Monday, February 26, 2007


With the Oscars lasting for 4 hours and millions of words spoken and self congratulatory BS all over the place, plus 1 billion watching worldwide, only one guy said anyting about being at war, "Thank you to my father and all the brave and honorable men and women in uniform who in a time of crisis have all made that decision."

Alan Robert Murray, who won best sound editor for Letters From Iwo Jima.

Monday, February 19, 2007


COl Thell Fisher--decorated Marine who fought in WWII, Korea, and two tours in Vietnam recently died. Now, we are talking about a Marine here. According to his son, the good Colonel avoided going to unit reunions because most of the people who attended were "in the rear with the gear" during the actual battles. Sempi Fi


Congress is doing some important things like the nonbinding resolution opposing the Prez on the surge, who said, "its not as if the world stops when the Congress does their duty. I already know what the debate is."

After the nonbinding concurrent, what if, maybe, shoulda, coulda, woulda, Resolution, Congress went on to pay tribute to the Miss America pageant, a fraternity that my old college will be happy about, Sigma Alpha Epsilon ; then they gave a nod to the Boy Scout Jamboree and then the National Horticultural Therapy Week, whatever that is. I loved this one, a resolution that supported naming a Missouri courthouse after Rush Limbaugh's grandfather. They also wanted Harriet Tubman to get a pension for her work as a nurse during hte Civil War. And, a biggie resolution had to do with who actually composed the lyrics to Yankee Doodle Dandy.

The political theater, however, was best summed up by an editorial in the St. Louis Post Dispatch, "In Washington, Congress continues to talk. In Baghdad, U. S. soldiers continue to die.

Sunday, February 18, 2007


Of all the really sorry things that have come out of the Iraq fiasco so far, politicizing the military is one of the worst. There has always been a certain amount of this. I don't think we've seen the level of it as we now do. In books like Fiasco, it is ever so forcefully pointed out, exactly, how the Administration (old SecDef especially) chose leaders who would say what they wanted them to say--mainly the rosy picture of Iraq.

In fact, in a recent unusual stance for a member of Congress, John McCain voted against General Casey, former top General in Iraq, as the Chief of Staff of the Army because he said Casey had to bear responsibility for the rosy pictures he gave of what was happening. Exactly.

The media plays into the politicizing of the military so we can't totally blame the top military types. Headlines sell newspapers. Casey is quoted "the troops will be home by Christmas" as a headline and relates little to the truth or reality. (My view has always been: let's get the generals off TV, let civilians speak for them. Having these generals before the public constantly compromises who they are. Am I a voice crying in the wilderness. I think so).

We can't deny that those like Casey painted a picture that was vastly different from what we saw.

It is hard to know what all of this means other than bemoaning this mixing of politics and war strategy. For instance, I hear nothing but good stuff about the new commander, Petraeus, and I think it is relatively true. He has earned his stripes in many ways but let's face it, he is not a miracle worker and in my estimation, it really may be too late for Iraq or at least what we would hope to accomplish. However, here is how someone like Petraeus is politicized. The President in griping about the recent wimpy non binding resolution said something like, "this may be the first time in history that the Congress has said to its field commander, we don't support you and don't think the strategy you have chosen will work."

First of all, we don't know if Petraeus chose this strategy: the so called, "surge." It doesn't seem to make sense with all the rhetoric I've been reading about him. He is the godfather of counterinsurgency, meaning that he wrote the manual. (He really didn't write it but some of his minions did but he had to put his stamp of approval on it). Also, it is his background. So, why would a General who is a Special Forces type, believing in the Bible of counterinsurgency--working with the people, being somewhat clandestine, in the background, not looking like soldiers: why would he agree to use conventional soldiers even in greater numbers in a city when he knows that it goes against the counterinsurgency model? The president, his commander in Chief, has gone on record as saying that this is the new general's strategy, "surge." See what I mean: politicizing the military.

To me, another example of how we have messed up in fighting this war on every turn.

So, what is my suggestion of how to avoid this politicization: let's get the generals off TV, let civilians speak for them. Having these generals before the public constantly compromises who they are.

Am I a voice crying in the wilderness. I think so. And, the discouraging thing to me as an armchair cowboy strategist is that it appears that I am the only one in America who getss it.

