Sunday, October 31, 2004

Marine Corps Marathon Congratulations

Congratulations to my baby brother (okay, he's 34, maybe not a baby anymore), who successfully completed the Marine Corps Marathon Sunday morning. It was his first marathon ever, and he placed 6,222 out of approximately 18,000 runners.

We made it a family affair (three generations) to cheer him on, and had a great time doing so -- although, as it turned out, he didn't see us.

Congratulations also to the winners.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:49 PM

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Usher and Budden: Violence Isn't Art

Project 21's Kimberley Jane Wilson is asking why rappers Usher and Joe Budden insist on advocating violence towards women and unborn children in their song lyrics. Says Kimberley:
Some may feel compelled to jump to Usher and Budden's defense by saying the duo are just "keeping it real." Has no one noticed that no celebrity ever seems to keep it real by doing or saying something positive?
Read the whole thing.

Addendum: Who Moved My Truth? has interesting observations about this issue.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:56 AM

Lady Godiva's Return

As a reminder that there are other concerns in the world besides hotly-contested elections and Islamicist savages, consider this grave problem facing the citizens of Billings, Montana.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:35 AM

Friday, October 29, 2004

Regarding Serial Commas

OK, Professor Bainbridge, you've convinced me.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:41 AM


This is a new blog, and it looks good. Sample of a screed about the link between Saddam Hussein and terrorism:
Those who reject the available evidence seem to think that the absence of a big dossier labeled, "My Support for Terrorism," by Saddam Hussein, means that nothing was going on.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:00 AM

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Al-Qaqaa Tour

Patrick at Liberating Iraq just spoke by phone with a friend attached to the 101st Airborne's Division Command Staff, which spent two weeks last year using Al-Qaqaa as a temporary headquarters.

Patrick's friend describes what the 101st saw -- and didn't see -- there.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 5:25 PM

Corporations vs. Environmentalists

Looks like the moral high ground is with the corporations this time.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 4:53 PM

Independent Film Channel: Not Fair and Balanced

Executive Director David W. Almasi continues to channel surf, and sends over his comments:
Cable's Sundance Channel has a full slate of anti-Bush programming scheduled for the eve of the election. Now I see that the Independent Film Channel is following Sundance's lead with its own offering of liberal programs.

(And yet Sinclair is still taking it on the chin for airing just part of one documentary critical of John Kerry!)

The program descriptions belong to IFC, my comments are italicized:

Friday, October 29 at 10:00 pm and Saturday, October 30 at 1:00 am

"Fahrenheit 9/11: A Movement in Time"

A tribute to the most provocative documentary of our time. Featuring interviews with Mario Cuomo, Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon, Wyclef Jean, Bonnie Raitt, Michael Stipe and others.

Monday, November 1

8:00 pm

"The War Room"

Seminal documentarians D. A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus capture the behind-the-scene machinations of Bill Clinton's 1992 presidential campaign through the eyes of George Stephanopoulos and James McCarville, the two volatile generals who orchestrated their candidate's march to the White House.

9:35 pm

"Soldiers Pay"

Originally shot by Russell as an extra for the special DVD release of his film "Three Kings," "Soldiers Pay" was later removed at the studio's request. "Soldiers Pay" presents viewpoints on the war in Iraq from all sides of the spectrum, including veterans, Iraqis who rose up against Saddam after the Gulf War, journalists, politicians, psychologists and a two-star general who led the U.S. Marines to victory in the Gulf War.

According to an article about the film, director Russell is "anti-war in general and anti-Bush in particular." After the film was dumped from the DVD, it played in limited release paired with "Uncovered: The Whole Truth About the Iraq War" (which is, coincidentally, I'm sure, playing immediately prior to "Soldiers Pay" on Sundance Channel.

10:15 pm

"The War Room"

12:00 am

"Soldiers Pay"

And, in case you missed it the first two times, "The War Room" plays again on Election Day at 12:35 pm.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 4:36 PM

Heritage's Gardner: U.N.'s Defining Moment?

The Heritage Foundation's Nile Gardner takes a look at the role of the United Nations in the "missing" explosives controversy and speculates:
The 2004 Presidential election may be not only a defining moment in American history, but also a defining moment for the future of the United Nations.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 4:30 PM

Heritage Foundation on Russia Policy: Blunt Talk, Good Ideas

Those who have heeded my pleas that Americans need to pay more attention to Russia will find much of value in this new Heritage Foundation paper by Dr. Ariel Cohen.

In this paper, Cohen shares more than one very harsh reality about the inadequacy of Russia's anti-terror policy (read his assessment of how badly Russian security forces screwed up rescue efforts in Beslan) and Putin's ambitions toward Russia's neighbors. But the piece is not all gloom and doom. Cohen provides a roadmap for American policymakers who want to enhance U.S.-Russian cooperation in the war on terror while doing what Americans realistically can to to help foster prosperity and progress for people living in (and near) Russia.

Cohen also has very, very good sources. Check the footnotes on the paper -- he goes to the top.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:41 AM

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Anti-Catholic Bigotry in Europe

The Times of London opines about the fact that devout Catholics apparently are ineligible for leadership roles in the European Union.

But if an EU citizen is to be debarred from public office for holding personal beliefs that are at odds with the prevailing social orthodoxy -- and to be debarred despite a categorical statement that he would not let those beliefs intrude upon policy decisions, or result in any form of discrimination whatever -- then it is not only "the European project" that is undermined; it is democracy itself.
I have long been opposed to the European Union, and not just for the obvious reasons. It has always struck me that a continent full of nations that have spent hundreds of years killing each other's citizens on the slightest of pretexts cannot repair their discord by vastly increasing the number and significance of the issues on which they are forced to agree.

I know the average European would rather swallow his own tongue than listen to an American, but American poet Robert Frost wrote something they should heed: "Good fences make good neighbors."

Europe needs more fences.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 5:59 PM

Breeding Nuclear Weapons

In just four succinct paragraphs, the Little Red Blog tells some harsh but necessary truths about Iran, the U.N., America, and the spread of nuclear weapons technology. A sample:
The real difficulty on this issue may not be the political willingness of the U.S. to stand before a menace, but rather the European and Russian willingness to side with the menace in search of greatly desired financial and political power. What we can be certain of is the U.N. is not going to be the final arbiter of justice nor is it likely to agree until it is too late that just action is needed.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:10 AM

Putin, Explained

From Moscow News, an editorial that explains Vladimir Putin and the Russian political situation:
A year ago Vladimir Putin proved that he was a bad politician but a good power-wielder and a worthy candidate for dictator, who was capable of taking tough decisions and would not allow anyone to mislead or intimidate him, who knew how to destroy his political opponents and to hatch conspiracies...

But at the same time he proved to have no idea about politics, as the art of maneuvering, compromise, observing a balance of interests, of trust and agreement.

Vladimir Putin sees politics as a secret raid aimed at achieving unnamed goals under the cover of the appropriate statements and formal procedures.

The future under Vladimir Putin does not bode well for Russia.

It is hardly likely that after all Putin has done over the past year he will get out of his entrenched position and, suspending all the secret attacks aimed at seizures, reshuffles and recruitments, enter into a dialogue with the political and economic entities operating in Russia. Putin ceased to see any sense in such a dialogue as soon as he ceased to see the difference between himself and the Russian state.
I know this is not about Bush v. Kerry, the MSM, or Iraq, the political blogosphere's favorite subjects du jour, but Russia matters. Read the whole thing.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:49 AM

The Paragraph Farmer

This is a well-written new blog.

Take, for example, this post in which supermodel Kathy Ireland, who used to be pro-choice, tries to convince Fox's Alan Colmes to be pro-life.

