Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Not My Problem. Why Are You Asking Me? 

Ordinarily we try not to pinch more than one item at a time from our indefatigable colleague Rorschach at No Capital, but today we must beg his indulgence. It seems that the beloved cartoon characters "Not Me" and "Ida Know" have taken a brief leave of absence from The Family Circus in order to spread their special brand of holiday cheer among our men and women in uniform:

1) "NOT ME" TO TROOPS: Sure, we embroiled you in a needless war that we've already lost, and we can't let you go home because we don't have anyone to replace you, and if you do ever make it home (in one piece or otherwise) you'll find that we've slashed your veterans' benefits to finance another round of tax cuts. But don't worry: charity and volunteerism are sure to pick up the slack!
Bush, who frequently has spoken in the past tense of victories achieved, talked of "eventually" stabilizing Iraq and commented almost wistfully about defeating the enemy in the future. He also said returning troops need more help than they are getting, a particularly poignant theme at this sprawling base, which has been hit harder than most -- 269 Marines killed in action in Iraq and thousands more wounded.

After declaring, "We should be doing more," Bush issued an urgent plea for Americans to support the troops with volunteer efforts and to give them the kind of welcome home that, he noted, returning Vietnam veterans were denied a generation ago.

"The time of war is a time of sacrifice, especially for our military families,'' the president said after describing some voluntary programs to assist the troops. "I urge every American to find some way to thank our military and to help out the military family down the street.''
2) "IDA KNOW" TO TROOPS: Hey, dudes, if your number's up, your number's up!
Army Spc. Thomas Wilson, for example, of the 278th Regimental Combat Team that is comprised mainly of citizen soldiers of the Tennessee Army National Guard, asked Rumsfeld in a question-and-answer session why vehicle armor is still in short supply, nearly two years after the start of the war that ousted Iraqi President Saddam Hussein (news - web sites).

"Why do we soldiers have to dig through local landfills for pieces of scrap metal and compromised ballistic glass to uparmor our vehicles?" Wilson asked. A big cheer arose from the approximately 2,300 soldiers in the cavernous hangar who assembled to see and hear the secretary of defense.

Rumsfeld hesitated and asked Wilson to repeat his question. "We do not have proper armored vehicles to carry with us north," Wilson said after asking again.
Rumsfeld replied that troops should make the best of the conditions they face and said the Army was pushing manufacturers of vehicle armor to produce it as fast as humanly possible.

And, the defense chief added, armor is not always a savior in the kind of combat U.S. troops face in Iraq, where the insurgents' weapon of choice is the roadside bomb, or improvised explosive device that has killed and maimed hundreds, if not thousands, of American troops since the summer of 2003.

"You can have all the armor in the world on a tank and it can (still) be blown up," Rumsfeld said.

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