Singing and acting

Martin Sheen: Flunked exam to enter University of Dayton. Career: Acting

Jessica Lange: Dropped out college mid-freshman year. Career: Acting

Alec Baldwin: Dropped out of George Washington U. after scandal. Career: Acting

Julia Roberts: Completed high school. Career: Acting

Sean Penn: Completed High school. Career: Acting

Susan Sarandon: Degree in Drama from Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. Career: Acting

Ed Asner; Completed High school. Career: Acting

George Clooney: Dropped out of University of Kentucky. Career: Acting

Michael Moore: Dropped out first year University of Michigan. Career: Movie Director

Sarah Jessica Parker: Completed High School. Career: Acting

Jennifer Anniston: Completed High School. Career: Acting

Mike Farrell: Completed High school. Career: Acting

Janeane Garofelo: Dropped out of College. Career: Stand up comedienne

Larry Hagman: Attended Bard College for one year. Career: Acting

A Heartening Image
The Stars & Stripes being raised at Umm Qesr.

Now That the Armored Spearhead Is North Of Basra, We Have A Choice
The forces attacking Basra want help. Forces from the spearhead could be detached to attack Basra from the north, which the enemy is probably not expecting. That would probably crumple resistance around Basra pretty quickly.

But I would not do that. The prize is not Basra, but Baghdad. Grabbing Basra would be nice for continuous line of supply considerations. But it is not vital. The forces approaching Baghdad have to get there relatively intact, and soon. There may be hard fighting with the Republican Guard there. Basra is tempting. But it will fall eventually to the lighter forces anyway.

Hitler made the mistake of detaching his panzer forces from Army Group Center in 1941 to help wipe out the Kiev Pocket. They took Kiev and hundreds of thousands of Soviet prisoners. But the drive on Moscow was stopped to do that. By the time it was resumed, Moscow, which would have fallen to a German assault in the summer, was ready, reinforced, and fortified. Plus the winter had set in.

Don't repeat Hitler's mistake. Drive hell-for-leather on Baghdad with the entire armored spearhead. Remember what Nathan Bedford Forrest said, "Hit 'em on the end, and keep up the scare."

If I Am Not Mistaken, the Armored Spearhead is Much Further Into Iraq Than Iranian Forces Ever Got In 10 Years of War

From The BBC's Gavin Hewitt
He is with the armored spearhead.

We are deep into Southern Iraq, certainly well over 100 kilometres north from the border. We've been driving for over 11 hours.

In the last few minutes we just crossed over the Basra-Baghdad highway.

We've had several bizarre incidents in the last few minutes of drivers on the highway completely unaware that American armour may be this far north, stopping their vehicles in utter amazement as we crossed the highway.

They are north of Basra, bypassing the city, and driving on Baghdad.

Yes, I Heard It
ABC News Radio just featured an embedded journalist airborne in an Apache helicopter moving into Iraq in company with many other copters. But I didn't take much away from the conversation. I didn't catch the unit the journalist is with. The Apaches could just be the attack helicopter elements of the units attached to the Third Infantry. They could also be accompanying the 101st moving inland, which would be much more newsworthy. If the Third has moved into Iraq, it stands to reason that its attack helicopters would be out in advance. He could not say where they were going, though they had just had a successful engagement.

Sometimes, the embedded journalists' reports are too fragmentary to be useful. But they are under a lot of pressure, and the anchors they are talking to often don't ask the right questions. The only thing I really took away from the conversation is that morale is high, and that some attack helicopter unit has had its first engagement and is moving into Iraq.

Iraqi Minelaying Barge Captured

H2 & H3 Airfields In Western Iraq Have Been Taken
This map will show you where they are. They are in a very sparsely settled area, whihc is why they are known only by alpha-numerical designations. They could not have been taken by forces operating out of Kuwait, unless they were airborne or heliborne. This is probably a special forces operation out of Jordan. There are 4 strips in the H3 complex. Our hold is said to be tentative. So I'm guessing that the forces involved were special ops. They will need reinforcements, probably airborne, to hold on. Once our grip is firm, we can use these bases to stage operations against Baghdad from the west. They can also be used for Scud hunting.

CIA: It Was Saddam On the Tape
But we don't know when the tape was made.

Where We Stand This Morning
US and British Marines have taken the Fao Peninsula and Umm Qesr, Iraq's only port. the iraqis seem not to have done much demolition. The facilties of the port will shortly be used to land more Marines and supplies. Elements of the Marine forces are currently advancing northwest on Basra.

Recon elements have stopped outside Basra. They need help to break Iraqi resistance and take the city. That help could come in the form of airstrikes, or more Marines advancing form the coast, or a battle group peeled off from the main armored advance.

The Iraqi air force has not dared to show its face. Allied forces enjoy complete air supremacy.

Iraqi Scud and al Samoud attacks into Kuwait have been completely ineffective. A few have been intercepted by Patriots. No attacks have been made on Israel, yet.

As usual, we are losing more men due to accidents than to enemy action. Eight Brits and four Americans died in a helicopter crash in Kuwait. One US Marine has been killed in action.

We are taking hundreds of Iraqi prisoners.

The 7th Cavalry is leading the 3rd Infantry on a left hook through the desert with Baghdad as their ultimate objective. If the advance is not slowed, they may reach the outskirts of the city on Monday.

The southern Iraqi oil fields are largely under our control. Sabotage has been minimal.

Baghdad has had a quiet day. Once the sun sets, you can expect our planes to be over the city again.

There are reports that Kirkuk is under attack from US Special Forces. The northern oil fields may be partially under our control. Kurdish troops are preparing for an offensive against the Ansar al Islam mercenaries fighting for Saddam in the north. These guys are al Qaeda. So we will happily let the Kurds slaughter these vermin.

Iraqi civilians are, at worst, indifferent to the Allied forces. There have been some signs of welcome as liberators. The domestic anti-war demonstrators are far more violently anti-American than the Iraqi people.

Foriegn governments, including the Vatican, are doing the usual huffing and clucking. The reflexes learned in the '70s are hard to shake off. It is all sound and fury, signifying absolutely nothing. With the US in effective control of Iraq's oil, lots of fences will be mended after it is over. A growing number of governments are quietly supporting, now tha tthey can clearly see where the wind is blowing.

Iraqi resistance has been weak, for the most part. Chemical Ali seems to be putting up some resistance at Basra. But where he is not present, Iraqi forces seem to have little stomach for the fight.

Rumors of surrender negotiations by the Republican Guard and other generals, while probably disinformation, are having the desired effect of undermining enemy morale.

Saddam's control over his forces seems fragmentary. Part of that may be because of the efforts to cut their communications. It may also be that Saddam himself is injured or dead. People may just be seeing the writing on the wall, and trimming their sails with the wind that seems to be blowing strongest. The regime has little time left.

If I were an Iranian mullah, or a Syrian Ba'athist, I'd be deeply worried. They are both about to be strategically encircled. If I were Kim Jong Il, the front of my pants would be moist. All those munitions the US did not need to use in the shock and awe campaign will be available to use in North Korea, if necessary.

The Archdiocese of Boston Is Taking Its Ragtime First Amendment Claim To An Appeals Court Today
And believe me, the idea that the Church can't be held civilly accountable for sex abuse by its priests because of the First Amendment is pure ragtime and moonshine, unless you want to claim that buggering altar boys is a recognized religious practice of the Catholic Church. Shame on them for using the cover of the war to forward this ridiculous claim.