I've just added this new blog to my blogroll.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:12 AM

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

American Digest: Blogger's Head Explodes

Blogging satire may be in its infancy, but this is worth a look.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:51 PM

Daily Ablution Finds the Guardian Hilarious

The Daily Ablution blog, which played a key role in getting protest emails to the UK Guardian after a columnist there regretted, in print, a supposed shortage of presidential assassins, has found this hilarious correction (regarding a different story) in the Guardian:
We were wrong to say the musical Brooklyn had been 'roundly panned by critics' in our round-up of US theatre (Review, last week). The show had not actually opened when the piece was written.
Nice to know the paper's incompetence isn't limited to issues of life and death...

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:24 PM

The Daily Recycler: NYTrogate

The Daily Recycler has the video of the NBC News report debunking the New York Times/CBS "missing explosives" story.

How did we ever live without The Daily Recycler?

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:18 PM

Monday, October 25, 2004

Washington Post Best Blog Contest

The Washington Post has announced the winners of its "2004 Best Blogs Readers' Choice Award" contest.

While I congratulate National Review's The Corner for its victory in category after category, I think the Post would do well to limit each blog to a single category or have a much more open nominations process (I believe the Post itself picked the nominees), which would, most likely, have the same effect. When one blog wins 50 percent of the ten categories (National Review's The Corner), and another (Instapundit) receives two of the five remaining, it makes for an unnecessarily dull contest.

I'd add a few more categories, too. The Post contest focused on -- mostly -- electoral political blogs. There are other issues covered by many wonderful blogs -- health care/medicine, law, and family life, just to name a few. And quite a lot of personal blogs, some of which are quite excellent.

Personally, I'm very interested in politics, but very many people -- and bloggers -- are not. I hope these (possibly more well-rounded) individuals can be included in the contest next time.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 5:34 PM

Media Bias? What Bias?

NCPPR executive director David W. Almasi takes a look at his television schedule, and finds fodder for a conversation about equal time:
Sinclair Broadcasting took it on the chin for wanting to show a POW documentary considered by some to be overly critical of John Kerry. They claimed Sinclair was showing an overt bias and wanted to influence the election.

Perhaps these critics will now turn their scorn on cable's Sundance Channel. To follow is their scheduled Bush-bashing line-up for election eve (11/1/04):

7:00 pm

directed by Richard Ray Perez and Joan Sekler

As the pundits said repeatedly on election night 2000, "It all comes down to Florida." However, as documented in this film by Joan Sekler and Richard Ray Perez, incompetence and petty corruption were altering the final tally from the moment the Sunshine State's polls opened. Citing a suspicious pattern of irregularities, injustices and purges of African-Americans from the voter records, the filmmakers present a provocative piece of advocacy journalism that -- contrary to suggestions to "just get over it" -- prompts outrage.

8:00 pm

directed by Robert Greenwald

Filmmaker Robert Greenwald, creator of the 2000 election expose Unprecedented, considers the Bush administration's case for the Iraq War and finds among the alarmist rhetoric little supporting evidence to back it up. Revealing news clips and interviews with intelligence veterans -- including Scott Ritter, Clare Short and Joseph Wilson -- make the case that the Bush administration misled the world with dubious statements, empty innuendoes and unchallenged untruths. "A devastating analysis" - Senator Edward Kennedy.

9:00 pm

directed by Nonny de la Pena

Producer Robert Greenwald (UNCOVERED; OUTFOXED) and filmmaker Nonny de la Pena present a devastating account of the erosion of American liberties following the passage of the USA Patriot Act in 2001. First-hand testimony and commentary from noted public figures -- ranging from Professor David Cole and the American Civil Liberties Union's Anthony Romero to former congressman Robert Barr -- recount unprecedented searches, abusive ethnic profiling and covert surveillance of political organizations, enacted under the guise of national security.

10:10 pm


When Karl Rove gives a public interview, he projects an affable personality and downplays any speculation about his powerful influence in the Bush White House. But as recounted in this documentary by Michael Paradies Shoob and Joseph Mealey, the Texan political operative is far from a supporting player. Tracing Rove's rise to power, BUSH'S BRAIN alleges a shady history of campaign dirty tricks, including scurrilous smears against past Bush foes like Ann Richards and John McCain. "Darkly comical, seriously scary" - Variety.

11:30 pm


Humorist and best-selling author Al Franken and guests present a fearlessly irreverent commentary on the political events of the day in this daily program.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 5:21 PM

Regret The Error: Mistakes Happen

I've added several new blogs to my blogroll today, one of which has a unique reason to exist: It reports exclusively upon errors, clarifications and trends regarding honesty and accuracy in the North American press.

Interesting idea for a blog, and one which should keep the editor, Craig Silverman, quite busy.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 4:46 PM

All-Encompassingly: Iraq News

The All-Encompassingly blog compares one professor's description of his experience working with teachers in Karbala, Iraq, with CNN coverage of events in that city.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 4:40 PM

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Guardian Calls for Assassination

Linking to this is probably pointless, since Drudge and Instapundit have linked to it already, but the Guardian newspaper in Britain has published a column that ends with a call for the assassination of President Bush.
On November 2, the entire civilised [sic] world will be praying, praying Bush loses. And Sod's law dictates he'll probably win, thereby disproving the existence of God once and for all. The world will endure four more years of idiocy, arrogance and unwarranted bloodshed, with no benevolent deity to watch over and save us. John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald, John Hinckley Jr - where are you now that we need you?
Note the presumably unintended irony of calling for assassination and ruing bloodshed in the same sentence.

Remind me again why the left believes itself morally superior to the right. I'm having trouble remembering.

Addendum: The Daily Ablution, a British blog that was one of the very first blogs ever to link to mine (a fond memory), has contact information for the assassination advocate and his "editor."

Hat tip: Tim Blair.

Addendum 2: reports on the blogging community's response to the Guardian article and an apology from the article's author.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:15 PM

Right Journal: Bald is Beautiful

I laughed out loud at this post about receding hairlines in Right Journal.

Reminds me of something my husband David says whenever anyone remarks that our son Jonathan has David's hair: "So that's where it went!"

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:27 PM

Friday, October 22, 2004

Bush's Wolves v. Reagan's Bear in the Woods

The Daily Recycler says the new Bush-Cheney ad featuring wolves is better than the 1984 Reagan-Bush "bear in the woods" ad.

I respectfully disagree.

Bush-Cheney's "wolves" is a nice ad, but it is less ambitious than "bear in the woods" and achieves less.

Bush's "wolves" makes a point about John Kerry.

Reagan's "bear" made a point about national security that transcended Reagan v. Mondale. Indeed, if the Cold War hadn't ended, "bear in the woods" could still be run today, unaltered.

In the 1980s, Reagan faced an organized left-wing that was trying to convince the American people that the Soviet Union was not a real threat. "Bear in the woods" calmly and succinctly and ever-so-reasonably demolished the notion that America would be safe with a President who accepted this naive notion.

Bush faces a lower hurdle. The public overwhelmingly believes terrorists pose a threat. What we debate now -- largely -- is the best approach to facing the threat. The Bush ad criticizes Kerry directly, while the Reagan ad never mentioned Mondale, or any particular legislation or decision by anyone. The Soviets weren't even mentioned by name. It was a statement of philosophy only, illustrated through nature -- yet, everyone knew exactly what the Reagan campaign was talking about. Very difficult to pull off; yet flawlessly accomplished.

This Bush ad communicates extremely well what its creators intended to communicate. It also is very pretty to look at. But it is not better than the Reagan '84 "bear in the woods" ad. No insult intended.

Note: I blogged about the bear in the woods ad on October 8, and provided a link in that post to a website of old presidential campaign TV commercials, where you can view "bear in the woods" and many, many other campaign commercials from days gone by.

