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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

2155 Somewhere on a dark road near Meridian, MS

I've gone on an important mission which naturally I cannot reveal at this time...

But suffice it to say, it's not Bigfoot hunting.

We drove deep into the Mississippi Delta this afternoon and blew a cute Beaver's Dam 200 feet into the sky.

Tomorrow at dawn... I'll be catfish fishing... then taking a look at it's DNA...

More to come...

Friday, October 26, 2007

Rooting for Failure

On Wednesday, Maj. Gen. Richard Sherlock said this at a press briefing:

“In Al Anbar province, last week we had no casualties, killed or wounded in action. And that’s the first time in recent memory that I can be able to say that.”

Wait – hold on there for a second? Did you read that?!

NO CASUALTIES, killed or wounded.

I spent the month of November in Fallujah (heart of Anbar) last year. My nickname given to me by the Alpha Company of the 1/24 Marines was “whoosh-bang.” I got that name because it was the sound the RPG made when Al Qaeda fired it at my Humvee on my first day in Fallujah.

And now? No casualties or even injuries… I’m not an accomplished editor of any major news outlet… BUT THAT IS MAJOR NEWS.

After an extensive search of Lexis-Nexis, it appears that only FOX News’ Jennifer Griffin and Bill O’Reilly bothered to mention that statement. No major newspapers, no evening newscasts.

And you wonder why real Americans across this great nation go around asking those of us in the press: Are you guys rooting against success in Iraq?

That is pathetic.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week

It’s happening on college campuses all across America this week and it’s sparking both student protests and outrage.

Ahmadinejad is back again, you say?

Quite the contrary. According to Conservative Author David Horowitz, this week is being officially dubbed “Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week,” with over 60 speakers on over 100 campuses nationwide.

Horowitz launched a movement that he hopes will catch on beyond this week intended to make students more aware (in his own words) of who “the real enemy” is that faces our future. That enemy is radical Islam and it’s Horowitz’s belief too many people on the left make excuses for confronting groups like Al Qaeda, the Taliban, Hamas, and the Muslim Brotherhood.

Horowitz’s theme of IFAW is focused on the oppression of Muslim women in the Islamic world. And he says that the term “Islamo-fascism” - while appearing racist or offensive to some - actually comes from Muslims in Algeria in the 1990s.

Interestingly too but not surprising, many campuses so far have been less welcoming of Mr. Horowitz when compared to Columbia’s President and Mr. Ahmadinejad.

Nevertheless, Horowitz culminates his weeklong tour with a speech at Columbia University this Friday.

I will be interviewing Mr. Horowitz on Thursday and will dutifully report here how the controversial campus movement is being received. Mr. Horowitz says on his blog today( that it’s “already a success.”

Friday, October 19, 2007

Beer for Breakfast

I am usually the first to rise in our household unless it’s a weekend and I had to work late the night before… which is why I was so puzzled to see my wife bound out of bed at O’dark thirty and mumble something about being very thirsty as she wandered out of the bedroom.

Now, let me pause for a moment to say something here about my wife’s Diet Coke addiction – it’s bad. She is a wonderful and gorgeous woman of great intelligence and compassion, but if you had to find one vice of hers… it’d be that silver, black, and red can of sugar-free cola.

And if you think of it, there are certainly worse things one could begin their morning with that would be much worse – a martini? a cigarette?

But this morning was different from other thirsty mornings for her.

“Did you buy beer in a can last night?” my wife asked a little later in the morning.

“Why, yes, dear. I did,” I told her a bit confused.

[Disclaimer: I am a beer snob and recently discovered a fantastic Colorado brew called “Dale’s Pale Ale” in a can.]

“Thanks a lot – I just reached in the fridge to my Diet Coke shelf in the dark, grabbed one and chugged it,” she said. “Now I have a headache.”

[Note: she has HER OWN shelf for Diet Coke – I told you there was an addiction here.]

Twenty-five or so years ago… I once told a childhood friend’s parents that my mom drank Jack Daniel’s in the bathtub. I have no idea where I got that – but it was pretty funny, or so I thought at the time. Now when I teach our daughters to tell their parents’ friends that “mommy drinks beer for breakfast,” there will be some modicum of truth.


Thursday, October 18, 2007

World War III?

President Bush caught the WH Press Corps, as well as many Americans, off guard yesterday at a news conference when responding to a question about Iran and nukes by FOX’s WH Chief Correspondent Bret Baier.

