Thursday, September 29, 2011


Peter Ban Buren's book, "WE MEANT WELL: How I Helped Lose the War for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People" is reminiscent of Vietnam in a sense. MAINLY IN BEING STUPID!

I heard this Van Buren interviewed on NPR. I'm going to buy the book. Sounds like some good stories, telling us what we already know: we f..ked up big time in Iraq in involving ourselves and once we realize we've f..ked up, we compound it by being stupid. 

I always asked myself, "why would a guy like Van Buren write such a book. I surely can't answer for him but think it is out of frustration. He has witnessed all this stupidity and wants to record it andsyne even have something to say in stopping it. Talk about in the wind. Forget it...

And, the same sort of idiocy continues in Iraq and bigtime in Afghanistan even today. For Van Buren the "powers that be" didn't appear to give a s..t as he admits that he fell in line too with being stupid. 

As a "midget" in the great scheme of things, what is utterly discouraging to me is that "tell all" books like Van Buren's, which should serve as some sort of "lessons learned" don't matter for "s..t."  In Vietnam, we would take a piece of ground, give it up. Then we tried Vietnimization, win the hearts and minds of the people (does that sound familiar). The next thing was "body count." The soldiers realized it was bullshit but kept on doing it. Now, of course, as we are still into two wars with less than dubious results and this is saying it mildly as we still continue to be stupid, stupid, stupid. 

Monday, September 26, 2011


The style section of the "NYT" did a story about this former rocker and right wing fundamentalist preacher, Bradlee Dean. He has a Christian rap band, and a youth ministry. Michele Bachmann is a fan. If that wasn't enough to immediately dismiss him, his "way out" views are enough. He has arms full of tattoos with Biblical references. I could call him a "crazy" but he's smart like a fox: DVDs, books, an industry himself. If these guys do good and positive, I don't give a f..K but what I do object to is misquoting and prooftexting (pulling out a phrase or sentence, totally taken out of context) the Bible to propagate their erroneous  and misguided views.

What Bible are they using? In any sort of reading about the life of Jesus, this "way out, hate propaganda" is simply not only erroneous but a downright lie. And Bradlee and Bachmann's views would be an anathema to Jesus who lived a life of tolerance, love, self sacrifice. Don't believe me, read the Bible yourself. Go to the very beginning of the New Testament and read, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Read what Jesus did and said. You don't have to depend on what some preacher, me, anybody says, go to the source. THE BIBLE.

Saturday, September 24, 2011


Politics by it's very nature is at best  compromise and at worst, corruptive. Most of us Americans who "think" and have a smidged of faith in the process keep hoping that we'll see something truly unusual in the President. I remain a supporter as I think as politicians go, he has "given at the office," meaning really tried to be the president of all the people. However, governing is different than campaigning and in his case even though supportive, I see politics and re-election intruding more and more.

What I want is to see the President "rising above it all. Doing the right thing." To hell with his advisors, the political process, his own conciliatory nature and simply as my dad would say, "do what's right."

I think the Palestinian statehood at the UN may be one of those times where the President has a chance to do the right thing and f..k the politics. As a country, we are always going to support and defend Israel. To my Dad, it was a Biblical thing. Very complicated that he couldn't explain but would roughly say, "don't f..k with the Jews or God will get you." But, let's face it everybody needs a home and a country. Come on! What in the f..k is the big deal other than politics. Politicians can explain why Palestine can't be a country but it doesn't really hold water. It may even sound naive but what real difference would it make? None in the big picture from my perspective as I don't know s..t but I do know what it means to "do the right thing."

I don't even know who the hell the Jewish lobby is but obviously they wield lots of influence--however, this might be a case where the President "rolls the dice" and says, "I'm doing the right thing, f..k you very much."   

Thursday, September 22, 2011


The country is in the preverbal mess. The Republicans are a recalcitrant bunch of obstructionists and the Democrats can't get their stuff together. What gets me is that so many Americans who depend on the social programs that the Democrats are mainly responsible responsible for, i. e., social security, medicare, continue to be misguided in my view and vote against their own interests. I don't get how they can be blinded. Crazy. Do we think for a moment that the poor people in Texas, if they truly understood what Rick Perry sood for, would vote for him. Or, if any American who used their brain could possibly see a country created by Michelle Bachman could possibly support what she stands for. Please!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


I support it but if for a minute we think
it's going to be easy, I have to asked, "What have you been smoking?" Overall, my faith in soldiers makes me want to think they will deal with it just fine. In a sense, it is hard to know. It isn't like racism or related social issues. This has to do with the "verboten" subject of sex. The leadership calls it "sexual orientation" as though this handles it. Bullshit! A propensity to be interested in a same sex is basic theory and it would be like GIs being typical males flirting with girls, whatever. But, we dealing with long standing prejudices fueled by a culture trying to come to grips with a different set of values. Technically, it is sexual attraction, just so happens, it is same sex. Issues of showers, display of affection, deep rooted beliefs, crushes; hell, we are talking about kids here. And, then there are the religious views. Preachers who are not immune from prooftexting (taking out selected passages to prove their point) the Bible to reinforce their homophobic beliefs even though sincere.   

