Friday, April 29, 2005

The Italian Side of the Story

How sad, especially for me - I consider myself a real patriot - that upon hearing today that the US and Italians could not come to agreement over what happened during the rescue mission of Giuliana Sgrena I immediately sided with the Italians.

After years of being lied to about everything that goes on in Iraq, who could believe anything that BushCo says about it now?

The death of agent Nicola Calipari became a national tragedy in Italy. Sgrena became a heroine. The US won't even admit the possibility that our soldiers at that check point might have panicked. I don't buy into the conspiracy theories that say Sgrena's car was fired on because the US doesn't think that the Italians should have paid any kind of ransom for her. But it saddens me to think that I immediately discount any announcement from this administration.

How sad is that?

Friday... At Last

Is there anything better than to get to Friday knowing that you have nothing that has to be done over the weekend?

For one of the few times I can remember over the past year, there's nothing that I have to do this weekend. No where to go. Maybe we'll go out for dinner tomorrow. Perhaps we'll actually get to a movie.


So what are you all doing this weekend?

Monday, April 25, 2005

Support the Goddamn Troops Already!

For all the yellow ribbons and stickers I see everywhere, it seems that Republicans - and BushCo., especially - still can't seem to grasp that "support" means more than just a bumper sticker.

Republicans seem to be more and more ignorant of history as time goes on. If they would only look to the examples set during World War II, they would find examples galore about what it really means to support our troops in combat. Far from retreating from their earlier entreaties to "keep shopping," BushCo. have continued to talk out of both sides of their mouths when it comes to getting the equipment our soldiers need to them. Despite congressional hearings and plenty of press - for as long as our press can pay attention to any one thing - about the need for more armored Humvees, soldiers are still dying in Iraq because of a lack of these sturdy vehicles.

Even the US Marine Corps has marines breaking ranks to complain about the lack of armored vehicles and what that has meant in terms of dead marines. The "brass" is not happy about this turn of events and some are paying the price - check out the details in this New York Times article. It seems that there is still only one, small, contractor up-armoring Humvees for the military. Imagine if the president were just to ask one of The Big-Three auto makers to produce armor kits for military vehicles. The press coverage alone would be worth a couple of points of market share for the winning contractor.

But like the rest of Bush's dirty little war, this is being run on the cheap - or at least being sold to the American people on the cheap. No sacrifices, no tax increases to pay for it, no pictures of the dead.

Dead that would still be alive but for a few pieces of armor.

Cornyn Bares Republicans' Fangs

John Cornyn (R - TX), perhaps intentionally, revealed the Republicans' real reason for wanting to "nuke" the nomination filibuster rule in the Senate. In an interview on NPR this afternoon, Cornyn said something to the effect that they wanted to get this "cleared up now" because there was a Supreme Court nomination "coming up."

Now, to my knowledge, there has been no definitive statement that any of the Supremes is stepping down and I'm pretty sure that Cornyn has no inside line to know which one of them might nod off permanently in the near future. But it's revealing that he would move so quickly to steer the discussion from BushCo's federal judge nominations to a seat on the Supreme Court.

Do democracy a favor. Call your Congress-critter, balance out the fundamentalist, right-wing whack-jobs that are doing the same. Tell them that then nuclear option is no option. Perhaps, just maybe, they'll do the right thing.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Mining a Previous Post

I was finally able to view the landmine video I mentioned in the last post.

Even knowing what was coming - in a general way - did not keep it from being shocking. It's not gory, but it is wrenching. And the tag line is a stroke of genius.

If there were landmines here, would you stand for them anywhere?
Visit StopLandMines.Org, watch the video and then tell someone about it.

Tell lots of people about it.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Two Minds About Mines

We all know that the mainstream media (MSM) are running scared from conservatives. They've been reduced to cowering, blithering idiots by the constant pounding of the "liberal media" meme. Hell, the media haven't been liberal since sometime in the 1980s.

Don't believe that? Go ahead, look up the real owners of your favorite network.

Their latest cowardly deed was this. Refusing to run a public service announcement about the threat of land mines. I haven't watched the video of the ad since my work computer won't let me download the latest Microsoft viewer and MSNBC doesn't support Macs. But the description in the accompanying article makes it clear that the ad was disturbing for good reason. The problem itself is disturbing and most people in the West are ignoring it.

As an ex-military officer, I have to say I'm of two minds about land mines. I know that leftover mines extract an horrible price from the civilian population after a war. But I also know the utility of mines whether placed by hand or scattered by bombs, artillery or rockets. They protect flanks and areas that are too nasty to cover with soldiers or that can't be observed directly. And if somebody has intent to do me or my soldiers harm, I want every tool in the arsenal to keep us safe.

There you have it. I'm of two minds when it comes to land mines. But I'm of one mind when it comes to wanting to do something to mitigate the effects; and cowardly network executives do nothing but piss me off.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

The Power of Prayer

Considering the world's population, the portion of that population that's Catholic (estimated at around 6 billion) and the widespread knowledge of the former Pope's failing health, he must have been the most prayed-for person in all of history.

If you consider that there were probably millions, perhaps billions of non-Catholics praying for his recovery from the illness that eventually claimed his life, I would conservatively estimate that some 7 billion people prayed - at one time or another - for his health.

And yet... he's dead.

Think that changed anyone's mind?

Me neither.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

The Readers' Digest Version

Before I begin, thank you to everyone who expressed their kind wishes via the comments or via e-mail. You can't begin to know how much they meant.

I have started this post many times over the past week or so. I've been trying to figure out how to tell the story of what's gone on for the past weeks and months and years that has brought me and my wife to near the point of exhaustion; physically and mentally. But rather than go through the whole story - and it would take several posts - I thought I'd give you the short version and let the details flesh themselves out in your minds.

So... how to do this...

A list:

An eating disorder. The longest-lasting problem. One that nearly killed my daughter. At least twice. She is doing wonderfully now. At times I "walk on egg-shells" fearing a relapse. But she is nearly her old, wonderful, silly, incredibly smart self.

Liver cancer. My father-in-law was diagnosed about a year and half ago. I posted about his decline and death just after Christmas.

Breast cancer. My mother was diagnosed last year. The resulting operation has left her with permanent lymph-edema. Fortunately, it seems that will be the worst of it.

Uterine Fibroid Cysts. My sister was diagnosed last year. She is currently undergoing a new procedure that seems to be working well. If only she were working as hard to take care of herself...

Breast cancer. Again. A wonderful friend at work was diagnosed last year and appears to - thankfully - be fully recovered.

Alcoholism. My mother-in-law has had a long-standing problem which her husband was lovingly and tragically enabling until the very end. This has nearly driven my wonderfully sensitive wife over the edge. Which has nearly done the same to me. This past weekend we were able to get her checked into a resident rehabilitation program. We're keeping our fingers crossed...

Work Problems. All of the above has, I think inevitably, caused me to have some problems doing my work well. Now I'm under extra scrutiny at work. I'm making my way through their archaic and somewhat punitive process pretty well. But of course, there are things in that list above that still weigh heavily on my head and my heart.
Hard to believe that's the short version, isn't it? But there you have it. The whole list of things that have occupied me over the past couple of years and in the past several months have occupied me to the point of distraction. I'm glad that there are still those of you out there that come by to read what little I can get posted. I hope, perhaps soon, that things will begin to settle down and I can get back to a more normal life.

Perhaps soon.

Thank you again for all your kind wishes. I'm still here, still interested in all the things that go on in our wonderful, horrible world. I'm just a little distracted.