Friday, December 17, 2004

Lighter Side

I'm off the politics/war rant. Tired of it.

We bought a GMC Yukon. Having it shipped up from Florida. Hopefully we can get it in time to put it under the Christmas tree.

I like hockey. However, if the pro sport never came back 99% of people wouldn't even know it.

REM vs. U2? (REM)

Weight loss/diet program merchants will always be in business. It's all about discipline and people generally don't possess it. When people said Atkins was here to stay I had to laugh. It's just another fad. To stay on anything long term in well nigh impossible. The merchants just have to keep a ready supply of new short time customers. Pass the pasta!

The boys love their Advent calendars. I loved them growing up but ours only opened up to show a little picture. Drew and Luke get a little chocolate treat as well. Fun.

Kids, generally, are great. Our kids, specifically, are the best thing to ever happen on this earth.

Drew is into the show LazyTown. He can't stop laughing at the closing sequence of Home Alone.

Luke's been a bit under the weather. He's in his new big boy bed, getting ready to start bunking with Drew. Luke's totally into reading his books with us.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Have You No Sence of Decency?

Maybe the tide is turning. Rummy got upbraided by a grunt about lack of armor on vehicles. Rummy said we can't get it any faster from the supplier. The CEO of the supplier comes on TV to dispute this, saying their manufacturing is nowhere near capacity. More bs from this gang that can't shoot straight. The rhetoric is changing, many more conservative voices are suddenly "off message."

What prompted this post was a recent settlement for an outfit called First Command Financial. This outfit ostensibly provides financial services to our service men and women. What they're really doing is selling investment products with obscene front- and backend loads reaching, at times, up to 50% of the invested funds.

I beat myself up over lowering client expenses. Here you have an outfit using young men and women, many or most who lately have more important things to worry about - like dying in Iraq, to line its own pockets. Forget Kerik, who vetted this outfit? Why not ask Vanguard to create a unit dedicated solely to service this group? Maybe no one at Vanguard is connected militarily.

It's all one big shakedown. And if you can't see it you're not paying attention. Everyone in the elite inner circle of this administration wants to make a quick buck from this war effort. This is nothing new. Haliburton, First Command, it's all the same. All off the sweat, tears and blood of our "all volunteer" force.

The question that I have, and I know the answer, is how do some of these characters look themselves in the mirror? The answer is "easily." Cats like this have no conscience. As Joseph Welch once asked, "Have you no sense of decency sir?"

Monday, December 06, 2004

this is an audio post - click to play

Is Anybody Home?

A few things dovetailed over this weekend to really have my blood boiling. First, was an article in Parade Magazine written by the author/doctor Michael Crichton of Jurassic Park fame. The point of his article was that we have to stop scaring ourselves. From global freezing to global warming to overpopulation leading to mass starvation, all predictions of impending doom come and go by the wayside. While the article did not address the current state of global tensions, that is what popped into my head. I think a variety of sources, the government, major media outlets esp. state run media (Fox) realize they have a vested interest in keeping as large a segment of our population in a constant state of fear. Maybe not hiding under the sheets fear, just a dull constant of fear about the "enemy" that can effectivley cloud otherwise clear thinking.

This morning I read an article in my my local paper dealing with a Wash. Post article recounting the death of Pat Tillman. As most recall, Patt Tillman was the multimillion dollar athlete that walked away from it all post 9-11 to serve his country. Sadly, he was killed while serving in Afghanistan, ostensibly by Taliban fighters while searching for OBL. News of his death sent equal waves of sympathy and pride across the country. Here was a real hero that embodied the American spirit. He wasn't one of those pampered, spoiled athletes out of touch with the average America. Tributes were paid over many months especially throughout the NFL. Pat Tillman made us feel good about the American spirit.

Cut to the Post article dated this weekend, I guess 12/3,4, or 5. Pieced together with witness testimony, email, official documents etc., it seems clear Mr. Tillman was killed by friendly fire. More chillingly, it appears he was mistakenly stalked by a machine gunner aboard one of our own Humvees. Upon hearing generally of a friendly fire incident his mother was upset but realized accidents do happen especially in this type of situation. But as more and more details came to light of the series of tactical blunders she seems to have lost a lot of her resignation that "accidents do happen."

Finally, I put Green Day's latest on the jukebox this morning and it opens with the title track, American Idiot. I think the song just captured my thinking over the weekend. Here are some the lyrics:

"American Idiot"

Don't wanna be an American idiot.
Don't want a nation under the new mania.
And can you hear the sound of hysteria?
The subliminal mind fuck America.

Welcome to a new kind of tension.
All across the alienation.
Everything isn't meant to be okay.
Television dreams of tomorrow.
We're not the ones who're meant to follow.
For that's enough to argue.

Well maybe I'm the faggot America.
I'm not a part of a redneck agenda.
Now everybody do the propaganda.
And sing along in the age of paranoia.

Don't wanna be an American idiot.
One nation controlled by the media.
Information age of hysteria.
It's calling out to idiot America.

Do we just lap up what is spoon fed to us? Is it really unpatriotic to question the government? Isn't it unpatriotic not to, even in war times? Has our government lied to us before? What did 20+ years and 52,000+ dead in Viet Nam do for us? The Wall is a moving tribute but I bet moms, dads, brothers, sisters, sons & daughters would rather have their sons, brothers or dads at Christmas dinner is a few weeks instead

Do I question my thought process on this subject? Certainly, often. Maybe this is the first inning of a really big macro story (the dawn of a new era in the Middle East) and I'm just too caught up in the micro, specifically Iraq. However, if I piece together everything set forth in front of me, I don't think the Bush administration's foreign policy is on the right course. I truly hope I'm wrong and we're seeing the dawn of a new day/century vis-a-vis the Middle East and the rest of the world. However, history in the region is long and lurid. And history to us is different than history to those of that region. They deal in centuries of history, we deal in last month.

Finally, let's put to rest the idea that the sentiment I'm putting forth is an indictment of our troops. Quite the contrary. These men and women are in harms way and have to do exactly as told my their superiors (winding all the way back to D.C). That's the way the military should and does operate. Thus, because the soldiers have no practical way to dissent, somebody has to ensure that those making the strategic choices that may fatally impact these folks are doing so according to a rational, exacting, viable and, ultimately, succesful battle plan.

And "somebody" is us, every thinking American. Don't exalt or deify government and its servants. They are us, nothing more.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Wynwood Reunion

We had our first Wynwood reunion last night. We started small, four of us, and we had a great time. Myself, Paul Hackett, Wes & Mike Sturdevant. Paul and I have been in touch recently but I had not seen Wes and Mike in years.

We met around 7 at The Three As in Hoboken. Mike ran late and got there about 8-8:30. We had a great time catching up on what everybody is up to with work, wives, fiancees, siblings, kids etc. Had a few good laughs about some old war stories from the neighborhood. Dinner and a few drinks, we broke up about 10:30. It was great seeing everybody. The shared history and familiarity is what makes spending time with old friends great. You can get right to the heart of the matter and just enjoy the company.

We're going to try to do something like this every 6 months or so. We'll try to coral more guys next time. Work, family etc. of course make it difficult but stuff like this is another paint needed to complete life's painting.