Monday, March 31, 2003

Blue for my blues I'm wondering why we don't take the gloves off in Iraq. It's frustrating to hear that soldiers are getting killed because we've got a policy of winning hearts and minds instead of a policy of winning a war. Whatever the generals' plans are I hope they include saving some of our troops for the attack on Baghdad.
And with Bush declaring we're going to be in Iraq until the job gets done - the job being what? I'm not sure! - to whack Saddam, disarm the nation, eliminate the Republican Guard, all of the above. Who knows. We go tearing across the desert chewing up ground and bypassing towns and cities in favor of putting our troops in strategic locations close to Baghdad. But our supply lines and rear echelon are exposed and I don't know what contingencies the leadership have in place to address those little issues.
We have toothless women dressed in black veils and toting AK-47s in the name of Saddam; we've got young soldiers being given make-nice orders that lead to their deaths and it's crazy!
Bush seems to have lost his senses. He certainly hasn't done much to evoke confidence in the way the war is being conducted - not for me at least.
Ah well. That's why they pay him the big bucks I guess. I'm sure it weighs heavily on his conscience when our soldiers (some as young as 18 years old) die or are injured so severely their lives as they knew them are over. And I'm sure he's trying to do the right thing in his own mind, but when I hear him belligerently state that "Saddam's regime will fall no matter what it takes," I cringe. Because no matter what it takes could entail a great many scenarios unfolding, none of which I find too pleasant to contemplate.
If the madman Saddam does have weapons of mass destruction does anyone doubt that he'll use them when he's backed into a corner? I certainly don't doubt it for a second. And if he uses them, what then? Do we nuke the nation? Do we obliterate the city of Baghdad, level it until it's below sea level? Christ, this is a mess and I cannot that the silent majority, the huddled and befuddled masses are just observing what's going on as if it's business as usual. Does no one care that we may wind up embroiled in World War III over this action? It's not beyond the realm of possibility. Let's face it, the first World War began with a single bullet that killed the king of Sarajevo or some such 'royalty,' and here we are in the middle of a continent that's home to probably the greatest number of America haters on the globe and we - I think - naively expect that none of those nations will try to retaliate against us for sullying their lands: Yes, I can see a progression that might bring Syria, Iran (despite the war between Iraq and Iran) and Turkey all going to war against one another as well as our troops.
I wonder, have we prepared for any contigency? Can any army anywhere prepare for any contingency? I think not.
And even if those nations don't get drawn into the conflict, there's always Saddam's threat that "[Iraq] will fight our enemies here and pursue them elsewhere;" a direct allusion to terrorist actions on our home soil.
Are we really ready to accept the loss of thousands or more of our people in our own backyard just to prove that we're the meanest, toughest bully on the block? It's a given that we will defeat Iraq, I've no doubt. But the fallout is what concerns me even more - although I must admit, the conduct of the war so far is less impressive than the daily news briefings would have us believe.
But that's just me, I suppose. And what do I know? Nothing.
So I'm going to a movie with my baby and I'm going to forget about the nightmare that's going on 10,000 miles away for two hours. And maybe I'll get laid later on - you never know. But I truly pray that Gen. Tommy Franks is as brilliant a tactician as his cohorts make him out to be because he's got himself a helluva war on his hands at the moment. And unless the president and his cronies don't sign off unleashing the dogs of war, choosing instead to continue this limp-wristed policy of winining hearts and minds, I fear there're going to be a lot of widows, orphans and broken-hearted wives in this nation when it's all said and done.
So, live well, laugh long and sincerely and make love whenever the opportunity arises (no pun intended).
Monday, 31 March 2003. There it is. I'm out.

Sowaddayawanfrumme So some guy is singing a pseudo-cowboy song while another mimics John Wayne, badly, and the lilting song lyrics of "saddlebags made of tequila on my drunken donkey" waft through the air. Christ! I can't stand it anymore. It's my second day off and I'm about to go mow a lawn (my girlfriend's, actually), which is not what I had in mind at all for the day.
No, I was hoping to go to flick, maybe see "Basic," and then out to dinner. But noooooo. Dammit! Now she calls and says "My dad's waiting her to show you something so get in the car and get here now!" Well, blow me down.
Got to run.
Have a nice life.

