November 28, 2003
Would You Like Some Cheese With Your Whine?
The New York Times' Washington bureau chief is pouting today. He wasn't invited to join the president's secret Baghdad bash. Howard Kurtz writes in today's Washington Post:
... Philip Taubman, Washington bureau chief of the New York Times, said that "in this day and age, there should have been a way to take more reporters. People are perfectly capable of maintaining a confidence for security reasons. It's a bad precedent." Once White House officials "decided to do a stealth trip, they bought into a whole series of things that are questionable."
Oh, boo-frigging-hoo, Phil. Tuck in your bottom lip and do what any good New York Times reporter does: fabricate a story.
November 27, 2003
Quote Of The Day
I think that was awesome that he risked his life to come to see us. I had a great meal too! -- a 1st Armored Division soldier on President Bush's surprise Thanksgiving visit to Baghad
W Gives Thanks In Baghdad
Wow. This is great. Kudos to the president.
Thanking The Heroes And Patriots
Though this email was sent several months ago to Andrew Sullivan, it's an especially fitting Thanksgiving Day sentiment:
I'm not tough. I thank God everyday that there are tough men and women out there who are willing and able to protect the way of life I enjoy so much. I'm 26 and kids my age right now are living in the desert with the realities of war all around them, so that I can go home tonight, kiss my wife, throw the tennis ball for my dog, and fall asleep ... free. Free from fear, free from tyranny, free to enjoy my life and pursue my happiness. They are all heroes and patriots in the truest sense of the word and I just wish that I could express my gratitude to each and every one of them. But I can't, so I did the only thing I could think of to really help. I found a blood donation center that is sending blood to the military and I gave what could arguably be the most precious thing I have -- my blood. It was not a fun experience (note the first sentence of this letter), but as I walked to my car, for the first time since this whole debate started, I felt good. Sure, it could have just been the lightheadedness from being a couple pints down; but more likely it’s because on the off-chance that my blood ends up saving the life of someone fighting to protect my country, well, that would just fucking rule.
November 26, 2003
Djibouti Then And Now
What a difference a year makes.
Broadsides, November 4, 2002:
TO THE SHORES OF DJIBOUTI: UPI is reporting that 700-800 U.S. Marines have arrived in Djibouti. Some are at sea and others are possibly stationed at a French base there.
General Tommy Franks confirmed the fact with this explanation: "We do have more forces in that region, down around Djibouti . . . as we have better refined and defined our relationships and what we're looking at, it seems to make sense to us to put this capability -- Marine capability -- in the vicinity of Djibouti to work with countries in the Horn of Africa."
Which country "in the vicinity of Djibouti" does General Franks have in mind? Take a look at this CIA World Factbook map and the answer is obvious. Somalia, a major al-Qaeda base of operations, is just south of Djibouti. Clearly, the Marines are spearheading military efforts to destroy Somali-based al-Qaeda mercenaries.
The Associated Press (via BOTW), November 24, 2003:
CAMP LEMONIER, Djibouti (AP) - U.S. forces have disrupted several planned terrorist attacks against Western and other targets in the Horn of Africa and local authorities have killed or captured more than two dozen militants, the U.S. general in command of an anti-terrorism task force told The Associated Press.
Of the hundreds of foreign fighters detained by U.S. troops in Iraq, approximately 25 percent come from the seven countries that fall under the purview of the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, Marine Brig. Gen. Mastin Robeson told AP in his first in-depth interview since taking command in May 2003.
The task force is responsible for fighting terrorism in seven Horn of Africa countries: Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Yemen, Sudan, Kenya and Somalia. The impoverished, Islamic region is a well-established recruiting ground for terrorist groups and U.S. officials describe it as a critical theater in the war on terrorism, which they fear could become another Afghanistan.
Robeson said suspected terrorists from Tanzania, through the Horn of Africa, all the way to southern Egypt and Saudi Arabia are working with each other to promote radicalism.
"There are three issues here: there is transnational terrorist networking, at large, there are specific cells planning terrorist attacks, and there's the recruiting, training and shipping of foreign fighters into Iraq,'' Robeson said Saturday night at his headquarters on a former French Foreign Legion post in Djibouti ...
