Sunday, April 29, 2007


The scenes from Forest Gump, surrounding Vietnam, are some of the best ever. The movie depicts how absurd war is under any circumstance but more dramatically, the human loss. What is really going to be an ongoing fascination to those of us who care is that once the Iraqi quagmire is over, if ever, will be the comparisons to Vietnam.

Because Iraq is truly our first saturated media war, aligned with all the commo technology, i. e., emails, text messaging, etc., it is going to be an overexposed war time experience to a weary public. My prediction. This is already happening. There are not less than four or five documentaries, soldiers' diaries, etc. presently on TV or HBO or at various film festivals. The various offerings depict Iraq or Afghanistan. In face, one was shot completely on a "cell phone." It is called, Why Didn't Anybody Tell Me It Would Become This Bad In Afghanistan. It is only the beginning.

Think about it: GIs have all this instant commo, they are calling, emailing wives, girlfriends, Moms and Dads every single day. Sometimes, they communicate more from Iraq than they did when they were home. Reporters are embedded with them--the media is right there recording and processing everything.

Some general said recently, a National Guard type, who was returning to his college where he was something like the dean, "there's no comparison in Vietnam and Iraq. In Iraq I was shot at occasionally; in Vietnam, I was shot at every day." This is somewhat capsulized as the practical--the philosophical likenesses and differences are much broader, of course. And, most of those documentaries, books and movies are yet to come. The war in Iraq will end one of these days and the comparisons to Vietnam will be a part of the aftermath.

Monday, April 23, 2007


SERIAL KILLERS. I'm always fascinated or appalled may be the best term in talking about those whose moral compass has seemingly gone south. Is there any pattern of behavior to those who commit awful atrocities like Virginia Tech. What do we know: alienation, bullied, hearing voices. If we could have had a profile of the Virginia Tech killer could the tragedy have been prevented. No, not really, just as 9-11 probably could not. And, as we keep trying to make sense out of the overwhelming sense of loss, we can do a few things. One of them is change the laws about guns. Under anybody's definition who thinks, the laws are way to lax. What does someone like Cho need with an automatic 9mm glock; give me a break. What does a hunter need an AK47 for? And, we need to get this out of politics. I'm surely not a gun control nut but being smart and a zeolot are not one and the same. Come on!

IRAQ. Then there's always Iraq. Iraqi civilians are caught in the crosshairs of a civil war. Seeing a couple of families profiled, the inevitable question: were they better under Saddam. Since I'm the one asking the question, my answer. Absolutely. We are going to be haunted by Iraq for a long time just as we are about Vietnam. The vast difference is that Vietnam nowhere knew the violence visited upon innocent civilians. In Vietnam, eventually, we were two armies opposing each other on the battle field. The farmers were still growing their rice and South Vietnam was still functioning. In Iraq nothing is functioning. A country with enormous oil reserves and lines for as many as 3 days is more the rule than the exception. What is wrong with this picture?

Saturday, April 21, 2007


There is simply no military unit that has the pride and esprit of Army Rangers. I cannot tell you the numbers of Rangers that I've met who are simply cut from a different cloth. Pat Tillman and his buddies of the 75th Rangers were all special.

Now, with yet another investigation, Army Rangers speak about what happened. They acknowledged the true story would have been devastating for the 75th Regiment. What they really meant is that it will bring shame on the Rangers and nothing could be worse.

Ranger training includes weeks of deprivation, surviving, living in the most extreme conditions. Most fail. I don't know the exact percentages but I would say, close to 80% don't make it. When it's over, the soldier is forever changed. His only reward is a tab, a Ranger Tab worn on his left shoulder in his dress uniform or a pen signifying he's a Ranger. And, so a Ranger doesn't dare bring shame upon other Rangers.

One of Pat Tillman's fellow Rangers said, "I mean, it's horrible that Pat was dead. Absolutely horrible. But it hurts even more to know that it was one of our own guys that did it. We just, we didn't want to get anything, you know, bad said about the Regiment or anything like that. That was my guess to what the whole thing was about. We didn't want the world finding out what actually happened."

So, there you have; cover up. Not really to this soldier. Just a bunch of Rangers who didn't want to bring disgrace on fellow Rangers. Unfortunately, modern wartime, often fought in the media, has obfuscated honorable motives. My suspicion is that Pat Tillman would be the last wanting this investigation to continue. Noway would he want to take a chance on smudging the reputation of his beloved Rangers.

One soldier's opinion and I will not speak of this again.

Leonitus and Themistocles

These are two of my neighbors. Just kidding. Greek guys for sure. Anyway, one Sunday afternoon my niece and I are hanging out and decide to take in the movie, 300. I had read a review and thought that it sounded good. Unschooled in Greek mythology, we lasted about thirty minutes. The movie reminded me of some of those comic book movies that many like. Plus, the movie was peopled with young teenagers, this should have told us something.

