Sunday, September 20, 2009

PG-13 Version of My Mind on Sunday at Starbucks waiting for my updates to download

Sunday is dress up day for the crazies. Here they go, in and out of the Starbucks to get the caffeine they’ll need to stay awake while some person stands in front of them and talks about Aesop’s fables and good standards of conduct. They have to do it. They have believe. They have to be good under punishment under eternal torture. Let us not be good for decencies sake but only if I get something out of it in the end.

The more they dress-up the more they are telling the people around them how devoted they are to the idea of an imaginary man in the sky, that had an imaginary son, that died for the things the people in charge of talking to the imaginary man call sins. So, the more dressed up the more crazy. I mean, I just saw a guy with a suit and bow-tie. Bow-tie, really. Is that necessary. probably not, but I have to admit it did look sharp.

That’s another thing. I’m intimidated by stores. I went into J. Crew yesterday. They had some pretty snazzy looking outfits on mannequins. I’m trying to branch out of cargo pants and jeans. After all, I get to wear cargo pants everyday why wear them in my off time.

Yesterday I went to get my uniform fixed. We get to put stripes on our right arm for overseas service. I asked for 5 and the Privates in line behind me looked at me like I was a God. And that’s good because I am. Not really, just kidding. But I did have to explain what they were and why you get them. You have to admire they young kids. And they’re young too. Think about it. People born in 1991 are now joining the military. They don’t even know who Nirvana is. They’ve been raised on computers, Britney Spears and pop-junk culture of brain-dead reality television.

I have to admit television is making a come-back. House, Bones, Mad Men, alot of good shows and not enough time to watch them.

I wonder if Alissa will make me watch Bones when I get home? Oh, Curb starts today I need to remind Alissa to record it.

Yeah Curb and Seinfeld will be on it. I can’t wait.

Pink Nikes really. that’s a bold statement. An untied tie hung around the neck, I don’t know what’s going on with that. I think he’s waiting to tie it, but it looks cool like that.

Sipping coffee through a straw everyone knows real men drink coffee hot, with whipped cream.

Boy or girl? Boy or girl? Boy or girl? Shit!! Uhhhhh, BOY! Yesssss, initial instinct was correct.


Brushguard on a Yukon. In Texas, OK. But I don’t think you need it between Baltimore and D.C.

That guy is tall. He plays basketball. Lady just laughed at how tall he is. He must be 6’7“.

I must look angry because people look at me an turn around. These people are hilarious. Uh, bow-tie. I wish I could wear a bow-tie. White people and bow-ties don’t work though. You better be going to a wedding, debutante ball or Presidential Gala. Black guy with bow-tie some reason works.

Mocha is getting cold, must drink it. PAUSE>>>

Almost choked on aforementioned mocha.

This place is odd. The racial mix seems to be about 50/50. Very unlike Texas and Indiana. Indiana they try though.

Redskins Hats are big here. For the longest time I thought the redskins were in Washington not D.C. I hate sports. ESPN is the largest waste of electromagnetic spectrum. People could do so much more if they didn’t spend their time memorizing completely fucking useless sports trivia. Or maybe it’s good people don’t do more. I am a cynic after all. People should do less, way less. Or more. Maybe smart people that I agree with should do more and the people I disagree with should do less. So, it’s settled then. Less is more. Exactly. Time to go to Barnes and Noble to find a book about Afghanistan an it’s history.

Very interested in their past. That’s what connected it for me and Iraq. Of course, I had visited places the book talked about so it was very tangible. Be careful what you wish for. Looks like there is no limit on the amount of lives, blood and treasure we will soak into propping up a puppet government there. Ergo, I will probably be there before too long.

Did you know that when you write lists example: ”The dog is black, white and brown.” You don’t put a comma before the conjunction. I was taught just the opposite in school. Have I been alive long enough that the English language has evolved an evolution or was I taught wrong.

I will be fucking surprised if anyone reads this whole thing.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Sacrifice. What Sacrifice?

I was participating in a project to streamline logistics systems in the Iraq theater when the group of us working on the project were visited by the general in charge of the project. He looked at us very sternly and said, “This war is bankrupting our country and we can’t plan on fighting it the same way we have in the past.” I use quotes because it struck me so hard that I remembered exactly what he said. I have to be honest, until that moment I thought we had an unlimited amount of money to fight and win these wars.

