Archive for December, 2004
2004 has been a great year for Murdoc Online. Readership has grown from around 50 visits per day at the end of December 2003 to around 1,000 visits per day now. Although this is personally gratifying, the biggest benefit is the knowledgeable input that many MO readers bring to the discussion and the tips and information forwarded by those that follow the site.
For your continued support, I thank you.
Sadly, two of the blogs that inspired me to begin this site and to continue writing through the down times have closed up shop this year. To Steven Den Beste and Darren Kaplan, I wish you the best and offer my sincere thanks.
The circle of sites that I consider “friends” of MO is extensive, and in many cases the admiration (or even awareness) may only be one-way. But it includes (in alphabetical order):
Airborne Combat Engineer
Being American in TO
Hell in a Handbasket
L’Ombre de l’Olivier
Master of None
One Hand Clapping
Random Nuclear Strikes
Stryker Brigade News
Winds of Change
You Big Mouth, You
There are many others of course, and you can find links to them on my sidebars. If I link to a site, I visit it at least on a semi-regular basis, and I encourage you to follow the links from time to time yourself.
Looking back at my Murdocstications for 2004, I wasn’t too far off-base in most cases. Fortunately, the story that I long thought would be THE story of the year never really materialized, as claims of electronic voting fraud have been mostly confined to the fringe groups.
One thing I’d like to point out is that the effectiveness of the Iraqi insurgency has outstripped my expectations, though not by a large margin. I remain hopeful (though not terribly optimistic) that January might be that last stand of organized resistance. More on this in my 2005 Murdocstications tomorrow.
Here are my favorite posts from the past year:
XM8 Assault Rifle
This is easily the biggest draw to MO. Little did I know that a post on the proposed new assault rifle would help propel MO to a twenty-fold increase in traffic. Many other XM8 posts before and after, but this is the one that still brings them in.
Flags of the unilateral power
Although no longer totally accurate, this animated graphic explains my frustration with the constant talk about the US acting “alone” in Iraq.
MO on Kerry
Despite the fact that this was written in February, it is more or less exactly why I never considered voting for anyone other than George Bush in November. John Kerry never convinced me that he was interested in fighting the war we find ourselves in.
Shoultz still hates the Stryker
Despite pretty solid success in the combat zone, critics of the new Stryker LAV simply parrot on the same old criticisms. I don’t really understand it. Doesn’t the actual performance of the vehicle on the field of battle count for something?
The 8/6/01 PDB
The thing that really drives me nuts is that Bush and Condi Rice are blamed for not doing more with the information contained in this Presidential Daily Brief, but when warnings or arrests or watch lists are based on similarly sketchy information, they’re criticized for expanding the Conservative Police State.
Peace and Victory
War is sometimes required to achieve acceptable peace. Peace at any cost rarely is peaceful, at least as I understand the meaning of the word.
767 Tanker is “coughing blood”
This is one of many posts on MO about the 767 tanker program. We will certainly need new tankers at some point. The 767 might be a good fit. But if we’re going to get them, we had better do so in a financially responsible manner.
Addressing the root cause
“We won’t know if our efforts in Iraq will bear fruit for years. We won’t see significant results for generations. That doesn’t make it less worthwhile.” This post bascially outlines my reasons for supporting the invasion of Iraq.
9/11 Report: “Planes. As in plural.”
I think everyone should be aware of what happened and how it happened on the morning of 9/11/01. If you’re not going to read the first chapter of the 9/11 Commission Report, at least read my write-up on it.
Can this possibly be true?, Why these charges of forgery aren’t run-of-the-mill conspiracy theory, and I’d RATHER be watching FoxNews
The forged Bush TANG documents story was THE story of the blogosphere in 2004. We never did see any other documents from that base from that time to compare them to. Case closed.
Sometimes you feel like a “Nuts!”, sometimes you don’t and Have we met Tet yet?
I think a large part of the problem with media coverage of military matters is that the typical reporter and editor doesn’t really understand the military or military history. One man’s Tet is another man’s Ardennes.
Just like the Minutemen, right?
Our enemies are not the romantic, idealistic heroes some try to make them out to be. At all.
These are not the biggest traffic-generators. These are the posts that are my favorites. (Also see my 2003 favorites, if interested.)
Have a Happy New Year.
