Saturday, December 26, 2009

RAMBLINGS on the day after Xmas

I am refusing to say Happy Holidays. I think we have gone overboard in the PC category. Christmas has become a cultural holiday, I think: for whatever it's worth, fine with me. And, to try to avoid saying Christmas is uncool, at least to me. So, I hope you had a Merry Christmas.

Some asshole in San Fran objected to a star on the top of a Xmas tree. The guy looked like he needed a decent meal or maybe had too many and naturally the media gave him lots of coverage. Oh, I just thought, Happy Boxer Day for us Brits Actually I'm Irish, does that count? Somebody is probably somewhere objecting to that.

Now somebody might object to me using Xmas but the X is the Greek symbol for Christianity. Speaking of Greek, that great leather jacket, Andy, went to the Church candlelight service the other night. People were constantly telling me, "that is a great jacket."

OK, I know you are hanging on every word, so here's the last subject, As I was messing with one of my blogs this morning, I had this thought. "It is nice to have the fantasy of possibly one of the GFs actually reading what I have to say." The fact that it is an illusion, still I am "playing like" as we say im NC, one of the buds might be. One advantage to this personal jabber is that nobody interrupts. Who knows that anybody ever reads anything. I did quiz Larry and he actually read Brothers. I was astonished.

According to the Airborne Press counter, about a hundred people a week click on the link to "breakfastwithmygirlfriends." And, what I put on the blog is not some of the good stuff like considering whether being called a "low life moron" is more civil than MF. I am sure what the "guru" meant to say is that he occasionally thinks there are moronic views, not that the person is a moron. I personally like MF better. It has a kind of melodious Buddhist chant feel to it. (I think I've said this before).

What I try to put on the blog is more useful stuff/opinions (I hope) like the 16th chapter of Revelations which sounds like the predicting of global warming. Just kidding but it does. If I was a fundamentalist and could write a book about the 16th chapter of Revelations, all the fundamentalists would feel guilty unless they bought the book; they would then flock in "Sarah Palin numbers" to the Christian bookstores who had been given huge discounts by the publishers to stock the book; the fundentalists would buy one or several copies. The fundamentalist preachers would start teaching the book in their churches, requiring all members to buy one or more copies less the Holy Spirit strike them down, thus increasing sales. And, I could get super rich, maybe get a megachurch and make all of the GFs deacons with a nice salary. I'm going to think about that. If I got a megachurch, some of you might want to run the church restaurant or other businesses of the church that God has directly appointed to be successful We could actually have a theatrical production and one of the GFs could play the role of Jesus driving the money changers out of the temple. Of course, there is only one GF fitting for that role, Malnekoff, as in Michael. God would make us such legends in our own minds that we could buy "The Raintree" and have our own restaurant with the little pudgy Hispanic waittress. We would have to get a Greek to be in charge of the menu with some "eyetalians" handling foot traffic.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Your frustration over whether the troops are brainwashed ("they have access to the same information that we do") is understandable but these are volunteers who have signed up out of economic distress or other motivations and expect to be put in harms, as a coping mechanism, they have to throw in completely to the mission's "rightness"....the only way that this lemming outcome could be checked is to initiate the draft again.....then , those non volunteers i.e. draftees, would definetly question the "rightness" of the wars, of course, within the bounds of military law....there would also be mass demonstrations like there were against the Nam War... until the whole society has a direct stake in the wars, there will be no such questioning of the "rightness" of the wars....Freedom is not free but a great majority of our society is not being asked to share directly in the sacrifices necessary to maintain that's like Rome asking mercenaries to fight its wars as the Roman masses became lazy and undisciplined which was a basic reason that the Roman Republic came to an end.....there has to be a sacrifice sharing expectation in our society to maintain the necessary vigilence over our Republic and our freedoms.....until the time that this comes to pass, we are in the same danger as the Roman Republic was before its fall..........It's Wake Up Time In America ! ! ! !
Sam D.

An Alternate Universe

Based on our discussion yesterday when a few actually appeared to be listening, here's another thought with you hanging on every word, naturally. One thing that bothers me no end are the things like I related that I saw on TV, a soldier being interviewed in Afghanistan, talking about missing his daughters, sadness, the wife and her sacrifices (ignore the fact that both were overweight--I'm slapping myself for even mentioning). Anyway, he goes on to say, "we are doing such good over here. These people need us and depend on us." And, here we are, out here in the hinterlands reading, watching the news and thinking, "what and who is he talking about." I feel bad that I am thinking this way as I know from having been at war, you have to believe in what you are doing, it is your job. For Ray, not to put words in his mouth but his view was that he was focused on his little niche, that which was right in front of him. The right/wrong strategy if it didn't affect his men had little impact on him I think for Larry, going on patrol, making it back in one piece, left little time for cogitating your navel. For Hank, dropping his ordnance and firing up a few black pajama types and getting back to his Filipino servant left little time for world events. All that aside, have our soldiers been brainwashed? Is it the type of soldier we have enlisted? What? They have assess to the same media we do. Dang, this really bothers me.


For those who haven't seen Brothers, here is my review. Some
plagerized from Karl. Brothers is one of those movies that I
expected to have trouble sitting through. However, it really wasn't. I
think that mainly I had read so much and talked to those who
had seen it that I was not the least bit surprised. The brothers, one
the epitome of the good son and the other a perpetual "F..." up.
However, they loved each other. The theme of the movie had already
been done in The Valley of Elah. War simply plays hell with the
Tommy, the n'the well younger brother shapes himself up when
his brother Sam is killed in Afghanistan or they think he's dead. All
the while he is being tortured and eventually forced to kill one of
his own. I'm not giving away too much because even this had been done

The toll on families is a given. Natalie Portman, playing the wife is
very good. Jake Guillenhau(sp) and Toby McGuire are also very good but
one of the small daughters stole the show. Her facial expressions and
attendant actions overall are simply precious. A good movie which
should, along with many war themed movies, have more impact but not
so. In Brothers, the movie never really hit on any opposition or even
asking any sort of the basic question of "why are we there" The one
brother did mention IT briefly but moved on. Being a good Marine was more
the philosophical tone. There are so many more themes that are lightly
touched which could have been fleshed out but not in 2 hours I guess.
For instance, Sam Shepard, playing the straight arrow retired Marine
father, Vietnam vet, tries but wrestles with his own demons and mostly

A last view. Why are these movies not box office successes? My view:
the 50% of the American population that "thinks" is in bigtime denial
that we are in two unwinnable, untenable wars which are draining us in
every single way. Thirty five percent of our fellow Americans don't
think at all: they support a position such as war and having their
minds made up, also prefer denial. The other fifteen or twenty
percent are simply "out to lunch." They don't care one way or another
and take little or no interest beyond their own narrow limits. And,
they don't go to movies, not war movies anyway.

Friday, December 11, 2009


Yes, Ted is back as in Ted Haggard, the former pastor of the Colorado mega church. Think, you will remember him? He was the voice of family values and the darling to right wing fundamentalists until he was caught frequenting a gay masseuse. The preacher went from a host of microphones, TV, and so many attendees on Sunday morning, they had to go in shifts to disgrace.

