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Wednesday, December 29, 2004

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
December 29, 2004

President Discusses Support for Earthquake and Tsunami Victims
Prairie Chapel Ranch
Crawford, Texas

8:38 A.M. CST

THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. Laura and I and the American people are shocked and we are saddened by the terrible loss of life from the recent earthquake and the tsunamis in the Indian Ocean. Our prayers go out to the people who have lost so much to this series of disasters. Our hearts are also with the Americans who have lost loved ones in this tragedy. Our embassies are working with host governments to locate American citizens who are still missing and to assist those who have been injured or displaced.

This morning, I spoke with the leaders of India, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Indonesia, and expressed my condolences and our country's condolences. I told them of our support; I praised their steadfast leadership during these difficult times. We're grateful to the American and international organizations that are working courageously to save lives and to provide assistance, and I assured those leaders this is only the beginning of our help.

We are committed to helping the affected countries in the difficult weeks and months that lie ahead. We pledged an initial $35 million in relief assistance. We have deployed disaster experts to the region. All leaders expressed their appreciation for the hard work of our ambassadors and their embassy staffs to help the countries in need. As well, we're dispatching a Marine expeditionary unit, the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln, and the Maritime pre-position squadron from Guam to the area to help with relief efforts.

Secretary Powell is working hard. He has spoken with his counterparts in Japan, India, Australia, as well as other nations who are helping with the response in order to begin building an international coalition for immediate humanitarian relief and long-term recovery and reconstruction efforts. Based on these discussions, we've established a regional core group with India, Japan and Australia to help coordinate relief efforts. I'm confident more nations will join this core group in short order. Under Secretary of State Mark Grossman will lead a U.S. task force to work with these partners to help coordinate interagency response in our own government and to encourage other nations to participate in the relief efforts.

These past few days have brought loss and grief to the world that is beyond our comprehension. The United States will continue to stand with the affected governments as they care for the victims. We will stand with them as they start to rebuild their communities. And together the world will cope with their loss; we will prevail over this destruction.

Let me answer some questions. Deb.

Q Mr. President, more than 50 people died yesterday, alone, in the Sunni Triangle area. And with the Sunnis backing out of the election, how concerned are you that the world and the Iraqis will view this election as credible?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, you said "with the Sunnis backing out," you mean a Sunni party has backed out? Yes. I talked to President Yawer yesterday, who happens to be a Sunni, who on the one hand expressed concern about the security situation in Mosul, and on the other hand, reminded me that most people in Iraq -- Sunni or Shia -- want to vote. And so the task at hand is to provide as much security as possible for the election officials, as well as for the people inside cities like Mosul, to encourage them to express their will.

Now, Osama bin Laden issued a statement, as you know, which made the stakes of this pretty clear to me. His vision of the world is where people don't participate in democracy. His vision of the world is where people kill innocent lives in order to affect their behavior and affect their way of living. His vision of the world is one in which there is no freedom of expression, freedom of religion, and/or freedom of conscience. And that vision stands in stark contrast to the vision of, by far, the vast majority of Iraqis and leaders like Prime Minister Allawi and President Yawer, whose vision includes the freedom of expression, the freedom of the right to vote.

And so the stakes are clear in this upcoming election. It's the difference between the ability for individuals to express themselves and the willingness of an individual to try and impose his dark vision on the world, on the people of Iraq and elsewhere. And it's very important that these elections proceed.

We just got off a conference call with our acting -- not "acting" -- Ambassador Negroponte is not in Baghdad, but Ambassador Jeffrey, his number two man, as well as General Casey, talking about how best to provide the security necessary for people to feel comfortable in voting.

Yes, ma'am.

Q Mr. President, were you offended by the suggestion that rich nations have been stingy in the aid over the tsunami? And is this a sign of another rift with the U.N.?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I felt like the person who made that statement was very misguided and ill-informed. The -- take, for example, in the year 2004, our government provided $2.4 billion in food, in cash, in humanitarian relief to cover the disasters for last year. That's $2.4 billion. That's 40 percent of all the relief aid given in the world last year, was provided by the United States government. No, we're a very generous, kindhearted nation.

You know, the -- what you're beginning to see is a typical response from America. First of all, we provide immediate cash relief, to the tune of about $35 billion [sic]. And then there will be an assessment of the damage, so that the relief is -- the next tranche of relief will be spent wisely. That's what's happening now. I just got off the phone with the President of Sri Lanka, she asked for help to assess the damage. In other words, not only did they want immediate help, but they wanted help to assess damage so that we can better direct resources. And so our government is fully prepared to continue to provide assistance and help.

It takes money, by the way, to move an expeditionary force into the region. In other words, we're diverting assets, which is part of our overall aid package. We'll continue to provide assets. Plus, the American people will be very generous, themselves. I mean, the $2.4 billion was public money -- of course, provided by the taxpayers. But there's also a lot of individual giving in America. In this case, I think it's very important for Americans who want to give to provide cash to organizations that will be able to focus resources and assets to meet specific needs. In other words, a lot of times Americans, in their desire to help, will send blankets or clothes. That may be necessary, but to me it makes more sense to send cash to organizations that could then use that cash to make sure we match resources with specific needs on the ground. There are many NGOs now involved that understand what is specifically needed to meet the needs of these countries.

This has been a terrible disaster. I mean, it's just beyond our comprehension to think about how many lives have been lost. I know that our fellow citizens are particularly troubled to learn that many of the deaths were young children, and we grieve for their families, their moms and dads who are just, you know, heartsick during this -- during these times.

Yes, Holly.

Q Sir, Schroeder this morning said that the Paris Club nations should put a moratorium on this debt of Somalia and Indonesia. Is that something that you think the U.S. and other Paris Club nations should do, put a moratorium on these countries' debt?

