Border War

The Other War:

A few notes on a topic that interests me, though we don't much cover it here:

Border Violence Alarms Chertoff. "There has been an over-100 percent increase in the last fiscal year in border violence aimed at our Border Patrol agents..."

Border Patrol Agents See Violence As 'Challenge'. "...Agents face a whole slew of threats on a daily basis, everything ranging from spiders, snakes, scorpions, tarantulas, ticks and chiggers to stumbling across people in desperate need of medical attention, drug and human smugglers, drowning, being shot at and getting physically assaulted. To complicate an already tense and dangerous job, the Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13 gang, was reportedly hired to assassinate agents to clear a path for traffickers."

Arizona Smuggling Suspect Shoots at Border Patrol Officers.

Patrol Records Show Mexican Military Strays Across Border. "...Heavily armed personnel in a military-style Humvee helped drug smugglers fleeing police to escape back into Mexico, according to authorities. An internal Border Patrol summary of the incident said the Humvee was equipped with a .50-caliber machine gun..."

Border Patrol Can't Rule Out Mexican Military Role in Smuggling.

Guns and Money: US-Mexico Border Besieged by Crime, Terror. "Following separate raids on Jan. 12, 26 and 27, U.S. authorities announced they had seized two homemade bombs, materials for making 33 more, military-style grenades, 26 grenade triggers, large quantities of AK-47 and AR-15 assault rifles, 1,280 rounds of ammunition, silencers, machine gun assembly kits, 300 primers, bulletproof vests, police scanners, sniper scopes, narcotics and cash.... Homeland Security sent a confidential memo in January to Border Patrol agents warning that they could be the targets of assassins hired by alien smugglers."

The Frontier seems to be getting wild again.

Holly book

Holly's Book:

I knew that Holly Aho was a wonderful person, because of the work she does on behalf of our servicemen. Still, a wonderful person can sometimes be totally insufferable, as anyone with a nice old aunt/grandmother, the one who likes to go on and on with her slideshows about the last trip to Thailand, can tell you.

It's always a pleasure to realize that a wonderful person is also someone you would probably really like:

And...I'm such a dork. I was so tickled pink I had to take a picture of myself with my book. So here I am, trying to figure out how to take a good picture of myself, and I decided to try using my webcam and then taking screenshots from the short film.... So anyways I ended up with 10 of these darn pics. I was just going to share the best one, so you could see me and my book, but I'm going to be an even bigger nerd and share 3 of them.
Via Greyhawk, who asks a very good question.

The Rest Of The Story

The plot thins... (via KJ)

On Wednesday, the Army said Rebrook would not have been asked to pay the money if he had filled out two required forms.

Those comments drew an angry rebuke from Rebrook's father, Edward Rebrook of Charleston, West Virginia.

"That is a lie," the soldier's father told CNN. "It's a case of CYA by the Army."

William Rebrook was told the 18 items were missing and that he could pay for them or fill out two forms saying that the equipment had been lost, damaged or destroyed in combat.

Inexplicably, Rebrook's father then goes on to confirm the Army's account:

However, Edward Rebrook said his son would have had to stay in the Army, continue to live on base at Fort Hood and wait possibly weeks while those forms were processed. Instead, he chose to pay cash for the missing items and get out of the Army.

Well imagine that...

Choice is a wonderful thing, isn't it? We live in a free country, and time and money have always been freely exchangable commodities.

Do you suppose that a large organization like the Army might have an obligation to the U.S. taxpayer to ensure government equipment is accounted for before servicemen issue out? Does that seem unreasonable?

Here we have an officer who decided he did not want to follow the same rules everyone else has to follow, then thought better of it and complained to the media, making his service and his command look bad when the Army had a perfectly good procedure in place for getting out of the requirement for paying for lost equipment.

He simply was in a hurry and didn't feel like filling out the required forms.