Addendum: Jeff at The Shape of Days addresses this same point and reaches the same conclusion. Frankly, though, Jeff's post on this is a lot better than mine. (Sigh.) Read to the end of his post to see his script suggestion for a true "bear in the woods" Bush ad. It sent shivers down my spine.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 5:01 PM

Nike Fenway Park Commercial

If you like baseball, you'll like this Nike commercial.

Well, maybe not, if you are a Yankees fan.

Hat tip: Mom.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:14 AM

Saddam Hussein and Terrorism: New Website Details Ties

Project 21 is announcing that member Deroy Murdock ha a new website: Website Details Ties Between Saddam Hussein and Terrorism

Links between former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein and international terrorists - including Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda - are documented on a new Internet website created by columnist Deroy Murdock, a member of the Project 21 black leadership network.

Murdock, who also is a media fellow with Stanford University's Hoover Institution, created the website based on a September 22, 2004 presentation he delivered at Hoover. It contains footnoted sources and over 60 visual images proving Hussein's support of terrorism.

According to Murdock: "Saddam Hussein knew plenty about terrorism. In essence, he owned and operated a full-service general store for global terrorists, complete with cash, diplomatic aid, safe haven, training and even medical attention. Such assistance violated United Nations Security Council Resolution 687. The results not only broke international law, but also were deadly... The public evidence of Saddam Hussein's cooperation with and support for global terrorists is abundant and clear. The Baathist government's contacts and collaboration with terrorists in general, al Qaeda in particular, and even the September 11 conspirators should make all American highly grateful that President Bush led an international effort to remove Saddam Hussein from power."

Included among the evidence presented on
* Photographs of "President Saddam Hussein Grants" of $25,000 to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers.

* How Iraq provided diplomatic support and safe haven for terrorists such as Abu Nidal, Abu Abbas and 1993 World Trade Center bomber Abdul Rahman Yasin.

* How medical aid was provided to al Qaeda leader Abu Musab al Zarqawi, and how terrorists were schooled at the Salman Pak training camp in Iraq.

* The scoop on Czechoslovakian intelligence officials' assertions that Iraqi diplomat Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani met with September 11 conspirator Mohamed Atta.
Murdock adds: "This new web page presents facts and figures, names, dates and places. Saddam Hussein's philanthropy of terror was reason enough for America and over 30 allied nations to remove Hussein from power. Even absent the presence of weapons of mass death, President George W. Bush, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and the other Coalition leaders and the valiant troops who serve under them deserve the civilized world's applause for having deposed a genuine terrorist regime."

Project 21, a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization, has been a leading voice in the black community since 1992. For more information, contact David Almasi at (202) 371-1400 x 106, e-mail [email protected] or visit Project 21's website at

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:00 AM

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Walter Olson on Robert Kennedy Jr.

This review of Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s new book by the invaluable Walter Olson is very nearly a sidesplitter.

Sample: "...Kennedy's jackhammer style leaves one yearning for Michael Moore's suavity, Molly Ivins' balance and Paul Krugman's lightness of touch."

Hat tip to Jonathan Adler on The Commons Blog.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 4:34 PM

Bill O'Reilly a Conservative?

Right Journal makes a good point about Fox's Bill O'Reilly.

I agree. If Bill O'Reilly were a conservative, I wouldn't have had occasion to write this, nor this.

As O'Reilly himself makes clear -- often -- on his show, he has some views that are associated with conservatives and others that are associated with liberals. Environmental issues appear to be among those on which he generally sides with the left.

The environmentalists whose views O'Reilly parrots have an unreservedly pro-regulation agenda that is completely incompatible with the free-market economy under which this nation has prospered. Such an endorsement of socialism -- however qualified it may be by O'Reilly's more conservative views on other issues, such as tax rates or abortion -- disqualifies one from the distinction of being called a true conservative.

Would we call an advocate of socialized medicine a conservative, even if the individual was pro-life? No. O'Reilly's views on the environment likewise disqualify him.

Frankly, it is pretty clear that O'Reilly's market positioning constrains him, at least at present and wholly within his own mind, from publicly adopting a consistent political ideology. O'Reilly doesn't want to be too closely identified with either side. (What more proof is needed that O'Reilly is, first and foremost, a professional media personality?)

But, now that O'Reilly's facing some legal challenges, expect the mainstream media to call him a conservative -- nearly every time it mentions him.

Should O'Reilly ever throw himself in front of a bus to save a baby, however, the word "conservative" will never come up.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:31 AM

US -- and Russia -- Out of UN

Little Red Blog tells the appalling story of how hard it was for the United Nations to rouse itself even to condemn the cold-blooded murder of innocent little children in Beslan.

I long ago called for the United States to leave the United Nations. Now I suggest that Russia join us.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:36 AM

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

What Went Wrong in Iraq: A Conservative Perspective

Unless you are a subscriber to National Review, you are likely to find this Redhunter post interesting.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:19 PM

Soldier Covered by 286 Blogs Profiled in Stars and Stripes

Since April, by my count, blogs and websites have quoted and/or linked to comments sent to this blog by Army Spc. Joe Roche in Iraq at least 286 times.

Now Stars and Stripes has published a profile of Joe in its October 19 edition.

As it is possibly the most favorable profile of a human being I have ever read in a newspaper, I guess it would be churlish of me to express regrets that Stars and Stripes did not mention the role of the blogosphere in the story of how so many Americans stateside read and heard Joe's views these past months. After all, 286 blogs is quite a few, and I know Joe appreciates every single one of them (well, maybe not the coverage by

So I won't. Here, then, is the Stars and Stripes article:
A 'Professor' in a Class by Himself

GIESSEN, Germany - Guys like Joseph Roche don't enlist every day.

In fact, his story is so novel that, at first, some of his colleagues didn't know what to make of this man from Minnesota.

His age, education, demeanor, globe-trotting ways and olive-colored skin (his father is from India) raised eyebrows and got folks whispering. Some suspected Roche of being an Army undercover agent. Others thought he could even be a member of an al-Qaida sleeper cell.

"There were a lot of guys who were wondering," Roche said. "I would tell them: 'I am what you see.' "

For the last two years - and for the next two - Roche has been a member of the U.S. Army. It is a calling that came relatively late in life, but one the cerebral college graduate felt he had to answer.

"He barely made [the deadline]," said Sgt. 1st Class Patrick Adelmann, the Minnesota recruiter who brought Roche into the fold.

Roche, who turns 37 next month, joined the Army just before his 35th birthday, the cutoff for new enlistees. Six months later he was in Iraq as a member of the 16th Engineer Battalion, based in Giessen.

During his 14-month tour to the Middle East, Roche distinguished himself in common and uncommon ways.

Supervisors note that Roche always accepted whatever job was given him. "There was never a complaint," Staff Sgt. Ezrah Brown said, "Never. Not once."

Brown, a 12-year veteran of the Army, called Roche "one of the best [soldiers] I've ever seen."

About the only time Roche did complain - sort of - was earlier this year, when he wrote an eloquent letter to Stars and Stripes to counter the "bad news" coming out of Iraq. In it, he asked his fellow Americans "to keep the faith."

The letter, which ran in the Be Our Guest section of the April 4 Sunday magazine, would soon endear him to tens of thousands of people, from his buddies in Baghdad to radio announcers back home, such as Rush Limbaugh, to the man who lives at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

"Our troops know the historic importance of our work [in Iraq]," President Bush said in his acceptance speech last month at the Republican National Convention. "One Army specialist wrote home: 'We are transforming a once-sick society into a hopeful place. The various terrorist enemies we are facing in Iraq are really aiming at you back in the United States. This is a test of will for our country. We soldiers of yours are doing great and scoring victories in confronting the evil terrorists.'