Sunday, March 30, 2003

What a way to fight a war ... I cannot believe that our soldiers weren't told to stay away from Iraqis driving taxis or any other vehicles for that matter. The fact that a cab driver was able to lure U.S. soldiers to their deaths by motioning for them to help him is absurd. One of my co-workers said that every Iraqi, no matter their gender or age, should be made to get down on their bellies when approaching within 100 yards of any U.S. or British troops and crawl to the waiting soldiers. At NO TIME EVER should an American soldier approach an Iraqi without the express knowledge that that individual is unarmed and harmless. Now I realize that there's no perfect way to protect our troops but come on, give me a break. These soldiers were sacrificed in the name of an idiotic policy that requires them to behave "politely" toward the indigenous population. Well, I'm sorry but warfare is not a polite business. We can be civilized in so far as once we've got prisoners in hand we treat them with compassion and respect. But until we KNOW for a fact that an Iraqi - or any civilian wandering around the battlefield - is not a threat, then we must assume they are and treat them accordingly. Which does not mean we immediately open up on them. It means, as my friend suggested, we treat them with a high degree of suspicion and require that THEY prove their status as non-combatants.
Christ, it's bad enough that we're losing men and women to these people in the first place. Every wounded or dead American or British soldier, and particularly every captured friendly on our side, is gold to Saddam's propaganda machine. The fact that field commanders and/or tacticians (read generals and command and control personnel) allowed these troops (yes, allowed) to be slaughtered out of sheer ignorance is abominable and, in my opinion, legally actionable. The commanders should be held accountable for their actions; and if those actions stem from the White House, then the commander-in-chief should be held accountable for those deaths.
You cannot put a fighting force in the field and then tie their hands by asking them to behave like gentleman and ladies. It's just inconceivable that they can operate efficiently under those orders.
These people (U.S. and British warriors) are trained to kill as quickly and efficiently as they can. This policy of "polite" interaction with a people who hate Americans, as a rule, despite their similar hatred for Saddam, is lunacy!
So, Mr. president. Please untie our troops' hands and let them do the job you sent them to do, and if it's politically incorrect to kill civilians, then it's not worth fighting the war, because in every case of warfare throughout history, civilians are killed. It's ugly and it's unfortunate but it's a fact.
Hell, in World War II American bombers leveled Dresden, a German city whose claim to fame was its porcelein and glassware (beautiful, indeed!). It had very little strategic value as a military target. If memory serves, the bombing was ordered to cast terror into the hearts of German soldiers and civilians. We wanted to undermine the troops' morale by creating a moral conflict in their minds. Were their loved ones safe at home, or would America bomb the life out of their quaint German villages and wondrous cities where, in most cases, only civilians lived and worked.
I posit that the only moral war is one in which an army's leaders do everything within their power to protect their troops, the enemies' be damned.
Now I don't agree that this war was necessary, particularly at the time it was launched. But it's too late for that argument. The only question I have now is, how do we conduct it so as many American combatants as possible come home, not only alive, but with all their limbs and their psyches as intact as possible.
Yea, I admit I've been watching Bill Maher on HBO and I must say, he's become a voice of reason lately, especially since the war began. And he says he wants nothing more than live American troops to return to their loved ones after this terrible war concludes.
That said, how're things with you?
I'm struggling with bills - specifically an inability to pay them all and still have some 'joy' money left over. I can't even buy enough food to eat a meal once a day between paychecks. And I think I'm probably among the majority of Americans.
My healthcare package has gone up 40 percent and the benefits have gone down nearly equally, and that makes no sense at all to me, other than to explain the exorbitant salaries and perks that insurance CEOs receive each year. I'm actually wondering if I shouldn't drop my insurance coverage (crazy as that sounds) because I'm still on the hook for a large share of the bill when it's all said and done. Hell, maybe I could qualify for Medicaid and Medicare and get better coverage. I'll have to look into it. Perhaps the AARP has some answers for me in that regard.
The newspaper I work for is decidedly conservative and the coverage we select from wire stories, as well as the local assignments, reflect that leaning quite clearly. You might say we're the Fox of print journalism. Then again, you might not. What do I know?
But I am upset that my soulmate, my lady-in-waiting, my girlfriend if you will, is giving me the cold shoulder today. Jeez, I wish men and women could learn to communicate without arguing or escalating a disagreement into a brawl. I don't understand how I'm supposed to read her mind but that seems to be what's required of me. And when I miss a 'signal' or a 'hint' all hell breaks loose. What's up with that, ladies?
As my shrink tells me (and she's a she): Some women say no and mean no. Some women say yes and mean yes. And some women say no and mean maybe. And some women say yes and mean 'if you do [fill in the blank ...]'
It's all disconcerting and confusing to a poor fellow like me who tries to be honest and understanding, as well as sincere and supportive.
I caught hell last night because I did precisely what I was told to do (I went to a movie because D told me not to come over too soon as she was about to take a bath and her daughter (teenager) had friends over. "Why don't you go to a movie?" she asked. Now in almost every case when she's suggested something like that, I simply said no, I'll wait until you're ready to see me and, meanwhile, I'll just go home and read or watch the telly until she calls. But last night I was fidgety and felt like a movie would be a perfect escape for my agitated mind.
Bad move! When I arrived at D's I got the "Why don't you just go home" treatment.
Now it's been less than 24 hours - it's about 8:20 p.m. Sunday right now and this happened at 1 a.m. this morning - but I had hoped that she would have time to cool down, especially since I haven't seen her all day. But apparently I'm still a bullseye on her dartboard because, although she told me she'd call me in an hour (two hours ago) she hasn't called yet.
C'est la vie, or if you prefer, so it goes.
Meantime, it's time for "Alias," one of my favorite TV programs, so I'll say adios one and all. Good 'morrow to youse.
Willobewannabegonnabedonutholes: Right this way