My belief is that overall, soldiers will get past this. I liken it to homophobia in general. Let me give you this example: A soldier will have all these macho/homophobic beliefs and suddenly, he meets a guy who is gay. They become friends. The heteresextual/homophobic, all of a sudden, these feelings go out the door. It happens. I have dozens of war stories of my own. I met a gay Priest once who said he was attracted to me. Bullshit. Although flattered, I like women. (this is macho talk). We laughed and became great friends. He left the priesthood years later when he "came out." We are still really good friends.

My big thing is let's don't get in a state of denial more than we already are. While I think that soldiers will adapt, I don't have a clue how it is going to work. Sex is a driving force in our makeup I think. Men in particular. Think of all the men, powerful men, who have been stupid. Eric Spitzer, Arnold Swatzerneggar, this French asshole who was accused of raping the maid. Need I say more. Put any spin or psychobabble you want on it, it is the "elephant" I'n the room.

And our culture is still mired in a type of strange silence about it. Soldiers in conventional units will probably do better than the more elite units like the 82d Airborne Division, Special Forces (Green Berets) and the Special Operations units of all the services like Seal Team Six. The Marines will not have an easy time of it, you can count on it. And, then there are the movies that absolutely reflect our culture. "An Officer and a Gentleman." Richard Ghere and his fellow trainees are in formation and the tough as nails tdrill sergeant played by Louis Gossett, jr.,is hassling them. One recruit says he's from Texas. The drill Sergeant says, "the only things that come out of Texas is steers and queers." Take a look at the movie, "Full Medal Jacket" and count the number of references to "fags." Good luck and God bless. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


My wife walked into the kitchen where I was reading the paper and said, "every American should be outraged. On one side of the paper is an article that says students defaulting on loans, the poverty rate for kids and adults is out the roof, people are without jobs. The President has proposed a 'job's bill'. The guy is at least trying to do something. On the other side of the page is Eric Cantor saying immediately, forget it, the Republicans won't go for it." She shakes her head and walks out.  

I think always, "who are these people like Cantor? Who in the f..k votes for them. And, NO, Americans are not going to be ashamed. Many don't give a s..t. And those who are bitching about Obama. Where the f..k are you going to go? And, you better think twice before you don't vote because if we can't get the Cantors and O'Connels out, it is going to be bad, bad, bad!


Reading Sarah Reidy's comments about the debates of Republicans is "right on:"For years I have tried to prove that the GOP isn’t the Party of elitist, stereotypical people that lack compassion...Hearing the debate crowds go crazy over things like executions and the uninsured dying makes me sick and sad for my Party." 

Sarah, let me pass this to you. The Republican Party/Tea Party is made up whites, wealthy, older Americans which is in fact the Republican party. Add angry, recalcitrant, party of no, racist. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011



Have been reading excerpts from Jackie Kennedy tapes. Interesting...wonder how they will be received?? For a well educated Yankee ...she shared same views  as women in "The Help" (movie) towards blacks. Funny how she had such distaste for  Martin L. King... but never saw her husband in the same light. Have read before how she and all the Kennedys thought L.B.Johnson was a buffoon. But then the entire South was looked upon as Buffoon's! The movie "The Help" took place in the 1950's. & early 60's...loved the cars...when I was in high school and college ..then married. Had some black students in summer school at ECU...but didn't think anything about it. My husband was teaching in 1962-1964 and never taught a single black child. chg


NBC's Brien Williams featured a few of Jackie Kennedy's thoughts last night. She definitely was not too charitable toward MLK and LBJ. Historically, I don't think even LBJ's staunchest critics can deny that his lasting imprint on America did far exceed what Kennedy could have done had he lived. LBJ gets credit for Civil Right's and Voter Act, plus Medicare. 

The interesting thing now is that with LBJ as President, with this political climate, he couldn't do s..t. Just wouldn't happen. What we have now is partisan politics where the Republicans are much more interested in getting the President out of the White House than what is good for the country. And, in a round about way, LBJ is responsible for this vitriolic climate. Many of those making the loudest noise are racists just beneath the skin, i. e., most of the South, always solidly Democrat--after LBJ and the Civil Rights Act, Republican all the way and remain so today. Republicans hide behind issues like the deficit, Obamacare, etc but at the heart of it, they don't want an African American in the White House. My view anyway. 

Tuesday, September 06, 2011


"Barney's Version." I thought it was a comedy. Heavy, Jewish, divorce, dysfunction, dope, alcoholism. Should I go on. This is one of those movies where the one who wrote the synopsis or developed the movie trailer should have a "time out." The trailer showed Paul Giamotti leaving his very Jewish wedding (with every Jewish stereotype you can imagine), pursuiing another woman. It gives all indication it's a comedy. There is hardly a funny scene in the entire movie. It starts with a drunken dope scene in Rome with Giamonni and friends who impact his life somewhat throughout the movie.

