I saw the movie "The Great Raid" last night and I enjoyed it very much. It brought to life the characters I'd read about in Hampton Sides' "Ghost Soldiers" - and it brought to life a time and place in history I'd heard first-hand stories about since I was a young child. My great Uncle was a prisoner of war after the Bataan March in the Philippines, and for many years later in Japan. The true story was about the 6th Ranger Battalion in the Philippines in 1945, under the command of Lt Colonel Henry Mucci (played by Benjamin Bratt). The Battalion undertake a brave and daring rescue mission against nearly impossible odds. Traveling thirty miles behind enemy lines, the 6th Ranger Battalion aims to liberate over 500 American prisoners-of-war from the notorious Cabanatuan Japanese POW camp.
Fourth Marine Mel Sheya, a Bataan survivor, wrote a first-hand accounting of Bataan and the prison at Cabanatuan in a book titled "The Battling Bastards of Bataan".
I am lucky enough to have an autographed copy of the book, which was given to my great Uncle, who survived the Bataan Death March, thanks to his sheer will and a secret stash of quinine, which he shared with others to help sustain them.
In one section of the book, Mr. Sheya writes:
"In our short stay at Cabanatuan, we had seen our comrades face the firing squad, hundreds die from dysentery, malaria, malnutrition, and shot by guerillas who were after the Japs.
When we left, the camp was in a precarious state, for many men were lying around about to die. The camp looked more like a graveyard than a prison camp. Men weighed from sixty to eighty pounds and were unable to hold anything on their stomachs.
We bid them adieu, knowing that soon many would be buried.
Some of the dying would give buddies their sentimental valuables and ask them to give them to their wives or families when Uncle Sam liberated us. The time for departure came and we lined up ready to march.
You wouldn't realize men could become so close in friendship until you could see the tears shed by the men whose close friends were leaving...."
I continue to be greatly inspired by the story of the men who, in the face of overwhelming odds, risked their own lives to save their fellow soldiers. It was not for strategic gain, it was bravely done out of loyalty, friendship, and a sense of duty to one another.
I have long been personally touched by this story, and I was thrilled to see it brought to life in the film. I am especially glad to know that these men are getting the recognition they had so deserved.
"The true measure of a Nation is how it treats its Veterans."
~ George Washington ~
Why Howard Kurtz and Shailagh Murray Deserve a Raspberry
Howard Kurtz and Shailagh Murray have used L. Brent Bozell III's right-wing Cybercast-CNS Newswire (given a big thumbs-up review by the human bastion of fairness and balance, Rush Limbaugh) to give big wings to the Swift-boating of Congressman (and winner of two Purple Hearts) John Murtha with literally no independent investigation. CNS has been a supplier of information for GOPUSA, who brought you the fake journalist/propagandist Jeff Gannon. What could Kurtz and Murray be thinking when they passed this off as a legitimate story worthy of the Washington Post?
I am truly disgusted. Outraged beyond imagination, I am.
I stand by every comment I'd made about Bozell last year at this time.
65% of Americans see the direction of our nation going down the toilet and all we get from Howard Kurtz is this unsubstantiated trash? Is he a gossip columnist or a journalist? If he's a journalist, I'm quite sure that he allowed himself to be manipulated on this one. I've noted that he's been manipulated before. Maybe I just don't agree with the use of (and failure to tell the whole truth about) his sources and his failure to be tough enough on them in order to get to the objective truth. Anything less is gossip. For such a prestigious newspaper, a lack of follow-up would come close to qualifying this particular story as being libelous in nature.
But don't ask me - ask Murray Waas, who has a blogpost on the topic. He's a professional journalist for whom I have immense respect for his objectivity and tenacity - and he rips the reporting to shreds. Speaking about CNS Newswire editor David Thibault, he says
"..the article tells us very little about Thibault himself. Had the reporters done a simple Internet search, they would have discovered this biography of Thibault posted online which describes him as a "senior producer for a televised news magazine" broadcast and sponsored by the Republican National Committee. I dunno, but I for one, would have wanted to know that.
Thibault's background and those engaging in the Swiftboating of Murtha would be relevant to any news story on this issue, I would think.
And so would some independent examination by the Post as to whether there is even any veracity to the charges."
I recommend reading Mr. Waas' post in its entirety. I'm glad I'm not the only outraged soul in the blogosphere. With two professional reporters on the story, you would have thought it would have been much more thorough, much more honest, much more objective. John Murtha was a patriot of this country and he has been done a great disservice here. He deserves a big apology.
"And now, writing my own memoirs, I know God is in the truth. Only by studying actual events and questioning your own motives will the complex inner truths ever emerge from the darkness..."
- Syracuse University professor and author Mary Karr in self-reflection, from a piece about the J T Leroy and James Frey literary scandals in today's NY Times [NY Times Select
Regarding the ethical nature of the respective scandals, Ms. Karr calls J T Leroy a "fine little prankster" and Mr. Frey a "skunk" - commenting that
"the nitty-gritty is that the novelist creates events for truthful interpretation, whereas the memoirist tries to honestly interpret events plagiarized from reality. And here's how readers know the difference: the label slapped on the jacket of the book."
Today's New York Times editorial speaks of the President's morally challenged lawyers and Samuel Alito is not spared from mention. Alito's "pet theories" are called "offensive". That's hot stuff.
Both of the offensive theories at work here - that a president's intent in signing a bill trumps the intent of Congress in writing it, and that a president can claim power without restriction or supervision by the courts or Congress - are pet theories of Judge Samuel Alito, the man Mr. Bush chose to tilt the Supreme Court to the right.
