Tuesday, December 28, 2010


Recently, I attended Boxer Day, which is the day after Christmas, at my former neighbor's pad. It is mainly a day to get together and eat and drink. A good time. My wife and I have this little game we play: who can find the most interesting person at the gathering. I won hands down. Ian, a recently naturalized American from Scotland. He was so proud of being an American and could not be restrained from telling about the process: the paperwork, the interviews, the tests, the people he had met along the way. If only Americans felt the same way about their country. Anyway, got me to thinking and I dug out this email I had saved from a friend. As we begin a new year, being appreciative of all we have and living in such a great country is no small thing and a good place to begin a year.

A friend commented on comparing America to the UK. It is too good not to preserve. He was discussing what it meant to be back in England, after living in the States for years. England is still a strange mix. The people here are still grindingly nasty, rude, ignorant, angry and miserable. The majority of them really are detestable. On the other hand we have little contact with the outside world and at this time of the year (and at almost all others) we live in a beautiful city. The fact that we have the National Health Service gives me a strong sense of security about life. It's the one important thing I think the US lacks. Of course it is screwed up here in so many ways...but that's another story. Funny though the psychological difference it makes to a person who has been living in the USA since 1985.

MY COMMENTS:I'm smiling about your comments about your fellow countrymen. It sounds like you are homesick for America which isn't a bad thing. You would have to be after being here so long. With all our faults, relatively speaking, one can be what they want to be or say what they want in America and sometimes I even wish it was a little less. I am appalled at these idiot shouters like Beck and Limbaugh and the nasty stuff they say about the president or others they don't like. I want to kick their asses but it is America. I think the "GFs (Girlfriends) are somewhat of a microcosm of America. You have one who is to the right of Ghengis Khan and then another who is way left of most anybody. They argue, curse and fifteen seconds later they are talking about something else and the rest of us happily join right in.

From my standpoint it is a matter of perspective. I think in general the world is in a pretty big mess and we're working our way out of it crisis by crisis. Most of it is like the American fairy tail, Brer Rabbit, facing the Tar Baby. You hit one place and stick but before you know it, there's another and you are stuck on the last crisis. And, to be perfectly honest, I worry, which is my tendency, about the future of our grandchildren when you have idiot nations with nukes; and, our own nation making stupid decisions like Iraq and Afghanistan.

One thing that really bothers me is that the pressures of life make it harder to be compassionate and generous. That sounds like an excuse but it has felt that way for the last couple of years. But with everything that's happening to undermine our sense of security (which is I think what human beings really crave) and then all the wonderful personal news I have had recently it makes me turn ever more inwards to enjoy cherished and to protect the things that are mine. I must remember to look outwards and at lease give money to charities as a substitute for giving my time. I really felt I was doing something useful when I volunteered. You know that the US people are by FAR the most generous when it comes to giving. It's harder in the UK because there simply is not the culture. I think it says a lot about the U.S. and its citizens.

Anyway, my feeling is that all I can do is provide financial insulation from the vaguries of life, and hand in hand with that give a strong and joyous character so tat she is kind, compassionate, generous, happy and strong... Now how do I do that????? I was talking to my Mountaineer brother about this yesterday - can you develop a good character without suffering?...

Develoing a good character without suffering? I think so but suffering is often not chosen but when, through no fault of our own, it happens, at some point down the road, we can reflect and say, "it has made me better." We had this same discussion with the "Girlfriends" recently. It centered around the fact that so many soldiers coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan are claiming PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). Andy, ever the skeptic relayed his own experience as a 12 year old when the Nazis occupied his Greek Village. He watched the Nazis gun down all the men from his village. And, yet, even though the trauma of it has haunted his entire life, he has moved on and been extremely successful. His story is recounted in this really good memoir, Just Another Man. HIs question and one that will be asked often in the future. How does tragedy incapacitate some and mobilize others.

Sunday, December 19, 2010


SITREP (situation report) for Afghanistan. Poor, bad, awful. These surely aren't the spin of the President and other admin figures as they talked about the Afghanistan Assessment. And, I will have to say that I feel badly being the "nay sayer" but I don't hear anybody else out there saying how stupid we are.

Have we made progress? Sure. We have tapped down some of the Taliban activity based on the saturation with troops. However, we continue to ignore even a modicum of truth. Even on Iraq, those like General Kean, retired, and talking on PBS's Newshour and comparing Iraq and now the surge of Afghanistan as working. It is an example of self delusion at worst and spin at best. The surge in Iraq merely separated the factions and ultimately performed a type of ethnic cleansing which moved the Sunnis out of Badgdad or to their own enclaves. I am not comvinced that it will not come back to haunt us but at least for today, violence appears to be reduced and Iraq is less a media story so it has slipped to the back section. But, the comparisons between Iraq and Afghanistan simply don't work.