The 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team in Alaska, the next Stryker brigade, has switched from “Snow Hawks” to “Arctic Wolves”:
The change was made to reflect the new look and mission of the unit–sleek, fast and lethal.
“We just felt that the Arctic Wolves was more in line with our future of transformation,” said Col. Mike Shields, commander of the 172nd since July. “They hunt as a pack, never leave a comrade, hunt and commute over extended distances–in Alaska over 1,000 miles–survive in darkness and six or seven months of extreme cold weather, and hunt and kill any prey that they run into.”
“Comparable to a pack of wolves, the Stryker Brigade moves, fights and wins as a team. The strength of each individual soldier, squad, platoon, company and battalion combines to produce the overwhelming combat power of the pack,” Douglass said, reading from a letter that was submitted to the Army requesting the change.
Shields said a quote by Rudyard Kipling–a British poet and storyteller who is most famous for penning “The Jungle Book”–sums it up best: “For the strength of the pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack.”
Blogging continues to be light. A reader wondered where to get the videos of the Tsunami, and I discovered this page on Waxy.org which seems to be a gathering spot.
For all I know this has been pointed out a zillion times already, but I’m suffering from vacation-lag so give me a break.
UPDATE: Wizbang also has a compilation and points out Cheese & Crackers who has burst onto the scene with this story. Seems to be a bandwidth issue across the blogosphere. I haven’t been contributing to it, though.
UPDATE: And a pic of US aid here.
UPDATE: An MO-made video of US aid to the region is available here.
The sad thing is that many who read this headline will just shake their head and tell themselves they knew it all along.
As I’ve mentioned before, I wish we knew and influenced things even one-tenth as much as our critics claim.
I’m visiting family and only have access via slow dial-up (and tying up their phone line) but I feel I must weigh in on this.
As I’ve written before, I WISH that we had shot down that plane. Sure, the passengers-rising-up story is a good one and demonstrates that Americans are capable of defending themselves when they know what’s at stake, but I’d feel better if I knew that the military was capable of bringing that plane down. I’ve written about this before, but I don’t have time to search and link right now.
A “blame Bush” sub-theory goes that the passengers took control of the plane, a small aircraft pilot onboard took the controls, and THEN the Air Force shot the plane down. This is why there’s a big cover-up.
Forget for the moment that this is Pile On Rummy Month and that a reading of the actual Rummy quote makes it perfectly clear that he’s referring to terrorists, not the military.
If that sub-theory is true, but the Air Force was unaware that the plane was under friendly control, shooting it down was the RIGHT THING TO DO. Maybe the communications were down. Maybe the military commanders didn’t get the message. Maybe the fighter pilot didn’t get the order to stand down.
Doesn’t matter. No matter how tragic it might be, shooting that plane down at that time was the correct move.
I’m not buying it, but if more info comes to light that proves it to be the case, it will take a mountain of proof of wrong-doing before I’ll agree that we shouldn’t have shot it down.
Blogging via free wireless at a Holiday Inn.
Some things of interest (or not):
The Battle of Fallujah from the Turret of an M1A1 Tank
A series of 17 photos on Strategy Page.
The Ukraine re-election is underway
Links and a report that Yushchenko is winning by 15% on Instapundit.
Intermittent blogging over the next couple of days…
Merry Christmas to all MO readers.
Between the holidays and some traveling, posting will be a little light over the next week and a half or so. That’s fine, as you should be enjoying the holidays with your family.
For those not able to be with their family, especially the servicemen and -women of the American armed forces, Murdoc Online wishes to extend an especially warm season’s greetings.
A battalion’s benefactor gives anything but her name (free registration required)
A reader tips me off to this story:
Anonymous giving is the highest form of charity. That’s why she won’t reveal her name.
She won’t even tell anyone the code name by which she’s known to the dozens of troops in Iraq to whom she’s sent holiday packages. Dozens? Make that 129. She’s adopted an entire battalion of Marines. An entire battalion.
You should have seen her lugging that Christmas tree to the post office. Had it sent priority mail. Fifty-four pounds. To Fallujah, Iraq. She persuaded friends to send boxes of ornaments.
Persuaded? They wanted to.
She says: People want to help. They’re dying to help.
The fellow at the ham company. He donated four cases, enough to feed 200 Marines. Dying to help.
The folks who donated the mustard. To go with the ham. Dying to help.
