Tuesday, January 31, 2006
Tired and cranky
Sunday, January 29, 2006
Short movie post
The real history is different.
As Spielberg's assassination squad begins work in Europe, they come to rely
on a kind of freelance intelligence merchant who works for a shadowy organization, "Le Group," that trades the names and locations of targets for big money. Whether or not such an organization existed, or might have, the Mossad never relied on such an entity. Security apparatuses don't function that way. The Mossad gathered its own intelligence, relying mainly on human intelligence from Palestinian informants living in Europe and the Middle East. Operatives recruited and directed these sources all over Europe, while analysts in Israel sifted through mountains of data looking for concrete terror plans and potential perpetrators. Unfortunately, much of the storyline of Munich concerns this fanciful "Le Group" subplot.
The Munich Massacre triggered a fundamental change in Israel's approach to terrorismÂa "Munich Revolution" (the phrase was used by the Mossad) that endures as a mindset and an operational protocol today. Finding and killing the perpetrators of the Munich Massacre was a part of that campaign only insofar as the men involved were deemed likely to act again. Revenge was the atmosphereÂbut preventing future attacks by networks that Israel saw as threatening its citizens was the goal. Mistakes were made, innocents were killed, and Israel's government and intelligence agencies never publicly questioned their right to carry out assassinations on foreign soil. Indeed, the true story of Israel's response to Munich is if anything more ambiguous than Spielberg's narrative.
But Spielberg has bought into one of the myths of the Mossad that after Munich they staged a revenge operation to hunt down and assassinate everyone responsible. Israelis, too, bought into this myth (myself included, at one time) which a shocked public demanded but that doesn't make it true. Spielberg, in inventing a story
about violence begetting violence "inspired by real events" is raising questions worth asking. Even so, Israel's response to Munich was not a simple revenge operation carried out by angst-ridden Israelis. Both the larger context, and the facts on the ground, rarely get in Spielberg's way. A rigorous factual accounting may not be the point of Munich, which Spielberg has characterized as a "prayer for peace." But as result, Munich has less to do with history and the grim aftermath of the Munich Massacre than some might wish.
Its worth seeing though and it definitely made you think. And last I checked a good movie should do that. So I give it 2 thumbs up. I'd rather see this than a movie about gay cowboys, that's for sure............
Saturday, January 28, 2006
Google sells it's soul........
From now on I'm getting my
Friday, January 27, 2006
Things that just drive me nuts!
The Phibian has been reporting on the latest Soap Opera inside the US Military: "As the Severn Flows". For those unfamiliar this is the case where a simple case of shooting ones mouth off in the wrong place leads to a full fledge court martial. This is being done simply to appease the whims of a c**t who thinks that the good LT under investigation was not "sincere" enough in his apology. So an incident that could have been handled quite quickly and simply with one of these:
Will instead be dealt with by one of these:
The 50th anniversary of the Naval Aviation safety magazine Approach has come and gone. Among their list of notable safety achievements is every, and I do mean EVERY, milestone by women in Naval Aviation. Even when they did nothing to promote safety; in fact in a couple of cases it did just the opposite.
That's a rant for another time......... I was there and watched the lunacy.
Does prove one of the dirty little secrets of Navy public relations magazines though. They have been promoting a feminist agenda for years and years. Some day when I have the courage I'll give you all my thoughts on that subject. Till then just go back and review this
And then there is American politics these days. John Kerry has announced he will lead a filibuster of Judge Alito. Exactly what does he hope to accomplish? This will simply seal the deal for the judge in the end, and make Bush look like the good guy......Who gives these morons advice? You want to influence Bush? Win some elections! And to do that you will have to get rid of the two "F's": Fags and Feminists.......till then consign yourself to being steamrolled. Chalk this up as another vain liberal gesture that hurts the Democratic party. At a time when the US needs a serious opposition, but has yet to find one..........
Give one of these:
Then lets go looking for these:
Nice sweater eh ?
Thursday, January 26, 2006
In Israel ( that's not a misprint.....despite what the Palestinians may say), the inmates are now running the asylum. It really should surprise no one. Yassir Arafat's cronies were all corrupt, the paletinians are no better off they were a few years ago, and they have not done item one to stop violence in their midst.
Plus its part of a greater pattern in the Middle East. Democracy may be taking hold there, but for the most part the voters in the respective countries are not making smart choices. Look at the laundry list of recent elections and their results:
Egypt- Islamic parties scored gains in parliamentary elections.
In Iraq voters rejected moderate candidates to give the Shite religious factions a majority. Much to the chagrin of the Sunni minority which is still, despite agreeing to honor the election result, screaming "ripoff".
Iran- elects an idiot, a dangrerous one at that, who is deliberately escalating tensions in the region.
Then there is Saudi Arabia:
In Saudi Arabia, where political parties are banned, Islamist candidates running as independents won the largest share of the vote in elections to half the seats in municipal elections last year, the first democratic experiment in the kingdom. Even in Iraq, where Saddam Hussein had already been ousted from power, an Islamist Shia coalition has emerged with a near majority in parliament
One of the prerequisites of a good democracy is an informed electorate. Its a lot to presume that in the Middle Eastern countries such a thing really exists. Add to that the albatross of an apostate religion that serves no useful purpose in promoting the advancement of human rights.....and you get what you get. Its why some folks are encouraging the administration to re-think it's ideas about forcible mid-wifery of democratic process, but rather to let them come from within. Hopefully the Iraq experience is convincing people that forcible birthing is not the way to go.
Be careful what you wish for................
Wednesday, January 25, 2006
Something else to worry about
Suspect I will jump to the top of the hit parade when they look for the guys who have searched "women+big+breasts"......
On Thursday, The Mercury News reported that the Justice Department has subpoenaed search-engine records in its defense of the Child Online Protection Act, or COPA. Google, whose corporate credo famously includes the admonishment "Don't Be Evil," is fighting the request for a week's worth of search engine queries. Other search engines have already complied. The government isn't asking for search engine users' identifying data -- at least not yet. But for those worried about what companies or federal investigators might do with such records in the future, here's a primer on how search logs work, and how to avoid being writ large within themOver at Wired they have an pretty interesting article on how to defeat the snoopers and other ways to preserve one's privacy while not limiting the ability to surf where you want. Its good stuff.
Monday, January 23, 2006
Livedoor started as an internet e-mail company. I remember meeting an Indian guy working for them, one day on the Narita Express coming back from one of my mis-adventures in Hong Kong. They rapidly became the darling of the Japanese media expanding like Google into other internet enterprises, including web sites and providing a blog host service. ( That probably does not bode well for Google--where the hell did I put that back up disk?).
Japanese prosecutors have said Livedoor is suspected of violating securities laws by spreading false information about stocks, and Japanese media reports say Livedoor is also suspected of covering up losses.
A detailed history of the company can be found here.