"That young man is right. Our men and women in uniform are doing a superb job for America," the president said.

After the speech, the president's staff sent an autographed copy of the speech to Roche, something he proudly produced during a recent visit to his apartment in Giessen.

"I said things people needed to hear and wanted to hear," he said.

Speaking out publicly is something Roche has grown accustom to since junior high school.

As a young teen in Minneapolis, Roche spearheaded petition drives and gave political speeches on subjects such as prayer in schools and aid for the Nicaraguan contras.

After high school, Roche moved to Washington, D.C., where he worked for seven years on conservative campaigns and issues. Eventually he returned to his roots to attend the University of Minnesota, earning a history degree.

"Talk to him about history, and you can learn so much," Brown said.

Before departing for Iraq, the staff sergeant gave Roche a nickname: the professor. While Roche's knowledge extends well beyond history, it is his forte, enough so that his superiors asked him before the unit deployed to brief younger soldiers about the intricacies of Iraq and the Middle East.

"He reminds me of the professor on 'Gilligan's Island,' " Brown said, referring to the popular '60s television show.

During the war, Roche was the driver for 1st Lt. Andrew Bischoff, then a platoon commander in Company C.

Bischoff described Roche as a shy, hard-working guy who is respected as much for his humility as for his knowledge.

"I've never seen anybody like him," Bischoff said. "People like that sometimes come across as arrogant."

Both now chuckle over how they would discuss current events and history as they drove around on missions. As they scanned the horizon for bad guys and improvised explosive devices, subjects such as the merits of the Prussian empire would help break the tension.

"It was like an interactive history channel," Bischoff said.

Over the years, Roche has held a variety of jobs: bus boy, hotel manager, police dispatcher and security cop. Prior to joining the Army, he spent a year in Israel with Sar-El, a nonprofit, nonpolitical volunteer organization.

Roche was in Israel on Sept. 11, 2001, when terrorists struck New York City and the Pentagon. Roche, who is not Jewish, figured if he could give of himself in Israel, he should do the same for his homeland.

Upon his return, he walked into Adelmann's office and declared his intention to enlist. A year later, as the clock was winding down, Roche followed through.

Adelmann, who spoke by telephone from his office near the University of Minnesota campus, said he would never forget Roche.

"Most people are like: 'What's in it for me? How much money can I get for college? How much of a bonus do I qualify for?' " he said.

"Joe just wanted to join."
Back on April 7, expressed doubt that Joe could be real:
Rightwing Front Groups Disseminating Tokyo Rose-Type Propaganda as Our Soldiers Die

The National Center for Public Policy Research and other NeoCon front groups have been disseminating the following piece of propaganda this week as our soldiers die -- an essay entitled "Keep the Faith: A Letter from Iraq," allegedly by a soldier with the U.S. Army serving in the 16th Combat Engineer Battalion.." Progress is amazing.... Every day the Iraqi people stream out into the streets to cheer and wave at us as we drive by. When I'm on a foot patrol, walking among a crowd, countless people thank us -- repeatedly.... This is why you hear bad news and may be receiving an incorrect picture... The reality is one of an ever-increasing defeat of the enemies we face..." etc. ad nauseum. We challenge soldiers with the 16th Engineers to verify the existence of a Joe Roche in their ranks...we suspect if there is, he may not realize he "wrote" this essay (remember the bogus letters sent to papers that had soldiers' names falsely signed to them?
I think the existence of Joe is now totally verified.

Congratulations to Joe on this coverage in Stars and Stripes, and thanks again to all those in the blogosphere, talk radio and newspapers who shared Joe's words of optimism about America's mission in Iraq this year. And even more thank to those of you who participated in the still-ongoing care packages project inspired by Joe.


Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:35 AM

Putin, Bush & Kyoto

Vladimir Putin certainly is an interesting fellow.

Recently, for example, in a move widely seen as isolating to President Bush, Putin announced he would send the Kyoto global warming treaty to the Russian Duma for ratification.

A Putin-Bush split? Not so fast. Putin made statements Monday that have widely been seen as a virtual endorsement of President Bush's re-election.

So are Bush and Putin on the same page, or off it?

Canadian scientist Dr. Tim Ball appears to lean toward the former. In a letter published in the October 18 (Canadian) National Post, Dr. Ball writes, in part:
Vladimir Putin may not be in favor of Kyoto at all... By referring the treaty to the State Duma lower house, the ex-KGB spy may very well have set up a situation where Kyoto can still be killed without having to take the blame himself.

In fact, there is strong opposition in the Russian parliament to the protocol and Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov has already predicted tough Duma battles ahead.

Certainly the Duma would have plenty of high profile support if they rejected Kyoto. Besides the April, 2004, conclusion of the Duma's committees for ecology, the economy and international affairs that "Ratification is inexpedient given the U.S. pullout and the non-participation of many countries ...", climate experts across Russia and around the world have spoken out loudly against Kyoto on scientific grounds.

So, Putin sends Kyoto to the Duma who eventually reject it. Putin then sorrowfully explains, "I did my best but in a democracy you can't overrule the people."

...I hope this is Putin's plan. Kyoto is an enormous mistake and Russia would be doing the world an important service by killing it for good.
Addendum (10/22/04): It look like Dr. Ball was a bit too optimistic.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:32 AM

Republicans Have Better Sex Lives

I don't have a clue what to make of this.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:00 AM

Monday, October 18, 2004

Iraq: More than WMD

Enviropundit reviews the joint resolution to authorize the use of United States armed forces against Iraq with an eye to determining, with 20-20 hindsight, if the justifications hold up.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:11 AM

New Junior Blogger

Samantha of Uncle Sam's Cabin and Jeremy of Parableman had a


Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:56 AM

Smoking in Restaurants

Peggy at What If? has some thoughts I agree with about government bans on smoking in restaurants.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:29 AM

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Michael Kinsley: We Hold This Dirt to Be Self-Evident

Michael Kinsley thinks the Bush campaign is so artful it could even turn signing the Declaration of independence into a political minus:
President Bush: "My opponent, you see, wrote -- or he helped to write -- this document, this so-called Declaration of Independence. And in it, see, he says something about how we hold these truths to be self-evident. Now, self-evident is just a fancy word -- or actually it's two words: Of course I know that! I can count! -- it's just a fancy way of saying you don't have to say anything because folks already know it.

"In other words, he's saying that you don't have to tell the truth. Well, I just happen to disagree with that. I think the truth is one of the most important things in our great country. The truth is American. And it's good. It's good to tell the truth. But my opponent disagrees with that. He thinks you don't need to tell the truth. And I happen to think that's wrong. It's a difference in philosophy, you see."

Newspaper Headline: "Kerry Opposes Truth, Bush Charges; Opponent Responds, 'Issue Is Complex' "...
There's more. Bush supporters won't agree with Kinsley's main point, but there is a lot of delicious satire in this op-ed.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:19 PM

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Gin Raisins for Arthritis

Speaking of parodies, check out Dr. Galen's amusing (and, I suspect, accurate) "test of the efficacy of gin soaked raisins in treatment of mild to moderate osteoarthritis."

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:28 PM

Bill O'Reilly's Sexual Harrassment Case

Beldar, a trial lawyer, has an interesting post up today about sexual harassment litigation generally and O'Reilly v. Makris (and Makris v. O'Reilly) specifically. See also an earlier Beldar post on the strategies being employed by the litigants in this case.

As long as you are over there, I recommend also this post about people to whom we Americans owe a debt of gratitude.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:09 PM

Debate Parody

David Brooks has a rather funny parody of the debates in his New York Times column today.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 8:59 PM

Why We Fight

Courtest of Bill's Comments, I just visited Allah Ain't In The House.