The woman who sewed the Marines’ names on the blankets she got them, so they wouldn’t have to sleep in their poncho liners. Wouldn’t take a cent for her work. Dying to help.
Giving is contagious.
The story is not written in a normal journalistic style, as you can see. But its message is powerful.
I started with one. It was a piece of cake to send him a package. So I asked him for someone else’s name.
The Marine sent her a buddy’s address.
I asked for more.
The Marine sent four more addresses. Now she had six Marines. She got a couple of friends to help. She was stern about it. They had to send a package a week or she’d take the address back and find someone else.
Giving is contagious. Try it. It will transform how you think.
She wanted more.
I finally got 19 names. I started sending things to 19 soldiers. I said I can do more. Give me the names of the whole battalion. The Marine told me there were 130 names. But they couldn’t release all of them. It was a matter of security.
A couple of months ago, the Marine sent her the names of the entire battalion. She figures he went to everybody individually and got all their names one by one by one. Sent them all.
But there were 129 names. Not 130.
They lost one.
It doesn’t matter what your politics are.
She’ll tell you she voted for John Kerry. Thinks the war was a bad idea.
But they’re our kids.
Brave. Strong. And so young.
Would you go over there? I wouldn’t. I’m not brave enough. They are.
What do they like to receive? You might not believe it. The most popular item by far?
They write: “Anything you send is great, but if you get a chance …. ”
They ask for their favorite brand of jerky: Oberto; Pacific Gold; Jack Links. She goes from store to store to store, trying to find their favorite brands.
That’s how I know them – by the brand of beef jerky they like.
She has a personal stake now.
They believe in what they’re doing. We should all believe in what we’re doing with the same passion and intensity they do.
She got the word a few days ago. Some of their tours will be extended six more months.
What was her reaction?
Got to get more boxes. Just got to get more boxes.
You hear a lot of “I don’t support the war but I support the troops” talk. Most of them mean well. Some of them don’t.
This woman does. And she’s doing good.
There are a lot of stories like this surfacing around the holidays. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
If you use Mozilla Firefox and publish your site using MoveableType, you have probably noticed that your rich text buttons (the bold, italics, and underline) are gone, as is the hand URL button. I don’t mind that the rich text stuff is gone, but that URL button sure comes in handy.
However, there is an easy fix:
- Follow the link above and download the edit_entry.tmpl file
- Rename your own edit_entry.tmpl file on your MT server to edit_entryOLD.tmpl or some such (in case you screw up or it doesn’t work)
- Upload the new edit_entry.tmpl to your server
- Continue blogging
Seriously. That’s all there’s to it.
(My ieSpell plugin doesn’t work with Firefox, so I’ll still probably continue to blog using mainly IE for the time being. Any suggestions on a Firefox-friendly spell-checker?)
The Transportation Security Administration announced late Wednesday that it is modifying pat-down procedures at airports — a decision that comes after hundreds of complaints, most of them from women, that the procedure is too intrusive.
Look. I understand a woman’s desire to not be felt up while flying.
I hope she understands my desire to not be BLOWN up while flying.
If some people complain that security procedures are “too intrusive” and then those security procedures are removed, there’s probably a problem.
Under the new guidelines, screeners will not be able to pat-down a passenger’s breast area unless the handheld metal detector goes off or if there is an irregularity in the passenger’s clothing outline, said TSA spokesman Dave Steigman.
Steigman said that under the new policy, passengers will have their sides patted down. Once that is done, there will be a limited torso pat-down from front to back, from a line below the chest area to the waist. Screeners will pat the entire back.
Am I over-reacting, here? I would allow that rectal exams are probably “too intrusive”. Probably. Beyond that, I’m pretty much game. Now that this policy change has been publicized, where do we all think the new “best spot” is to sneak something on board an airliner?
He would not say what prompted the change. He said criticism to the agency of the pat-downs has amounted to a few hundred complaints out of an estimated 50 million passengers who have flown since the procedure was implemented.
The TSA began conducting the full body pat-downs in August after female suicide bombers downed two Russian airliners, killing 89 people.
What does it take? Triple digits?
Would full body pat-downs have prevented the Russian attacks? I don’t have the slightest clue. But I’ll bet those 89 people, and their families, wish that closer attention had been paid to those boarding the aircraft.