THE PRESIDENT: We'll look at all requests. Right now we're assessing the short-term needs. We are -- there are two issues that are involved, obviously, in these disasters. One, what can we do immediately to help? And then, what needs to happen in the long-term to help these countries rebuild? And we're still at the stage of immediate help. But slowly but surely, the size of the problem will become known, particularly when it comes to rebuilding infrastructure and community, to help these affected parts of the world get back up on their feet.

Q Mr. President, are you confident that the U.S. west coast residents -- Hawaiian residents, Alaska residents -- are well enough protected with early warning systems for possible tsunamis affecting this country and coastal --

THE PRESIDENT: No, I appreciate that question, it's a -- I think that part of the long-term strategy in how to deal with natural disaster is to make sure we have -- "we," the world, has a proper tsunami warning system. As a matter of fact, the President of Sri Lanka also mentioned that to me. She said that one of the things that she and the Prime Minister of India discussed -- I'm not sure they discussed it, but they're both thinking the same way, let me put it to you that way -- is the development of a proper warning system. And I think it's going to be very -- I can't answer your question specifically, do we have enough of a warning system for the west coast. I am going to -- I am now asking that to our agencies and government to let us know. I mean, that's a very legitimate question. Clearly, there wasn't a proper warning system in place for that part of the world, and it seems like to me it makes sense for the world to come together to develop a warning system that will help all nations.

Q And seeing that as we have, does it concern you that we may not have that mechanism in place? Or is this something we can use through our civil defense air raid siren system?

THE PRESIDENT: I just have to look into it, that's a very legitimate question. I am on the -- I presume that we are in pretty good shape. I think our location in the world is such that we may be less vulnerable than other parts, but I am not a geologist, as you know. But I think it's a very legitimate question.

I've so far focused on the international approach towards a tsunami warning systems and it seems like to me it's a -- it makes sense for governments to come together and figure out how best to provide a warning system that will help all nations be prepared for such a disaster. Obviously, such a warning system was not in place.

Yes, Richard.

Q Mr. President, there continues to be criticism of the speed with which American troops are being armed in Iraq. Are you satisfied with the way the --

THE PRESIDENT: If the Iraqi troops are being armed?

Q No, the U.S. troops.

THE PRESIDENT: Oh, I beg your pardon.

Q Are you satisfied with the pace with which the U.S. troops are being armed in Iraq?

THE PRESIDENT: Are you talking about the armored vehicle issue, for example?

Q That and others.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I have looked at the statistics on that, and we have stepped up the production of armored Humvees significantly. The other issue is the rearmament of existing -- of vehicles that are now in theater, vehicles that require a different armament structure than that which they initially were manufactured with. And I am told that those vehicles will be armed up by mid-summer of 2005. And what I know is, is that the Defense Department is working expeditiously with private contractors and with our military to get these vehicles armed up.

Well, listen, thank you all for coming by. I'm sorry to disrupt your day, but I felt like it was important to talk about what is going to be one of the major natural disasters in world history. And it's important for the world to know that our government is focused and will continue to respond to help those who suffer.

Thank you.

Q Any plans for New Year's Eve?

THE PRESIDENT: Early to bed.

Q New Year's resolutions?

THE PRESIDENT: I'll let you know. Already gave you a hint on one, which is my waistline. I'm trying to set an example.

Thank you all.

Friday, December 24, 2004

In Honor of Christmas

Merry Christmas!!!

On to the show... a politically correct accurate christmas poem:
The Night Before Christmas
(Cambodian Version)

Twas the night before Christmas and we were afloat
Somewhere in Cambodia in our little boat.
While the river was lightened by rockets red glare
No one but the President knew we were there.

The crew was all nestled deep down in their bunks,
While the Spook and I watched the sampans and junks.
Our mission was secret, so secret in fact,
No one else would remember it when we got back.

When out on the water there arose such a clatter
I leaped down from the bridge to see what was the matter.
The incoming friendly was starting to flash
And I knew that the ARVN's were having a bash.

The snap of friendly fire on the warm tropic air
Convinced me for sure no one knew we were there,
On a clandestine mission so secret it's true
That I'm still convinced only Tricky Dick knew.

While I huddled for safety in the tub on the bow,
I thought of a title, "Apocalypse Now."
To give to the films I was I making each day
To show all the voters when I made my big play.

As I sat there sweating in my lucky flight jacket,
Spook said, "Merry Christmas!" and tossed me a packet.
And what to my wondering eyes did appear,
But a new lucky cap, which I still have right here.

I keep it tucked here, in this leather brief case,
Just sharing with the press its secretive place
As I regale them again with my senate refrain,
That Christmas in Cambodia is seared into my brain.

Don't bother to quibble with history my friend,
By pointing out Johnson was President then.
Don't listen to Swiftees who try to explain,
For I tell you that night is seared into my brain.

Down Hibbard, down Lonsdale, and you too O'Neill,
So you don't remember? Well it's something I feel.
I don't need all you Swiftvets to support my campaign,
Cause Christmas in Cambodia is seared into my brain,

Into my brain, into my brain, into my brain...

Russ Vaughn
2d Bn, 327th Parachute Infantry Regiment
101st Airborne Division
Vietnam 65-66

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Homespun Symposium VI

I have decided to participate in this week's Homespun Symposium by asking the following question to the Homespun Bloggers community:
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld now finds himself in the midst of the bitter and often cruel politics which have become a hallmark of the D.C. political landscape. In the past few weeks Rumsfeld has weathered criticism over his handling of the ambush-like question planted by a reporter during a question and answer session with the troops, the defense secretary has received harsh indictments from the likes of John McCain and Trent Lott, and Rumsfeld has endured embarrassing exposés fueled by Pentagon leaks.