It was very sobering to hear someone that high up the chain say those words. Essentially, he wanted to focus on getting the most bang for our bucks because the bucks are running out.

That leads me to this.

The CBO is looking for ways to cut money from the military budget. They’ve made suggestions ranging from cutting pay increases to increasing taxes.

I would like to point out a few things I have noticed. First, when dealing with logistics I am appalled and never surprised by the amount of money that we spend hiring a single contractor to do the job of one soldier in theater. The cost per capita for a contractor is way more than a soldier. We need to use fewer contractors. We can do this two ways: 1) allowing soldiers to do the job we pay them to do. This is an unpopular option, especially with the current OPTEMPO already faced by Soldiers. This would lead to making soldiers deploy without proper dwell time. The thought is not appealing to me either, after having done 2 extended deployments. 2) Begin cutting contractor provided services in theater. This would mean that Soldiers would have to do without certain amenities currently afforded. Those amenities would be clean water, electricity, billeting, warm food, vehicle repair and parts etc. Again not appealing to me either. This would mean once again asking the service member to sacrifice. This would mean an overall drawdown of the infrastructure we have spent so long building.

Other than asking more sacrifice from those already risking life and limb, we could ask the American people to actually pay for the wars that we are fighting for them. That is code for raising taxes by the way. We have actually done the opposite of what every country in recorded history has done, lowered taxes in a time of war. Considering no more has been asked of the American public than that they continue shopping since the beginning of these campaigns. If the American people actually consider not paying for the war then we withdrawal. We are the American Army this is supposedly a war to protect them, if they don’t want to pay then we can’t play.

This especially struck as I watched the Teabaggers yesterday in D.C. Their messages were inconsistent. I would see a sign that said, “Don’t Raise My Taxes,” next to a sign that said, “Support the Troops.” These people, the anti-tax advocates, seem to be oblivious that China is paying for the troops to fight these wars because they can’t be bothered to pay more taxes, and asking people of any political persuasion to pay more taxes is unpopular and a death-knell for a politicians career. If the American people and our Representatives are serious about supporting the troops, I think it’s time they prove it by not asking us, ‘the troops,’ to sacrifice anymore than we already do daily. It’s time for us to be realistic that fighting wars isn’t cheap and we can’t put it on the credit card without destroying our country. We have already spent enough money to pay for healthcare for all Americans ten-fold. I would also like to see these people with the Chinese-made yellow-ribbon magnets put their money where their magnet is.

The military should, of course, be good stewards of the equipment and supplies under our purview. Even with 100% efficient systems there will be waste. Not to mention, nation-building is not cheap and doing it in two countries also raises the cost significantly. One of those countries not having any great infrastructure compounds an already significantly expensive operation.

The bottom line is that this war is bankrupting our country, and it seems the country, our representatives and civilian leaders have no problem asking us, the service member, to sacrifice, more and more and more. If America as a whole wants to continue these wars they should be forced to pay for them. They should be forced to feel the sting of sacrifice for these things that are, supposedly, so important to them. Once that sting hits them we’ll see how important these exercises in nation-building are to them as bridges collapse in Minnesota, aging, out-dated power grids fail in California and state governments shut down because they no longer have the capital to provide services to their citizens. Really where should their sacrifice be going?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Freedom is on the march and it gets shot by the Taliban

First of all my condolences to the family and all those affected and effected by the loss of someone close to them in these wars.

The AP editor’s recent decision to show a dying Marine on the front page may be morally reprehensible to some but to me I find it refreshing. It’s about time someone shows the unvarnished truth of sacrifice from this war on terror, or global contingency operations, or overseas contingency operations or whatever the new term is today. It is strange that in the age of media we are getting less information like this from the press due to America’s willingness and ignorance to sop up fluff peddled by Generals, Presidents, and Representatives. I guess it’s OK to say that 4 soldiers died so long as Americans don’t have to actually witness it. Don’t impugn their ivory castles of flat screen TVs and big, gas-guzzling SUV’s to show the actual sacrifice being made on their behalf. I think the outrage from the general public is not one of horror that something like this could be shown to them, but that it was, and this picture reminds them of what they too often forget. It reminds them of what is actually meant in those crushed seconds between the GM and Bank Of America commericals when the anchorperson says that X number of service members died today in some far-off land that most of them and their children can’t point to on a map. Do you not want to know how they die? Is all that matters to you is that we sacrifice? Would you rather wash the gory details from your conscience with your yellow ribbon magnet on the back of your SUV?

