People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it. Welcome to From On High.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

The Mission

I'm so proud of what these guys are doing over in Iraq. In spite of the dangers they face, and despite the fact that half of America has abandoned them, they fight for ultimate victory. The greatest fighting force in history.

The story that accompanies the picture:

The Marine Corps gunnery sergeant in the picture is Michael Burghard, part of the Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Team that is supporting 2nd Brigade 28th Infantry Division (Pennsylvania Army National Guard).

I heard the below story first hand last Saturday during a video teleconference between his Brigade Commander and the 28th Infantry Division Commander. I thought that others should hear it as well, as I think it demonstrates the true spirit of most of our troops on the ground (from my experience).

Leading the fight is Gunnery Sgt Michael Burghardt, known as "Iron Mike" or just "Gunny". He is on his third tour in Iraq. He had become a legend in the bomb disposal world after winning the Bronze Star for disabling 64 IEDs and destroying 1,548 pieces of ordnance during his second tour.

Then, on September 19, he got blown up.

He had arrived at a chaotic scene after a bomb had killed four US soldiers. He chose not to wear the bulky bomb protection suit. "You can't react to any sniper fire and you get tunnel-vision," he explains. So, protected by just a helmet and standard-issue flak jacket, he began what bomb disposal officers term "the longest walk", stepping gingerly into a 5 ft deep and 8 ft wide crater.

The earth shifted slightly and he saw a Senao base station with a wire leading from it. He cut the wire and used his 7 inch knife to probe the ground.

"I found a piece of red detonating cord between my legs," he says. "That's when I knew I was screwed."

Realizing he had been sucked into a trap, Sgt Burghardt, 35, yelled at everyone to stay back.

At that moment, an insurgent, probably watching through binoculars, pressed a button on his mobile phone to detonate the secondary device below the sergeant's feet. "A chill went up the back of my neck and then the bomb exploded," he recalls. "As I was in the air I remember thinking, 'I don't believe they got me.' I was just ticked off they were able to do it.

Then I was lying on the road, not able to feel anything from the waist down."

His colleagues cut off his trousers to see how badly he was hurt. None could believe his legs were still there.

"My dad's a Vietnam vet who's paralyzed from the waist down," says Sgt Burghardt. "I was lying there thinking I didn't want to be in a wheelchair next to my dad and for him to see me like that. They started to cut away my pants and I felt a real sharp pain and blood trickling down. Then I wiggled my toes and I thought, 'Good, I'm in business.'

As a stretcher was brought over, adrenaline and anger kicked in. "I decided to walk to the helicopter. I wasn't going to let my teammates see me being carried away on a stretcher." He stood and gave the insurgents who had blown him up a one-fingered salute. "

I flipped them one. It was like, "OK, I lost that round but I'll be back next week."

Copies of a photograph depicting his defiance, taken by Jeff Bundy for the Omaha World-Herald, adorn the walls of homes across America and that of Col John Gronski, the brigade commander in Ramadi, who has hailed the image as an exemplar of the warrior spirit. Sgt Burghardt's injuries - burns and wounds to his legs and buttocks - kept him off duty for nearly a month and could have earned him a ticket home. But, like his father - who was awarded a Bronze Star and three Purple Hearts for being wounded in action in Vietnam - he stayed in Ramadi to engage in the battle against insurgents who are forever coming up with more ingenious ways of killing Americans.

The S**t Hits The Fan

It's environmentalists vs. environmentalists over in Greenbrier County. This is going to be more fun to watch than the all-girls mud wrestling contest at the local honky tonk:

Greenbrier is Ground Zero in fight over wind power
Environmentalist Sierra Club backs plan for 124 towers
By Eric Eyre, Charleston Gazette Staff writer

The battle over wind energy continues to divide West Virginia’s environmental community.

Last week, the state’s Sierra Club chapter endorsed a Chicago-based developer’s plans to build 124 electricity-generating wind turbines along mountain ridges in Greenbrier County. The move caught project opponents — many of whom call themselves environmentalists — by surprise. (link)

I hope this dispute doesn't go nuclear ...

Where's The Macaca Crowd?

Let's conduct a survey.

Andrew Young, big Democrat, former mayor of Atlanta, former congressman, had this to say in response to a question about Wal-Mart driving out small neighborhood businesses:

"Well, I think they should; they ran the mom-and-pop stores out of my neighborhood.

"But you see, those are the people who have been overcharging us, selling us stale bread and bad meat and wilted vegetables. And they sold out and moved to Florida. I think they've ripped off our communities enough.

"First it was Jews, then it was Koreans and now it's Arabs; very few black people own these stores." (
A reasonable person would regard that as being about as bigoted a statement as one might read.

So how have those in the Virginia blogosphere who have found such offense in the previously unknown word "macaca" reacted to Andrew Young's seeming intolerance and obvious prejudice? Let's find out. We'll stroll through their pages in alphabetical order:

Blue Dog? Nothing.

Howling Latina? Not howling yet.

Update 08/19/06 8:08am: HL actually has addressed the Young flap. She defends his remarks here. My apologies.

Loudoun Democrats? Nope ...

Monstrosity ("By the Ditzy Democrats")? It's anybody's guess.

Not Larry Sabato? He does only Virginia racism and bigotry it would seem.

Raising Kaine? Why did I even look.

Richmond Democrat? Uh ... no.

