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Maybe Bar Exams Should Have a Tolerance Test

From our mailbag today, to the black conservative group Project 21:

You call youselves "conservatives!" What do Black Americans have to conserve in America? You should be looking to be "progressives"? Black Americans need a lot more progress in order to gain as compared to the White Americans. We don't need to "conserve" things the way they are right now. GET A GRIP, YOU BUNCH OF "UNCLE TOMS."

Paulette Clarke


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The Good Men Do

On April 7, Spc. Joe Roche of the 16th Engineering Battalion, 1st Armored Division, wrote us an e-mail listing the accomplishments of his unit since the war began.

Joe told me to make use of it at an appropriate time. I think that is today.

With no further ado, then, Joe's letter:

In the next paragraph and going on a little you will see a summary of exact numbers and a general survey of what my unit, the 16th Armed Engineer Battalion, has done since arriving in Baghdad a year ago. I got this from the battalion commander, Lt. Col. John S. Kem. This information is put together by the battalion itself, so you can use this as exact....

This is a general survey of the accomplishments of one unit, the 16th Armed Engineer Battalion of the 1st Armored Division, operating in Baghdad. We have carried out raids, river patrols, cordon and search operations, traffic control points and searches and tunnel/bunker recons. Acting more in the role of infantry, we have also conducted combat operations, seized and established fixed sight security positions, numerous and constant recon patrols and well as security patrols.

Operating in Baghdad, we set up 16 forward operating bases in the city, placed barriers to protect embassies, hospitals, government buildings and major hotels. These included the Ministry of Oil, the Palestine Hotel and Sheraton Hotel. Thirty-two power substations scattered in the most dense parts of the city were extensively worked on and improved, as well as major power stations such as Taji and Al Mansour. We established 13 police stations. We also secured and re-constructed five banks in the main central banking district. We also set up the security measures and defenses at embassies such as the Turkish, Polish, Swedish and Japanese ones.

For empowering Iraqi self-governing mechanisms, we established a number of ICDC camps and conducted the training of them.

Our missions encompassed several major operations which still must remain unspecified, but were critical to major operations.

Several times we were the primary response force to major terrorist attack sites such as the United Nations compound, the Turkish Embassy, and other sites.

We removed more than 200 abandoned Iraqi military vehicles such as tanks and anti-aircraft guns, artillery guns, APCs and many other crafts. Accompanying such missions were Explosive Ordnance Disposal missions that secured the removal of 1902 tons of unexploded munitions. This involved clearing 726 sites and 190 weapons/explosives caches, sometimes well dug and concealed.

Constant and exhausting are the IED sweeps, searching for roadside bombs. This combined w/ a route clearance effort of trash removal, vegetation clearance and filling abandoned fighting positions that amounted to $73,000.

This list is huge and too long to recount in detail, but weapons cleared in such efforts included over 10,000 artillery pieces, over 4000 RPGs, around 5000 mortars, over 1200 grenades, even including large missiles, rockets and warheads. Realize that some of these items are now in use in IEDs (roadside bombs). Imagine if we had not cleared all this. As it is, we have located and neutralized 95 IEDs.

Our infrastructure missions included major bridging construction that opened up highways for Iraqi commerce and travel. Along w/ this, 24 kilometers of main roads and many more secondary roads were repaired and cleared.

In what may be the US Army's record accomplishment for any single unit carrying out humanitarian missions, we completed 224 neighborhood projects totaling nearly $5 million. Twenty-eight primary and secondary schools were repaired, built and improved. We also completed 67 projects to construct and improve Baghdad University and Mustansariyah University, which included 7 colleges, 3 dormitories, 250 renovated rooms, and many internet and computer labs, totaling around $1.5 million. This included restoration and improvement to the Museum of Natural History.

General infrastructure projects included 23 major ones that involved everything from major repairs to establishing security at a value of $140,000. Sewage projects covered 31 major items, 19 substations and 15 vehicle trucks totaling $1.97 million. We also completed 4 major water projects at $152,000 and $94,000 of irrigation systems.

All this was accomplished by our single unit in Baghdad's toughest areas while averaging around 285 soldiers. Many times we operated w/ units from Florida, Oregon, Utah, Puerto Rico, Kansas and Texas Reservists and National Guardsmen, as well as a couple other active army units.

We haven't heard from Joe in over a week. He predicted he would soon be without Internet access in an e-mail about his unit's new assignment he sent ten days ago.

