Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Not-so ugly Americans

Working in Germany for about six weeks has given me a little time to travel. Last weekend was Zurich, Switzerland....and we're going back there this weekend as well. (the first trip was primarily for a Zurich Harley shirt....this time we'll actually stay and see the city)

But the first weekend here, I took two friends to Strasbourg, France.

Ah Strasbourg.........the favorite and most romantic European city for my wife and I....

But there I was......in Strasbourg with no wife.....what to do, what to do.....

Allen (on left) and myself enjoying the finer aspects of European culture.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Take a moment and thank a Vet

Don't shower them with accolades of 'defending our nation' and 'fighting for our freedom', because we're not. We're engaged in two conflicts that have little to nothing to do with preserving our national security. Simply thank them for serving and tell them that they are appreciated....hell buy them a beer. Just don't patronize them with bumper sticker rhetoric.

Thank that man or women for taking the oath to preserve the freedom and liberty that we all take for granted; understand that they may not wish to recite war stories for your amusement, because those stories may contain episodes of the death or wounding of their friends; those stories may contain events that keep them awake at night and bring them to tears at inopportune moments. If this happens, they are not weak, they are not to be pitied.....they are to be regarded as compassionate humans conducting themselves in the worst environment we have created for ourselves....war.

Just as the statement ascribed to Plato reads: only the dead have seen the end of war....only the dead have seen the end of the nightmares and trauma that come with it.

Troubling new data show there are an average of 950 suicide attempts each month by veterans who are receiving some type of treatment from the Veterans Affairs Department.

Seven percent of the attempts are successful, and 11 percent of those who don’t succeed on the first attempt try again within nine months.
Air Force Times

Flogging Molly "Punch Drunk Grinning Soul" with PSA

Flogging Molly | MySpace Musikvideos

Punch Drunk Grinning Soul lyrics

It took me everything I had
To give all that I could
Walk beside me while I sleep
Steer me from the slumber wolf
Tangled forest of the mind
Speaks to me of self-despise
Close the window through the pane
Hear the siren's serenade

Could have been the comeback kid
The southpaws' legend glove to fill
No shadow boxer but the one
A true contender for the crown
Now this punch drunk grinning soul
In its' corner begs 'no more'

Hey now, stay proud
You were lost on a blue day
Hey now, stay proud
Hey now, stay proud
you were lost on a blue day
Hey now, stay proud
But we hardly knew ya

The chamber echo never speaks
The rushin' tide devours my feet
No global warming fills this soul
For hell it freezes what it stole
From the beggar's empty plate
To our world that stuffs its' face


But these tired eyes are crashin' down on me
While the paint never dries
On these four walls that now suffocate me
But tonight, maybe tonight
All will be free

Release, unlock this prison door
It can't hold me anymore
Serpent lied with sting of tale
Hand of reason rusts the nail
Now this punch drunk grinning soul
In its' corner begs 'no more'


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Does Christian = American?

Recently Sarah Palin spoke at an Evangelical Women’s Conference and made the following comments:

“God shouldn’t be separated from the state.”

“Hearing any leader declare that America isn’t a Christian nation and poking at allies like Israel in the eye — it is mind-boggling to see some of our nation’s actions recently, but politics truly is a topic for another day.”

“This nation needs you,” Palin told the women. “Know the facts. Stand for what’s right. Don’t be discouraged by the mocking of those who want to claim we just cling to our religion. I’m the first to admit — yeah, I do cling to my faith. That’s all I’ve got.”

Now, one may be tempted to claim that she was merely speaking to her audience….but as she makes these same assertions at her frequent political rallies and media appearances, it would be off the mark to dismiss it as such. So her remarks [and similar remarks by other right wing pols and pundits] beg some simple questions:
Are we a “Christian nation” and what does that even mean? And why is making that claim so important to so many people?

I am a firm, unyielding proponent of religious freedom, and I give due to our founders and national leaders who have contributed to this nation, while believing in God. But if I am not a Christian, am I not an American? If I were Jewish, or Hindu or Rastafarian, or an Atheist…….would I not be an American, or would I be a second class citizen? Are we so vain as to believe that a God ‘blesses’ our nation and that good fortune comes not through our actions but because of an invisible guy in the sky?