Grim, but (as Bill noted), a necessary function.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 8:17 PM

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Voter Intimidation

Various talk radio hosts have spent a lot of time today talking about claims by some interest groups that the 2004 election will be stolen by one side or another.

Project 21 was on this story a month ago.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 5:44 PM

Paying for Social Security Partial Privatization

During last night's debate, President Bush was asked how the federal government would find the funds to pay current retirees' Social Security benefits if younger workers were to be permitted to privately invest some of the funds they presently pay in Social Security taxes.

The New York Times has asked the same question. I have taken a stab at answering it:
The New York Times complains that President Bush did not explain how he would pay for partial privatization. Perhaps not for the first time, it is thinking backwards. Partial privatization is designed to reduce the draw on the federal treasury, not to expand it.

Workers today are contributing more money than Social Security needs. The excess tax funds are spent on other things, such as National Public Radio, U.N. dues, the National Endowment for the Arts and other federal expenses that the New York Times supports, but conservatives often do not.

Enacting partial privatization now would reduce the amount of dollars available for discretionary programs the New York Times likes, but workers could pay less Social Security taxes now without current retirees losing a penny in benefits.

What if today's workers continued to be taxed the same 12.4 percent, but the excess amount, or some similar sum (such as 3 percent of payroll), was conservatively invested for the worker's own use after retirement? The answer: Even without benefit cuts, workers wouldn't need so much money from Social Security.

Maybe Social Security, which many people now believe is destined for bankruptcy, needn't be insolvent after all.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 5:14 PM

Women and Equal Pay

During last night's debate, it was alleged that women in the U.S. are not receiving equal pay for equal work.

This helps set the record straight:
The left-wing has complained about so-called 'pay equity' for years. As the U.S. Senate's Republican Policy Committee has pointed out, however: 'The average wage gap between men and women is 26 cents (and falling). But this figure does not account for factors unrelated to sex discrimination that affect income: age, education, occupation, number of years in the workforce, and experience. Controlling for these factors shows women are actually paid 98 cents for every dollar earned by a man. The remaining 2-cent adjusted wage gap could be caused by sex discrimination, but it could also be caused by measuring errors, unaccounted for differences between men and women, or a combination of these factors. The 2-cent adjusted wage gap could also be more than made up for by the non-monetary benefits of female-dominated jobs, including better supervisors, fewer risks, easier commutes, and more flexible hours. Former Congressional Budget Office Director June O'Neill writes, 'When earnings comparisons are restricted to men and women more similar in their experience and life situations, the measured earnings differentials are typically quite small.''"

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 5:13 PM

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Patti Davis on Stem Cells

Patti Davis, Ronald Reagan's daughter, writing in Newsweek:
"I wonder if President Bush could look into the eyes of Christopher Reeve's family and tell them that it's because he values life so deeply that he is preserving clusters of cells in freezers -- cells that resulted from in-vitro fertilization and could be used for embryonic stem cell treatment -- despite the fact that more people will die as a result of his decision."
If Patti Davis can prove that statement, she should stop wasting her time writing for Newsweek and put her talents to work as a research scientist. She also should stop waiting around for federal funding for embryonic stem cell research and show her proof to private financing sources, who, business being business, will gladly fund a sure thing.

The fact is that no one knows if federal funding for additional embryonic stem cell research will ever save even one life.

An additional fact is that embryonic stem cell research beyond the stem cell lines eligible for federal funding is not illegal in the U.S. Davis apparently wants Newsweek readers to believe Bush has made it so. He couldn't even if he wanted to -- he doesn't have the authority.

Davis concludes:
"...never let anyone call our hopes 'false.""
Maybe not her hopes. But her writing sure is.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:59 PM

American Digest and the Bleat

American Digest says readers of James Lileks's The Bleat don't sufficiently appreciate the fullness of that website.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:00 AM

Monday, October 11, 2004

Clinton Scandals Continue

The Clinton-era scandals continue.

Hat tip to Michelle Malkin, who has more related links.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 4:14 PM

Battleground Poll Results Perplexing

In the newest Bush v. Kerry Battleground Poll, which no doubt will receive much publicity today, I noticed something odd that won't be in many headlines.

Likely voters polled said Kerry would do better at "creating jobs," but said Bush would do better at "keeping America prosperous."

Maybe Battleground respondents were thinking of non-prosperous jobs and/or a prosperous economy without new jobs...?

Sometimes poll results make no sense at all.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:01 AM

U.S.-Canadian Relations: Non-Supportive Without Being Helpful

Since I have written about Canada this week, I'll stick with a theme and recommend a piece on the subject of U.S.-Canadian relations by the incomparable Mark Steyn.

Money quote:
...the two nations of North America are on diverging paths. Take, for example, missile defense. This is an American issue tailor-made for Canadian politics in that it requires absolutely nothing from Canada. It's going to happen anyway, it's got the support of both parties south of the border, and because by "national defense" Americans generally mean "continental defense" we'll get the benefits of it - as we do from the U.S. nuclear deterrent - without putting up a dime. In that sense, it's almost a textbook definition of U.S.-Canadian "cooperation": we get to be supportive without being helpful. Indeed, we don't even have to be supportive. We just have to refrain from being non-supportive. And in return some of that great gushing torrent of Pentagon gravy will come the way of Canadian defense contractors.

But sorry, even that's too much to ask...

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:02 AM

Sunday, October 10, 2004

NCPPR Director Shot

From the lucky guy himself, David W. Almasi:
In what seems like an annual event, the medical community is not prepared for flu season. This year, because of potential contamination of the vaccines, the number of available shots is currently half of what is expected to be needed.

I was lucky. I went out to the grocery store on Saturday, before the news broke, where I was one of about ten people waiting for shots and the probably the only one under 60. At the time, the nurse administering the shots praised me for being wise beyond my years.

Now, these same people and government officials are asking people my age to willingly forgo being prepared. With the dearth of doses, they are calling for voluntary rationing. Clinics are being cancelled and the ones that aren't closed have people lining up long before they open the doors.

If the American people are acting this way about flu shots, what does this say for the way they will react if our health care system is further liberalized and involuntary rationing of more important procedures are the norm?
The always thought-provoking Galen's Log examines the question: Is the shortage in flu vaccine supply a market or government failure?

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:08 AM

Friday, October 08, 2004

Russia's Economic Liberalization Faces a Bear in the Woods

National Center executive director David W. Almasi reports on his experiences at the U.S.-Russian Investment Symposium:
In the 1984 presidential race, Ronald Reagan's campaign wasn't afraid to talk about the bear in the woods. At the time, the bear represented the Soviet Union's strategic threat to world freedom. In the famous commercial, it was noted that not everyone wanted to acknowledge the problem of the bear and asked voters if they felt America should be strong enough to counter its threat. Overwhelmingly, Americans supported Reagan and his policies led to the demise of the Soviet Union.

A relative of the old bear seems to be back. Despite years of reform, the rule of law in Russia is in decline. Elections are suspect, if allowed at all. Restrictions have been placed on the press. There is a climate of fear with regard to the government, and allegations of corruption are rampant.

At the U.S.-Russian Investment Symposium held this week in Washington, everything seemed nice and sunny. Business, government and policy leaders were all smiles. Despite the decline in the rule of law in Russia, this new bear went largely ignored.

During a question-and-answer session, I asked the Russian minister of information technologies and communication, Leonid Reiman, this question:
Despite the best efforts of the business community, the continuing decline of the rule of law in Russia serves to discourage foreign investment. What would you say to those interested in investing in the telecom sector in Russia who are worried about allegations of government corruption and the systematic erosion of the rule of law?
The room became tense. Reiman smiled and tried to laugh it off. He acknowledged the bear of corruption exists but said it is becoming less and less of a problem. The solution? Clear-cutting the forest. He says new moves towards transparency in government will make corruption harder to hide.

