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January 2004

Speaking of Morale - How To Prepare To Deploy To Iraq...

This was written by Captain Brian Johns (why are Aviators funny?) and sent by Jimmy of Welcome to Rantville:


1. Sleep on a cot in the garage.
2. Replace the garage door with a curtain.
3. Six hours after you go to sleep, have your wife or girlfriend whip open the curtain, shine a flashlight in your eyes and mumble, “Sorry, wrong cot.”
4. Renovate your bathroom. Hang a green plastic sheet down from the middle of your bathtub and move the showerhead down to chest level. Keep four inches of soapy cold water on the floor, stop cleaning the toilet and pee everywhere but in the toilet itself. Leave two to three sheets of toilet paper or for best effect, remove it altogether. For a more realistic deployed bathroom experience, stop using your bathroom and use a neighbor’s. Choose a neighbor who lives at least a quarter mile away.
5. When you take showers, wear flip-flops and keep the lights off.
6. Every time there is a thunderstorm, go sit in a wobbly rocking chair and dump dirt on your head.
7. Put lube oil in your humidifier instead of water and set it on ‘high” for that tactical generator smell.
8. Don’t watch TV except for movies in the middle of the night. Have your family vote on which movie to watch and then show a different one.
9. Leave a lawnmower running in your living room 24 hours a day for proper noise levels.
10. Have the paperboy give you a haircut.

There's more...

Continue reading "Speaking of Morale - How To Prepare To Deploy To Iraq..." »

Improve Your Morale - Contact Blackfive

An Article from Arab News was sent by Jim W. to Misha and I.

I read the email and then went to Arabnews.com. But my gateway blocked it because Arab News has content that is on a Known Vandals list!!!

So I had to tweak some things to get the site loaded. Just be careful not to click the images (the 9/11 image is on the Vandal List).

Why Morale Is So Low Among American Troops in Iraq
Essa bin Mohammed Al Zedjali, Special to Arab News

There is extreme frustration that has already driven some of the soldiers to commit suicide; many suffer from depression and other psychological problems.

Reports coming out of Iraq tell us some uninspiring tales about the US forces. Suicide cases among American soldiers are on the increase and psychological illnesses are spreading at an alarming rate. The suicide rate is frighteningly high: 34 cases for every 100,000 American soldiers. Besides, as many as 478 soldiers have so far been sent back home for psychological treatment.

The American administration has tried in vain to contain the spread of demoralization. It has sent many psychiatrists to Iraq but the doctors have had little success in addressing the soldiers’ problems. The only way out was to send the mentally sick soldiers back home — which is what is going on now...

This is guy really on to something. People who fight in wars, a long way from loved ones, and surrounded by asshats like the author, are bound to have low morale. Somebody get this guy a Pulitzer!

But he may be right so I want to do my part to raise morale (aside from contributing to Hook's Afghan BBQ fund).

So, I have a proposition for you Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines. Send me a picture of you giving an *ahem* appropriate gesture to the Taliban...I am going to put together a little video set to the tune of Toby Keith's Taliban Song and I would like to give you people an opportunity to express yourselves. Actually, a whole unit giving the bird would be awesome.

Here is what I need:

A digital image of you in uniform giving an appropriate gesture to the Taliban.

I realize that you could be reprimanded for this so I will photoshop out your name tape so it won't be visible. If you request, I will blur your face and unit patch, too.

Then, when this "Spring Offensive" is launched, I'll publish the video and *VIOLA!* improved morale!

Of course, maybe just a nice cup of herbal tea would work, too.

Those Pepperidge Farm Bastards!

This one's for Heather:

I recently bought a loaf of Pepperidge Farm Low-Carb Wheat Bread. My adorable wife, who is pregnant, is VERY particular about what bread she eats...primarily, it must be soft and not full of grains because she will probably have to throw it up. (Just thought I'd share)

So, not really caring if my bread is Low-Carb, I buy the PF Low-Carb stuff because it seems soft and just the very thing that my lovely wife would desire.

This morning, my wife and I are in the kitchen and she tells me, "Matty, you know why PF is calling this Low-Carb bread?"

"No, darling, why is that?"