The article ends with
Helen Chenoweth-Hage, a former Republican congresswoman from Idaho, said screeners at the Boise airport refused to reveal the regulations allowing them to pat her down — angering her so much she drove the more than 300 miles from Boise to Reno, Nevada.
“I was absolutely astounded at the fact that they thought they could violate my Fourth Amendment rights, violate my privacy, violate my body because of some secret law,” she said.
Well, I happen to agree with her. They should not violate her body because of some secret law. They should do so because of a perfectly clear and public law.
I mean, people complain about having to take their shoes off at some airports. How long until that requirement is removed?
Laugh if you want. But I’ll bet if I had asked you about excluding breast areas from pat-downs on the morning of September 12th, 2001, you would have laughed too.
Also, on Michelle Malkin: AIR RAGE
She’s got a collection of letters from current and former Air Marshals supporting her position that the dress code is a “Kill Me First Policy” and directly contradicting claims that the stories about the dress code are “patently false”.
In my post, a reader commented on an angle that I had been mulling over. Maybe the “dress code” story is misinformation designed to make those planning a hijacking expect the wrong thing. He wrote:
Lets say you make 25% of the air marshalls real overt with military haircuts and formal dress code. Have them board the airplane first so people can spot them. Then everyone, including the terrorists, will start to associate that image with who an air marshall is. When they get on an airplane thats what they will look for first. And they will never notice or even look for all the other air marshalls in sweatshirts who are dressing to blend in. I would like to think that our government was that clever.
I really hope you’re right. From what else I’ve seen of our airline security since 9/11, I’m more than a little skeptical.
So, if this is ruse, it’s helped by my ranting. If it isn’t a ruse, maybe it will get fixed because of my ranting.
Therefore, I shall rant.
I simply don’t have faith that our airline security is any better than it was before 9/11. Okay. Let me rephrase that. I do, in fact, think things are better. Mostly because of heightened awareness and a solid (if fading) memory of what the stakes are. Obviously, improved detectors, more security personnel, more strict boarding policies, more effort at putting together good banned passenger lists, and the simple presence of more Federal Air Marshals has made more than a small impact.
But, given the state of things on the morning of 9/11/01, I’m not sure that the improvements we’ve seen in the past three years are what we should be happy with. And little by little many of those improvements are being beaten down.
Couple this with our wide-open borders and our lax policy toward illegal immigrants and I’m basically shocked that we haven’t been hit hard again.
It’s only a matter of time.
There are so many things that need to be done to make our homeland secure. But securing the borders and strict policies concerning the illegal immigrant problem have got to be at the top of the list. Those are the things that should be addressed as a matter of course by a department focused on homeland security. Those are the no-brainers.
The homeland isn’t close to secure, and you know it.
Given the method of attack on 9/11, airline security has also got to be near the top of the list. And the two main ways to secure airline travel is to a) prevent bad guys from getting aboard and b) be prepared to deal with them if/when they do.
Maybe the secret plan is for female terrorists who haven’t been patted down properly to swoon at the sight of Federal Air Marshals in their sharp uniforms and clean haircuts?
A year ago tomorrow the string of airline warnings began. As far as we know, nothing ever came of that. But I wrote a lengthy summary of my thoughts about some insidious possibilities a couple of days later, ending with this about our enemy:
He is trying to use the very freedom that we hold so dear against us. We must be prepared for the possibilities that our victories may be strengthening him.
I don’t think anything’s changed in the past year. In fact, things may have backslid. Our awareness of the problems within airline security sure has grown. And that’s very troubling.
As I wrote in the post nearly a year ago, these problems don’t apply to just today or this year. They apply to every single day for the rest of all history. We need to start acting like we’re serious about dealing with them.
UPDATE: A reader points out
First off, yes I agree this shows our skies are not “safe”. But they were safer immediately after the first planes hit the WTC, evidenced by the plane that went down in PA by actions of the passengers.
This is a point I’ve made many times, especially in conversation. In fact, I’m ashamed that it didn’t occur to me to mention it other than “heightened awareness and a solid (if fading) memory of what the stakes are”.
This is a huge point, and a reason that another 9/11 as 9/11 happened is unlikely. But there are infinite other bad things that can happen in the skies. I’m not convinced that our security SYSTEM is as much better than it was on 9/10 as we need it to be.
We basically hope that passengers thwart the terrorists’ plans by crashing the plane away from populated areas. That’s a bad best-case scenario.