Monday, August 28, 2006

A Lesson in Patriotism

Salt Lake City mayor Rocky Anderson and notorious Bush-basher Cindy Sheehan could learn a great deal about Iraq and the soldiers who serve there by visiting with the soldiers who serve and have served there, as well as their families.

Bravo for Collette Gourley, the surviving spouse of Staff Sgt. Greg Gourley, who was killed in Iraq in February of this year. Bravo as well for the family of Corporal Adam Galvez, who was killed in Iraq in the past few days. They are proud of their husband and son who gave the last full measure of their devotion toward the attainment of liberty for the people of Iraq and the Middle East. Collette had this to say recently about the putrifying abcess that could no longer be elected mayor of Salt Lake City:
My husband and I were born and raised in Salt Lake City, and I moved back here with my four children after the death of my husband. I am ashamed to have Rocky Anderson representing this great city. He is a waste of space and energy. To think that he is protesting my husband's commander in chief makes me extremely irritated. I wholeheartedly agree with Cpl. Adam Galvez's parents when they said that he is partly responsible for the deaths of our soldiers. As far as I'm concerned, it's either black or white — there is no gray area here. You are either in support of our military troops, or you are on the terrorists' side. I think Rocky has made it clear what side he is on.
Becoming a continually greater embarrassment to the people of Salt Lake City, not to mention everyone else in Utah, Mayor Rocket J. Squirrel (Rocky) Anderson has not been invited to the American Legion Convention in Salt Lake this week. Nor has been invited the lady who has forgotten to purchase a grave stone for her son fallen in Iraq, Cindy Squirrel Sheehan. But they will both make themselves very conspicuous, greater causes of embarrassment, and bigger "waste[s] of space and energy" in Salt Lake during the convention. Mr. Squirrel protested the last time President Bush was in town, and he made a fool of himself doing it. He said that if invited, he wouldn't come to the American Legion convention anyway.

There will be not one, not two, but three separate anti-Bush rallies during Convention Week. Along with that, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad sympathizers have planned a "Death to Israel" rally. I hope all four assemblies are very small.

I've noticed recently that if you want to find a soldier with a positive outlook about the conflict in Iraq, you must usually search the weblogs and letters to the editor. But when reporters find a soldier who hates his job, it's nearly front page news. Maybe this is why Mayor and Ms. Squirrel think we should get the US out of Iraq, because they let the Associated Press and Reuters do their thinking for them. The reality is that a gargantuan percentage of soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines who are serving--as well as their families--understands why they are there, are glad they are there, and can see the positive service they are providing and the progress that is occurring, albeit more gradually than any of us would like.

Mayor Squirrel has never been to Iraq, yet he claims that he can support the troops in Iraq at the same time he stirs up support for the terrorism which causes their deaths on a near-daily basis. Ms. Squirrel desecrates her son's grave by not only not purchasing his headstone, but also using his death for self-aggrandizement--counter to her son's (who served in Iraq) sympathies.

Neither Mr. Squirrel nor Ms. Squirrel are worth paying attention to. The only problem is that far too many news outlets give them far more attention than they ever deserve. It would be nice if this were simply a mature disagreement. Representative Jim Matheson, a Utah Democrat, who plans to greet President Bush when he arrives, cannot understand the actions of Mayor Squirrel. Rocket J and the Ms. refuse to be civil, preferring instead to resort to antics unbecoming even a child.

The last time President Bush was in town, Mayor Squirrel thrilled other protesters when he raised his birdy finger in salute to the President as the Presidential motorcade went by.

How he ever became mayor of Salt Lake I'll never know. Let's just hope that quite a few voters have wisened up to his unprofessional antics and send him packing if he tries to run again.

Bravo to those who serve, and to those who understand the great service we provide to the people of Iraq. Bravo to those who send their wives, husbands, sons, daughters, sisters and brothers into harm's way, because they understand the cause of liberty. Bravo to those in various communities across this great land who pray for their safety and success. The greatest of God's blessings go to those who give their lives, as well as to those who graciously accept the dedication of the passing of their loved ones in this war between liberty and despotism.

BOO, however, to the whiners like Mayor and Ms. Squirrel, who prefer to place themselves on a soapbox in the public eye rather than try to understand
not only how such chicanery reflects on their country, but how it endangers our troops as they serve in harm's way. Rocky and Cindy, I agree with Collette Gourley. You may not be terrorists per se, but you support terrorism. Please apologize to all the fighting men and women of America for your despicable behavior, and to their families as well.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Behind the Violence: Everyday Life in Iraq

So much has been in the news lately about Lebanon, American misdeeds in Iraq, Democrats calling for American withdrawal, and terror attacks from Sunni and Shia alike, that we scarcely hear what's going on in everyday Iraq.

Iraqi Colonel Tries Diplomacy

Iraqi Colonel Talib Abdul Razzaq of the 2nd Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 6th Division is having remarkable success in his sector of Baghdad by engaging the people not with weapons, but with conversation. Read More...

"Struggle for the Sunni Triangle"

Almost all American troop deaths in the last year have been in the provinces of Baghdad and Anbar. Nouri al Maliki's plan is to turn complete control of the other 16 provinces to Iraqi forces by the end of this year. In another year, the goal is to turn the last two provinces over to Iraqi forces as well. Read More...

