In case you’re wondering,

This is what heroism is.

The first Victoria Cross since the Falklands War was awarded in April to Pvt (now Lance Corporal) Johnson Beharry

Eyewitnesses report that the vehicle was engulfed in a
number of violent explosions, which physically rocked the 30-tonne
Warrior.
As a result of this ferocious initial volley of fire,
both the platoon
commander and the vehicle’s gunner were incapacitated by concussion and
other wounds, and a number of the soldiers in the rear of the vehicle
were also wounded…
on his own initiative, he closed his driver’s hatch and moved forward through the ambush position…The vehicle was hit again by sustained rocket-propelled
grenade attack from insurgent fighters in the alleyways and on rooftops
around his vehicle.
Further damage to the Warrior from these explosions caused it to catch fire and fill rapidly with thick, noxious smoke…He drove his Warrior directly through the barricade, not
knowing if there were mines or improvised explosive devices placed
there to destroy his vehicle.

By doing this he was able to lead the remaining five Warriors behind him towards safety.”

Read the whole thing.

 
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September 26th, 2006 by exurbankevin

Whew

No matter how bad I am at golf, I’ve never been this bad.

Japanese golfer shoots 19 on a par 3 hole.

Stop giggling, Steve.

 
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September 22nd, 2006 by exurbankevin

The gift that keeps on giving

To the Republicans.

Terry Macauliffe to join Hillary’s Presidential campaign?

This should bring big, wide smiles to the faces of every single GOP campaign manager with plans for 2008.

 
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September 20th, 2006 by exurbankevin

Welcome back, Aaron

It seems what I lack in quality of posts, I’m making up for in quantity…

I just watched the pilot episode of Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip (warning: spoilers at link), and was blown away (again) by how Aaron Sorkin can write sympathetic characters on both sides of an issue. From Colonel Jessup to Ainsley Haines to Harriet Hayes, he’s shown that he can write characters that directly oppose his viewpoint, but do so out of a sense of moral and intellectual purpose that’s as deep as the other side of the issue. And that’s such a rarity today. We’re used to seeing our bad guys as cardboard cutouts for the hero to knock down, when the truth is, there’s really very few villians out there.

And darn few heroes, too.

 
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September 19th, 2006 by exurbankevin

What needs to happen in 2006

In November of last year, my friend Kirk and I decided to cross-post on each other’s political blogs our thoughts on what the Democratic Party should do to win the 2006 elections. His blog was Left Of The Middle.net, but it was unfortunately wiped out in a hack attack earlier this year. My blog was the Pollywog Blog, but now I post over here.

Anyways, here’s my bit from last year’s bipartisan exchange, and I’ll post his tommorow. It was interesting to see how often we agreed, and where we disgreed.

We interrupt this broadcast….

Kirk and I agreed a week or so ago to cross-post into each other’s
blogs on how the Democrats can retake the Congress and the White House
in the next three years. First, a little about me. I’m Kevin Creighton,
and I post my political ramblings over at Pollywogblog. I’m in my (sob!) 40’s, married with 2 young boys, and moved here
from Canada 22 years ago. I consider myself to be center-right and
not beholden to one party or the other as the unique purveyors of
political truth. I’m pro-military, anti-death penalty, pro-life, mildly
pro-green, and whichever party makes the Macintosh their Official Computer
will have my vote for life. With that out of the way, on to the reason
for my being here.

In the 2002 election, one of the little-noticed results was the
Republicans increasing the number of seats they hold in Congress, the first
time the party holding the White House had done so since FDR. If that’s
not a shift in the political landscape, what is? Can the Democrats
reverse this? Can they come back to power in the near future? Maybe. Here’s
what I think it will take.

Take National Security seriously.

9-11 was a wake-up call to a lot of people. It made some of us
really nervous about terrorism and to decide enough is enough. I’m not going
to point fingers, as both parties previously lacked both the will and
the mandate to tackle the terrorism problem in a meaningful way. But
with 9-11, we saw just how pervasive and ruthless our enemies are. It’s
not about the war in Iraq, it’s about understanding our foe doesn’t want
rapprochement or an equitable solution or a negotiated settlement. They
want us dead. Or converted to the twisted version of their faith.

I’ve always thought of diplomacy as psychotherapy on an
international level. And just as you can’t get a person who doesn’t want to change
into therapy, you can’t get a rational discourse with people whose idea
of legitimate warfare is sending out mentally-challenged kids with C-4
strapped to their bodies to kill other children.