ABC News Reports
Saddam Hussein was seen being carried out of the bunker we hit the first night on a stretcher with an oxygen mask over his face.

More Scuds Fired At Kuwait
One taken out by a Patriot.

British Spokesman: We May Reach Baghdad By Monday
I assume he means the outskirts of the city. Of course, the advance could be slowed down by a careful resistance at selected defiles.

The Aussies Are Doing Their Part
Australian SAS units are performing recon functions, while Australian F/A-18s are carrying out combat missions. Australian naval vessels are supporting US task forces and boarding vessels in the Persian Gulf in search of terrorists or escaping Iraqi officials.

Major Environmental Disaster Largely Averted
Reports this morning that most of the Rumalyah and Zubair oil fields are in US and British hands. There are minor fires in up to ten wells. But it is expected that the fires will be able to be brought under control fairly quickly. They will have no significant effect on combat operations.

If this holds, it should have a major impact in bringing the price of oil down, and reversing the upward spiral war jitters have caused in oil prices over the last two months.

Still Not Decided If Saddam Is Alive or Dead
Some high-level leaders were in that building, though.

Our First Spring Thunder Storm
I must admit that the first rumbles gave me a worried second or two, things being as they are.

82nd & 101st Airborne Units Not Deployed Yet
The airborne troops have, so far, been watching it all on TV in Kuwait. Once the momentum of the push on Baghdad can be measured, they may be utilized there. It may not happen today, but some in those units could be adding a combat star to their jump wings, something that, though I may be wrong, I don't think has happened since World War II.

CNN Reports
A US Marine has been killed in action. No further details. The Pentagon is confirming this. Requiescat in pace.

Fao Peninsula Now Fully Under British Control
The same peninsula saw a great deal of fighting during the Iran-Iraq war. Tens of thousands of Iranians and Iraqis died in fighting for it. It fell in less than a day to the British.

Stars & Stripes Raised Over Umm Qesr
The town isn't fully secured, yet. But the Marines are sweeping it for any enemy troops. More Marines may land using its port facilities very soon. We may be able to start landing supplies from there soon, which will take some of the pressure off the logistics routes through Kuwait.

3rd Infantry Encountering Little Resistance
But the reporter can't say where they are going. Goat herders are waving to the troops in a friendly manner. The only civilians the 3rd has encountered so far.

Hard To Say How Many Prisoners So Far
An embedded British journalist reports the unit he is with taking scores of prisoners. One US source reports 200 prisoners.

B-52s From Fairford Just Took Off
That would bring them over Iraq just around sunset.

Embedded Brit Journalists Blog What They Are Seeing And Hearing
The latest says Kirkuk, or at least the oil fields around it, may have fallen to our Special Forces.

Another says the 7th Cavalry is advancing rapidly on Baghdad from the desert, bypassing the Basra battle.

The Crazies Were Snarling Traffic In Boston Yesterday

Basra Did Not Fall Overnight
The advancing recon units apparently found the defenses too formidible to try. Heavier units are moving to Basra to do the job.

Thursday, March 20, 2003

A Heavy, Coordinated Attack Along the Frontier
The bulk of the 3rd Infantry is beginning to move across the frontier.

Explosions Heard Near Kirkuk
Demolitions or an attack?

A Marine helicopter carrying 16 US & British special forces members crashed in the Kuwaiti desert, apparently due to mechanical failure, not enemy action. Helicopters are a rather dangerous mode of conveyance. Fatal crashes are frequent, even in training at home. Nevertheless, the loss of so many superbly trained troops in a single incident, especially when not due to enemy action, is saddening. Requiescat in pace.

Battle for Basra Begins
U.S. and British recon units have been feeling their way toward Basra all day. After breaking through the crust of the enemy's frontier defense, they had minimal contact with the enemy. Now they are coming up agains the defenses around Basra. Embedded journalists are now reporting shelling and bombing of the Iraqi defenses on the outskirts of the city. An assault may be attempted at dawn (local time). The main armored forces have not moved far into Iraq yet. If the light forces can take Basra, the heavy units may sidestep the city and approach Baghdad from the desert area west of Basra (or they could drive up the river valley). If the light forces currently before Basra fail to take the city, heavier elements can be brought in to complete the assault.

Press Releases From Central Command
PATRIOT firing batteries successfully intercepted and destroyed two tactical ballistic missiles during an attack on Kuwait at approximately 12:24 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. (4:24 a.m. and 5:30 a.m. EST). The PATRIOT's guidance and control system locked onto the ballistic missiles, successfully engaging the targets with Hit to Kill PAC III and Guidance Enhanced Missiles (GEM).

The PATRIOT missile system has been upgraded numerous times affecting accuracy, lethality and the defended footprint. The PATRIOT system deployed on the battlefield today is the latest version referred to as a PAC-3.

An unidentified missile struck outside Camp Commando at approximately 10:28 this morning. Initial reports cite that soldiers from the United Kingdom and Marines sighted a gray missile land just outside the compound.

An NBC monitor team was immediately dispatched and completed a survey of the site at 10:40 a.m. No chemical munitions were found.

No Marines were injured or killed. No equipment was damaged.

All personnel on Camp Commando continue to conduct “Operation Iraqi Freedom” undeterred and unaffected.

Complaints From the Press Already
I just listened to a gripe-fest from a reporter at Central Command headquarters. She is frustrated that she is not being spoon-fed an overall picture by Central Command.

It is time to point out that about 600 journalists are embedded with military units of all kinds. The reporting I have heard from the embedded journalists is excellent. As I am writing, I am listening to a journalist with the 2nd Marine Light Armored Recon Battalion who is giving excellent blow-by-blow descriptions of what his unit is doing (without revealing their position). I heard other reports from a CBS correspondent with the 3rd Infantry in which he gave a detailed account of a helicopter missile-firing action. I turned on Fox for a while this afternoon and was astonished to see live part of a strike package taking off from the USS Constellation. The military censors are remarkably lenient in what they are allowing to be broadcast in real time. News consumers have little to complain about, I think. I am getting the information I need to put a picture together (and I hope I am doing a good job of putting it together for you).

As to the journalist at Central Command, it is possible that she is not getting the details from the various fronts that I am able to assemble from various sources. If she is waiting for General Tommy Franks to come out with a pointer and put everything in perspective for her, she may be disappointed.

Franks is not Norman Schwarzkopf. He is not a showman (don't get me wrong, that is not a criticism; I have the greatest admiration for Stormin' Norman). He has made it clear that he does not want the public role that General Schwarzkopf had in 1991. But Franks is reticent with the press. He prefers to concentrate on running his operations, and would prefer to leave the public relations to someone else. Courtney Hodges, Omar Bradley, and Mark Clark were cut from the same mold. George Patton, Douglas MacArthur, and Norman Schwarzkopf saw their roles differently. Both approaches are valid. What matters is how the campaign is handled, not how the press is handled. Heck, Bill Sherman took his army incommunicado on its march through Georgia to such an extent that even President Lincoln and the Norther press knew nothing of what Sherman was doing for days or weeks at a time (and both were driven up the wall by it).