"A year ago, it was basically thought that there were probably five to seven, maybe 15, depending on who you talk to,'' Robeson said. "There have already been 25 captured or killed, and now it's in the hundreds of named people that we and host nations would like to find and talk to" ...
There are no prisoners being held at the tented camp in Djibouti, military officials said, and Robeson refused to say how many terrorists his men have captured in U.S. operations.
But Robeson did say the 1,800 troops permanently based in Djibouti work throughout the region and are establishing a model for future operations that will depend more on intelligence and less on firepower. The focus is on helping poor countries stop terrorism before a massive U.S. military intervention, like the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, is required.
Operation Fat Ankles
It's bad enough that our troops in Afghanistan have to spend Thanksgiving without their families. Now they have to grin and bear a visit from the very scoundrel who, along with her adolescent husband, treated the American military like dirt for 8 years.
Hillary Clinton is en route to Afghanistan to "spend Thanksgiving" and "to ask questions about the ongoing nation-building efforts," the NY Post reports. After ruining the holiday for the 10th Mountain Division in Afghanistan, Hillary is scheduled to annoy more troops in Iraq.
One quote from the New York carpetbagger regarding her "fact finding" mission ...
I'm still very worried about Afghanistan . . . The Taliban and al Qaeda are clearly making a comeback
Liar, liar, pantyhose on fire!
And this lie is a whopper. The chances of the Taliban and al-Qaeda "making a comeback" in Afghanistan are [running the numbers] zero. Yet, Hillary says it's "clearly" happening.
Hillary's lie has an intended implication: that the U.S. military has failed in its Afghan mission. But rather than saying that directly, she cowardly announces that our enemies in Afghanistan are winning. And, most appalling of all, she told this lie in the context of concern for the troops.
So why commit such a scurrilous untruth? Political desperation. The Democrats have run out of domestic and foreign policy issues to use against W in the 2004 presidential campaign. So they're attempting to characterize a rousing success as a dismal failure--even at the expense of national security and troop morale.
By the way, this is a typical Clintonesque statement. Note her use of the vague, subjective phrase "making a comeback". What does that mean? She'll never say. If Hillary were to define the meaning of such fuzzy phrases, she would risk accountability. And knowing that the Clintonphile media will never press her for specifics, her penchant for mendacity accrues.
November 25, 2003
Separated At Birth?
You be the judge. Look here and then here.
Underground Urban Renewal
I don't know who comes up with the cool names for America's weapon systems but they outdid themselves with the Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator. Sounds like a super weapon in a Playstation2 game.
According to the New York Post, a portion of Congress' $401 billion defense appropriation will fund research and development of the RNEP. There's nothing complicated about the RNEP. It's merely a modified 5-kiloton nuke that burrows about 20-feet into the ground and then does it thing. As a result, anyone taking refuge in a nearby underground bunker is robustly rendered the stuff of future archaeological discoveries.
November 21, 2003
Quote of the Day
You know what? Michael Moore is right. There are many Americans who are ignorant of the world around them. And they’re all TV news producers. Two big bombs in Istanbul, and what’s the big story of the day? Following around a pervy slab of albino Play-Doh as he turns himself into the police. I was stunned to discover last night that Nightline not only covered the Jackson case in detail, but bumped coverage of the Whitehall speech, which was the most important speech since the Iraq campaign began and arguably the most important speech of the war, period. -- James Lileks, The Bleat, 11/21/03
Be sure to read the rest of today's Bleat. Lileks is dumbfounded that the producers of ABC's Nightline admitted in an email to the show's fans that they were "evenly split" in deciding the main topic for last night's show: the Michael Jackson arrest or the war on terrorism and Bush's Whitehall speech.
Guess which one they chose.
November 20, 2003
The Three Pillars Of Peace
President Bush's speech at Whitehall Palace yesterday is to the war on terrorist nations what Winston Churchill's Iron Curtain speech in Fulton, Missouri was to the Cold War. A gem of political persuasion, the speech defines our era.