UPDATE: Frodo posted a great comment under my original post, and I'd like to pull it out because I think it's instructive. For those of you who don't know him, Frodo is an old friend of both mine and Greyhawk's from our ScrappleFace days. It's kind of ironic b/c I just happened across two old threads of ours here and here (Bambi S/H - I wonder who that is - is in rare form) and was reading them with great enjoyment about an hour ago. Anyway, Frodo just returned from a stint in Mordor (Iraq):

Well, when my wife mentioned this story to me last night I initially thought it was some poor E-3 or 4 who didn't know any better. When she told me it was a LT, my first reaction was "he's an idiot"!!! So getting past that I will try to explain my problem with this story as someone who till recently was in that neck of the woods ... hopefully as clearly as Cass breaks down her arguments.

The LT states that they wouldn't absolve him of the loss of the body armor because a report of survey wasn't performed so he had to pay for it.

The first part of the statement is true in the fact that an investigation must be done but, it's no longer called a report of survey (except by old farts like me), but instead a Financial Liability Investigations or Property Loss (FLIPL). They could also accomplish this with an AR 15-6 investigation - This is usually done when there is a possibility of criminal conduct but the results of which can for the basis for the FLIPL. . In either case, an officer is appointed to investigate the loss of property and to make a determination if negligence (willful or otherwise) was involved in the property loss.

What isn't true is that they could force this LT to pay because one wasn't performed. Performance of a FLIPL is the responsibility of the unit commander under which a property loss took place, usually at company level, not the individual who lost the property. In an instance like this, if the individual accepts responsibility for the loss he may sign a statement of charges agreeing to pay for the loss, usually in the form of a payroll deduction. Since he was being discharged, I could see that they might require cash. However if the soldier doesn't accept responsibility, then the losing commander has to initiate a FLIPL. Something a LT should know quite well as they are usually the ones appointed as the investigating officers.

I also share Cass' trouble with the comment that the battalion commander wouldn't sign a waiver ... which battalion commander, the one in Iraq he served under or the REMF commander of the unit in charge of demobilizing soldiers? If it's the battalion commander in Iraq, the man has shown a complete lack of leadership; on the other, if it's the demob unit commander, I doubt he had that authority as he wasn't the commander suffering the loss.

He also says that they told him he couldn't get out unless he paid, if they had to perform a FLIPL it's possible that they might extend him until the investigation was concluded ... so what? He stated he supposedly didn't want to get out of the Army to begin with? As a matter of principle, I would have stayed in until the investigation was completed.

If it were me and they were trying to make me pay for something I lost as a result of getting wounded, I would have refused to pay and if they pressed it I would have gone through the chain ... My commander, His commander and if that didn't resolve it then to the Inspector Generals Office ... failing that, I would go the congressional route ... and if all else fails to gather attention, yes maybe to the press as a last resort ... in truth I would threaten to do so first ... just the threat of going to the press would shake even the most intransigent or apathetic commander into action, if for no other purpose then to cover his own butt.

In the end, I suspect this LT is mad at the Army for some reason, the discharge, the way he was treated after being wounded... whatever ... so instead of fighting the property loss 'properly' thru the channels he decided he was going to use it to get back at the Army by going to the press.

To Eric's comment: 'And anyway, I thought body armor was an organizational issue, that is, its issued at the organization, which means that there should be extra lying around, because there is ALWAYS extra lying around. Especially in the Army.' That may have been true 20 years ago when I was in Germany with the old 'flack vests' we had stored in the unit supply room. But with the IBA we drew for Iraq, the unit had to submit a list by name and size of all members going over, and that was the exact number we got ... no extras. Once the unit got them, they were all in turn sub-hand receipted to the person who was going to wear them. Not to say there aren't a few lying about, but it's not that common of an item and I would venture to guess the extra some folks have is the result of someone helping themselves to someone else 'unattended' IBA. We saw a few of the new kevlar helmets disappear that way.

