Sunday, November 11, 2007

Veterans Day

When I got a little bit older, I went out and worked on the railroad awhile. I might say, too, that in my early days I got in bad company and I broke off from my mother's and father's advice and got to drinking and gambling and playing up right smart. I read about Frank and Jesse James. I thought if Frank and Jesse could be crack shots I could too. I used to gallop my horse around a tree with a revolver and muss up that tree right smart. And I got tolerably accurate, too.

And one night, after being very drunk and fighting, I got in after midnight, and found my mother sitting up waiting for me, and I asked her, "Why don't you lie down?" And she said, "I can't lie down. I don't know what's going to become of you when you are out drinking, and so I wait until you come in." And then she asked me, "Alvin, when are you going to be a man like your father and your grandfathers?" I promised my mother that night I would never drink again; I would never smoke or chew again; I would never gamble again; I would never cuss or fight again. And I have never drunk any whiskey, I have never touched cards, I have never smoked or chewed, and I have never fought or rough-housed since that night. I was very fond of tobacco, too.

I had already told my mother I would quit the things I had been doing, and at that time I had already quit gambling and drinking and fighting and was ready to begin another life. I joined the church and became an elder. I was teaching singing schools and led all the singing in the church before I went in the army. That is why they used to call me the Singing Elder.

OCTOBER 8th 1918

I don't know whether it was the German major, but one yelled something out in German that we couldn't understand. And then the machine guns on top swung around and opened fire on us. There were about thirty of them. They were commanding us from a hillside less than thirty yards away. They couldn't miss. And they didn't!

They killed all of Savage's squad; they got all of mine but two; they wounded Cutting and killed two of his squad; and Early's squad was well back in the brush on the extreme right and not yet under the direct fire of the machine guns, and so they escaped. All except Early. He went down with three bullets in his body. That left me in command. I was right out there in the open.

And those machine guns were spitting fire and cutting down the undergrowth all around me something awful. And the Germans were yelling orders. You never heard such a 'racket in all of your life. I didn't have time to dodge behind a tree or dive into the brush, I didn't even have time to kneel or lie down.

I don't know what the other boys were doing. They claim They didn't fire a shot. They said afterwards they were on the right, guarding the prisoners. And the prisoners were lying down and the machine guns had to shoot over them to get me. As soon as the machine guns opened fire on me, I began to exchange shots with them.

There were over thirty of them in continuous action, and all I could do was touch the Germans off just as fast as I could. I was sharpshooting. I don't think I missed a shot. It was no time to miss.

In order to sight me or to swing their machine guns on me, the Germans had to show their heads above the trench, and every time I saw a head I just touched it off. All the time I kept yelling at them to come down. I didn't want to kill any more than I had to. But it was they or I. And I was giving them the best I had.

Suddenly a German officer and five men jumped out of the trench and charged me with fixed bayonets. I changed to the old automatic and just touched them off too. I touched off the sixth man first, then the fifth, then the fourth, then the third and so on. I wanted them to keep coming.

I didn't want the rear ones to see me touching off the front ones. I was afraid they would drop down and pump a volley into me.

--and I got hold of the German major, and he told me if I wouldn't kill any more of them he would make them quit firing. So I told him all right, if he would do it now. So he blew a little whistle, and they quit shooting and come down and gave up.

I had killed over twenty before the German major said he would make them give up. I covered him with my automatic and told him if he didn't make them stop firing I would take off his head next. And he knew I meant it. He told me if I didn't kill him, and if I stopped shooting the others in the trench, he would make them surrender.

He blew a little whistle and they came down and began to gather around and throw down their guns and belts. All but one of them came off the hill with their hands up, and just before that one got to me he threw a little hand grenade which burst in the air in front of me.

I had to touch him off. The rest surrendered without any more trouble. There were nearly 100 of them.

Sgt Alvin C. York used to be known to every American. This Veterans Day I would like to honor this forgotten hero. I would also like to honor my Dad who landed on Normandy with the 474th Fighter Group two weeks after D-day when it is was still pretty hot. I have a picture of Bob Hope in a P-38 supposedly wearing my Dad's service cap. Likewise I would like to honor my son who went all over the world in the Army and had to take a medical discharge because his knees gave out after 7 years of service. Had they not he would have gotten his Ranger Tabs. My brother in law who as a Lt. in Nam took a round in the ear and lost a thumb. My two nephews, one a graduate of the Air Force Academy and one currently a cadet.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

(Green?) Revolution!

As in most wars the War on Terror is three steps forward, two steps back. At each back step the left cries how the war is lost. Latest back step is Musharrif blatantly showing his military dictator face. While no one considered Pakistan a democracy things seemed to be advancing. However any trappings of a move to democracy are but shadows in Pakistan as in our other WOT allies, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

Were Mubarak to fall the result could well be a Muslim Brotherhood run Egypt. This would be as good for Egypt as Hamas was for Gaza. Bet Gaza cast it’s last vote when it voted for terrorists. The problem as Nathan Sharanski illustrates in his new book The Case For Democracy "The election has to be at the end of the process of building free society. If there is no free and democratic society, elections can never be free and democratic." Pakistan is not Egypt. It has a Democratic history and institutions. It had a Judiciary. They are now in jail or on the run. Lawyers demonstrating in support of the Judiciary are being gassed. We prop up an ineffective ally that can’t even control the southern regions of his country at the expense of a newly reawakened Democracy that will be an ally against the extremists as if its life depended on it, which it would. We may be seeing a new revolution as more protestors take to the streets today. We can support this by supporting Pakistan’s Judiciary in this critical time.