Please Mr. president, get this thing done as quickly as possible and forget about the damn rules of war. There are no rules in war when one side doesn't abide by those "rules."
Have a great day!

Tuesday, March 25, 2003

Ain't life grand? Why yes, it is! I'm amazed at what one can do when properly motivated (e.g. a cattle prod rammed vigorously up one's bum) and in how little time. I have a mission right now, to wit: Wash my face, brush my teeth, get dressed, go to D's to collect a check, go the grocery store, return to D's with items purchased, and then haul buns to work before I'm counted as missing in action - or late, which would be worse in any case.
So, time me. We'll see if don't get it all done with a few minutes to spare and no speeding ticket (gulp).
Have a grand life.

Sunday, March 23, 2003

Oscar night blahs Ugh! I'm so deflated and uninvolved in my own sloppy life today. It's Oscar night and I'm about as thrilled as a woman giving birth (ouch!). NOT really looking forward to the glamour hounds frolicking across the stage to collect their trophys - those most prized possessions of Hollywood managers. Oh sure, some actors and actresses covet the little statue but most, I think, could care less about the gold-plated sexless man named Oscar. No, it's the managers who get to jack up those salaries and , hence, their own share of the pie-in-the-sky wealth that only an Oscar can bestow upon an actor/actress.
It's the imprimatur of the filthy rich screen god/goddess. Meanwhile, we among the great unwashed bust our butts for pennies per lifetime for the magnificent satisfaction of knowing that we served our nation's need for consumerism and taxable earners. Welcome to the wonder of 'free and easy living,' yea, right.
Well, it's time to go pay my penance for breathing the atmosphere (for what? Damned if I know). By that I simply mean, another wasted night of errands, shopping for the week's groceries, chatting with my friends via IM, ad infinitum, etc.
So best wishes one and all. Good health and happy thoughts :) Catch ya on the go-round.

Friday, March 21, 2003

On a Hill In Tennessee Shadow lines wrapped in cool breezes waver in the dimming light after the storm of '81. Lightening tapestries strobe the night - this hot summer night - filled with explosions in the sky, shaking the trailer, blasting the power lines, so out go the lights. Hallelujah! What a show!
Blinding forks of lightening shatter the ancient trees. A sun-white sword of electrical discharge splits the giant oak down by the fence, halving it vertically from top to roots.
Arcing electrical fingers reach down from above, ripping off the limbs on poplar trees, sizzling and zig-zagging toward the lake, leaving in its wake the carnage of wooden, leafy wreckage splintered and scattered on the gently sloping ground.
Awesome, vast, tremendously powerful, this brilliant storm that erupted in the skies above a hill where a little blue-and-white trailer sat, such fragile protection against so forceful a blast. A scar of scorched metal was seen on the roof of the tool shed, just yards away from the flimsy front door.
My bearded friend was frightened, so he crawled beneath his bed. I could hear him praying between the bone-rattling blasts of thunder.
Me? I stood at the window, gazing in awe at the spectacle unfolding outside. My heart raced, my eyes widened and I began to dance a nervous jig as I sang "Let it rain, let it pour, let it shine and grow some more."
Crazy? You bet. But such a display of nature is rarely seen and I was electrified - not scared - and excited like a child who's just touched a living dinosaur. The power of the storm, the storm of '81, was excellent!

