Saturday, August 12, 2006

Don't Feel Bad Joe

Senator Joe Lieberman was defeated in Connecticut's Democratic Party primary. Don't feel bad Joe, my former wife deserted me for someone else too and the result, at least for me, has been overwhelmingly to the good. Senator Lieberman is going to continue the good fight as an independent candidate and hopefully every Republican and centerist Democrat will vote for him in the general election in November.

I found this political cartoon over at Dr. Sanity and just had to share it with you.

A little while ago I watched a sparring match on Fox between former Senator Dennis Deconcini (Dem-Arizona) and a conservative commentator. Senator Deconcini was given the opportunity to state what the Dems would be doing different in the War on Terror, and he rose to the bait with a now predictable litany of Bush-is-the-problem talking points. Five years into this War, after waiting on a Dem's response innumerable times, two facts are very clear to me; 1. Our homeland hasn't been attacked again. 2. The Democrats have no plan. I believe the essential difference between the Republicans and the Democrats is simply this: Republicans believe that the key event at the dawn of the 21st century was the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, and the Democrats believe that it was the Supreme Court decision handed down in Bush v Gore on December 12, 2000 destroying their hopes of regaining the White House. Bush is determined to fight Terrorism and the Dems seem determined to fight Bush.

I'll leave you with a passage from Warfighting (Marine Corps Doctrinal Publication 1).

Decisionmaking is essential to the conduct of war since all actions are the result of decisions or of nondecisions. If we fail to make a decision out of lack of will, we have willingly surrendered the intiative to our foe. If we consciously postpone taking action for some reason, this is a decision. Thus, as a basis for action, any decision is generally better than no decision.

Since war is a conflict between opposing wills, we cannot make decisions in a vacuum. We must make our decisions in light of the enemy's anticipated reactions and counteractions, recognizing that while we are trying to impose our will on the enemy, he is trying to do the same to us.

Time is the critical factor in effective decisionmaking-often the most important factor. A key part of effective decisionmaking is realizing how much decision time is available and making the most of that time. In general, whoever can make and implement decisions consistently faster gains a tremendous, often decisive advantage......

I will leave it to each of you to decide for yourselves on which side of the political aisle these words and ideas resonate deeply, and on which they ring hollow at best and at worst not at all.

Friday, August 04, 2006


Here's a little musing on a interesting (at least to me) crossing of paths in the universe. The Hebrew-Aramaic word for spirit is ruach. Ruach is pronounced "roo-ah". The quintessntial spirited Marine non-word is oo-rah ( not to be confused with the Army's weird wannabe moto-word hoo-ah). Roo-ah is a very handy little word for those inclined to meditate. Oo-rah, on the other hand, doesn't work too's not exactly a sound meant to trigger Theta waves in the old brain housing.

Lance Corporal Mooi....Continued

Mooi's portrait is essentially finished. When it dries I'll be adding the image of a Navy Cross in the upper left hand quadrant.

I'll be off-line for a few days. Tomorrow will find me conducting training for The National Museum of the Marine Corps' docents. As soon as that is wrapped up I and my Nissan Xterra, filled with about a thousand dollars worth of yet to be assembled IKEA furniture, head north to my daughter's new apartment in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania, the home of her new college, Shippensburg University.

You've probably noticed that I haven't commented on the current situation with regards to Israel and their campaign against the terrorists entrenched in Lebanon. The Hezbullshit flying around the media and the world of partisan politics is simply amazing. CNN trotted out one of their "experts" to extoll the civic virtues of Hezbollah, which apparently has a social services arm that is both extensive and the the lion's share of it's activities. This shameless PR piece had moving testimonials of mothers recieving pre-natal care, and interior shots of medical clinics complete with little kids sporting head bandages. I'm imagining one of their social workers visiting a new mother with a case of free baby formula... "Mrs. Al-Janabi, what a beautiful son you have, and this picture of him in his little suicide vest, how adorable!....oh by the way, we'll be storing another dozen Katyusha rockets next to the RPGs in your basement, hope you don't mind. We really appreciate letting your husband park the launcher under the baby's window. See you at the Death to Israel rally Friday. Ciao."

All this ongoing moral equivalency brings to my mind Daniel Day-Lewis' gang leading character, Bill "the Butcher" Poole, in Gangs of New York, who divided his days between butchering pigs, and cutting up rivals (pigs, as he affably explained with familial warmth to Leonard DiCaprio's Amsterdam Vallan, being excellent subjects to practice on with respect to inviscerating people.)
I am also reminded that Adolf Hitler loved his freak'n what! Hezbollah is a terrorist proxy of Iran...everything else is mere window dressing.