I will say this for General Keen. He let it all hang out as relates to Pakistan. Despite the trainload of bucks we've given them, they are not helping and complicity, I suspect. I hope the good general is not on the payroll, his ass will get fired (think McChrystal. Presidents, even thinking ones, don't like less than public lockstep). Pakistan is simply one among many issues of Afghanistan--a fast train to nowhere. F..K.

In Afghanistan, we have a "tarbaby." remember the story: the tar baby is made of tar and turpentine as I remember. Brer Rabbit confronts the "tar baby." Brer Rabbit gets stuck. The more he fights, the more entangled he becomes. "Tar Baby" is more than a sticky situation--everyday the situation is aggravated because we keep trying to deal with the "tarbaby." Impossible and Americans keep dying!

The President is either bamboozled by the generals and his own group of "yes sir, yes sir, three bags full." Or, it is politics or a combination of both. I am still an Obama supporter but I am disappointed in his decisions on Afghanistan and his attempt of justifying our presence by using Bush and neocon rhetoric by evoking 9-11. Please! He should have rejected what the media put on him: Obama's War. "Hell no! Not my war. I am fulfilling my duty as Commander and Chief but I say again, hell no, not my war." The polls say 60% of Americans want to get the hell out. Hillary can take a "high falootin" view of "we don't make decisions by polls." The last time I looked, she's not running for office but you can bet your jollies that the pols are watching. Americans who care are becoming more and more weary as we continue to be stupid with our "Tar-baby" war while more and more young Americans die.

Friday, December 17, 2010


Wife's tribute to her husband

This country isn’t at war in Iraq or Afghanistan. Americans have no clue what it’s about, they sacrifice nothing, they feel no pain. Only the military family is at war, and they sacrifice all. No one should be able to send our kids into combat unless they send their own as well. My husband told friends that he’d experienced the pain of war and that was a lesson he really didn’t want his sons to learn. He was very angry at the way the war has been run, especially the repeated combat tours with no recovery time in between. And he often asked civilians how they expected soldiers who were trained to fight and kill people, to be policemen and nation builders. How could they expect a soldier whose instinct was to kill before he was killed to think and ask questions and determine if someone was truly a threat? And then you expect them to come home and behave like perfect gentlemen?

He has been a long term advocate of universal service. It’s one of the few times we agreed with Charlie Rangel! He was very proud of the fact that 3 of his kids did serve their country.

My husband was desperately waiting until people got tired of the war and realized they’ll be paying for care of thousands of injured troops forever--a theme he used often, Nothing’s too good for the soldier, and that’s exactly what they’ll get. Nothing.”

Thursday, December 02, 2010


The Republicans are back and just as "mean spirited" as ever. They ought to be ashamed, denying unemployment benefits for over two million Americans at Christmas for God's sake. Assholes!!!! Talk about some MF...ing Grinches.

Most economists actually think the unemployment payments help the economy. I can't wait to see how the party of "NO" fixes what ails the country. I've never fully understood the phrase, "the people get the government they deserve.". I think I'm "getting it." Those who voted into power the party of "No" are snuggled before their fireplaces. They have a job, healthcare, a home and probably congratulating themselves on how they've finally taken back the country. Good luck all you selfish bastards. Amen


Few times have I ever thought of the media being prophetic but...0n 60 Minutes, Anderson Cooper did a program on the training of Afghan police. A couple of days ago, one of the Afghan trainees turned his weapon on his American trainers, killing six Americans. Prophetic?

The Sixty Minutes program explored the utter futility of what we are attempting to do. I actually felt sorry for am American General and believe me, "me feeling sorry for a general" is no small thing. (Generals as a rule get where they are through politics. It doesn't mean they are not good military men, just that, like most politics, they are "yes sir , yes sir three bags full;" and, in the case of this general, wanting to tell the
truth while appearing to be loyal to his mission. On the same program was the former Number two guy for the United Nations who said things like, "impossible to train illiterate policemen in the next year or two", maybe a hundred years. He got fired for probably saying, "the police are the most corrupt institution in the country." Here is part of his comment, "who are the police, they are illiterate villagers...how can you teach someone to read and write in six weeks, plus be a policemen."

And, of course, the very danger that Anderson Cooper pointed out, i. e., loyalty of the trainees cost six young Americans their lives. Stories of the trainees returning to the Taliban are rampant. A film shot by one of the American soldiers actually showed them doing drugs. We are literally attempting to train Afghan policemen in impossible circumstances. Some of the American trainers were National Guard, good soldiers who, under impossible circumstances, were attempting to do the task at hand. Six Americans are now dead, shot by police recruits.

The utter sadness and totally unacceptable to me is to give American soldiers missions that are impossible and at grave risk to their very lives. When are we going to wake up to the fact that what we are attempting can't be done?


