Monday, April 12, 2004

Crazy busy weekend. Saturday, I had practice with a trio I'm in for special music in a couple Sunday's, then practice with the praise team for Sunday, then hit the road for the three-hour drive to Flint for my Grandpa's 91st birthday. I got back home around midnight. Then Sunday being Easter we had early service, breakfast, Bible study, and morning service. My parents just got back from Florida, so they had no food in their house, and neither my sister nor us ever have anything but chips and frozen pizzas, so we headed to Traverse City on a quest for an open restaurant. Cracker Barrel was open, which isn't my favorite, but better than frozen pizza for Easter dinner. After all that, we had about an hour to chill, then back at church for evening service. At least we didn't have anything planned for after church. We went home and vegged out in front of the TV until bedtime.

Not much on tap for tonight other than I need to go to Meijer's and pick up two giant Easter baskets for our pastor's wife and grab a couple small things for myself. I also need to stop at the recycle place; there is barely room in the truck for me with all the cardboard. We are finally getting rid of all the cartons from the cabinets and all that.

I also need to get started on taxes, but I don't know if I'm going to use Turbo Tax this year or not. In the past, I would buy a copy and do our taxes, my parent's taxes, my sister's, etc. Existing customers could get the software for $50. The new way is it's all web-based and you have to pay $70 for each return. Even though I've never used anything other than Turbo Tax, I'm looking for some alternative. I may just download the forms and do it by hand. Intuit is simply ripping people off. I hope they make a lot of money the last year they will be in business. I can't believe anyone will pay that kind of money and not even have a copy of the software or the data file to show for it. I know I won't.

And of course, there's always a bunch of reading for class on Thursday.


Jerry Pournelle has a good piece; Republic, Empire, Iraq, and Democracy, that pretty well sums up where we are, what we should do, and what we most likely will do. It's a pretty bleak way to start out the week, but the U.S. seems to be accelerating down a path that, historically, has always ended badly. No one seems to be aware of that, which is not surprising given our current educational system.

And here is how Iraq looks from the ground:

From the USMC grapevine:

Update from LtCol K

...the last two days have been the hardest two days this battalion has faced in over 30 years. Within the blink of an eye the situation went form relatively calm to a raging storm. You've known that since arriving there has been violence; attacks have been sporadic and mostly limited to roadside bombs. Your husbands have become experts at recognizing those threats and neutralizing them before we are injured. Up to this point the war has been the purview of corporals and sergeants, and the squad they lead.

Yesterday the enemy upped the ante.

Early in the morning we exchanged gunfire with a group of insurgents without significant loss. As morning progressed, the enemy fed more men into the fight and we responded with stronger force. Unfortunately, this led to injuries as our Marines and sailors started clearing the city block by block. The enemy did not run; they fought us like soldiers. And we destroyed the enemy like only Marines can. By the end of the evening the local hospital was so full of their dead and wounded that they ran out of space to put them. Your husbands were awesome all night they stayed at the job of securing the streets and nobody challenged them as the hours wore on. They did not surrender an inch nor did flinch from the next potential threat. Previous to yesterday the terrorist thought that we were soft enough to challenge. As of tonight the message is loud and clear that the Marines will not be beaten.

Today the enemy started all over again, although with far fewer numbers, only now the rest of the battalion joined the fight. Without elaborating too much, weapons company and Golf crushed their attackers with the vengeance of the righteous. They filled up the hospitals again and we suffered only a few injuries. Echo company dominated the previous day's battlefield. Fox company patrolled with confidence and authority; nobody challenged them. Even Headquarters Company manned their stations and counted far fewer people openly watching us with disdain. If the enemy is foolish enough to try to take your men again they will not survive contact. We are here to win.

The news looks grim from back in the States. We did take losses that, in our hearts, we will always live with. The men we lost were taken within the very opening minutes of the violence. They could not have foreseen the treachery of the enemy and they did not suffer. We can never replace these Marines and Sailors but they will fight on with us in spirit. We are not feeling sorry for ourselves nor do we fear what tomorrow will bring. The battalion has lived up to its reputation as Magnificent Bastards.

Yesterday made everyone here stronger and wiser; it will be a cold day in Hell before we are taken for granted again.

And a less rosy picture from DEBKAfile. I have no idea which of these are credible.

Lunch is over; back to work.

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