One man's view of the world, from the top of this great big rock somewhere in the middle of God's Country, with an eye toward freedom....or at least some way to get back down without goin' over the edge.

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Location: West Virginia, United States

Former U.S. Army, SPC E-4, Veteran of Operation Desert Storm. If you are or have ever been a soldier, you have friends in my house.

Sunday, August 27, 2006


FOX News correspondent Steve Centanni and cameraman Olaf Wiig have been released:

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Two FOX News journalists were released by their kidnappers Sunday, nearly two weeks after they were taken hostage in the Gaza Strip.

The freeing of FOX correspondent Steve Centanni, 60, and cameraman Olaf Wiig, 36, ends the longest-running drama involving foreign hostages in Gaza.

The two journalists were dropped off at Gaza City's Beach Hotel by Palestinian security officials. A tearful Centanni embraced a Palestinian journalist briefly as he entered, then rushed upstairs as Wiig followed.

Centanni, in a phone interview shortly after his release, said "I'm fine. I'm just so happy to be free."

He said he was so emotional because he was out and alive.

"There were times when I thought 'I'm dead,' and I'm not," Centanni said. "I'm fine. I'm so very happy."
The report also says that a video was released not long before they were freed, in which the two were clad in Arabic robes and declaring their new Muslim faith.

According to Centanni, that did happen, but it wasn't their idea:

"We were forced to convert to Islam at gunpoint," Centanni told FOX News. "Don't get me wrong here. I have the highest respect for Islam, and I learned a lot of good things about it, but it was something we felt we had to do because they had the guns, and we didn't know what the hell was going on."
Maybe they didn't...but the PA says THEY did:

The journalists had been seized in Gaza City on Aug. 14 by a previously unknown group calling itself the Holy Jihad Brigades. However, senior Palestinian security officials said Sunday the name was a front for local militants, and that Palestinian authorities had known the identity of the kidnappers from the start.

Haniyeh also confirmed the kidnappers were from Gaza, squashing speculation that Al Qaeda had directed the abduction. "The kidnappers have no link to Al Qaeda or any other organization or faction," Haniyeh said. "Al Qaeda as an organization does not exist in the Gaza Strip."

It remained unclear whether the kidnappers had ties to Hamas or the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, a violent offshoot of Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah movement. A third group, the Popular Resistance Committees, claimed Sunday it had helped mediate the release of the journalists.

Folks, I may be wrong, but it's looking to me like this was all for braggin' rights.

Whatever. Screw it. They're free, and they're healthy. So 'scuse me whilst I say it again...


Read all about it, at Outside The Beltway, bRight and Early, Wizbang, and Right Truth.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Kidnapping of Journalists Centanni and Wiig -- Continued

There's been some unusual bits of news come to light lately concerning the kidnapping of FOXNewsmen Steve Centanni and Olaf Wiig.

Initially, there was finally a claiming of responsibility in the last day or so from a group calling themselves the "Holy Jihad Brigades", a previously unknown entity operating from Gaza. At least, a statement issued to various press organizations has identified them as such.

But now there are questions as to just who this really is.

Debbie over at Right Truth is doing a yeoman's job of gathering information on this subject, including an article in the Jerusalem Post stating that the two men are possibly being held by one of several groups under the purvey of the Palestinian Fatah....or that they were initially nabbed by some Palestinian Authority thugs trying to put the squeeze on their bosses to pay their wages:
PA security sources said they did not rule out the possibility that Fatah gunmen were holding the two journalists. "There are many rumors in the Gaza Strip and we are checking them," the sources said. "In the past, we've had several cases where Fatah-affiliated gunmen and disgruntled security officers kidnapped foreigners."
Juxtaposed neatly beside that story, I noticed, lies another one...possibly related?
Meanwhile, a Hamas minister accused Abbas of "confiscating" more than $35 million to pay his loyalists and supporters.
Minister of Culture Attallah Abu Sabah said the money had been collected by the government to pay the salaries of civil servants.
"Abbas took the money to pay members of the PLO executive committee and employees of Palestine TV," he said. "As a result, we were not able to pay the civil servants their full salaries."
Forgive me, friends, but when you have to kidnap somebody in order to get your paycheck, you've made a tactical vocational error somewhere.