Let’s not even get into the hypocrisy of the Marine dying for ‘freedom’ as we would like to censor the press for doing it’s job. If I die in the combat zone, which is likely as my luck runs out from two extended deployments, I want the picture of how I died on the front page of every paper. But unfortunately the deaths of service members aren’t big news. We’ve been dying for eight years and we’ll die for eight years more, and after. I think the biggest bone of contention here is that we don’t know for what that Marine died. Maybe, that is finally permeating the conscience of America. That we have citizens dying overseas and we don’t know for what end, especially if we Americans, out of a sense of false outrage to protect us from our own ignorance, are going to usurp the jingoistic and Orwellian reasons of freedom and the spreading of Jeffersonian democracy that we use to send combat forces to these exotic lands at the drop of a hat. A little inward introspection of our own outrage may be in order.

Friday, September 04, 2009

My Generation's Korean Conflict: The Forgotten War

Having done two extended deployments myself I understand the hardship that those soldiers from the 82nd Division HQ Battalion will face over that extra 52 days. It's 52 more chances to die or get injured essentially 52 more hands of poker with death and injury as the ante.

Why now does Afghanistan matter? Why after 8 fucking years is this war now registering with the leadership and the American public?

First, it's not about OBL. OBL is dead. Get over it. If we kill him he's a martyr if we capture him he becomes a target. So, now after 8 years people want to win the hearts and minds. We can win their hearts and minds. It's not our job our right our duty to protect and defend the constitution of Afghanistan. They now teach in Army strategic doctrine that one of our main purposes is to "protect American interests." Yeah, surprised the shit out of me too. GEN Smedley Butler and "War is a Racket" ring a bell. I don't know what Afghanistan is about now. But anything...anything we do is too little way, way, way the FUCK TOO LATE.

Really, you think after killing these people and occupying them for eight years we are now going to change their minds about western culture and democracy. That would be great if that's what they wanted. We're talking about a band of roving gypsies that settled down in the valleys a thousand years ago that have been invaded multiple times and lived the invasions out. They are not going to leave, but we are. We might as well leave without wasting more lives and treasure. Some wars are winnable, we have 3,000 years of evidence that a land war in Asia is not winnable.

I appreciate the leadership shown by our senior Generals and civilian leadership. It seems after EIGHT YEARS that the war in Afghanistan is getting another, more realistic look. The message I'm getting is that we are going to give it one more college try with realistic objectives and have a short span of time to do it. I don't know if that's because they think it's 'unwinnable' by whatever metrics you can win this war by, or if that's because public opinion is turning in tide against this war and they don't want to repeat Vietnam from 1969-1975. It is nearly impossible to fight a war without public support. However, you can still start one with 60 percent of the public against it. And you know public opinion is slipping for wars when the chickenhawks are squawking about getting out. Those who will rush into war on a 'pack of lies' but never serve themselves. Those who will fight any war anywhere at the drop of a hat so long as their deferments are upheld for polinoidal cysts and 'other priorities.' George Will, neo-con extraordinaire, is now saying we are through in Afghanistan and should have started the withdrawal yesterday. I find it convenient that now, with a Democratic president the conservatives are ready and willing to accept defeat and pin it on the Democratic commander-in-chief. This will keep their supposed 'security' credentials intact with the American public because the withdrawal wasn't done under a Republican just the lying into war and the mismanagement of two campaigns that led to this catch-22 position. Everything that led to this is their fault but will quickly be forgotten by the 24 hour news cycle public.

I think, generally, morale in the military is improving because we don't feel like we have brain-dead yes-men making decisions and it's people taking an honest look with realistic assessments of both Campaigns in the Theater. It's about fucking time. If we're going to sweat, bleed, and lose buddies can't it be for a tangible objective and not some ethereal jingoistic bullshit. Objectives such as 'spread freedom and democracy' vice 'clear, hold and build' X area for example. Which do you think is more realistic and obtainable for an 11B humping 100 pounds through mountains in 120 degree heat?

I know, I know, ours is not to ask why but to do or die.

When you're asked to do or die you should have a reality based and attainable objective for which to die, at the fucking least. Jingoism and propaganda only take you so far up that mountain.