Today their CEO was arrested on securities fraud charges:
TOKYO, Jan 23 (Reuters) - Prosecutors sought arrest warrants on Monday for Takafumi Horie, CEO of Internet firm Livedoor Co. (4753.T: Quote, Profile, Research) who shook up corporate Japan with his bareknuckles business tactics, and three others, Kyodo news agency reported. A prosecutors' raid on Livedoor a week ago caused chaos on the Tokyo stock market and sent prices plunging across the board. Media reports have said Livedoor spread false information to investors, issued new shares to "acquire" firms already under its control and then sold them for a profit and padded its books. (Reporting by Masayuki Kitano, Reuters Messaging: email@example.com;)
They have had news stories all night long including a special news broadcast explaining how Livedoor manipulated a buyout of another company by inflating the value of stocks of a third company. The S.O. has been riveted to the TV, and for some reason she is really taking particular pleasure in this guy's demise. 100 people killed in Iraq? Does not phase her. Avalanche in Nigata? Barely a passing glance. A pudgy 33 year old Japanese guy getting arrested while stealing his way to fame and fortune? Now THAT gets her really excited. Wish I felt better. Then I could get her to put some of that righteour indignation to some good use. Instead I get to just watch her laugh, again and again. You would think it was her money he took.......
Since the scandal broke about 5 days ago, she has been waiting for what she calls "X-day"; or as she says, "The day that Horie-san would be arrested...".
Me, I just smile and go looking for some real news.
Now that's something worth reading about!
Sunday, January 22, 2006
How Ariel Sharon touched my life......
However actions of Ariel Sharon had impact on literally millions of people, for both good and ill, and I was one of those who was affected by the actions that were set forth by Israel; actions he either planned, or directed to be planned and executed. There is nothing of major historical significance here, it just shows how events in one corner of the globe affect folks thousands of miles away............
First the history. On June 6, 1982, a massive invasion of Lebanon ("Operation Peace for Galilee") was undertaken by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). Israel announced its intention to oust the PLO from Lebanon, and to create a 25 mile "sanitary cordon" to protect its northern settlements. By mid July, more than 100,000 IDF troops were in Lebanon and Beirut was under siege. In the south, the Israelis dug in. On August 21, as a result of the diplomatic mediation of US envoy, Philip Habib, the PLO began the evacuation of its troops from Beirut and headed for Tunis. On September 1, as the last PLO guerrillas were shipping out of Beirut, President Reagan announced his "Reagan Plan" for solving the Arab-Israeli conflict. On September 14, 1982, Lebanese President-elect Bashir Gemayal was killed in a bomb explosion just one week before he was due to be sworn in. His brother, Amin, was elected president in his place. The Israeli Defense Forces under the command of Ariel Sharon moved into Beirut and occupied the city. On Thursday, September 16, 1982, Lebanese Christian Phalangist troops, with the IDF looking on from surrounding rooftops, entered the Palestinian refugee camps of Sabra and Shatilla in Beirut and, bent on avenging Bashir Gemayel's killing, began massacring the residents. The killing continued until Saturday morning. At least 700 - 800 were killed, with some estimates ranging up to 2,000. Years later (in 2001), there was pressure to charge Ariel Sharon as a war criminal for doing nothing to try to stop the massacres .
IDF Soldiers on the move.
That last event had particular significance for yours truly in his, to that point, rather short naval career.
Cut now to the silhouette of USS America (CV-66) anchored in the Harbor , Portsmouth England. The ship and air wing were just beginning the second of two long port visits to Edinburgh and Portsmouth, with only a 40 hour transit in between. Young Skippy-san having spent copious sums of money on beer and golf in the Scottish capital and having an ex wife who was already beginning to show her wastrel spending habits, had arranged to take duty the first 2 days in port so that payday could arrive after ac ouple of days liberty and he could re-arm his "pound" machine gun, for further ripple fire action in the pubs in London and Manchester. The beauty of the 2 day in a row arrangement of standing duty ( which involved staying on the ship doing mundane and useless jobs such as standing boat officer, intergrity watch officer and pretending I was doing work in both the ready room and my stateroom) was that it meant I had four days off straight afterwards. Nothing to be sneezed at in a projected 10 day port visit.
CV-66 also known to us as CV-666, aka, Satan's Flagship!
Duty over, a hearty breakfast eaten- always eat before you leave the ship, one never knows when you will eat again-and I and my mates were off the ship and riding a liberty boat to Portsmouth Naval Base, then to catch the train to London and the adventures that waited there.
Ashore we proceeded to the train station. Figured I would be able to see Portsmouth in mid rage since I would have to come back to cash a check. This of course being back in the stone age before ATM's and the internet........I knew I would need more money to go see Wales which was one of my goals. London of course had to be my main first day trip. All of which was made available to me by the wonders of British Rail. I was in a country with reliable train service. Is this a great country or what?
We arrived at Victoria Station just before mid day. Guess we needed to go to a pub for lunch. At least I think that is what we did. Then the circuit of all the sites we could see in a day, Big Ben; Tower of London, sights along the Thames, Winchester cathedral. Then to Piccadilly Circus as it got dark on into a pub crawl going to various tourist pubs listed in our guide book. Pound consumption was high as was our beer consumption. It was probably a good thing they closed at 11 PM. We had arranged a hotel earlier. Next day off to see more sites, having decided to forgo Manchester since London was a lot bigger than we thought. Besides there were still pubs on our list!
Looking at my cash vs credit card situation, I knew I was going to have to go back to the ship to
Back in Portsmouth, the something seemed very out of place. As I walked the streets back the way I thought was to the Naval Station this feeling of unease grew on me. I knew it had nothing to do with the beer I had consumed the night before. Something was out of place. All the people I saw looked too normal...and way too British. If there is one thing about American Sailors, despite all the adages to "blend in", they stick out like a sore thumb. Even more so in 1982 before having short hair became fashionable again. "Liberty boats must not be running", I thought, " Must be really rough out on the harbor".
Got onto the base, walked past HMS Victory and around to where the USS Mt Whitney was berthed. She was still there! That meant the USS America beach detachment and the boat lines were soon to be seen. Another left, then another right and..........nothing but a stone pier and the water lapping up against it.
Uh Oh.... .
Turning back toward the Mt Whitney I saw a line of Sailors with America shoulder tabs on their whites. They soon set me straight.
"Sir you need to get on the Mt Whitney ASAP. The ship got underway this morning, port visit' s cancelled. They will be shuttling helos in here as soon as they can."
OOOPS! This is not going to be a good day!
Contemplating the end of my life and my career, cut short after only a few years, and walked on up the brow thinking about how I was going to explain to the missus that I was going to soon become a new addition to the wardroom of NAF Adak, Alaska. If I was lucky to survive the ass chewing and letter of reprimand that was sure to come. After all , missing the ship's movement was a court martial offense. Once aboard I discovered of course, that I was not alone. Misery loves company!
Well you can probably guess the rest. I, regrettably, was one of the guys who made it onto a helo and was flown out to the ship with probably 100 other folks. The rest were rounded up and taken to an airfield where they came out by the Carrier On board delivery aircraft the next day. The final stragglers, one of my buddies included, had to be moved down to Rota Spain to catch the ship before it went through the straits of Gibraltar. Now those guys took some abuse! In the end with the need to make the flight schedule and the fact that some 450+ total got left behind at first all was forgiven....this time.