Since the liberation of Iraq, we have seen changes that could hardly have been imagined a year ago. A new Iraqi police force protects the people, instead of bullying them. More than 150 Iraqi newspapers are now in circulation, printing what they choose, not what they're ordered. Schools are open with textbooks free of propaganda. Hospitals are functioning and are well-supplied. Iraq has a new currency, the first battalion of a new army, representative local governments, and a Governing Council with an aggressive timetable for national sovereignty. This is substantial progress. And much of it has proceeded faster than similar efforts in Germany and Japan after World War II.
Yet the violence we are seeing in Iraq today is serious. And it comes from Baathist holdouts and Jihadists from other countries, and terrorists drawn to the prospect of innocent bloodshed. It is the nature of terrorism and the cruelty of a few to try to bring grief in the loss to many. The armed forces of both our countries have taken losses, felt deeply by our citizens. Some families now live with a burden of great sorrow. We cannot take the pain away. But these families can know they are not alone. We pray for their strength; we pray for their comfort; and we will never forget the courage of the ones they loved.
The terrorists have a purpose, a strategy to their cruelty. They view the rise of democracy in Iraq as a powerful threat to their ambitions. In this, they are correct. They believe their acts of terror against our coalition, against international aid workers and against innocent Iraqis, will make us recoil and retreat. In this, they are mistaken.
We did not charge hundreds of miles into the heart of Iraq and pay a bitter cost of casualties, and liberate 25 million people, only to retreat before a band of thugs and assassins. We will help the Iraqi people establish a peaceful and democratic country in the heart of the Middle East. And by doing so, we will defend our people from danger.
The full text of the president's speech is here.
Breadmakers Fear Loss of Dough
Dr. Atkins' low-carb legacy is drastically reducing bread sales in the U.S. and Britain, reports The Independent (via Drudge.) Rather than loafing, breadmakers are organizing a "crisis bread summit" in the United States.
Sheesh...yet another bread summit??? These things are just big photo ops and never solve anything. And there's always one baker who gets drunk and makes a heel of himself.
Since I can't think of another lousy bun, er, pun, I'll just point out that there are 4 brands of low-carb breads at my local grocery. All range from 4 to 7 carbs per slice, as opposed to the 15 to 17 carbs per slice in regular bread. And, best of all, they taste great.
A growing market segment is demanding low-carb bread and the breadmakers are rising to the challenge. So what's the crisis?
The breadmakers should just stay home and bake more bread. There's no knead for a bread summit.
November 17, 2003
The Bureaucrats Must've Smelled The Tar Boiling
Last week I linked to a news item about 89-year old Helene Shue whose near-$1 million Pennsylvania farm was seized by asshole-county-tax-officials and auctioned off for $15,000 because, the asshole-county-tax-officials alleged, the elderly owner failed to pay a $572 property tax. Helene's nephew disputed the county's claim insisting that the tax had been paid but that the county returned Helene's check because it wasn't certified. The asshole-county-tax-officials smugly suggested that Helene take the matter to court if she wasn't satisfied.
Fortunately for Helene, she didn't have to go to court to get justice. The Patriot-News reports the happy resolution:
Helene Shue has lived on her 41-acre farm near Hershey for 50 years, and it is where she wants to spend her remaining days. Last night, the 89-year-old widow learned that she will get her wish.
Shue's land and home in South Hanover Twp. was sold at a tax sale in September because of $572 in unpaid taxes from 2001. She had paid her taxes in full every other year, including this year.
Philip Dobson of Middle Paxton Twp. paid $15,000 for the land on Route 39. But he met yesterday with Shue's nephew, John Arndt, and agreed to give back the land. The county has agreed to reimburse Dobson.
Arndt was so delighted that he invited Dobson to visit Shue. They went to Shue's home together to tell her that she was getting her land and house back.
"Oh, my God, I can't believe it," Shue said, hugging Dobson and her nephew. "I won't forget this day."
The sale of Shue's property drew national attention following a story in The Patriot-News last Friday.
So was the county's seizure of Helene Shue's property legal? It seems to me that if the county had acted in accordance with the law, there's no way it would have reimbursed the developer the $15,000 he paid for Helene's property.
The most disturbing aspect of this abuse of power is that it was resolved only because the Patriot-News publicized it. Otherwise, thieving bureaucrats would have succeeded in stealing an old woman's home.