Code of Conduct


One is never surprised to find the EU on the side of "regulation," and so, one is not surprised:

The European Union may try to draw up a media code of conduct to avoid a repeat of the furor caused by the publication across Europe of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad, an EU commissioner said on Thursday.... "The press will give the Muslim world the message: We are aware of the consequences of exercising the right of free expression," he told the newspaper. "We can and we are ready to self-regulate that right."
There's a ringing endorsement: "The EU: We are ready to regulate your rights!"

What I particularly like about this is the way that the EU Commissioner, a politician, is telling the press what "we" will say. That is, what we will say: "The press will give... the message... We can and we are ready to self-regulate that right."

Which is to say, to set limits on it. That is just what the Danish cartoon contest was designed to test -- whether Europeans were really free to talk about Islam.

Now we know.


Don't Mention the War:

This is going to be hard to explain to supporters of Free Expression.

GERMAN cops will use sweeping powers to collar England fans doing Basil Fawlty-style Hitler impressions at the World Cup. Yobs will be instantly banged up for TWO WEEKS if they goose-step like John Cleese in his most famous Fawlty Towers scene.

And hard core louts who give Nazi salutes — like the one jokingly made by Michael Barrymore in Celebrity Big Brother — could be hauled before a judge within 24 hours.

If convicted of inciting hatred they will face jail terms of up to THREE YEARS.

Wearing joke German helmets or any offensive insignia will also result in a stretch behind bars.
While such humor would be both crude and offensive -- three years? Because the joke wasn't funny?

It's just this sort of thing that gives critics of the Western position real ammunition. Politeness and circumspection, and sensitivity to the feelings of others, all these are important and worthy virtues. I encourage all of you to practice them, and not to give offense without cause.

Yet we must also give some thought to how to react to offenses others try to give us. (And believe me, as a proud native son of the great state of Georgia, I understand what it's like to have to live with inappropriate jibes made by people who think they are being clever.)

I think the model has to be the one I've suggested in the past: that a gentleman duels only with equals, and people who behave this way are demonstrably not that. They ought, therefore, to be ignored to the greatest degree possible. Sometimes the best way to deal with an insult is with an air of silent superiority.

If there's a serious point to be made, engage the argument politely but firmly, says I; but if they're just expressing mindless wrath or jackassery, it's best to ignore them. Only if it goes beyond jokes, to the point that life or limb is endangered by bad behavior (quite possible with soccery "yobs") is a stronger response appropriate.

In that case, the case in which the uncivilized pose a real threat to you or to innocents around you, I hope you've been exercising your other human rights. A gentleman duels only with equals; but every free citizen has a duty to help uphold the common peace.

Lt. Rebrook Body Armor Story

Some time ago, Grim kindly offered to allow me to opine here from time to time but due to work demands and my decision to reopen VC, I had not been able to set aside the time until now. But yesterday's entry regarding Lieutenant Rebrook seemed the right sort of topic for a first post.

This is the kind of story that always outrages people on both sides of the political spectrum, and rightly so. No matter how one feels about the war, no one wants to see a warrior punished for serving his country. Being asked to pay for the loss of body armor that failed to protect him from a crippling wound only adds insult to injury. The prominence this story is likely to achieve is even more unfortunate given the recent leak by the New York Times of an internal study detailing body armor vulnerabilities. The Marine Corps had asked the Times not to publish the study due to concerns it would enable enemy snipers to target our soldiers more effectively. Unsurprisingly, the Times showed their concerns for the troops by publishing a detailed diagram showing the enemy exactly where to aim.

The story quickly became a political hot potato. Ignoring the military's legitimate concerns that more body armor would weigh soldiers down or cause them to become overheated, opponents of the war lambasted the administration for not providing equipment a large part of the military had stated it did not want:

Several lawmakers ---- including U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-New York ---- have called on Congress to reassess the Defense Department's standards for body armor.