Haggard in his return, has closed in on a space close to his old stomping grounds. The Lord probably spoke to him to locate close to his former flock. On his first appearance, so many came that they had to move to a barn. He's back and like Jim Bakker(minus Tammy), probably a TV show is to follow. With Bakker, I actually watched a little of his show one night: same old stuff, selling a dream. Send in your money. And, they are. Redemption is a big issue with people of faith, along with forgiveness. But, it seems to me that the "faith" might be better served if these guys would keep a lower profile. Forget it! Once they have tasted the limelight, with egos as big as all outdoors, they can't give it up, even with the shame. And, what about those who flock back to them--people are pretty forgiving. And, then again, in my view, let's try stupid.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Report On Thanksgiving from pilot/soldier

All is well here for Thanksgiving and I ate to a point of discomfort... Twice. I had to leave way earlier than normal that day and was out taking people here and there and they went out of their way to take us to eat with them. As it turned out, our meal was far better than the one served here at the base. The Turkey I had was strange, but delicious. Said turkey appeared to have been canned, whole... I looked at it sitting in the mermite can and said aloud, "Looks like that poor bastard got shot out of a cannon." The guy standing next to me (who was already taste testing it) replied, "Yeah, a gourmet cannon." It was truly tasty. They finally opened the new Dining Facility (DFAC) here that they've been working on since the first time I was here. The Third Country Nationals (TCNs) did a fantastic job with the decorations...
Getting into the double digits which is nice, but means that we're getting into that time of the deployment where people get hurt due to preventable, complacency related incidents. We are all ready to get home.

Hope all is well there.


Mel, thanks so much for the sitrep and for the account of the "hat." Maybe next year you'll be ready to go with us. What a trip we had this year. Needless to say, the pheasants of North Dakota had little to fear from me. A great time and your Dad, I can truly say, made the best shot: two went down in succession and almost with one shot. But, don't know if you know the story that made our trip. The one about the woman crawling in bed with your Dad. It was one of those stories where you almost had to be there but with some embellishment, it made the trip.

With the military, it sounds very much to me like: the more things change, the more they remain the same. I remember writing an article, mainly for my own consumption, about getting too comfortable in Iraq. Some general seemed to be proud of the fact that he had found a whole bunch of ice making machines for the PXes; my take was that it was a common problem with us. Although we want soldiers to have as many comforts as possible, the idea that we are settling down for a long stay in Iraq was a problem. This was in the early days of the war. Now, of course, we have settled down for who knows how long. In fact, I am still very doubtful that we'll be out with any real timetable. And, Afghanistan, with an overlay on our lives that looks surprisingly like your Dad and my war (Vietnam). Oh well, don't want to get started here.

Be careful and don't take chances. As my personal gift to you for what you are doing for the country, I want to spring for your expenses on our next hunting trip. File the dates away: 21-24 Oct 2010. Great bonding time. God bless. Be well and safe. {{{{{{{{{{{{{{{Jerry}}}}}}}}}}}

Thursday, November 26, 2009

I don't think it is just Republicans who are "locked in." As a Democrat, let us be objective: everybody that I talk too of all kinds of political persuasions, appear to get it about Afghanistan, we simply can't do anything. They are a tribal people, still live in the Middle Ages, a President who is a joke; adinfinitum and yet we continue to pour in millions as though as though we have a McChrystal ball. Nothing seems to make any real difference: we have a demo Prez, that I've supported bigtime, Demo congress: no difference. So, it really baffles me.

I'm sticking with my view: 30% of Americans are downright stupid. I don't mean dumb, they just don't think, they appear to be mostly Republicans from where I stand but by no means, the only ones. We have 300 million plus in the country, 25% are out to lunch, they don't participate in anything: operate on a philosophy of "Of all my fathers children, I love myself the best. If the Lord provides for me, the devil take the rest." And, what I'm hoping is that there is at least 50% of Americans, of all persuasions who at least possibly, maybe are still participating and want to rescue the country.

America is a great country, still experimenting, I believe. We may be ungovernable, like CA, not sure. Still, we have lots of opportunity, can criticize the government, and be about as nutso as we want to be.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Recently, a story crossed my path of a couple of Chaplains being asked by the media if their troops were having any problems. It is obvious to me that the chaplains are trying to be honest: many (soldiers) feel they are risking their lives. Their soldier buddies have died. And for what? A futile mission with an Afghan population mired in the Middle Ages. The chaplains said that the many soldiers who come to them have a sense of futility and anger about what they are being asked to do. They feel they are risking their lives for progress that's hard to figure. They are tired, strained, confused and just want to get through it. The Chaplains said they were speaking out because the men could not. Here's what amazes me: you have soldiers saying how they feel, the chaplains trying to be honest and then a commander coming in and discounting all they say.

The Battalion commander says his men aren't demoralized and his spin is that they have accomplished lots thus far. The good Colonel argues that counter-insurgency will win over in the long haul, maybe 10-12 years (my numbers but I'm sure it is what he meant as we know what a counter insurgency operation entails).

In a media driven war, no one is more suspicious than me: reporters in a war situation are out for a story and not necessarily the truth but this is simply fact, verified by any source except Fox News, of course. What idiot could not say that Afghanistan is a place with no ending, no clear mission: now a stupid strategy of protecting the people, don't kill the enemy even if some of the people are the enemy. You have got to be kidding me! Young Marines who have been taught to kill the enemy and to grieve for their fallen comrades are now told, "let the perpetrators who plant the rosdside bombs escape if there is any chance civilians might get hurt." Now, this is the way to fight a war!

At the hightest levels, the word is, this war is winnable, more troops, etc. On Sixty Minutes, some general answers as though he is a robot: "can do," troops understand why they are in Afghanistan, etc. They love it. Troops understand it? Bullshit. I don't understand it. McChrystal is on TV more than some pop icon. I would fire his ass in a minute if I were the commander-in-chief. His job is soldiering, not trying to convince Americans of "more troops." Generals always want more troops. The counter insurgency strategy might work but it will take ten or fifteen more years to work and anybody who believes Americans will put up with that raise your hand. McChrystal says anybody who doesn't go along is shortsighted. Tell that to families whose loved ones are going to die for that strategy.

Afghanistan is an overlay on Vietnam. How many of us heard troops say in Vietnam, "What are we doing here?" Most of us realized after we had been in Nam a few months, this is crazy and for what. Afghanistan is ten times worse. There is no solution. Politics of the country and even the history aside; more troops is not the answer. VP Biden's plan is better; keep older Special Forces troops around {what many Americans don't realize since so few have served in the military, we have an an extremely well trained segment of our military that loves war, fighting, and will keep at it. The Green Berets or snake eaters as they are often called are somewhat crazy and just the type of soldiers we need in Afghanistan. We need to them in sufficient numbers, to rotate in and out, simply let them stay and work the counter insurgency strategy. With them, ten years might be OK}, They will get out of the Star Wars uniforms and simply fight the Taliban to a standoff. The third course is maybe just a gradual withdrawal. Create a very liberal immigration policy for women. But, I hope and pray that as a supporter, bigtime, Mr. President, you will not let Afghanistan become your Vietnam. God bless you.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Letter to the President

I am a strong supporter of the President and fear that Afghanistan is a quagmire that will drag him/us down. I am a retired military chaplain (COL). I have worked for several generals personally, have been in hundreds of staff meetings and I can tell the President one thing beyond a shadow of any doubt: generals always want more troops. I have enormous respect for General Petraeus and fighting a counter insurgency is a good strategy. However, we are talking years for it to work.