Is all the controversy surrounding Rumsfeld justified? In your opinion, are these attacks on the defense secretary fair? And finally - borrowing a slightly modified line from The Clash - should he (Rumsfeld) stay or should he go now?
Now, before I begin with my own response I would like to apologize to the readers of Esoteric * Diatribe for my sparse blogging as of late. My work schedule has made a night and day reversal in the past few weeks leaving me precious little time. That being said...

My recent spat about liberal Republican loud-mouth John McCain came only a day or two before McCain railed Defense Secretary Rumsfeld saying that he (McCain) had, "no confidence" in Rumsfeld.

A few weeks earlier McCain said of Rumsfeld
I said no. My answer is still no. No confidence.
It is no surprise to media watchers that a media-whore like McCain would say darn near anything that would make himself more popular with the press. My initial take on this story was that McCain was simply cashing in on the anti-Rumsfeld trend that seemed to take root following the ambush question at the Q&A Rumsfeld had with the soldiers a few weeks back. You may recall the question:
"Why do we soldiers have to dig through local landfills for pieces of scrap metal and compromised ballistic glass to uparmor our vehicles?"
In all fairness, the question was pretty ridiculous. Not only was this question NOT crafted by one of the soldiers (the question was planted by an embedded news reporter trying to make his bones) but this would be tantamount to a WWII soldier asking why his jeep or truck didn't have the same basic armor as a tank.

The Humvee is basically the modern military's version of the jeep. Alhough Humvees can be equipped with additional armor, it is not intended as an heavily armored vehicle... the Humvee is nothing more than truck intended to get soldiers quickly from point A to point B OR to add support to a convoy. The Humvee wasn't designed to be a tank capable of withstanding an all-out assault. The Humvee is just a truck with a 50 cal mounted to the top. But enough about why I think the question was stupid...

The point is that this question got the ball rolling in the media and lit a fire under the libs to start attacking our Secretary of Defense (our Secretary of War, really) Donald Rumsfeld. The press didn't fairly report Rumsfeld's response to the question. Read the following if you think otherwise:
The first thing the Defense Secretary said was: "I talked to the general coming out here about the pace at which the vehicles are being armored. They have been brought from all over the world, wherever they're not needed, to a place here where they are needed. I'm told that they are being - the Army is - I think it's something like 400 a month are being done. And it's essentially a matter of physics. It isn't a matter of money. It isn't a matter on the part of the Army of desire. It's a matter of production and capability of doing it."

It was only then that Mr. Rumsfeld made what was taken by the troops – who subsequently gave him a standing ovation - as an unexceptionable observation: "As you know, you go to war with the army you have. They're not the army you might want or wish to have at a later time." While the soundbite typically began and ended with those two sentences, Rummy added a further assurance: "Since the Iraq conflict began, the Army has been pressing ahead to produce the armor necessary at a rate they believe - it's a greatly expanded rate from what existed previously - but a rate that they believe is the rate that is all that can be accomplished at this moment." He went on in this deliberate, responsible vein for several minutes more.

Imagine the Secretary’s surprise when, after these remarks were selectively quoted and repeatedly broadcast in the most unflattering light, the manufacturer of armored Humvees announced he could actually increase production further. More public castigation of Rumsfeld followed.

Never mind that Secretary Rumsfeld had been given contrary information as recently as when he was enroute to his townhall meeting with the troops. It is a cheap shot to denounce Rummy for answering as he did when, to the best of his knowledge, the Army was doing everything humanly possible to meet the current needs. Upon discovering otherwise, full production was ordered.
I think this is as good a refutation as any of the misrepresentation being done in the media as to what was said by Rumsfeld in response to the planted question. The only thing I'd heard from the mainstream media outlets was the quick soundbite:
As you know, you go to war with the army you have. They're not the army you might want or wish to have at a later time
Without the internet, the masses wouldn't even have the opportunity to hear the truth because the press is so agenda driven... there is no way that one could come to an accurate assessment that the media was being fair to Rumsfeld. Take for instance, Ignorance fuels Rumsfeld attack.

Nevertheless, the ball kept rolling and the attacks and angry voices calling for Rumsfeld to resign continue...
Lott Joins Anti-Rumsfeld Chorus: "I would like to see a change..."
Bayh: Rumsfeld Should Resign: "I have lost confidence in him."
Coleman steps up criticism of Rumsfeld "what you are hearing is that legitimate concerns have been raised, that they need to be addressed, that has caused some undermining of confidence in the secretary of defense. And I would hope that the president would take a close look at that, perhaps at a more appropriate point in time."
Criticism Mounts on Recent Rumsfeld Remarks
Calls Get Louder For Rumsfeld's Resignation
Poll: Rumsfeld losing public's support
Majority of Americans want Rumsfeld out
Congress Criticizes Rumsfeld Over Letters
This list could go on ad naseum.

So I return to my question: Is all the controversy surrounding Rumsfeld justified? In a word, no.

There are basically two types of Rumsfeld haters, the libs who hate him because he is doing a good job and they have always hated him anyway, and the old-school hawks who think the Powell Doctrine, slow Goliath, overly bloated military divisions working alone to win the war approach is the ONLY approach to armed combat. Apparently those guys think working in concert means 4 star generals bickering back and forth in the Pentagon about how the money should be divvied up and why their branch is the only branch capable of winning the war.

The old-school hawks want a larger army, a larger presence in Iraq, more weapons spending, etc etc ect. Because Rumsfeld used what was available: a smaller but more effective military that is fast-moving, muti-divisional, and less dependent on massive troop build-ups, the old school hawks want him out. The libs just never wanted him in the first place.