Security Operation Seemingly Successful

While a few are claiming that if the United States would leave Iraq that the violence will go down, the recent increase in security operations in Baghdad seems to prove the opposite. Deaths and violence are down, to the dismay of liberals everywhere. Read More...

But Everyday Corruption Still Rampant

Inflation is up, the cost of living is up, and the standard of living is way down, chiefly due to the inability of Iraqis to be honest and fair with each other. Read More...

Everyone Suffered Because of Saddam

There are miliions of pages of documents and perhaps millions of people as well that testify to Saddam's murderous reign. But most feel that his trial must take its course and that the rule of law must run its course. Read More...

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Tribute to a Friend

When you're in a war zone, you have to forget the possibility that the next breath might be your last. The possibility that I didn't prepare myself for was the death of a friend. Here's what actually happened.

I remember the night very well. It was the first day off I had had in a long time. I was going about my business, and as I came back to the barracks, many faces were somber. I soon learned that a friend of mine had been struck point blank by a roadside bomb, and it didn't look good.

I guess most of us are pretty self-centered, especially when we get in a dangerous situation. I know I was. I finally had to convince myself after I got to Iraq that I couldn't worry about that next rocket or mortar or roadside bomb, I just had to tell myself that the likelihood of 'it' happening was relatively small, and if 'it' happens, 'it' happens. It's a completely different feeling when 'it' happens to a close friend.

I began to curse myself for not having been there. What that would have solved, I can't say, but my personal guilt was palpable just the same.

Just the other day--now that I'm back in the United States--I got a visit from that friend of mine, Sergeant First Class Daniel Gubler. It was good to see him again, especially wondering those first few hours after his injury whether it would be until the next life before we would get to see him again.

Dan's doing extremely well, and in a way that only he and God can completely understand, he is grateful for the blessings and experiences that he has received and undergone since that dark November evening in 2005.

How Dan lived through the explosion is a whole different story. By all rights, with how close he was to the bomb, he should have been killed. For those of us who believe that God has things in store for people according to His omniscient timetable, this is our explanation of why Dan is still with us.

Dan did lose his left arm above the elbow that night. Additionally, a shard of hot metal that barely missed his face grazed his forehead and punctured his kevlar helmet. Conscious through it all, his first concern was that the bombing might have been the first phase of a coordinated attack by insurgents. Once others told him that all crew-served weapons were being manned, only then did he take the time to wonder not just what it would be like to live without a left arm, but whether he would ever see again.

A fellow soldier administered to him what we in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints call a "Priesthood Blessing". In the blessing he was promised that he would survive and that his eyesight would be restored. I've seen a few miraculous recoveries as a result of priesthood blessings over the years, but this one is likely the most miraculous.

Dan expressed desire to return to duty in Iraq to perform the job he had trained to do, that of a platoon sergeant for a howitzer platoon. With only one arm, I have no doubt, he could have done the job. Instead Dan spent some days in Germany and then found himself at Walter Reed Army Hospital in the US.

When Dan began to feel better and the sight in his right eye gradually began to return, he strolled around Walter Reed trying to bring cheer to others who had been injured in the service of their country.

One of the common reactions we fellow solders had shortly after we found out about Dan's injury was that if anyone could make the most of such a situation, it would be Dan.

I saw Dan yesterday at a reunion we had. He was just as optimistic as he had been the last time I saw him. He told us once again of how things just fell into place with a recent eye surgery, and that he should regain most of the vision in his left eye, but it will be a while before they know how strong of prescription glasses he will need.

Dan has said to me on more than one occasion that he considers it a blessing to have this trial in his life. It has brought him closer to his family. It has showed him that he literally can do most anything he puts his mind to. And just as importantly, it has showed me and all of his other friends and family how to suffer hardship with grace and aplomb.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Diss'ed by Juan Cole's "Informed Comment"

Juan Cole's "Informed Comment" website has a constantly negative portayal of Israel in the current conflict with Hizballah. So I guess I'm only slightly frustrated when he refuses to post my comments indicating a different perspective.

A friend of mine recently introduced me to Juan Cole's blog site, Informed Comment. It is certainly interesting, in that it has a largely different perspective than I do on what is happening in the Middle East. I have learned something from it, or at least been incented to do more research on Israel's history and the background of Middle Eastern conflict.

Wanting to give my perspective for people who might not be sure there is another perspective, I have taken to commenting on his site. Of the 5 or 6 times that I have commented, only two have been posted. So that I can keep track of what I said, I think I'll start posting my comments here.

I just barely posted the following, but my senses tell me that it won't get posted either. (I'll issue a full apology if I turn out to be wrong.)

I know you don't generally like to approve my comments for posting on your site, because they provide a perspective that you apparently don't want to show. But at any rate, here is another reference to how the "Qana Massacre" was likely stage managed.

Yesterday, to his endless reference to the "Qana Massacre", with obvious implication that Israelis willingly slaughtered innocent civilians, I replied (in effect, because it wasn't posted so I don't remember exactly):
If you use the words "Israel" and "Qana massacre" together often enough, there will be many more people who come to the conclusion that Israel really did massacre a whole bunch of people in Qana recently. But there are too many unanswered questions to come to that conclusion. A compendium of news stories and commentary suggesting another side of the story can be found at

Juan Cole provides an interesting contribution to the debate on the Middle East. I would expect, however, someone who is considered an expert on the issue to not be so biased on the issue.