Friday Musings  03-10-06

Posted by Lex, on March 10, 2006

Living here in San Diego is offering me the opportunity to learn Spanish. Not in any kind of “formal” way. It’s not like going to school for it. Or anything.

But you can’t escape learning new phrases like, “Cuidad! Piso mojado,” and “Lavesa sus manos – esta la ley!

That’s about it, though. For now.

But it’s a start.

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Ben Stein, courtesy of occasional reader Jason, adds his own words about Oscars speeches:

Now for a few humble thoughts about the Oscars.

I did not see every second of it, but my wife did, and she joins me in noting that there was not one word of tribute, not one breath, to our fighting men and women in Iraq and Afghanistan or to their families or their widows or orphans. There were pitifully dishonest calls for peace — as if the people we are fighting were interested in any peace for us but the peace of the grave. But not one word for the hundreds of thousands who have served and are serving, not one prayer or moment of silence for the dead and maimed.

Short, acerbic and on point. There’s more, if you like it.

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You know, it may surprise you, but I’ve heard about that  Navy quarterback *. I’ve also heard about the male midshipman who’s on his way out the door for conduct unbecoming, while his paramours receive stern warnings about being bad girls, go back to class.

And it may further surprise you that I feel disinclined to comment upon any of this, and that I’m equally disinclined to try to defend it. The Navy is a human institution, subject to all the errors that humankind is heir to.

But the service continues, as it must, with an important job to do in defense of the nation’s interests. Critics will always be waiting on the sidelines to keep us steaming between the buoys.

They have their job, and we have ours.

But the Navy has been good to me and mine, and if you come here hoping to see me trash the institution that has been my entire adult life, I think you’ll be disappointed.

It’s not that I’m unaware of our blemishes and imperfections. It’s that I refuse to let them define us.

We are so very much more than that.

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You know, I’ve never gone to Blockbuster on a Friday night, undoubtedly the busiest night of the week, with a pizza cooling in the car and children at home eyeing their siblings hungrily, that there hasn’t been, in two of the three open registers, people who just don’t understand the process:

“Start over – I give you money, and I get to walk out with the DVD. But after two days, I have to return it? That seems so unfair! But tell me more.”


“Someone else must have used my card! I swear I never rented that movie. And if I had, I’d have turned it back in. I swear!

None of these conversations will take any less than 20 minutes to consummate. Meaning that all the rest of us are consigned to waiting for the one actually moving register while these people – in 2006! – try to piece it all together.

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What, you were expecting Shakespeare?

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The military continues to be the most admired institution in America, according to the latest Harris Poll.

A total of 47 percent of Americans said they have a “great deal” of confidence in the military. Some 38 percent of Americans said they had “only some” confidence and 14 percent said they had “hardly any” confidence in the military.

The military was followed in the poll by small business – a new category in 2005 – with 45 percent of Americans saying they had a great deal of confidence; colleges and universities, 38 percent; the Supreme Court, 33 percent; and Medicine, 31 percent.

At the bottom of the survey, released March 2, were law firms at 10 percent, Congress at 10 percent, organized labor at 12 percent, major companies at 13 percent and the press at 14 percent.

Anchoring the middle was organized religion at 30 percent, the White House at 25 percent, public schools at 22, the courts and justice system at 21, and television news at 19.

You know what? We admire you right back *.

Just thought you should know.

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You know, there’s a lot of bad news out of the middle east. But some good news too. Like this article out of the WaPo a couple of days ago:

Tribal chiefs in Iraq’s western Anbar province and in an area near the northern city of Kirkuk, two regions teeming with insurgents, are vowing to strike back at al-Qaeda in Iraq, a Sunni Arab-led group that is waging war against Sunni tribal leaders who are cooperating with the Iraqi government and the U.S. military. Anbar tribes have formed a militia that has killed 20 insurgents from al-Qaeda in Iraq, leaders said.

Separately, more than 300 tribal chiefs, politicians, clerics, security officials and other community leaders met last week in Hawijah, about 35 miles southwest of Kirkuk, and “declared war” on al-Qaeda in Iraq.

I like this bit the best:

“We are a group of the Anbar people who want to get rid of Zarqawi . . . because this is the only way to make the Americans withdraw from Ramadi or Iraq in general,” said Ahmed Abu Ilaf, 30, a welder and member of the new Anbar militia from Ramadi, about 60 miles west of the capital.

The Sunnis in Ramadi realize that the only way to end the occupation is by defeating the insurgency so that the elected government can rule in peace and security.

I call that an epiphany.

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Saw something else interesting in an AAR last week – a couple of bad guys had managed to do themselves a disservice while trying to make mayhem. Cost them their lives. Happens a fair bit, although you don’t often hear about it.

But the interesting thing to me was the fact that the US Army guy writing the report called them “takfiris.”

“Takfir” is the Arabic word for “infidel.” A takfiri is one who runs around calling people infidels who vote in elections, or hope for stability, or somehow fail to support the insurgency adequately. It’s a dismissive insult, to call someone a takfiri.
It’s not a western word, and it’s not a western concept. The guy writing that report had to hear it from Iraqi Army types he’s been working with. Closely. And now he’s integrating it into his own argot. It has meaning for him.

The boys have been there for their third pump, and now they’re going native. They’re understanding who they’re working with, and who they’re fighting against.

I call that an epiphany.

There’s been a lot of talk about how Iraq is at a tipping point. But tipping points tip both ways, which is something to remember.

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It’s late, and it’s been a slice of life kind of week. I’ll let you go for now, hoping you each of you have a wonderful weekend.


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08-26-20 – Links gone. No replacement found. – Ed.

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Filed under Carroll "Lex" LeFon, Carroll LeFon, Lex

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