One of the difficulties for troops in the field is balancing the amount of weight they are carrying with their need to be mobile, Landis said.

"We are working with anywhere from 100 pounds of standard combat assault load, to up to 120 pounds, and the last thing you want to do is add additional weight," he said.

"You can totally encircle a Marine in steel and he is going to be less susceptible to hostile fire but he also will much less mobile," Hunter said. "You have to balance the amount of armor these folks can carry with their need to be able to move around."

The military initially didn't want the extra body armor, but the Marine Corps decided it did because of the greater protection it provides.

But the Times has a history of dishonest reporting on this issue. Recently, the Army proactively took steps to improve the reliability of its Interceptor body armor before a threat emerged. Here's how the Times reported the story:

"For the second time since the Iraq war began, the Pentagon is struggling to replace body armor that is failing to protect American troops from the most lethal attacks of insurgents.

"The ceramic plates in vests worn by most personnel cannot withstand certain munitions the insurgents use. But more than a year after military officials initiated an effort to replace the armor with thicker, more resistant plates, tens of thousands of soldiers are still without the stronger protection because of a string of delays in the Pentagon's procurement system."

There's just one problem: the reporter had been told the insurgents weren't using those "certain munitions" yet. He knew this, and yet he twisted the facts to make the Army look bad. Sadly, dishonest reporting puts the military on the defensive and makes them less willing to be open with the media. It also makes military readers like me far more skeptical of stories like Lieutenant Rebrook's. So I did some checking.

It seems that the Army did indeed give Lt. Rebrook a medical discharge after he was wounded in Iraq, and they did charge him $700 for his lost body armor. But the story gets worse, to hear him tell it:

Rebrook was standing in the turret of a Bradley Fighting Vehicle when the roadside bomb exploded Jan. 11, 2005. The explosion fractured his arm and severed an artery. A Black Hawk helicopter airlifted him to a combat support hospital in Baghdad.

He was later flown to a hospital in Germany for surgery, then on to Walter Reed Army Medical Hospital in Washington, D.C., for more surgeries. Doctors operated on his arm seven times in all.

But Rebrook’s right arm never recovered completely. He still has range of motion problems. He still has pain when he turns over to sleep at night.

Even with the injury, Rebrook said he didn’t want to leave the Army. He said the “medical separation” discharge was the Army’s decision, not his.

So after eight months at Fort Hood, he gathered up his gear and started the “long process” to leave the Army for good.

Things went smoothly until officers asked him for his “OTV,” his “outer tactical vest,” or body armor, which was missing. A battalion supply officer had failed to document the loss of the vest in Iraq.

“They said that I owed them $700,” Rebrook said. “It was like ‘thank you for your service, now here’s the bill for $700.’ I had to pay for it if I wanted to get on with my life.”

In the past, the Army allowed to soldiers to write memos, explaining the loss and destruction of gear, Rebrook said.

But a new policy required a “report of survey” from the field that documented the loss. Rebrook said he knows other soldiers who also have been forced to pay for equipment destroyed in battle.

Now no one who has ever had to deal with military disbursing will be much surprised at the Byzantine nature of military accounting. On our first PCS move, my 2nd Lieutenant husband, I, and our baby were greeted at our new duty station with a paycheck of exactly $100. With this, we were expected to put down first and last month's rent on a new apartment and commence moving in. The explanation from disbursing?

After refusing the only married couple at TBS base housing, the base housing office at our last duty station had decided that we had, after all, lived on base for the entire time my husband had been in Basic School. This came as a complete surprise to us, since we had been crammed into a tiny one-bedroom apartment off-base. This was all we could find since Housing wouldn't let us sign a lease until they refused us on-base quarters. Our son had slept in the Master bedroom closet for months. Rather than check their records, the disbursing office simply decided to "take back" thousands of dollars in housing allowances for quarters we never lived in.