It may be that the journalists who are assigned to Central Command headquarters are going to be short-changed on information because of the public relations style of General Franks. However, after the investment we made in the briefing center there, I think things will improve when there is more to report. But the journalists in the field are more than making up for it. They are doing a tough job. Their lives are on the line along with the troops they are accompanying into battle. And if you are seeing what they are reporting, you don't need to be a genius to put together the over-all picture.

Suspected Saudi Terrorist Sought

Kuwait City Under Gas Attack Alert For 6th Time Today
At least 8 missiles have been launched in the general direction of Kuwait. It sure is a good thing the UN weapons inspectors found all these Scuds that Iraq said it didn't have.

Negotiations For Iraqi Surrenders Continue By Back Channels
Some of the units we are talking to are Republican Guard.

I for one will not be sorry if we do not have to give the entire Iraqi military a sound thrashing. If reasonable men in the Iraqi military emerge, and take the courageous step of standing aside, standing down, and letting the dictator fall, then the world will be grateful.

So Far, We Have Lost 2 Helicopters
One helicopter got back to friendly areas. No Allied casualties so far.

1st Marines and 3rd Infantry Encountering Weak Resistance On the Way To Basra
Embedded journalists have reported the destruction of some isolated Iraq tanks and APCs. But no serious resistance has been made.

But then, we knew Iraq had pulled back its elite forces to Baghdad. The forces we are encountering are weak, thinly equipped, and demoralized. It is no wonder that the advance is going well so far.

Ricin Found At Paris Railway Station
You would think these guys would have figured out that it is counterproductive to attack your friends. But I suppose that for these terrorist groups, if an institution is not Moslem, it is evil, no "enemy of my enemy is my friend." So far, it seems that no one has been injured by this toxin. Despite our problems with France recently, let us hope that remains the case.

Reports Now Coming In That Iraq's Only Port Has Been Captured
The capture of Umm Qesr seals Iraq off from the Shat al Arab waterway. It is on the border of Iraq, Iran, and Kuwait. this is the terminal for oil tankers outward bound from iraq, as well as cargo ships bringing goods into the country. This would be a Marine operation, probably a joint US Marine/Royal Marine operation.

Various News Sources Are Reporting That Republican Guard Units Are Interested In Surrendering

US Marines On the Move from Kuwait Towards Basra
They have crossed the border, and are taking enemy prisoners. Marine recon and Navy Seabees surprised some Iraqis while they were laying a minefield.

The "Desert Rats" Have Engaged the Enemy
The British 7th Armored Brigade is fighting alongside US ground forces.

Cruise Missiles Addressing Multiple Targets In the Baghdad Area
According to SkyNews TV

Harvard Yard Is Full of Anti-War Protesters
As Colleen warned it would be in a comment below.

Air Raid Sirens In Baghdad
Elements of the 3rd Division are crossing the border into Iraq, according to embedded journalists.

Iraqi AAA is firing for effect into the sky. No signs of explosions on the ground. The bad thing about anti-aircraft artillery is that what goes up, must come down.

B-52s At RAF Fairford Being Re-Armed
Something the Iraqis own will not be there tomorrow.

Lots of Tactical Artillery Firing Across the Border
Paladins (self-propelled 155 MM howitzers) and MLRS (multiple launch rocket systems) are joining the battle. A heavy barrage from Allied forces for the last ten minutes at least. This could be the preparatory for an armored breakthrough. It could be local. The embedded journalists can only give us so much information, basically as much as they can see.

One thing about using this mobile tactical artillery. It is standard procedure to move to a different position after completing the ordered firing mission. That way enemy return fire will fall on an empty position. The question is, will the move be lateral, or forward into Iraq.

US Planes Can Use Turkish Airspace

All Allied Ground Forces Were To Be "Combat Ready" At 11:30 ET
Probably preparatory operations. We did have to take out two Iraqi APCs that crossed the border into Kuwait. Why such a small force would cross the border, we don't know. They may have been looking to surrender, but were not obeying the standing orders for surrendering units.

Some Southern Iraq Oil Wells Have Been Set On Fire

On the Border
It is getting dark now in the theater. Apache helicopters are firing Hellfire missiles into Iraqi positions. There has been skirimishing and artillery fire between Allied and Iraqi units during the day. But the efforts seemed uncoordinated. But once it got dark, the helicopters came in, and undertook coordinated operations. The armor is not moving yet.

Kuwait City has been on alert 4 times today for possible Iraqi gas attacks. The All-Clear was just given again.

Differing Reactions
It is interesting to note how very similar people react differently to the beginning of the war. Now Mrs. F. and I agree that the outbreak of hostilities was necessary, and that the sooner it happened the better, and that the US must prevail.

But her reaction to the start of hostilities was sadness, some element of fear (she has to field concerns from her students about the conflict), and unwillingness to watch much of it. She could not get away from it fast enough.

The start energized me. I was like an old retired war-horse picking up its ears and strutting to the sound of drums and fifes. Though I have never spent a day in the real-life military, almost 15 years as a re-enactor, friendship with active duty officers, and 30 years of reading and studying military history, tactics, and technology makes this all seem very familiar to me, at least in the comfort of my office. I'm like a sponge, wanting as much information as I can get on the operations.

I wonder if this is just a gender difference.

I Wonder
If the "music minister" at our parish will switch the recessional from Let There Be Peace On Earth, to which we have been "treated" for the last couple of weeks to the Battle Hymn of the Republic.

Well, the "Confirmed Scud" May Have Been A Modified Al Samoud-2
The fog of war multiplied by civilian reporters. But it isn't clear which missile they are talking about. There may have been up to 5 fired, including one directed at Kuwait City, two which landed harmlessly in the desert, one taken out by a Patriot, and one that landed near a US base. We report. You sort it out later.

This Is Interesting
Some US intelligence sources are saying either that the person who appeared on Iraqi TV last night was one of Saddam's doubles, or that the appearance was pre-recorded. They are saying that they were sure Saddam was in the bunker that was hit, and that they think we got him.

But the guy moves around several times a night. He plays shell games with doubles all the time. He could have stepped out of the bunker for a butt. Who knows?

This sort of insistence that their intelligence was good may be a little too inflexible. Since we spent a huge dollar amount on the munitions launched, it is understandable that the CIA would be defensive about the reliability of its information. Surely, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Carry on with the next phase of the operation. If Saddam is dead or gravely injured, we will be able to discern obviously different patterns of response, and perhaps some paralysis in the Iraqi reaction. If Iraq responds more or less as usual, then Saddam is probably still alive and in control. In any case, we need to occupy Iraq and destroy Saddam's loyalists, whether Saddam is alive or dead.

Also On the Lighter Side

Man Eats 19,000th Big Mac
He is 6 feet tall and 180 pounds. He eats almost nothing but Big Macs.

I Have To Say This
I was reading in a BBC article yesterday that the US 4th Infantry Division remains in limbo. Much of its equipment is still off the Turkish shore. Some, apparently, was off-loaded. The article said that, as far as the author could tell, the bulk of the 4th's personnel is still sitting in the US.

Either their deployment is the most bollocksed-up undertaking since the Russians tried to switch their Baltic Fleet to fight the Japanese a hundred years ago, or there is a massive disinformation campaign going on about the whereabouts of this division. I'm praying for the latter. Given that the US Army has a long history of true professional excellence at logistics, I would be astonished that a massive mess-up is keeping a combat division out of the battle, but for the intervention of the State Department and Turkish politics.