I think Steve Yuhas, who wrote Rumsfeld should stay: John McCain should Resign has it right in pointing out, "As far back as early 2002 liberals in this country (and even more who live in Europe) have been calling on Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to resign." Steve is right, this isn't something new. In fact, this has been going on for quite some time. Steve basically says everythign I am thinking about the recent Rumsfeld situation right down to:
As to the latter criticism by family members who are not getting an autograph in their condolence letter, the Secretary of Defense will now sign all of the condolence notes personally; what a great victory for people who lost a loved one in war.
I echo the call on Senator McCain to resign.

My second question, 'are these attacks on the defense secretary fair', depends on how you look at it. I do not think it is fair for Senators, who write the laws that fund the war, to criticize the Secretary of defense - who has no control over defense appropriations - regarding issues for which the Congress is responsible. I do think it is important for people to question whether we are doing enough for our troops; but I don't think these agenda driven attacks on Rumsfeld have anything at all to do with concern over the safety and well being of our troops.

Lastly, "Should he stay or should he go?" Rummy better stay. America needs the Donald Rumsfeld's of the world. America is lucky to have him. I would vote for Rumsfeld for president in a heartbeat and I would campaign for him 24-7 if he ever decided to run. I am that confident in Donald Rumsfeld.

The senators who have chastized him ought to be ashamed. The media who misreported on the recent controversy, opting for a juicy soundbite instead of the truth, ought to be replaced. The President, who stood by his Defense Secretary in the latest hyped-up snafu, ought to be commended.

Others who blogged about this topic

Little Red Blog
Being Thomas Luongo
The Redhunter
Major Dad 1984
Ogre's Politics and Views
The Commons at Paulie World

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Rough Men

Rough Men

"Good people sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.” George Orwell

(With a nod to the Mudville Gazette for the quote)

There’s a character trait that’s decided by fate
Comes “sadly” to many, far too faint, far too late.
They won’t face the aggressor, stand up to his ire
They have not the will to fight his fire with fire.
So they bend over backwards to see all sides as fair,
Till they’re faced with dragon breath fire in their hair.
Like our brethren in France, who’d know better than we,
Yet seem never to learn, seem doomed never to see.

Yes, it seems there are some who’re determined by fate,
To possess not the courage to step up to the plate,
Who shrink from all threat because nothing’s worth war.
But how can they know lest they’ve been there before?
Thank God some have courage, the will, yes, the grace,
To stand for the shirkers, stand strong in their place.
Thank God we have stalwarts who’ll stand for us all,
Who will rise to the challenge at their nation’s call.

The faint-hearted, who fear, whose reaction is flight,
Have no comprehension of those who will fight.
To hide their own trepidation they attempt to demean
The rough men, who defend them, as barbaric, obscene.
Yet these rough men stand ready, hard weapons to hand,
To put placaters behind them, draw a line in the sand,
To preserve for the peaceniks what they won’t defend,
So their own unearned freedom won’t perish, won’t end.

To appeasers, rough men are coarse government tools.
To rough men, appeasers are dumb delusional fools.

Russ Vaughn
2d Bn, 327th Parachute Infantry Regiment
101st Airborne Division
Vietnam 65-

Sunday, December 12, 2004

McCain A Front Runner?

Not a chance.

I was reading: McCain's Steroids Push Puts Him in '08 Mix and decided that if McCain runs, I will oppose him with the same veracity with which I opposed John Kerry. McCain is a wolf in sheep's clothing... or an ass pretending to be an elephant might be a better way to describe him.

The article calls McCain "the straight-talking Republican who often challenges the GOP establishment" but I think a more accurate description of McCain is a loud mouth liberal embraced by the liberal establishment media and his democrat comrades. I'm not surprised that the press would want to start a buzz about McCain, he is a media whore and there aint nothing the media loves like its whores, but I am surprised that any self respecting republicans would back him:
"The big question is: Can McCain get any hotter?" said Scott Reed, a Republican consultant.
My big question is "Can he get any further to the left?" My guess is the further left he goes the "hotter" he will get in the left dominated press.
"He's pretty well set to go in four years," said Jerry Roe, a former head of the Michigan Republican Party. "Politicians that go anyplace are like rock stars. McCain's a rock star."


He's such a unique personality, and he's one of the few United States senators who has a national constituency," said Marshall Wittmann, McCain's former communications director who became a Democrat this year. He suggests that Democratic Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York and perhaps Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts may be the only others.
Ahhh... how interesting, a former McCain staffer showed his true colors and switched parties. And the icing on the cake: he puts McCain in the same boat as Ed Kennedy and Hillary Clinton! This DEMOCRAT has it completely right in that McCain's name should be associated with the likes of Hillary Clinton and Edward Kennedy, all three are loudmouth liberals who do NOT represent conservative America or our values.
"Anything they say on an issue, people take note. And, if it wasn't an issue before, it's made into an issue," said Wittmann.


Still, Jack Pitney, a political scientist at Claremont McKenna College in California, asked: "Who else is there?

"Other than the president, McCain can upstage most other Republicans in his party," Pitney said. "Frist may be the majority leader, but McCain is the Republican everyone knows."
Riiight... I would vote for Giuliani, Ridge, Gingrich, Rice, Powell, even Joe Lieberman, before I would vote for McCain. I think Giuliani would be a good pick for 08, but Ridge is also a good choice. Gingrich would have a tougher time getting the votes, but I think he would make an excellent president. My shortlist isn't perfect, and I am sure I am overlooking some great choices, but I think my response more than answers the ridiculous "Who else is there?" question.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Out-Dumbed, by George!

Out-Dumbed, by George!