Israel is in my prayers.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Lance Corporal Joshua Mooi

I'm working on a portrait of a Marine I served with during Operation Steel Curtain in Old Ubaydi, Iraq. His name is Lance Corporal Joshua R. Mooi and he's been nominated for a Navy Cross as a result of his heroism on November 16, 2005. The Navy Cross is second only to the Congressional Medal of Honor. Mooi, a native of Bolingbrook, Illinois, is as quiet and unassuming a young man as you'd ever hope to meet. On this fateful day he personally pulled most of the members of his squad, and his platoon commander out of an enemy infested death house in Old Ubaydi. Virtually all of them, save Mooi, were wounded and dying. His rifle took three hits from AK-47 rounds as he repeatedly went back into this hornets nest of mujh, bent over and dragged his buddies out. Survivors testified that Mooi, besides latching onto buddies, shot into and threw enemy hand grenades back into spider holes.

It is honor to have met and spent time with him. It was like rubbing elbows with Sergeant Alvin York. Get some Mooi!

Elitism, Anyone?

The author of the article that was the subject of my previous post took the time to email me regarding my little commentary. Here's our exchange:

From: Philip L Kennicott Sent: 8/1/2006 11:57:36 AM To: Subject: your blog
Just thought I'd send a note to say I think you may have read more of a "swerve to the left" in my architecture review of the Marine Corps museum than I intended. I put "the dangers of empire" in parentheses, and didn't necessarily mean it as you've read it, ie. that the US is an empire, or imperialistic. The previous sentence mentioned democracy and "the vulnerabilities of democracy" and the temptation to empire is definitely one of those vulnerabilities, don't you think? No sooner had the Athenians established the preeminence of their democratic system than they were tempted by the dangers of the Delian league. I hoped that the "dangers of empire" would be read as I wrote it, generically. The Marines know these dangers because they've fought empires, the Japanese included.
Philip KennicottCulture CriticThe Washington Post1150 Fifteenth St. NWWashington, DC 20071.

From: michael fay Sent: 8/1/2006 12:31:48 PM To: Subject: Re: your blog
I appreciate that you took time to email me. My reading of your final "dangers of empire" did not, nor does it now come across as generic. I think you made a very good point with regards to the failure of our system to educate folks on most things historic. The temptation to empire is a legitimate course of thought, but adding it to the end of piece (even in paranthesis) did not cap off your reporting, but rather came across as a raised eyebrow, and re-cast everything you wrote in a questionable light. Garnishing your piece about The National Museum of the Marine Corps with it was in my opinion unnecessary at best, and politically motivated at worst. I do not personally know you, but I'm well aware of the left leaning drift of The Washington Post. As I said in my blog, this type of rhetorical flourish is completely appropriate within the context of a op-ed piece, but within a journalistic, or even a critical review such as yours, it spices up the content beyond mere analysis or reporting. None-the-less, I really appreciate your explanation. I hope you will entertain my opinion that it is a far more loaded phrase, especially during our current historical unfoldings, than you intended.

Best Regards, Mike Fay

With further reading of Mr. Kennicott's explanation to me I found myself taken aback more and more by his references to the Athenians and the Delian League, and Marines fighting the Empire of Japan. The reference to Japan, the sole empire Marines ever engaged in combat with, unless you include the British in both the Revolution and the War of 1812, struck me as grasping at straws. Marines have been historically engaged in "small wars". Last time I read about WWII I don't think the "vulnerabilities of democracy" pushed Japan (or either Germany or Italy) to attack Pearl Harbor. Temptation to empire wouldn't exactly top my list of the vulnerablities of democracy. Do you think Attila the Hun was a closet Patrick Henry? Perhaps I missed this in college history class.....Ward Churchill no doubt covers this sort of thing in his lectures.

The reference to the Athenians strikes me as particularly elitist. Then again, The Washington Post is probably not aiming for a blue collar Nascar guy readership. I don't know why the Delian League thing didn't just jump out at me when I read the paranthetical "dangers of empire". National Museum of the Marine Corps.....Delian do I feel dumb, how could I have missed that one!

How in the world can Mr. Kennicott believe this sort of subtle and inflammatory manipulation is generic? It's not's elitist. Capping his article with "dangers of empire" was anything but a broad, vague or general tossing out of a neutral idea. It was specific and targeted. If anything, it made it seem as if the entire preceeding article was an excuse to give his "vulnerabilities of democracy"/"temptation to empire" thesis a forum.

Do you think if Mr. Kennicott ever reviewed The National Museum of Women in the Arts he'd end it with a paranthetical musing on PMS? Now that would be something!