"Look at the loaf." I look at it and she proclaims, "Every other piece is sliced twice as thin. THAT'S HOW THEY LOWERED CARBS!"

"Ah, I would never even have noticed that..."

My wife smirks, "Bet you would if your Michelob Ultra was a ten ounce bottle!"

I gasp, "Those Pepperidge Farm BASTARDS!"

Little Blackfive yells from the Living Room, "Bass-tards!"

The BBC and WMD Lies...

The Telegraph has the fall out from BBCs lies about Tony Blair's presentation of the reasons to go to war...essentially, all claims that Blair "sexed up" the existence of WMD and the ability of Saddam to use WMD have been debunked. There were lies - all from the BBC.

..."Unfounded" he pronounced on Andrew Gilligan's assertion that the 45-minute claim was not in the original draft because it was single-sourced and intelligence agencies did not believe it. "Wrong" he proclaimed on Gilligan's allegation that the Government probably knew the 45-minute claim was wrong.

"Unfounded". . . "at fault". . . "defective". . . "failed to". . . "to be criticised for". . . on and on, each criticism stamping "failed" in red-ink diagonally across the BBC lawyers' carefully constructed mitigations.

For a full 20 minutes he dissected the BBC's arguments, dispassionately tossing them aside. And with each precise paragraph one could almost see another head roll.

His report sliced through the corporation's hierarchy, exposing a clear vein of weakness running from the very top right down to the bottom, from the governors' lofty position right down to Gilligan on the ground.

Each damning sentence was made more lethal by his unemotional delivery, his native Northern Irish accent now barely perceptible after years at English public school, then Oxford University, then the Bar and then the judiciary - a lifetime, in fact, steeped in the "establishment".

But however matter-of-fact his delivery, there were times when he could not disguise his distaste.

"Sexed-up" was a phrase he obviously most loathed. It was clear in his slow, deliberate pronunciation of it ending with an exaggerated "p" and a tiny, disdainful uplifting of his chin. He might as well have raised his hands and drawn quotation marks in the air.

Already a crude phrase, it was one made even more base by his launching into a dictionary definition. "The term 'sexed-up'," he said, spitting out the "p", "is a slang expression, the meaning of which lacks clarity in the context of the discussion of the dossier".

Then he launched into different interpretations of the phrase. The message was clear. Such pop terminology had no place on a serious BBC broadcast.

Noticeable too was his clipped pronunciation of "Mr Gilligan" - it seemed to get shorter and shorter each time.

Yet he drew on a different lexicon when it came to Mr Blair, officials at Number 10 and the Ministry of Defence. The Government had "acted reasonably" he judged, in issuing a press statement that ultimately led to Dr Kelly being identified to the public.

"Having considered a large volume of evidence, I consider that there was no such dishonourable or underhand or duplicitous strategy devised by the Prime Minister and his officials," he said of claims that the Government had deliberately "outed" Dr Kelly.

The Chairman resigns from the BBC. How soon before the BBC is trusted again?

I would bet it will be too soon.

Now, if we had an independent review of the "Bush Lied" and "Blood for Oil" B.S., maybe a few irresponsible people that fabricated those myths would be reprimanded as well...or at least unemployed.

Someone You Should Know - Mike Low

Mike Low had this to say yesterday:

"I think the country as a whole is tired of hearing about 9-11 but they are missing something very important, that these people are out there in great numbers and they intend to hurt a lot of Americans," he said.
Mr. Low's daughter, Sara, was a flight attendent on American Airlines flight 11 that was flown into the World Trade Center.

We are at war, but some people just don't get it.

Wednesday Warp

First off, here's two links to the same blog - The Ministry of Minor Perfidy. Here is a hilarious post about Gay Porn and Professional Baseball. And, sort of on topic, here is a post about lap dancing in Korea (for the 2nd Infantry Division).

Johnny W. sent me this article by Dave Barry from 2002 - has anything changed?

Brian J. (no relation to Frank) has a post about turning blogging into publishing deals - which is funny because I read about Mimi Smartypants getting a deal with Harper Collins. That's cool. But Wil Wheaton? - Chip Diller?

Venomous Kate has a post about slavery reparations...we have a politician here in Chicago that continually bitches that 40 acres and a mule should be 40 million and a Lexus...


