Monday, April 30, 2012

Soldier Suicides

"For every soldier killed on the battlefield  this year, about 25 vets are dying by their own hand. An American soldier dies every day and a half, on average in combat. Veterans kill themselves on average one every 80 minutes. More than 6500 veteran suicides are logged every year. More than the total number of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan combined since those wars began (A columnist in NY Times). What the f..k! This is outrageous and guess who is to blame. We are. For example, recently I had breakfast with about six or eight fellow Vietnam vets. To a person, talking about the rash of suicides, they felt that repetitive tours is the culprit. The emotions of going back and forth have to take its toll. And why is this? It doesn't take a rocket scientist to piece it together. During Vietnam, we had the draft, a ready pool of soldiers. Few Vietnam veterans did more than one tour, usually lasting 12 or thirteen months. That is it, over, finish, next case. The military wants some more soldiers/cannon fodder, they draft some more. The draft was far from perfect as about anybody who wanted could get out of it. Interestingly, often soldiers were happy to be drafted. It was a point of pride. Then along came SecDef Melvin Laird and icon Milt Friedman who sold Americans on ending the draft. The unintended consequences was a Volunteer Military that was too small and totally unrepresentative of our democracy. In other words, we now have a military of other people's children fighting our wars. Less than 1% have any investment in our ill conceived wars or our military. And, of course Donald Rumsfelt and draft dodger, Dick Chaney, who had other priories during Vietnam, only added to the difficulties now causing an epidemic of soldier suicides. Military leadership has to bear some responsibility with their "can do" attitude. Fluctuating economy, kids who have limited options have joined this AVF (all volunteer force) and added to the fact that you have a lower socieo economic soldier which also means that he has less coping skills. It is scandalous as my mom would say. So, what is the remedy. Too late for those soldiers who have cashed out. Bring back the draft or some sort of community service. We don't have the political will. So, what then. F..K, I don't know.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

ERI've never been much of a baseball fan. ⚾Not any particular reason but I recently went to a San Francisco Giants game. Baseball crowds are wonderful. Patriotic, they are singing, "God Bless America" with gusto. A violinist played the National Anthem (white violin). The crowd is whooping it up. I look around me: the ethnicity knocks you over. It looks like the United Nations if anybody is noticing: African Americans, whites, India types, Asians of all sorts. I'm the only one paying attention because things like this always overwhelm me about America. We are probably the only country in the world that is truly multicultural and by in large nobody pays it any attention and for the most part, we get along. On any street corner, you can hear five different languages. Sitting next to me is an older gay couple. How do I know? Well my seat mate, a beautiful Filipino American pointed it out. Why the interest? I thought the elderly man might have dementia, based on the way his partner was talking to him. Sun was great, perfect day. God is in his heaven and all is right with the world. Well, at least at this baseball game⚾.

Thursday, April 12, 2012


What we are talking about here is the "fairness" issue. Every MFer you talk to or hear, has a view. Most of them are into, "how does this effect me?" Let's face it, it is simply the way it is. The most opposed are the f..king recalcitrant  Republicans who are simply interested in one thing: defeating the President. Consequently, the same sort of bullshit that they ususually throw up is ever present: doesn't help the deficit, etc. I talked with a good buddy yesterday who is totally opposed to the buffet rule. His overall reasoning is that the rich already pay enormous taxes. Well, guess what, plain and simple, the rich also avoid a lot of taxes. The tax codes need to be reformed. All agree but on the Buffet rule, it simply is the right thing to do.


Recently, I was at a social gathering. Wonderful group of folks, celebrating a bunch of kids running the San Francisco Half Marathon. As we chowed down on bagels and an assortment of unhealthy eats. (Well, there was fruit), we drifted, as we usually do, into politics. Not a good move. Anyway, across the table was this economics professor at one of the local Universities. I had already sized him up as a Republican and then was surprised to hear that he voted for the President in the last election. He added, however, that he was unsure for this one and definitely would not vote for our local rep, Nancy Pelosi. I concurred on the basis of the Sixty Minutes story where she was profiled as making millions on insider trading. As we learned in the Sixty Minutes' program, Congress was not subject to the same rules about insider trading as the rest of us. We go to jail. They make millions. Pelosi's defense was that she didnot do anything illegal. What about unethical and immoral. Just because it is legal, doesn't make it right in my estimation.

To my right was a female attorney. Her defense of Pelosi was novel, at least I had not heard it before. Pelosi should not be held accountable for this transgression even if it was immoral, unethical, whatever. Her support of her congresswoman was unwavering as Pelosi spoke to many issues that were important to Californians--Pelosi should get a pass. We chatted a bit longer and all reasoning did not prevail. Plus, she used an oft repeated view that if Pelosi were held accountable, so should all politicians as they all do the same thing. The fact that the loophole had now been closed with a bill making Congress play by the same rules as all of us didn't play with her. When the bill was first Introduced, only a couple of congressmen signed on. After the 60 Minites story, over a hundred did. In the debate, it sailed through. When the president signed the bill, not surprisingly, Congresswoman Pelosi was not present for the occasion.

The big point is there is no convincing this person that Pelosi has forfeited her good will. Forget it. To me, as basically an "Independent," this is why our system is broken. We are willing to accept unethical behavior, whatever from elected officials as long as our own self interests are met. MY BELIEF.
As my cowboy hero Gus, in the TV mini series, "Lonesome Dove" said in reply to a question of giving up on driving a herd of cows from Texas to Montana. "No, I try to always get where I'm going when I started out. And, it's the right thing to do."