I am not going to get into those areas about Afghanistan that you know far better than me. But, it is a "tar baby" that cannot be won. More troops only means more American lives lost. Mr. President, I think your "out" is NATO. It is a NATO mission. Already we have the most troops in there and Nato needs to "pony" up. They're not going to do it. Next case. But, no more troops. My idea: Give it to the Taliban, establish a very liberal immigration policy, especially for women. And, then we can become the "insurgency." But, please Mr. President, no more troops. God bless you.

Sunday, September 13, 2009


Have you guys been reading the Doonesbury comic strip each day? The writer is drawing some pretty tight comparisons between Afghanistan and our sojourn in Vietnam. (getting involved in a civil war, propping up a questionable government, no desire among the populous for us to be there, lack of support from surrounding nations, etc.) What think ye? Don

I would not give us the chance of a snowball in hell in Afghanistan. When we have 50% of our force there being contractors, When we must oppose the nation’s only real cash crop. When we don’t have the guts as a nation and administration and media to fight a war, Even if our military had the highest morale, how do we win without a win mentality? What do we win? If we won it what would we do with it? Clyde

Wish I could see a better solution. I don’t have a family member or friend to donate to this venture, and anyway, I think we probably have already done all that we can reasonably do. We won. Let’s go home. Lamar

Good reasoning, Claude. Here is the contradiction I see for the US in Afghanistan: only a very aggressive (read bloody, with heavy civilian casualties) military effort would bring anything approaching a “win;” this administration, with increasing pressure from the political left, will find such efforts increasingly untenable. This is to not even mention growing American casualties, and our “allies” bailing out as the casualties mount. Lamar

I, too, am very concerned, but my conclusions are mixed. On the one hand, I'm convinced we should not fight except to win, though winning in Afghanistan might require killing most of the occupants of that land and surrounding countries; which we can't and should not do, not as Americans nor as NATO forces. Probably we should not fight to impose representative democracy on a people that don't have the basic values necessary for it to take root and grow, especially when we seem to be rapidly losing those essential values, ourselves.Perhaps, we should provide a buffer, is such is possible, for a specified period of time to allow the Afghans to take responsibility for their own, with the clear understanding that the will be on their own. But what do I know?

Clyde,I'm weary too, and some days I'm attempted to quit, to turn it off, so I can focus on things I feel I have some control over.But thenI think I'd be playing into the hands of some elements that intend to win by attrition as we opt out until they have full sway in all government branches and can more their designs forward to quickly and far that they can't be reversed short of heavy domestic bloodshed--and perhaps not even then, which they are sure we'd have no stomach for--and perhaps not even then. So I'm going to keep trying, like those young men/grunts did so long ago when their service for their country was repaid with demeaning comments and actions. I never could really understand at the feeling level what kept the grunts going in the face of imminent death there and in light of certain disrespect back home.
Lamar, I am with you. I would add one caveat: create an extremely liberal immigration policy for Afghan women. Let's at least give them a chance. I keep hearing that Pakistan is key. Agree but they need to figure that out. Claude

Claude, good comments but any way you cut it, it is muddled and symbolically, Vietnam, revisited, mainly in terms of how long we would need to be there. What we seem to intentionally ignore is the fact that we are dealing with a tribal people, mostly Muslim, mired in the Middle Ages. Why is this so hard for us to grasp? What I think is happening is the same thing as Vietnam: the generals leading the president down the primrose path of more troops, a military victory. It can't happen.

Saturday, August 15, 2009


wolfman is moving at a steady clip, today is his first night outside of yosemite park. it took him 7 days of steady hiking, what a dude.


I know this is not required but in order to avoid an article 32 investigation, I am doing a prelim report. The peaches are picked, Frances Leigh, the Granddaughter and I made our way to SC. I heard a couple of great jokes about the Guv who would not resign but I can't remember them. A couple of family things and now I am standing in the door waiting for the greenlight and on the way back to CA. I get back late Thursday night and may see you guys at Whole Foods on Friday. I truest that you have held it together since I have been out of the AO. Larry, have a great trip, we'll be following your progress and you can count on me keeping it on the front burner, along with the absence of trashing of the guru.

When I come to the South, Rachael, my youngest daughter says, "Dad, your IQ drops and your vocie slows down." OK! I do have some observations, however. First of all, I have always thought that the South would come to a point where integration would have been a transitioning point. Meaning that not only were blacks in the market place but integrating into all aspects of society. It ain't going to happen in the South, especially the deep South. There is lots of integration in the workplace. You can go into any bank or store and African Americans are fully integrated into the work force but there is absolutely no social intergration: churches are segregated, etc. And, I use to think it was going to change but not so.

I would say that I talked to hundreds about politics, etc., I was the only Democrat, other than my brother in the entire state. I think that the Prez must have stuffed the ballot boxes. It was amazing. And, the vast majority of the views, at least those I talked to, are the "Fox" news types, same old right wing stuff that we hear in CA. In fact, if it was health care, whatever the same type of arguments. Keep in mind now, we are talking this is truly rural NC. If I could and will from my iPhone send you a tobacco plant. In fact, I just finished reading what is his name, oh, Howard Dean's book on Health Care Reform. It is right on. These people don't read any of this stuff; of course, then again, in CA, the right wing doesn't read them either. In fact, this was an interesting story: some congressman had scheduled a town hall meeting to answer questions about the Health Care bill. The right wing crowded in and shouted down everything and didn't want to listen to anything but there own agenda. And, this, of course, is their tactic. This guy on NPR called them the brown boots.

And, Andy, you'll love this: there is a church on every corner in theSouth. I am always amazed at this honestly. In fact, my grand daughter and I were travelling during church time and I was amazed at how many people went to Church. To give you an idea, in San Fran., it is estimated that at best 15% of the people attend Church. In Spartanburn, SC, probably 90% go to church. Many of the times, I am wrestling with this. trying to figure it out.

And, in the midst, fighting the shingles. You guys better get the shot, I'm telling you. When I get back to CA, I am going to really fight this thing. What is going on now is not working, lots of pain. Dang. But, I am an ex paratrooper, so, let's suck it up.

Thursday, August 13, 2009


OK, are we tracking the Larry man. I like the name Immo has given him, Wolfman. This is no small thing. I can see a book out of it. Way to go Larry!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Larry, one of the "girlfriends" is on a 250 mile hike. Hehas been relentless in preparing for the trip. It is one, according to him, of discovery. Mainly, self discovery. Here is a notefrom Immo, who dropped him off to begin the "journey." God bless him.

I dropped Larry and his 60 pound backpack (about 20 pounds of which consisted of his weapons and ammunition) in Yosemite last friday. He was in good spirits and excited about his journey. He is the toughest of us all, by miles!!--attached are some pics of him I took Friday (August 7). Also, if you click on the url below you can see where he is presently on the Immo,-119.4896&ll=38.011,-119.4896&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Generals

**I can understand why you don't have any use for those generals. A colonel at Pope was taken off the job, when according to the folks he worked with, he was one of the best officers they had ever worked with. Apparently the general got mad or for some other crazy reason and decided he would get him out of the way. The only explanation the general gave for his action was that the colonel wasn't effective. Some body is lying and I don't believe it is the people who worked with the colonel. My love to you.