We can, however, see from news reports today that some of the soldiers from the 1st Armored Division in which he serves are operating in Mahmudiyah, clearing roadside bombs.

Surely, work worth commending, even as Ted Koppel reads the names of the lost.


If We've Lost Ted Koppel, We Still Have the Country

Observations about Ted Koppel's decision to read the names of U.S. troops killed in Iraq on his show Friday:

1) It is impossible to be sure about Koppel's motives in this instance, but Koppel is being judged not only on his decision to do this broadcast, but on his whole body of work. If many people had not already concluded that Nightline is biased, fewer would question his motives now.

2) Excluding private memorials, the proper, truly non-political time to memorialize the war dead is after the war is over. Recognition of the sacrifices made by those who died is right and proper, and necessary. Because it is important to do, it is likewise important to do it right.

3) Approving comparisons made by some of Koppel's plans to the listing of the names of the Vietnam War dead on the Vietnam Veterans' Memorial in Washington D.C. often fail to note that the original design -- the wall with inscribed names of those American service personnel lost in the conflict -- was immensely unpopular with very many Vietnam Veterans. Matters were settled only after it was agreed that the Memorial also would include a nearby statue of soldiers doing their honorable duty. Koppel's show will have the "wall," but no "statue."

4) The perception that network anchormen played a key role in spurring America’s dishonorable departure from Vietnam makes those who rue those events especially sensitive to the possibility that history could repeat itself. Anchormen in particular should be aware of this dynamic. The patriotic public, however, should realize that no one with his finger on the pulse of the nation ever will say: "If we've lost Ted Koppel, we've lost the country."
Early on Friday, we will post another response to Koppel's decision: A list of the very impressive humanitarian accomplishments of just one 285-soldier unit that has been present in Iraq since the war began.


Our Party, Under God

Roll Call today has an interesting story by John Bresnahan about Rep. Jim McDermott getting slammed by fellow Democrats for his failure to properly lead the Pledge of Allegiance:

Fallout from Rep. Jim McDermott's (D-WA) refusal to say the words "under God," or place his right hand over his heart while leading the Pledge of Allegiance on the House floor Tuesday morning continued Wednesday.

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) was furious with McDermott and blasted his longtime colleague during a Democratic leadership meeting Wednesday, according to sources.

Hoyer argued that whatever McDermott's personal feelings were about the phrase "under God," that when he gave the pledge on the floor, McDermott was representing all Democrats, not just himself. In Hoyer's view, McDermott should have thought about what it would mean for the entire Democratic Caucus and not just himself before he spoke...

"There are a lot of people unhappy with McDermott," said a senior Democratic leadership aide...

The pledge was printed in the Congressional Record without McDermott's revisions...

McDermott's explanation for Tuesday's episode was laid out in a statement released by his office: "My thoughts were not where they should have been and I reverted to the Pledge as it was written and taught in the public schools throughout my childhood. The Pledge has indeed been amended since then and I will endeavor to concentrate on what I'm doing in the future and say the modern version."
There's more, but I think they'll want you to subscribe.


Michael King Must Be Popular

Either Jesse Jackson's anti-U.S. comments are attracting a lot of interest, or Project 21's Michael King has a lot of fans, or maybe both, but a discussion about Michael's appearance on Hannity and Colmes last night to discuss the comments had 209 posts the last time I looked.


When Will They Investigate?

A second complaint has been filed with the Senate ethics committee regarding Senator Ted Kennedy and memogate. Says Jeffrey Mazzella of the Center for Individual Freedom in a report today: "'Certainly, Kennedy's office violated ethics rules of the Senate. The question now becomes, did Kennedy do so himself?"


Blood Libels

This April 28 editorial in the Financial Times begins:

In possibly the most stinging rebuke ever to a British government by its foreign policy establishment, 52 former ambassadors and international officials have written to Tony Blair telling him he is damaging UK (and western) interests by backing George W. Bush's misguided policies in the Middle East.
British history is replete with examples of stinging rebukes to its governments -- some of them quite painfully, even imaginatively, fatal. A stern letter by a bunch of bureaucrats, retired bureaucrats and and bureaucrat-wannabes wouldn't even make the top ten.

The letter, the paper reports, complains that the Blair-Bush policy has "inflamed Arab opinion to the point where it sees Palestine and Iraq as two fronts in a war of resistance against the west."

