Thursday, November 25, 2010


I really don't know how we can be more stupid. Hamid Karzai said that once or twice a year, Iran gives them close to a mil for official presidential expenses and that Washington also provides bags full of money for the same official duties. You have got to be kidding me.

I don't even know how master spinner Holbrook (special envoy on Afghanistan) could spin this but he could. In addition to thinking he has been hauling the bags of cash to Karzai, to listen to him is tortuous. And why in the hell the Newshour (PBS) would have interview him is beyond me. Margaret Warner, who is really a good interviewer, would have to be embarrassed by Holbrook (President's rep on Afghanistan) or any government official trying to defend Karzai.

The story is again one of our utter idiocy. How any of them would not be mortified is beyond belief. Here's what is predictable and the MFer would say, "You have to understand the big picture. The bags of cash are for helping the president appear stable." Oh yeah, we get that! How about lining his pocket and those of his cronies.


29% of voters who voted for Obama in the last election didn't vote this time. And, this is what turned the tide. African Americans, Hispanics, young people, age 18-23. Damn. What those who didn't vote, don't get: by not voting, they voted against their own self interests. Stupid! Stupid!


Listening to the former president is painful. I actually like the guy and sad to say, I voted for him the first time around. My comments aren't personal even if they sound that way, really; but the guy is still in denial. Presidents, like all politicians, never apologize to the people or to governments. None of them ever say, "I f...ed up or f..k you very much, I'm going to do what is right and f..k the next election." Forget it. It ain't gping to happen with any of these assholes, regardless of their politics

W. says he doesn't regret Iraq. Thinks he did the right thing. Even after no weapons of mass destruction, thousands of American lives lost, millions of dollars, much of it foen yhe drain; and with most Iraqis wishing Saddam was back--still, George is sticking to his guns. I've always felt he was a little or a lot dumb, letting those like Cheny and Rumsfeld, both who should be in jail, lead him around by the nose.

I'm going to probably thumb through the book (doubt he really wrote it. Probably a good editor, let's face it, to be fair, most of these politico's don't write their own stuff, i. e., JFK's Profiles In Courage that won a Pulitzer; recently, in his obit, the true author admitted he wrote it. I guess you have to die to tell the truth on a politician). Jimmy Carter's recent memoir is a better read than Bush's Decision Points and surely more enlightening.


This last Veterans Day, HBO presented a program on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The program will cover PTSD from the Civil War to the present. I will never hear that term (PTSD) that I don't think of Mel Gibson in his latest movie, "Edge of Darkness, " (unrelated to his various crazy tirades of late. Those might make a good movie). Anyway, in the movie, Gibson is a little on the "edge" constantly and comes out with a statement, something like, "He doesn't get the modern way of war, all this post war stress bullshit. As a Korean war vet, he thought nightmares and being a little nuts was the price everybody paid for going to war."

In most ways, this is the rub of the whole question of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). Mel, in that one statement pretty much sums up the difficulty for dealing with this very real problem. I haven't seen the documentary but heard an interview of it by one of my favorite NPR interviewers, Terry Gross.

PTSD IS REAL and any of us who have been in combat understand just how real it is. The HBO program deals with some sad issues, mainly suicide. One mother said something that so resonated, "the Army taught my son how to be a killer. What they don't do is unteach him." So true.

The military is "no day at the beach." It has one mission, "to fight and win wars" and is not a social organization nor an encounter group. They teach individuals how to kill--war is not a place where people sit around and cogitate their navels.

Sadly, a Mom has to have her moment of truth. Her son drove out to a remote area, took all the pictures of himself and stabbed them and then he took his dogtags, put them up next to his temple and shot himself through them.

Terry also interviewed a former Army psychologist who is now a consultant and is running the military's study on suicide. Not personal but this guy was so weak and didn't deal with the real facts. I use to fight with Shrinks all the time over their role and this guy confirmed it. The Army hires soldiers to fight. The Army is paying this guy, the Shrink, to treat the soldier and get him back to battle.