**A note from my older brother who will take up a "cause" in a minute. One of the reasons that this is very interesting to me is that the "girlfriends" and I were recently discussing the issue and I was telling them that the thing that worried me about our president was that he seemed to be listening to the Generals too much. One of the GFs expressed what many felt: who else can the President rely on for military type stuff? My comments to my brother...

Brother, you are in the ballpark on the generals and it is going to get worst. Rumsfelt's gift to the country was to reorganize the Army in his own image. Naturally, Bush let him do it and so he closed really good military posts and moved them to places like Fort Bragg, which will eventually have 28 generals which is ridiculous. 28 generals on one Post will be a nightmare. Each of them thinking they are somewhere in the Trinity--God, Jesus, Generals and not always in that order. They wouldn't be where they are if they had not been political. Once a general gets pasts one star, it is as political as any politician anywhere. He has to have sponsors, somebody at the higher level looking after him. I can assure you of this, the best leaders in the Army are not the generals. Most of the really good leaders never make it. They size up what is ahead and mostly leave the Service. We are the bigger losers. It isn't that the leadership is bad, just they are not the best. The Generals surround themselves with people who tell them just what they want to hear. They get to believing it and consequently, things happen to the Colonel you're talking about.

If I live long enough, I'm going to write about this sort of stuff: it is terrible. I can't tell you the number of times that I have gone to generals with what I considered ethical and real problems and they gave me the "nobody is home look." Rocking the boat is not a pastime of a general officers, trust me.

It is the one thing that I worry about our president, listening complete;u to the generals. The generals always want more troops and I'm still not convinced we will easily get out of Iraq. What I tell people all the time is that Westmoreland said to Johnson in 68, send me more troops and we'll be home by Christmas. LBJ ramped up the numbers of troops and we did get home by Christmas, unfortunately, it was ten years later. I think the President is smart enough to keep his own counsel. I hope and pray so.

Saturday, June 13, 2009


My therapist hero, now gone on to his just rewards, Al Ellis, says something like, "you own your life." Meaning, your literal life. To take it is self defeating and also often very selfish but in essence, your life is yours, according to Ellis.

I doubt that few would subscribe to Dr. Ellis views completely. And, suicide is a tense topic today because military suicides. In January, for instance, there were more suicides in the military than were killed in war. During April, there were nine suicides at Fort Campbell, home of the famed 101st Airborne Division.

There's a kind of national disturbance with those Americans who care (and not all do) about the rash of suicides with American servicemen. There has never been a conflict so instantly covered as Iraq and Afghanistan. And, let's face it, instant assess fosters complacency, plain and simple. In the commo worlds of cable TV and the Internet, the wars have become at best marginalized.

The "girlfriends" and I have discussed it often. Our views are all over the map and some truth in all the views.

Larry. I think it is the nature of the kind of soldier we are bringing into the military. As a Marine in Vietnam, we did our jobs, tried to survive, until we made it home.

Gary. All this calling home, emails. I don't know what all that means.

Ed. All these repetitive tours have to have something to do with it. Just think, 3 or four times. Family problems, finances, it has got to be tough. And, finally the immature kid says, enough and in a moment of stupidity does himself in.

Ray. In Vietnam, we would go out on operations for months at a time. Eating C rats. Some of these guys in Iraq go out on patrol in the morning, come back at night, all the comforts of home--that being said, still is very hard, has to be. (In Vietnam, servicemen relied on letters and the occasional MARS phone call. Troops today have laptops, video cameras, satellite phones and every iteration of services like Skype. They have Facebook. Their news is from the iPhone, Comedy Central, and blogs. They also are at war.)

Michael. I have a buddy, John, (a physician) you guys have met him. He's doing work with some folks who are trying to get to the bottom of this. I'm calling him. (Michael calls him and John calls us back and Michael hands the phone to me).

Jerry. Good to talk with you, John. What can you tell us or what is your view of what's behind the suicides in the military.

John. Very complicated problem. Lots of these GIs are bringing a history of mental illness into the service. And, of course we don't know that beforehand. There's no mechanism set up to deal with that information even if we knew it. One interesting thing they are discovering is that the Iraqi and Afghanistan vets cannot mix with Vietnam and Korean vets. The experience is to fresh to these guys in Iraq and Afghanistan. Whereas the Vietvets readily talk of their experiences, these guys are not ready to do it.

Jerry. It took at least ten years after Vietnam before vets talked about it. Maybe it is simply too early.

Sam. Well, what does that mean? (this is said later on).

Interpreted, John said that these guys experiences were coming to the forefront because of these psychotropic drugs often and they simply couldn't handle the stress.

CONCLUSION. Maybe what we are looking at is simply no conclusion. Not a conclusive one anyway. The military likes to wrap things up. Like the Marines, give them a two day seminar. Problem solved. Next case. Not going to happen.

The culture of the military has changed. Co-ed, smaller, no draft, repetitive tours, many soldiers less capable of coping. The chain of command may be doing the best they can: they have counseling centers, combat stress contingencies. It only makes sense to those of us sitting out here watching what is happening. Two wars, all the inherent pressures that go with it. So, what do you have? Suicides among our soldiers as part of the price of war. Sad but true. God help us and bless us.

Saturday, June 06, 2009


General Lee's story is a novel—a country boy from North Carolina who entered the military in World War I. Like the rest of the country, young Bill Lee was somewhat ambivalent about what was going on in that far-off land. Having gone to college, at both Wake Forest and North Carolina State and taken a bride, he went off to war. Serving in the trenches and facing death as a common way of life, he performed admirably remaining in Germany after the war in an official capacity as the de facto mayor of a small town. Returning to the States and to his young bride, he wrestled where to cast his lot—to choose the military as a career or pursue his love of the land. His love of country prevailed. He went on to a stint at North Carolina State teaching what we now call ROTC (Reserve Officers Training Corp), then to Panama, where he discovered he was good at the profession of arms.

A succession of assignments and schools followed. He came home at every opportunity. He went to France. Bill saw the failure of the Treaty of Versailles and the aggressive military bearing of the Germans. Their parachute training captured his imagination. Bill and Dava, his wife, took advantage of their circumstances to travel. Returning to the States, Bill attempted to convince others of the new concept of the airborne infantry as he called it.

Bill’s break came during his next assignment in Washington, DC. In a prophetic quirk of events, President Roosevelt became intrigued with German parachute training. No one at the War Department was more knowledgeable than Bill Lee about the German airborne. Either true or myth, as the story goes, Bill personally shared his expertise with the White House. Major Bill Lee was then given the Airborne Project. Bill took his first parachute jump at age 47. As a General, Bill went on to command the 101st Airborne "Screaming Eagles". He became intimately involved in the planning of the D-Day invasion from the beginning even helping to select the drop-sites for the invasion. He also wrote the Airborne Doctrine (how it was to be done).