I don’t have an issue if an elected official proclaims a belief in an unprovable omnipotent deity, but I have a metric ton if issue when that elected official attempts to direct policy not through law, but through religion. The modern interpretation of the bible makes it clear that it does not encompass equal rights and civil liberties for all law abiding citizens of a nation, so why do we bestow such credibility upon politicians who place an inordinate amount of stock in a belief system that does not aim to protect all of their constituents? And why are good, intelligent and caring citizens realistically denied a chance at holding office based on the fact that they are not [at least publicly] a member of the faithful flock?

I understand that people draw inspiration and perseverance from their faith, but does it objectively make sense to admit following the alleged guidance from the unseen hand of an invisible deity? Hold any issue to that same standard, and see where it gets you…..just replace the word God with another unprovable being.
We readily rail against theocratic regimes such as Iran, Saudi Arabia and the Taliban….but with exception to the chosen means for an end, there doesn’t seem to be difference between Sarah Palin and her ilk, and your average Mullah.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Jetlag Hiatus

Haven't posted in awhile due to be in Germany and having some killer jetlag. I hope to be back on board soon.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Today's tribute to musical genius

Friday, April 9, 2010

Not biased my arse......

Note the disgust in Brian Kilmeade's voice at the mere thought of someone not kowtowing to the flag.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Hey Teabaggers

Just remember, this isn't YOUR flag.

A checklist that is quite apt....

From Down With Tyranny!:

You didn't get mad when the Supreme Court stopped a legal recount and appointed a President.

You didn't get mad when Cheney allowed energy company officials to dictate energy policy.

You didn't get mad when a covert CIA operative got outed.

You didn't get mad when the PATRIOT Act got passed.

You didn't get mad when we illegally invaded a country that posed no threat to us.

You didn't get mad when we spent over 600 billion (and counting) on said illegal war.

You didn't get mad when over 10 billion dollars just disappeared in Iraq.

You didn't get mad when you found out we were torturing people.

You didn't get mad when the government was illegally wiretapping Americans.

You didn't get mad when we didn't catch Bin Laden.

You didn't get mad when you saw the horrible conditions at Walter Reed.

You didn't get mad when we let a major US city, New Orleans, drown.

You didn't get mad when we gave a 900 billion dollar tax break to the rich.

You didn't get mad when the deficit hit the trillion dollar mark.

You finally got mad when the government decided that people in America deserved the right to see a doctor if they are sick. Yes, illegal wars, lies, corruption, torture, stealing your tax dollars to make the rich richer, are all okay with you, but helping other Americans... oh hell no.

Exposing Glenn Beck

Right. I get it. I should probably ignore him. Why should I waste time writing about Glenn Beck again? As hard as it is to believe, most days I intentionally ignore Glenn Beck posts and videos on the blogs. My reoccurring reaction is generally twofold. One: he's exhausting to watch because just as I'm wrapping my head around one line of googly-eyed horseshit, he belts out another ridiculous, melodramatic or dangerous line, and before I know it, I'm faced with a log-jam of crazy, forcing me to scramble for either an oxygen mask or a stiff drink. And, two: why pay attention to the television equivalent of an escaped mental patient screaming gibberish on the median strip at a busy intersection?

But to underestimate Glenn Beck as just some sort of random extra from Cuckoo's Nest, as I admittedly have done, is a mistake as it barely scratches the surface of what his scam is all about. A schizoid raving street loon tends to command attention purely for the freak show curiosity of passers by, yet the nonsense is rarely taken seriously.

This isn't the case with Glenn Beck. Several million people every day take his word for it. They're suckered into buying the ruse. And it's bad for America.

And so I intend to expose Beck as the dangerous grifter he really is. He's committing a nationally televised fraud and, given the sorts of people who are the most susceptible to his trickery, it's only a matter of time before Beck's deception takes a tragic turn.

Please read the rest...

Bob Cesca at HuffPo

Random Thought

Do you ever wonder why the people who produce nothing and add no tangible value to society are always the richest and most celebrated.......while those who bust their asses day in and day out to keep this nation and society functioning are underpaid invisible people?

In a perfect world Paris Hilton would be unknown and the truck drivers, firefighters, and teachers would be famous.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

A Must Read....

from a member of a motorcycle forum. It's started to make the rounds on the net:

And welcome to the Tea-hadist mindset. With Barack Obama in charge...who are you going to be better than?