Sadly, what I see which nobody will discuss is something we saw in Vietnam and later with Vietnam vets who had to fight continually for recognition. The "2" war view: fought a war in Vietnam and fought a war at home, as they, in a twisted public way, were blamed for the war. For the Vietnam vet, the PTSD diagnosis was a long time coming. And, don't let anybody fool you, even with relaxed requirements for the active duty soldier, the stigma remains. Mel Gibson is still pretty much where it is: "He doesn't get the modern way of war, all this post war stress bullshit...nightmares and being a little nuts is the price everybody pays for going to war."


One of my favorite TV guys is Lester Holt. Last night, he reported from Kabul. According to Lester, his goal in being in Afghanistan is to ignite the dialogue, get people talking again about the war, about these brave soldiers who are fighting the war, laying it on the line everyday.

Good luck, Lester! Everybody says they support the troops. And, why not, they aren't asked for anything. No sacrifice, nata, nothing.

I talk to people all the time about the war. Most of the time it's the "nobody's home look" or downright uninterested. For a few, they'll say, what's the use, nothing we can be about it. And, in a sense, the wars don't even merit mention other than in passing. The NY Times will usually have an article, some "hook" about the war on page 8 at best. Iraq has faded into almost oblivion. Good luck with that Lester.


I have no new revelation. Beck is a "wingnut," the same as the MSNBC' Keith Ohberman, recently and briefly fired for contributing to a political candidate. He was smart with his rally but fits exactly in the category of talk show shouters of being a classic "wingnut." Playing to an element of fellow wingnuts. What those of us who try to be objective and move toward the center have to do is challenge this sort of stuff. Somebody told me that Beck apologized for calling the president a racist. I hope so.

Yesterday, I heard this lady, must have been a hundred, really "putting it on him," as we say in South (do we say that)? Anyway, she was saying awful things about the president: racist, Muslim, ignorant, really! My view about "wingnut" behavior is that by by being so bigoted, she is disrespecting the country. As President, he is the symbol of America and really saying all these awful things is "bad mouthing America. 60 million people voted against the President but he is still our president and I get infuriated when people talk bad about the country. We live in a great country and if someone doesn't directly threaten the President, they can say anything. Just because she can say racist things doesn't mean you should. There are many places where a guy like Beck would be in jail. He is a f...ING Philistine. And, now that many "wingnuts" will be in Congress, will be interested to see if they can get anything done.


Give me a break!!! 50,000 troops still in Iraq and combat operations ended. I DON'T THINK SO. But, this is no small happening either. Troop withdrawal. HooAhhhhh!!!!! And, regardless of spin, pretty smooth and orderly--proud, damn super. Not like Vietnam where we left with our tail between our legs. The military should be proud of themselves. They did good. And, anyone who has the slightest bit of objectivity has to admit that there's lots of positive stuff: Deposed a tyrant, had elections, restored order.

I'm less certain that we have united the country: Kurds are surely happier. The Shiite and Sunnis remain as much divided as ever. The so called "surge" did that, separated the factions, essentially moved the Sunnis out of Baghdad. What happens in the future is anybody's guess. As a young former captain who was there during the "surge" said on an NPR program: "it was a kind of ethnic cleansing without the bloodshed." Stay tuned.

Seeing reporters walking through the markets in Baghdad was pretty inspirational. Shop keepers saying they could be open everyday. Terrorists attacks down to just a few a week means progress I guess.

All of this being said, however, for Americans, the question that will inevitably come down the road and by far the most important: WAS IT WORTH IT? I can only answer for myself as a Vietvet (have spoken to many of my buddies who feel the same way). Was Vietnm worth It? No, not a single American life.


On PBS recently, Jeffrey Brown interviewed Kenneth Feinberg. Louisana has received over 700 billion from the Fund BP set up. Why didn't they do something like this after Katrina? I can still remember those sad days of Katrina five years ago. I kept thinking: what is wrong with us!!! Send in the 82d Airborne. Later on, we discovered what was wrong: incompetence, hesitancy, simply a government's failure to act.

My first trip to New Orleans was as a college student in the ROTC' s (Reserve Officers Training Corp), Pershing Rifles, a drill team. I wasn't much interested in the military but I surely was in New Orleans and the Mardi Gras. I've visited NO dozens of times since but like most, just hit the French Quarter.