Tragically, he would never see his hard work and planning come to fruition. On February 4, 1944 he suffered a heart attack forcing him to return to the States from England. Consequently, he would never see his "Screaming Eagles" jump into Normandy. In his honor, the soldiers of the 101st Airborne shouted "Bill Lee" instead of Geronimo as they dropped from planes onto the beaches of Normandy. There is no doubt that much of the airborne success on D-Day was a direct result of Bill Lee's hard work. He is singular in being WW II’s unsung hero.


The 101st Airborne Division, which was activated on August 16,1942, at Camp Claiborne, Louisiana, has no history, but it has a rendezvous with destiny. Like the early American pioneers whose invincible courage was the foundation stone of this nation, we have broken with the past and its traditions to establish our claim to the future. Due to the nature of our armament and the tactics in which we shall perfect ourselves, we shall be called upon to carry out operations of far-reaching military importance and we shall habitually go into action when the need is immediate and extreme.

Let me call your attention to the fact that our badge is the great American eagle. This is a fitting emblem for a division that will crush its enemies by falling upon them like a thunderbolt from the skies.

The history we shall make, the record of high achievement we hope to write in the annals of the American Army and the American people, depends wholly and completely on the men of this division. Each individual, each officer, and each enlisted man must therefore regard himself as a necessary part of a complex and powerful instrument for the overcoming of the enemies of the nation. Each, in his own job, must realize that he is not only a means, but an indispensable means for obtaining the goal of victory.

It is, therefore, not too much to say that the future itself, in whose moulding we expect to have a share, is in the hands of the soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division.

**General Lee wrote this speech on a yellow pad. He was a prolific writer and even wrote thank you notes to folks who wrote thank you notes to him.

Friday, May 29, 2009


The North Koreans, like South Korea, is build on the Confucian ethic which is more a philosophy as opposed to a religion. And, although the North has become incredibly repressive, it is still that philosophy. The philosophy is built around four laws which, to the Koreans, are inviolate: Ruler over Subject, Father over Son, Husband over Wife, Elder Brother over Younger Brother, Friend to Friend. And, in my experience, all sorts of overlays exist around these Confucian principles. For understanding North Korea and their blindly following a "mad man" among men,the ruler over subject is critical. The Korean Confucianists, both North and South tend toward extreme orthodoxy. As an example, a chance remark attributed to Confucius, that the superior man did not talk while he ate, resulted in centuries of silent meals in Korea. Consequently, Kim Il Jong, the supreme leader is worshipped as another example of the Confucious extreme orthodoxy.

Guessing Kim, the Supreme Leader's motives is simply way beyond what almost anyone can do. Consequently, the only path it appears to me is to make the problem of North Korea, the problem of the South Koreans.

It is an insolvable problem. And, in a sense, the North is right about hypocrisy, meaning from their perspective, telling them that they can't pursue a course when we have precisely done what we are saying they can't. Where this is especially critical is in terms of the military. Without a doubt, South Korea has the best trained army in the world, to include our own. The critical move is to move American ground troops out of Korea preferably or at least to the far south. We could easily maintain a strong military presence in our Air Force but well away from the DMZ (demilitarized zone).

What most don’t realize is that in our present configuration with an American Division (two Brigades at least) sitting on the demilitarized zone (38th Parallel, established after the Korean war), they are literally sitting ducks. If the North Koreans were to swarm across the 38rh parallel, amassed, with the firepower we know they have, in all probability, the American Division would take mass casualties, drawing us into a major war again.

By bringing home the troops or at least moving them away from the DMZ, we save enormous resources, telegraph our intentions and possibly move the North Koreans toward some form of resolutions on the nukes but more importantly put the issue of peace on the backs of the South Koreans where if ought to be. Essentially, we have been in Korea since 1953, way too long.

What seems to escape most is that when dealing with a "crazy" all bets are off. The classic definition of someone who is unhinged is that you can't understand them. As I listen to the "talking heads" concerning Korea, it is very apparent that either they don't have a clue as they continue to try to paint some sort of reasonable outcome as possible. Sanctions, adinfinitum, are as we say in NC, as useless as tits on a bore hog. Simply, there is no reasoning. Let us do the prudent thing and move away from provocation which at best might buy us time.

North Korea is dangerous and paranoid and this is by far a situation which we need to take very serious and move to the rear. One of the advantages of being "mighty" is that your options are many. In this case, avoidance and passing the buck to the ROK (Republic of Korea) is what we need to do. At least what we will have are the two Koreas, guided by the Confucian logic, facing and understanding how the other thinks. NO SMALL THING.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Yesterday,I was taken aback, somewhat by the President's Memorial Day remarks. He called the military, the men and women of America's fighting forces, both living and dead, as "the best of America." And, then it was almost as though he was thinking out loud and said, "Why in an age when so many have acted only in pursuit of narrowest self-interest have the soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines of this generation volunteered all that they have on behalf of others. Why have they been willing to bear the heaviest burden? Whatever it is, they felt some tug. They answered a call. They said 'I'll go.' That is why they are the best of America." That is what separates them from those who have not served in uniform, their extraordinary willingness to risk their lives for people they never met."

The president, who did not serve in the military, noted his grandfather's Army service during World War II and his status as a father of daughters ages 10 and 7. Unlike many of those in the audience, Obama said he can't know what it's like to walk into battle or lose a child.

"But I do know this. I am humbled to be the commander in chief of the finest fighting force in the history of the world," he said.

And, I will have to say to the President, I am humbled by your remarks and they gave me pause. In a twenty nine year career, I never thought about how great it was that I was serving my country. It was a choice I had made. When I was in Vietnam, rarely did the troops and I discuss what it meant to be at war. Mostly, we were doing our time and when it was over, we were thankful we had survived. For us, Vietnam vets, we didn't enjoy any of the accolades at the time of having served our country. Quite the opposite: mostly scorn from all sorts of quarters, "how could we have been so stupid to get ourselves drafted and of all things go to Vietnam." We mostly just "sucked it up and surely didn't talk much about it. At some point, ten years or so, most Americans began to wake up and realize that we didn't cause the war but were merely doing what we were told. The country sent us to Vietnam.

For us Vietnam vets, our legacy, if we have one is that because we were treated so shabbily, soldies serving now are called heros just for being soldiers. To hear the president call us the best of America is pretty gratifying even if we don't believe it.

Saturday, May 16, 2009


Hey Sir,
I willingly admit that being away from home is the hardest part of my job and pretty much the only thing I ever worry about while I'm here. For all the mess that one can find himself surrounded by in a place like this, my only concerns are with my family. Something I know you and Dad can relate too. But, it is the nature of my chosen profession.

I've seen alot of changes here over the three trips. The most glaring differences between this trip and the last... Lights and silence. Since I'm mostly nocturnal in my mission execution, ground/city lights are noticeable. The first time we were here, there were only very small pockets of light around the largest population bases, i.e. Baghdad, Kirkuk, Mosul, etc... But they were subject to what I can only equate to rolling blackouts - now you see 'em, now you don't. The second time we were here, the pockets of light had been extended to cover more of the country side, but there were still huge seas of black and blackouts were still commonplace. This time, amazing... You can literally see the veins of light connecting all of the cities and towns. Hard to explain, but there was a big "wow" factor there for me. As far as the silence, I'm referring to the radio traffic. Even at peak launch and recovery times, it doesn't come any where close to the insanity that it was over the first two rotations. I can literally travel from one place to another and only hear a couple of other transmissions in route. Again, hard to do it justice in words, but also pretty "wow".