Yep. Present world tensions are all Bush's and Blair's fault. The fanatical Muslims were just minding their own business on 9-11, and Arab culture doesn't teach its otherwise often uneducated youth that Jews slaughter young Christians and Moslems in order to use their blood in pastries. Not.

No, that blood libel stuff didn't do any "inflaming" worth mentioning -- Bush and Blair are responsible. If only the people of the U.S. and Britain had elected thinking liberals in their last major elections instead of hard-hearted right-wingers like Bush and Blair... no, scratch that last bit of fantasy, too.

The 52 former ambassadors and international officials clearly have spent way too much time sharing cucumber sandwiches with petty dictators and not enough time with their history books. They not only missed the chapters about anti-Semitism, they entirely overlook the Crusades.

The Financial Times piece ends with the FT urging "London to co-ordinate its position more closely with its European partners."

Wouldn't those be many of the same folks Saddam was bribing?

They don't call it the Financial Times for nothing.


Project 21 to Discuss Jesse Jackson's Inflammatory Comments on Iraq on Fox's "Hannity and Colmes"

Project 21 member Michael King will appear on Fox's "Hannity and Colmes" tonight, April 27, to discuss Jesse Jackson's comments about U.S. policy in Iraq.


Notice They Don't Recommend Taxing Private Planes

A script for a radio broadcast I ran across in the course of my work:

Air Traffic Contributes to Global Warming

January 14, 1999

You've heard that cars add to global warming — they burn fossil fuels, so they pump out carbon dioxide. Well, there's another carbon dioxide culprit. Look to the sky on today's EnvironMinute. [:11]

That's right, airplanes are another major player in the global warming game. Planes pump about 660 million tons of carbon dioxide into your friendly skies each year. And thanks to increasing air traffic, that figure is going up by about 40 million tons annually. At that rate, you could see airplane emissions triple in the next two decades! Rather than add more heat-trapping gases to our global green house, let's just 'plane' cut back on carbon dioxide pollution. A tax on airplane fuel could encourage airlines to conserve fuel. Plus it could fuel the development of new, more energy-efficient planes. [:36]

The EnvironMinute is produced in cooperation with the National Safety Council and made possible by the Teresa and H. John Heinz III Foundation. [:10]


Jackson Lite

Some folks will tell you that they oppose the war but support the troops. But not everybody. Here's something from the mailbag.

Sorry Joe, I don't believe you.

Seen too much and read to much.

How many Iraqi's have you killed?

If you believe what you wrote, I feel sorry for you.

I do not support you or our troops, perhaps because I have read and seen too many dead Iraqi civilians at you hands.

Paul Myers

Houston, Texas
Maybe he works for Jesse Jackson.


More Good News from a Soldier

If you liked Army Spc. Joe Roche's story, you'll like this one, too.

Maybe the way to cover the next war is with little cameras in soldiers' helmets.


Going Home

There is a tremendously moving story in the Everything I Know Is Wrong blog tonight. It is about a young Marine's journey home.

I was crying about a third of the way into it.


Double Standard? Or a case of the Left Being Impossible to Please?

Some outfit called "One People's Project" has attacked Project 21 (and also the Independent Women's Forum) for saying that conservatives are called to task more often than liberals on questions of racial sensitivity.

In a document called How Right-Wingers Define Intolerance, the group complains that Project 21 has a "double standard" because many of its members asked for the resignation of Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT) after Dodd's racially insensistive comments about Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV), but when Senator Trent Lott (R-MS) made racially-insensitive comments about then-Senator Strom Thurmond (R-SC), Project 21 members only called for Lott's resignation as Majority Leader.

In each case, Project 21 members called upon each man to resign his most influential position. It is not Project 21's fault that Chris Dodd has never been elected Majority Leader.


Black Conservative Runs for President, Sort Of

NCPPR executive director David W. Almasi with instructions to set your VCRs this summer:

Project 21 member Tara Setmayer is running for president, sort of.

Tara is a contestant on a reality show premiering this summer on Showtime called "American Candidate."

Here's a description of "American Candidate" from the show's website:
"American Candidate" will attempt to identify one individual who has the qualifications and qualities to be President of the United States. This summer, "American Candidate" will debut with 12 contestants from all walks of life. Over the course of 10 weeks, those 12 will face-off against each other in a series of challenges designed to test their presidential mettle and to show viewers what really goes on in the making of a presidential candidate. Week-by-week, the original pool of candidates will be winnowed down. The final episode will be a showdown between the remaining two candidates, and one person will emerge victorious -- the "American Candidate."
The winner gets $200,000 and a nationwide media appearance after the show so the "American Candidate" can make his or her address to the nation.

