Saturday, February 26, 2005

Pardon My Incredulity

So... I am asked to believe that the U.S. backed Iraqi police have elicited unforced confessions confirming U.S. allegations of Syrian support of terrorism which are being broadcast on U.S. sponsored Iraqi television.
I don't know if this link still works... it's a report in the Washington Post last month on the continued employment of pre-OIF police interrogators and their continuing use of pre-OIF methods. Any of those guys look a little the worse for wear to you?
At least one Iraqi blogger also has reservations about the validity of these "confessions."

I could swear that I've seen instances of captives being paraded in front of cameras to confess to all manner of things before... sometime... somewhere...

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Thursday, February 24, 2005

Thoughts on Inclusion

As I was browsing MSNBC this item caught my eye and I caught myself asking how "don't ask, don't tell" continues to be relevant.
I transferred from active duty before the "don't ask, don't tell" policy was implemented, and I never served on a... co-ed?... ship. I did serve with a few gay sailors over the years, but their issues generally did not draw attention.
As I understand the policy, the military does not seek to learn of one's homosexuality but if it does or if... heaven forbid... one is homosexual and does not remain celibate, then the crap hits the fan as it has in years gone by. So... they pretend not to care that you're gay so long as you remain deep within the closet? Apart from the dishonesty of that policy, does that not tend to exacerbate the often-used charge that gays are more liable to blackmail?
What is the downside of simply accepting gays in the military? Really now... not the hysterical stuff... What happens if the military just accepts that some of its people are gay?
Back when women remained in the rear and didn't deploy in ships I accepted as a given that having an openly gay guy in a forward outfit could be problematic. Now, in the post-Richard Hatch era, I'm just asking... what's up with that?

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Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Thoughts on George W.

Doug Wead says now that he regrets sharing the conversations he had with then Governor Dubya.
I have considered teaching as a career. One sticking point I encountered was that the paperwork required a disclosure of any history of arrests and any history of drug or alcohol abuse... I have had two DUIs... the most recent in 1975. It had not been an issue with military security clearances and no one I spoke with in Sacramento even thought the record still existed... but I knew, and I felt obliged to provide a response. That's just me. That's why I was a little... put off?... that one of the Bush daughters is teaching in a D.C. area school despite a history of underage drinking.
Mr. Bush, on the other hand, in anticipation of his running for President, apparently felt that the voters had neither the right nor the need to be made aware of his... involvement?... experimentation?... with drugs and alcohol. Presumably there was not a concern that the voters were being asked to buy a pig in a poke. Do or say whatever it takes to get elected, and the necessary dissimulation and chicanery can be written of as the end justifying the means. This is the representation of American Values to the world.
Mr. President, I'm actually kind of sorry that this story even came out. I honestly did not want to know... and I'm not sure who is served by our knowing... what a grasping sleaze you are. There are times such as this... we're stuck with you for four more years regardless... when I think a little more ignorance might actually be better.

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I'm Being Judgemental

I think I need for someone who appreciated Hunter S. Thompson to explain to me... patiently... why one ought to mourn his passing.
I read Hells Angels but that's all. I didn't care much for it. Mostly I just know what I read here and what I've read on a few blogs. I don't get it.
My initial response to his suicide was "how incredibly selfish."
“I think he made a conscious decision that he had an incredible run of 67 years, lived the way he wanted to, and wasn’t going to suffer the indignities of old age,” Brinkley said in a telephone interview from Aspen. “He was not going to let anybody dictate how he was going to die.”
“He was trying to really bond and be close to the family” before his suicide, Brinkley said. “This was not just an act of irrationality. It was a very pre-planned act.”
Family members had no hint that Thompson planned to take his own life, Brinkley said, and he did not leave a note. “There was no farewell salutation,” he said.

The guy... who has apparently always been all about himself... has had a hip replacement and a broken leg... is apparently starting to feel his years... and instead of manifesting any degree of maturity whatsoever waits until his son and his family are visiting one weekend to kill himself without so much as a "goodbye."

I consider for a moment some of the faces I've seen... working through war, famine, and pestilience to raise families, to keep body and soul together for just a little while longer... and Mr. Thompson has apparently stopped having fun so he shoots himself on his ranch in Aspen and leaves his son to find his body.

One can only hope that he had a really good story lined up for when he met his Maker. I think his son and his grandson deserved better.