It is great hearing and thanks for the good sitrep (situation report). I keep hearing that violence is down and my usual retort is, "says who." With regular
bombings of civilians, etc; but your comments about lights staying on and radio message traffic confirms it. At least it sounds like the country views itself
as safer. I am still skeptical of being able to get out of Iraq. My feelings all along have been that our cultural and value systems are so diametrically opposed, that it cannot be overcome. To involve ourselves in a situation like this, to me, is and has been insane.

I surely understand the family thing. It is an enormous sacrifice, the absences in particular. Those are times that you cannot make up and very few in the American society understand it. I remain concerned about the Army's future as we become more and more a subculture within the greater culture. I am constantly hearing people in really high places comment about the military and it is obvious they don't understand it at all. Even the President often appears a little flumoxxed, and I think that he listens way too much to the generals. They always want "more troops." Westmoreland said in 65, give us more troops and we'll be home by Christmas: we didn't know he was talking ten years later.

It is so great that your family is around your folks. Your Dad,
like me, loves being a grandpa. I never felt like I was such a hot
dad, gone so much but I'm really making up for it as a grandpa. I bet
your Dad feels a little of the same way.

God bless. Is there anything I can send you? One thing is my good
thoughts and prayers.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

The Economist

Recently, I"ve subscribed to the magazine, The Economist. I like it, very in-depth articles. I'm wading through it but since it's a British Magazine, thought these comments from my bud were interesting.

"England is a wonderful place but the people are rather up-tight and gloomy at heart. It's funny, they are genuinely sad about life, which is, I think, the enormous difference between there (US) and here. Also, there's no Netflix! I miss California rather a lot. It certainly would be nice to hang out with you for breakfast. I am planning to come over later in the year."

Saturday, April 11, 2009



The Army is vastly different from the Navy. The Navy operates under the British hierarchical system where all officers are Gentlemen and are thus better than any enlisted guy, regardless of breeding and/or background.

In the Army the officers slog around in the mud and are just as miserable, if not worse than the enlisted guys. It's a much more egalitarian system with very little "rank has its privileges" issues.In fact an E8 is much more highly regarded in the Army then an O4 (a LtCdr in the Navy).

Monday, March 16, 2009

F... Up And Get Rewarded

Messing up and getting handsomely rewarded is the order of the day at AIG, the giant insurer whose Financial Products Division more or less brought on the country's financial mess. Now, of course, they are going to get 100 billion in bonuses and we are going to let it happen. Why? We don't want to get sued. Well, la de da, what is the big deal?

We involved ourselves with AIG based on the best information we had at the time. Little did we know that we were about to fork over these gigantic bonuses to the wienies who were the ones who created the incredible mess mainly with the infamous credit default swaps. In my view, since we didn't know, we can change the rules. Want to sue us, go ahead.

Larry Summers, the president's chief financial advisor caved somewhat, saying we are a country of laws. It was code saying we knew nothing about the risky business AIG were involved in. And, the previous "deciders" let them run amuck. The fact that those receiving these outrageous bonuses had a contract before we took over their messes, means they walk away. I don't think so: I don't accept it and surely don't think that most Americans who care and are trying to understand, will accept it either.

The last time I looked, lawyers weren't running the country. Let the lawyers duke it out, at least it will take years and by that time, the 80% of AIG we own may have righted itself.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009


When I was in Vietnam, we had a not so subtle joke: the Marines had the highest casualty rate of any of the Services in Nam and we would always say one thing--they know one tactic, "Put your head down and charge." This wasn't really true but it was somewhat indicative of how they approach everything. Take the latest crisis: suicides on the up tick. In 2008, 41 Marines committed suicide, a rate of 19 per 1000. Last year, the Marines lost more to suicide than were killed in Iraq. Here's what they are going to do, "All Marines will receive a two hour suicide prevention presentation next month." Problem solved, Marine style.

What is happening with the Marines and the Army for that matter. Not a simple matter and truly, there is nothing that I know that is more tragic than some youngster taking his/her own life. Here are just a couple of theories from the "Girlfriends."

Andy thinks that that it has to do with disillusionment. Young Marines get to Iraq and they see the carnage, they view the attitude of the people and they asked themselves, "What gives?" Is it worth it? And, then in a moment of dispair, without thinking, they do something stupid. Larry, a former Marine himself, sees it as the basic quality of present day recruits. Vastly different than when he was drafted and chose the Marines as an alternative. Soldiers come from lower socio economic categories. They don't have the built in constraints of a value system that they once did. Plus, can never discount the fact that many are having repetitive tours which produce their own peculiar types of struggles. Gary doesn't quite see it like this as he would think that those less sophisticated might be just the ones who would not commit suicides. What we do know is that the more sophisticated have a tendency to seek out help more quickly.

My personal belief is that it is wrapped around the idea that suicide seems to be an impulse thing. And, think about it: Marines at war, weapons everywhere, they get the impulse: disillusioned, dear john, in debt, divorce, kids, loneliness, a thousand and one things that an absent Dad has to think about.

There really are no answers to this enormous riddle. Many put it off on drugs, medication, the thousand and one things that make us look for answers. Some or all of them may be true. Marines might have a good idea, a two day course. OK, no Marines are authorized to commit suicide. It is unMarine.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Letter to the Prez

I love this website and applaud our president for his openness. I am a democrat and was an initial supporter of Hillary. However, I am so glad that it worked out as it did. I really like President Obama for lots of reasons: one is he smiles easily.

I plan to do this often, not that anybody reads or responds and that is not one of my interests. My need to commo is more important than our President's to read. However, he would do well to hear a guy like me on occasion. I am a retired military, 29 years, Chaplain (Colonel). I actually sent the President early on a copy of my memoir, Gun Totin Chaplain, from my time in Vietnam. Chaplains learn to be great observers and that is why I think my comments are very relevant here.

Overall, I hope the President takes to heart a Republican view, the late Walt Rostow when he said, "all a politician (President) has to do is get 60% of the people for him, 25% will be against everything and 15% are out to lunch. Good advice. So, he can't worry about opposition as he's doing the right thing and a great job, I think.

My military comment, however, is what all the above meant to get too: Generals are wonderful and honorable but they think in a vertical way: rarely does a really creative and innovative leader get to the rank of general: Patreaus may be an exception. But, sending more troops to Afganistan is what generals want. They always want more troops. Think Vietnam. But, before we commit more lives and years, honestly, we need a strategy. Here's a good one: we have a volunteer professional Army that constantly needs to be trained. Let's do our training in Afghanistan. The military spends millions of dollars in places like the National Training Center in California. Let's put most of those dollars into Afghanistan for our military.

We have executed a counter insurgency approach that will work and a long term effort may or may not succeed. We have to train anyway and why not do Afghanistan with this in mind. Our soldiers will get better and better at counter insurgency and so will the Afghans. This might work.


