Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Tradition

Thanksgiving. When I think of what to be thankful for in this year, I am a little perplexed. I have witnessed some pretty sad things. Friends unemployed, losing their business. As a volunteer at the Cancer Infusion Center, I've been involved with a few who lost the fight to live. Cancer. You have it whipped and suddenly the SOB is back again. F..K!! 

And, then we see on TV the pictures of the awful atrocities of war. The starving children. We are not doing enough. 

When we scan the globe on this strictly American holiday, we have to be eternally grateful. Plain and simple. As "Mericans" (NASCAR pronunciation), we have a boatload of problems but a lot of Americans are out there doing what they can: working at Saint Anthony's, the Salvation Army, Glide Memorial Church--feeding the downtrodden, working at food banks. Some nonprofit is providing showers for the homeless; another has developed a website for those, like myself, who can go in and donate to a specific person. On the website, they have profiled the various persons with needs. What a great idea. Helpers are everywhere. 

Then having done their good deed 
(screw the skeptics), they are gathering with family for the turkey day meal. We will not give up the tradition. Happy Thanksgiving. We will think about all the problems tomorrow. 

Saturday, November 23, 2013


Way back at the very beginning of our misadventure into Iraq, I saw an article saying that we had imported several "ice making machines" into the war zone. My thoughts then, "oh no, here we go again." We are planning for a lengthy stay. There is something about the military and mostly good motives-- wanting to make life better for the troops; however, it is often a self defeating signal that we are going to be here awhile. 

I was a prophet. 10 plus years and it all began with the "ice makers." What the f..k is it with us. Why do we insist on making stupid decisions, absolute wrong headed decisions. 

Example: GITMO. "60 Minutes" did a piece on it where Leslie Stahl was granted assess to a kind of walk through. It was scary as you could feel the tension in her. This Military Police Colonel, essentially the Warden, escorted her on her Gitmo tour. He was one of these "by the book" Colonels who had his side to the story: accomplish the mission. He handled the interview pretty well but it was obvious to me that he had the creativity of a f..king tree. 

This is not a hit on him. He is a soldier--his mission, "run a prison." What the hell!! However, he should be relieved and replaced with an innovative, creative civilian who understands the military. The arguments for keeping GITMO open are ones that push us deeper into the chasm of no resolution and a terrible example to the world. F..k. 

Part of the interview briefly showed the living arrangement for families, they have living quarters (houses). Kids are playing soccer. Life is good. (This is GITMO)

These are "ice machines." The military has created an environment to stay. The hit is on the military. Some high ranking commander ought to be standing up and saying, "hold it." We are not setting up a permanent environment here. GITMO is closing at some point. Bullshit, I might as well be whistling Dixie. 

When I was a young captain in the Army in the Sixties, I was assigned to cover the stockade as we called it then. Most of the prisoners were young soldiers who had been AWOL (absent without leave). Few of them had committed real crimes. If they had been civilians they wouldn't have been in jail. Most were trying to escape Vietnam. We had a sharp commander who said, "let's don't be stupid. Let's get these troops back to duty. If they go AWOL again, it is better than them being in jail. 

This has been a real mystery to me concerning GITMO. The poor performance of the Church toward the prisoners. There is no way that one could read the four gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and not come away with the very real knowledge that everything that Jesus said and did had to do with love and peace. A time or two, he seemed to be righteously indignant at acts of wanton selfishness, i. e., casting the money changers out of the temple. 

Bad actors in GITMO? You better believe it. Let's face it, keeping them in GITMO is not going to keep us from terrorists. With these, the prisoners, we may have missed some opportunities to turn a terrorist to another life. Who knows? At the least, we should get them gone. What happens happens. We will protect ourselves. The answers are few and far between but GITMO is not one of them. . 

Thursday, November 21, 2013


I was a young pastor in SC, a seminary student and a young military Reservist. I was wandering around throughout the countryside and passed this house where an older lady was using a broom to knock pecans (we call them pea-cans) out of a tree. Her efforts were mostly futile. I stopped and offered help. I climbed the tree and easily began dislodging the pecans. Suddenly another older lady ran out of the house screaming, the President has been shot. The president has been shot. 

The Irony

Am I the only one in America who sees the irony of Afghanistan debating whether we can stay or not. Yes, please let us stay so we can have more young Americans killed and spend millions of dollars that we don't have. What the f..k😳


Wednesday, November 13, 2013


I saw "Dallas Buyers Club." Good, maybe great movie.  Matthew McConaughey was terrific. Because  I live in San Francisco, I identity more with the entire AIDs scene. I was here when gays, in particular, were dying right and left. The movie dealt with being gay and dying and the lack of empathy and basic ignorance toward AIDS. 

 McConaughey was a maxed out hustler, rodeo rider, kind of like minor leagues. Based on a true story. The government,  medical community, all came out looking pretty bad. Given 30 days to live, after being diagnosed as being HIV positive, he states in dramatic fashion, "there ain't nothing that can kill me in 30 days." Texas electrician Ron Woodroof, (McConaughey) delivers the performance of his career, characterized not just by an astonishing physical transformation like losing 40 pounds but a determination to find a way out. Along the way, he encounters the heart of the movie, the transvestite, Rayan. 

There are a lot who can review this movie better than me but my slant would be a little different, having witnessed the utter ruthlessness of the killer, AIDS, I was moved on many levels. 

The portrayal of homophobia and ignorance was masterfully done. Well, it is Texas. Terrific movie and if McConaughey doesn't get an academy award, I will be fooled. 

The transvestite, Rayan, reminded me of an incident involving my brother who was such a wonderful older brother (As much as I loved him, will have to acknowledge his slight homophobia) and who recently transitioned to the next life. Raz came out to visit me in San Francisco years ago. Both of us love movies and so one afternoon, we go to the movies. I go in and sit down. He doesn't come and doesn't come. Finally, I go looking for him. He would talk to anyone.

When I find him, he is talking to this beautiful woman. As I stand and look, I realize "She" is actually a "He." He/She was gorgeous, just as Rayan was (in fact I will use the pronoun, she--I love her). I finally pulled Raz away and gave him the news. He refused to believe it. Over the years, I have gotten a lot of mileage out of that story. God bless you, Raz. Miss you so much. jda

Saturday, November 09, 2013


Scott Simon of NPR (National Public Radio), my favorite guy, did a piece on Secretary Chuck Hegel, the DOD head. Every month, Hegel brings in about six soldiers and they talk shop. Soldiers, meaning, Marines, Navy, females, former "don't ask don't tell" types; no restrictions.  According to Simon, the soldiers talked about their career, philosophical issues like, "Purpose in Iraq?" What Simon discovered as always with soldiers, they are not in a vacuum. They are like any "aware" group of young Americans.  At the close of his piece, Simon said something like, "What I discovered was that  soldiers were a microcosm of our America society." (Definition, such as a place or an event that is seen as a small version of something much larger) What has my man Simon been smoking? Bullshit, how did he deduce such, they are far from being a microcosm, whatever he's concluded. They are a small percent (about 1%), usually drawn from a segment of society where the military becomes mostly their best option. They are good soldiers but they are not a microcosm with less than one percent of the American society having served in the military and the general public more likely than not unengaged. Honoring vets is a good idea but let's don't be thinking today's military is a microcosm of American society. It just ain't so.