Gradually the facts about the massacre came out and so did the reason for our pre-mature depature. The USS Independence was surged from the Western Mediterranean to take up station off Lebanon. To do exactly what, they and we were never quite sure of. However it was decided we would enter the "Med" behind them proceed South of Sicily and wait to see what happened. We steamed east , flying when we could not sure what we would be doing when we got there. After all who were we going to bomb? The Israelis? Nobody thought that was a possibility. Nonetheless we planned various targets, steamed a couple of days in circles waiting for tasking.
Finally it was decided. Independence would stay off of Lebanon. We thought for sure they would send us home because we were supposed to go on cruise in December and as it was we were going to be 3 weeks late getting home......No wait, there was this NATO exercise in the Aegean Sea. Could we, would we, just go up there and fly it? Which we did. ( Flying from a carrier in the Aegean is a story unto itself...).
Exercise complete we turned west. Our reward for a job well done? No port visit in Palma as we had hoped. We got sent to Puerto Rico so we could drop all the live ordnance we were supposed to have expended earlier. That kept us at sea for an additional 21 days. So, some 3 and a half months after we left on what was only supposed to have been a 5 week work up we arrived in Norfolk in the second week of November. 30 days later we were on our way back to the Mediterranean and eventually a trip through the Suez and on to the Indian Ocean. In all 11 months gone out of 13 when it was all said and done.
No moral here really except that perhaps the world is very interconnected and events in one corner produce ripple effects that touch the lives of insignificant people such as myself. I happen to think Sharon did a lot for Israel and of course I am a big fan of Israel. Always will be.
It took me 10 more years to get back to London though...........
Saturday, January 21, 2006
I was having a conversation in my frustration (and between hacking up a lung) with a friend who is an experienced LDO with 25 years experience in the Navy. He came up the hard way, through the ranks, had been a chief, made LDO and had served in all the "hard" LDO jobs. I asked him why did he think that we have so many leaders these days that are afraid to take responsibility and do the right thing for their troops?
He said," We have dumbed down the mid grade leadership. Micromanagement and technology which enables micromanagement; coupled with a "zero defect" climate have made intitative a bad thing. We talk about empowerment, but real empowerment comes from senior leaders learning when to sit on their hands."
I thought about that and I have to agree with him. Technology has made it far too easy for seniors to become involved in the "weeds" of an issue. Senior leadership would be better off if it would learn to stay focused on the higher level vision things, learn how to clearly enunciate a goal, then learn to turn off the cell phone ,blackberry, or computer for a while and go out an play some golf, drink a beer or 4, or hit the rack and let juniors do what they are tasked to do. Thanks to technology and the fear of getting hammered, it’s too easy to jump in where you are neither wanted nor belong.
Or as I heard once, "Not everything is worth doing to perfection. Some things are worth doing only just good enough, and some things are not worth doing at all. The trick was to know which was which.”
It’s been a bad week for the US Navy here in Japan. As result of yet more boneheads getting drunk and deciding "what the hell, I should just embarrass my country". Another rape, another breaking and entering, another guy deciding that it’s better to steal an item than pay for it. The result, as Eddie documents is the beginning of Korea style liberty here in Japan. Curfews ( that are not called a curfew); issuance of general orders which , because of the SOFA catch all are placed on dependents and civilians (thus affecting everyone) and general hand wringing in general. Examination of the root causes of such behavior seems to be in the background, or so it seems to me.
My friend believes that part of what he calls this dumbing down process is the lack of respect for traditions of the United States Navy. He in particular derides the “all the animals are equal mentality” instead of real class and privilege distinctions between Officers, Chiefs, and Petty Officers, lack of empowerment of said CPO’s and kinder and gentler detailing which inadvertently does not equally distribute the best talent among commands. He also has a dim view of the current Chief’s initiation process. I’m not qualified to comment on that since I was never a chief. However his view is the old and supposedly silly rituals were a way to teach you that regardless of involvement, if you were the division chief then you were responsible for your division. He felt the old way taught that. I’ll leave it for others to comment if he is right or wrong.
However I would like to expand on some his other tenants.
1) I think that if you treat people like children then they behave like children. Treat them like adults with adult responsibilities, rewards and consequences and most will rise to the occasion. Those that don’t, well Donald Trump has a word for that. Those that do, leave them alone!
2) Because of all the fears about sexual harassment and fraternization these days, people are tending to stay away from each other except in the line of work. Add to that the increasing amount of married folks in the force and the old days where the old hands kind of brought you along and showed you where the boundaries were, as well as getting you back to the ship before things went south are not there anymore. Now it’s the blind leading the blind…..in many cases straight down hill.
3) There is too much of a tendency among senior personnel to think they have a right to regulate every aspect of a Sailor's private life. Trying to turn every Sailor into a good, monogamous, God fearing, pious , non smoking, teetotaler Casper Milquetoast is simply ludicrous. Does the Sailor show up for work on time, sober and ready to go to work? Those that do great. Those that don’t, well they can be dealt with. Violate civilian laws , well those folks can be dealt with too. That’s why its called the law.
4) We still do not understand how structurally, “corporate Navy” sets some folks up for failure by the hidden messages that are sent in our policies. I’ll say one thing for the Air Force, they do know how to build quality facilities for people and know what reasonable working hours are. The Navy despite a lot of progress is still about doing whatever it takes for however long it takes. Given a choice between ships or facilities, ships win every time. The point is we need to have enough money to buy both.
5) We still are not grasping the fact that the folks entering today in our young enlisted ranks are not coming from the same value systems that folks from previous generations were. There is some merit to the argument that proper upbringing , as well as a tough , adversarial based, rite of entry that helps weed out the unsuitable quickly is of better value for the armed services.
6) Gangs and gang mentality including all of the gang paraphernalia that is present in society today needs to be attacked and driven out ruthlessly. When guys think its ok to steal and rob someone, there is a real problem there. I’ll bet if you pull the string on the worst offenders there is gang involvement. Which is reinforced by today’s music and media and other items. Its not racist to demand that Sailors dress like real men, not sacks of cloth.
I still maintain that the military is not getting a good cross section of society and that the emphasis on youth and money has made those of privilege more inclined to simply avoid the obligation of national service as I discussed earlier here. Also they are way off track about sex. The process of teaching Sailors about boundaries is not about keeping them from having sex, its about keeping them from f**king other Sailors. And learning that no, means no. This is about the who, not about the what.......... Phrased another way, does the relationship get in the way? Sailors dating Sailors tends to do that IMHO.
The law 0f predictable consequences is at play here.
Friday, January 20, 2006
This has been with out a doubt, one of the worst business trips I've ever been on. Wish I had the strength to curl up with these:
These are the Kano sisters also known to many of us as "the Oppai Twins" (Oppai means breast in Japanese.....). They have made a fortune by being eye candy on Japanese panel shows and other places where they can wear tight clothes that show of their ample, and probably enhanced, cleavage. They even have their own "action figures":
Doctor advises against using one of these:
At this point, he's probably right.....Sigh
Wednesday, January 18, 2006
Who stole me?