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Thursday, February 17, 2005

Thoughts on Threats

I read this piece... and this one... and then I thought a little bit about what they were telling me.
Secretary Rumsfeld said that the extremists are "at this moment, recalibrating and reorganizing..." Did a psychic tell him that? I didn't think we even knew where they were exactly.
Did Director Goss really say "It may only be a matter of time" before a terrorist tries to use a nuclear, biological or chemical weapon on U.S. soil? It may only be a matter of time before I win the California Lottery or they perfect one of those teleportation devices, but I'm not planning my next vacation around it!
Okay, this is just me, but is it not possible that international terrorism has been set up as a straw man to keep people's heads out of the game? Apart from the attacks on 9/11... they did happen and people died... what has really been going on in the world? What are the real threats?
The bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building was appropriately seen as a crime... after it was determined that it wasn't perpetrated by a foreigner... and we caught the guys who did it and have already executed one of them. That's what I call anti-terrorism! How long did it take the country to move past that?
Somebody's made $370 Billion (plus some) that we had to borrow to pay for a War on Terror. What do you bet most of the people who made that money "won" the November elections?
The acknowledged man behind the 9/11 attacks is still not in custody, and all we have to show for it is our own American version of the KGB! A good part of the Bill of Rights (not the Second Amendment) not to mention the Fourteenth Amendment have been suspended or "reinterpreted", environmental protections are being dismantled, tort reform... social security privatization...
People, you all need to get your heads back in the game! You people are all watching the parade out on the street while they're loading your futures into their trucks back in the alley. Yes, you might get killed or maimed by a terrorist of some sort... but it's a lot more likely that one day you'll want to visit a national park or fill a prescription or retire or take a drink of water.

Porter Goss did point out that we were creating a new generation of terrorist leaders in the rubble of Iraq... there may be something to that...

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Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Thoughts on Security and Well-Being

Let me tell you, for an old Navy Chief life doesn't get much better than finding out that coffee reduces cancer risk. At least one of my (former) longstanding habits won't hasten my departure from this life.
This morning on my way into work I was reflecting on the nature of military service and the commitment we all shared. People, even in the '60s, came into the service for any number of reasons, but they all showed up... ready and willing to serve. This is one of the reasons I refuse to discuss the nature of military service with people who've never served... because they either never got the call or they chose not to answer it or whatever, but they've never felt that bond between people whose lives depended on the person next to them. We didn't necessarily like one another, but we knew we were all in the same boat.
Who cared about the respective service records of the candidates for President? Well, both Republican and Democratic senators are saying that the 2006 VA budget won't be adequate to maintain current services. The nominal increase of 1% over 2005 dollars won't even compensate for inflation. The proposal eliminates funds for long-term care and cuts about 5,000 nursing home beds. VA medical staff will be reduced by 3700 positions. Quite frankly, I think this is what happens when you elect people you wouldn't trust to cover your back.
Most people don't really care a lot about military people though... I know that and it's okay... but the rest of you can't breathe easy either. David Kuo, the former Deputy Director of the (Bush)White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives wrote regarding the failure of the Administration to fund the initiatives that, "No administration since [Lyndon B. Johnson's] has had a more successful legislative record than this one. From tax cuts to Medicare, the White House gets what the White House really wants. It never really wanted the 'poor people stuff.' "
Do you really want to let this man invest your Social Security funds for you? Never mind whether or not he could actually name five... or three... people he's met who actually need to live on their social security benefits. Do you believe that you can depend on him to be there for you? I knew then and now what a President means when he talks about Defense... Wall Street never made a dime investing in manpower. Why would anyone with sense rely on Bush to manage their social security funds? If your last name isn't Bush then you have to know that it's all about money to be made by someone!
Have you glanced at this article or one like it about the budget projections from 2010 onward?
Honestly... I keep thinking that I must be missing something... a whole bunch of you people are ready to buy (another) used car from this guy, and for the life of me I have no idea why.

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Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Thoughts on Karma

I just saw a blurb that on this date in 1989 the Soviet Union completed its troop withdrawal from Afghanistan after nine years and 15,000 Soviet troops killed. That got me to thinking...
Who inflicted most of those casualties on the Soviet forces?
Who armed and trained most of those fighters?
Who were the U.S. Presidents during those years?
What did Forrest Gump say? Stupid is as stupid does?
Sadly, these games are played with real people and live ammunition.