Did you really believe we’re too stupid to see,
How you tried to deceive us with smug sophistry?
Did you actually think we’d accept without thinking,
That our ship of state’s hulled, our economy’s sinking?
We saw how with help from your media tools,
You picked just the right captain for your ship of fools.
With your Cambodian Admiral at the helm of your boat
You needed an ocean of lies just to keep him afloat.

You put forward no spokesman with a true honest voice
And offered the voters no acceptable choice.
Your party got “jacked” by the loons on the left,
And the rest of you’ve yet to wake up to the theft.
You let billionaire bandits with a bolshevik whiff,
Take your “Ride” for a drive that went straight off the cliff.
So, do you now blame your loss on these crazies and flakes?
Nope, by Jove, it was Rove, must’ve messed with the brakes.

Even now that you’ve lost, you refuse to accept,
That your party’s outdated and its leaders inept.
The election is over, and with your masquerades falling
The true you we see is truly appalling.
You’ve nothing but scorn for true faith and belief
Holding up Christianity as some election year thief.
Your apostasy’s clear to those blacks and hispanics,
Who, next time around, just may be your Titanics.

So now as you sit contemplating your fate,
Sipping modest chablis, camembért on your plate,
Just remember your failure in sowing false fears,
And let this burn in your brains for four more long years:
Even owning the press and controlling the tube,
You got your butts whipped by an’ ol’ Texas rube.
So, keep pondering this ‘til your brains are all numbed
Rove didn’t outsmart you; you were smartly out-dumbed

That’s gonna stick in your craws ‘til you’re forced to disgorge,
All you smart liberal wienies just got out-dumbed, by George.

Russ Vaughn
Proud Red State Retard and former Democrat ‘til they made me a political homeless person and the Republicans offered shelter.

The poem above was inpired by the rereading of this letter I sent to the editor of the San Antonio Express-News back during the election, and which, to my utter amazement, they published:
Out-Dumbing the Dems

Good heavens, may wonders never cease! I just read a Jan Jarboe (South Texas Ultralib) column and found myself agreeing with her. Her advice to Democrats that George Bush is not the dummy they think he is reminds me of a good ol’ boy from South Alabama who once worked for me. We were making a product presentation to a military procurement officer who was extremely full of himself and patronizing to us as civilian marketers, talking down to us as if we were entirely ignorant of the system. Offended by his condescension, I thought of explaining that we were intimately familiar with the proper procedures but then thought better of it. It was, after all, my salesman’s account, so I should let him handle it.

For thirty minutes he sat there in wide-eyed awe, hanging on to every word of this pompous buffoon’s detailed explication of military procurement, interrupting with only an occasional, “Wow,” or “Gee, so that’s how it’s done.” Knowing my guy was a senior Reserve Navy officer and intimately familiar with this whole process I just sat there and bit my tongue.

When we finally got out in the parking lot, with an order even larger than we had sought, I said, “Jim, why on earth did you put up with that blowhard, like that?” To which he winked, waved the order forms and drawled,

“Hey, Boss, sometimes you just gotta out-dumb ‘em.”

Ain’t it the truth? Just ask Ann Richards. Or Al Gore. (And now John Kerry.)

Russ Vaughn
P.S. Liberal Democrats love chants; so I have a brand spanking new one for them:
Two! Four! Six! Eight! Never Misunderestimate!

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Scout’s Honor

Scout’s Honor

When I was a boy, yep, I was a Scout,
And whole time I was, no Scoutmasters came out.
Nope, they stayed in the closet, if any were there,
And no parents protested our Scout meeting prayer.
We believed in our creed, truly honored our oath,
Our duty to God in those years was not loathe.
No, we pledged our young lives that we’d do our best,
To honor traditions behind our Scout crest.

But our honor’s now questioned by a liberal elite,
That will settle for nothing but our total defeat.
Renounce God we’re told, or we’ll take you to court,
Scouting’s now not for kids it’s become lawyers’ sport.
No, we haven’t a right to now say who shall lead
The children we hopefully entrust to this creed.
So these possible predators we’re told now to trust,
And hope our young boys don’t fall prey to their lust.

I’ve had it with liberals, I’m full up to here,
They’ve pushed me beyond any warped legal fear
To the point that I say that whatever they do,
My mission in life is SCREW THE ACLU.
They’ve robbed me of Christmas, robbed me of youth,
In their misguided crusade for their brand of truth.
Like good ol’ Dan Rather, ACLU you’re a goner,
I pledge that to you on my cherished Scout’s Honor.

Russ Vaughn

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

President Discusses Strong Relationship with Canada

President Discusses Strong Relationship with Canada
Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
Via the White House Office of the Press Secretary

PRESIDENT BUSH: Thank you very much. (Applause.) Please be seated. Thank you all very much. Thanks for the warm welcome. Mr. Prime Minister, thank you, and Mrs. Martin, for a fantastic dinner last night in Ottawa. We really loved it. My only regret today is that Laura is not with me. She is -- went home to thank those who have been decorating the White House for the great Christmas season that's coming up. I married well. (Laughter.)

I appreciate the Premiers who are here. Premier Hamm, thank you for your hospitality. Premier Lord, Premier Binns, and Premier Williams, I appreciate you all joining. I want to specifically mention the Premiers because, as an ex-governor, I feel a special kinship to those who -- (laughter) -- run the provinces here in Canada. But thank you for your service. Ambassador Cellucci, mayors, local officials, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, I am honored to be with you today to reaffirm America's enduring ties to your country. (Applause.) I am really glad to be in Canada, and I'm really glad to be among friends. I appreciate the warm hospitality we've received.

In the past year, I've come to know your new Prime Minister. We met in Mexico, in the United States, in Chile, and now in Canada. Paul Martin is a leader who is asserting Canada's good influence in the world. And as I prepare for a second term in office, I look forward to a successful working partnership between our two countries.