Monday, February 12, 2007


Or at least, it surely seems too. Since everybody has weighed in on astronaut Lisa Nowak who went crazy for love, I figured I might as well. By this time, unless somebody has been in a secluded spaceship to the moon, they know about this poor woman. Formerly, we would never have said "poor woman": astronaut, mother of three, high achiever in every way, something like an astrophysicist.

She apparently either gets involved or fantasizes about/with this other astronaut, not her husband mind you--she travels 900 or so miles, confronts another woman with a BB gun, mace, one or two other lethal tools. What seems to have fascinated the public is that she wears a diaper to travel the distance so she'll not have to stop. She gets apprehended and the unbelievable story unfolds.

TRUTH STRANGER THAN FICTION. You better believe it. Not long ago, I saw this documentary, Crazy Love. Get this, this seemingly normal man becomes obsessed with a woman he is dating. He either gets scared she is going bye bye or he's hearing voices, something. He hires some thugs to throw lye into her eyes, permanently blinding her. Talk about true love, this is the best. The guy goes to prison but when he gets out, the woman he blinded marries him. God bless America.

Here's what I think: you can put all the psychobabble on it you want; unloved as kids, abused, never hugged, whatever, it simply doesn't wash. There are scores who've suffered all this stuff and they turn out OK. So, what is it? I think that on rare occasions, those like Lisa Novak momentarily go crazy, they lose their mind and their ability to think; and, like something as radical as suicide, once having lived the insanity, it can't be taken back. What would make a great story and be so very compassionate, if these folks could somehow rewind those crazy moments of their lives as though they never happened. So very sad but a good idea for a movie. Somebody has probably already made one.

Friday, February 09, 2007

WHAT IS THIS??????????????

THE GAV. The San Fran Mayor keeps trying to do the right thing and yet,the media and some self serving pols are all over him like white on rice. It is, however, politics. Now, he wants to pay the husband of the woman he bedded until the husband gets a job. How noble is this? Gav is a renaissance man. I'm serious. Tell me any other celeb who would do such a thing?

And, of course, the Mayor is going into rehab for an alcohol problem. What makes it a little suspect although I believe he is sincere, is that it seems to be a pattern. A politician falls from grace and then it is the "devil made me do it." Foley of the legislative "pages" scandal who sent dirty messages to teenagers, is the come to mind example. He owns up after being confronted but then it is the alcohol that made him do it. I don't doubt it. In our society many things can be attributed to bad judgment with alcohol. I once gave away my wonderful Karman Ghia when I had only two beers. I'm serious. With a clear head, I would never have done it.

I think the confessions of most politicians and public persons are sincere but it is not going to get a politician off the hook, necessarily. Alcohol is part of our culture and that is the root problem that ought to be addressed. In Gav's case, I think he probably made a mistake by owning up. Had he called me, I would have told him, "don't do it." The media will be all over it. Let us not forget: the media is rarely interested in the "truth" only a story. They are necessary but feeding them the "alcohol problem" merely exacerbated the previous discretion more. My opinion.

Is the Gav an alcoholic? Based on what I've read, no. Does he have a drinking problem. Yes. He should have called me. When I was a young minister in training, I went though an internship at a mental hospital. Most of my time was on the alcoholic ward. These were hard core cases who had done criminal activities, totally been crazy and threatened or harmed someone under the influence of the demon alcohol, as my Dad called it. I listened to their stories. The alcoholics lied to me, took my money, adinfinitum but I learned. I still remember many of the tales: one that sticks out is that this guy whose daughter, 9, mind you was killed in an accident. He sneaks into the funeral home and steals her little black Mary Jane shoes off her feet to pawn for liquor. True story? I don't know but representative of what an alcoholic will do.