Thousands and thousands more of pages of government documents, "leaked." Will this never end! I honestly don't know how I feel. On the one hand, I want to kick the ass of whoever let some Sp4 ( lower ranking enlisted person--the one accused and now at Leavenworth, the long course. There's also a great Army school at Leavenworth, Command and General Staff College) have access to classified documents. Think how stupid that is. It isn't to disparage young enlisted soldiers. Many of them are in Afghanistan dying for God's sake. But, think of it like this, if this young troop wasn't leaking documents, he's be some highly paid young 20 something in Silicon Valley or hanging out at North Beach in San Francisco in some bar trying to get laid. How much depth of experience does a young kid like this have? Give me a break. And, the military let's this guy have assess to all this classified material? PLEASE!! Damn stupid. I personally am amazed at the volume of it all. And, do we think this asshole at Wikileaks gives a s... about this young guy. He claims to be some idealist. Let's try opportunist.

Now for for the leaks themselves, embarrassing and revealing. In a sense, we can't have it both ways, open society and state secrets. Some of the embarrassment on Americans' parts, downright righteous indignation I would think. However, let's face it, most Americans will give an obligatory yawn and get on with their Christmas shopping. However, what about the revelation that we forked over millions in cash to a corrupt government official in Afghanistan and turned our head? We are talking cash here. Appalling and now we want to know who was that American official who turned his head? And, then we have the revelation that the president of Yemen was complicit in some drone attacks which may hinder future operations. Who knows. Also, the nations like Saudi wanting us to take care of Iran-- made me smile. Yeah, "let America do it and then we can jump in and condemn them." Sorry MFers. Maybe we ought to give the "leaker" a medal if in the long run, we are forced to clean up a few things.


Very few people on the planet know more about Korea than me. Pat, pat, pat. At some point during my two years in Korea, I decided that at some time in the future, I would write a great epic novel of the country. Consequently, I researched and then I researched some more. This was before Google and Wikipedia.

My hangout spot was Uijongbu, a great little town located between Seoul and the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone), the border separating North and South. The TV show MASH give gave Uijongbu its fifteen minutes of fame. The field hospital, 4077, was located just outside Ujongbu, where Hawkeye and team did their doctoring during their fictional Korean war). I loved that show.

We need to get excited about North Korea's sword rattling because KIM JONG Il is crazy. And, how do you know someone is crazy? You can't understand them. The so called experts, diplomats, whoever can think all they want that they can apply normal logic to Kim. Forget it. Crazy!

All of Korea is a Confucian Society, which is not a religion, rather a philosophy. And, the top rung on the philosophy ladder of Confucianism is "Ruler over Subject" and this makes all the people in North Korea, relatively speaking, blindly followers of Kim as leader with absolutely no logic.

There is no easy solution to North Korea. If the madman decides to come South, we can't stop them till they've taken Seoul. South Korea is a formidable military presence but they couldn't do anything really against a surprise military attack. The U. S. would have to intervene. We'd probably have to nuke them. We will make a grave mistake if we don't have a contingency of what to do WHEN it happens.


Richard Holbrook, the President's envoy on Afghanistan--whatever the hell thListening to him being interviewed, he sounds F...ing senile to me.

Negotiating with the Taliban. GREAT! Any way to get the hell out of Afghanistan. The military is saying they are forcing them to come to the table. Yeah, we definitely believe that. Now, of course, the guy who is suppose to be representing the Taliban is an imposter. This is great.

Reading or hearing about Afghanistan gets worse and then more absurd. It is damn crazy. And, what amazes me is that we are all reading the same stuff. In one story among many, it has one of the locals saying that the Soviets were better than the Americans because they did more projects. HELLO!

In a sense, it is unthinkable that we'd give the country back to a group of ruthless thugs, barbarians and lethal fanatics like the Taliban. The alternative is staying there forever. The counter insurgency strategy which we are supposedly following in winning the hearts and minds of the people essentially has no ending date. To be sure, somebody, somewhere understands that. You can't trust those like Holbrook and others tied to politics. If they don't lie, they spin. And, at the top levels of the military, they justify, denying reality and all the while our soldiers die. Wikileaks hasn't helped, only reinforced that which we already know; Karzai is paranoid, according to one document. Yes, this is news.

All the above being said in resignation, the President's deadline of July, 2011 appears to be our best hope. Here is a last zinger: Most Americans don't give a s..t anyway and the politicians could care less (anybody hear any Afghanistan rhetoric on the campaign trail). Want my scant evidence: the massive offensive to rid Kandahar City of the Taliban. The story is buried in an obscure page 10 of the NY Times. And, you better believe a media giant like The Times has the pulse of the people. And, why should the people care: all but 1% have no "skin in the game" and are not affected--now anyway. This is Vietnam revisited and worse. As we began to get out of Nam, it was "Vietnam who."

What makes our involvement in Afhanistan so hopeless to me is that we will stay. We have no great outpouring of "get out" like Vietnam and I don't think we will until it hurts us economincally or someway personally touches us. F...ing discouraging.
at is!