Saturday, June 24, 2006

On a Much Lighter Note...

Friday was, of course, Take Your Dog to Work Day.
Max and I are about halfway through an obedience training course I enrolled us in because he likes to run up to people, dogs, whatever, and jump up on them in greeting. Of the seventeen people - other than myself - in the suite yesterday, two were averse to touching Max and the other fifteen all encouraged him to jump up on them rather than bending over to pet him as he sat.
To the kids in my apartment complex: I'm sorry but this is going to take a little longer than I planned.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

I Have to Say A Few Words About...

the shootings in Hamdania, Haditha and Salahuddin.

I am heartsick that a Hospital Corpsman is among the accused in the Hamdania murder. I am sickened that any eight guys would engage in what was - apparently - a lynching, but for a Corpsman to be involved is a blow. I hope against hope that he, at least, will be exonerated... not an Ollie North slide on a technicality but exonerated.
There was probably a Corpsman with my great-uncle when he fell at Belleau Wood... there is a Corpsman depicted in the Marine Corps Memorial... there was a Corpsman on the roof with the Marines in Khafji in '91. I don't even want to think about a Corpsman complicit in a murder dishonoring both the Marine Corps and the Hospital Corps. I hope it ain't so.

Unconventional warfare eats at the soul. Thinking about it, it's like the Katrina of war... totally disruptive. You can do absolutely everything right and still get blown up, and it makes people nuts.
That's why the military has NCOs. When the folks start getting a little squirrely, someone is supposed to tell them to get back into their HMMWVs and carry on with the mission. The expectation is that the man in charge will be in charge, and keep his people on task. There are... to all appearances... three NCOs who were at least seriously derelict in their duties.

I don't really have a point to make here. I'm just sick that a Corpsman has been charged, and I'm ticked at the senior NCOs who failed their troops, their service and their country.

Monday, June 19, 2006

A Word About Hospitalman Zachary M. Alday

Hospitalman Zachary M. Alday, 22, of Donalsonville, Ga., died June 9 from injuries sustained earlier in the day when the vehicle in which he was riding struck a land mine. His unit was conducting combat operations against enemy forces in the Al Anbar Province of Iraq.
Doc Alday was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, 7th Regimental Combat Team, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward), Camp Pendleton, Calif.
With nearly all of the Corpsmen I've mentioned in here there has been an untold back story. I'm struck by the fact that
Doc Alday's guestbook at Legacy already runs to five pages, and WALB, his local NBC affiliate station, did a piece on him.
The President and others say things like we can't let these deaths have been in vain. Well, they either were or they weren't, and there's nothing to be done about that now except to mark their sacrifice.
Semper Fi.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Things They DIdn't Teach Me in Civics Class

I haven't posted in awhile so I thought I might share what I've learned about the institutionalization of the two-party political system.
I personally feel that partisan politics is poison to any version of democracy. It has been my experience that at some (early) point in the life of any organization the organization will begin to put its own interests over those of their former constituents. I don't care what "club" my representatives belong to. My concern is whether or not they will represent my views in the legislature. In American politics it is all about which "club" the representative belongs to, the Republicans or the Democrats. I was particularly struck by my reading that Sen. Jim Jeffords, following his switch from Republican to "Independent" had to make the Deal to align himself with the Democrat's Senate Leader in order to retain his committee assignments. In effect, any truly independent candidate sent to Washington (or Sacramento) would also have to make the Deal if she were to have any power in the legislative process.
The two-party system was institutionalized in the Senate in the 1920s. The Majority and Minority Leader positions have existed in the U.S. House of Representatives since 1899. The rationale for these positions, which have no Constitutional basis, was that governance had become so complex that legislative leadership needed to be defined and consolidated.
It's kind of sad. In 1854 the Republican Party was formed and received more than 30% of the votes in 1856 (John Fremont was considered by many to be too soft on immigration). They elected Lincoln in 1860. That's unlikely to ever happen again.
In other modern governments... the U.K. and Israel to name two... it is not uncommon that no party wins an outright majority in the general elections and collaboration and compromise are called for to form an effective government. Here we have A or B, chocolate or vanilla, and that's effectively it.
The voters have all of the power to take control back from the Republican and Democratic Party fundraisers, but apparently have little interest in doing so. In California only 34% of registered voters cast a ballot in this month's primary election. The Party-backed candidates all won nomination. Once again potential change-agents stayed home in droves.
It's hard not to get discouraged. From now until November I'll hear why Schwarzeneger is a better or worse choice than Angelides, and neither one of them has any interest or intention whatever in representing me.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Exasperation Day

Yesterday I was talking with a co-worker who told me that she never voted in the primaries... only in the general elections... because all they do in the primary is choose who will run in November. She was serious. I tried to get through to her that this was exactly the reason the primaries were so important. The primaries are where change happens!
The institutional Democrats won again in California. The opportunity for change has passed. Angelides apparently won by less than five percentage points... Garamendi and Brown (Brown? Governor Moonbeam for Attorney General?) by wider margins.
All that's left for November is to once again choose between the lesser of two evils.
No... I need to start looking at third party slates.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

My Political Rant for the Primaries

Lest I bury the lead, I want to give props to Ronni at Time Goes By for pointing me to Unity 08. Their aim - to identify, nominate and elect national leadership not on the basis of their nominal party affiliation, but on their positions with respect to issues the voters have defined - may seem like an impossible or at least unlikely dream, but I've said before that no more than 30% of voters are defined by their party affiliations which leaves 70% of us who have become enured to the prospect of choosing the lesser of two evils. It could happen.

The California primary election is this Tuesday. The partisan political process is simply mind-numbing which some pundits are saying may be by design.
Phil Angelides is the Democratic Party's choice for Governor which gives him two strikes on my card. His earliest ad began with "Sen. Feinstein, Sen. Boxer... and others you trust..." All I need to know about Dianne Feinstein is that she just voted to confirm Gen. Hayden to lead the CIA. My earliest awareness of Sen. Boxer had to do with her unwavering opposition to all things military. I don't know if Steve Westly can beat Angelides, but so far he hasn't lied so that I've caught him at it.
John Garamendi has been in Sacramento or D.C. for thirty years and wants to be Lieutenant Governor this time.
Jerry Brown (Jerry Brown? Again?) wants to be Attorney General... What?
Charles Calderon... he was in the Assembly, then he moved up to the State Senate but got term-limited, and now he wants to go back down to the Assembly.
Once again I go into the booth to vote against the least palatable alternative.
Pundits point out that the voter turnout in Anbar province was higher than it will be here on Tuesday. In Anbar province there are more than two parties. I know there are more than two parties here, too; but given our legislative structure it comes down to only two.
Maybe... maybe if we can win one... if we can vote for and elect a President in 2008... maybe then we can tackle the two-party system in the legislative branch.
That would be a hoot.