“We’ve got a leader in Iran who has announced that he wants to destroy Israel. So I’ve told people that, if you’re interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing them (Iran) from having the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon.”

Today at the Pentagon Blogger’s Roundtable, I had the opportunity to ask the new Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Gary Roughead for some clarity on Pres. Bush’s WWIII comments and find out how the Navy is planning to contend with the threat of a nuclear Iran.

Here’s what Adm. Roughead had to say:

“I would say that the diplomatic efforts that are on going with regards to Iran is a path we must be on. As far as our Navy is concerned, our Navy is globally deployed, it is a well-trained, well-prepared, well-equipped and my responsibilities is to be able to ensure the Navy remains that way and can be used in ways that the commander-in-chief dictates.”

Later in the day, Def. Sec. Robert Gates was asked about the WWIII comments as well and he spoke to the concern of a “nuclear arms race in the Middle east” should Iran be able to acquire them.

So the question begs:

IF Iran is able to go nuclear, will this administration – or even GOP Presidential candidates for that matter – be able to overcome cries for diplomacy from the Democrats?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Life is a State of Mind

I am a chronic optimist – I find it is the most fulfilling way to lead your life. But I have been dying to write this particular blog post for many years… so I beg your forgiveness – in advance – for those who might disagree.

There is a crisp coolness to the air in the nation’s Capital these days. The leaves are changing from green to a beautiful autumn mosaic of amber colors. The days are getting shorter and the onset of fall is ever-present as each sunset hangs dimmer until alas the first snow will arrive.

So what’s the problem with this Norman Rockwell portrait?

I hate the Seasons.

Seriously. Ever think of why the colors are changing? It’s because the plants are DYING. That’s not very exciting. I think it would be pretty if flowers bloomed ALL YEAR long. Why must everything drop dead in the cold bitter winter and then come back in the spring when we’re all exhausted from frigid temps? It’s like Mother Nature decided to apply the Soviet-method of Appreciation – take everything away and replace it with harshness.

In full disclosure, this seasonal anxiety of mine may be brought on by my knowledge that soon I will no longer surf the warm waters of the East Coast – but have to don a thick wetsuit in howling winds to surf with frozen blocks of ice for feet. Two of my fingers suffer from permanent frostbite, so I am an 8-fingered wonder from November to April.

And the other thing – you know what the message of the annual seasons are?


Ever consider that one?

I actually sympathize with people who claim to love the dead of winter – at least they know what they want – even it seems depressing to me.

I had this conversation with one of my friends at work, Linda, who told me that her kids come visit every year from San Diego and always comment on how beautiful the seasons are here in DC. And I told her: her children need to visit in February more often.

For all who have seen “Being There,” one of the most memorable scenes is when “Chauncey Gardiner (Chance the Gardener)” is explaining the seasons to “the Old Man.”

“In the garden, growth has its seasons. First comes spring and summer, then you have fall and winter. And then we get spring and summer again.”

It is with these simple words that a mundane gardener becomes the likely candidate for President of the United States.

So the seasons are important? Wrong.

In the closing scene of the film, as Chauncey is walking on water over the pond, we hear the voice of the wealthy king maker – “the Old Man” who has passed away – saying “Life is a state of mind.”

Want to know what my Farmer’s Almanac says this year?

Sunny and 70 degrees – all year long.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Operation Marne Torch II

The most frequently asked question I get lately from friends is: What is really going on in Iraq?

It’s easy to see how and why people are so confused too – on one hand, you have retired General Ricardo Sanchez, who ran the war in Iraq during the tumultuous Abu Ghraib scandal, saying that the “surge” is not working and that the war in Iraq is a “nightmare with no end in sight.”

On the other hand, you have the Washington Post reporting on its front page that the US Military has dealt “a devastating blow to Al Qaeda” – which would lead one to believe that the “surge” is clearly achieving its goal.

So at today’s Pentagon Blogger’s Roundtable, I had the opportunity to pose that question to Col. Terry Ferrell, Commander 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd ID, MND-C.

Col. Ferrell’s area of operation is the heavily Sunni-dominated area of Arab Jabour - south of Baghdad and mostly rural landscape. It has been a “sanctuary” for Al Qaeda in Iraq and his Operation Marne Torch II (which just completed) was aimed specifically at reducing AQI’s stranglehold as part of the larger “surge” that began several months ago.

So how are we doing?

“I can only speak for my area of operation… but Al Qaeda has been significantly reduced within our battle space,” Ferrell said.