The Helene Shue case is instructive. When abusive bureaucrats encounter public scrutiny, they run for cover like vampires at sunrise.
P.J. And Mike
Shortly after journalist Michael Kelly was killed under fire in Iraq last April, the Pentagon arranged for his friend and fellow journalist P.J. O'Rourke to unofficially assume Mike's embed assignment. In an interview with The Atlantic (via Instapundit), P.J. recalls Kelly's popularity with the troops:
These guys just loved Mike, and they really wanted to talk about it. I mean, everybody from General Blount right down to the sergeant who had been driving Mike around—not the one who was driving when he died, but who had been driving him around when he was with his proper embed, before he sort of wiggled out in order to get up to the front. Every single one of them said, "I've just never met anyone who was interested in the same stuff that I am." For one of them, it would be military history, for another one it would be politics, for one of them it would be logistics and planning. Finally, I get down to this sergeant and he said: "Me and Mike, we used to talk for hours." And I asked, "What'd you talk about?" And—if you'll excuse the language— he said, "Beer and pussy." In fact, Mike had bumped into somebody else I talked to, a photographer for USA Today, Jack Gruber, and he said, "Yeah, I bumped into Mike and he said, 'It's been a long time since I've been around eighteen-year olds—if I have to talk about beer and pussy for one more minute, my head is going to explode.'" But they just all loved him. Mike's enthusiasm, and his way of paying attention to people, and the fact that for at least those moments he was with those people, he did care about that stuff in the way they did—that's part of what made him such a good reporter.
November 14, 2003
The Useless Senate
James Lileks is in pain. And with good reason:
The spleen, she hurts. I think it had to do with listening to the Senate debate, if that word applies, and wondering: are they always this banal? This condescending? Are bloviating prevarications the rule rather than the exception? In short: is the world’s greatest deliberative body really filled with this many dim bulbs, card sharps and overstroked dolts who confuse a leaden pause with great rhetoric? If everyone in America had been tied to a chair and forced to watch the debate Clockwork-Orange style, we’d all realize that the Senate is just a holding tank for people whose self-regard and cretinous reasoning is matched only by their demonstrable contempt for the idiots they think will lap this crap up.
Unicameral house! Two year term! One term limit!
(Deep, cleansing breath)
I'm with Lileks on this. It's no secret that the Senate is largely composed of lightweights but to see that fact vividly demonstrated during a rare marathon debate spawns a reaction similar to that of accidently taking a swig from a long-expired milk carton.
The problem is no mystery. As a representative body, the United States Senate lost its reason to exist in 1913 when the 17th Amendment was ratified.
In Article I of the Constitution, the Founders established a bicameral legislature and clearly established the representative role of each house. Article I, Section 2 mandates that the "House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen every second Year by the People of the several States." Section 3 directs that the "Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, chosen by the Legislature." In other words, the House was to represent the people directly and the Senate was to represent the legislatures of each State.
Proving an old professor of mine correct when he said nothing good ever came of a populist movement, the 17th Amendment -- a populist-backed initiative right along with the income tax and prohibition -- was ratified in 1913. This amendment provided that the "Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, elected by the people thereof ..."
So who could possibly oppose letting "the people" elect US senators? Hold on while I raise my hand.
The 17th Amendment made the Senate's representative function identical to that of the House of Representatives and rendered the Senate a redundant, purposeless legislative body.
And that's the reason we see so many dolts in the Senate today. They have no purpose for being there. How can they possibly represent the people directly when that's the role of the House of Representatives?
The Founders' plan for a bicameral legislature that would represent both the people and each State's legislature and preserve the fundamentals of federalism was destroyed by the 17th Amendment.
Anyone who doubts that may want to consider that today every State has something akin to a Washington liason office staffed by people who represent the State's interests to the national government. Before the 17th Amendment, that was job of each United States senator.
November 11, 2003
The 11th Hour, The 11th Day, The 11th Month
From the website of the Veterans of Foreign Wars:
A Veterans Day Salute to Veterans
Thank you for all your service.
We are forever grateful
You risked your lives
For other peoples' moms, children and wives.