Actually it was probably an appropriate view of me the past couple of days. Feeling better today. Getting work done and trying my best to get out of here as soon as I can....like tomorrow. Given my deprived ability to sustain long term partying, I will probably go straight back to Tokyo (with of course the usual packed aircraft full of Indonesians........).
There are times I think I am not cut out to work in the new corporate Navy. I'm an old school kind of guy. Wheel, deal, and get the job done, preferably as quickly as possible so we can all still make happy hour.
Unfortunately, the "new breed" does not look to that. Instead they tend to just speak in platitudes and focus only on the negative. In particular there are too many senior leaders who think the "Chainsaw approach" dealing with problems that come up is the way to go. Just keep firing people till you get the desired result. I believe it is a function of the recent trend to view people as just another commodity, to be budgeted for and shoved aside when the cost (financial and emotional) gets too hard.
In dealing with our particular bunch of knuckleheads, the powers that be miss the point that their inability to detail and hire quality people for a location that people do not want to go to, as well as the dynamics of living here.
( unaccompanied, many out in town and no guilt about working people long hours.......The only way I would want to be out here is as a civilian so I have the option to quit if I need to.) makes it a not a good way to bring out the best. You'll get some guys to volunteer, but in some cases its motivated by the "greed factor", especially with military facing the choice of going to a ship, or going here where they can at least drink beer.
Plus there are just too many people here. I still think that many of the headquarters functions can be out sourced to other more hospitable and family friendly locations ( such as our headquarters is......). There is a side benefit, because having every one co-located with the big boss in theater means everyone is walking around worrying how not get beat up instead of doing long range planning.
It would seem to me that would be obvious, but one of the things I keep running into is a very territorial mindset. That makes it hard to convince people to do the right thing.
I could be wrong, but I think I'm not.
Tuesday, January 17, 2006
Monday, January 16, 2006
Man I hate this,,,,,,,
Saturday, January 14, 2006
Nurse me back to health...plus late beer and babes!
You know you are sick when you don't feel like you want one of these:
And wishing you were being waited on hand a foot by one of these:
Back to bed!
Friday, January 13, 2006
Oh, somewhere adjacent to the fragrant harbor the neon lights are shining bright. The bands are playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light.
And, somewhere men are laughing,and perky little women in tight pants shout,
but there is no joy in Mudville
- mighty Skippy has struck out.
Probably for the best as I can use tomorrow to prepare, do work, get time adjusted and not be
But oh to have been so close and yet so far, looking out the windows of the HKG airport this afternoon......Sigh!
Must get sleep............
Madame Chiang was right!
Muslims are consistent............which in this case is not necessarily a good thing.
Thursday, January 12, 2006
And the hits just keep on coming!
Went to my friends apartment, did not even call the S.O. , and proceeded to lower his beer stock from 100 to 50% ( and that's a lot of beer!). Co-worker came over and we discussed what Eddie calls "Fifth Fleet -esque stupidity". ( They have a lot of it, trust me.) S.O. called up pissed off, finally went home and
Plane tickets came back all fucked up. Seems its impossible for the ticket office to get a seat out of Hong Kong on Saturday. I'll have to try at the airport. The only bennie of this trip was a night in Lan Kwai Fong. If I get screwed out that, those guys in Bahrain are really
Gonna be upset if I don't get here!
And as of 3 pm they could not tell me if the hotel was booked. I'm either going to be really happy tomorrow or really pissed off.......stay tuned!
Wednesday, January 11, 2006
There is a line in the movie.....
"Sometimes you can just smell a shitty day coming down the pike"-The Paper, Michael Keaton.
"Well let me tell you guys, its a cold world out there and tomorrow we are all going back into it!" -The Big Chill, William Hurt.
"Here's to you......sucking my..d***..........." Ford Fairlane, Andrew Dice Clay.
Can you tell today sucked? It did, trust me. It started off bad when the boneheads in Bahrain did not do what they were directed to do , then had the unmitigated gall to not own up to their mistake. Not realizing they would get caught on the cargo delivered report and the output report from the terminal, they tried to lie their way out of it. Of course that led to a heartfelt, "What the fuck is going on out there with those guys!?!?" from my boss. That in turn led to a subsequent, " Get your ass out there and find out what's going on!" from my boss. Accordingly, I will now be on my way out to
So on Friday, I'm out of here. One night in Hong Kong trying to buy Spike a beer, or at least meet his recommendations. After that 6 days in
I don't mind going to Bahrain so much because I get to go to Hong Kong enroute, but I just wish I had more notice. Now I'll be trying to play pick up football and also trying to stop the bleeding from our activities , who by the way still do not realize how badly they f**ked up. Call the guys in Horn of Africa and ask em....you might not like the answer.." you d**kheads!
On other more pleasant notes today I was able to get a very concise history lesson about Korea from Hemlock, turns out Asian history is still complex:
To take his mind off it, Odell asks me a simple but profound question. Koreans, What the fuck? I give him the country's history in a nutshell. First, it was repeatedly invaded by the Japanese, then it was repeatedly invaded by the Mongols, then it was repeatedly invaded by the Chinese, then it was repeatedly invaded by the Manchus, then it got one big, maybe-they'll-get-the-message-this-time invasion from the Japanese again, and in 1950 it invaded itself. This experience, I explain, has made these people the proud and noble mouth-frothing xenophobes we all know and love today, threatening to send hordes of vicious peasant warriors to Hong Kong if our Government does not honour their birthright as sons of the Hermit Kingdom, namely immunity from laws against assaulting policewomen with bamboo poles. Odell thinks about it. Maybe its the other way around, he suggests. Maybe they kept on getting invaded because they're assholes.
Whatever. Korea still does not provide the requiste "nookie" opportunities I need!
And then there is the whole cloning thing!
Tuesday, January 10, 2006
A suckful few days........
The S.O. was sick Saturday. As in sick as a dog sick. I was so concerned about her I cancelled my golf game and stayed home because I was afraid I was going to have to take her to the doctor. She finally was able to keep some liquid down long enough to get some hydration back and fall asleep for most of the day. That meant I had nothing to do but watch TV, surf
Its been bitterly cold here. On Sunday the S.O. was feeling better but still wanted to stick close to home, so I went and played golf by myself. "Suited up" and broke out the winter golf gloves. Actually was not too bad until #17 where the ground below the surface was so hard I could not get my tee to go all the way in.......Pulled out my 7 wood and smacked the s**t out of it just barely avoiding going out of bounds.............The Kanto plain (area around Tokyo) has received none of the snow that has been falling in record levels at places like here:
By yesterday the S.O. was strong enough to complain about me not cleaning the bathroom, so I am taking that as a sign she is going to make a full recovery. Sigh, I was just getting used to the peace and quiet.
Some of the things I noted while strolling around Bloggerville:
Stopped by and congratulated Mrs Bacon!
Envied Phil, who brought in the new year as I always wanted to, drinking beer and chasing hoon in Phuket.
