War's Wrenching Counterpoint to Quints' Arrival (washingtonpost.com)

Sgt. Horton:

Thanks to everyone who sent me this morning's story from the Washington Post. Turns out he's in Bethesda, which is only a couple of hours from here. Maybe I'll drop in to see the fellow next week, if the National Naval Medical Center allows visitors. Does anyone know?

War's Wrenching Counterpoint to Quints' Arrival (washingtonpost.com)

Sgt. Horton:

Thanks to everyone who sent me this morning's story from the Washington Post. Turns out he's in Bethesda, which is only a couple of hours from here. Maybe I'll drop in to see the fellow next week, if the National Naval Medical Center allows visitors. Does anyone know?

The Command Post - 2004 Presidential Election

Really, His Senate Record Means Nothing At All:

Yet again we are being told by the Kerry campaign to please ignore the last two decades of his career:

When asked to reconcile all that she had said about Kerry's purported positive views on space with a voting record wherein he repeatedly voted to cut or cancel various NASA activities including the ISS, Garver noted that she was not all that concerned about this - and that one should not consider Kerry�s Senate voting record as being indicative of how Kerry would view NASA as President.
Come on, now. How the man has voted for two decades says nothing whatsoever about his opinions on the military, intelligence,and now space policy? Just what is the role of a Senator's vote, then?

Marine Corps Times - News - More News

A Troubling Note to An Earlier Story:

Marine Sgt. Joshua Horton, the Marine who deployed just in advance of the birth of quintuplets, is back in the USA. Sadly, it's because he was seriously hurt:

A Marine sergeant who was seriously injured in Iraq just days before his wife gave birth to quintuplets has been told about the new babies, a Marine spokesman said Wednesday. 'His mom and sisters met with him today. He's been able to talk to doctors and he knows he?s a dad five times over now,' said Maj. Rick Coates, a spokesman for Sgt. Joshua Horton's Chicago-based unit, the 2nd Battalion 24th Marine Regiment. The couple has two other children.

Coates said Horton, 28, was concerned about the babies who all weighed less than two pounds when they were born premature Monday in a Naperville, Ill., hospital. But he said Horton talked to his wife, Taunacy, who reassured him that the babies were in good health. The babies remained in critical but stable condition Wednesday, according to Edward Hospital.
Sgt. Horton himself is also in critical but stable condition. Grim's Hall sends our best. Thanks to Janie from Seattle for dropping a note to me about it. If anyone hears more, including especially ways to help out, let me know.



I've just realized, while looking at the AuthentiSEAL webpage, that the book about their exploits uncovering fake SEALs was written by an old friend of mine. Steve Robinson, known to me as "Tiny," is not only a former SEAL and investigator of false claims to military glory. He's also a blacksmith, the first Westerner ever to be admitted into the Russian Hammerman's guild, and also a member of the ancient Scottish Hammerman's guild.

Since Tiny has posted a few pictures of himself on the website, I thought I'd give you one that was a bit more recent. Here is Tiny at the Grandfather Mountain Scottish Highland Games, wearing his "Clan McTablecloth" tartan greatkilt.

Mystery Surrounds Kerry's Navy Discharge - October 13, 2004 - The New York Sun

Kerry Dishonorably Discharged?

You've probably seen the The New York Sun piece explaining why it is likely that Kerry was dishonorably discharged from the Navy. This is a well-researched story, founded in exactly the kind of details about military procedure that usually escapes the journalist community.

Is the author right? Perhaps. I know that the director of AuthentiSEAL has been looking into just this question for quite a while. I've gotten the chain email started by Mr. Nash several times, though I haven't published it because it contained questions but no answers. The Sun piece is different -- it's got some hard facts:

According to the secretary of the Navy's document, the "authority of reference" this board was using in considering Mr. Kerry's record was "Title 10, U.S. Code Section 1162 and 1163. "This section refers to the grounds for involuntary separation from the service. What was being reviewed, then, was Mr. Kerry's involuntary separation from the service. And it couldn't have been an honorable discharge, or there would have been no point in any review at all....

There are a number of categories of discharges besides honorable. There are general discharges, medical discharges, bad conduct discharges, as well as other than honorable and dishonorable discharges. There is one odd coincidence that gives some weight to the possibility that Mr. Kerry was dishonorably discharged. Mr. Kerry has claimed that he lost his medal certificates and that is why he asked that they be reissued. But when a dishonorable discharge is issued, all pay benefits, and allowances, and all medals and honors are revoked as well. And five months after Mr. Kerry joined the U.S. Senate in 1985, on one single day, June 4, all of Mr. Kerry's medals were reissued.
All that is reasonable -- as is the presumption that a Naval Officer who secretly met with the Viet Cong leadership and negotiated a peace treaty with them might not have been honorably discharged. Indeed, one would expect that the least that he would face would be a dishonorable discharge. That Kerry did so is not disputed by anyone, so far as I know, and his work on "The People's Peace Treaty" is a matter of public record.

Will this story get enough legs to impress itself into the public mind between now and 2 November? I hope so, if it's true. A man who violated his oath as a Naval officer ought not to be trusted to keep his oath as President.

