Wednesday, September 27, 2006

the highway scribe’s mom likes to say, “Be careful what you wish for, you might get it.”

The (r)epublicans wanted a debate on national security to bolster their sagging electoral prospects and they got one, complete with the ghost of Bill Clinton wagging his finger at them.

Talk about a right-winger’s nightmare. Clinton may have disappointed the left, but he never ceased to horrify le droit as they say in La France.

Bush, angry and bent on jailing some reporter for leaking findings in the “national intelligence estimate,” declassified his favorite parts of the report.

The idea was to counter arguments the war in Iraq was helping terrorists recruit and inflame, but it had just the opposite effect.

No clearer example of the (p)resident’s disconnect from the reality of Iraq could be asked for. Even when he reads it, he thinks it says something else.

the scribe likes politics because he’s a leftist who would like to engineer a more just society, so all this national security stuff does not really tune his fork.

Nonetheless, four years of war are four years of war. People keep dying and the world gets more crazy and it’s just a little hard to consciously avoid this ghastly affair unleashed by (w).

Apropos, below, is an article from Wednesday’s “San Diego Union-Tribune” entitled, “Death of gunner, 52, shows strain on U.S.”

Sometimes a headline’s enough to say it all and this is one such case.

Be that as it may, highwayscribery will excerpt some quotes and throw in the usual pithy asides before getting on with the business of the day which, fortunately, does not involve killing or (hopefully) being killed.

Sargent First Class Meredith Howard was an adventurous and trailblazing woman who became a firefighter back in the 1970s and joined the National Guard in 1988. The article suggests she basically went about her business, showing up to drills, handling paperwork, and hoping to get out with some benefits after 20 years service.

But then she got called up, something of a first, to serve in a “provincial reconstruction team” which performed work suggested by its name: a kind of military outfit with civil pretensions. These units, the piece by Kim Barker and James Janega of the “Chicago Tribune” explained, were being filled by a mix of Army, Navy, Air Force and Reserve soldiers as a “stopgap” measure.

That means they were scrambling to staff a project with people who didn’t belong, and it represented the first step toward Howard’s perdition.

Anyway, she didn’t like that work and managed to get herself a position in a gun turret atop one of those ubiquitous Humvees so symbolic of our desperate Middle Eastern missions.

She wanted this and liked it and thought driving around like that would give little, oppressed Afghani girls something to dream about, which should give one pause where the policy of sending soldiers to build societies is concerned.

The article noted, “According to Pentagon policy, women are excluded from serving in combat units, though in the chaotic realities of Iraq and Afghanistan, their support roles have grown ever closer to the front lines.”

That means they are scrambling to staff combat missions with people who don’t belong on them; the second step down her road to perdition.

Anyway, she was killed in (what else?) a suicide bomber attack outside Kabul on Sept. 8, the oldest servicewoman to have died in combat – ever.

The description of how that happened is worth reading, if you’re not already up to your eyeballs in death and destruction.

We run this piece so as to echo the editorial intent of the “Chicago Tribune” and the “San Diego Union-Tribune,” which are to be lauded for assigning and repeating the piece, respectively.

We run it to continue our long-standing focus on the foot soldiers in this war, emphasizing faces rather than think-tank policy arguments, which you can get by early rising and watching Bill Kristol on the Sunday morning talk shows.

Like our regular bulletins from the California governor’s office, we run them to remember those who have died such terrible deaths, to prick consciences, and mold a reflective and critical civic culture.

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