Tuesday, October 31, 2006


First, let me preface my following commentary with a cut and paste definition of the word "legitimize":

legalize, legalise, decriminalize, decriminalise, legitimize, legitimise, legitimate, legitimatize, legitimatise

And of the word "delegitimize":

de·le·git·i·mize (dl-jt-mz)
tr.v. de·le·git·i·mized, de·le·git·i·miz·ing, de·le·git·i·miz·es
To revoke the legal or legitimate status of.

Yesterday I listened to an interview that the Vice-President, Dick Cheney gave to Fox News anchor Neil Cavuto. Cavuto invited a former U.S. senator from the loyal opposition to comment on the Vice-President's remarks. This former senator continually refered to the jihadist thugs in Iraq who are killing our sons and daughters, and murdering Iraqi citizenry with horrific impunity as "insurgents". The rhetorical drift of his wordplay was to delegitimize our rationale for being in Iraq.....which is to fight terrorists and Terrorism. What he neatly glossed over is the fact that Iraq is a sovereign nation with a duly elected government....a government, however flawed and imperfectly evolving, that has asked us not to leave quite yet.

What this former politician has also managed to do, in delegitmizing our presence, is to legitimize the status of our enemies from terrorists to insurgents. Although an insurgent isn't quite up to the legal pedigree of a lawful belligerent, it is a sight better than a mere terrorist. Joseph Goebbels, Hitler's deft propogandist excelled at this sort of slight of hand.......Final Solution is ever more palatable than Holocaust. The fact that the Islamic terrorists in Iraq, as elsewhere, are doing any and all manner of heinous depravities on a minute by minute basis apparently pales in comparrison to the politically expedient need to grant them an upgrade in status by delicately decriminalizing their tactics and methods. The strategic victory and ongoing tactical incentives the loyal party of opposition is handing the enemy is incalcuable.

Vice-President Cheney voiced the opinion that the upsurge in US and Iraqi deaths in the run-up to the mid-term election is a calculated effort on the part of the enemy to influence voting here in America. The Dems may not see themselves as the ultimate manifestation of broken American will and resolve, but the enemy most assuredly does. Net result.....GIs and Iraqis die, even as CNN and politicians attempt to capitalize on the very garbage they are being spoonfed by a savy enemy.

As if that weren't enough......another U.S. senator yesterday publicly delegitimizes our GIs serving in Iraq with the following statement:

“You know, education, if you make the most of it, if you study hard and you do your homework, and you make an effort to be smart, uh, you, you can do well. If you don’t, you get stuck in Iraq.”

Our courageous sons and daughters, volunteers and legal belligerents all, are now lowered to some dreg-like mercenary status; not quite criminal, but certainly well on the way. Hey little Billy, stay in school do your homework and you won't grow up to be a .................... (you fill in the blank).

So there you have it; terrorists legitimized into insurgents, and our citizen soldiers, sailors and Marines delegitimized from dedicated patriots into losers and slacker miscreants straight out of The Dirty Dozen. (I would like to extend the benefit of the doubt to the two senators alluded to in this rant, but I can't; both attended Yale and both are law school graduates. They are cut from the same bolt of cloth and have made words, with all their ramifications and power, their life's work.) Well, at least the rest of you can do your homework, study hard, wash behind your ears and make an effort to vote well next Tuesday. Me? As the salutorian of the 1971 graduating class of Salisbury High School in Allentown, Pennsylvania I can't wait to get back to Iraq and away from pesky ole Mom and my homework.

(Speaking of Iraq......Sergeant Battles has posted more drawings.....man is he good!)

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Now That I'm Just Watching Fox News

Last night, now that I'm just watching Fox News, I caught an interview Billy O'Reilly did with Bill Maher. I'll be honest, up to that point I really had no opinion of Mr. Maher other than being marginally aware that his take on things tilts to the left. The original reason Maher was appearing on Mr. O'Reilly's "The Factor" was to discuss Maher's canceled appearance on Katie Couric's CBS evening newscast. Couric apparently has a weekly session where people of public note are encouraged to speak freely on a topic of their choice. Edgy stuff no doubt. Maher's choice was religion, and the CBS folks suddenly weren't for free speech with quite the same zeal they probably enjoyed whilst brainstorming the concept in a room full of marketing and demographics wunderkinds.