Paul and I share a great vision for the future, two prosperous, independent nations joined together by the return of NHL hockey. (Laughter and applause.)

I told Paul that I really have only one regret about this visit to Canada. There's a prominent citizen who endorsed me in the 2000 election, and I wanted a chance to finally thank him for that endorsement. I was hoping to meet Jean Poutine. (Laughter and applause.)

I'm proud to stand in this historic place, which has welcomed home so many Canadians who defended liberty overseas, and which so many new Canadians began their North American dream. I'm grateful for the hospitality shown by the people of this fine city who have been so very kind to Americans before.

Three years ago, Halifax and other towns and villages -- from Newfoundland to Manitoba to the Northwest Territories to British Columbia -- welcomed, as the Prime Minister mentioned, more than 33,000 passengers on diverted flights. For days after September the 11th, Canadians came to the aid of men and women and children who were worried and confused and had nowhere to sleep. You opened your homes and your churches to strangers. You brought food, you set up clinics, you arranged for calls to their loved ones, and you asked for nothing in return.

One American declared, "My heart is overwhelmed at the outpouring of Canadian compassion. How does a person say 'thank you' to a nation?" Well, that's something a President can do. And so let me say directly to the Canadian people, and to all of you here today who welcomed Americans, thank you for your kindness to America in an hour of need. (Applause.)

That emergency revealed the good and generous heart of this country, and showed the true feelings of Canadians and Americans toward each other. The affection that appeared in an instant will always be there, and it runs deep. Beyond the words of politicians and the natural disagreements that nations will have, our two peoples are one family, and always will be. (Applause.)

We're united in part by the daily contact of commerce, and both our nations are better off for it. In the 10 years since the North American Free Trade Agreement was enacted, trade between the United States and Canada has nearly doubled. Twenty-three percent of America's exports go directly north; and more than 80 percent of Canadians' exports go to my country. With so much trade, there are bound to be some disagreements. I proudly ate some Alberta beef last night and -- (laughter) -- I'm still standing. (Laughter and applause.) With determined efforts, and relying on sound science and mutual goodwill, we can resolve issues. Take, for example, those PEI potatoes. (Laughter.)

Right, Mr. Premier? (Laughter.)

Canada represents America's most vital trade relationship in the whole world, and we will do all that is necessary to keep that relationship strong.

Yet, our ties go deeper than trade. Our community of values reaches back centuries. Canada and the U.S. may have disagreed on the wisdom of separating from the Crown, but we've always agreed on the great principles of liberty derived from our common heritage. We believe in the dignity of every human life, and we believe in the right of every person to live in freedom. We believe in free markets, humanized by compassion and fairness. We believe a diverse society can also be united by principles of justice and equality. The values we hold have made us good neighbors for centuries, and they will keep us as strong allies and good friends for the centuries to come. (Applause.)

These shared convictions have also led our great democracies to accept a mission in the wider world. We know it is not possible to live in quiet isolation of our peaceful continent, hoping the problems and challenges of other nations will pass us by. We know there can be no security, no lasting peace in a world where proliferation and terrorism, and genocide, and extreme poverty go unopposed.

We know that our own interests are served by an international system that advances human rights, and open societies, and free trade, and the rule of law, and the hope that comes from self-government. Both Canada and the United States have accepted important global duties, and we will meet those responsibilities, for our own benefit and for the good of mankind.

Canada's leadership is helping to build a better world. Over the past decade, Canadian troops have helped bring stability to Bosnia and Kosovo. Canada's willingness to send peacekeepers to Haiti saved thousands of lives and helped save Haiti's constitutional government. Canadian troops are serving bravely in Afghanistan at this hour. Other Canadians stand on guard for peace in the Middle East, in Cyprus, Sudan, and the Congo.

Just two weeks ago, NATO countries showed their esteem for your military by electing General Ray Henault as Chairman of NATO's Military Committee. This admiration for your armed forces goes way back, and for good reason. It was said during World War I, the Canadians never budge. America respects the skill and honor and the sacrifice of Canadians' armed -- Canada's armed forces.

Our nations play independent roles in the world, yet our purposes are complementary. We have important work ahead. A new term in office is an important opportunity to reach out to our friends. I hope to foster a wide international consensus among three great goals. The first great commitment is to defend our security and spread freedom by building effective multinational and multilateral institutions and supporting effective multilateral action.

The tasks of the 21st century, from fighting proliferation to fighting the scourge of HIV/AIDS, to fighting poverty and hunger cannot be accomplished by a single nation alone. The United States and Canada participate together in more multilateral institutions than perhaps any two nations on Earth -- from NATO in Europe to the OAS in the Western Hemisphere to APEC in the Pacific. Canada and the United States are working with a coalition of nations through the Proliferation Security Initiative to stop and seize shipments of weapons of mass destruction, materials and delivery systems on land and at sea and in the air.

America always prefers to act with allies at our side, and we're grateful to Canada for working closely with us to confront the challenges of Iran and North Korea. Multilateral organizations can do great good in the world.

Yet, the success of multilateralism is measured not merely by following a process, but by achieving results. The objective of the U.N. and other institutions must be collective security, not endless debate. For the sake of peace, when those bodies promise serious consequences, serious consequences must follow. America and Canada helped create the United Nations, and because we remain committed to that institution, we want it to be more than a League of Nations.

My country is determined to work as far as possible within the framework of international organizations, and we're hoping that other nations will work with us to make those institutions more relevant and more effective in meeting the unique threats of our time.

Our second commitment is to fight global terrorism with every action and resource the task requires. Canada has taken a series of critical steps to guard against the danger of terrorism. You created the Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness. You've toughened your anti-terror laws. You're upgrading your intelligence. I want to thank the government for all those constructive and important decisions.