Stop the anti-war rhetoric leftover from 1968 and stiffen your
spine. If the war in Iraq isn’t the solution, tell us what is. A
law-enforcement based answer is what got us into the mess, so it’s going to take
more than that to get us out of it.

All your base are belong to you, but that’s not enough.

With the emergence of powerful 527’s such as MediaMatters and MoveOn
and due to the influence of Kos, Atrios, the D.U. and other popular
websites, we’re seen the Democrats move decidedly to the left as of late.
To some, that’s a good thing, as it’s energizing a lot of people and
grabbing headlines. But it’s not translating into enough votes to take on
the GOP and win.

More people voted for Kerry in 2004 than voted for Gore in 2000, but
the problem is, many more people voted for Bush in 2004 than 2000.
Getting your electoral rank and file fired up does little good if it
doesn’t win elections. Bill Galston and Elaine Kamarck helped put Clinton in
the White House (twice), and they sum up the
problems with the Democratic base
as “The Myth of Mobilization”,
that the key to Democratic victory is getting the rank and file out and
in large numbers. Jimmy Carter got 72% of the liberal vote and won.
John Kerry got 85% and lost. That alone speaks volumes.

Some would argue that because the key for the GOP is to get their
base (conservative Christians) out in record numbers, the same is true
for the Democrats. In other words, the secret to winning the battle is to
fight the same way your opponent fights. You don’t have to be von
Clauswitz to know that’s the quickest way to lose a battle. The Dems need to
find their way back to the center, and fast.

It’s 2005. Act like it.

Face it: Dubya won’t get elected again. So trying to pin the
problems with pre-war intelligence or the Katrina response or whatever on
someone whose political career is almost over. Valid or not, those issue do
little to affect to political reality of today. It’d be like Newt
Gingrich fighting TravelGate (Remember that?) in 1997. Sure, Clinton took a hit in his second term with MonicaGate. But did it hamper his agenda?
Nope. But let’s say this crusade by the Dems to change the past does
work. Does it put a Democrat in the White House and change the balance of
power in Congress? Nope. Not for another 3 years at the very earliest,
roughly equivalent to two glacial epochs in national politics.

Instead, why not come up with some ideas of your own? Dubya’s
pissing off the fiscal conservatives in his party with his free-spending
ways, why not tap into that frustration, or show some concern for oil
prices by some common-sense environmental legislation? There’s enough
moderate GOP and Dem leaders in the house to make Democrat-backed bills that pander to the middle a political force to be reckoned with.

And on a related note, it’s not 1994, either. Newt &Co. were
able to march into power on the back of The Contract On America by being
combative, feisty and confrontational, but they also had an agenda to
put through. Just fighting against something isn’t enough, you have to
have something to fight for. And know your limits, too. The American
public has some finely tuned. B.S. sensors. They knew who to blame when the government shut down in 1995, and they know who to blame when Harry
Reid shuts down Congress because of a spat about pre-war intelligence.

Find your center

Since WWII , the Democrats are 1-8-1 (Carter) in elections without a
candidate who appeals to the moderate or swing voters (I’ll call 2000 a
tie because it was so close and because no one really knew what Gore
was doing. Including his campaign manager.). When they run a candidate
who appeals to the center (Clinton, Truman, JFK with his fiscal policies
and LBJ with his anti-Communism and because darn near anyone would have
been to the left of Goldwater back then), they’re 5-0-1 (See my
comments above on Gore in 2000). That’s a brutal, hard truth, and one that
Democratic Underground wing of the party finds (rightfully) hard to
swallow. But if the Democrats hope to find their way back into power, they
better start listening more to Carville and less to Kos.

In 2004, the GOP used volunteer workers who were laser-focused on
issues that could swing the center and energize the right to drive their
victory. This tactic could be very useful to the Democrats in the
future. I consider myself an evangelical, and drive a hybrid car. I’m
strongly pro-military, but know that the power of the U.S. can cause other
countries to get mighty nervous when we throw our weight around. There
are many other issues that I find myself having to pick and chose from in
the platforms of both parties, and if the Democrats can find the right
wedge to chip away center-right voters like myself from voting
Republican, their chances look good in 2008.

 
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September 18th, 2006 by exurbankevin

A Commonwealth of common sense

The government of John Howard seems to have taken the right path toward multiculturalism:

“We live in a world of terrorism where evil acts are being regularly perpetrated in the name of your faith,” Mr Robb said at the Sydney conference. “And because it is your faith that is being invoked as justification for these evil acts, it is your problem. You can’t wish it away, or ignore it, just because it has been caused by others. Instead, speak up and condemn terrorism, defend your role in the way of life that we all share here in Australia.”