A revolution similar to the Orange and Cedar Revolutions would not necessarily mean the end of Musharrif; he still controls the military. But his life also depends on our support so we do have a great bit of leverage. That is if our elected leaders see our support for reforms. The Islamists are not about to take over; this whole power grab is because the Supreme Court was going to rule against Musharrif’s holding both top spots in the Military and the Government. Popular pressure here as well as the pressure of hundreds of thousands of Pakistanis could bring about significant reforms.

Umar Farooq at the Mideast Youth forum has a petition asking support for Musharrif’s martial law to be withheld. He explains why this is so important here. The petition:

We the undersigned, demand the the West, East and our Middle Eastern neighbors stop all material and moral support to General Musharraf and his regime towards its policy of imposing Martial Law on Pakistan.

Under Martial Law, basic civil rights, of Right to Information Access and right of Justice has been suspended. As a result, Judiciary and Media have been the worst hit of the sectors. Judiciary forms the basis of any civilized society and Media represents the freedom given to speech and citizens in that society. When both of these pillars are hit, it greatly damages the institutions of the society.

Musharraf and his regime must be given a strong message from the Middle East that such action will not get international support and he is isolated in his efforts to subjugate the judiciary and media. In recent, judiciary in Pakistan has shown heartening activism and media has become an instrument of public debate and criticism towards the government. Step of imposing Martial Law in Pakistan has incited great resistance from within the country. If his regime is sandwiched between internal resistance and international isolation, it would give a strong signal to Musharraf and will in turn pressurize him to undo this step and get the national elections done at the right time and handover rule to civilian members of the parliament, chosen by the people.

Once this petition has enough signatories, we will send this to the foreign ministries of the countries of the Middle East and request them to put up official statements against the imposition of Martial Law in Pakistan.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has said we will review aid to Pakistan. Realists in the administration may push continued support for Musharrif so as to continue the war on the Taliban. Sign the petition, support reforms, because with all this military deployed against the Pakistani people there probably ain’t much minding the store to the South.

Updates: The Dutch are first to cut the purse strings. Will the street rise? This guy says no.


From the halls of Montezuma
To the shores of Tripoli,
We fight our countrys battles
In the air, on land, and sea,

First to fight for right and freedom,
And to keep our honor clean,
We are proud to claim the title Of
United States Marines.

Our flags unfurl'd to every breeze
From dawn to setting sun.
We have fought in every clime and place
Where we could take a gun.

In the snow of far-off northern lands
And in sunny tropic scenes,
You will find us always on the job -
The United States Marines.

Here's health to you and to our Corps
Which we are proud to serve;
In many a strife we've fought for life
And never lost our nerve.

If the Army and the Navy
Ever gaze on Heaven's scenes,
They will find the streets are guarded By
United States Marines.

Happy Birthday Marines: November 10th, 1775, Tun Tavern.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Why is everybody picking on me?

Can you imagine Margaret Thatcher’s husband having to come to her defense because the old boys were pick’ in on her?

Friday, November 02, 2007


Water Boarding Khalid Sheikh Mohammed

According to the ACLU I have been tortured. According to the Dems my son has been tortured. All this torture going on and we aren’t even terrorist. If we were terrorists we would not be tortured by any of the Dem candidates for President even though we might have knowledge that could save millions of lives. The Dems, (and McCain), will sacrifice a good number of us to keep some vague moral high ground.

Most Americans don’t want Gestapo tactics used on terrorists and certainly not on our own citizens. Yet the things we are discussing, in my case electronic restraints that I had to “experience” as part of my Correctional Officer training and water boarding that my son underwent as part of his S.E.R.E. Training are not torture.

S.E.R.E means Survival, Evasion, Resistance & Escape. Uncle Jimbo at Black Five explains the course here. Long Time Standing, The Cold Cell, and Water Boarding are all used against the trainees. If we can subject our military to such horrors just why in the hell should such techniques not be used against the monsters trying to kill our children? Jimbo sums it up for me;

The human will is strong, but it can be broken without having to break the mind or body, you just confuse and degrade it, and play mind games with it's owner until finally the ability to resist is gone. That is the whole point of coercive interrogation, breaking the human will to resist which is an artificial construct of each individual. Find their weakest area, exploit and overload the brain and body and eventually the brain will overrule the will and survival instinct will cause cooperation to make it stop.

Bottom line is coercive interrogation techniques are proper and should be employed and the line drawn at causing permanent damage to the mind or body. Temporary suffering, degradation, humiliation and even distress are acceptable to me and I believe we should formally state that these are approved for high value prisoners. I also think we should hint that we might even do worse, in a nudge, nudge, wink , wink kinda' way to increase their effectiveness, while stating for the cameras that "The US never sanctions the use of torture".

The fact the Dems will obstruct another Bush nomination, in this case for Attorney General, because he won’t take a position on water boarding reveals two things. One, they will oppose Bush no matter what with every breath they take regardless of the consequences to their party or their nation. Two, if allowed they will get rid of the so called torture, the Patriot Act, the listening in on terrorists conversations, and the many other actions we have taken to prevent another 9/11. As for myself, if I felt it was necessary to get info from any criminal, terrorist or otherwise, that might save my loved ones from a horrible death, give me a pair of pliers, some chicken wire, a candle, and some salt, and I will do what must be done and damn the law.

BTW: A CIA source told The New York Times that water boarding has been used a sum total of three times.

Update: Senator Edward Kennedy lectures Judge Mukasey about water torture. Rush said "What about automobile boarding at Chappaquiddick, Senator? More Americans have died, more people have died at Chappaquiddick than have died from water boarding in American prisons."