At anyrate, Mr. O'Reilly gave Mr. Maher thirty seconds to make his (predictable) point. At this juncture we'll momentarily pause as you imagine what Maher's (cue the Jeopardy Do-Do-Do-Tum-De-Dum music) well nuanced cutting edge theory on religion and the world might possibly be.

After listening to his thirty second diatribe, and believe me that was plenty of time, I felt as if I knew Bill Maher.......thirty plus years ago in college. He may have actually stolen his idea from me, although I probably filtched it from a college professor in order to later impress a date with the size of my very big open educated sophmoric mind. At anyrate (drum roll please!), here it is courtesy of Mr. William Maher's big intellect......Religion is the cause of all the death and destruction in the world. Religion is mental illness. Well Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot and Hitler must be breathing a collective sigh of relief in the seventh level of Hell.......godless systems ARE the way to go after all. Herr Marx, your "opiate of the masses" concept lives on in the risen Maher!

He adroitly dodged a pointed rhetorical question posed by O'Reilly about the sanity of Mother Teresa, and to his credit, acknowledged Rosie O'Donnell's assertion on "The View" that American Christians are as dangerous as Islamic jihadists is patently absurd.

Now if we could just do something about those pesky volcanos, germs, stray asteroids and the incessant dictatorial demands of time and gravity....hey, maybe Mother Nature, just like Mother Teresa, just needs some quality time with a good shrink.

What I found most interesting about Mr. Maher was the fanaticsm of his belief......which, dare I say, reeked of religious fervor and a condescending smarter-than-thou elitist mentality. A mentality that perhaps has more to do with the failings and horrific transgressions of any worldview, philosophy or religion than the actual precepts of any such system. A very human failing every religion cautions against.......pride and it's wicked cousin, arrogance.

Whoa, time to climb down off this rapidly elevating soap-box. I am reminded by the angels of my better nature that those without sin should cast the first stone......and as at least one of my readers will surely counsel me....the kettle should not be calling the frying pan black. So, Mr. Maher, forgive me, I'm off on this beautiful Saturday to do my penance....two rolls of quarters and a couple weeks worth of laundry.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

New Combat Artist in Iraq

Our newest Marine Corps combat artist, Sergeant Kristopher Battles, made it to Iraq this past weekend. I first met Kris early last winter as a direct result of political commentator Michelle Malkin featuring my milblog at her website. Kris checked out Fire and Ice and sent me an email inquiring about the Marine Corps Combat Art Program. It seems that not only was he a trained practicing fine artist, but a former jarhead as well. One thing led to another (you can read about it at his blog) and Kris, the married father of three, found himself back in the big green machine. He's a good Presbyterian, so the concept of pre-destination falls neatly in line with his highly motivated sense of destiny and devotion to the combat art mission. Kris is presently getting his sand-legs under him at Camp Fallujah. Jet lag has to be endured and learning his way around the sprawling Fallujah base mastered before heading out to the field and into the goo. You can stop by his blog, Sketchpad Warrior, and follow his adventure in both image and word. He posted today, so go on by, take a gander and leave a couple words of encouragement. Also, if you'd like to see his civilian art visit the website dedicated to his landscape and portrait painting.

I'll be heading down to Cuba the end of next week for short visit to produce art of the Marines who guard and patrol the environs around GITMO. Because I won't be in town for the election November 7th I went ahead and voted this past week up at the Fredericksburg town hall. I won't tell you how I voted, but I will give you a hint. A good pal of mine, a retired Marine gunny, forwarded an email to me last week....maybe some of you have seen it.....the gist of it simply says that in the world there are three types of folks; sheep, sheepdogs and wolves. Well, this old sheepdog certainly didn't cast his lot this mid-term election with a certain political party that would do well changing it's mascot to a sheep. I hope all you fellow sheepdogs and sheepdog breeders get out and vote. As for you sheep......the slaughter's down the road to the Left.

With today's posting are images of a work-in-progress titled "Danger Close". If you think you know why I picked that title leave your explanation in the comments section.

Danger Close: oil on canvas, 20x16, work-in-progress

Danger Close: under-drawing

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Never Again

It's official, I will never again watch CNN. Last night CNN aired enemy footage showing the death of an American soldier by sniper fire. CNN has posted a lenghty justification. We are at WAR, there is no justification. The only word sufficient to describe CNN is pawn.....as in pawn of the enemy. They no doubt believe they are players on the world stage when in truth they have simply been played. In the Marine Corps we have a word reserved for organizations and individuals we hold in lowest regard and with the highest disdain.....maggots.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Things That Go Boom

During my four War on Terrorism tours I've spent several lovely afternoons with EOD (explosive ordnance disposal) teams. There's nothing quite like a really good explosion to make one appreciate chemistry. EOD guys, like Navy Seabees, are surely among the most unsung heroes out on the frontlines. Everything the grunts discover EOD has to blow up. They stay busy, very busy.