Monday, March 17, 2003

WAR AGAIN! Well, probably by this time tomorrow we'll be fighting in Iraq, possibly in Baghdad given the reports stating that Saddam was planning to make his stand in the streets of the city rather than in the vast open desert.
I truly hope it's worth the lives and cost in materials that we're going to bear. Once Saddam is removed - feet first or otherwise - the U.S. will have to take on the responsibility of running the new Iraqi government. The Turks are pissed off because we told them to stay out of the Kurdish northern Iraq region, and Jordan, Syria and Egypt are pissed because we'll be destabilizing all their governments, given the expected street protests that will tie up the commerce and social stability for years to come. And then, of course, there're the terrorists, who are sure to grow agitated and very active in the coming months.
Actually, I'm more worried about the fallout from the war with Iraq than the war itself. It's possible more soldiers will die from terror actions than from mano y mano combat with Iraqi soldiers. And it's surely probable that American embassies and American landmarks will be targeted, within and without the United States. I truly hope this action is worth it. I still don't agree with the presidential mandate (was it Nixon who put it place) that our government does not assassinate heads of state. It seems like such a small thing to send in a platoon of snipers and waste Saddam with one bullet, rather than go through the economically devastating stress of all-out warfare. But, there we are.
It's tough trying to maintain the so-called 'moral high ground' when your nation exports weapons of mass destruction as well as thousands of tons of conventional weaponry to many rogue states. And at the same time, we're going to crush Iraq for doing the exact same thing, only to a far lesser degree.
But OK, I'll accept that Saddam is a threat to the world and particularly to the United States. I'll even bite from the apple pie of an argument that says Iraq presents a clear and present danger to the U.S. At this point it's moot anyway. We're going to war, and that's the fact.
I'm just thinking out loud, so to speak, about the ramifications for everyone around the world. No one knows how the conflict will shake out, and that's worrisome but not so daunting as to quash the determination by this administration to conduct this war, no matter what.
I will only say, be prepared for all hell to break loose in the world and inside the borders of this nation. Because we're going to be stirring up a hornets nest with this attack.
Oh yea, we'll also be turning America's historical progress toward a direction that, heretofore, it has not turned since Teddy Roosevelt smashed the Philippines and squashed Cuba. The world's peacekeeper we're not! It's probably going to take a lot of getting used to but I think, in the end, we will convince ourselves of our moral rectitude. Say a prayer for the soldiers in the field; say a prayer for the children and innocents on the ground in Baghdad; and say a prayer for your neighbors because after tomorrow, the world as we know it will be changed irrevocably.

Saturday, March 15, 2003

Back in the world Teenagers who haven't a clue about what's going on in the world are marching in the streets of America, protesting issues that they have no knowledge of, and opposing doctrines they haven't a clue about. It's a sad day when the news media actually wades into the small crowds of placard-carrying youth to get their viewpoints and find only vacuous young boys and girls who don't even know who the leader of Iraq is, why Osama bin Laden is being hunted by our military and covert agencies, or what the war against terrorism entails. I was horrified when one young girl, whose poster read "Stop funding war and fund child welfare instead." When asked about her position toward child welfare the first words out of her mouth - my hand to God - were: "I'm against child warfare." Aaarrrgh! What's going on here? It appears that one or two well-intentioned (or not) liberal dissenters figured that putting 14-year-old faces on the news would move America to question its political stand against Iraq, terrorism and geopolitical gamesmanship. But it blew up in their faces, far as I'm concerned. It was, in short, a farce. And the media (Yea, you, Fox Network) is eating this stuff up like a refugee who hasn't eaten in weeks.
I guess I'm disgusted with the craft I've embraced as my life's work. Providing information to the public in a fair, impartial (as possible) way, and doing it succinctly and honestly is and was the goal I had in mind when I decided to study journalism. Inspired by folks like Edward R. Murrow and, yes, Walter Cronkite, to name but two, I had a utopian view of the media. That view, sadly, has been eroded and shaken to its very foundation of late. However, I still pray that we can pull together and refocus our efforts toward improving the knowledge of our audience rather than simply titillating viewers, listeners et al. Oh well. Time to work.
Best of luck to all. And especially, to the military personnel in the thick of it.

Miller rants about spinelessness in the face of terrorism Read this!

Monday, March 10, 2003

Imagination must first be filled to the point of saturation with life of every kind before the moment arrives when the friction of free sociability electrifies it to such an extent that the most gentle stimulus of friendly or hostile contact elicits from it lightning sparks, luminous flashes, or shattering blows.
Friedrich von Schlegel  
Imagination must be senstive to stimulus in order for it to function at the zenith of its potential. Our president is sadly lacking in imagination and, therefore, sadly unable to imagine what his course of action may lead the world toward. Why should everyone on this planet be subject to the decision of one man? Christ, that's a lot of power! And since the Congress seems to be a bunch of spineless wimps, it happens that at this time in this place and in this moment, the president of the United States - one man - can effect every living being on the planet. With that in mind, do we truly believe that a man who hangs his argument for war against Iraq on supposition and conjecture has the best interest of the U.S., let alone the rest of the world at heart? I wish Mr. Bush well. In fact, I wish him the very best of all worlds in the hope that perhaps he might be stirred to explore his imagination's landscape and see if anything exists inside that space.