Our country is still a democracy
Because you fought for liberty
Wanting the red, white and blue to be free
Never thinking of yourself.
But for everybody else
That's why we salute thee,
The ones who saved our country.
We thank you and wish you a special Veterans' Day.
Chapman 8th Grade,Chapman Middle School
November 08, 2003
You Bring The Tar, I'll Bring The Feathers
Ever wonder why tax collectors of yesteryear often risked being tarred and feathered by angry locals? Read this for the answer.
November 06, 2003
Bush On Reagan
President Bush delivered a major address today to the National Endowment for Democracy. The speech is worth reading in its entirety. I was particularly struck by the president's take on Ronald Reagan's analysis of the failure of Soviet tyranny:
The roots of our democracy can be traced to England, and to its Parliament -- and so can the roots of this organization. In June of 1982, President Ronald Reagan spoke at Westminster Palace and declared, the turning point had arrived in history. He argued that Soviet communism had failed, precisely because it did not respect its own people -- their creativity, their genius and their rights.
President Reagan said that the day of Soviet tyranny was passing, that freedom had a momentum which would not be halted. He gave this organization its mandate: to add to the momentum of freedom across the world. Your mandate was important 20 years ago; it is equally important today. [Applause]
A number of critics were dismissive of that speech by the President. According to one editorial of the time, "It seems hard to be a sophisticated European and also an admirer of Ronald Reagan." [Laughter] Some observers on both sides of the Atlantic pronounced the speech simplistic and naive, and even dangerous. In fact, Ronald Reagan's words were courageous and optimistic and entirely correct. [Applause]
I'm sure that RR would enthusiastically agree with President Bush's concluding remarks:
Working for the spread of freedom can be hard. Yet, America has accomplished hard tasks before. Our nation is strong; we're strong of heart. And we're not alone. Freedom is finding allies in every country; freedom finds allies in every culture. And as we meet the terror and violence of the world, we can be certain the author of freedom is not indifferent to the fate of freedom.
With all the tests and all the challenges of our age, this is, above all, the age of liberty.
Ignoring The 10th Amendment
The president signed into law a ban on partial birth abortion procedures. These infanticidal procedures are monstrous and should be illegal but this particular federal law is unconstitutional.
The Constitution does not delegate to Congress the authority to regulate surgical procedures. Accordingly, the 10th Amendment actually prohibits Congress from making such a law: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." That means only the legislatures or the people of the 50 States have the authority to ban partial birth abortions.
The 10th Amendment is so easy to understand that its meaning is beyond debate. So national officeholders -- both Republicans and Democrats -- get around it by ignoring it.
Just because something may be a good idea, it doesn't mean that Congress automatically gains authority to write it into law. It wasn't all that long ago that some Bolshie Democrat heard about midnight basketball leagues in various cities and wanted Congress to fund them. Republicans were quick to point out, and rightly so, that Congress does not have the authority to fund such activities. A federal law banning partial birth abortion is every bit as unconstitutional as a federal law funding midnight basketball leagues -- and for the same reason.
Most Republicans would agree with me that there is no constitutional right to an abortion. And most Republicans would disagree with me that Congress doesn't have the constitutional authority to ban partial birth abortions. The Republicans' stand on the latter issue is a direct contradiction of their stand on the former.
The next time congressional Democrats or a Democrat president move to enact one of their pet issues by circumventing the Constitution (and they will), Republicans will have no credibility to oppose it on constitutional grounds.
November 05, 2003
A Star Is Boring
Barbra Streisand let loose the C word on her website. No, no, no...she's not writing her autobiography.
I mean the other C word! The dense diva deemed CBS's punting "The Reagans" -- of which she is the producer -- as "censorship." CBS's decision, she writes, is "a sad day for artisitic freedom" and even implies that it's an assault on the First Amendment.
Babs' irritation is understandable; she has money invested in this project. But labeling it censorship and an attack on artistic freedom and free speech is laughably ridiculous.
A careful reading of the First Amendment reveals that it doesn't prohibit television networks from spiking crappy made-for-tv movies. The First Amendment restricts Congress--not CBS.
The government did not block "The Reagans" from airing on CBS; CBS did. And since when is censorship defined as not having a movie aired on the network of the producer's choice? ("The Reagans" will air on Viacom's Showtime.)