When I got time, I learned a little about the main characters of the movie. This three hundred Greek force met the Persians by the thousands. The Greeks were schooled in tactics and devoured the Persians as they came at the Greeks in a carefully created section--a small opening. Leonitus was quite the warrior and looked the part: brave, straightforward and self sacrificing. All the qualities of a good leader. However, his earlier arrogance caused him to make a fatal mistake: he rejected help from a less than perfect warrior who eventually was responsible for helping the Persians defeat the Greeks by showing them a secret passage.

Eventually, the Greeks triumphed over the Persians but it was not Leonitus but another Greek, much less idealistic. In fact, he was downright the opposite of the great warrior, Leonitus. But, he was a super tactician and was not above manipulating intelligence to give him the favored result. Heard this before. He talked the Greeks who desperately needed a victory after the terrible defeat at Thermopylae. Themistocles gave it to them when he maneuvered the Personas into a battle on unfriendly waters with their heavy and slow Greek warships. Theo, as I like to call him, was not above stretching the truth as he lied to the Persian King.

There's a couple of real lessons here: stay out of war if you are not threatened. We get that. But, the most important lesson is to elect a leader who is much more Theo than Leo. Looking the part may play well on TV and has been an anathama to us for the last several years. The best don't make it to the top and we are all the poorer for it.

Thursday, April 19, 2007


**It took me a long time to come to a conclusion about Iraq. I would not have thought that it would become this complicated. I should have paid more attention to the book, THE ARAB MIND. It is difficult for me to believe the decisions that this administration have made. I became aware fairly quickly that Rumsfelt wasn’t the man, however, I am somewhat amazed that the leadership of the military seems to be so political…going along with the whole mess.

I have a tremendously difficult time believing that those who are suppose to be very much aware of Arab history, their thinking (State Dept. Personnel, military intelligence whoever) have either been totally marginalized or they didn’t have it right.

Father, Vietnam Vet, and retired military


What an awful war, an urban guerilla war. I will have to be honest, I don't know a single thing about Iraq that I don't consider a colossal mess. I will never forget a guy I served with at Forscom (Forces Command in Atlanta) who had been an advisor to the Israeli Army. He was one of the smartest guys I ever met, a Rhodes scholar, academy graduate, earned a PhD on his own. He told me once that what he discovered after spending years in the Middle East is that all the people there deserved each other. I think of his comments when I think of someone like your young commander son. Here he is and sees it all: actually came up with a plan to keep the Iraqis from killing each other--he sees the mistrust, the politics of it all. With soldiers, it is different, they kind of see what is in front of them. They do what they are told but for your son, I surmise, and many like him, it becomes an intuitive dilemma. Do the job the best you can, protect your soldiers and get the hell out as soon as you can. Now, of course, the "get out" has been extended. Another part of the mess.

I don't mean to be a downer but so feel for your son and those like him. I relate to it as when I was in Vietnam. I didn't know my ass from a hole in the ground but I had been there about three months when I realized, "this is crazy and stupid, I'm figuring this out but this BS about giving these people freedom is idiocy." I look at Iraq and think that Vietnam was not in the same galaxy when compared to Iraq in terms of idiocy.

**Correspondence from a friend whose son is in Iraq. Name withheld for reasons of security.

Saturday, April 14, 2007


I saw this fascinating movie (DVD) last night, kind of predictable but real too: called Dreamland. I watched it as I often do, one eye on it and another working on my computer. Dreamland was the name of a trailer park and housed the saddest of society, mostly what we would call lowlifes. Not to emotionally maim everybody who lives in a trailer park but the stereotype from whence comes the name, "trailer trash." Obviously, I'm not too PC, but don't call us Don Imus. What struck a ready difference were mainly 3 very tattered teenagers. And, yet, they all, in their own way, had a "spark."

This whole "spark" thing fascinates me. I've read about it before--some youngster who has the worst life situation imaginable and yet he/she has the "spark," the ability to rise above it. A recent example is memoir of Hersi Ali in her book, Infidel. She has the "spark." In Dreamland, one was dying with some disease, although she was beautiful and had an enormous imagination; another really intelligent, and a the third character with great ambition.

Movies, of course, as we know, can make anything happen they want too--they're called, "writers." But, the movie featured every social problem almost that we see: the father of one whose wife had died and he would not venture outside, mostly sat in his mobile home and drank. Another couple, wife, a former famous singer, who had developed stage fright.

John Corbett of Northern Exposure fame (Northern Exposure was a TV program several years ago that took place in Alaska) was the only known actor. In Northern Exposure, Corbett played a disk jockey who was laid back, hippish, smooth, and danced with the stars. Audrey, the protagonist who, eventually witnesses her father getting his life together and her best friend (the sick one) getting a grip on life--all of this not devoid of drama. And, her friend boy who became her boyfriend and followed through on his ambition to be a college basketball player. She was not going to college although accepted to U. of AZ, (Dreamland was in New Mexico). She's not going and then it all comes together and she decides to follow her dream. Besides, she's a poet.