And don't think some of us recognize the symptom because we are a pack of condescending know-it-all asshats. We are...but that has fuck-all to do with the observation.

It's just that we have seen this before. Up North...in our so-called "enlightened" neck of the woods.

Want to know the difference between North and South? Well, a man once told me that up North, it is OK to have a Black as your boss, but you will be damned if you will have one for a neighbor. Down South, it is OK to have a Black neighbor...but you will damned if you will have one as a boss.

So we went through all this Tea Party nonsense up North, about 20-30 years ago. And the reaction was just as vehement, inarticulate, and dumb as what is being spewed now. If you want to see hate and spittle, you should have seen how South Boston reacted to school integration.

But you would not have seen it 24/7 as you do today. It happened...but not in a perpetual echo chamber. And thank Christ for that.

And if you think the enlightened liberal North embraced integrated housing with open hearts, think again, It was called "white flight" and it damn near emptied some cities. "Sure, we support integration...now excuse us while we move to the suburbs where those Zulus won't be able to spear us with their assegais."

But white flight was a safety valve. It kept the pressure at reasonable levels. It also prolonged it and led to new levels of stupidity, but you could, after all, vote with your feet. Many did. Many still do.

OK, the job front was a bit stickier. Northern Industry has always been (at least since the 1950's) largely integrated. Steel Mill owners don't give a fuck what your skin color is. Besides, you could only tell on the way into work, on the way out everybody pretty much looked the same.

But you always knew what hand you were playing, because the cards were mostly dealt face up. Your boss was still white. Your union steward was still white. Your mayor and your chief of police were still white. And, as much as it pains me to tell you this, Michael Steele did not run the GOP. And even if he did, at least up north, you went home at the end of the day to your own private Idaho in the suburbs, and played golf on the weekends at a club where Michael Steele was never going to get in. Well, not the front door

The workforce may have been integrated, but you still knew who you were better than. Nobody dared yell "You Lie!!" at a white boss.

Over time, most of that has changed (but if you take a shot every time you can name a Black mayor of a predominantly white New England city...you are going to bed sober). But it took a very conscious effort to change it. Acceptance of diversity does not come easy when the question is: "who are you better than?"

And now the way the cards were dealt 18 months ago has upset a huge segment of the population. They no longer know who they are better than. They are lashing out. And there is fuck-all for a safety valve and it does run 24/7 in a perpetual echo chamber.

They say it is about "freedoms"...but they can point to no freedoms that have been lost over the last 14 months.

They say the Constitution is being destroyed, but when you ask them what parts of The General Welfare Clause or Congresses' power to regulate Interstate Commerce are being violated...they stand mute with rage

They say it is about taxes...but they can find no drastic tax increases in the last 14 months.

Come to think of it, I don't really remember anyone getting speared with an assegai thirty years ago either. But that didn't stop people screaming about the danger.

And they say they want their Country Back.

Well, Bing-fucking-O.

Now we have it. They want to return to a time and place where they at least knew who they were better than.

And the fact that most of this spittle is flying from the mouths of the poor, the semi-educated, the low information voter, and from By-God Dixie...well, that is only because it is your turn. A lot of the rest of the Country has already gone through this exercise 20-30 years ago. And the same spittle flew from the same confused lips when it was our turn.

So we don't look on Tea-hadists with scorn because they are alien and unfathomable. We do so because we recognize these very traits as ours and those of our neighbors."All in the Family" wasn't the most popular show in the Northeast because Archie Bunker was despised. It was popular because he was comfortably familiar. But at least he was a character. Nobody tried to run him for President.

And it ain't just President Obama. It is a lot else: If your job can be done on the Indian sub-continent, who are you better than? If China can launch a spaceship, who are you better than? If the world looks at the mighty Dollar as little better than an American Peso, who are you better than? If an immigrant can work your ass into the ground, and do it smiling for a lot less money, who are you better than?

A whole lot of life has been shaken and stirred the last couple of decades.

This whole Tea-Party nonsense will eventually pass. Because there is no "going back". OK, you can move to Idaho, or Montana, and it will feel like you have found what was missing. And you might even be happy. As long as you never watch the POTUS on the national news while you are trying to answer the question: "Who am I better than?"