Fast-forward to a grubby room in Wyoming He woke up covered in Crisco from head to toe. The girl lying next to him looked familiar but he couldn't remember her name. She was cute, but she looked as though she'd been dipped in grease, which she had. "Man, what happened last night?" Miller wondered out loud. Laughter rippled through the open door from the other room, so Miller crawled off the grease-smeared sheets and staggered into the tiny main room of the apartment. The air was smokey because four guys were sitting on the floor toking ragweed from a bong. "Hey man, you look like you had a good time last night," said Mitchell, the one wearing sunglasses and a ZZ-Top t-shirt. Miller grunted and headed into the bathroom. He filled the tub with tepid water - that's all that was available - and looked at himself in the mirror. "Christ!" he muttered. He looked like he'd aged 50 years in the past 10 and truth was, he had. His hair stood nearly vertical, glued up by the Crisco he now vaguely recalled smearing on what's her name's breast the night before. "I guess I did have a good time," he thought, giggling. After he'd bathed the tub was unusable. A slick of grease coated the porcelein, so thick that one could lift a curl of white goo by touching it and withdrawing a finger. His skin was still coated with a slippery gloss, but it was the best he could manage for the moment.
By the time he'd bathed the sun was sinking below the horizon, throwing a red tint on the ice crystals clinging to the glass of the only window the room's wall held.
"So what's up guys," Miller asked the crew of druggies and thugs now sprawled on the moth-eaten couch, watching the black-and-white TV with a coat hanger for an antennae. "Well, we've got to make two deliveries, one to Brutus and one to Glenn, then we're going to a party at Willie's place," Oscar answered. Oscar. He was a strange and dangerous fellow who's history no one knew. He walked off Highway 40 into Casper, Wyoming, one day three years ago and immediately set up a network among the town's scruffies, bums and druggies. His look was intimidating and his temper was explosive. In short, Oscar was crazy, a psychopath, and no one dared challenge his right to appear at their door at any time day or night with a request for dope or a place to crash for a few hours. He dragged a man behind a pickup truck one night, tied to the bumper by a rope that looped around his hands and waist, for about two miles across the prairie. Thankfully, the guy lived but only just. His infraction? He'd bumped Oscar's arm accidentally and caused him to spill his beer in a crowded little bar, and that was that.
"Yea, OK," Miller said. "Whose car are we using?" Oscar laughed and nodded his head toward the bedroom. "Her's," he said. "It's the only one that's running."
"Oh right. Well, OK. When are we going and who's got a ping. My head is about to explode?" Chris, the short guy with the hooded jacket that he wore year-round, reached into his pocket and tossed a red balloon to Miller, who deftly caught it in his left hand. "I'll be ready to go in just a minute," Miller said.
After his wake-up fix, he felt much better. He felt like nothing at all was wrong in his world. Like all was right with the planet and he was flying toward a wondrous future where wealth and fame awaited him. Reality aside, Miller was always the optimist.
"By the way, who is the chick in the bedroom?" he asked the crew. "She's my sister," Chance answered. "You rotten-crotch douche bag." Everyone laughed at that. "Well, what's her name?" Miller asked. "Susan," Chance replied. "We'd better roll before she wakes up. I don't think she'll be too happy about last night and we need her wheels." With everyone stood, checked their pockets and headed for the door.
"Hey, shouldn't we leave her a note or something? What if she wakes up and calls the cops thinking we've ripped off her car?" Kevin asked.
"Already did it," Chance said. "It's cool. Besides, she'll probably sleep until tomorrow. She's so stoned she didn't know which galaxy she was in before she passed out."
When Kevin opened the door a blast of icy air pierced Miller's flimsy leather jacket and his shoulder muscles tightened from the cold. "Ouch!" he exclaimed. "Quick, get me to the car before I puke."
By the time the crew was rolling down Frontier Street in the '59 Chevy with the torn headliner the sun had slid away into the darkness, and the stars were glittering like a cheap sequined dress. The air was so cold that his breath turned to tiny crystal flakes when he exhaled, Miller noticed. "Christ, somebody put some glass in that hole," he said. "I'm freezing back here."