The administration's behavior shows how high and immediate the stakes are in the Alito nomination, and how urgent it is for Congress to curtail Mr. Bush's expansion of power. Nothing in the national consensus to combat terrorism after 9/11 envisioned the unilateral rewriting of more than 200 years of tradition and law by one president embarked on an ideological crusade.
To any Senate member who understands the implications here (and they all understand):
Vote NO on the confirmation of Samuel Alito.
He's nothing but a sinking of the knife to the gut of over 200 years of American tradition.
If we had real fire and passion for the American way in the Senate, we'd see a filibuster - and argument passionate enough so that any partisan attempt to exercise the "nuclear option" would be scorned!
All this BOREDOM in these hearings = getting STUCK with Alito, finally completing the circuit of a new one-party state with an Imperial president.
It is time for the Democrats to stand up and use their power. Stopping Alito is an opportunity to show that they believe in three equal branches of government that provide a check and balance on the actions of the others. Americans support the framework of the Constitution. It is a chance to show they represent the people against the powerful and want a court that reflects that reality.
Dilp Hiro weaves a compelling web of geopolitical strategy and the dependence on oil that necessitates it - often at a cost to human rights - and as we have seen with the Iraq war, at the great cost of truth and public trust. You don't have to be a consipracy theorist to ask yourself: What is our government NOT telling us - and why are they not telling us? Didn't our President tell us, this week, that we were being irresponsible by even raising the issue?
An important point made in the article is that the U.S. is incapable of unilaterally punishing every country engaged in the amoral battle for oil, and we have to get back to the bare bones of good old-fashioned economic competition (after all, that's what capitalism is supposed to be about - not throwing away our support of human rights and democratic regimes.)
We've looked the other way - far too long - in places like Saudi Arabia, and I hope the recent lip service from Washington about cracking down on them is sincere. Most of the 9/11 hijackers were Saudi nationals, and hearing that many more of them are traveling effortlessly over the borders to kill our troops in Iraq is no less than disgusting. With a tip of the hat to Whatever Already, today's very important LA Times story by Josh Meyer tells us the disturbing news that
Although Saudi Arabia has cracked down on militants within its borders, the kingdom has not met its promises to help prevent the spread of terrorism or curb the flow of money from Saudis to terrorist cells around the world, U.S. intelligence, diplomatic and other officials say. As a result, these critics say, countless young terrorism suspects are believed to have escaped the kingdom's tightening noose by fleeing across what critics call a porous border into Iraq.
Going back to the Yale online article, Dilip Hiro asks, "How can the US, the prime upholder of capitalist values, oppose such a state of affairs?"
I would begin by asking: What is our government doing about the research and development of alternative energy? Haven't we lost a lot of precious time? The longer we stall, the more wars will be fought in our name - and they will be futile unilateral efforts - much as we've witnessed in Iraq.
If we want to be responsible citizens, we'd better start caring about alternative energy resources.
I'll be hosting the 48th edition..and the topic will be Humor - send me your favorite joke, funniest photo, anecdote, use your imagination!
It's mid-January and, as your honorary Tar Heeler sitting in the c-c-cold Northeast, I could really use a laugh. After all, the Ground Hog known as Phil from Punxsutawney, PA hasn't even been around to "predict" the six more long weeks of winter we Northern folk know we'll have to endure once he does show his cute little face.
Tim Russert made mincemeat out of Paul Bremer and Donald Rumsfeld today on Meet the Press. We are left to ask: Which is the real Paul Bremer? The one who rallied for more troops with all his heart and mind - or the guy who wrote in July 2003 that we had enough troops?
Bremer was on vacation while we didn't have enough troops and chaos was reigning - and Rumsfeld was pretending it was all hyperbole.
He was handed control of the CPA and was forced to conduct business "on the cheap."
The CPA didn't keep accounts of the hundreds of millions of dollars of cash in its vault; the CPA, under Bremer, had awarded contracts worth billions of dollars to American firms without tender, and had no idea what was happening to the money from the Development Fund for Iraq (DFI),[UN Res 1483] which was being spent by the interim Iraqi government ministries.
I don't believe anything Mr. Bremer says about the Iraq war now. Tim Russert exposed him for a sham of logical consistency. His opinions mean absolutely nothing to me. He's a human web of hypocrisy. He misled too long for a misleading administration. He is now a perfect picture of public self-contradiction.
I'm beginning to believe there's something truly rotten - and it's not in Denmark this time. It's likely in a Swiss bank.
What made Bremer's appearance on Meet the Press today particularly unuseful is that although Russert challenged Bremer on a few points, he refused to acknowledge the big elephant in the room -- that Bremer's "memoir" is a complete sham.
While I wish Tim Russert would have taken it a step further, I've come not to expect that from him - but I think the answers to the questions he chose to ask spoke for themselves. I can't imagine anyone who'd want to read this book after seeing the interview.
Jill Carroll is Still missing - We Never Knew About Phil Sands
Jill Carroll is still missing. At Reuters, there is a story about a British freelance journalist whose kidnapping by gunmen for five days was never reported - and he was freed when he was "stumbled upon" by US troops on a farm outside Baghdad. A writer for the Chronicle, Phil Sands, 28, of Dorset, UK, was told by his captors that if he was a soldier, they would kill him.
How strange - that we never knew about this story until now.
There's an interesting article about the hazards of freelance journalism in Iraq at the Telegraph.
I'm waiting for news about Jill Carroll. I pray that she comes back safely.
1/15/06 UPDATE: Still no word on Ms. Carroll. Her captors are silent. Why?
"I was treated very respectfully and courteously apart from the fact that I was detained against my will and threatened with beheading," Sands told The Associated Press on Saturday. "I was not beaten, starved or treated badly."