All joking aside....Two days ago, when I read the statement that had been released, I had a gut feeling that the whole "free all Muslim prisoners from US jails within 72 hours" thing smelled a little funny -- especially after that much time had passed without any such demands. (I know, that's easy to say now, but it's true.) And, to me at least, the possibility that this was indeed the initial goal does still exist.

But to think this might all be just some kind of workers' holdout...UGH.

In the meantime, says FOX News:
JERUSALEM — A Palestinian Cabinet minister said Friday there were the "first promising signs" in the case of two FOX News journalists abducted in Gaza nearly two weeks ago.
"Efforts and contacts are being made to guarantee the safety and bring about the release of the two guests of Palestine," said Interior Minister Said Siyam of Hamas, speaking to reporters outside a Gaza mosque.
"There are first promising signs," Siyam said, without elaborating.
Whatever's going on behind all this...I'm still holding out hope that something gets worked out so Steve and Olaf can be released.

With these new variables added in, though, I can't help but wonder...what's it really gonna take?

(P.S. Inside the Fox story above, there is a link to the full text of recent statements Steve's brother Ken and Olaf's wife Anita McNaught have made in their pleas for their loved ones' release. Take a look for yourselves, o faithful ones...these are two WELL-spoken people.)

Thursday, August 24, 2006

"What The Hell Am I Gonna Do With This Blog Thing, Anyway?"

Odd question, isn't it? Especially since I'll be celebrating my two-year blogoversary this week. Sheesh, you'd think I'd have figured that out by now, right?

See, here's the thing...I didn't start this project with a particular aim in mind.

I mean, I like to poke fun at useful idiots as much as the next guy, but it's not like I'm a political expert. Like a lot of people, I voted for Clinton back in 1992...and then wondered why a few years later.

I've never been much of a counter-culturalist, even if I have taken a somewhat unusual viewpoint on a thing or two.

And, being a former soldier, I have on occasion piped up and said something like, "Hey -- There's a soldier getting screwed with here!"...but there are certainly more qualified, motivated and dedicated defenders of our military out there in the virtual world than I.

And I do like movies, and have reviewed one or two that I thought deserved it....but I've never been a big ol' screen buff, at least not to the level of some.

So I figured I'd just puke on the screen, and the words would point themselves in the direction they wanted to go.

Problem is...they didn't know either. I guess they figured I was the one doing the driving.
But then, that's the kind of thing that happens when you start a long road trip without a map.

So, two years later...Where am I?

The only real answer is, I suppose, right here where I started. Just a guy standing on a big ol' rock, sounding his barbaric "YAWP" over the rooftops of the world.

But hey...I've noticed that a few more people are starting to "YAWP" over mine. That means there's a few more people out there that have heard my voice, and thought I was worth yelling back at. Some of them are friends now, if only in the virtual sense.

And, if you ask me, that's pretty cool. I am now an active participant in a world that, three or four years ago, I knew next to nothing about. That's gotta be worth something, right?

I think so.

A Prodigal Son Comes Home

Ladies and gentlemen, one of our best and brightest has returned home.

After quite some time in Germany and other foreign ports, Greyhawk has brought his family back to the States....and has already noticed a few telling differences between our own shores and the German forests he has been calling home all this time.

For starters...we Yanks don't drive nearly as well as we think we do:
In Germany a traffic jam is called a stau, and the Germans handle them very well. Wherever two lanes become one, the "zipper" is automatically used, and vehicles from each lane take turns merging into the one surviving lane.
Meanwhile, back where the two lanes have slowed to a crawl, the vehicles in each lane split as far as possible to the outside of their respective lanes, creating an effective center lane for use by emergency vehicles that may need to move quickly forward to the source of the delay. In America none of these things are done, and the best you can hope for is that not too many of your immediate neighbors will lean on their horns in hopes of moving the row of vehicles extending to the horizon before them.

(Now I've never been to Germany, but I have spent a lot of time on the American highway, both as a young member of my father's Air Force family and as head honcho of my own. And if what he says about German motorists is even half-true...he's right. But I digress.)

Stop on by, folks, and welcome him back. He deserves it.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

FOX News Reporter & Cameraman Missing for Over A Week

Boy, talk about something slipping under your radar...I think I had mine turned off when this happened.

FOX News correspondent Steve Centanni and his cameraman Olaf Wiig were kidnapped on Monday of last week in Gaza. We still don't know by whom, as most of the major players in the area are still actively denying responsibility for the act.