The Target Last Night Was Saddam Himself
White House sources are confirming that the target of last night's cruise missile attack was Saddam himself. Apparently we missed. Better luck next time.

US Helicopter Down On the Kuwait-Iraq Border
It made a hard landing, and had to be destroyed. The crew was safely extracted. No casualties.

Ships Which Launched Cruise Missiles
From the Centcom site.

USS Milius (DDG 69)
USS Donald Cook (DDG 75)
USS Bunker Hill (CG 52)
USS Cowpens (CG 63)
USS Montpelier (SSN 765)
USS Cheyenne (SSN 773)

For sentimental reasons, I would have liked to see the USS Cole in on the initial strike.

Iraq Fired 4 Missiles
The missiles were most likely Scuds. One is confirmed to be a Scud, and was intercepted by a Patriot. Iraq claims that it does not possess any Scuds. That, I believe will set the tone for what we discover about Iraq's military capacity. People on the scene are saying that they did not contain chemical warheads. Nevertheless, as a precaution, US forces scrambled for chemical protection gear.

Saint Joachim
Today is the traditional feast of Saint Joachim, father of the Blessed Mother. We know absolutely nothing about his life, except that he was an upright and just man. His feast is now celebrated in conjunction with that of Saint Ann, his wife, on July 26th.

On the Northern Front
Kurdish leaders say they have seen signs that Iraqi forces are withdrawing from contact with Kurdish forces and falling back to defensive lines around Kirkuk, an important oil center.

Meanwhile, the Kurds are planning an offensive against the Ansar al Islam units helping Saddam in the north. Ansar al Islam is an al Qaeda affiliate. Us airstrikes and Special Forces will assist them.

Vernal Equinox
Spring starts tonight at around 8:00. With the coming of milder weather here, it is most welcome. We hope to be seeing forsythia and tulips and daffs in a couple of weeks, probably before the end of the first week in April.

Bill Gertz Reports
That the country's largest nuclear power plant, near Phoenix, has been targeted by al Qaeda or by Iraqi intelligence. The Palo Verde plant is now being guarded by National Guard troops. Suspected Iraqi intelligence operatives posing as UN diplomats are being expelled from the US and from some other European countries.

Over 3 Dozen of Our Looney Left Arrested in Boston Yesterday
They tried to prevent the opening of the Boston Stock Exchange, and to disrupt traffic in various downtown locations. They may try again today.

Two Iraqi Divisions Negotiating For Surrender
I wonder at the wisdom of making this known in advance. The CBS News radio report I just heard reported the numerical designation of the divisions. Surely with any reasonably efficient and alert enemy, this report would result in Republican Guard generals paying a visit to the headquarters of the divisions involved, liquidating the existing commanders, and taking over. Perhaps that is the objective of making the information public. Iraqi intelligence will just have to guess whether the report is genuine or not.

Meanwhile in Afghanistan...
At least 1,000 members of the 82nd Airborne Division are taking part in an extensive sweep of the caves and villages of southeastern Afghanistan. They are looking for al Qaeda operatives. There have been radio transmissions recently in that area that may indicate the presence of al Qaeda vermin there.

Text of President Bush's Address

Saddam Appears On TV After Initial Raid
The question, of course, is was he live, or was he Memorex? If live, drat. We missed him, apparently. If Memorex, that has a number of interesting implications.

Iraq Fires Scuds
Guess the UN weapons inspectors missed those. Two Scuds landed in the Kuwaiti desert. They hit nothing. One may have been intercepted by a Patriot missile. Don't know what kind of warheads they were carrying.

Wednesday, March 19, 2003

The Initial Strike
According to news sources, the initial strike on Iraqi leadership targets, believed to be in a bunker on the outskirts of Baghdad, utilized some 3 dozen cruise missiles followed by bunker buster bombs dropped by F-117s. All is quiet now over Baghdad. US troops on the Kuwait border are not moving. We don't know what targets were hit, or how effective they were. We probably won't know until tomorrow.

In any case, in war as in peace, I have to get up early for work.

US Military Has Taken Over the Frequency of Iraqi State Radio

"We Will Accept No Outcome But Victory."
"This will not be a campaign of half-measures." President Bush announced the beginning of the Iraqi campaign.

God bless the USA and the members of her armed forces.

The President Will Address the Nation at 10:15
Ari Fleischer announced a few minutes ago that the operation to liberate Iraq had begun. Military sources indicate that attacks on Iraqi leadership targets are being caried out by a combination of sea-launched cruise missiles, cruise missiles fired from the B-52s that took off from Fairford this afternoon, F-117s, as well as anti-radar operations from F-16s.

Something Is Up Over Baghdad
The sun is coming up in Baghdad. Air raid sirens, distant rumbles, and what looks like tracer fire are being reported by SkyNews TV in the last few minutes. No explosions reported in the immediate vicinity of Baghdad.

Multiple explosions now audible. This may be a strike against a target of opportunity relating to the Iraqi leadership in the city.

Hey, They Finally Were Able To Publish the Title and New Description

Target List More Extensive Than Previously Reported
According to MSNBC, Allied pilots are flying sorties against Iraqi fiber-optic facilities, intelligence facilities, and some other sites, utilizing B-2 Stealth bombers. This sounds like the standard thing to do just before a ground offensive. Strike headquarters, command,control, and communications centers, as well as enemy reserves stationed near the point where a breakthrough is planned (isolating the battlefield), so that the enemy will not be able to respond effectively. That is blitzkrieg. The means are hugely improved over those available in World War II. But the idea is the same.

This Is London is reporting that ground fighting has begun around Basra, but I think that isn't correct, yet (unless these are Special Forces operations designed to secure oil facilities before Saddam's loyalists can destroy them). It would make sense to do some pathfinding for the Marine assault that is coming, but there is no confirmation yet.

It is also reporting that 14 B-52s stationed at RAF Fairford will be taking off to strike targets in Iraq. They were seen loading munitions early this afternoon.

The balloon is going up.

Lord, safeguard the United States, and the members of our armed forces.

So You Don't Have To Dig Through My Archives
Here is the link for the University of Texas On Line Library and its excellent maps of the Iraqi theater of operations. Maps are always handy things to have when military operations are going on. And the maps provided on TV or in the newspapers are never adequate.

Allied Air Strikes On Iraqi Artillery Positions Around Basra
The artillery was capable of firing conventional or chemical munitions at forces advancing on Basra, an important early objective.

The Offensive Has Not Begun Yet
But the first Iraqi soldiers have surrendered to US troops.
Plus the Tractor Terrorist in D.C. has surrendered.

But Tariq Aziz is still in Baghdad, and is probably not planning on defecting, yet.

US Veteran To Return Medal Awarded By France For Heroism In Normandy Battle

The Realities Of the Chemical/Biological Option
Mack Owens offers National Review readers a realistic assessment of the chances that Iraq will use chemical or biological weapons. Even if they do, they will not achieve any decisive results.

Superb Words Of Encouragement For the Troops As They Undertake Their Missions
James Robbins, writing for today's National Review on Line offers an open letter to our armed forces.

Local Air Bases Play Supporting Role In Our War Effort

Boston-Area Fifth Columnists Get Their Marching Orders
There are no significant military bases close enough to the Boston media for them to storm, so they plan to disrupt traffic in downtown Boston.