But Jesus wept, people are going to keep asking that damned question. Soccer may be watched for it's beauty...American Football is about who is better. We are more of a class society than people want to admit. There is still a very strong vein of Scotch-Irish pride that runs through this Country's character. Unfortunately that pride is seldom based, at least lately, on personal or collective achievement...just who you are better than. You can hear it every time a factory closes in this Country and people cheer. No, they really don't believe that closing the Auto Factories will make America stronger. But it adds a whole bunch of people to the list of those they are better than.

Still...what the fuck. 600 years of violence and oppression was bound to warp the Scotch-Irish a bit. Hell, you can even consider them heroically well adjusted given their, and my, history. And history will eventually change us again once all the dogs adjust to the new Alpha Male reality and find their place again in the pack. Until then we live in the land of flying angry spittle.

Have you ever noticed.....

that two of the most banal faux-patriotic catch phrases don't square with each other?

At any "Tea Party" event, you're likely to see "my country, right or wrong" and "America, love it or leave it".

Then you always have the mindless chanting of USA USA USA.....

Monday, April 5, 2010

Who are the 'Good Guys' anymore?

On February 12 of this year, U.S. forces entered a village in the Paktia Province in Afghanistan and, after surrounding a home where a celebration of a new birth was taking place, shot dead two male civilians (government officials) who exited the house in order to inquire why they had been surrounded, and then shot and killed three female relatives (a pregnant mother of ten, a pregnant mother of six, and a teenager). The Pentagon then issued a statement claiming that (a) the dead males were "insurgents" or terrorists, (b) the bodies of the three women had been found by U.S. forces bound and gagged inside the home, and (c) suggested that the women had already been killed by the time the U.S. had arrived, likely the victim of "honor killings" by the Taliban militants killed in the attack.

Although numerous witnesses on the scene as well as local investigators vehemently disputed the Pentagon's version, and insisted that all of the dead (including the women) were civilians and were killed by U.S. forces, the American media largely adopted the Pentagon's version, often without any questions. But enough evidence has now emerged disproving those claims such that the Pentagon was forced yesterday to admit that their original version was totally false and that it was U.S. troops who killed the women

Listen mistakes happen, especially in combat....but to not own up to those mistakes, to pretend that good PR spin and a docile domestic media will solve your problems....only turns it into a bigger event. An event that creates more enemies to fight against us. At least some senior Commanders are owning up to our shortcomings:

In response to a question about reducing such incidents, McChrystal told troops listening to the town hall:

"We really ask a lot of our young service people out on the checkpoints because there's danger, they're asked to make very rapid decisions in often very unclear situations. However, to my knowledge, in the nine-plus months I've been here, not a single case where we have engaged in an escalation of force incident and hurt someone has it turned out that the vehicle had a suicide bomb or weapons in it and, in many cases, had families in it."

He continued: "That doesn't mean I'm criticizing the people who are executing. I'm just giving you perspective. We've shot an amazing number of people and killed a number and, to my knowledge, none has proven to have been a real threat to the force."


Egregious conflict of interest

I've commented on this before, either here or over at America's Debate but I ran across a fairly recent article that covers the issue in much more detail than I previously had. The issue at hand is retired senior military officers working as both lobbyists for defense firms AND compensated mentors for active duty senior military officers.

By a show of hands, how many of you even knew this was yet another scheme that your tax dollars were funding? Nobody? Huh......that darn 'liberal media' sure is on it's ass......

In a marketplace awash in consulting firms that help defense companies sell to the Pentagon, the Durango Group has a unique advantage. The Colorado-based firm has become a base of operations for retired officers who also are handsomely paid by the military for their advice.

No other defense consulting firm employs more “senior mentors” than Durango. Of the 59 former officers who work for Durango, 15 also serve as mentors, a USA Today investigation found.

As Durango associates, the retired officers are paid to help private companies win and administer Pentagon contracts. As mentors, the retirees are paid by the military to help run war games, which also gives them access to classified strategies and weapons systems. Durango cites these mentoring assignments on its Web site as signs of its associates’ unique connections.

Along with their work for Durango and the military, these retired officers, mostly from the Air Force, are paid advisers, consultants and corporate directors on the boards of at least 20 companies, according to public records. Three of them work for private equity firms to help them identify, buy and then run defense contractors.

