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