Col. Ferrell reminded me that there is always concern for Al Qaeda to regroup and rebuild, but that he has had a lot of success in identifying the AQI members, finding their weapons caches and locating and destroying their IED factories – and in large part BECAUSE of the “Concerned Citizen Groups” of local Sunnis who assist our troops in the fight. These CCGs, in Ferrell’s eyes, have been the key instrument into establishing the first hope for real Iraqi governance to catch on in a relatively ungoverned region.

During Marne Torch II, Col. Ferrell reports that about 150 key AQI members – from foot soldiers to mid level operators and above were taken out of the fight – 3 significant members in the leadership structure were even killed in the last 30 days.

In his closing remarks on our conference call from Iraq, Col. Ferrell called the performance of his soldiers “truly phenomenal” to watch them engaging the enemy one moment and then working hand-in-hand with local Iraqis the next moment to build a better country.

Let’s hope their hard work and successes aren’t overlooked.

Monday, October 15, 2007

The Tooth Monster

Ever wonder why there aren’t more dental blogs?

Maybe it’s because everyone HATES GOING TO THE DENTIST (yours truly certainly included). It’s no fun sitting in that chair getting picked at and drilled on and basically yearning for the minutes and seconds to pass as fast as possible… Show me someone who says they enjoy going to the dentist and I’ll show you an individual with SERIOUS issues.

Perhaps you have guessed by now that I had to go to the dentist this morning? I plead guilty. And it wasn’t THAT bad – I got a great hygienist who was a pleasure to talk with and things were going pretty well right up until the end – when the dentist walked in and issued orders to the hygienist, “okay we need to re-drill and do replacement fillings on 28, 29, 30 and 31. Also, let’s crown 30.”


My survival instincts immediately engaged as I began to fumble about with any stall tactic I could think of, nearly resulting in my begging for mercy, but to no avail. Now I am riddled with anxiety about Thursday, Nov 1st at 2pm.

And while I would prefer to Katy-bar my office door and put a sign outside that reads: “You’ll never get 28, 29, 30 and 31 ALIVE!” – I also realize that this is for my own good and dental health.

No wonder dentists have high suicide rates – they have a tough job in that no one ever wants to see them. For comparison, I am on radio and television – and if people dreaded seeing me as much as they did seeing their dentist, then I’d be out of a job. So I guess (and I cannot believe I am actually going to write these words) dentists are really heroes in doing a job that comes with no gratitude or appreciation.

[Note: I read that one California dentist was accused of fondling women’s breast as “treatment for TMJ.” He is NOT among my aforementioned heroes.]

I also read on a dental blog today that some Brits are being forced to actually PULLING their own teeth because the NHS system in England is THAT bad – so just when you thought it couldn’t get worse…

So stop re-scheduling that visit (I NEVER DO THIS) to the dentist – they’ll give you something to SMILE about.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Saving the World AGAIN

Al Gore won the Nobel Peace Prize today for his tireless campaign against global warming. He successfully transitioned from a failed Presidential candidate to an environment darling in Hollywood for his movie “An Inconvenient Truth.” And he won an Emmy for launching a bizarre cable television channel geared towards young people with ADD.

I can only imagine how pleased the Polar Bears must be today. However, when you think about it – despite Al Gore’s strange personality, you have to give the guy credit because a large group of very serious-minded scientists actually came together to agree that Gore was the man to get the Laureate. So while there’ll be no shortage of late-night one-liners, maybe he did deserve the thing? After all, most Americans either agree or concede that we are experiencing a warming trend that threatens our planetary livelihood – whether it’s caused by man or not.

And now, consider this: you are reading this because YOU IS ON THE INTERNETS!

Oh – now you see where I’m going with this?

Perhaps you forgot… It’s was one Al Gore who “during my time in Congress, took the initiative in creating the Internet.”

Holy Dot Com, Batman! Can you imagine what our lives would be had Gore not created the web?

In fact, I am pretty sure that the world would cease to exist if suddenly we couldn’t “log on” and get our email!

So the question begs: What award can we offer Mr. Gore for your being able to read this blog?

Shoot me an email at - I’m wide open for suggestions… and we need to act fast before it turns into a planetary emergency.

Monday, October 8, 2007

True Warriors

I ran the Army Ten Miler yesterday in absolute awe of some the toughest warriors America’s ever known.