Reminds me of the reaction of Sir Charles Napier to complaints about banning the settee, where the widow is burned alive with her husband when he dies.

“You say that it is your custom to burn widows. Very well. We also have a custom: when men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; beside it, my carpenters will build a gallows. You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours.”

Multiculturalism does not mean tolerating the intolerable.

 
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September 17th, 2006 by exurbankevin

Martin Luther, you’re needed in Mosul

The “Muslim street” is outraged that the Pope is taking them to task for their past and present litany of violence. And there are some who get their knickers in a twist and say “How can the Pope do this, given the history of violence of the Catholic church?”

But for the Catholic and Protestant churches of today, religious violence is just that: History. The vast majority of Christendom has learned not to turn to violence to spread the Gospel; those freaks up in Northern Ireland, certain elements in sub-Sarahan Africa and the Baylor University football team excepted, of course.

Now, can we say that the vast majority of Sunni and Shi’ite Muslims (I’ll leave the Sufis out), reject violence in defence of their faith? And if so, where are the imans that preach that, rather than worrying about stereotyping Muslims? I can accept that the majority of Islam rejects Jihad and martyrdom. But have they ruled out violence to the same extent that, say, the Methodists or Benedictines have?

Are all Catholics adherents to the worst of what springs from Dan Brown fevered dreams? Are all Baptists Eric Rudolph? No, because we have vocal proponents and effective witnesses of Christ’s love that drown out such elements, and more important than that, with the Reformation, Vatican II, etc., we’ve had a change of heart. We’ve learned how to live in peace with those who disagree with us. We’ve learned that our message can spread even faster by love than by fear. There has yet to be that introduction of nuance and mercy into the Muslim faith. There’s a reason why the Jihadists make comparisons to the Crusades; to them, it’s always 1099. Even with the tamer elements of Islam, the moderate Muslims who refuse to condemn the death threats against Slamon Rushdie are in marked contrast to the reaction of moderate Christendom to sacrelidges like “Piss Christ” and The Da Vinci Code.

Without a Muslim Reformation, where the absolute dictates of the iman and the slavish addiction to the law is challenged just as Luther’s rejection of the Pope challenged the Papal Edict, the extreme elements will hold more sway inside the Muslim faith. The Catholic Church of Torquemada and the Southern Baptists of ole Dixie is our past. The church-sanctioned slaughter of Infidels is our present. Let us pray with passion, speak with wisdom and act with conviction to make sure it is not our future.

 
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September 17th, 2006 by exurbankevin

Gonzo, going

One of the great things about being a Diamondbacks fan is that aside from a view exceptions, the team’s been blessed with not only great baseball players, but great people. From Curt Schilling’s generousity to Craig Counsell’s everyday heroics to Tony Womack’s guts, there’s been many shining examples examples of how to be a good human being we fans can point to and cheer on.

And now one of the best of them, Luis Gonzalez, is leaving the team.

Goodbye, Gonzo. You’ll never know just how much we’ll miss you.

 
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September 15th, 2006 by exurbankevin

Dog bites man, Muslims outraged

The first thing I thought upon reading the headline Pope’s speech stirs Muslim anger was, “what doesn’t?” As I read through the other news of the day, I decided that news agencies should just add the phrase “Muslims outraged” to every headline.

For example, a sampling from Yahoo! News:
– U.S. says sectarian killings up in Iraq, Muslims outraged
– Pig withstands tasers, cops on U.S. 41, Muslims outraged
– US gives millions to controversial faith-based AIDS fight in Uganda, Muslims outraged
– Anna Nicole Smith supports probe, Muslims outraged
– Dixie Chicks sing bold tune to new fans, Muslims think it’s pretty catchy

Well, it works for almost every headline. In journalism school, the cliché was “If a dog bites a man, it’s nothing. If a man bites a dog, it’s a story.” I’m sorry, but the ubiquitous outrage of radical Islamists is no longer surprising or even interesting. And if I were a Muslim, I would be sick of journalists reducing my entire religion to a seething, screaming, sweaty mob halfway around the planet.

 
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September 15th, 2006 by admindude

Sheep dont need permission

Jon’s right: upselling is annoying and overdone and kills customer loyalty.

But it’s done because of customers like this.



There are some of us who know how the game is played and know we’re being marketed to and reward the businesses who treat us like humans. But at the end of the day, this truth remains:

Half the people in the world are of below average intelligence.

Companies treat us like crap because half the time, they can get away with it. A good company though, tries to be more than that. And the great ones actually are.



Cross-posted at Organized Individualists.

 
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September 14th, 2006 by exurbankevin