The Reader. One fine movie. I went on behest of my degenerate buddies who couldn’t stop talking about the Kate Winslet sex scenes and constant moaning about where was a woman like that when we were teenagers. Silly us, the movie was only slightly and I do mean slightly about the Kate Winslet involvement with a young boy of 15–the sex is almost beside the point. .

It is really quite a story. The movie holds you. The boy does lots of reading to Hanna, Kate’s character. It really doesn’t become clear until later down the road what the “reading” is all about, hence the movie title.

The intimacy ends. The movie moves on. In a kind of happenstance, the adult character played by Ralph Fiennes, now in law school, witnesses Hanna’s trial as a Nazi war criminal. Obviously, as a young boy, he had no idea and now faced with facts known only to him, he has a choice to make regardlng her. Basically his ethics are overwhelmed with collective German guilt. He fails to do the “right” thing. Down the road, at least in my interpretation, he attempts to make up for it by again becoming her “reader” and that is basically all I can tell without possibly giving away the movie. SEE THE MOVIE.

Is it the best movie of the year? I don’t know but for me, it cements again one thing for sure--Americans are good at: making movies. A very complicated and unweildly story and yet these movie makers succeeded in tying together a very cohesive, pensive, and timely story.

Sunday, February 15, 2009


Yes, we definitely do have a class system in our country, or as John Edwards called it, "two Americas". (in spite of his downfall, which was entirely his doing, I agreed with many of his ideas and beliefs concerning doing something about the poverty in America). It doesn't do any good for those of us who are "comfortable" to feel guilty about it. We should just count our blessings knowing we did nothing to deserve it - it is all grace - but commit ourselves to do all we can to help those who are less fortunate than us. I think that is what our dads would say, don't you? Just "do always what is right", which, for us, would be to never deny the suffering of others, but do all we can to alleviate what we can. We are blessed to have such a legacy as our parents. And, of course, they lived through the depression - in fact, my parents were married right smack dab in the middle of it! So surely some of that "true grit" was passed down to us, even though I don't think we measure up when compared with "the greatest generation", do you? I truly believe that what got us in this mess we're in now was, in large part, greed. And only our willingness to sacrifice all our "wants" and be content with thanking God that our needs are met, will get us out of it. Do we have it in us? Time will tell. bbc


Well, a couple of months have passed and we are actually into the new presidency. I thought, at first, that Obama had things pretty well together; for example, I thought the transition went pretty smoothly. But then his staff let him down by not properly vetting some of his key nominees, and the Democrats in Congress back-doored him by stuffing the stimulus package with pork which infuriates the Republicans, as it should all of us, and then he and his team haven't marketed the plan very well. That is they haven't tied specific elements of the plan to job creation. So, at this point, I'm a bit disappointed as opposed to being elated. All of this criticism after he's only been in office for 2 1/2 weeks. Wow! What an impatient, arrogant a-hole I am. I sincerely hope the situation he's in isn't the "perfect storm;" that is a combination of conditions - domestic, world-wide and economic - that will converge to overwhelm any person or team, no matter how good or well-intended. I'll tell you though, I continue to be very concerned about the state of our economy even though people continue to shop, eat out, go to movies, etc. Could this all be a case of a self fulfilling prophecy? wr

The economy where we are is not as bad as in other parts of the country, but it is definitely affecting everyone. Businesses closing every day, people out of work, retail really suffering, retirements disappearing, housing market down, down, etc. I know something must be done, but am just not convinced this huge trillions of dollars stimulus package is the answer. We are just saddling our grandchildren with unimaginable debt, and I don't feel good about that at all. I heard Obama say at a town meeting this week that if it doesn't work, we will have another president in 4 years. I know he is doing the best he can with the hand he was dealt, and all we can do is pray he is right. I wish him only the

To be perfectly honest, I am more a fan than ever. There have been a couple of glitches but in truth, it says to me that he's not getting a pass for being black. But, I think he's a real thinker and what several have said about him is that he has the ability to think the long term and the short term. And, I like the idea that he doesn't mind facing things and saying, "If he can't turn this around, he should be a one term president." And, then admitting he screwed up, what about that? In my life time, I don't remember a president or most any politician admitting they were wrong.

I see the Republicans as a bunch of obstructionists who are so gutless as not to repudiate a dope head like Rush Limbaugh. I think the stimulus bill, although not perfect, but who knows, what would be perfect--we're in unchartered territory but to do nothing is criminal, based on where we are now. And, Obama says let's go forward. I'm for it.

Frankly I was disappointed in Dasche, as I've always liked him but money is a heavy duty issue. And, now we have Burris. I think that is going to turn out to be a mess. Power and money are surely courrupting. jda

Sunday, February 08, 2009


I'm hanging out with my "Girlfriends" one day recently and Michael, a Jewish bud has been given a book called Haikus for Jews. It is a Zen sort of thing. But, I am attracted to the book because I'm thinking it might be the type of book format that I want for the family memoirs about my four brothers and myself growing up on a tobacco farm in North Carolina. The book, Haikus For Jews, is hard back and probably 4X6 in size. I'm telling this to Michael and he tells me to take the book.

I decide to go to the gym to work out: this is the gym for USF (U. of San Francisco, private, Catholic, Jesuit). Anyway, I do a few minutes on the rowing machine before they throw me out. Some rule that you can't exercise in bluejeans. Leave it to the Catholics to have a few rules. Anyway, I'm leaving and this couple stops me and says, "Are you Jewish?" Apparently, he has seen the book as I had it lying beside me at the rowing machine. I say, "Yes". Don't know why I said it, kind of joking, will say anything. And, he lights into me. I try to get a word in. He says all the stuff we've heard about Israel destroying the Palestinians. How heavy handed they are. How much the Palestinians need a homeland. The issue of the Jews in the West Bank. He pauses and I am ready to jump in with, I feel sorry about it all but people have a right to defend themselves, but before I can, his wife zaps me. "The American Jewish community is insensitive to what is happening with the Palestinians. Why do we discount the rest of world opinion." Then she stops and by this time, I'm thinking escape, nothing to be gained at this and I messed up I guess by kidding that I was Jewish. I should have known the Catholics couldn't take a joke. So, I decide on the spot to come clean and say, "You know, to be honest, I lied, I'm not Jewish, this is not my book. Sorry" and I walk off. It was kind of a "had to be there" thing but honestly, this is a story of the power of a book without being read.

And, it is also a story of communication or the lack thereof. We sometimes have such a great need to get our opinion across that we can't hear what others say. I should have punched the guy out.

Sunday, February 01, 2009


ARE THEY UP TO THE TASK. A very belated, but heartfelt Happy New Year to you. Do so hope 2009 will be better than the past year, and yes, I agree we have always been a resilient people who seem to always be able to survive adversity and claw our way back up. Somehow, I am a little unsure about this generation having the backbone to sacrifice what it takes for the good of all, but surely pray I am wrong. Are we as strong as the "Greatest Generation"? Guess we'll find out. Oh well, inauguration was great: a new beginning, and hope again is evident everywhere, so we will all support our new president and his administration with our prayers and best wishes and thoughts - they will surely need them. bbc

What a mess, on every hand. And, we have to hope the new President is doing the right thing, mainly that he is doing something which has to happen. We have to get people back to work. I am often in the fog. For instance, if a company says it is not doing well, what it looks to me, they just aren't making as much profit. So...they are paying their bills, breaking even, people are working. So, what is the big deal? I relate it to a doctor buddy of mine who was griping about the economy recently. He went to easily making from a half million down to $200,000; his idea was because of the government, HMOs, etc., private doctors could no longer make the big money. So...2 hundred thousand didn't sound so bad to me. See what I mean, I can't get it.