And the "Missing Parts in Action" team - about 28 of them in all – were the stuff goose bumps are made of. Their team leader, Major David Rozelle, told me that he hoped the entire world was watching their feat because it sends the message:

“You can knock an American down, but you can’t keep us down.”

And just to give some perspective on how rough it was out there in the heat and humidity, a runner from VA - a civilian - died after collapsing just 200 yards from the finish line... that’s the kind of incredible courage and strength that these guys demonstrated.

I ran the entire race with a handheld camera because their message is one that everyone needs to hear:

Don’t feel sorry for us – we were trained soldiers sent into battle who got hurt – and in this new chapter of our lives, we are the same warriors we were before – and still strong as ever.

It was something to witness as almost every runner who passed them, gave them a pat on the back and said things like: “You’re My Hero “ and “Way to Go Warrior!”

And for the record, I ran the ten miles in 92 minutes… a full 2 minutes BEHIND Maj. David Rozelle, America’s first amputee sent back to command troops on the battlefield in Iraq.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Missing Parts in Action

At today’s “Blogger’s Roundtable” (the Pentagon’s effort to bring bloggers into the fold with the latest on military issues), I had the high honor of speaking directly with a real American Hero… and now, I am shaking in my proverbial Nikes.

Want to know what a real American Hero is?

It’s Maj. David Rozelle, the Administrator for the Amputee Care Center at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Maj. Rozelle was leading a convoy in Hit, Iraq, west of Baghdad on 21 June 2003 when a landmine claimed his right foot. By June of 2004, just one year later, Rozelle became the first amputee in history to redeploy to the battlefield in Iraq to command troops again.

Maj. Rozelle is also the Team Captain of the “Missing Parts in Action” (Yes, he certainly hasn’t lost his sense of humor) running team for the Army Ten Miler here in Washington on Sunday. Rozelle started the team four years ago with 6 guys who wanted to overcome incredible odds – this year there are 30 team members. And I am going to attempt to keep up with them.

When I asked Rozelle what the significance of the race was for him, here’s what he told me:

“It’s a message to the enemy: I’M STILL STRONGER THAN YOU. I’M NOT BEAT.”

Want to know Rozelle’s favorite statistic?

“O – that’s the number of amputees who have committed suicide since 9/12/01.”

If “Inspiration” had a picture next to its definition in the dictionary, you’d see the one I’ve posted above.

If you want to know more about Maj. Rozelle’s amazing story, check out his book “Back in Action.”

And by the way, when I asked Rozelle how fast he plans to run the Ten Miler (in hopes of hearing some encouragement for my two-footed effort), he simply said:

“You better bring your running shoes, pal!”

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Ruling the World with Starbursts

In the age-old query put to kids in school, my daughter (a First-grader this year) was given the simple task of making three wishes.

“I want to rule the world (1) with an endless supply of Starbursts (2) and be rich (3),” she answered at the total surprise of both her teacher and her parents.

This morning, when I asked the same six-year old what she wanted to get her mother for her birthday this weekend, she said nonchalantly, “a new car.”

A NEW CAR?! We just got mom a new car a few years ago!

Being the responsible parent fully aware of life’s challenges – particularly of the financial order: mortgages, taxes, school, health care – the birthday answer immediately caused me significant angst and pessimism. But as my wife thankfully corrected me, the comment is actually quite funny and should be celebrated as such.

Something happens along the way in the journey of life and we eventually lose our ability to think and dream BIG – not by desire, but by sheer instinct. And as my wife also reminds me, this kid is always making outrageous suggestions for our birthdays or Christmases… because that’s what kids do.

We are incredibly lucky to have a typical kid with a great imagination who simply wants to see her sister and her parents happy… and rule the world with an endless supply of Starbursts.

Maybe adults could learn a thing or two from what comes out of the mouths of kids.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

I have just returned from a few days surfing in Mexico to learn:

1. Britney Spears has lost custody of her kids to “responsible” parent K-Fed.
2. The Senate has taken up the very important issue of attacking Rush Limbaugh.
3. The Cleveland Browns have become the team in the NFL to beat.

What the heck is going on?

I think if you connect some dots here, it would appear that: parenting in Hollywood, legislating in Washington, and competing in the NFL have all found new lows.

It’s always a bit overwhelming coming back to the world of news after being detached for a brief time – but gauging from the headlines that I have come back to, there is certainly hope for the week’s end.

Therefore I promise to find important and relevant issues to comment on – but apparently it’s going to take some heavy lifting. Thank goodness I didn’t take the entire week off!