Blade: First in a Series

wind turbine blade in transit

Driving home last night, I’m making the turn onto the Glenn Jackson (I205) Bridge going south from Washington SR14 when I’m joined on the ramp by this thing merging onto the bridge coming the other way (from Vancouver). Hard to tell exactly how big it was (I know from the car behind it it was “OVERSIZE”) but it looked about 75 feet long. It may be hard to tell from the photo I snapped on my cell phone while I drove past it (shouldn’t that be illegal?) but it’s a blade from a wind turbine, apparently headed out to the wilds of Eastern Oregon.

Getting Smart About It

Smart car on Hummer H1

This weekend, I saw a TV ad from local car dealer Vic Alfonso advertising an H3 Hummer for $400 less than an Americanized Smart convertible.

DaimlerChrysler says that they’re going to start bringing the Smart into the US with base prices starting at $15,000, but not until 2008. You’ve gotta think that bold, innovative, forward thinking like that that comes from the Chrysler side of the company. Should be popular with the $5/gallon, irradiated gas then available from Iran.

1,202 Days

I missed it, but Saturday was the 1,200th day of the conflict in Iraq. That led me to a quick calculation, and if I’m right, the day the Iraq war equals the length of US involvement in World War II (1,345 days from Pearl Harbor to V-J Day) falls on Thanksgiving.

Body Counts

HENRY V: Where is the number of our English dead?
Edward the Duke of York, the Earl of Suffolk,
Sir Richard Kikely, Davy Gam, Esquire;
None else of name; and of all other men
But five and twenty
. O God, thy arm was here!

King Henry V, Act IV, Scene VIII, William Shakespeare

The story of how only 25 men died when the English defeated a much larger French force at Agincourt has always been one of the more preposterous historical notes in Shakespeare’s plays.

According to a June 15 Department of Defense press release, 452 operations were carried out in just over a week after the death of the late leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi on 7 June. 143 of the operations (32%) were carried out solely by Iraqi forces. Another 255 operations (56%) were carried out by combined coalition and Iraqi forces (with the remaining 54 presumably handled by coalition forces alone). The operations are said to have “netted 759 anti-Iraq forces and killed 104 terrorists.” That’s just shy of two captures or kills per operation.

But in over 300 operations involving coalition forces against nearly 900 presumably dangerous adversaries, only one American soldier appears to have been killed.

Zarqawi, is said to have died in captivity after two 500lb. bombs had been dropped on a house where he was staying, an action that also reportedly killed a woman and a child as well as a couple of Zarqawi’s lieutenants. None of the reports I’ve seen mentioned any coalition casualties during the action against Zarqawi or in the mop-up when they inspected the site and recovered his body and papers that led to further operations against al-Qaeda in Iraq. In fact, despite the fact that ground units didn’t arrive for more than half an hour after the bombing, it was reported that they met little if any resistance.

This is the roster of casualties reported by the DOD between the day of Zarqawi’s death and that of the press release.

Date Location Service Cause Deaths
7 June Ar Ramadi, Iraq Army combat operations, improvised explosive device (IED) 2
7 June Mosul, Iraq Army dismounted combat operations, small arms fire 1
8 June Buritz, Iraq Army combat operations, IED 1
8 June Ar Ramadi, Iraq Army combat operations, indirect enemy fire in camp 2
8 June Al Kut, Iraq Army combat operations, IED 1
8 June Baghdad, Iraq Army combat operations, IED 1
9 June Kirkuk, Iraq Army combat operations, IED 1
9 June Ad Diwaniyah, Iraq Army combat operations, IED 1
9 June Al Anbar Province, Iraq Navy combat operations, land mine 1
9 June Al Anbar Province, Iraq Marines wounds received during combat operations 2
11 June Ghanzi, Afghanistan Army combat operations, IED and small arms fire 1
12 June Washington, D.C. Army non-combat related cause occurring June 5 in Kabul, Afghanistan 1
13 June Korengel, Afghanistan Army small arms fire 1
14 June Musa Qulah, Afghanistan Army combat operations, small arms fire 1
14 June Al Anbar Province, Iraq Marines combat operations 1
15 June Baghdad, Iraq Army combat operations, IED 1
15 June Bagram, Afghanistan Army non-combat related cause, under investigation 1

That’s 20 dead. I’ve been scanning the releases for the last half of June for reports of any deaths in military hospitals from wounds received during that period and haven’t seen any.

Five of the reported deaths were in Afghanistan or the result of injuries there (in gray). Of the fifteen deaths in Iraq, two (8 June) were the result of a mortar attack on a coalition base. Eight of the Iraq deaths were from IEDs, where soldiers were in their vehicles (gold shading). The green-shaded Navy and Marine deaths on 9 June are the result of a single incident where a HMMWV hit a land mine.

Of the remaining two deaths, the 2,500th casualty in Iraq on 14 June was on a foot patrol.

Which — in my mind, anyway — raises some questions.

If the nearly nine hundred people the DOD press release claims were killed or captured were violent “anti-Iraqi forces” and “terrorists”, wouldn’t they have put up more of a fight? Obviously, they’re quite adept at placing explosive traps, but for dangerous killers they seem to just lie down and die or wait for the handcuffs to be put on once they’re found, if the numbers above are any indication. Perhaps the actions the coalition forces went on didn’t find any of the terrorists. Maybe the terrorists just never learned to post night watches and keep getting caught when they’re asleep. IF they’re not actually dangerous terrorists, then who’s getting killed? Something doesn’t add up.

Comment at Daily Kos

The Long, Hard Road to the White House

As you may remember, the New York Times and Washington pundits like David Broder spent the last week of May wondering — given their busy schedules and past personal problems — just how many times President Clinton and Senator Clinton do it. The Times article by Patrick Healy was said to be based on interviews with fifty Democrats concerned about the state of their relationship impacting on a potential Presidential run. Chris Matthews brought it up in an interview with DNC Chair Howard Dean, when he told Dean what party leaders are really worried about (i.e. not Iraq, the economy, etc.)

Well, I think we need look no further for one of Healy’s sources (only 49 to go).

In an article that does not mention the Clinton story whatsoever, Arianna Huffington writes about one potential Democratic hopeful’s attempt to portray himself as not so driven for the Presidency that he wouldn’t “rather be at home making love to my wife while the children are asleep”. She goes on to mention that the youngest of the children in question is 25, and that he has two sons in their 30s, but presumably the erstwhile campaigner is putting forth this information in order to show his dedication to his marriage. Huffington writes:

A … spokesman followed up by saying this shows that running for president “is not an egotistical pursuit” for … and that he is “totally in love with his wife.” [name deleted for dramatic effect]

I have my spokesmen tell that to strangers, as well.

So who, you ask, would make such a bizarre comment? What potential presidential candidate would be making a note of his matrimonial fidelity and virility, and might have the ear of people like Matthews and Broder enough to convince them that “Democrats” were concerned about the state of the Clinton marriage?

Did you guess Joe Biden? Smart you.

Comment at Daily Kos