Transparency in a country where the broadcast media is controlled by the state and the other media is looking over its shoulders?

My concerns seemed to be shared by speaker Philip Merrill, the chairman and CEO of the Export Import Bank of the United States. In a panel held earlier, he recognized the bear as an impediment to investment. Merrill says the problem is getting worse. To paraphrase him: In Russia's recent past, liberalization of the economy and progress toward dull democraticization could be described as two steps forward and one step back. Today, it is one step forward and two back.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:12 PM

If There Is a Bear

Via Stop the Bleating!, which credits The Volokh Conspiracy: A website featuring old political TV ads.

It has my #1 all-time favorite political commercial, the Reagan-Bush 1984 "Bear in the Woods." (Go to the website's 1984 GOP section and click on the picture of the bear.) The same section also has the classic "Morning in America" commercial (click on the newspaper carrier on a bicycle photo) and another Reagan-Bush '84 classic, "Train." That one still sends chills down my spine.

The 1988 section has one showing former President George H.W. Bush with his grandchildren. Children then; but we are seeing many of them all grown up on the campaign trail now.

So you don't have to ask, they do have the infamous 1964 LBJ "Daisy" commercial.

A note to those who don't like 9-11 footage in their political commericals: Eisenhower's 1952 "The Man from Abilene" makes plenty of use of WWI footage. But if you go to the Ike '52 section, don't watch the commercial labeled "Ike for President" unless you are willing to have his jingle in your head all night...

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:00 PM

The Millionaire Next Door

Did John Kerry just tell an audience he can tell that none of them make over $200,000 a year just by looking at them?

I suggest he read this book.

Addendum: Michelle Malkin noticed the same thing.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:58 PM

Putin, the EU and Kyoto: A Double-Cross in the Making?

National Center Senior Fellow Bonner Cohen is attempting to decipher Vladimir's Putin's strategy on Kyoto. He's just written a piece for newspapers nationwide. The Ft. Wayne News-Sentinel is the first paper to publish it.

Money quote:
The wily former spymaster may well be setting Kyoto's proponents up for one of history's grandest double-crosses by signing the treaty and grabbing the billions of dollars in promised payoffs with no intention of ever living up to its terms.

After all, the only way for the European Union or the United Nations to really determine if Russia is complying with Kyoto is to site thousands of monitors on the ground in a vast territory that spans six time zones - or to rely on Russian self-certification.

The first option is not likely to be granted by the xenophobic Russians, while the statistics generated by the second are likely to be doctored beyond all credibility.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:46 PM

The Washington Reagans

Speaking of Canadian resources, Washington Post reporter and columnist David Broder thinks the new Washington D.C. baseball team should be named the "Washington Reagans."

Works for me. (But I'm still going to root for the Pirates.)

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:00 AM

Thursday, October 07, 2004

The Heritage Foundation, Defense Spending and the Blame America Firsters

You've got to hand it to those Blame America Firsters -- even in the most improbable circumstances, they can find a way to Blame America First.

Consider what this Canadian says in a story appearing in Britain's Independent about the Canadian submarine that has been stranded in the North Atlantic for the last three days:
Steven Staples, a defense analyst at the independent Ottawa think-tank the Polaris Institute, said: "There is no clear reason why we needed these subs. One theory is that the Canadian Navy has come under severe pressure from the United States to have subs so that they could play 'the enemy' in exercises. It has been disastrous for us."
Would this fellow have the world believe that Canada is so weak it can't even handle the role of pretend enemy?

I seem to have a higher opinion of Canada than that fellow, but let's face it, when it comes to self-defense, Canada sits complacent under our nuclear umbrella, not pulling its own weight. Canada spends 1.1 percent of its GDP on defense, compared to 3.4 percent for the United States (2002 figures; source: U.S. Defense Department). The U.S. in 2002 spent $350 billion on defense, Canada, $8.17 billion.

Even when it comes to multinational peacekeeping operations, something you'd think would be a little more to the pacifist taste, Canada still doesn't outclass the U.S. The U.S. spent $669 million on this in 2001-2002, while Canada spent $47 million (as a percentage of GDP, the two nations' contributions were roughly equivalent, at .75 and .76 percent respectively).

To put that $47 million figure in perspective, Canada spent less on international peacekeeping in 2002 than The Heritage Foundation, a conservative DC think-tank without a penchant for taking taxpayer dollars, took in in revenue that same year ($52 million). What's more, can anyone doubt that Heritage staffers could kick %$#@ if necessary in a foreign land?

Canada can be a better steward of its own national security. And the Polaris Institute should stop whining. What goes on in the Canadian Navy is the Canadian Navy's responsibility, and no loyal Canadian should want to have it any other way.

(P.S. For a quick guide to which nations have backbone and which would need help to take on even a think-tank, click here.)

Addendum: All in good fun, a Heritage staffer responds here.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:07 PM

Dick Cheney and Cheryl Tiegs: More Alike Than you Might Think

Visit BeldarBlog for a funny story about the vice presidential debate... and supermodel Cheryl Tiegs.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 5:46 PM

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Leonid Reiman and the Russian Business Climate

One of the featured speakers at two prestigious symposiums in Washington this week on ways to promote new U.S.-Russian investment and business is a Russian government minister around whom allegations of corruption swirl.

Since the rule of law is a cornerstone of economic prosperity, this transcends irony. In fact, it is pitiful.

Specifically, Leonid Reiman, the Minister of IT and Communications of the Russian Federation, has landed prominent speaking roles at this week's sessions of the U.S.-Russia Business Council and the U.S.-Russian Investment Symposium. (Other participants at the latter event include two cabinet Secretaries, Commerce Secretary Don Evans and Energy Secretary Spence Abraham. U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage is associated with the former, as is Secretary of State Powell himself, who attended the U.S.-Russia Business Council's 2002 meeting.)

Rumors are rampant that numerous journalists are investigating allegations that Reiman has used his senior position in the Russian government for his own benefit.

Some of these rumors have made it into print:
Leonid Reiman, a key member of the St. Petersburg FSB group, deprived two leading Russian mobile phone companies of their frequencies so as to benefit a company favored by him. Fortunately, his decision was reversed by the government after public uproar.

-A Window on Russia Commentary by Anders Aslund, a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
International investors will not have confidence in Russia unless and until they are convinced the corruption and abuse of the legal system are in its past and that abusers are dealt with. We Americans do our best service to Russia -- a nation with which we potentially could become fast friends -- when we model the behavior that leads to a just, thriving market economy. We can start by limiting our more prestigious invitations to those who have a reputation for advancing the principles under which prosperity and democracy thrive.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:20 PM

The AFL-CIO and Overtime

Via Instapundit comes a link to a story and video of AFL-CIO members attacking Bush-Cheney offices in Orlando and Miami, apparently to voice complaints over the Bush Administration's new overtime rules.

Gotta love the softly nuanced way organized labor expresses its leadership's point of view. (Not.)

Here is the truth about the new overtime rules, explained for your convenience without even a dollop of violence.

Addendum: A note from reader "EB": Being a student of history (I've lived a lot of it) and not to put too fine a point on the comparison; the behavior of some of the unions in this election is reminiscent of the brown shirts of the '30s and the communist goon squads of the '50s.

A well-argued and factual defense of one's position will always be more persuasive than this bully-boy, "I aint't got a brain in my head" activity. The rad-libs, like the silent Islamic majority, need to get up off their backsides and loudly deplore such behavior. It's just plain un-American.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:31 AM

Why Are Medical Costs High?