This is a point made recently by BlackFive, discussing LtCol Khan's recent removal from command. "For example, look at the comments surrounding the posts here about Marine LtCol Khan who may very well be facing a dead end career because he won't fight his removal from command...he won't fight BECAUSE IT WOULD COST THE MARINE CORPS TOO MUCH. LtCol Khan doesn't want to cause a stir while Marines are fighting overseas. "

How that contrasts with a man who went out of his way to undermine the cause for which his fellow sailors were fighting. How it contrasts with a man who went out of his way to cause a stir ('If we chain crippled vets to the White House fence, will you cover it?'). Then there was that Senate testimony of 1971, in which another Mr. Khan was invoked by John Kerry, who said he was the model for the military's behavior.

Kerry's not out of the woods with military men, not yet. The stories about his bad behavior hurt him in August, but there has been a respite since then. Yet now, with only a few weeks to go, there is a last chance to make Americans aware of Kerry's dishonorable actions, and unfitness to serve in any high or respected office.

Carter may have pardoned him, but we have not.

Japan Today - News - China reportedly moves over 30,000 troops near N Korean border - Japan's Leading International News Network

Another "Drill"?

The People's Liberation Army has reportedly deployed 30,000 soldiers on the DPRK border. The report does not make clear whether these are part of the 150,000 deployed in the region, which include heavy armor and artillery, or if they are an additional 30,000 troops.

BostonHerald.com - International News: Japan struggles to define new patriotism untainted by wartime debacle

'If You Say "Patriotism," It Sounds like Extremism.'

The Japanese are sorting out the answer to a familiar problem:

Six decades after the end of World War II, patriotism is making a comeback in Japan. In classrooms, barracks and the corridors of power, the Japanese are extolling the virtues of national strength and pride with greater freedom and enthusiasm than at any time since their defeat in 1945.

The revival - accelerated by the groundbreaking dispatch of troops to Iraq earlier this year - is wearing away the ground rules established in the postwar years, when Japan renounced militarism, and patriotism was tainted with the horrors of war.

Nowadays, Japan's most cherished postwar principles are being challenged by a series of firsts: first deployment in a combat zone; first serious political debate about amending the pacifist constitution; first prime minister to make an annual official practice of visiting the Yasukuni Shrine. Another first looks imminent: a partial lifting of Japan's ban on arms exports.
Japan has been moving in this direction for years. I recall back in 2000, while I was living in China, the Japanese budgeted for an aircraft carrier. The Chinese press went nuts. "Why should a self defense force need an aircraft carrier?" they asked, reasonably enough. Aircraft carriers are about power projection.

The Chinese remember World War II very differently from anyone else. The Chinese I talked to about it all called it "The War of Japanese Imperialist Aggression," which indeed is how it must have looked from Manchuria. A renewed strength in Japan is troubling to the Chinese, but they hate more any renewed Japanese patriotism -- that is, not just strength but the belief in your country's rightness that encourages strength's use.

Yet it is not healthy to be ashamed of your heritage. It is necessary to be able to recognize where your parents -- or countrymen -- have gone wrong, and where they have fallen from the ideals you would want upheld. At the same time, you have to be able to recognize and honor the good that they did. To do otherwise is to believe that you come from poisoned earth. It darkens your understanding, and it weakens your ability to defend the right in the future.

Germany suffers from the same problem as Ms. Yoko Takaoka, wife of an SDF man and someone who wants to be proud of what her country is doing in the world today. But...

'Patriotism? If you say that, it reminds me of the old army. It sounds like extremism,' she said as her toddler daughter gazed up at an imposing Cobra attack helicopter at the army base display.
Southerners, at least, understand the difficulty of sorting out the problems of history. Most Southerners have a Confederate soldiers in the family tree. Many of the South's recognizable symbols and much of its heritage are impossible to separate from those four years in the 1860s. You can't travel through the South without crossing battlefields, which is not true in other parts of the country. Indeed, this little town where work has brought me for this year changed hands 67 times during the Civil War.

Bold and remarkable things were done by men in grey, brave and wonderous things. They fought with passion, with brilliance, and with honor. They won the praise of their foes at every turn. And yet, and yet...

They fought for good reasons, but also for bad ones -- including one particular evil. The Union soldiers (many Southerners, including me, have ancestors from both sides of the war) fought brutally, with far less art, and finally were able to find victory only through the most astonishing cruelty, and the complete rejection of the laws of war and the rules of chivalry. General Sherman trained Col. Custer, and they together did worse things in the South than in the Black Hills. In the wake of the war, Sherman proposed literal genocide: slaughtering former Confederates, and distributing the land of the South to the Union army's soldiers as compensation for fighting in the war.

Yes, the Union also fought for many reasons, some bad, and one very good, bright and shining.

So it is with sympathy that I read these reports from Japan, where the folk are dealing with hard questions, and feeling guilty about feeling proud. It is necessary to learn to be proud of the good, without forgetting the bad. It is necessary, in other words, to learn to forgive your ancestors: to recognize their flaws, their failings, and even their crimes, but to love them anyway.

That love of home, ancestor, and country is the very definition of patriotism. I understand how the Japanese, as others, can stand at the start of the road back to patriotism and wonder at it. Patriotism might indeed sound extreme, looking at the long road with its ditches full of waste and ruin, crime and cruelty.

Yet, in the end, patriotism proves to be a kind of health. As with other loves that forgive, it sets you free: free to honor the past, and to work for better in the future.