No politics, just observations

››› ››› ERIC ALTERMAN

I've got a new "Think Again" called " 'Modest and Respectful' No More," here, and Boehlert did another fine job on the myriad mysteries raised by Jeff Gerth's reporting here.

That's all for me today. The Lt. Col. has the keys (but make sure to check out the poetry we've spawned below ...).

Hello Altercators, LTC Bob Bateman here. The news, and my profession, being what they are, sometimes one needs a translator. Again, no politics, just observations.

This first story is about the damage that the Army's new Stryker combat vehicles are taking. Now the Stryker is no small, weak toy. It is a fully armored combat vehicle which carries a squad of infantry in the back. It is large, fast, and more heavily armored than anything else on wheels. With eight wheels and a complete suite of armor, it is orders of magnitude beyond the up-armored HMMWV (the "Humvee").

And in Iraq, the bad guys are blowing them up.

Now despite what you might think, the salient point here is for folks to realize what we in the Army and Marines already know: that at the end of the day, no matter how much armor you have, no matter how many tons you pack on of rolled steel, if the other guy has access to enough explosives, he can kill you. This is some of the reason why while the new "MRAP" (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected) vehicles are much better than the HMMWVs they will supplant or supplement, they should not be expected to be a panacea. We will still lose men in these new vehicles, no matter what. The hope, however, is that perhaps we may lose them at a slightly lower rate, for a while.

They looked pretty professional, actually -- a squad of men moving as though they were in Iraq, not Washington, D.C. All of them were wearing standard desert uniforms and their formation and spacing was solid. See for yourself here. Although unarmed, they held their hands in the proper positions, as though holding M4s or M249s. They used standard hand-and-arm signals, and moved well. The group simulated various things during their "patrol," such as being hit by a sniper, reacting to an IED, taking prisoners, and other standard fare of real life in Iraq. What made them interesting to the press was that they were all veterans of Iraq or Afghanistan. Now, the Marine members of this troop are being called on the carpet by the Marine Corps. Despite the fact that they all have honorable discharges, the Marine Corps wants to call them back to duty, to be punished for wearing their personally owned uniforms in a political protest. Here.

The Marine Corps, in turn, has really pissed off the VFW (the Veterans of Foreign Wars). You know that you have messed up badly and exceeded your authority when the VFW tells you to shut up and apply common sense. Here and also here.

A little over a year ago, I wrote on Altercation of the slaughter of my friend and translator Mayada Salihi. I failed her, because I could not get her asylum. We brought more than a million from Vietnam, and today they are Americans. We allowed 7,000 Iraqis in recently. Nice.

I note with some relief that Secretary of Defense Robert Gates informed both the U.S. Naval Academy graduates, and the Air Force Academy graduates, that the United States Congress and the media are not the enemy, they are not part of the problem -- they are both part of the solution and integral to a functioning democracy. I leave it to others to note that there have been contrary opinions on this point made by others within our government, and I wonder if this means that Gates is leading among our civilian leaders, or in defiance of the mass.

Finally, I would be remiss were I to ignore the fact that sixty-three years ago today, brave men from several nations did things on our behalf which defy description. They assaulted into the teeth of a determined enemy, and initiated the beginning of the endgame for one of the most horrifically genocidal national regimes in all of history. D-Day, Normandy, France, 6 June 1944.

You can write to LTC Bob at R_Bateman_LTC@Hotmail.com.

Correspondence Corner:

Name: ohio teach
Hometown: Kettering, OH

I'm not seeing this talked about anywhere: not only is the State Department woefully behind on issuing passports, due to the new air travel ruled for Mexico and Canada, but they're not even answering calls made by our elected representatives on our behalf. And if you try the passport service's toll-free information line, you go through several long-winded steps of phone tree before being told that they're too busy to take your call. Even if you call at 6 am Eastern when the line opens! I'm told, by someone in an elected representative's office, that the New Orleans branch, which handles Ohio passports, shuts down at 4:30 daily -- before dark as it's in a "bad neighborhood." What time does it get dark in N.O. in June, anyway? It's just another one of the administration's incompetencies -- poor planning, inadequate staffing, etc., but no one's talking about it.

Name: Ric Leo
Hometown: Haverhill, Mass

Dear Traven -- If building a wall will prevent those Mexicans from continuing their suicide bombings, I'm all for it.

Name: ihateemo
Hometown: Austin, TX

"Liberals can -- and should, in my view -- make a bigger deal about the exploitation of violence on television."

Honestly, I think a bigger deal should be made about how violent shows are shown during the middle of the afternoon when kids are channel surfing. I find it strange that gun fights, plane crashes, graphic forensic science, et al, are considered fine for daytime viewing so long as Bruce Willis says (in a comically dubbed voice) "mother crusher" or "forget you."

These shows and movies should be on later in the evening -- the UK implements a 9pm "watershed." Bad language, violence, nudity are fine during hours kids should be in bed but mercilessly dealt with during the day. The US could do with implementing similar standards.

Failing that, liberals should feel free to use the immortal words "learn how to use the frickin' V-Chip in your TV."

Violence against women is another matter entirely, though I'm curious as to what shows you watch that "celebrate or wink at it."

Name: Mark Paul
Hometown: Chicago

Doc --

Let's not forget the FCC's decision to play with the ABC affiliates over whether or not it would fine them for broadcasting the opening Omaha Beach scene from "Saving Private Ryan" without bleeps, as Spielberg insisted.

Name: Gary Page
Hometown: Arlington Heights, IL

Greg Costello's paraphrase of Debs reminds me that Debs was attacked as a hypocrite because his wife owned a house in Terre Haute IN (you can visit it if you go there).

Kind of reminds me of conservative attacks on, e.g., John Edwards for having too much money to be concerned about the poor.

Name: Phil
Hometown: Chicago

There once was a pundit, Doc A
Who found himself briefly in stockade.
He said, "This ain't nice,
But I wouldn't think twice
To find room here for Scooter Libb-ay.

Name: John
Hometown: thatsoundsgood.net

When Eric, who writes for the Nation,
Got arrested with no indication
He had done something wrong,
Except come on too strong,
He said, "Wow, that was some altercation."

Name: Matt Shirley
Hometown: Gurnee, IL

Dr. A,

There once was a man named Eric,
Who drove a rent-a-cop into hysterics.
You malefactor, you.
Off to the slammer with you,
Where the real cops thought he was cherubic.

Name: Luke Cyphers
Hometown: Plattsburgh, NY

Forty-two minutes in captivity
He wandered into where he should not be
His rep is abused, but his content's still free
Are you so blind that you cannot see?

I say Free Alter-Mandela
I'm begging you
Free Alter-Mandela

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