It is a very disconnected movie, even if very heavy in every way. There's even a subplot of a supposedly murder. A downer movie but sobering too in terms of reality. For example, most marriages, need a reality check on occasion. Watching a movie like "Barney's Version" can help us look at our own marriage, i. e., "how are we doing?" And, a coup de gras: Barney descents into dementia. A guy who drinks, smokes like a chimney, personal life a mess and finally exists in a dark world inhabited only by Barney.

With a differing view, my wife says, don't see this movie unless you are already depressed.

Sunday, September 04, 2011


The term heroes is mostly semantics. And, I think there is some histrionics in the idea that there is a "cult of the uniform" as the Sunday "Times" article,  "An Empty Regard" suggests. I think there is another explanation why the majority of Americams express appreciation of the military. Americans who care and not all do have somehow in their psyche decided that they are never again going to treat soldiers as badly as they did Vietnam vets. As Vietnam vets of that sorry war, if we have any legacy, blaming the soldier for our misadventures will not happen again.  Our own emotional well being is still tied up with that awful treatment. We not only fought in Vietnam but had another battle at home. And, those battles have persisted through recognition on health issues like Agent Orange and PTSD. For a good ten years or more, Vietnam vets were basically silent. The literature coming from us was scant and even the movies that showed up only reinforced what most Americans thought: crazed Vietnam vets who are whack jobs.

Anybody can apply any term--heroes is as good as any. Many soldiers are serving multiple tours, families barely scraping by and the soldier themselves engaged in a warfare that is lethal: deadly outposts, a srtategy that, if workable, in nation building would take years, not to mention a populace that is ambivalent, not through lack of desire but unable in taking charge of their own destiny once we're gone. The present soldier has done every single thing that has been asked of him or her and more. If that isn't heroism, I don't know what is.

Jerry Aughtry
Vietnam, class of 68-69
415 515-8369


Reading an excerpt from Dick Chaney's book, "In My Time,"  is like visiting the Star Wars Cafe. Talk about escape from reality. I am amazed even for Cheny. I always thought the "neocons," were a routestep bunch of malcontents, whose spinning and hold on the real world is almost beyond the pale. At best, they live in a parallel universe.  

My disclaimer is that I have not read the book: A couple of excerpts before I became nauseous. I did read Maureen Dowd who is left of center, of course. I love her writing. Then I read in the "right of center" Wall Street Journal a book review and a long piece by another writer. The review was fairly objective but the other writer should be on Fox News. Give me a break!

Faced with the facts, Chaney unpacks his own views where the truth and reality are strictly coincidental. Biased? Absolutely as I think Chaney can soundly be accused of being the major culprit for Iraq. Even most reasonably credible "right of center" will admit that the Iraq war was based on a lie. No, I take it back. They won't admit it but we know it's true.   

Fortunately, at some point, George W. wised up but it was too late. I would sound like some West Coast Berzerkely type if I mentioned "war criminal" status for Chaney. As a very minimum, if I were a mom or dad whose son's life ended in that uncalled for war, I don't know how I would ever get over it. It was easy for Chaney to convince Bush to send kids to war as Chaney, of course, had other "priorities" and consequently didn't serve in Vietnam. How does draft-dodger sound? But, let's call it what he is: a combination spin and escape from reality. Chaney hasn't morph into it but has always been there. Don't confuse me with facts, I have my mind made up.

You would think that with the heart trouble, it would have softened him a bit. For most, it does. Lee Atwater, for example. He was a Republican strategist and a mean "mother" in politics--take no prisoners. When he got cancer, it changed him and before he died, he said something like,  "my illness has taught me something about the nature of humanity, love, brotherhood and relationships that I never understood." chamey hasn't come to that lesson. 

Putting the bad mouth on Colin Powell and Condi Rice should maybe elevate them in status. I've never been much of a fan of Colin Powell as I think he sold out, relatively speaking. It is sad to me because rarely in life does a single individual get a chance to change the course of history. Powell had his chance, I think, when he went before the UN to plead the case for invading Iraq. By his own admission, he had doubts about Iraq--he caved.

I might have to revisit the whole thing now that Chaney has dissed him. Maybe there's something I don't know. A last thing. I did read his cohart's (Rummy) book. I never got the feeling that Rumsfeld was mean spirited. Chaney, on the other hand, comes across as bitter with a few scores to settle.


I believe that if this book can play a small part in insuring the American people will never again experience, in their future, a war like Vietnam, then maybe the physical and mental scars of our Vietnam veterans can, in a small way be justified. (We learned nothing from Vietnam and are mired in one war and in the other, we are trying to extract ourselves but it is highly unlikely).

Tim O'Connor, author of the book, Blood Brothers. Till Death Do Us Part