Update: 4PM CST

Mr. Green called me to tell me about this. Anna at Primal Purge has one great post about Atkins. Here's a "taste":

"Like most, I'm enjoying the rich, culinary diversity Atkins has to offer; fried bacon for breakfast, for lunch I have a bacon sandwich consisting of ten pieces of bacon wrapped around five pieces of bacon, a bacon shake slurped through a hand-rolled bacon Crazy Straw for a mid-afternoon snack, and slow-cooked Crock Pot bacon simmered in bacon glaze for dinner followed by a bale of bacon-scented Metamucil to facilitate the marble-sized turd that's manufactured once every seven days."
Staying on food topic talking point, Starbuck's in Paris? via the Opinion Journal.

Tony - the Oriental Redneck - has a post that's difficult to read, let alone listen, to...and he's right. I really believe that Democratic strategy is to erase the memory of 9/11.

This is why Jennifer Martinez rocks!!!

Serenity has contracted Bad Money's currency fixation...

Two Year Old Claims "I Love This Bar"

Awhile back, I wrote that my wife was pregnant and has Hyperemesis Gravidarum. Her condition is better but she still can't do things like drive Little Blackfive to Pre-School. That's been my job for the last few months.

I tend to play CD's in the truck rather than listen to morning radio. Toby Keith's "Shockin' Y'All" has been in the rotation (along with the new Nickelback CD).

Yesterday, when I picked my son up at Pre-School, the administrator wanted to speak to me about him. It's kind of a snobby Pre-School. The teachers are great but the parents are horrible. For the Holiday Pageant, some parents brought caviar, pate, and oysters for the kids to eat. For. The. Kids. To. Eat. So I figured that some parent was complaining because my son was saying something like "Michael Moore is an ass!" or something similar that he might have picked up from me...

"Little Blackfive's been saying some interesting things, lately."

Aha! I was right! Thinking about the time I taught him to speak and rotate his hips like Elvis (my wife is still pissed about that), I asked, "Really? Like what?"

"He keeps running around the classrooms saying 'I LOVE this bar!'" She's smiling but I can see the question behind the look - Do you take Little Blackfive into bars?

So, I just shake my head, laughing at the things little kids say, and take Little Blackfive home to tell the Mrs. about it. She figures it out in a heartbeat.

"Are you playing that Toby Keith CD in the truck?"


"Well, that's what the problem is...I usually play Ralph's World."

I laugh. She looks at me and asks, "What's so funny, Matt?"

"Well, at least he wasn't running around telling people that 'I'll Never Smoke Weed With Willie Again!'...

Anyway, all of this made me remember one of the coolest posts of all time by Dana of Note-It Posts...I Love This Bar!

Journalistic Jingoism...

I was in Starbucks getting my caffeine fix and I saw the headline of the Chicago Tribune:

U.S. plans Al Qaeda offensive - Sources say military is mapping operation to strike inside Pakistan

The Bush administration, deeply concerned about recent assassination attempts against Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf and a resurgence of Taliban forces in neighboring Afghanistan, is preparing a U.S. military offensive that would reach inside Pakistan with the goal of destroying Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda network, military sources said.

U.S. Central Command is assembling a team of military intelligence officers that would be posted in Pakistan ahead of the operation, according to sources familiar with details of the plan and internal military communications. The sources spoke on the condition they not be identified.

As now envisioned, the offensive would involve Special Operations forces, Army Rangers and Army ground troops, sources said. A Navy aircraft carrier would be deployed in the Arabian Sea.

Referred to in internal Pentagon messages as the "spring offensive," the operation would be driven by certain undisclosed events in Pakistan and across the region, sources said. A source familiar with details of the plan said this is "not like a contingency plan for North Korea, something that sits on a shelf. This planning is like planning for Iraq. They want this plan to be executable, now."

The Defense Department declined to comment on the planned offensive or its details.

...A series of planning orders--referred to in military jargon as warning orders--for the offensive were issued in recent weeks. The deadline for key planning factors to be detailed by the U.S. military was Jan. 21.