So I am not at all surprised that this sort of thing might happen. Accounting snafus and silly rules are not at all uncommon in the military. They happen, people complain, and eventually in the fullness of time, they are fixed. What does disturb me about this story are two things. The first is this allegation:

Rebrook said he tried to get a battalion commander to sign a waiver on the battle armor, but the officer declined. Rebrook was told he’d have to supply statements from witnesses to verify the body armor was taken from him and burned.

“There’s a complete lack of empathy from senior officers who don’t know what it’s like to be a combat soldier on the ground,” Rebrook said. “There’s a whole lot of people who don’t want to help you. They’re more concerned with process than product.”

My first comment is this: whose battalion commander? Presumably not Lt. Rebrook's. But if this is true, the commander in question needs to be taken aside and counseled - this should not have gotten past him.

The second thing that doesn't sit right with me is this:

Rebrook, 25, scrounged up the cash from his Army buddies and returned home to Charleston last Friday.

This will undoubtedly make several people angry, but put aside your emotions for just a second and recognize that I am not saying what happened to this man was right.

Lt. Rebrook is a First Lieutenant who graduated with honors from West Point. So he is presumably a very intelligent young man. I am therefore somewhat surprised that he would air his disbursing difficulties in the media rather than writing someone farther up the chain of command and working through channels. Perhaps, in all fairness, he has already done this and received no response. But if so, he does not say so. I find it surprising that an officer who graduated at the top of his West Point class would, rather than pursuing a minor (and $700 is small potatoes to an officer) pay dispute through official channels, instead opt to air it in the media. He is, of course, free to do so, but surely he realizes how this story will be politicized and the damage it will do to the Army. Could he not, as a courtesy, let the senior chain of command know before going public with his complaint? I hope I am wrong and he did this. It is what my husband would have done, and what I would expect any officer to do.

Secondly, he has more than four years in, which means he makes $3165 a month. There is no mention of a wife or children, so like most 1st. Lts., he is single. He has been on convalescence at Fort Hood for eight months. So my question is this: why did he have to "scrounge up $700 from his Army buddies" to pay for his body armor?

Unless there is something very odd going on here (for instance, he is supporting his elderly parents, in which case they are dependents for pay purposes on his LES and he gets extra pay, which I very much doubt) a single First Lieutenant should not have to borrow $700 from anyone. When my husband was a First Lieutenant, we had two small children and I could put my hands on that amount easily. It was in my savings account. In fact, in the $100 pay due story I referenced earlier, that's exactly how we dealt with the situation. Our little family of three with another child on the way, fresh out of Basic School and still paying for uniform loans, making less than Lt. Rebrook, dipped into savings to pay far more than $700. We did not have to "scrounge money from our Marine buddies". So perhaps you can understand my confusion.

This is entirely a separate issue from whether the regulation is right: it clearly is not. And it appears that more than $5700 in donations have been collected from the liberal AmericaBlog and the citizens of West Virginia, all of which Lt. Rebrook is donating to charity. His state Senators have asked the Army to look into the matter:

Rumsfeld and Gen. Peter Schoomaker, the Army’s chief of staff, attended the hearing.

“That is a very unusual story,” Schoomaker responded. “I have no idea why we would ever do something like that. We have issued body armor, the very best that exists in the world. Every soldier has it.

“We certainly have procedures that account for battle loss, and I just find it a highly unusual story. But we’ll certainly follow up and correct it if there’s any truth to it.”

“First Cavalry Division leadership is going to do everything to ensure this issue is brought to a conclusion that is both in line with procedures that apply to all its soldiers and in the best interest of our veterans who have served so proudly and honorably in Iraq,” Lt. Col. Scott Bleichwehl, the division's spokesman at Fort Hood, told the Killeen Daily Herald for today’s edition.

Bleichwehl said soldiers are not held financially responsible for any equipment lost, damaged or destroyed in combat.