Today's painting shows two of these professionals getting charges ready to blow an insurgent cache in the hills above Hit, Iraq. This cave, probably carved by eons of water flowing down to the Euphrates, was accessible from a single sinkhole opening. They prepped massive charges of C-4 and then suspended them from metal rods laid across a series of half a dozen jagged holes blown open to gain greater access to the underground labryinth. A good time was had by all.

Friday, October 06, 2006

A 96....Thanks Mr. Columbus

Work-in-progress: Guardian Angel EOD Marine carrying unexploded Iraqi mortar rounds

Operation Steel Curtain-Lull in the fighting, enough time for a fresh "dip" of chewing tobacco

In a few minutes I'm going to put out a couple days worth of cat food and leave the bathroom tap on just a smidge for my little buddy, Roddy. I'll also load the car with a Nike overnight bag, a few things on hangers and little 3 day packback with art supplies. The cat, HATES to travel, and all this stuff going out to the car will send him scurrying to one of his favorite hiding places. Little does he know he's staying home this time.

The Federal Government does this wonderful thing a couple times a year......4 day holiday weekends......in the military we affectionately call them 96s. The one that started today at 1200 is for Columbus Day.....thank you ! Thank you Chris for sort of discovering America. My Dad gave me a book way back in the early 60s called They All Discovered America. Seems every one and his brother discovered this side of the planet long before our good Italian explorer and I found myself believing in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy long after any illusions about Columbus were dispelled. Perhaps what Columbus is celebrated (or loathed) for is not so much for his gift for exploring, but for his gift for promoting.

My plan is to spend some time with my daughter in and around her college in Pennsylvania (at her invitation no less) and enjoy the Fall scenery in rural Central Pa.; hence the art supplies.

I leave you with a new portrait drawing and the current state of a work-in-progress called Guardian Angel.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Monday's Marine

I have a large folder with pictures of Marines tagged as prime portrait material. I'm presently working on a couple oil paintings and part of that process is waiting for the paint to dry, or at least set up tacky enough to move on. My oils are based on a simple technique called fat over lean. Early stages are painted with oils thinned with turpenoid and drying medium. Later stages involve thicker applications of paint. A couple pieces I'm wrestling with are in final stages.....so the paint is more direct from the tube and hence takes longer to set up. To fill the down time I've decided to start a series of finished graphite drawings based on these photographs. The images almost all are from times out in the goo when sitting down and doing a life drawing is simply out of the question.

Today's drawing shows a Marine squad leader (note the microphone) taking a quick look at his guys during a momentary lull in the fighting last November in Husayba, Iraq. After looking at this face think about the twenty-somethings you see at the mall....there's no comparison.

Post-entry: Several weeks ago one of the good readers of Fire and Ice posted the comment "When will we stop praising the warriors, and praise the peacemakers?" in response to the post Wounded Warrior. It is quite evident here at Fire and Ice that I, and many of our readers, celebrate warriors....especially in light of the current unfolding historical struggle with Islamofascism. Today, Tuesday, via a wonderful blog called Dr. Sanity, I read a revealatory commentary by Victor Davis Hanson, and the good Doc's accompanying thoughts. Both of these accomplished and lucid thinkers have articulated how the self-proclaimed peacemakers of today's world, the unhinged left-leaning world of feel-good-wishful-thinkingocrats, have both created and nurtured not peace, but the conditions for war. What stands between us and the caliphate chaos of Islamic fanaticsm is not George Soros, MoveOn.org, the DailyKos, the Democratic Party, Code Pink or any other slice of the left's soft underbaked marshmallow pie, but hard young men and women willing, like the Marine corporal pictured here, to strap on a gun, 60 pounds of gear and under the most hostile conditions of heat, dust and death keep reaching for another can of Old Fashion All-American Whoopass. Hanson makes the keen counter-intuitive observation that at the end of the proverbial day it'll be NASCAR guys keeping the legacy of the Age of Enlightenment alive. You're either with these kids or against 'em.....which is it? Drivers, start your engines!