Watched as Ariel Sharon's condition got worse., then better.
I also got pummeled over at several blogs both left and right after naively trying to insert myself into the vain practice of self congratulation and patting one's self on the back. Soundly ignored I sulked on back to my hole and dreamed of better times, wishing I was here:
Oh the places we could go!
After being challenged here on my own and another blog to grow up, I thought about writing a long witty reply trying to explain exactly what the appeal was of the overseas, expatriate, not so conventional lifestyle was. Then, quite by accident, I discovered that Fred has already done it for me:
We who live thus have our critics. They say that we have dark moods, that we drink too much, that we do not behave as we ought. ........ Yet perhaps they do not drink enough. The virtue of vice is everywhere underestimated. Something is wrong with those who are always proper, careful, and as they should be. I would rather talk to a bourbon-swilling correspondent in a bar in Manila, with a cigarette in his hand and a barmaid on his knee, than to the cleverest chemist at Yale, tamer of ketones.......
We are not always a happy lot, being restless, easily bored, and unable to bear routine. We have our good days when we sense the rightness of things on a sunny morning in God knows where for that is where we have spent much of our time. We have passed days without end in roadside diners, atop boxcars late at night on the seaboard rails, in honky-tonks in Austin. We have heard the Greezy Wheels. We knew BC Street in Koza, the street of the snake butchers in Wan Wha, in Taipei where the workers brothels were. We have hobnobbed with hookers, drunks, geniuses, psychopaths, mercenaries, transvestites, and the men of the fishing fleets. We have seen fresh squid draped like glistening pink gloves on fish carts.Some will say that our lives constitute a sordid cohabitation with the ungodly. I hope so. Detritus we are, and detritus we will be. It suits us. The world, the part worth knowing, lives in the alleys. We have known the smoke and dimness of a thousand Asian bars, known them till they run together in the mind, and found the hookers morally preferable to the expensively suited criminals of good society, more engaging than the liars of the press conferences. There is more of life and humanity in the driver of a battered Ford who picks up a hitchhiker in the darkling valleys of Tennessee than in the moral fetor and vanity of Washington.
We are not entirely without ambition. Often I have seen a young lovely in Bangkok, on Patpong or Nana Plaza or Soi Cowboy, revolving without excessive clothing around a brass pole in a dim club with disco thumping in the murk and almond eyes watching for a flicker of interest. I do not want to be president, nor a Rothschild nor a computer magnate. But a brass pole in Bangkok, that I could be.
We are what we are. We can't help it. In moments of desperation we have taken jobs in places with names like
the Civil ServiceFederal Computer Week, and sat in horror, muscles tensing in uncontrollable despair, waiting for lunch and a drink or a joint or something to get us through four more hours of USAF AMC bulls**tfederal contracts. I did that. A friend was a mortgage broker for a bit, another tried graduate school. One day it hits: fuggit-I'm-outta-here. We buy a ticket to Mexico City, or Kuala Lumpur, or Istanbul. Decide on the way to the airport. What the hellÂs in Mexico City? Find out when we get there. Somebody will know.
Here is to the road less traveled. See you in Phuket someday...........
Monday, January 09, 2006
I have to post this......
SATURDAY, Jan. 7, 10:30 a.m. local
It was candor you don't expect to hear over coffee in the morning - a soldier talking about a dead comrade, a man he knew well and will never see again.
I had the conversation in the logistics center with a group of men who receive the bodies of soldiers in the unit who die in roadside bombings or insurgent attacks. They wait as the bodies come in and help gather a soldier's belongings.
Last week Sgt. 1st Class Jason L. Bishop, 31, of Williamstown, Ky., was killed. The soldiers talked about the media coverage of his death, and they couldn't understand why his life was not as important as his death in the news reports.
Why does America seem so fascinated with the death of soldiers, they asked. They are at war, and soldiers at war die.
The flag-draped coffins that arrive in the United States aren't the untold story of the war - it's the lives of soldiers that need to be remembered. Sadly they are rarely told, the soldiers say. The soldiers carry green books to take notes. They are government issued journals with white-lined pages. Bishop had written a letter to his infant son on some of the pages, and the soldiers in Iraq wanted to ensure his wife got the book.
That's what the people at home need to know, they said.
Now the people who are so inclined will blame the MSM for not reporting this soldiers life. I disagree. Here is an MSM outlet reporting. Its just that the dead and wounded are the "metrics" of this war, just like dollars saved or people screwed are the "metrics" of our defense budget. We need to remember when we cared about other things, besides metrics. In the "better business" military I doubt it.........
Read this. There is real pain here........
Political correctness run amok.......
Read here for the full and amazing story.
The U.S. Naval Academy has ordered a court-martial for a faculty member who made a "crude" remark in the presence of female midshipmen, even though an investigating officer recommended only administrative action. The three criminal charges against Lt. Bryan D. Black come as the Annapolis school's superintendent, Vice Adm. Rodney P. Rempt, has announced a "zero-tolerance" campaign to rid the campus of sexual harassment. Lt. Black says he is being unfairly prosecuted as a "poster child" for Adm. Rempt's campaign. The academy filed criminal charges days after the school's board of visitors criticized Adm. Rempt after a Defense Department sexual harassment task force scolded the school. Adm. Rempt's anti-sexual-harassment policy includes urging midshipmen and staff to view for the third year straight a play called "Sex Signals." The language is so graphic that Adm. Rempt recommends that children should not attend any performance of the three-day run on campus, starting Monday."The two-person show explores how mixed messages, gender role stereotypes and unrealistic fantasies contribute to misunderstandings between the sexes," Adm. Rempt said in a message to staff.
An academy spokeswoman declined to comment on Adm. Rempt's decision to court-martial the officer.
Training at military colleges has come a long way from the days that I was a plebe, running in place with a rifle over my head, being told what a f***ing p***y I was. Or when the squad sergeant stuck his face in mine and told me get my f****t eyes off of him and to hit it now. I could have filed a grievance for that and gotten him court martialed? .
Or maybe I should gone home and cried last Friday when my boss told me, "I don't care what you have to do, or who you have to bl**, but get the USAF off their ass and get that damn cargo moving." Poor me, and here I thought the only correct response was,"yes sir" . Wow, I could have filed a grievance.......
Only one correct response here.
Tell me again Islam is a religion of peace....
Madame Chiang shows us that just the opposite is true, even among an environment of "believers":
...it seems that each Hajj season there is something that will go drastically wrong and lives will be lost...this year is obviously not going to be the exception to the rule.
Read the whole tale of woe here!
Sunday, January 08, 2006
Send it to the White House speech writers!
Personally, I hate this country. I hated it the first time I was here. I will despise it and most of its ungrateful people until the day I die. Regardless of the reason we are here — weapons of mass destruction, Saddam Hussein’s alleged ties to al-Qaida, or whatever — the BLUF is that we are here and have a job to do.
From a Staff Sergeant serving there.......