Having watched my husband investigate scores of these types of matters over the years, I've seen that there is almost always more to them then is apparent at first. Often they are the result of lower-level bungling or misinterpretation of regulations. These things are unfortunate, and I am glad this happened to an officer so the problem, if it is an institution-wide one, could be brought into the open.

But as usual, the press and the public need to be patient and wait for the investigation to be completed. Clearly something has gone wrong, but turning one incident into a metaphor for everything that is wrong with the war and/or the military is both irresponsible and premature. The Army is an enormous organization and foul-ups can and do happen. When they do, they should be corrected. But most importantly, before judging, we should know all the facts.

Let the investigation play out, and then decide.

AMERICAblog armor

AMERICAblog & Body Armor:

The folks over at AMERICAblog have reported on a case which ought to be of real concern, if the facts are as presented:

The last time 1st Lt. William "Eddie" Rebrook IV saw his body armor, he was lying on a stretcher in Iraq, his arm shattered and covered in blood.

A field medic tied a tourniquet around Rebrook's right arm to stanch the bleeding from shrapnel wounds. Soldiers yanked off his blood-soaked body armor. He never saw it again.

But last week, Rebrook was forced to pay $700 for that body armor, blown up by a roadside bomb more than a year ago.
Whether or not they have the facts right, I think it's important to note that AMERICAblog raised $5,000 to help the soldier. I told Sovay in comments to a recent post, "If you want to help, help." These guys did that, and they deserve credit for it.

But is this really the military's policy? An isolated case? So far there's not much in the way of news, except that the West Virginia Senators are looking into it -- and that the story contained no comment from the military.

I think we can have bipartisan agreement that, if these facts are straight, it's not acceptable. I think we can furthermore agree that, facts straight or not, AMERICAblog did the praiseworthy thing in this case by supporting the soldier. What I wonder is -- are the facts straight?

GN, M'am

Goodnight, Ma'am:

I finally found a proper eulogy for Virginia Puller, wife and widow of Lt. Gen. "Chesty" Puller. Thanks to Lisa for letting us know.

If it's possible you don't know who Chesty was, I encourage you to read the bio. You'll understand, then, what his wife must have endured. Grim's Hall salutes a brave lady.

AFA Censorship

The Western Way of Religious Criticism

Mark Steyn recently contrasted NBC's stance on Christian and Muslim sensitivities:

Thus, NBC is celebrating Easter this year with a special edition of the gay sitcom "Will & Grace," in which a Christian conservative cooking-show host, played by the popular singing slattern Britney Spears, offers seasonal recipes -- "Cruci-fixin's." On the other hand, the same network, in its coverage of the global riots over the Danish cartoons, has declined to show any of the offending artwork out of "respect" for the Muslim faith. Which means out of respect for their ability to locate the executive vice president's home in the suburbs and firebomb his garage.
I have an email today from the American Family Association -- how I got on their email list, I couldn't guess -- trumpeting the end of that episode.
Action by AFA Online supporters has cause NBC to pull the offensive segment scheduled for the April 6th episode of Will and Grace.

In an attempt to confuse the public, the network issued an intentionally misleading statement which left the impression that AFA had lied to our supporters. Here is the statement NBC sent to their affiliates for the affiliate to use in responding to emails and calls:
Some erroneous information was mistakenly included in a press release describing an upcoming episode of "Will & Grace" which, in fact, has yet to be written. The reference to "Cruci-fxins" will not be in the show and the storyline will not contain a Christian characterization at all.
NBC did not say that they (NBC) had issued the "erroneous information" but left the reader with the impression that AFA had issued the "erroneous information."

When NBC said that the script "has yet to be written," what they didn't tell you is that the "story board" had been completed and the offensive material was scheduled to be a part of the episode. The story board contains the outline of the program. That is the reason for the detailed description of the episode issued by NBC in their initial press release.

For a better understanding of this deception by NBC written by a third party, click here.