Our two countries are working together every day -- every day -- to keep our people safe. That is the most solemn duty I have, and the most solemn duty the Prime Minister has. From the smart border accord to the container security initiative to the joint command of NORAD, we are working together. I hope we'll also move forward on ballistic missile defense cooperation to protect the next generation of Canadians and Americans from the threats we know will arise.

The energetic defense of our nations is an important duty. Yet, defense alone is not a sufficient strategy. On September the 11th, the people of North America learned that two vast oceans and friendly neighbors cannot fully shield us from the dangers of the 21st century. There's only one way to deal with enemies who plot in secret and set out to murder the innocent and the unsuspecting: We must take the fight to them. We must be relentless and we must be steadfast in our duty to protect our people.

Both of the countries have learned this lesson. In the early days of World War II, when the United States was still wrestling with isolationism, Canadian forces were already engaging the enemies of freedom from the Atlantic -- across the Atlantic. At the time, some Canadians argued that Canada had not been attacked and had no interest in fighting a distant war. Your Prime Minister, McKenzie King, gave this answer: "We cannot defend our country and save our homes and families by waiting for the enemy to attack us. To remain on the defensive is the surest way to bring the war to Canada. Of course, we should protect our coasts and strengthen our ports and cities against attack," but the Prime Minister went on to say, "we must also go out and meet the enemy before he reaches our shores. We must defeat him before he attacks us, before our cities are laid to waste." McKenzie King was correct then, and we must always remember the wisdom of his words today.

In the new era the threat is different, but our duties are the same. Our enemies have declared their intentions -- and so have we. Peaceful nations must keep the peace by going after the terrorists and disrupting their plans and cutting off their funding. We must hold the sponsors of terror equally responsible for terrorist acts. We must prevent outlaw regimes from gaining weapons of mass destruction and providing them to terrorists. We must stay at these efforts with patience and resolve, until we prevail.

Our third great commitment is to enhance our own security by promoting freedom and hope and democracy in the broader Middle East. The United States and Canada and all free nations need to look ahead. If, 20 years from now, the Middle East is dominated by dictators and mullahs who build weapons of mass destruction and harbor terrorists, our children and our grandchildren will live in a nightmare world of danger. That must not happen.

By taking the side of reformers and democrats in the Middle East, we will gain allies in the war on terror, and isolate the ideology of murder and help to defeat the despair and hopelessness that feeds terror. The world will become a much safer place as democracy advances.

For decades of tyranny and neglect in the broader Middle East, progress toward freedom will not come easily. I know that. Yet, it is cultural condescension to claim that some peoples or some cultures or some religions are destined to despotism and unsuited for self-government.

Today in the Middle East, the doubters and pessimists are being proven wrong. We're seeing movement toward elections, and greater rights for women, and open discussion of peaceful reform. I believe that people across the Middle East are weary of poverty and oppression and plead in silence for their liberty. I believe this is an historic moment in the broader Middle East, and we must seize this moment by standing with everyone who stands for liberty.

We're standing with the people of Afghanistan, a nation that has gone from a safe haven for terrorists to a steadfast ally in the war on terror in three-and-a-half short years. Canada deployed more than 7,000 troops and much of your navy in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. This year, your country has led the International Security Assistance Force in Kabul. The coalition we share is doing honorable work; yet democracy is taking hold in that country because the Afghan people, like people everywhere, want to live in freedom. They registered by the millions to vote in October. They stood in long lines on election day. An Afghan widow brought all four of her daughters to vote alongside her. She said, "When you see women here lined up to vote, this is something profound. I never dreamed this day would come." But that woman's dream finally arrived, as it will one day across the Middle East. (Applause.) These are unprecedented, historic events that many said would never come. And Canadians can be proud of the part you have played in the advance of human liberty.

We must also stand with the brave people of Iraq who are preparing for elections on January the 30th. Sometimes, even the closest of friends disagree. And two years ago, we disagreed about the best course of action in Iraq. Yet, as your Prime Minister made clear in Washington earlier this year, there is no disagreement at all with what has to be done in going forward. We must help the Iraqi people secure their country and build a free and democratic society. The Canadian government has pledged more than $200 million in humanitarian aid and reconstruction assistance, and agreed to relieve more than $450 million in Iraqi debt. That help is greatly appreciated.

There's more work to be done together. Both Canada and the United States, and all free nations, have a vital interest in the success of a free Iraq. The terrorists have made Iraq the central front in the war on terror because they know what is at stake. When a free and democratic society is established in Iraq, in the heart of the Middle East, it will be a decisive blow to their aspirations to dominate the region and its people. A free Iraq will be a standing rebuke to radicalism, and a model to reformers from Damascus to Tehran.

In Fallujah and elsewhere, our coalition and Iraqi forces are on the offensive and we are delivering a message: Freedom, not oppression, is the future of Iraq. Freedom is a precious right for every individual, regardless of the color of their skin or the religion they may hold. A long night of terror and tyranny in that region is ending, and a new day of freedom and hope and self-government is on the way. (Applause.)

And we will stand with the Palestinian and Israeli peoples and help end the destructive conflict between them. Prime Minister Martin has expressed the desire of his government to take a broader role in the quest for peace and democracy, and America welcomes your involvement. It's a time of change and a time of hope in that region.

We seek justice and dignity, and a viable independent and democratic state for the Palestinian people. We seek security and peace for the state of Israel, a state that Canada, like America, first recognized in 1948. These are worthy goals in themselves, and by reaching them, we will also remove an excuse for hatred and violence in the broader Middle East.