When the melodramatic claims of Stalinistic censorship are stripped away, the real source of irritation is apparent. Streisand is livid that consumers dared to be offended by a product she created and that they had the audacity to freely organize to pressure the distributor from selling her product.
That's not censorship. That's consumer choice.
An aside: be sure to check out Barbra's website. The layout induces cringes. The grand, wedding invitatation-style typeface and the photograph of Streisand clutching roses, wearing what appears to be a prom dress and seated on a satin-upholstered throne. It all reeks of megalomania. Evidently, Barbra considers herself royalty. Queen of the Harpies perhaps?
November 04, 2003
Reagan To The Rescue
When Ronald Reagan first proposed the Strategic Defense Initiative, commiesymps and Democrats (sorry for the redundancy), predictably, ridiculed him. The cover of Time magazine that week was an illustration of an ominous looking Reagan in front of a militarized outer space filled with killer satellites, lasers and missiles. Above it all, the headline "STAR WARS?"
The intense criticism and slanders never bothered Reagan. He repeatedly refused to abandon SDI research; it was not negotiable. And 20 years later, Reagan's steadfast confidence in SDI is paying off and may even save American lives in Iraq.
World Tribune reports:
The United States is developing a laser weapon to defend against terror attacks like the shoulder-fired missile attack on an American helicopter Sunday . . . The U.S. Air Force has been briefed on a system that could automatically detect an infrared surface-to-air missile launch and emit a laser beam to destroy the projectile. The system would be based on the Tactical High Energy Laser developed by Israel and the United States in 2001 . . . Northrop Grumman has shown the Air Force a deuterium-fluoride chemical laser system that could either be mounted on a mobile or stationary platform. The concept, called the Hazardous Ordnance Engagement Toolkit, is designed to protect military and civilian airports from man-portable shoulder-fired missiles such as the Soviet-origin SA-7, which was fired toward a U.S. F-15 outside a Saudi air base in 2002.
November 01, 2003
Hillary's "Malignant" Lies
Okay, it's not exactly breaking news that Hillary Clinton is a vicious liar. But this week, as the New York Post notes today, the Senate's Medusa submerged to murky political depths never explored by anyone who has a trace of humanity.
Looking to score political points against the president, the New York carpetbagger, the Post reports, "accused the White House of trying to cover up the visual impact of U.S. casualties in Iraq by refusing to let Americans see 'the sight of caskets coming home' to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware and by 'refusing to release' timely casualty figures."
Both accusations are blatant lies.
The first accusation -- that the White House is engaged in a coverup by barring the press from covering the return of remains to Dover AFB -- "approaches the malignant," the Post writes.
"In fact," the Post reveals, "preventing the media from filming the arrival of dead servicemen at Dover has been government policy for the past decade Including when Bill Clinton was president - and Americans came home in coffins from places like Somalia and Haiti and Bosnia/Herzegovina and from the port of Yemen, where USS Cole was attacked by Osama bin Laden. We don't recall either Hillary or her husband inviting press photographers to Dover to film the arrival of those coffins. Just as we don't recall congressional Republicans ever criticizing Bill Clinton for not doing so. But then, Sen. Clinton -- like the rest of the Democratic Party -- is in search of a real issue as Campaign 2004 heads into full swing."
As for the second accusation -- that the White House is "refusing to release" casualty figures in a timely manner -- a visit to the Pentagon's website confirms just what a piss-poor liar Hillary is. The Department of Defense News Releases site shows that nearly all military casualties -- both combat and otherwise -- are publicly announced one day after the death. One day. And a few were confirmed within two days.
It's a sad truth that when securing America's freedom, our brave men and women in uniform will risk and, sometimes, sacrifice their lives. And when a reckless United States senator uses their remains as a soapbox to spread partisan-motivated slurs and lies, the nobility of their sacrifice is tarnished.
The only thing Hillary ever risked is a new hair style. And the only thing she ever sacrificed is her marriage. She is beneath contempt. That's why it's altogether appropriate that Hillary Clinton inadvertently chose the Halloween season to demonstrate that she's a soulless ghoul.
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