Durango’s ability to mix mentoring and consulting work illustrates how closely the private interests of some mentors overlap with their military advisory jobs. The firms’ mentors move seamlessly between roles as paid advisers to the services and paid consultants to defense companies in the same subject areas, USA Today found.

As a result, Durango and the mentors it employs draw income from multiple sources. Both get paid by the military for advice and by defense contractors who want consulting help. The firm also benefits from having its mentors serve as corporate directors or advisers for other companies.

That kind of overlap is not illegal. But some analysts say it should be.
Army Times

Additional Venue

I have been invited to participate as a regular Blogger at Military Pundits. I am joining an expert and seasoned panel of Veterans blogging on political issues from the vet perspective.

I will maintain this blog for most of my musings, but please check us out at MP as well.

An excellent essay on the modern "Tea Party"

From Post Tenebras Lux:

One of the things I’ve been meaning to write about ever since the explosion onto the national political scene of the “tea parties” (Dawn of the Teabaggers, I sometimes refer to it) is the nature of the actual, original Boston Tea Party. As you might expect, the teabaggers of today have the spirit of the the original nearly completely wrong, just like they’ve mistaken the spirit or intent of just about everything from fascism to some of their own founding/funding groups.

A lot has been written about the tea parties’ actual roots in corporate-funded, fake grassroots lobbying firms like Dick Armey’s Freedom Works and the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity, and about their ideological and tactical kinship with earlier right-wing groups like the John Birch Society (which helped sponsor the teaparty-heavy CPAC conference this year). But until now, not much has been written about their professed origins or intentional kinship with their namesake, the people/movement to which they believe themselves to be most akin, the Boston Tea Party.

Or at least, so I thought. Anyone who’s studied the history of the Boston Tea Party understands that the intent of the colonists who dressed up as “Mohawks” and dumped some 90,000 pounds of British East India Company tea into Boston harbor weren’t merely doing so, as is often portrayed in thumbnail histories of the event (such as the famous one in Schoolhouse Rock) as a rebellion against the English government’s taxation without representation. That played a part in the event, to be sure, but it was a much smaller part than is often thought to be the case. And the other, much-larger motive changes the whole character of not only the event itself, but the people – many of them our founders themselves – who took part in it. It also stands on its ear the entire raison d’etre of today’s teabaggers, for reasons I’ll explain in a moment.

Word of the day


The illiteracy of Teabaggers as noted by their woefully misspelled signage at events.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Finally somebody takes a stand

against the uniform of the 'non-conformists'.

Eric Adams, a state senator from Brooklyn, is behind the $2,000 (£1,309) 'Stop The Sag' advertising campaign showing two men in jeans that hang low enough to display their underwear.

Mr Adams is calling for the end of the sagging trend that has become popular in men's fashion. In an online message posted on YouTube, he said: "You can raise your level of respect if you raise your pants", while pleading to young people not to "surrender control over your own image".

The politician, a retired police captain, is the latest to speak out on the trend. He follows Larry Platt, an American Idol performer who became an internet sensation earlier this year with his song "Pants on the Ground". Even Barack Obama has previously said: "Some people might not want to see your underwear. I'm one of them."

The campaign in New York follows a similar one in Dallas, where officials embarked on a 'Pull Your Pants Up' campaign in 2007, while in St Petersburg, Florida, a high school principal ordered thousands of plastic zip ties to help students pull up their trousers.

Mr Adams said he had had enough after watching a train passenger who wore a particularly low-slung pair of trousers.


Aside from adding a comedic aspect to police foot chases and providing daily humor when I see one of the idiotic oxygen thieves, this has to be just about the stupidest fashion fads that I have ever encountered. Simply wearing a sign around their necks stating "I'm a moronic lemming" would be cheaper....as well as freeing up both of their hands from having to pull their britches up every other step.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The 4th Annual MILbloggies

The Milbloggies Award recognizes military bloggers for their contribution to blogging, news and information, and to the military over the past year.

We're in the nomination phase, but please surf over and show your support for Military Pundits. Registration is required, but it's free of both money and SPAM. The top five nominees in each category will move into the voting phase. This is also a great way to discover other MILblogs!

Military Pundits is in the U.S. Military Veteran category and is a recent repository for contributions from yours truly.

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