The United States agreed to transfer the suspect, William O. Reese, 21,
after the Kanagawa Prefectural Police obtained a warrant for his arrest. According to police sources, Reese admitted to Japanese police Friday to killing Yoshie Sato, 56, on Tuesday. The sailor had been held at the U.S. naval base in yokosuka. "Transfer of custody is absolutely the right thing to do in this case, and it is symbolic of the outstanding relationship that existed between our two governments, the close cooperation that has been the hallmark of this ongoing investigation, and the relevance of the Status of Forces Agreement," Rear Adm. James Kelly, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Japan, said in a statement.
Eddie has some very insightful commentary on this over at his blog. Also there is a spirited debate going on as to whether turning him over to Japan would get him the severest punishment. I agree with RADM Kelly here, turning him over to the government of Japan is the only correct thing to do here and quite within the tenants of US law. That he might not get the sentence that some think he should get is beside the point. It shows the Japanese we respect their laws and sovereignty. Besides in theory he could get the death penalty, but most folks doubt that will happen.
Still leaves the root question to be answered though. Who goes out and in his right mind thinks its OK to rob a woman on the street? Where in the hell are they teaching that in America these days? That is what I don't understand. How do you get to thinking that way at 21 years old?
Saturday, January 07, 2006
Appearing at a town meeting in Arlington, Virginia, with fellow Democratic Rep. James Moran, Murtha said, "A year ago, I said we can't win this militarily, and I got all kinds of criticism." Now, Murtha told the strongly antiwar audience, "I worry about a slow withdrawal which makes it look like there's a victory when I think it should be a redeployment as quickly as possible and let the Iraqis handle the whole thing."
Many people have gone on to excorciate the Congressman. The Useless woman (there Bob, you happy now?) took him to task and pointed out an interesting sidebar where a Soldier took on the Conrgessman saying he had his facts wrong:
Like yourself I dropped out of college two years ago to volunteer to go to Afghanistan, and I went and I came back. If I didn't have a herniated disk now I would volunteer to go to Iraq in a second with my troops, three of which have already volunteered to go to Iraq. I keep hearing you say how you talk to the troops and the troops are demoralized, and I really resent that characterization. (applause) The morale of the troops that I talk to is phenomenal, which is why my troops are volunteering to go back, despite the hardships they had to endure in Afghanistan. And Congressman Moran, 200 of your constituents just returned from Afghanistan. We never got a letter from you; we never got a visit from you. You didn't come to our homecoming. The only thing we got from any of our elected officials was one letter from the governor of this state thanking us for our service in Iraq, when we were in Afghanistan. That's reprehensible. I don't know who you two are talking to but the morale of the troops is very high .
This came after Murtha was criticized by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Murtha's views had drawn sharp criticism earlier in the day from Marine Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Pace said in a briefing that Murtha had sent the "wrong message" and that the lawmaker's comments Monday that he would not enlist as a soldier today would damage recruiting.Now regarding the second statement, I doubt that anything John Murtha says will have an affect on recruiting one way or another. The Iraq war is out there and folks either support it or they don't. Besides my take on what motivates folks is that the reason folks go into the service are generally more personal: a desire to better one's self, learn a skill (like flying), prove to themselves that they can do the job, earn the respect of their fellows. They realize that will possibly put them into harm's way. However they have judged that risk to be worth the trade in terms of the things they get back from the experience.
It's too easy however, to hold John Murtha up as a left wing pinyata and bash him with conservative sticks. There has to be more to this decision to speak out. At least I sure hope there is. People need to read what he actually has said.
The cynic in me believes that Murtha's stand is part of a
Judging from his history and close relationships at the Pentagon, Murtha probably was echoing a belief that runs deep within the ranks of senior officers. "He's someone who's a strong supporter of the military," said Jack Reed (D-R.I.), a West Point graduate and one of his party's leading Senate spokesmen on the military. "People will recognize that he's got
their best interests at heart."
Lets walk this dog all the way. By having Murtha speak out, because he has a safe seat and some good credentials, and no higher ambitions, it allows him to say those things that others may feel without going on the record themselves. He gets to be the lightning rod who spoke the unspeakable, namely that while getting rid of Saddam was a good thing, on the whole this little
That's an idea that needs to be debated and discussed, and not simply whitewashed into a box because it is somehow unpatriotic to criticize national policy. I applaud Rep Murtha for getting this out there. And to tell you the truth, I find myself agree with him. Its time for the Iraqis to sink or swim and we need to get moving on. Either that or we need to get more fully engaged as a nation and resource the military properly and put the nation on more of a wartime footing. At its heart that is his real point. The current detachment of the GWOT effort from the overall public just will not do. Neither will trying to do this "on the cheap" while "transforming" the Department of Defense. Do it right, Secretary
Murtha needs to be careful though. To be effective, he has to stay on the high ground. That's why getting his name linked to groups like Move On.org and other left wing nut groups do nothing to help his efforts. The mass that needs to be convinced is the large group in the center, like me, who don't think there is any easy answer to this really big problem. To agree with Murtha is to tacitly give in to a reprehensible and unspeakable sentiment: "I don't care about the people of Iraq. I could care less if they get a democracy, because I am concerned about what is good for Americans first and foremost. Take your stupid Islam, Shia or Sunni, and stick it up your........".
There! I said it! Even though I am not supposed to. And fundamentally it is an irrational and quite possibly a racist sentiment. So I, of course, being conditioned to want to care, have to do my best to reign it in. " I care about the people of Iraq. They need more time to get their act together. We've come to far and suffered too much, to ruin it all now by a hasty and ill considered pull out. After all, the President told me 'Victory is right around the corner'....". Keep repeating and hoping you can really believe it. Maybe if I say it enough it might actually come true.
Or it might just convince me once and for all, that William Fulbright was right and that the United States should remember his words:
Many Senators who accepted the Gulf of Tonkin resolutionwithout question might well not have done so had they foreseen that it would subsequently be interpreted as a sweeping Congressional endorsement for the conduct of a large-scale war in Asia......
Commenting on American Policy:
Throughout our history two strands have coexisted uneasily; a dominant strand of democratic humanism and a lesser but durable strand of intolerant Puritanism. There has been a tendency through the years for reason and moderation to prevail as long as things are going tolerably well or as long as our problems seem clear and finite and manageable. But... when some event or leader of opinion has aroused the people to a state of high emotion, our puritan spirit has tended to break through, leading us to look at the world through the distorting prism of a harsh and angry moralism.........
Power tends to confuse itself with virtue and a great nation is particularly susceptible to the idea that its power
is a sign of God's favor, conferring upon it a special responsibility for other nations Â to make them richer and happier and wiser, to remake them, that is, in its own shining image. Power confuses itself with virtue and tends also to take itself for omnipotence. Once imbued with the idea of a mission, a great nation easily assumes that it has the means as well as the duty to do God's work.....
Law is the essential foundation of stability and order both within societies and in international relations. As a conservative power, the United States has a vital interest in upholding and expanding the reign of law in international relations. Insofar as international law is observed, it provides us with stability and order and with a means of predicting the behavior of those with whom we have reciprocal legal obligations. When we violate the law ourselves, whatever short-term advantage may be gained, we are obviously encouraging others to violate the law; we thus encourage disorder and instability and thereby do incalculable damage to our own long-term interests.