Sources said the plan against Al Qaeda would be driven by events in the region rather than set deadlines and that delays could occur. But military sources said the push for this spring appeared to be triggered by the assassination attempts on Musharraf, both of which came in December, and, to some extent, the capture of Saddam Hussein in Iraq.

Hussein was captured after eight months of an intense military and intelligence effort on the ground in Iraq. Pentagon and administration officials, buoyed by that success, believe a similar determined effort could work in Pakistan and lead to the capture or killing of bin Laden, said sources familiar with the planning.

Thousands of U.S. forces would be involved, as well as Pakistani troops, planners said. Some of the 10,600 U.S. troops now in Afghanistan would be shifted to the border region as part of regular troop movements; some would be deployed within Pakistan.

The Tribune should have titled it - Hey Osama, Watch Out!

This makes my blood boil...You think that this is going to be a surprise attack? Not anymore thanks to the stellar reporting at the Tribune! And you all know someone who is heading over there and will certainly be part of any offensive in the area.

It was written by Christine Spolar - Tribune Foreign Coorespondent. This is Christine Spolar's email address. You also can contact the newspaper's public editor, Don Wycliff . If you decide to send her an email, please keep it professional. Here is my message to Spolar and Wycliff:

Dear Ms. Spolar-

I read your front page article today in the Chicago Tribune. I am very concerned that your article may jeopardize American lives, if and/or when the offensive is launched.

I have some very good friends there now, and some very good friends on the way to Afghanistan.

I would hope that, in your efforts to be a top journalist and get a front page article, you are considerate of the potential costs in lives that your writing may cause. That goes for your editor, too.

At best, you may have destroyed our chances for a surprise attack. At worst, you may have gotten some of our men and women killed.


Please let the Tribune know that this is unacceptable.

Update 11:30 AM CST: Just received a response from Christine Spolar. Here it is:

Thanks for your letter. Having covered conflicts for years, including the Bosnian war and now the effort in Iraq since April, I too am aware of your concerns. They are my concerns as well. I too have good friends in uniform, in the Pentagon and on the ground.

I also believe that keeping abreast of what these plans is part of my job and the public, and that includes military personnel involved in such endeavors, has the right to know, to be educated and to judge for themselves these operations. Thanks again for your thoughts...C

It's a dodge and I am sure everyone expected the "right of free speech and the freedom of the press" argument...And BTW, I don't believe anyone has a right to know about planned operations (especially Special Operations like these) except for the military and their civilian oversight (DOD, Congress, Senate, President).

Update 6:30pm CST: Here's a few letters to the Tribune that I was copied on...

The outrage, anger and the hostility I feel at this moment are just words and can't begin to describe how I feel about your front page article in today's paper. If one US Service member is injured or killed because of your reckless and irresponsible reporting, I hope it stays on your conscience for the rest of your life. No matter how you found out about this plan, what you and the Tribune did is dead wrong.

I hope you have the courage to visit the family members of any one wounded, maimed or killed to explain to them your were complicit in causing their injury or death and the escape of Osama, if he is still alive.

Anything less makes you a moral midget and coward.

I suppose had you been a reporter in late May of 1944 your would have run a front page story about D-Day so Hitler and his Generals could have killed even more American, British and Canadian troops.

I don't want to sound like John Kerry but I am also a wounded Viet Nam Vet who was awarded a Bronze Medal. I know what it is to be shot at and hit. You don't!

Joe H

I was appalled to read on your web site the details of future American military operations ("U.S. plans Al Qaeda offensive", Jan. 28).

You and your sources have significantly compromised this operation. Will you follow-up this article with equally large headlines taking credit for the American casualties you cause, or the Al Qaeda operatives you help to escape?



Links: Via Instapundit, Daniel Drezner has a post on the possible offensive into Pakistan.

Smash has a round up of posts on this topic.

I hope Darren Kaplan is right.

Blogosphere's First Chili Cook-Off

Leave it to a First Sergeant to figure this kind of stuff out, but there is a Chili Cook-Off for the blogosphere hosted by Sergeant Hook. The least you can do is try the various recipes, let alone enter the contest...

Go here to see recipes and rules for entry. Suffice it to say that you have to try some great recipes while competing for a the title. Fun for all...

Great idea, First Sergeant!