David Mills Fisks Bishop Botean's Pronunciamento Splendidly
Scroll down to the blog he wrote at 4:35, the link directly to the blog doesn't work.

French's Mustard Wants Everyone To Know They Are Not French
It's an American product, produced by the US subsidiary of a British conglomerate. As the Washington Times told us this morning, it is yellow, but not French. Grey Poupon, by the way, is also American.

Even during Lent, there is much you can do with each of these products. French's tastes great on a large soft pretzel (the ultimate lenten junk food). Grey Poupon makes a nice sauce for fish. And the French don't benefit from using these mustards at all. And if you want to patronize the products of our British allies, Colman's is great mixed into the cheese sauce for Welsh Rarebit.

Let Them Eat Brioche
The French are whimpering that they may come to our rescue if chemical or biological weapons are used by Iraq against us. What unbelievable gall! Thank you, crapauds, but no. You have made your own bed. You can lie in it. You will not be allowed to worm into the coalition in order to divide it, in order to secure oil leases with the new Iraqi government. There is a price to be paid for opposing determined action for so long. That price is the loss of the benefits of of your Iraqi trade, and the publication of as many nasty little secrets about your trade and the bribery that no doubt accompanied it as we find when we occupy Baghdad. If that means the French government falls in the resulting scandal, so much the better.

The Full Text of Prime Minister Blair's Stirring and Principled Appeal To the House of Commons

The Swallows Are Supposed To Return To Capistrano Today
They have not been as reliable in recent years as in the past.

"I Have Sinned"
Father Daniel Twomey, of Saint Patrick's, Natick, seeks forgiveness for relationships with adult women over the years.

Father Twomey sounds like he needs counselling of the "are you sure you have what it takes to be a priest" kind. Relations with adult women, even repeated ones, are not perverted. But they are unpriestly. They do, inherently, abuse the priest's position of authority. Those who cannot live chastely do not belong in the priesthood, whether they are heterosexual or homosexual.

In the history of the Church, millions of priests have lived within their vows. Hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, have not been able to. Some of those were allowed to continue their imperfect service. But today, with more widespread communications and information, as well as greater centralization in the Church, there is no reason to tolerate blatant disregard for priestly vows.

Added Security On the Homefront
The biggest domestic security ramp-up since September 11th, 2001 is underway.

First Shots?
The players are unlikely; Iraqi dhows, a Kuwaiti gunboat, British minesweepers, including RFA Sir Bedivere and finally the somewhat more heavily armed Avenger-class mine counter-measures ship USS Ardent. Don't be surprised if the Iraqis have mined the likely invasion areas, both on land and at sea. Don't be surprised if al Qaeda tries suicide attacks on ships. The Times of London says the forces on the scene suspected something like that was being attempted.

Allied troops are, meanwhile, moving into the Kuwait-Iraq DMZ. Troops are deploying into final, pre-invasion staging areas. Communications home are already being blacked out by some units. The allied blitzkrieg is about to start.

Saint Joseph
Today is the feast of Saint Joseph. We know nothing about our Lord's earthly foster father, except what we read in the Bible. But his patronage is widespread and powerful. He is the model husband and father, the ideal we should all strive to imitate.

It is among the Italians that celebration of Saint Joseph's feast reaches its high point. Public and family feasting and religious devotions are the order of the day.

To our Italian family and friends: "Viva la tavola di San Giuse!"

Here are some recipes for Saint Joseph's Day.

View From the 3rd Division
Michael Kelly, in a column carried at TownHall.com, interviews officers and men of the 3rd Infantry, preparing to cross the border into Iraq. These career soldiers offer more than one useful insight.

The assistant division commander offers this on why Saddam may use weapons of mass destruction:

``Put yourself in his shoes," said Austin. ``He's facing the ultimate. This time it is not a matter of just quitting a country he invaded. This time we're going to kill that guy or imprison him for the rest of his life. He is a nut to begin with, so he may well attempt to strike at something he knows will give him fame. He wanted to achieve fame as a modern Saladin, a restorer of Arab empire, but he can't get that so he may think fame lies in at least killing some Americans."

And on our abilities:

``We can see them. And what we can see, we can hit, and what we can hit, we can kill, and the kill will be catastrophic."

And the divisional commander on the outcome:

``A thousand things can happen to make life absolutely miserable for us. There is not one thing that can happen to stop us."

George Will On President Bush's Speech
Excellent analysis, also at TownHall.com today.

Be Prepared To Do the Work of Good Citizens On the Homefront
Michelle Malkin, in her syndicated column carried at TownHall.com has some practical suggestions on what Americans at home can do to help authorities.

Weird Story From D.C.
A tobacco farmer has driven a tractor into a pond in the nation's capital to protest, he says, the high price of gasoline for farmers. Given the fact that he is tying up significant police resources in a city that could be a terrorist target, give the guy a case of moon pies and a couple of gallons of gas, and jug him at a looney bin for 30 days.

The British Army Doesn't Have "Sullivan Brothers" Rules
The 2nd Battalion, Royal Tank Regiment has 9 pairs of brothers serving in its ranks. Their battle group forms part of the 7th Armoured Brigade, which has taken its name from the World War II 7th Armoured Division, the Desert Rats. May they all come through this unscathed.

Men Making Bombs Arrested In London

A Little More Than 14 Hours Left On the Ultimatum

Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Remember the Source
The Rupert Murdoch-owned The Sun is reporting that around 30,000 Iraqi troops have surrendered on the Northern front. To whom? To the Kurds? To TV journalists? There isn't anything up there adequate to take in 30,000 prisoners, except maybe the Turkish Army. I think the regular Iraqi Army will fold fairly quickly, but I doubt that they are doing so in such large numbers before a shot has been fired.

217-396, 412-149
The Labour backbench motion against war in Iraq was defeated by the Commons by the first margin. The motion to support the Government's position passed by the second tally. The Conservatives lined up with the Government. Prime Minister Blair made a very impressive speech. I'm trying to find the text.

Something Very Odd In Maine
A New York City cab conveying several Pakistani nationals was stopped by Maine State Police in Brewer, ME. We don't know what was going on, but the Pakistanis are in custody pending investigation of their immigration status.

I Was Catching Up On Lenten Reading When This Passage Struck Me
An old-fashioned prayer for victory.
1 Have mercy upon us, O God of all, and behold us, and shew us the light of thy mercies:

2 And send thy fear upon the nations, that have not sought after thee: that they may know that there is no God beside thee, and that they may shew forth thy wonders.

3 Lift up thy hand over the strange nations, that they may see thy power.

4 For as thou hast been sanctified in us in their sight, so thou shalt be magnified among them in our presence,

5 That they may know thee, as we also have known thee, that there is no God beside thee, O Lord.

6 Renew thy signs, and work new miracles.

7 Glorify thy hand, and thy right arm.

8 Raise up indignation, and pour out wrath.

9 Take away the adversary, and crush the enemy.

10 Hasten the time, and remember the end, that they may declare thy wonderful works.

11 Let him that escapeth be consumed by the rage of the fire: and let them perish that oppress thy people.

12 Crush the head of the princes of the enemies that say: There is no other beside us.

Ecclus. 36: 1-12

Travis Tritt Knocks Ditzy Chicks
"The bottom line is ... what's going to happen is going to happen. To be a good American — regardless of which side you're on — you have to get behind President Bush. More important, you have to get behind the troops."