That worries me. I'm certainly no expert, but if there was a political point to kidnapping these two, it would have been made known by now. Terrorists feed on fear, yes, but they also feed on attention. Still, it's been over a week, and to my knowledge, no one has publicly come out with what they want put on the table in exchange for Centanni and Wiig's freedom.

For the time being, FOX News itself is keeping relatively mum on the subject, on the grounds that too much coverage may delay -- or even possibly derail -- efforts to bring them home safely, though they have said that an envoy from New Zealand (Wiig's homeland, I believe) and at least one senior FOX official are already in the area pressing for the two's release.

Michelle Malkin has a good roundup today of what little information we do have. It's as good a place as any to start digging.

(Attention, bloggers.....She also asks that you do as I and others have, and post an entry in your own virtual homestead...if only to let Centanni and Wiig's families know that they've got friends out here.)

Monday, August 21, 2006

Good People: Gunnery Sgt. Erik E. Duane, USMC

For my newer readers, a little background:

"Good People" is a section of posts I started in order to highlight those people who lend a hand in making their world a better place to live in, or just try to help out where they can. Sadly, I haven't gotten back to it in quite a while, mostly out of sheer lunkheaded-ness. I'll try to do more of these in the future, though...just because after a while, talking about the dark side of people gets to be too much sometimes.



Most of you probably already know who Blackfive is. For those who don't, he is a very highly esteemed Milblogger (military blogger). A former soldier himself, Matt Burden started the "Blackfive" blog to pay tribute to a fallen friend, and then extended his mission to include all fallen soldiers, and to support and defend those still serving. His series of posts telling the stories of individual soldiers, titled "Someone You Should Know", are widely read throughout the blogosphere, and for good reason. Few people have our fighting men and women's backs like this guy does.

Recently, Matt was granted permission from Central Command Public Affairs to conduct an interview with Marine Gunnery Sgt. Erik E. Duane, a Civil Affairs detachment chief with the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, based in the area of Al-Asad Air Base in Iraq. In his position, Sgt. Duane deals intimately with Iraqi military, police and civilians in assisting efforts to keep the Iraqi communities in his area safe, secure and operating more and more under their own influence. In short, his charge is to help the Iraqi people in his care give Iraq back to themselves.

Here lies the interview. It's a great picture of what American soldiers are all about, and one more little piece of what's REALLY happening on the ground out there....from one of a great many Good People helping it happen.

Points of Interest: Hillbilly Edition

In honor of my newfound brothers and sisters of the blog, here's a few generous dollops of what a funny man once called "a glorious absence of sophistication".

Y'all know what I'm talkin' about. Kick y'shoes off, grab a jug of Friday night's best, and let the hootenanny begin.


The Contrary Goddess, a long-haired honey of a homesteader from Tennessee, waxes philosophical on self-righteousness and destiny, celebrates her two-year blogoversary in a big way, pigs out on snap peas, 25 bales of hay, and a cute little kitty-cat or two (and NO, you in the back---yes, YOU---she's not actually eating the hay, OR the cats...sheesh, ya try to crack a joke these days...), and generally presents us with her own style of homegrown livin'. Pleased to meetcha, ma'am.

The proprietor of American and Proud Of It goes by the name of Bushwack, hails from sunny California (see, folks? We're EVERYWHERE!! MUAHHH-ha-ha-ha-haaa!!....*ahem*...sorry, don't know where that came from), and is currently toasting the birth of the Redneck Mafia, giving us a much-needed primer on the qualities of effective leadership, and showing us an example of what can happen when cowards try to bully the wrong man into silence. (Remember the guy that started that whole "" brouhaha a while ago? He's BAAAAaaack!)

The Dowager Viscountess of White Trash Republican comes to us from straight outta the Ozarks, where the spam is "non-Hinduized" (whatever the hell THAT means), the bogus banking business is booming (literally), the local specialty comes in more flavors than a bag of Jolly Ranchers (who knew you could bottle apple pies?), and even the department-store dummies are dangerous. (Just back away slowly from the display, and don't show any fear. They can sense fear, you know.)

Say a big ol' "Howdy" to Catfish and the crew at the Texican Tattler, a heat-packin' periodical from the Lone Star state. This week's issue bemoans this year's catastrophic hurricane season (just ask Al Gore, he'll tell ya), wonders why everyone's so scared of one little old guy from Conetic...Conniti...some little thumbnail state out east, and shows off some pretty fancy shootin', Waco-style.