Lots of nuances in the movie. And, although maybe one of those movies that went straight to DVD. I liked it.I like movies that somehow ties it all together in the end and folks are relatively happy. My only criticism and its minor is that I wish the movie had developed the characters of the singer and her boyfriend a little more. Much redemption in this movie. 2 parachutes.


The recent news conference by the North Carolina Attorney General and by the Duke Lacrosse team should saddened and wake us all up about justice in this country. Millions of dollars on their defense to now be totally cleared and to now have the Attorney General say, they were innocent. One of them said something very profound, yet so simple and true: something like, "Could you imagine what would have happened to us had we not had resources and been able to fight this." And then he went on to say, it happens in America all the time.

Examples abound. I have a good friend whose son has just been offered 6-10 years in prison. I'm not totally sure that I have all the facts straight but the significant ones I do. The son has not been a paragon of morality. In some ways, a typical young early twenties type. Mostly his transgressions have been wrapped around drugs. And, trust me on this, drugs are much more pervasive in our society than the average person is anywhere close to believing. I see parents all the time who don't have a clue as to what their children are involved in. On a recent PBS program called Addiction, it spelled it out. And, on the music video program, MTV, which was quite unusual, they showed a history of drug use from the sixties. I was amazed at how little it has changed--more sophisticated now and more pervasive.

So, my friend's son is all into the drug culture. Enter some teenagers to a party, the murky world of drugs and sex and from it ensued a correspondence between my friend's son and the girls. Alas, suddenly we are talking teenagers. Parents get involved. My friend's son and others are caught in the web. An overzealous prosecutor and police detective ignore the facts: the girl in question relatively exonerates my friend's son, they've never met or at least she doesn't remember him at the party. Enter lawyers, money spent, plea bargains and now a young 25 year old who has only relative guilt is about to become a victim of a criminal justice system run amuck. Think Duke Lacrosse team. Was the Lacrosse team innocent? Not totally as they did have a party and strippers showed. Is my friend's son totally innocent. No. Unfortunately, he does not have the money that the Duke Lacrosse team's parents have and so what will happen. Probably jail for him and a ruined life.

WHO IS TO BLAME? Well, many but for sure, one that rarely takes the heat and I don't understand: the judge. What do we have judges for? Are they so bound by rules that they can't use any common sense? In the case of the Duke Lacrosse players, it became evident early on that there was scant evidence and what there was was tainted. But, it went on and on and then entered politics. In the case of my friend, there's guilt in all directions but it is not easily determined. Where is the judge? Is there no common sense? Alcohol and drugs--what do we expect? Wake up and smell the roses.

Heaven help us. God bless America.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


Imus is a self serving celebrity a-hole who thought that he has a license to say anything he wanted; he's in the same category as Howard Stern or Rush Limbaugh. What fascinates me more than Imus, Limbaugh or Stern is who listens to these people. The fact that a guy like the VP just appeared on the Rush Limbaugh show is more appalling than anything else. Those who appear on their shows give them legitimacy.

What is fascinating to me, however, as we are several days down the road on Imus is the almost complete desertion of his so called friends. I don't know who they are but obviously, they must be many, based on appearing on his show. What he said was terrible but blacks say it about themselves and to each other all the time. TV shows like The Wire are every other word or worse than anything Imus might have ever said.

I am the last one to take up for Imus but come on, here is some bigtime hypocrisy. Think these two guys: Jessie Jackson who fathered a child by another woman not his wife and will show up at the sign of any camera. And, then there's Al Sharpton of Tawana Brawley fame. (Tawana Brawley received national attention when she was 15 years old for her claim that she was raped by six white men, some of them police officers. The alleged incident became a media sensation, championed by Al Sharpton who was making a bid to replace Jessie. There were no indictments in an investigation by a grand jury, who cited a lack of evidence, concluding she had not been abducted, assaulted, raped or sodomized). At least Al can be entertaining. We give Jackson and Sharpton a free pass and skewer Imus. I don't think so.

My bigger lament well past Imus is that talking about him is taking away from real issues that we have in the country, mainly the war unless of course, the Imus saga fits right into the denial of most of the country that the war is our number one priority.

Sunday, April 08, 2007


When the Prez used his authority for recess appointments to appoint the guy who kept the Swiftboat Vets afloat, he really was again asserting that "not serving" wins more points than serving. I am still amazed that the Swiftboat Vets have never admitted they were used by the guy the President has appointed to be an Ambassador to war torn Belgium. Now Iraq, I would have felt a little better about.

It would be interesting to know 4 years down the road and Iraq a mess, what the Swiftboat Vets think. Would Kerry have led us down the primrose path. Silence.

And, then to read that the VP was on the Rush Limbaugh program has to be about humiliating. Does anybody listen to that guy anymore? How he is not in jail is way beyond me. Most anybody else as the Oxycontin King would be out of here. Not Limbaugh--the VP showed up with his same old sad song: cut and run. What planet is this guy on?