Alcoholism is a disease: for a drink, alcoholics will sacrifice their dignity, families, anything. The paper says Gavin has quit drinking. Good! Reinforces the idea that he has a drinking problem and is gettting it under control. Let's give him the benefit of the doubt. The good news is that he is going to a really good rehab program from all I read. DeLancy Street. These people don't deal with psychobabble and excuses. And, it will be good for the Mayor. He'll be in "groups" of derelicts, street people, felons, riff rapt, low lifes, liars, cheats, the scum of the earth. Where better to learn to serve the people than associating with all of the above, mainly because of alcohol. With a person of faith, it is a concept of redemption: the drunkard becomes sober. The low life gets himself/herself together. Liars tell the truth, cheats become honest. See what I mean? This experience can only help him and so let's back the f... off and give him a chance. He'll come out ahead. He's a good mayor, done a great job and the people will give him another term. Go Gav!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007


Anybody who watched Paul Bremer recently before a senate committee and doesn't simply put his/her head in his hands and figuratively cry is way beyond me. Obviously someone who screwed up as much as Bremer in Iraq is not going to admit it. We are into hindsight, of course, but what hindsight does is only reflect the lack of planning in going to war anyway.

Bremer said, "I've made mistakes." Well, Dud! Descriptions of loading 18 wheelers with pallets of cash, weighing tons didn't seem to even phase Bremer. He said something like, "Iraq was a country in chaos and a cash culture and we were trying to survive and look after the people." Oh, so you just hand out hundred dollar bills to the elite of Baghdad. The poor surely didn't get the bucks. Bremer says all of this with a straight face. Looking after the people: what people were those?

No accountability for all this cash. The IG who sat next to him contradicted him with the idea that he didn't have a clue where all that money went. I can remember reading about soldiers at some supply point in Iraq or maybe they were contractors playing foodball with bound up stacks of hundred dollar bills.What enrages me as an American taxpayer is that when I think of the working poor, the homeless and needy in our country who are trying to survive and we are giving out stacks of American taxpayers' money like it is a monopoly game. And, to make it worse, it probably went to the least deserving and worse still into the hands of possible terrorists. We simply don't know.

You have got to be kidding me! Here it is two years down the road and we have come out from under the ether. I am appalled and Americans who care should be too. Most who have any real interest in what has happened in Iraq commonly acknowledge that disbanding the Iraqi Army and purging the Baathists from the government was simply stupid. The thing I remember is reading about Bremer screaming, "I don't want to hear anything about Vietnam." Oh yeah, doesn't want to hear that Iraq has become Iraqnam. Guess what? Bremer got his "freedom" medal given by the Prez and would be off scot free were it not for the new Congress.

Bremer's admissions is but one more example of how Iraq has morphed into one disaster after another. And, we are still debating doing more of the same. If there has ever been a case for post Vietnam, this may be it. When we departed the scene in Vietnam, who knew what would happen. Some things were not pretty but our staying there would have only postponed the inevitable. As we have seen, Vietnam not only survived but has prospered and has even become our trading partner. We should be so lucky in Iraq. Let's hope with new leadership we are truly heading for a new strategy and it ain't surge.

Sunday, February 04, 2007


Two recent deaths have caused me a moment of pause: two very different persons. Dale Noyd and Milly Ivins.

Dale Noyd singularly objected to the Vietnam war and it kind of personified his life. He was the only member of his class to be given a "Regular" (in his days, most commissioned officers received "Reserve" commissions) commission of his ROTC class at Washington State. He just missed the Korean war and it looked like a promising military career was ahead, once having received a medal for landing a badly damaged nuclear armed F-100 fighter at an English airfield. He even taught at the Air Force Academy. Then what should appear but Vietnam on the horizon. He couldn't bring himself to be involved, based on what he viewed from the beginning as an illegal war. Talk about a prophet. Eventually, he was court martialed, served a year in jail and drummed out of the service. Sad. He's probably smiling today remembering the two certificates he kept on his wall: his commendation for heroism and his dishonorable discharge.

Molly Ivins. I always liked her, her irreverent style and of late, vociferous objection to the Iraq war. How I always interpreted her was not so much objection to the war but the stupidity in how it was/is managed. I can surely identify with that: it simply gets worse and when you think it can't get any more out of control, it does. Molly got it. Her last column, which she maybe knew to be her last, said it all: "We are the people who run this country. We are the deciders. And every single day, every single one of us needs to step outside and take some action to help stop this war. Raise hell. Think of something to make the ridiculous look ridiculous. Make our troops know we're for them and trying to get them of of there."