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Monday, February 14, 2005

Thoughts on Health Care

A friend of mine forwarded an e-mail to me this weekend encouraging recipients to join a petition here to urge consideration by Congress and passage of the Breast Cancer Patient Protection Act. I was not familiar with this bill and am somewhat suspicious by nature so I checked snopes and found this.
Naturally I have a couple of thoughts on this.
My first reaction was that the legislation is unneccessary. Since I got out of the Navy I have often heard attending physicians and administrators tell patients that Medicare or whatever payer was covering their hospitalization was going to kick the patient out after so many days or hours. It isn't true. It is true that at some point the attending physician may need to attest that the patient continues to require acute care, but I've never seen a payer discharge or order the discharge of a patient. It isn't even plausible as they aren't licensed to practice medicine. What I have seen is some physicians who perhaps chose the path of least resistance and who perhaps hastened a patient's discharge with potentially adverse consequences, but that's really a separate issue.
The larger issue to my mind is that Congresswoman DeLauro (D-CT) has been submitting this bill in every Congressional session since the 105th (1997) and the bill hasn't even got past sub-committee! Aren't there any Republican women? My wife just went for a mammogram today. A friend from work is having a mastectomy on Wednesday. Another young woman, still in her twenties, just had bilateral mastectomies shortly after giving birth. So... to what kind of people is this bill not even worthy of consideration? Eight years and it's never come to a vote!

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Friday, February 11, 2005

Thoughts on Self Defense

I have to get this out. Why can't Iran have a nuclear weapons capability?
I know... They're a terrible country governed by terrible people and they can't get along with their neighbors... they can't be trusted to mean what they say... but seriously... In a region where Pakistan has nukes and India has nukes and Israel has nukes and Russia has nukes... In an environment where they've just seen what it looks like when you try stand up to American hegemony without nukes...
Think about it. Just get out of your "I'm okay and you suck" frame of mind for a moment and put yourself in their shoes. We've had our "better dead than Red" years. Wouldn't we want a nuclear weapons capability if we were them? If we were in their shoes and we had just seen both of our next-door neighbors get their asses kicked? Granted that one of them was lippy and brutal, and that the other was harboring and supporting international hit teams (Gasp!).
If you were them, and if you had any kind of a chance at all of getting a nuke, would you remain unarmed knowing what was coming as soon as we can get around to it? (I know... Condi Rice said we weren't like that... anymore... trust us... and she's credible.)
You really want to stop nuclear proliferation? Start treating other nations decently. Stop bullying any country less powerful than us that doesn't want to be our bitch. Be a mensch.

Like that's going to happen...

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Thursday, February 10, 2005

Thoughts on Support... and Beer

This has been bugging me for a ltttle while now, and then there was the Super Bowl.
People... I generalize... talk about Support the Troops like they were talking about an object or something... something that meant the same thing to everyone who heard it.
People say that if you don't support whatever war the politicians have us involved in at the moment that you don't support the troops. Hello? Can we get real for a moment? Is this administration in its current budget proposal to Congress not calling for a reduced real-dollar budget for the Department of Veterans Affairs? It's good that, having sent these men and women into harm's way, they are finally seeing fit to provide better support to those in the field; but is that where support for the troops ought to end? In a values-driven society such as ours, what does it say when those troops who do get home come home to long waits for limited services at VA treatment facilities waiting for the budget ax?

Then I hear that some folks are giving Anheuser-Busch crap about their homecoming commercial...
I may be wrong, but I've been under the impression that there are a bunch of people making a decent living from the ongoing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. I don't think the kevlar or the ceramic plates or any of the equipment and munitions are being donated. I don't think the messes are being operated by volunteers serving donated food.
Anheuser-Busch donated a bunch of beer to the troops for the game, and flashed their logo at the end of a spot recognizing men and women coming home. Right back at you, Bud... and thank you.

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Thoughts on Purpose

I got stuck. I found myself making little notes about what I wanted to write about, but not finding the time to "write something." I got into the mindset that I'm writing a blog, and that people are reading it and that it needs to meet expectations. That's horse puckey.
There are blogs over to the right... except for the CSH blog that got closed down... written by people who write... people who write very well and who have something to share. That ain't me. This is supposed to be a place for me to vent... a few paragraphs or a few words... one subject or many.
Other people may read this... or not... but, although I hope they find it interesting, it remains that I'm not related to or sleeping with any of them... or not very many of them... and so far no one in the Bush administration has offered me any money to write for them.
This came to me as I was driving to work this morning and I wanted to say something about supporting the troops and what that means to me. I was thinking about how I "ought to" put it.
Okay, so here's the deal... I'm opinionated but my thoughts aren't particularly well organized. Ideology? I don't have one that I'm aware of. For instance, after twenty years as a Navy Corpsman... five of them as an O.R. tech... and another nineteen in health care administration... I find that egomaniacal doctors give me a huge pain. This is a non-partisan thing and applies equally to Howard Dean and to Bill Frist.
What I need to do is to vent here. If you're passing through, you're welcome but I'm venting here... I'm not writing a blog. That was messing me up.