THE JEWS. Your Dad was right about those who mess with the Jews, they will ultimately get zapped! But like you, this latest conflict has been heart wrenching to watch. At least there seems to be a cease fire for now, but we all know that will not last. The Jews are so despised by the Arab world, and Israel does have every right to defend themselves, so even though the whole situation appears hopeless right now, there will come a day when your Dad's prophecy will be fulfilled, because it comes right out of God's Word! bbc

DOING WHAT IS RIGHT. I have debated my Dad's philosophy a good bit. His greater one was "to always do what is right," and truly that is no small thing. Personally, I think PALESTINE (which is not a country but should be) is one of those problems like immigration, insoluable. Simply, can't be done. The politicians and "talking heads" never talk in those terms but until Jesus comes again, have to do the best we can. A recent, Sixty Minutes, carried a piece on the Jewish settlers living in the West Bank and how in a sense, they abused the Palestinians. Now, that is an example of my Dad's "doing what is right" is involved. Oh well...ja

Thursday, January 29, 2009


As a rule, I pretty much thought men were not huggers. But it looks like there's a general trend toward hugging. I like it. I am seeing more and more men hugging. I always hug. Some are a little uncomfortable with the bear hugging that I like. If I don't like them all that much, they get a semi-hug. This is a kind of upper body hug, a little akin to the Mafia hugs like on the Sopranos. A little better than the European cheek kissing but not nearly as good as a bear hug. What also works well is a group hug. This way, you can include all, whether you like them or not.

Our new President elect appears to be a somewhat semi-hugging type; occasionally a "bear hug. " The best one I've seen him do was on Vets Day with Tammy Duckworth, who lost both legs in Iraq. Also, on the night of the election, he and Joe Biden were hugging machines, each other, the kids. Anybody within range. What I've noticed with all the cabinet appointments is that the president elect shakes hands, leans into the person and gives them a back pat. I'm calling this a semi-hug. Pretty good!

Us "GIRLFRIENDS" us old guys,the vets: we go for the hugs. And, we are all into group hugs which is good especially if men are hug phobic. Sometimes we'll hug several times in a gathering: a hug when a guy leaves, group hug somewhere along the line. More guys leave, more hugs, group hugs. You get the picture.

During this economic down, especially with all the dismal news, let's get out and hug a few people. We'll all feel better for it.

Thursday, January 22, 2009


There is nothing left to say almost about the Inauguration. It was, in my opinion, simply the best America has to offer. Usually I pay scant attention but, like most Americans, this year was different. Our new President was selling hope. And, not in a bad way but laced with realism. His speech was simply superb and he hit every topic that are hot buttons because they are real. He didn't let us off the hook. Issues like greed and hard work and time and hope--all fixed in there together. 

Made me very proud. Our new president ls from a different generation. The issues aren't black and white but class, the inequties, the lack of opportunity between the haves and have nots, regardless of race. To put it mildly and obviously what we all know: he has a formitable task before him. So, let's put shoulder to the wheel, lean into the wind, and bridle to the mule. 

Times a'wastin

Thursday, January 15, 2009


I've been thinking lots about the economy and the suffering in Gaza amid my comfort. The whole idea of "being comfortable" bothers me in my soul. Let's face it, we have a class system in America, even if we deny it. To get to the place where we are so comfortable, thinking that this is the lot for all, especially with the present suffering going on, that, I might add, I am only hearing about--this truly bothers me. An encouraging note is that the new President's nominees, several, have addressed that issue, i. e., the poor, the disparity in lives in our country. And, just because I'm comfortable doesn't mean that I can assume that there's no suffering. 
I think there's no shame in having reached a certain level of comfortableness, but not sure that we can automatically assume that we deserve it. I guess what I am saying is that we should not be too comfortable in our comfortableness. 
One of the things I think about is that we don't all get dealt the same hand. Simply as fate, we are born who we are, not our fault. We could have been born some poor child filled with anger and hate in Gaza, whose life may soon be over. GOD HELP US in our complacency. 

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


The complex financial morass is way beyond me or the average citizen for that matter. Well, to be honest, I really don't know anybody, supposedly the best and the brightest who understand it.

In some ways, it defies logic. Here's what we know: we have already given billions to bankers who if they did not cause lots of the problem, were surely complicit in the first place. And, the man who forked over the first several billion to his buds without requiring any accountability didn't once mention conflict of interest. Suspicious? When the Sec of Trea calls up his buddies, calls them by their first names--make any difference? I THINK SO.

At the heart of our financial mess has been good old greed. Who can deny that? What nobody seems to be willing to admit is that man left to his own devices will choose self interest everytime. I THINK SO. If greed is the basic nature of man that no one talks about, why do we keep avoiding it? Tell me the last time you heard a politician mention greed. Often we want answers, they are into spin when it is simple--Greed! In spiritual terms, which are as good as any, it is called the "depravity of man." I THINK SO.

Answers? I don't know any better than those who are making the decisions. But, absent of knowing, I think we are doing the best we can by at least doing something. I THINK SO.

If there has ever been a good example of the depravity of man, Bernie Madoff who is in his seventies and bilked mostly his friends out of billions, is a premo example. The laundry list of his transgressions are too much to even discuss. Another crook, in terms of "brass," is Richard Piccoli, 82, who got over 4 million from duped smart people in a 2 year period. I am amazed on many levels as these two guys should have been out playing with their grand kids. I THINK SO.


COMMAND AND STAFF COLLEGE is an Army school of a year's duration. It is mainly for potential commanders and is mostly on military tactics. Almost all the students will go on to become Colonels and Generals and lead the Army. During my time there, it was especially hard as Vietnam was in its last days. We were not even permitted to talk about Vietnam. Almost to a person, we had seen combat, some several times. Most of us had spilled blood in that very sorry war. It was hard and someone started circulating a casette tape called WHAT THE CAPTAIN MEANS. This was in 75 and the internet was not yet reality. The tape circulated among the students and we laughed and laughed. Over the years, I have tried to quote many of the comments in "What The Captain Means" but have been unsuccessful as one almost has to hear it. Now, thanks to some generous soul, it has been posted on YouTube. Thank you, thank you:

There is simply no way to convey what this meant at that time. I laughed so hard, as did everybody and then one day we were sitting in the auditorium, students called it the Big Bedroom and suddenly, What The Captain Means started playing over the public address system. It was hilarious and kind of became our theme as it was a time of enormous grief as Vietnam fell --we realized that it had all been for nothing or at least that was the feeling. So, when we would see each other, someone would invariable say, "What The Captain Means" and it would take the edge off things.

And, there is much more to What The Captain Means than humor. The comments are subtle truth. And, they apply to the spin of war today just as they did in Vietnam. God help us.