FUBAR

Rules? We don’t obey rules

Americans rightly admire our troops for their bravery, dedication and integrity.

The Marines, for instance, are renowned for abiding by an honorable code — as warriors and as individuals in civilian life.

They epitomize the rectitude of America’s soldiers.

But a recently disclosed Pentagon study — little noted in the media — has seemingly cast a shadow over our troops. The study of U.S. combat troops in Iraq finds that less than half of the soldiers and Marines surveyed would report a team member for breaches of the military’s ethics rules.

Plame loses another round in court

The ex-spy whose unmasking led to the conviction of Vice President Dick Cheney’s top aide cannot disclose the dates she worked for the CIA because the details were never declassified, a federal judge has ruled.

The decision, made public on Friday by U.S. District Judge Barbara Jones, was a victory for the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, which sought to block former agent Valerie Plame Wilson from including the dates in her upcoming memoir, “Fair Game.”

Soldiers convicted of rape, murder in Iraq

A military jury found a soldier guilty of rape and murder in the slayings of a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and her family, despite testimony that cast doubt on his involvement.

Jurors deliberated much of Friday evening before convicting Army Pfc. Jesse Spielman, 22, of conspiracy to commit rape, rape, housebreaking with intent to commit rape and four counts of felony murder.

He faces a mandatory life sentence when a sentencing hearing begins Saturday. The jury will decide if he will be eligible for parole.

A bridge too far

And so our latest true-life, made-for-cable-TV disaster unfolds.

Remember the talk about the nation’s crumbling infrastructure after levees failed during Hurricane Katrina? Remember those SUV-eating sinkholes in Brooklyn? Remember the report that $120 billion a year is wasted on road repairs because our highways are decaying? Remember when the electric grid caused a power blackout that affected millions? Remember the Hawaii dam that collapsed, killing seven people? How about the analysis that 13,000 highway fatalities each year occur because of congestion or poor maintenance and design?

The value of loyalty

Some years ago through a newspaper ad, I found a roofing contractor to put a tar roof on an addition to my home. It was a sweltering July day. When I arrived from work, I found the roofing crew, all Mexicans, spreading the hot tar on the flat roof.

Seeing them toil in the blazing sun, I climbed the ladder to offer them some cold drinks, and we struck up a conversation. I asked the crew leader how long he had been doing this kind of work. For ten years, he said.

“Ten years? Why don’t you start your own roofing company?”

The news from Wall Street is not good

Newspapers today still count for something — and in some societies they can count for a great deal.

That Rupert Murdoch and his News Corp. are to become the new proprietors of The Wall Street Journal is a matter of concern not only for us in America. It is a matter of interest for everyone in the world — especially, with the rise of China, for Asians. The quality of American society overall, from the White House to the newsroom, has impact elsewhere. World stability depends on well-informed political decision-making, including and especially in Washington.

American ethnic cleansing?

On a cross-country road trip more than three decades ago, I visited the Jackson County museum in Oregon. I remember one display in particular about the Chinese community there.

An exhibit card apologized for the forced removal and intimidation of its Chinese citizens. That community acknowledged the racist attitudes and behaviors of the late 1800s, later legislated into the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882.

‘Sicko’ needs a fact physical

In his new movie “Sicko,” Michael Moore uses a clip of my appearance earlier this year on “The O’Reilly Factor” to introduce a segment on the glories of Canadian health care. Moore adores the Canadian system. I do not.

Spying needs a human touch

The day of the spy-in-the-sky approach to intelligence gathering may be coming to an end, plagued by cost overruns and systems so complex they take too long to perfect and probably most importantly are increasingly less useful in the age of terrorism.

Was Pat Tillman murdered?

Army medical examiners were suspicious about the close proximity of the three bullet holes in Pat Tillman’s forehead and tried without success to get authorities to investigate whether the former NFL player’s death amounted to a crime, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.

“The medical evidence did not match up with the, with the scenario as described,” a doctor who examined Tillman’s body after he was killed on the battlefield in Afghanistan in 2004 told investigators.