The bottom line is that the actions taken by AFA Online supporters like you caused them to rewrite the episode and remove the offensive segment!
Emphasis in the original.

Assuming that no one expects the AFA to firebomb anything, it would appear that NBC is still sensitive to Christian complaints as well, at least if they get enough of them that it appears poised to impact their market share.

Now, the question is this: is this kind of pressure a good thing, or a bad thing? It's nonviolent; people are exercising their own free speech by telling NBC what they think of the idea, and their freedom of association by warning that they will not associate themselves with NBC by watching its shows, thus impacting the network's revenue stream.

On the other hand, it succeeded in silencing NBC's "provocative" statement. While I don't think Western civilization will be in any way harmed by the absence of this particular joke on its television networks, it's plainly the case that the network has been intimidated into changing its mind. My question -- informed by the recent discussions -- is whether we should say, "Good" and leave it at that, or whether we should have mixed feelings about it.

There is a similarity here with the case of the Danish cartoons, but also a difference. I think we can agree that this method is vastly preferable to that of threatening beheadings or burning buildings. I think we would agree that AFA has every right to criticize NBC for what the AFA sees as blasphemy (and, in fairness, what NBC surely also saw as blasphemy -- blasphemy was the point).

Is it good or bad that religious folk use their influence to silence blasphemers, at least in the most public squares and the most revenue-centric networks? If we agree that the AFA didn't do anything wrong, does that mean that the effect is necessarily good? The speech in this case was intentionally disrespectful, and surely merited the condemnation of society. But was it good that this condemnation prevented the episode from airing as written? If the AFA didn't do wrong by protesting, being within its rights of free speech and free association, did NBC do wrong by caving in?

White Cross

Knights of the White Cross:

The Commissar thought he was being ironic.

Here now is the latest of the pro-Denmark images, a cause I am bound by my heart to support. The image is from The Dissident Frogman:

Did you know that the white cross on a red field is a symbol of particular import for the Crusades? This flag which has become the symbol of freedom of speech and conscience is not just the flag of Denmark. It was, and is, the flag of The Knights Hospitaller.

It won't be forever before the wrathful of the Muslim world notice this. Fate has brought us to where we thought we would not go: we now openly ride under a Crusader's flag.

Deus vult, must we not say? This was unplanned, and not even imagined: but here we are. There will be no going back from this.

I suggest you all prepare for what Fate has brought us. We remain free to choose what we will do with the legacy that this flag will bind to our cause. If we are to be Crusaders, let us take the Cross in righteousness. What does that mean? Forgiveness, mercy, humility, charity: and fearlessness in the face of the foe. All those things are the rightful heritage as I read it.

Like it or not, that heritage is now ours to bear. We no longer have the choice of casting it away. We have lifted this flag from the earth, and now it is ours to carry.

RV in AT

Russ Vaughn in The American Thinker:

An article by our poet on the recent poem, quoted below. He reminds us -- I never doubted it -- that his couplets on the joys of beating the crap out of Toles were "merely literary blows being rained upon this insensitive cartoonist and in no way was I endorsing actual retribution[.]"

He's got a few other things to say as well. You may wish to read it all.


Supporting the Troops:

Certain recent discussions have reminded me of a number of things we've done over the last few years. Grim's Hall has participated in various fundraisers and charity exercises; and I've also participated in several wagers with other members of the blogosphere, forfeits to be made to the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society.

Yet I haven't made an effort to gather the links for this into one place. I'm starting a links section called "Support the Troops," on the sidebar. I've put a few of the folks we've supported there; but I suspect you know some others who haven't been part of our enterprise. If you'd like to suggest a link, add it in the comments. It needs to be (a) a charity, and (b) primarily oriented toward supporting the deployed troops themselves, the success of their mission, or the families of those injured or lost in the service.

We've been doing this on an ad-hoc basis all along. It is worthwhile to formalize it somewhat, and endorse organizations we know to be honorable and devoted to these good men and women who make up our military.