Excellent. Now, someone tell the same thing to Bishop John Michael Botean, the Romanian Rite bishop for the US who has forbidden anyone in communion with him, on pain of mortal sin, from participating in, or supporting the US war effort.

You know, when bishops pull crap like this, they are entitled to no more credence than when they predict the Red Sox will win the World Series. They are out of their depth and beyond their legitimate authority. Smile, nod, ignore, do the right thing.

Too Good Not To Quote
Janet Reno is criticizing President Bush's policy on Iraq. Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit has the ultimate, silencing comeback:

JANET RENO SAYS that you don't deal with a crazed, weapon-accumulating, charismatic leader by sending in tanks.

Sorry -- I'm suffering an irony overload right now.

The Coalition of the Willing
Afghanistan, Albania, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Colombia, Czech Republic, Denmark, El Salvador, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Georgia, Hungary, Italy, Japan (post conflict), Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Turkey, United Kingdom, Uzbekistan.

Another 15 counties have quietly pledged support.

Why Saddam's Sons Are Included In the Ultimatum
The link is from the Times of London, but is not for the sensitive, or children.

Ku-Waiting For Saddam
Today will be a day of preparation for the troops. The 101st's helicopters have arrived, but need to be re-assembled (the rotor blades are taken off for shipment). The men busy with tasks like this are the lucky ones.

Saddam has about 37 hours before the ultimatum's deadline passes. We might not start the minute, or even the day, the deadline passes. There are advantages to tactical surprise. By going a day later, or six hours later, we could catch someone off guard. You can't be vigilant 24-hours per day everywhere.

But for the men waiting for the word to go, these are very tense and thoughtful times. Equipment can only be checked so many times. Once in the staging area, there is nothing to do. The clock moves slowly so far from home and with danger looming. The waiting wears one out. It is more than just uncertainty about what the enemy will do. There are many worries. How is my family doing back home? Will I do what I am supposed to? What will combat be like? What will happen to my family if something happens to me? Why did I sign up to sit in the desert for weeks on end? At least they are not worried about being out-fought. They know they will not be. A tremendous tension is building up that will only release itself when the order is given. Prayer helps a little (a great deal for some). The Globe yesterday featured a photo of the Irish Guards at prayer at a Saint Patrick's Day church parade. Anything that can take a soldier out of his own thoughts helps.

Those going into harm's way need our prayers, and support. God bless them.

Al Qaeda Shoots American & Canadian Oil Workers in Yemen
They both died, and the barbarian shot himself, saving us the trouble. Yemen is a place that really needs the rule of law. Not a large job, but necessary.

You Know Those Chemical Weapons Iraq Doesn't Have?
They are being issued to Iraqi army units south of Baghdad. You can't simultaneously not have something and use it. Inspector Closeau, er Blix, did not find them. But he didn't spend much time looking at front-line Iraqi military units. He was too busy worrying about global warming. What a useless prat.

Watch for Saddam to use the chemical weapons on inattentive Allied troops, or on the Shiites of southern Iraq, around Basra-Abadan. The thug who used gas against the Kurds has been put in charge of the defense of southern Iraq.

Libya Now In Charge of UN Human Rights Panel
What a joke the UN is. It has not lived up to its promise. It is time to seriously consider withdrawing from this League of Nations for our time.

The Text of President Bush's Speech
Courtesy of Fox News.

I'm Still Unable to Publish The New Title and Description
I'm sometimes getting Error 203:java.lang.NumberFormatException: (server:page), and sometimes just getting (more info). Publishing of blogs has become sporadic, too. I've read the Error 203 troubleshooting thing in Help. It was no help. Weird. Blogger needs to get its act together.

In Better Shape Than I Have Any Right To Be
Six fingers of Glenlivet didn't have much of an effect. It's almost like my days as a Serjeant Major, when (three times a year, on battle weekends) I drank 'til midnight, was up at 5, shaved and dressed by 6, had my buttons and other metal work polished before 7, and was an hour early for breakfast, and ready for morning parade 2-3 hours early.

I woke up at 4:30 just a little thirsty.

Well, the Irish CDs can be packed away. The Irish movie festival is over. It is back to the serious business of Lent. I'm a few days behind in parts of my Lenten reading, but up-to-date on other parts.

Next holiday with its own seasonal rituals? This year, Easter and Patriots' Day nearly coincide. That is tricky. I build up to Easter by viewing a spate of religious movies (Ben Hur, Jesus of Nazareth, The Greatest Story Ever Told, The Ten Commandments, and The Day Christ Died, at least). I build up to Patriots' Day by watching April Morning, The Patriot, Revolution, A&E's The American Revolution, and sometimes Zulu and Waterloo.

And my lenten reading, which takes about an hour or so per day, will run into my pre-Patriots' Day reading (I usually re-read David Hackett Fischer's Paul Revere's Ride, Allen French's The Day of Lexington and Concordand General Gage's Informers, and Harold Murdock's Historic Doubts On the Battle of Lexington, as well as many of the original sources). This all works well when Easter is in late March or early April. But when Easter and Patriots' Day fall on the same weekend, something has to give. It will probably be the Patriots' Day reading and viewing.

Australia Is On Board

Monday, March 17, 2003

President Bush's Address To the Nation
The President addressed the nation on the subject of the coming conflict with Iraq. He warned that the alert level has gone up to Orange, and that Hussein has 48 hours to leave Iraq along with his sons (but his close advisors were not mentioned-immaterial since Saddam will not go). One wonders why Saddam is being given the extra time, since he has already today made it clear that he will not go.

I think the President hit all the aspects he needed to, except encouragement to the forces in the field. His father did that better (who can forget that President and Mrs. Bush -41 spent Thanksgiving, 1990 with the troops in Saudi Arabia?). President Reagan would not have forgotten that aspect either. The speech was well-written, though the delivery was flat, and the sound almost failed twice. The President needed to hold out the high ideal of a free post-Saddam Iraq, and did so. He assured us that extra security would help to prevent terrorist attack. He explained why diplomacy has failed. He was direct and to the point. No minds will be changed by it. But I don't think there have been minds to be changed in the last two months. The debate is exhausted. It is time for action.

The Minstrel Boy
A traditional Irish song I grew up with, the words of which are very appropriate to this day.

The Minstrel Boy to the war is gone
In the ranks of death you will find him;
His father's sword he hath girded on,
And his wild harp slung behind him;
"Land of Song!" said the warrior bard,
"Tho' all the world betrays thee,
One sword, at least, thy rights shall guard,
One faithful harp shall praise thee!"

The Minstrel fell! But the foeman's chain
Could not bring that proud soul under;
The harp he lov'd ne'er spoke again,
For he tore its chords asunder;
And said "No chains shall sully thee,
Thou soul of love and brav'ry!
Thy songs were made for the pure and free,
They shall never sound in slavery!"

Blogger And HaloScan Have Been Ditzing Out Intermittently All Day
At times, they have both been down today. My apologies to those whose comments have been erased. Blogger has eaten two of my posts today. I hope this gets fixed for good before the shooting starts. Blogger still hasn't been able to display the new title, Verus Ratio Goes To War to anybody but me, or the new description, a quotation from Henry V. I've signed in and out, saved the changes in the settings, republished, and done all the other acts and things that independent blogs may of right do.