The Southern Democrat? Any day now.

The Virginia Progressive? Give him time. He's progressing.

VB Dems Blog? No.

Virginia Centrist? No. He focuses only on "George Allen: Friend of the noose industry!" apparently.

Update August 20, 9:31am: VC now has a post in which he addresses Andrew Young's bigotry. Oops. No, my mistake. Just more of the usual vacuity.

Vivian J. Paige? Yes. By God, just when I'd concluded that the teenagers all had some undisclosed ulterior motive for their selective outrage, Vivian (the lone mature adult in the crowd) comes through with this:

Who would have thought… August 18, 2006
Posted by vjp in
Politics, Local, Race.

… that you would have former UN Ambassador, Atlanta mayor and
long-time civil rights leader Andrew Young saying
this about Wal-Mart replacing mom-and-pop stores ...

Thanks go out to Vivian J. Paige for being consistent. And for being dispassionate in her approach to all this.

As for the rest of you, we're all waiting for the shrill denunciations, the photoshopped pictures of Andrew Young in KKK regalia, and the inane comparisons to Adolf Hitler.

Yeah, we're all waiting.

Let's See How Disinterested They Are Now

Liberals in this country (you remember them; they're the champions of civil liberties) were strangely silent the day after heavily armed federal agents stormed little Elian Gonzalez' home in Miami and packed him off to Cuba. It will be interesting to see if they are as silent as a similar saga in Chicago plays out:

Chicago Woman’s Stand Stirs Immigration Debate
By Gretchen Ruethling, The New York Times

CHICAGO, Aug. 18 — In a small storefront church in a Puerto Rican neighborhood on the city’s West Side, Elvira Arellano, a fugitive from the government, waits with her 7-year-old son and prays.

Ms. Arellano, 31, an illegal immigrant from Mexico, defied an order to report to the Department of Homeland Security on Tuesday to be deported and is instead seeking sanctuary in her church. (
Any bets on whether this woman will be allowed, unlike the little Cuban boy who was forced at gunpoint to return to a ruthless communist dictatorship, to stay in the USA?

But You Guys Want Bipartisanship ...

Democrats in Washington often lament the bitter partisanship that exists today in the nation's capital. And weak-minded party members believe the drivel. Well, there's a story in Connecticut playing out that involves bipartisanship at its essence. Let's see how the party faithful react:
G.O.P. Deserts One of Its Own for Lieberman
By Anne E. Kornblut, The New York Times

Facing Senator Joseph I. Lieberman’s independent candidacy, Republican officials at the state and national level have made the extraordinary decision to abandon their official candidate, and some are actively working to help Mr. Lieberman win in November.

Despite Mr. Lieberman’s position that he will continue to caucus with Democrats if re-elected, all three Republican Congressional candidates in Connecticut have praised Mr. Lieberman and have not endorsed the party’s nominee, Alan Schlesinger. An independent group with Republican ties is raising money for Mr. Lieberman, who has been a strong supporter of President Bush on the Iraq war. (link)
So here we have a strong - and growing - coalition of Democrats, Republicans, and independents lining up behind Joe Lieberman. A match made in heaven, yes?

We'll see.

Not Always The Best And Brightest

The verdicts are coming in with regard to federal judge Anna Diggs Taylor's ruling in the NSA eavesdropping case. It now appears that experts are universally astounded by the woman's weak intellectual capabilities and/or her hate-infested thought processes:

Experts Fault Reasoning in Surveillance Decision
By Adam Liptak, The New York Times

Even legal experts who agreed with a federal judge’s conclusion on Thursday that a National Security Agency surveillance program is unlawful were distancing themselves from the decision’s reasoning and rhetoric yesterday.

They said the opinion overlooked important precedents, failed to engage the government’s major arguments, used circular reasoning, substituted passion for analysis and did not even offer the best reasons for its own conclusions.

Discomfort with the quality of the decision is almost universal, said Howard J. Bashman, a Pennsylvania lawyer whose Web log provides comprehensive and nonpartisan reports on legal developments.

“It does appear,” Mr. Bashman said, “that folks on all sides of the spectrum, both those who support it and those who oppose it, say the decision is not strongly grounded in legal authority.” (link)

"... not strongly grounded in legal authority." That's a kind way of saying Anna Diggs Taylor made it up on the fly. She proves to be just another Democrat (appointed by Jimmy Carter) who hates George Bush and who, because of that, simply decided to rule against him.

It's up to you, by the way, to decide if this bunch is ever allowed to be back in power again ...

This Is Huge

Ford Motor Company is floundering:
Ford Is Slashing Production 20% for 4th Quarter
By Micheline Naynard, The New York Times

DEARBORN, Mich., Aug. 18 — The Ford Motor Company, which is struggling to keep its grip on second place in the American car market, said Friday that it would cut by one-fifth the number of vehicles it plans to build in the final three months of the year.

The slowdown represented the deepest production cuts since the industry’s crisis of the 1980’s. It also underscored the difficulty that Detroit, whose business relies on sales of sport utility vehicles and pickup trucks, is having as gas prices remain around $3 a gallon. Detroit’s market share has dropped to its lowest level in history, while Asian brands, known for their fuel efficiency, are setting sales records. (
The difficulties being experienced by Ford (and GM) are going to have a profound rippling effect across the USA. I hope these guys get their houses in order - sooner rather than later.