I presume it is because of the VP candidates' debate Tuesday night, but for the last hour or so we've been getting a lot of hits on one of our newsletters from last year, probably because of the lead article, "Why Are Medical Costs So High? Courtrooms Are a Culprit."

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:02 AM

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Putin, Wanniski and Dixie Lee Ray

It is fair to say that I am not a huge fan of all the opinions expressed on Jude Wanniski's website,, but I did enjoy Wanniski's open letter to Vladimir Putin on global warming posted there today.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 5:33 PM

The U.S.: Worth Dying For

Those who read about the soldier profiled in Joe Roche's "Death of a Patriot" letter posted yesterday might be interested in a couple of websites that memorialize the late Command Sergeant Major Eric Cooke.

In this photo, CSM Cooke receives donations for Iraqi kids sent by the Rotary Club. The caption states that he promised to distribute the supplies to Iraqi children, but also that he was killed in action two days after the photo was taken.

Here is a Stars and Stripes profile.

On this webpage, CSM Cooke's mother writes, in part:
Years ago, right after Eric returned from Desert Storm, we were doing that thing we so often did - drink coffee, smoke cigarettes and talk the long night through. At one point I asked him what most motivated him when things got dicey, when bullets were flying. He considered the question for a moment. His eyes gathered moisture as he replied. "Maw, I believe The United States and her people are worth dying for."
In a letter entered into the Congressional Record, it is said of CSM Cooke:
There seem to be so few heroes today. I wanted to tell you about one: Command Sergeant Major Eric Cooke of the First Armored Division. Command Sergeant Major Cooke died on Christmas Eve when a roadside bomb ripped into his Humvee north of Baghdad on a convoy to Samara. He was 43 years old.

Just before his death, Command Sergeant Major Cooke had written my uncle, David Hunter, that he had not signed up for the 2-week Christmas leave available to soldiers who were deployed to Iraq because he could not take the leave knowing that one of his men would not be receiving theirs. CSM Cooke said he was lucky to have a loving wife who would understand why he was not coming home for Christmas. He was career United States Army, and she understood his commitment.

On the day he died, Command Sergeant Major Cooke heard of an injured soldier who was in urgent need of O-positive blood, so he rushed to a nearby field hospital to donate his own. He almost missed that convoy going to Samara. Command Sergeant Major Cooke had the opportunity to have an armored Humvee, but he chose to give it to his men so they would be protected during armed escort duty, patrols and raid operations. His selfless service knew no limits.
Scroll to the bottom of this page for a photo of CSM Cooke's gravesite at Arlington National Cemetery.

I did not know CSM Cooke during his lifetime, but I find him an inspiration now. I thank the Lord for our country has been blessed with men of his caliber.

Addendum: Thanks to Ally for her comments on this blog's posts on CSM Cooke, and thanks also to Truth Serum.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:40 PM

Update on Shoes for Kids

Keystone Military News has the scoop on what's going on with the Shoes for Kids project.

If you have kids, be sure to read it.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:20 AM

Monday, October 04, 2004

Death of a Patriot

Joe Roche has written again:

On Thursday, I attended a ceremony at the U.S. military base in Heidelberg to dedicate a site in honor of Command Sergeant Major Eric F. Cooke.

This man was a true American hero, one of the great soldiers who make our military strong and our country proud. Our country is hurt by the loss of such a soldier. During the ceremony, I looked at our flag, the American flag, and felt something I feel compelled to share with you tonight.

Though you probably didn't know him, you may remember the death of CSM Cooke. It was on Christmas Day that you learned of his death in America on the news from Baghdad. The night before, Christmas Eve, he went out on a combat mission that included checking on soldiers out on other missions. It was cold, lonely, dangerous, dark, and everyone was feeling the sadness and loneliness of being a world away, in a war zone, in danger, completely separated from loved ones for many months. At the bases there were ceremonies marking Christmas and lots of effort to make things somewhat special, as best as can be, so that soldiers at base would feel, well, ok and not so homesick. How many people in America really know what that is like?

The soldiers in Baghdad that dark and lonely night were cold and sad. No better way to put it. Every one of them wanted to be home. For some of the young soldiers, this was their first time away from home, not to mention being in the Army in combat in a foreign country on the other side of the world where they are facing death and injury at any moment. While Americans at home enjoyed parties with the comfort and coziness of home and family and friends, the soldiers of your military were deployed on combat missions. There were soldiers in Afghanistan, the Philippines, Yemen, all over the world, but I am speaking of the ones in Iraq, Baghdad specifically, right now.

While there were celebrations, somber and sad despite the best efforts of everyone to make it special -- including the local Iraqis at each base who helped out -- the most difficult, lonely and sad ones were those soldiers out on missions that night, Christmas Eve in Baghdad, facing danger and hardship.

The reason I am stressing this is because CSM Cooke, a top-ranking enlisted soldier, did not have to do anything that night. He could have stayed on base, enjoyed the comforts being provided, and huddled around the phones and Internet stations to communicate with home while enjoying a hot meal. He could have avoided the danger of missions in the streets of Baghdad. Instead, he cared too much for his soldiers, for us, for your loved ones in the military, so he went out to check on soldiers who were out on missions that night. Of course, this meant going to some of the most dangerous areas, because that is where U.S. soldiers were guarding, patrolling or otherwise on duty.

The soldiers he was with were my fellow soldiers. The admiration and respect for him was the highest. No soldier who met him and worked with him failed to be affected by his courage, determination, optimism and positive outlook. General Bell, the commander of the Army in Europe, said "it didn't matter where or how difficult a mission was, Sergeant Major Cooke always did it." Those who knew him well said he treated everyone with respect, and that he was absolutely committed to the whole mission in Iraq. He kept the soldiers going even when they were hurting and tired. He was the type of military leader who could inspire us at the worst and most difficult times. He always saw hope and purpose in what we were doing.

CSM Gravens told us that CSM Cooke "would make and inspire soldiers to do more things, no matter how hard or challenging, than they themselves thought possible." He was the type of leader who respected and honored his soldiers, seeing that his example was important to our performance. As such, he always set the standard for top quality performance and incredible determination to overcome obstacles. It was also this that, on Christmas Eve, prompted him to go out when it was actually the job of other soldiers to do that. He went, so they would not have to go. And as such, when he was killed, "he took one for another soldier," as CSM Gravens pointed out.

This was just like him. CSM Cooke had served 25 years in the Army, joining in 1978 when it was not fashionable to join and patriotism was not so honored in an America reeling from the Vietnam War. He worked hard, climbing the ranks through an amazing career of duty, dedication and service to our nation. He served in the 1st Gulf War, in the Balkans, and in many other deployments and operations.

From soldiers who knew him well, I learned that he was a rugged tough man who reminded them of the great heroes of our past. He smoked cigars and loved to inspire love and patriotism in his soldiers for our country.

In Iraq, he led us as a only a hero could do. I believe such people as him are the best that America has, and I wish you and more Americans could get to know such people.

In the Army, we are instilled with seven core values that every soldier is pushed to learn and to grow with. They are: Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity and Personal Courage.

Sometimes we soldiers struggle with these, and we sometimes feel cynical about them because of the daily challenge in doing our jobs. It isn't easy being a soldier. When you encounter a soldier like CSM Cooke, however, you realize right away that such values are the core of being a good soldier, and that they are the distinction that separates us from other militaries.

His career reached the critical height in Iraq of commanding the 1st Brigade of the 1st Armored Division, dealing with some of the most difficult events of last year. CSM Cooke exemplified the seven core values in his job. General Dempsey, the commander of the 1st Armored Division, said that his leadership and dedication to the soldiers even more emphasized Selfless Service. I think we can all appreciate that.