Hell No, He Won't Go!
Since Saddam is pre-emptively refusing to accept exile (which, in truth means assasination a few years or months from now), why wait the 72 hours President Bush is planning to give him?

What A Lovely Day!
I just got back from Salem Common, where I enjoyed my first cigar (for the record a Macanudo Prince Phillip with Connecticut Shade wrapper) since after the November election. It is 62 degrees here in Salem, the warmest it has been since October, with very little wind. The long string of days in the single digits, teens, twenties, thirties, and with wind chills well below that are over (at least for now). Our remaining snow is rapidly melting. It has been a very long winter.

As it is Saint Patrick's Day, I give myself a one-day reprieve from my Lenten abstinences. This works out better when St. Patrick's Day falls in the middle of Lent. By the fourth week, I am usually ready to kill for a cheeseburger or steak. But even this early in Lent, the reprieve is welcome.

I have potatoes on the boil for a dish of Champ, with back bacon ready to go in. There is a loaf of soda bread in the oven. I have a bottle of Glenlivet ready to go (I prefer it to Irish whisky). The Cheiftans and the Clancy Brothers with Tommy Makem are ready in the CD player. I hope the war doesn't start tonight (the reports that the President is planning to give Saddam a few days to get out of Dodge are welcome in this regard). Tonight, I'm planning to be in the state most war correspondents have traditionally been in (in honor of the Saint, of course). And tomorrow, I'll be suffering the consequences.


Requiescat In Pace
Joseph Coors, former head of the Coors Brewing Company, and the great benefactor of the Heritage Foundation died Saturday of lymphatic cancer at the age of 85. He fought the good fight as regent of the University of Colorado, attempting to combat anti-Vietnam radicalism in the 1960s. Under his leadership, Coors became the third largest brewer in the US. Without his contributions, it is safe to say that the Heritage Foundation, that invaluable conservative policy resource, would not exist. Requiescat in pace

Verus Ratio Goes To War
I've tweaked the title to reflect the coming hostilities, though I won't give my critics the satisfaction of correcting my Latin, at least until Easter.

Blogger is having dificulties again and has been unable to show the new title to anyone but me in "Edit Your Blog."

London's International Oil Exchange First To Be Visited By Looney Left

This Is It
The President will address the nation tonight. The diplomatic window is closed. No more kabuki dances at the UN. The beginning of military operations to disarm Iraq may be hard to distinguish from what has been going on for a few days. Allied aircraft have been flying about 300 combat sorties a day for several days, and special forces are already in Iraq, and have been for months. But it seems likely that things will begin in earnest very, very shortly.

The Enemy Within Braces To Attack
FrontPage Magazine today features several articles highlighting the threat of leftist disruption on the home front planned to begin after military operations. FrontPage is reporting that attempts will be made to tie-down homeland security forces in downtown areas, to storm military bases, to interfere with the movement of military traffic, sabotage military equipment, to attack internet sites relating to the armed forces or the federal government. And no, not by Iraqi intelligence or al Qaeda, but by homegrown left-wingers like A.N.S.W.E.R.

Fortunately, US forces are aware of the threat, and plan to use whatever force is necessary to prevent disruption. I would be a lot less gentle on these traitors than US security forces will be. Some of these people are no less a threat to the US than the folks detained down at Gitmo. Worse, in fact, because they were born here and speak English in the semi-educated tones of modern academia.

If it materializes, this will be treason on a scale unprecedented. I don't have to tell you that the threat of genuine terrorist attacks will be very high once the war starts, perhaps even after we win it. The plans of these groups will take homeland security forces and police from places they are needed, and prevent them from doing their best to protect us from foreign enemies who have already infiltrated this country.

If you don't like US foreign and national security policy, write a letter to the Globe. I'm sure they will be happy to publish your drivel. Get your own blog site. Get a soap box, and start belaboring all and sundry in a public park. Write to your congressmen or senators. Tell it to your priest, minister, rabbi, or whatever. But if you interfere with US military operations and domestic security needs, you get what you deserve, even if it is a cracked skull from a billy club, more than a modicum of tear gas, or a bullet. Verus Ratio will not weep for you. Dissent that verges into serving the interests of the enemy is treason.

Whether Iraq and al Qaeda have agents in place in the US waiting to carry out attacks or not, the war on the home front is about to heat up.

An Irish Blessing
May there always be work for your hands to do,
May your purse always hold a coin or two.
May the sun always shine warm on your windowpane,
May a rainbow be certain to follow each rain.
May the hand of a friend always be near you,
And may God fill your heart with gladness to cheer you.

Irish Recipes Galore
The makings of a feast to honor the Saint properly.

The Basics On Good Saint Patrick

Planning A Trip To Ireland? Think About a Pilgrimage to Lough Derg, Saint Patrick's Retreat

Read the Confession of Saint Patrick

Another Version of the Breastplate
My personal favorite

I bind myself today to a strong virtue, an invocation of the Trinity.
I believe in a Threeness, with confession of an Oneness in the Creator of the Universe.

I bind myself today to the virtue of Christ's birth with His baptism,
to the virtue of His crucifixion with His burial,
to the virtue of His resurrection with His ascension,
to the virtue of His coming to the Judgment of Doom.

I bind myself today to the virtue of ranks of Cherubim,
in obedience of Angels,
[in service of Archangels]
in hope of resurrection for reward,
in prayers of Patriarchs,
in preaching of Apostles,
in faiths of Confessors,
in innocence of Holy Virgins,
in deeds of righteous men.

I bind myself today to the virtue of Heaven,
In light of Sun,
In brightness of Snow
In splendour of Fire,
In speed of Lightning,
In swiftness of Wind,
In depth of Sea,
In stability of Earth,
In compactness of Rock.

I bind myself today to God's Virtue to pilot me,
God's might to uphold me,
God's wisdom to guide me,
God's eye to look before me,
God's ear to hear me,
God's Word to speak to me,
God's hand to guard me,
God's way to lie before me,
God's shield to protect me,
God's host to secure me,
Against snares of demons,
Against seductions of vices,
Against lusts of nature,
Against every one who wishes ill to me,
Afar and a near,
Alone and in a multitude.

So have I invoked all these virtues between me, [and these]
against every cruel, merciless power which may come against my body an my soul
against incantations of false prophets,
against black laws of heathenry,
against false laws of heretics,
against craft of idolatry,
against spells of women and smiths and druids,
against every knowledge that defiles men's souls.

Christ to protect me today,
Against poison,
against burning,
against drowning,
against death-wound,
Until a multitude of rewards come to me!

Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me!
Christ below me,
Christ above me.
Christ at my right,
Christ at my left!
Christ in breadth,
Christ in length,
Christ in height!

Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks to me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me!

I bind myself today to a strong virtue, an invocation of the Trinity.
I believe in a Threeness with confession of a Oneness, in the Creator of [the Universe.]
Salvation is the Lord's, salvation is the Lord's, salvation is Christ's
May Thy salvation, O Lord, be always with us.

Saint Patrick's Breastplate
A prayer attributed to Saint Patrick, from around 377. This is one of numerous translations.

I bind unto myself today
The strong Name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same
The Three in One and One in Three.

I bind this today to me forever
By power of faith, Christ’s incarnation;
His baptism in Jordan river,
His death on Cross for my salvation;
His bursting from the spicèd tomb,
His riding up the heavenly way,
His coming at the day of doom
I bind unto myself today.