Achieving peace in the Holy Land is not just a matter of pressuring one side or the other on the shape of a border or the site of a settlement. This approach has been tried before, without success. As we negotiate the details of peace, we must look to the heart of the matter, which is the need for a Palestinian democracy. The Palestinian people deserve a peaceful government that truly serves their interests, and the Israeli people need a true partner in peace.

Our destination is clear: two states, Israel and Palestine, living side-by-side in peace and security. And that destination can be reached by only one path, the path of democracy and reform and the rule of law. If all parties will apply effort, if all nations who are concerned about this issue will apply goodwill, this conflict can end and peace can be achieved. And the time for that effort and the time for that goodwill is now.

The United States and Canada face common threats in our world, and we share common goals that can transform our world. We're bound by history and geography and trade, and by our deepest convictions. With so much in common and so much at stake, we cannot be divided. I realize, and many Americans realize, that it's not always easy to sleep next to the elephant. (Laughter.) Sometimes, our laws and our actions affect Canada every bit as much as they affect us, and we need to remember that. And when frustrations are vented, we must not take it personally. As a member of Canada's Parliament said in the 1960s, "The United States is our friend, whether we like it or not." (Laughter and applause.) When all is said and done, we are friends -- and we like it. (Applause.)

Three years ago, when the American planes were diverted away from home, passengers knew they were safe and welcome the moment they saw the Maple Leaf flag. One of them later said of the Canadians he met, "They taught me the meaning of the word, 'friend.'" For generations, the nation of Canada has defined the word, "friend," and my country is grateful.

`God has blessed America in many ways. God has blessed us because we have neighbors like you. And today, I ask that God continues to bless the people of Canada.

Thank you. (Applause.)

'Blog' Tops Dictionary's Words of the Year

BOSTON (Reuters) - A four-letter term that came to symbolize the difference between old and new media during this year's presidential campaign tops U.S. dictionary publisher Merriam-Webster's list of the 10 words of the year.

Merriam-Webster Inc. said on Tuesday that blog, defined as "a Web site that contains an online personal journal with reflections, comments and often hyperlinks," was one of the most looked-up words on its Internet sites this year.


"That is what occurred in this year's election cycle ... with voluminous hits for words like 'incumbent,' 'electoral,' 'partisan,' and, of course, our number one Word of the Year, 'blog,'" Merriam-Webster President and Publisher John Morse said in a statement.

Americans called up blogs in droves for information and laughs ahead of the Nov. 2 presidential election.

Freed from the constraints that govern traditional print and broadcast news organizations, blogs spread gossip while also serving as an outlet for people increasingly disenchanted with mainstream media.

It was mainly on blogs that readers first encountered speculation that President Bush wore a listening device during his first debate against Democrat John Kerry. The White House, forced to respond, called it a laughable, left-wing conspiracy theory.

Bloggers also were among the first to cast doubt on a CBS television news report that challenged Bush's military service.

CBS later admitted it had been duped into using questionable documents for the report. Last week CBS anchor Dan Rather said he would step down in March, although the network said the move was unconnected to the scandal.

That’s The Way They Were Raised

While I am on a Russ Vaughn kick I might as well post an oldie that never made it's way on to E*D (E*D didn't exist when it was written...). Russ explained:
I wrote it back in 2003 right after the invasion. It's one of my personal favorites because it truly reflects not just on our warriors but on every last living one of us who make up this wonderful country.
That’s The Way They Were Raised

While surfing through websites for information on my old unit, the 101st Airborne Division, I ran across a quote by a reporter, who was embedded with the 101st in Iraq during the invasion. In his tribute to the young troopers he served beside, he marveled at how they could fight Iraqi forces so ferociously through the night, then spend their days handing out food and medicine to Iraqi civilians. The reporter observed that Stephen Ambrose, historian and author of “Band of Brothers,” another tribute to the Screaming Eagles, but those of an earlier war, had this to say about American troops,

“When soldiers from any other army, even our allies, entered a town, the people hid in the cellars. When Americans came in, even into German towns, it meant smiles, chocolate bars and C-rations.”

The reporter followed that quote with two sentences of his own which I find truly moving and profoundly insightful,

“Ours has always been an army like no other, because our soldiers reflect a society unlike any other. They are pitiless when confronted by armed enemy fighters and yet full of compassion for civilians and even defeated enemies.”

Those words should be chiseled into granite on a prominently displayed memorial somewhere, because they speak a great truth, not just about our fighting men and women, but also of the nation and society that molded them.

As a former combat infantryman, I will wager that for every single occurrence of violence and mayhem reported from Iraq, there are hundreds of acts of kindness and generosity by American forces, which go unreported. And that’s fine because that’s as it should be. Their compassion shouldn’t be remarkable. They do it, quite simply, because that’s the way they were raised, and they don’t change just because they put on battledress uniforms and become proficient with deadly weapons.

I am so proud of those young Screaming Eagles serving in Iraq, and proud to be a part of that fine unit’s legacy. I’m proud, as well, of all the other young servicemen and women who are contributing to the effort to create peace and build a democracy in Iraq. But, Folks, I am most proud of being just one of you, a nation and a way of life, that creates such valiant yet kindhearted warriors. We should all be proud of what we’ve produced.

Russ Vaughn
2d Bn, 327th Parachute Infantry Regiment
101st Airborne Division
Vietnam 65-66
Thanks for sending it in Russ, E*D is proud to have it.

Regarding 'So You Support The Troops?'

Russ did intend his email as a post and I have learned today that his piece is now available at real clear politics. You can read it below this post, but I reccommend following the link too 'cause it is neat to see on so professional a site.

Russ also sent me this link, from the IWVPA (International War Veterans Poetry Archive). One page features Russ and there is a link back to E*D. Neat.

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