Gen. Dempsey quoted Will Rogers in speaking of Sergeant Major Cooke. "The most a man can hope to accomplish in life is to leave the pile of wood a little higher." This he did, every day, every year. Today I'm struck by the impact and loss of this man to our nation.

I know that Americans are caught up in a political season in which all the major issues of the day are being debated. I am sharing this with you as best I can because I think people should also pause to bear in mind that behind the issues are true American heroes like CSM Cooke. He isn't the only one, either. I think, though, that if some people feel distant and disconnected to the soldiers who are serving in Iraq, Afghanistan and other places, they should pause to reflect on this man and realize that he represents something that should make us very proud to be Americans and very proud of our women and men in uniform.

It isn't every country, every military, that produces such leaders. General Dempsey said he was "a true soldier's soldier." On Christmas Eve, he made the ultimate sacrifice to our nation, to our mission, to our flag and all that America represents. His life, and his death that sacred night so far away from home, was truly the Last Full Measure of Devotion that a citizen will ever make to our Republic.

Amy, I know that you have some special people who follow your work, who believe strongly in our country and in our military's missions, and that they respect and honor the sacrifices that our soldiers make every day. This is perhaps the case more with the people you work with than most other people because your work is so dedicated to upholding and preserving our country's values and principles. I remember how so many people listened to you to send us soldiers in Baghdad care packages, and that really made a difference.

All of us strive to make the pile of wood a little higher, and I know that you are doing that. Few of us, however, will ever achieve what CSM Cooke did in his service to our country.

I hope that people will take today's issues affecting our soldiers seriously, and that they will continue to support the soldiers now deployed. The holiday season again is not far off. Let us all bear in mind that others will be following in the example of CSM Cooke.

George Washington called us "citizen soldiers" because though we become soldiers, we never stop being citizens of our great Republic. Let us do endear ourselves to our nation this season and always seek to honor our soldiers with patriotism in the flag they are serving, and with gratitude for the service and sacrifice they are making. They are the ones defending the Constitution and our way of life every day with their lives. Freedom is not free.

I think this is a proper tribute for our fellow citizens in America to do tonight in honor of CSM Cooke. I can tell you from the bottom of my heart that thinking of CSM Cooke brings me such pride in being in the U.S. Army. What incredible people these are and what a special nation we are serving. Thank you for taking the time to read this.



Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:00 AM

The Garden Of Angels

If you ever have cried, as I have, after learning of an abandoned newborn in a dumpster, or a mistreated child, please read Strengthen The Good's story of Debi Faris and The Garden Of Angels.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:51 AM

Sunday, October 03, 2004

France: Our Oldest Enemy

Thanks to a tip from Professor Bainbridge, I intend to get this book.

Many of us think the French have been hostile lately, but were great friends to America during the 1700s. This is not so. I expect John Miller and Mark Molesky's new book, "Our Oldest Enemy: A History of America's Disastrous Relationship with France" will prove the case nicely.

As an amateur genealogist, I was struck by the number of times noxious policies by the French hurt my ancestors and my husband's. For example, in the 1750s, my ggggggg-grandfather was murdered in central Pennsylvania by Indians at French instigation. He left a widow and several young orphans. (The many and brutal murders of this sort in that area at the time were one of the factors leading to the Revolutionary War -- settlers were dissatisfied with the amount of protection being provided by the British government, while the British government thought it quite reasonable to tax the colonists for the cost of said protection. No doubt France was gleeful.)

Ancestors on both my side of the family and my husband's fled France and areas near France a few centuries ago because the French government tended to slaughter innocents, especially Protestant ones.

(By the way, if anyone thinks my last name is French, don't. Some of my husband's paternal ancestors changed their German surname to this spelling long before my husband was around to have a say in the matter.)

I do think highly of some individuals in France, including an old and very pro-American Parisian friend I haven't seen lately, but that friend is only alive today because his Dad was sick and missed school one day back in the 1940s -- the day all the Jewish students were rounded up by French authorities. I suspect I don't have to tell anyone what happened to those children.

I'll say this for France, though: It drove a lot of our ancestors to get the heck out of Europe, making us Americans. That, at least, is a debt we can never repay. But I'm still willing to put down $16.97 for "Our Oldest Enemy."

Addendum: Ally at Who Moved My Truth, one of the blogs I read regularly, sent over this comment: "I just wanted to respond to your post on France. While I guess some are misinformed regarding France's relationship with the U.S., I had a very good history professor who put that myth to rest. During the U.S. founding, the French only were interested in us when it provided something to them without any risk. Look at the Revolutionary War. They laughed at us, until they saw that we had the upper hand. Only then were they willing to commit - precious little - help in our direction. And later, they fought against us with the Native Americans (if they were on the Native American side for altruistic reasons, I would have more respect for them; alas, they were just as guilty as us for using the Native Americans for their own designs). The French have always been Machiavellian in their hearts - which is why the world comes knocking at our door for help, and not at the Louvre. They might have the prettier language, but we will always have the bigger heart."

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:01 AM

United Nations Tax

Notice that although Jacques Chirac wants the world to give the U.N. the authority to directly tax arms sales and financial transactions, Chirac does not propose a tax on bribes.

If he's not willing to make sacrifices, why should we?

Seriously, though, while any U.S. political party that endorsed giving the U.N. taxing powers would condemn itself to losing every election for a generation (and rightly so), this is an idea that will not go away until the United States leaves that corrupt organization. The U.N. wants our money, but it hates having to be dependent upon us. Poor dears. But we must never give in.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:00 AM

Saturday, October 02, 2004

BBC America's Little Britain

I think this is one of the funniest TV shows around.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:59 PM

Global Warming Quiz

During what time period did the annual mean temperature increase from about 7 degrees C to over 10 degrees C?

A. As the last ice age ended
B. The early 1700s
C. The late 1900s
D. A and C
E. It has never happened

Answer: B. From 1695-1733, the annual mean temperature as measured in central England rose from 7.25 degrees C to 10.47 degrees C.

I'll leave it to my environmentalist friends to explain how such a thing could happen prior to the Industrial Revolution.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:50 PM

Friday, October 01, 2004

I Fisk a Jerk

James Lileks is way too nice to this guy.

"This guy" is journalist (his description, I'm not practicing libel here) Nick Coleman of the Star-Tribune, who believes himself far superior to bloggers and not too modest to say so:
"'s what really makes bloggers mad: I know stuff." (Oh yeah, we feel threatened by a guy whose self-reported credentials are "I covered Minneapolis City Hall, back when Republicans controlled the City Council. I have reported from almost every county in the state, I have covered murders, floods, tornadoes, World Series and six governors." I swoon with envy the depth and breadth of his education and experience. I can only imagine how envious the bloggers who are MDs must be.)

"Bloggers don't know about anything that happened before they sat down to share their every thought with the moon." (Yes, as we sprang from our mothers' wombs we landed flat in front of keyboards, fingers primed to blog.)

"I have been a reporter longer than most bloggers have been alive, which makes me, at 54..." (Is there a study on the age distribution of bloggers? Cite, please. But as long as we're talking ages, I, at 44, have been sick of pompous journalists at least as long as he's been one.)

"So, how is it that nakedly partisan bloggers who make things up left and right are gaining street cred while the mainstream media, which spend a lot of time criticizing themselves, are under attack?" (Hint, Nick: One of you makes $7 million a year for dishonest reporting.)

"...unlike the bloggies... I have an ear trained to detect baloney." (Tell that to the $7 Million Man, Nick.)

"Most bloggers are not fit to carry a reporter's notebook." (True. They deserve better.)
James Lileks must be a real nice guy not to have said what I just did. Or maybe I'm just overtired. I usually ignore jerks.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:39 AM

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