Applicable to 1966 or 2006? Or both?
Go John Murtha! But be smart about what you are doing. This is too important to goon up with wacko Democratic politics.
Friday, January 06, 2006
Akimashte! First beer and babes of 2006
(Congratulations on the New Year. In this year too, please continue to favor me.)
Celebrating in the New Year:
With some of these:
While seeking favor(s) from one of these!
Thursday, January 05, 2006
Where do we get such men?
YOKOHAMA (Kyodo) Police launched a murder investigation Tuesday after a woman was found lying in blood in a building in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, and later died. A neighbor found the woman, who was bleeding from the head, at around 7 a.m. on a stairway landing and alerted police. She was taken to a hospital but was pronounced dead, according to investigators. The woman was wearing a black sweater and trousers and appeared to be in her 50s, police said. (Japan Times).
Subsequent to that, using surveillance cameras and tracking technology at Yokosuka, (they have an ID card tracking system there......isn't that scary...) they figured out who to go talk to.
Thursday, January 5, 2006 at 18:49 EST
YOKOHAMA- A U.S. serviceman from the U.S. aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk has admitted killing a 56-year-old Japanese woman in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, informed sources said Thursday, citing investigations by U.S. forces in Japan. More than one U.S. serviceman was taken into custody following the incident, including the one who admitted killing the woman, they said.
The victim, Yoshie Sato, was found bleeding from her head near a building in Yokosuka at 6:30 a.m. Tuesday.
The U.S. forces started investigating the case following inquiries from the local police, who found footage on a security camera near the crime scene showing Sato with a person who appeared to be a foreigner, the sources said.
She was on her way to work when she was attacked and severely beaten, and died from loss of blood and with ruptures to her internal organs, the police said.
Sato's bag was found in a parking lot nearby but there were no bills in her purse, they said.
Japanese police plan to seek an arrest warrant for the serviceman on suspicion of killing Sato, as he had been found in possession of a blood-stained 1,000-yen note, investigative sources said.
The U.S. naval forces in Japan said in a statement, "The U.S. Navy continues to cooperate fully with and support Japanese law-enforcement officials" in the murder investigation. Rear Adm James Kelly, commander of the U.S. Naval Forces Japan, said in the statement, "I sincerely regret and am deeply saddened by this absolutely abhorrent incident and promise our complete support and cooperation with all authorities."
This is going to get ugly. And it probably should, but it could not have come at a worse time for the US / Japan relationship. Having put forth a series of bad proposals to "transform" the disposition of forces in Japan, including the highly controversial homeporting of a nuclear carrier in Yokosuka, an incident such as this will be used to inflame opposition opinion.
Plus, to be honest, I want to know "what in the hell were these guy(s) thinking?" Who in their right mind, no matter how much he has been drinking, decides to go out and beat up a citizen and take their money? That's not an accident, but a conscious decision to commit a criminal act. I submit that the folks who believe that they can do such things are of poor stock to begin with. The US military recruited them, sadly because there are no real ways to predict this type of behavior, except to look at external circumstances, such as education and breeding. I'll bet if one pulls the string, neither of those factors will come up on the plus side.Wonder how many other psychopaths are out there, because we failed to reach for the other half of society....or the fact that the US does not have a mandatory national service program that cuts across all aspects of society.
More to follow in the coming days. In the meantime, all US Navy personnel have been instructed to be back in their quarters and/or residences by midnight. No exceptions.
"You can build a thousand bridges. Just screw up once though, and that's all they remember."
This is terrible.
Shocked! Utterly Shocked!
Guess they could not drink on duty so the "ugly ones" never had a chance to get prettier........
Wednesday, January 04, 2006
Top 10 ten lists.........
For me that was brought home most pointedly because in Japan, the New Years time is like Christmas in the states. Commerce virtually shuts down for the first four days of the new year (This, BTW is heisei平成１８年, the 18th year of Akihito's rule as emperor..........)
One of the fun things about the end of one year, and the beginning of the next is the usual recitation of "The top ten things of ....(fill in the blank). This year was no different. I did some research on the top 10 lists of various subjects and came up with some amazing discoveries........
For example, did you know that among the top 10 list of CD's in 2005 is an anti-Iraq war song by Merle Haggard? Who would have thunk it? (Kudo's to Battlepanda for pointing this out.) Look at the this:
Country music isn't exactly known as a Blue state genre. Yet country legend Merle Haggard, a god-fearing, lifelong Republican who sang one of the most infamous pro-war anthems ("The Fightin' Side of Me") of all time, now asks just what the hell our troops are doing in Iraq. Hag transverses the Lower 48 twenty-odd times a year while on tour, and he reports back that our infrastructure is crumbling. He still wants his Ten Commandments in plain site; but in the wake of faulty war intelligence and reneged post-Katrina Gulf Coast promises, honky tonk tunes like "Rebuild America
First" are undeniably poignant, no matter what state you call home.
That's good enoughto piss the c**t and the rest of the right wing wackos off!
Then there are some other lists. For example from Merriam-Webster Online comes this list of the most-looked-up words of 2005. As the web site I got this from points out:
Does this list prove that scores of people in the land know not the meaning of "integrity"? I don't think so. I think these people were perfectly confident they knew the meaning of integrity until certain others started throwing the word around like last Sunday's bagels, and so, head
in hand, people went back to double-check, only to find that integrity was still integrity and in shorter supply than ever.
I like that!
Then of course under the category of , " We needed to invade to spread democracy....." are the 10 countries we could not be bothered with even as the US invaded a sovereign nation that had not attacked it..........
There is the list of best movies of 2005........ why "Brokeback Mountain " (which I always think of as 'Bareback Mounting' ) is there... that is beyond me. Larry David sums the whole thing up best. Movies about gay cowboys just don't do it for me.....(H/T to CDR Salamander).
Under the category of "People who owe me money..." are the top 10 richest people in the world. Useless bastards. Shut up and pay me!
Moving to the pruient interest category are the top 10 desirable women of 2005:
I'm number 1 , but I'd still rather sleep with Skippy!
Moving on to the war and politics, Juan Cole gives us the top 10 myths about Iraq.....confirming all of my suspicions why these endeavor is useless.....
There are the top 10 books of 2005, of which I have only read 2.........( does porn count as reading....?).
Under nightlife, there are the top 10 places I should have been on New Years eve...(hint: they are all in Singapore...)
There are the stories you missed in 2005..........
And the ones you did not......
Finally , in the category of "Time for a cigarette" are the top 10 sex jokes.......
Man its going to be some kind of year!
Tuesday, January 03, 2006
Playing on the wrong side......
Its endorsed by Kim Il Sung himself!
Monday, January 02, 2006
C.S. Lewis and the ACLU
I had hoped to take her to see the Chronicles of Narnia, but she decided she did not feel like going out. I'll have to watch it some other time. She had never heard of the story, but I know if she went to the movie she would like it. I know I would have.