And, of course, the last whistle-stop on our tour of hillbilly heaven has got to be The Cook Shack--Gab & Grub in upstate New York. Our host here is Cookie, a man with a big appetite for debate, de-food, and de-beauties. Sit yerself down and rest a spell, while he serves up a heapin' helpin' of "hold yer horses" to those of us, myself included, a little too eager to throw Mr. Just-might-not-be-the-right-man-after-all behind bars (and if a former homicide investigator isn't qualified to discuss this, NONE of us are), free beer for the guys in the sailor suits (now THAT'S what I call "catch-and-release"), and a collection of yum-tastic down-home recipes for all you cook-book conny-sewers out there.

You have your orders. Stander out.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Fire Up The Still, Paw...We Got Kinfolks a-Comin'!

On a lighter note this morning...both my loyal readers (Hi, Maw!) may have noticed the new neighbors down below the "Diff'rent Rocks" listing.

That's right, folks, the roadsign don't lie...Your humble author is the newest member of the Hillbilly Ecosystem, courtesy of Cousin Lem.

This guy cooks up some kickass hooch. Have a sip, whydontcha. Go on. He'll make more.

Ramsey Suspect's Confession Coming Under Fire (see post below)

There's news coming out now that's starting to make this look rather shakier than at first light. Allahpundit of Hot Air and Kevin Aylward of Wizbang are reporting, among other things, that some parts of Karr's confession are not shaping up very well to the specifics of the crime. (Thanks, guys...I have a sadly limited amount of time to do this stuff in the morning, or I'd be a little more informed on it myself.) Check 'em out, y'all...these guys are far better at this than I.

I was thinking of something else while at work last night, too, which both Allah and Kevin have touched on:
It was mentioned yesterday that the case seemed to have started pointing at Karr, at least in part, due to his conversations with Michael Tracey, a journalism professor at the University of Colorado. Supposedly, Karr had contacted Tracey because of his own interest in the case (Tracey has made several documentaries around the Ramsey murder, and Karr is said by his ex-wife to have read heavily into the case as well, along with that of Polly Klaas). And somewhere along the way, Tracey got suspicious of Karr's true motives and started letting the fuzz in on their talks.

I'm sure I'm probably just seeing shadows here, folks... but something about this aspect of the case is raising my wolf hairs, and not just because there was a perverted creep involved. I may try to look into this a bit more as time rolls on.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

FLASH: Man Arrested in JonBenet Ramsey Murder Case - UPDATED

After damn near a decade of investigations, finger-pointing, and just plain all-around malaise surrounding the incident, it appears that there has been a huge break in the murder case of JonBenet Ramsey.

From the AP story, as covered in the San Diego Union-Tribune:

BOULDER, Colo. – A man suspected in the slaying of 6-year-old beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey was arrested Wednesday in Thailand in a surprise breakthrough in one of the nation's most lurid murder cases – a decade-old crime some feared would never be solved.

District Attorney Mary Lacy said the arrest followed several months of work. She would not disclose any details about the suspect, but the Ramsey family's attorney in Atlanta said the man was a schoolteacher who once lived in nearby Conyers, Ga.

Federal officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, identified the suspect as John Mark Karr, a 42-year-old American, and said he was already being held in Bangkok on unrelated sex charges. CBS reported he will be brought back to the United States this weekend.
I just found out about this on FNC a few minutes ago, so not a lot of details available just at the moment. According to the above article, a Denver NBC affiliate says the suspect confessed to at least some details of the crime.
I will update with any new info as I find it. But I do hope it's true. This case has festered long enough.

UPDATE: Hot Air, Dave Lucas, LaShawn Barber, Morning Coffee, Outside The Beltway and Suzie Views all have info on this as well. Check 'em out.

UPDATE: Allahpundit over at Hot Air has some new info that would seem to suggest our man Karr was nabbed in some kind of kiddie-porn sting op.

UPDATE: FOX News has an expanded version of the AP story that offers a few more details. According to the story of the Fox website, the tip-off that started things rolling in Karr's direction seems to have come from a University of Colorado journalism professor named Michael Tracey, who for some reason had communicated with the suspect and contacted police about it.

Also in the Fox story (emphasis mine):
U.S. authorities said Karr was initially taken into custody in Bangkok on unrelated sex charges. But Thai police Lt. Gen. Suwat Tumrongsiskul said he was unaware of any criminal charges the suspect faced in Thailand.