To check out Tara's bio and become a supporter, click here.


You're Either With Us Or Against Us, and It's Clear Where Jesse Stands

Project 21 is preparing a press release on Jesse Jackson's exceedingly inflammatory comments about Iraq.

Jackson's comments, which include a call for the sanctioning of the U.S. by the U.N. and a claim that U.S. actions in Iraq constitute "murder" and "a crime against humanity," really have to be read to be believed. He even raises the thought that the U.N. should act against the U.S. "in a military way," although he (correctly) doubts the U.N. has the power. (Or the gumption.)

Although Project 21's press release isn't finished yet, it is already receiving press attention, thanks to a column by Project 21's Bob Parks. In the column, Parks seems to be a little peeved with Jackson.

Jackson's comments were brought to our attention by the good folks at the National Legal and Policy Center. The NLPC is calling on Coca-Cola to stop giving Jesse Jackson money.

In my opinion, Jesse Jackson has crossed a line here. Every corporate executive that has ever even considered contributing to Jackson's empire should take notice.

Coca-Cola should make a formal statement disavowing Jackson's remarks. If the corporation is helping to pay for Jackson's media operation, that's the very least it should do.

If Jackson's comments inspire you to want to do something to show support for the troops, consider sending a care package to soldiers. And, maybe, toast them -- with a Pepsi.


We Can't Vote UN Officials Out... But We Can Kick Them Out

The Friends of Saddam blog has created an Excel file containing the names of all 270 recipients of vouchers from Saddam Hussein under the U.N.'s Oil for Food program.

One of the people on the list is said to be the financier of a film done by Scott Ritter, the former U.N. weapons inspector who underwent a must-remarked-upon change of heart about the former Iraqi regime.

There's a lot more on the Friends of Saddam blog for anyone following details in what is fast becoming the #1 scandal of the past 50 years. Although most of it is appalling, some if it is unexpectedly funny, such as the stories about the British politician accused of being bribed by Saddam who claimed he'd never even seen a barrel of oil -- so a leading British newspaper had one delivered to his house.

When considering the possibility that the U.N. might be corrupt (even on this scale), keep in mind that government corruption is the rule in much of the world. Bribery of government officials is common even in some First World countries, such as France.

Thanks to Captain's Quarters for the pointer.


Memo to Gov't: Be Culturally Insensitive Next Time

The Captain's Quarters blog today covers a shocking case of California state officials acting as if "displaying cultural sensitivity is more worthy than the lives and health of Latino children."

The issue involves candy marketed to Latino children that contains high levels of lead. The state knew about it, but apparently didn't want to be "culturally insensitive" by banning the candy.

Lead poisoning can cause memory loss, brain damage and kidney damage -- any one of which is a lot worse than hurt feelings.


Their First Product Was Horseradish

Why do reporters constantly refer to Teresa Heinz Kerry as being the heir to John Heinz's "ketchup" fortune, when everybody knows that Heinz makes 57 Varieties?


Now, Jim, Don't Think and Wait

The Travelling Shoes blog has compared Andy Rooney's five questions for American soldiers with a leaflet circulated by the Nazis, circa 1944, to American soldiers rescuing France.

Must reading. Check out the links he has within it, too.


Doing the Time

NCPPR executive director David W. Almasi never thought there'd be a day when he would be complaining about the music kids are listening to:

It was the theme song for the 70s TV cop show "Baretta" that advised: "don't do the crime if you can't do the time." Modern rappers are showing this is no longer the case.

Island Def Jam Records is reportedly preparing to sign Jamal "Shyne" Barrow to a $3 million recording contract. It plans to use previously-recorded tracks for his first release, but the follow-up will be tricky since Shyne is currently serving a 10-year prison sentence and might not be released until 2009. He is in jail for his role in a 2001 shooting at a New York nightclub that also included rap mogul Sean Combs and his then-girlfriend Jennifer Lopez (they weren't charged).

When someone does a poor job, they're often accused of "phoning it in." In Shyne's case, he might have to literally do so from the prison payphone. It will be that or, as many other prison rappers reportedly do, he will record

in the public visiting area.

The actor who played Baretta, Robert Blake, now stands accused of either killing his wife or having her killed.

Seems he didn't live up to his song, either.