Perhaps I am a bit jaded, but it saddens me to see how many folks have little to no knowledge of the classics of literature anymore. I asked a young guy I work with if he had been required to study Shakespere in college and he just laughed. " Why would they waste time doing that?", he answered. I shook my head in disgust. You ask around some more, and one finds that the works that I grew up learning as "classics" are not taught or read near as much as they used to be. Major movies have come out, about works by C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, and people only know the story from the movie. They have little to no idea of the authors of the stories, or how they interacted with each other.
Makes me wonder what is being passed around for literature these days. I love C.S. Lewis and think he was a great writer. One of my favorite books by him is the Screwtape Letters. The final chapter, is in myopinion, mandatory reading for anyone who aspires to a career in the public service or the military. The entire speech can be found here. Written in the 50's, communism was the great evil then. However see if his words are still not applicable today:
In a word, we may reasonably hope for the virtual abolition of education when I’m as good as you has fully had its way. All incentives to learn and all penalties for not learning will be prevented; who are they to overtop their fellows? And anyway the teachers – or should I say, nurses? – will be far too busy reassuring the dunces and patting them on the back to waste any time on real teaching. We shall no longer have to plan and toil to spread imperturbable conceit and incurable ignorance among men. The little vermin themselves will do it for us.
Of course, this would not follow unless all education became state education. But it will. That is part of the same movement. Penal taxes, designed for that purpose, are liquidating the Middle Class, the class who were prepared to save and spend and make sacrifices in order to have their children privately educated. The removal of this class, besides linking up with the abolition of education, is, fortunately, an inevitable effect of the spirit that says I’m as good as you. This was, after all, the social group which gave to the humans the overwhelming majority of their scientists, physicians, philosophers, theologians, poets, artists,composers, architects, jurists, and administrators. If ever there were a bunch of stalks that needed their tops knocked off, it was surely they. As an English politician remarked not long ago, “A democracy does not want great men.”
......All said and done, my friends, it will be an ill day for us if what most humans mean by “Religion” ever vanishes from the Earth. It can still send us the truly delicious sins. Nowhere do we tempt so successfully as on the very steps of the altar.
Great work indeed.
Sunday, January 01, 2006
The new year started off on an ominous note. The S.O. was sick this morning and not from too much booze ( regrettably), or too much sex (very regrettable), probably too much Red and White show. Whatever the reason she spent most of the day curled up into a ball on the couch or the bed. I tried to tend to her needs, then mostly curled up on either the bed or the couch when she was not occupying them. Not quite the banner holiday I had hoped. Hope this is not another omen of the year to come.
Its clear this year will bring changes for yours truly, exactly what those changes are, those are yet to be determined. I'm not a big fan of change unless it is something that works better for me. Clearly nothing could top the nice life I have had the last couple of years. Makes me wonder if this the beginning of the long slide down to inconsequence.......I sure hope not.
Its also the time of year that folks make their predictions for the new year. I've got some to make as well. Here are a couple of my takes on the life, politics and the route of the world in 2006:
-a) Iraq- Something has to change here and soon, or the United States citizenry is going to become truly enraged I think. And well they should be, since it will be 3 years since we began this little adventure and things are still not stable there, despite the President's rosy assertions to the contrary. Whether George Bush realizes it or not, the clock is ticking on the public's patience meter. They do not want to "cut and run", but at the same time they want this to be over with. So if large numbers of American troops do not start leaving the country in 2006, expect the approval numbers of the President, which have been rising lately, to take a marked drop again.
The problem is, as Jeff Greenfield points out:
From the start of this war, there's been one rule -- present and future conditions will define the American public's view of past decisions. When the insurgency grew worse, when reconstruction faltered, when American casualties grew, Americans' doubt grew -- not only about the conduct of the war, but why we got into it, and the president's honesty and trustwothiness. I believe that will true three months and six months from now. This speech is like a button on the last five speeches, but in terms of affecting public opinion, it is -- what did Everet Dirkson used to say? It is a snowflake on the bosom of the Potomac. What is happening and will happen will drive public opinion.My own personal opinion is that the end of the year will find troop levels in Iraq about where they are now. There will be some non-withdrawal, withdrawals; units will not deploy that were scheduled, and so the overall numbers may appear to drop. But not by the significant numbers needed. And sadly, if the past is any type of prologue, American casualty numbers will have topped 3000 if that is true. That grim math will continue to be burned into the public's psyche. As well it should. As a result, Bush's popularity numbers will be worse than they were this fall....
As for the Iraqi government, well do we really know the election results or not? I predict Iraq will form a Shia dominated government. The Kurds will cooperate on the quid pro quo that they be left alone. The Sunnis and the Shias will become increasingly disaffected with the arrangement. However neither side will want to go to full scale civil war. They will limp along, using terrorist attacks as needed and the increasingly Shia populated Iraqi Army will also not develop as planned, relying on the crutch of American support. Sometime during the year an atrocity committed by the Iraqi Army on Sunnis will again be revealed. Weimar Germany lives again, waiting for its strongman to reveal himself..........
b) US midterm elections- When it is all said and done, the midterm elections will go one of two ways and it will be dependent on the perception of how Iraq and economy are going. If either goes south, the Democrats could pick up seats. But not enough to win control of either the Senate or the House. My personal opinion is that the Democrats are their own worst enemies here, they need to sack Howard Dean and the rest of the ideologues and get some serious leadership. It won't happen. They will underestimate Bush again and forget that campaigning is something he does better than governing. Plus they don't have a coherent message on the war and that hurts. They could have one and it does not have to be one of "quit now". They can support the war, while hammering home the opinion that much of the current troubles did not have to occur and were allowed to occur through gross mismanagement by the "cabal". That message, carefully delivered could resonate. The Democrats, like the Arabs in the middle east, won't get that though. True to form, they will screw it up.
c) Rumsfeld- The President will finally work up the courage to do something he should have done 3 years ago, give Donald Rumsfeld his walking papers. It will gradually dawn on the President and many others that Rummy's supposed "transformational" plans are really diminishing the flexibility of the armed forces to respond to various events and or be an instrument of national will. Programs such as this will continue to make the news, while at the same time the pressure to reduce spending will increase. Good riddance Rummy!
d) China and Taiwan- Nothing will happen here. China will continue to bide its time and continue to push the "one nation, two systems" nonsense.
e) While over in Hong Kong, the noise of democratic activism will continue. China will not allow it to get out of control however and will remind the Hong Kong people there is a point beyond which they cannot go. Taiwan will take notice of this, however.
f) US Economy- I hope for my sake, that the Dow goes well over 11,000, but I tend to doubt it. The real questions will be: how much of a drain the continued high price of energy be on the economy and will the long predicted housing bubble burst. Investors are going to continued to be puzzled by the inverse yield curve and its overall impact. The Fed will raise interest rates in 2006 in response to inflation signals. Bull or Bear? Nobody really knows for sure. I'm hedging my bets and investing broadly to be sure.
That's about all my crystal ball can hold. Hope every one had a happy new year and keeps coming back to my little place in Bloggerville. -Skippy-san