Katrina's impact on New Orleans has been analyzed, dissected, microscoped in every possible way. In an NBC segment, Brien Williams revisited many he had followed from five years before. How were they? Little had changed with those tragic faces we'd seen five years earlier. The French Quarter, most everywhere frequented by the tourists and shoppers and the Mardi Gras crowd seemed back. All but the infamous 9th ward.

Beyond comprehension is the sober reality as we still see the disenfranchised who are the poor, the old, the uneducated, and the sick and who just happen to be mostly minorities. THE MORE THINGS CHANGE, THE MORE THEY REMAIN THE SAME. Fault? Blame? Damn if I know.

But, in pondering all of it on the not so happy recent anniversary and now the BP oil spill, I think New Orleans may be a microcosm of any large city in America: pockets of poverty, ignorance, minorities disenfranchised. What is sad is that after five years, we can't point to a city like New Orleans and say, "See what we've done. We have rebuilt, poverty has been eradicated, there are few to no disenfranchised, adinfinitum." I hope I'm wrong but for a showcase city in what can be done, it looks to me like we've dropped the ball again.


When I went to my local bookstore and discovered that the number one book for the store was by Glen Beck, I almost fell over. You have got to be kidding me! I thumbed through it and basically thought, "Rush Limbaugh revisited." Then there was George W's, Decision Points. A couple more by Beck, one even on Christmas: then there's the other bigot on Fox, O'Reilly, has one. What the hell.

So we've had Beck's rally on the very mall where Dr Martin Luther King, Jr., made his "I have A Dream" speech, This guy has a "pair.

Fast forward past the rally. As the news media that I respect reported it: a combination of an old fashion revival meeting and patriotic rally. What! The content of the rally was hard to argue with, even squeezed Sarah Palin to stay clear of politics.

And, another thing that greatly impressed: Al Sharpton, Jessie Jackson's replacement and who'll show up in a millisecond if a camera is around, guided his own crowd to merely peaceful repartee. Maybe most important, in my view, and a fact that distinguishes us from other nations is that we didn't have a single person blown up by suicide bombers. Way to go Americans.


I've always liked Charlie Rangel. Mainly, he's adecorated vet. And, he has been the only Congressman who has advocated for the military draft. And, it wasn't for show. He believed it. Charlie wanted all Americans to know the sacrifices that only 1% of Americans share.

Is Charlie guilty of the charges? Stupidity maybe? Maybe not. He says not. He's being censured whatever that is. I do think there's something about politics that seems to border on corruption in about all cases. Do long serving Congressman like Charlie think they are above the law. I think so and the evidence is all around us. It is sad. I doubt that overall, it is going to have much effect on Charlie at this stage but I still hate it. Damn Charlie!!!


Korea, the land of the "almost just right." Well, not sure that is still true but was mainly American GIs stationed in Korea who use to say it all the time. Korea is such a wonderful little country and land of great contrast. A Confucian, homogenous society that is almost impossible for us to understand. And, if one has been following the news of the G20 conference in Korea, Korea is kind of spanking the U. S. Since I know the history of the ROK (probably a little better than most. When I was last in Korea I decided I was going to write the great Americannovel and did lots of research).

Revisionist history aside, I can affirm this. The ROK would not exist today had we not intercepted the Hermit Kingdom ( North Korea) on their way to Seoul in 1950. We saved the country at the cost of thousands of American lived. So...?

Well, it just ticks me off that we don't get a little more deference from the Koreans. Vets should at least get a pass to all the thousands of Korean restaurants in America. Kidding aside, I don't know what I want. Maybe it is this: relate it to your kids. If you think that you are going to get a payoff (thanks for having raised them) with your kids as they grow into adulthood, I want to asked, "what have you been smoking?" The pain of raising of children is just what it is. You raise your kids in a reasonably emotionally happy home and hope for the best but don't expect a payoff. F..., Korea is looking after her own interest. Those in power weren't even born during the Korean war. The fact that we saved their asses from extinction only means s... to us old soldiers. Wish we got this before we went to war but it never happens. Does anybody out there, who thinks, have any illusion that Iraq or Afghanistan will one day thank us. What are we smokin?