I bind unto myself the power
Of the great love of cherubim;
The sweet ‘Well done’ in judgment hour,
The service of the seraphim,
Confessors’ faith, Apostles’ word,
The Patriarchs’ prayers, the prophets’ scrolls,
All good deeds done unto the Lord
And purity of virgin souls.

I bind unto myself today
The virtues of the star lit heaven,
The glorious sun’s life giving ray,
The whiteness of the moon at even,
The flashing of the lightning free,
The whirling wind’s tempestuous shocks,
The stable earth, the deep salt sea
Around the old eternal rocks.

I bind unto myself today
The power of God to hold and lead,
His eye to watch, His might to stay,
His ear to hearken to my need.
The wisdom of my God to teach,
His hand to guide, His shield to ward;
The word of God to give me speech,
His heavenly host to be my guard.

Against the demon snares of sin,
The vice that gives temptation force,
The natural lusts that war within,
The hostile men that mar my course;
Or few or many, far or nigh,
In every place and in all hours,
Against their fierce hostility
I bind to me these holy powers.

Against all Satan’s spells and wiles,
Against false words of heresy,
Against the knowledge that defiles,
Against the heart’s idolatry,
Against the wizard’s evil craft,
Against the death wound and the burning,
The choking wave, the poisoned shaft,
Protect me, Christ, till Thy returning.

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

I bind unto myself the Name,
The strong Name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same,
The Three in One and One in Three.
By Whom all nature hath creation,
Eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
Praise to the Lord of my salvation,
Salvation is of Christ the Lord.

Marines Ticked Off At Being Put Under British Command
According to this report from Matt Drudge, some US Marines are outraged at being put under British command. This surprises me. The US Marine Corps and the Royal Marines have a long history of cooperating. The two corps share some traditions (the red uniforms of Marine bandsmen were adopted as a salute to our British allies). And they have shared many a battlefield. British forces fit in with our own at almost every level (and probably no place more so than on the Special Forces level, where SAS, Green Berets, and Rangers, and other units not generally known, have worked together tactically for years).

It is not as if the Marines were being asked to serve under French or German command. British officers are thorough-going professionals who understand their business and take good care of the men under their command. The American First Army was put under Montgomery's command during the Battle of the Bulge. First Army staff did not always agree with Monty, but all agreed that he did not take undue risks with American lives (indeed the Americans wanted to take more risks), that his staff was cordial, helpful, courteous, and professional. Huge numbers of British officers have served with American forces at various levels, or studied at our command and staff schools. The Royal Marines are the last group who have made a successful amphibious invasion against enemy opposition (in the Falklands). They have the most recent experience at this sort of thing. It makes sense to let them control some aspects of these operations. In a war with allies, this sort of thing is necessary and inevitable.

The British have put their entire force, which amounts to a huge percentage of their armed forces, under our Central Command with very few reservations. It is unreasonable for US Marines to grumble and chafe at being put under British tactical command for certain purposes. This is something Central Command needs to squelch quickly, though it is symptomatic of morale problems caused by the long delay.

"There is only one thing worse than fighting with allies. And that is fighting without allies," said Winston Churchill during a contentious debate with Eisenhower during World War II.

Hours Away
All reports indicate that the beginning of hostilities is only hours away. The number of hours is subject to debate. It could be less than 24, or it could be 48, 72, or 96. The US is warning the UN to remove its weapons inspectors from Iraq. Journalists are fleeing the country. In fact, anyone with the money has fled the war zone already.

Verus Ratio will cover the war in-depth, as best we can from Boston's suburbs. However, even journalists on the scene are subject to what we call "the fog of war." Obviously, if the US media knows everything that is going on, so will the Iraqi commanders. The inability to see the whole picture, combined with active disinformaion and journalistic bias makes knowing what is really going on in a war a very difficult proposition. Most journalists will try to tell us what is going on as best they can, but they also bring to military operations a host of anti-military, anti-US, anti-Bush biases that we have to try to filter out. And we will be getting information from not just US journalists, but foreign ones, for whom those biases are even sharper.

Do not be surprised if the domestic alert level is goosed up to Orange again today, or shortly before or after operations begin. No matter what intelligence we have, or don't have, an increase in the alert level would be a reasonable precaution. There has long been speculation that some sort of terrorism, whether from al Qaeda, related groups, or Iraqi intelligence operatives (or some combination thereof) is possible during a war with Iraq. It would be entirely reasonable from a military perspective for Iraq to try to bring the war to our shores. At the very least, an increase in the alert level would give the American people a sense of participating in this war effort, something lacking in this day when our wars are fought with an all-volunteer standing army using a tiny percentage of our national resources.

Also be aware that Iraq will make numerous claims about atrocities committed by US and British forces. There will be claims that we have bombed civilian targets (and we may well hit some). Recall that Iraq probably has a large number of US duds from 1991 and 1998. These can be brought into a civilian area and exploded to make it look as if the US is responsible for civilian deaths. Expect Iraqi forces to slaughter Moslems at their prayers in mosques. Reports indicated that Iraq has purchased a quantity of US and British uniforms. Don't think, for a second, that they are for training purposes. They are to add verisimilitude to claims of atrocities.

We want to win a quick victory, occupy as much of the country as we need to, and install a new government, and then get out. Saddam wants to deny us a quick victory, turn world opinion against our liberation of Iraq, and deny the people of Iraq the use of their oil resources in the future.

No matter what anyone thinks, this is going to happen, and it is going to happen soon. Things are so far advanced that, even if Iraq utterly gave in to all of our demands today, we would probably have to brush aside their acceptance. Iraq has a habit of agreeing in principle to much, but then withdrawing most of those concessions once it comes time to implement the details. The troops can't be kept Ku-waiting much longer, certainly not long enough for another diplomatic minuet to run its course. Morale would be devastated by a longer delay. The troops want to get this over with and return to their families. Frankly, we need this done quickly so that we can turn more resources to other theaters.

God bless America and protect the members of our armed forces.

Sunday, March 16, 2003

And Sing A Song of Ireland
The Comtemplator has a large assortment of Irish folk music in midi format for your Saint Patrick's Weekend pleasure. There is a great deal of similarity between the folk music of each of the constituent nations of the British Isles. And some of the tunes in the Irish section are not Irish (When the King Enjoys His Own Againand Lillibulero come to mind). But there are plenty of genuine Irish tunes here. Click around, and you can even sing along, as the words are provided. Boil yourself some potatoes, slice up some soda bread, pour yourself some poteen or Guinness and feel free to belt out old stand-bys like The Rakes of Mallow, The Old Maid in the Garrett, Waxie's Dargle, Garryowen, Carrickfergus, Reilly's Daughter, The Minstrel Boy, Cockles and Mussels (Sweet Molly Malone), The Wild Colonial Boy, The Parting Glass, Danny Boy (The Londonderry Aire) and many others.

There is also a collection of tunes by the great 18th century blind Irish harpist Turlough O'Carolan.

Deus Ex Pisce?
I have no idea if the Latin is correct (no desire to revisit my high school text books, though I am touched by the number of people who want to correct Verus Ratio, which I've known is wrong since last June, but can't change because it is the URL, and lots of people link to me; long story I've told before, check through the archives if you're curious).

But "God from out of the fish" is an amusing idea.

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