Karr was arrested at his apartment in downtown Bangkok at the request of U.S. officials, and was being held until they arrived, Thai police said. Suwat said he expected U.S. officials to take Karr back to America in the next few days.
Hmmm....might mean something, might not. Worth keeping an eye on, though.

Tip o' the rock to Jim Addison of Wizbang. His piece on the subject led me here.

UPDATE: It's official, folks....He has confessed to participating in what he describes as a kidnapping gone wrong. I will try to keep up as more details unfold---there will most certainly be more to tell here later---but at least we finally have some real answers for this. (Thanks to Lorie Byrd of Wizbang for the new information, which led me to find James Cloninger in the Addison article's Comments section for the link to the Fox story. Good work, people.)

Le Roi Est Mort...

...Vive Le Roi!

Monday, August 14, 2006

Points of Interest: Mid-August-ish

Forgive me, o faithful ones, but this one's a little backdated due to my recent vacational absence. Just thought I'd catch up on a few interesting pieces I missed while I was away, and introduce you to a couple of new virtual neighbors I have recently found in the process.


Patum Peperium opens today's edition with an article dated August 7th, which ponders the words of King James I on the Divine Right of Kings, and explores the impact of the failed marriage of Prince Charles and Lady Diana on the relevance of British royalty and, indeed, the very future of Britain as a whole. (Did you know, for example, that the 25th anniversary of their wedding ceremony just passed on July 29? Nope, me neither....and Mrs. P, the author of this missive, doesn't see Chuck doing anything to change that in the near future.)

The Anchoress is said to reside in a little sealed room, with a little window through which to observe the outside world...and the view on August 10th, says she, was crowded with a lot of people trying to make their own personal brand of hay out of the recently busted "liquid explosive" Al-Qaeda plot. The thing she fears about this is that, while the perennial pundits preen and primp and punk each other out for position and pride, the voices of people such as one moderate Muslim noted herein are being pushed aside in the rush for political point-scoring.

And, since we're on the subject, the noted proprietor of Free Will put his two cents in on August 5th, noting that Tarek Fatah, the head honcho of the somewhat-less-than-fundamental Muslim Canadian Congress, has decided to resign from his position therein...because he has been receiving a lot of death threats lately. Seems being a moderate Muslim isn't good for one's health these days.

Okay, time for a little levity. On a past field trip through left-wing blog country, Vince Aut Morire found an interesting little post by Robert J. Elisberg which listed "50 Easy Questions to Ask Any Republican". Well, it's apparently been on his back burner for a while, but he finally got around to answering them, one by one, on August 9th. Strap on yer hip-waders and prepare to duck.

Finally, we come full circle back to the present day, wherein we find the stalwart Captain Ed at the helm. There are many entries in his ship's log today, but the one I've highlighted is a celebration of sorts...a feast at the captain's table, in honor of the life and sacrifice of a guy named Max, and a testament to the power that faith can bring to bear when it is needed most. I'm no Catholic, but it seems to me that things like this need to be remembered once in a while.

I'll have my land legs back under me before too long, I promise.
Until then, you have your orders. Stander out.

UPDATE: Oh my stars and garters, have I found a beauty here. It didn't make the cut earlier, simply because I didn't stumble onto it in time, but it simply MUST be read.

Brought to you by Cassandra of Villainous Company, this piece reminds us of a few things we probably don't remember about how today came to pass the way it did. Lord knows we need our heroes, but they had their "damn-i-forgot-my-pills-again-oh-well-here-we-go-anyway" days just like anyone else. (Or is that just me?)
This piece of hindsight might piss some of you off, but go ahead and take a look back anyway. After all, your children's children will be looking back at YOU someday. What will THAT picture look like, I wonder?

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Clan Stander Hits the Heartland

Apologies for the lack of reading material lately...Me and mine just got back from a very relaxing return to my ancestral home state of Iowa. (You know...Iowa. They grow corn there.)

Among other things, I got to take a cruise on an old-fashioned paddle-wheeler, tooled around in a big wooden maze (which my kid got through much quicker than either of his parents, I might add...rassin'-frassin-little-smart-ass), and partied with some old acquaintances in the house of the Three Kings. (I got a signed drumstick to prove it, too. So there. Nyah.)

All in all, a jaunt well worth the 16-hour drive.