Friday, March 31, 2006
Changing of the guard.......and crying in my beer.
I've thought about this during the week. Winding up this trip up here in LA and Ventura county, I became yet again, aware today of how much I've changed since I left the US to live overseas. I can't wait to get my ass back to Japan. I used to be excited to come out to California. In LA I loved to go to Santa Monica. In San Diego there were always adventures to be had. Now however they fade in comparison, to the excitement I get when I am Hong Kong, Singapore, Tokyo or Bangkok. Or for that matter just riding into a small town in northern Japan. There are a lot of reasons for this and its hard to articulate. However a lot of it stems from the things I now value as important and the things that I don't (anymore).
Two examples from the last 48 hours illustrate:
Example #1- I had some time to kill before I had to be at the airport so instead of just wasting it I went to visit the USS Midway museum. I served on a sister ship, USS Coral Sea so it was with considerable interest that I had visited the ship. They have done a really good job fixing up the ship and making it into a museum. However a curious sense of lost time haunted me when I walked the length of the hangar deck and up passageways and ladders that were familiar to me. And a sense that if I had known what I know now, then, I would have made some very different life choices.
Example#2- I attended a change of command ceremony for a great American who had been a student of mine in the training squadron, a long time ago and a galaxy far away. This guy is a great American , and he has worked hard an achieved great things in his Navy career. However to see him with gray hair, a grown son who had served a year in Iraq, and an audience filled with men that I had looked up to when I was "growing up" was a haunting trip down memory lane. Talking to folks after the ceremony though made me realize how much my ideas had changed. Most were surprised that I had stubbornly resisted attempts to bring me back to the states, or internally shook their heads at how I had gotten sidetracked in my life, while I sat thinking to myself how I would gladly trade any of their homes in suburbia and their other experiences for a small apartment in the mid-levels or Causeway Bay and consider myself to be the lucky man in the trade. Sidetracked I may be but I can not think of a better course change for the life of me.
That's not to put them down, by the way; this new breed is far better than we were in our day methinks, smarter more focused and with better business sense. In my day 1000's of flight hours and traps were all that matter-and being able to win the big roll.
However there goals are no longer my goals. And I'm happy with my new goals. Give me a beer in Delaney's, or Paddy O' Foley's over a fine wine in a fancy California bistro any day of the week. The atmosphere is far better.
Gotta get dressed to go get depressed. I'll post now and follow up on this theme later.
Here is to the new breed!
Thursday, March 30, 2006
Worst part of this week has been trying to pretend that I like folks that I do not really like so much. And I know are up to no good when we are not here. Because I work in airlift scheduling I deal with reserves a lot. And given the change that has gone on in the Navy these days the reserve airlifters are about the last aircraft left for folks to fly. These guys don't realize that overseas we've moved beyond the nice little word that they used to inhabit.
Also ran into a friend who has the misfortune of working for an incompetent boss. Like he said," Its like the kid who comes and shakes you down for lunch money. Instead of flipping him a quarter and telling him to buy his own damn lunch, instead he goes and shakes the co-workers down for 3 bucks a pop." I can understand that.
And in a way its a great commentary on what is going on in the military today. We are pursuing change for just for change sake. Not because these ideas are good or right to do, but rather because some bonehead flag officer things he can get ahead, by taking something that is not broke and breaking it. We've gone off the deep end into Rummy world and its killing the armed forces.
Specifically to my area of expertise. The Navy utilizes its aircraft 50% more efficiently than the USAF. But the USAF gets to charge exorbinant rates for airlift, instead of having to resource out of their money a mission that it is theirs to do. Sometimes I wonder how we won World War 2 with out an Army of accountants to pay the airforce for doing their job. Plus as I have noted before if they were a commercial airline they would go broke being on time only 68% of the time.
If I were the king of the universe, the majority of Navy airlift would be based overseas. Inside the US we would use commercial charters and Net Jet type operations as well as using commercial airlines more and more. I would resource the USAF and the Navy the same, either getting both to bill for their services, or more importantly getting the USAF to pay the bill it owes and resources their airlift squadrons need. That way the right aircraft would be the driving factor and when the stuff has to be there, instead of trying to avoid costs to the user by using the guy who does not charge you money.
I' ve been doing this too long I think. To get back to my original point, its time for Rummy to go. And most of his sycophant flags. You want to fight a bunch of wars that will take a long time, pay the bill. Stop trying to divest and cut costs and capability. Keep capability and recognize that more is better when you are in a 20 year war. Finally, get the people who do money things to figure out how to help the war fighter instead of cutting his funding. What is so hard about that?
However it won't happen. We are more concerned about making cuts for the sake of making cuts, instead of doing whatever it takes, spending as much as it costs and working to win the war.
And that's why I am sitting here blogging late at night instead of chasing women in the Gaslamp............I got back to my room at 10pm. How lame is that?
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
Man O' Man..........!
Now, what is different is that the Mexican immigrants and who knows who will come after them will require that they not have to assimilate into what is AND SHOULD BE , an English speaking, English tradition population.
That is the big difference between the previous generation of immigrants and the currents. The current groups of folks protesting the immigration bill are clearly racist, IMHO. The older generation of immigrants understood that to become truly a part of American society , one had to : a) Learn English b)acquire English customs and traditions. Now there are those who disagree with that....But they don't know their a**s from a hole in the ground.
Why do people assimilate into America? Because they CAN! I've lived in Japan for 6 years. Even if I lived here 26 years, I would NEVER be able to live here as an assimilated citizen. Even if I could speak Japanese fluently, and believe me I speak the language pretty well, if you are not Japanese you are not a part of this country. They will obivously look at you as an outsider.
Don't believe me? Go to a party with a mixed crowd of Asians and Westerners and find out how many of the Japanese denizens get truly upset when one asks them if they are Japanese. "日本人ですか。(Are you Japanese?). Most will get upset because the questioner does not know instinctively that they are from Japan. I've seen the S.O. asked if she was Filipina, or Chinese. You have to restrain her with a stick. It drives her nuts. She's JAPANESE don't you understand? That is far superior, in her mind to anyone who is not Japanese; that includes me. ( I guess I should count myself lucky as she has been willing to boink me!!)
Like I said I know racism. Anyone who has lived in Asia learns about it early. Its just the way it is. Fortunately, the women are still willing to make love to me, so I don't really care if they look down on me. After all, one gets used to the abuse. Besides, if she is taking care of me in "all respects" then I'll be OK.
However here is the real issue with immigration. The point is, that if new arrivals to America cannot fit into the society of the nation, it really hurts. If these folks who are so eager to wave the Mexican flag, would be more willing to wave the American flag and show the same un-relenting desire to become American, this would not be the big deal it is. Problem is, as is shown every time I go to an ATM machine in the US, no one forces these folks to assimilate into the culture. Yes, I know there are English reading ATM's in Japan, they just are not everywhere. Again I'll tell you the knowledge serves you well.
This debate in America is not about immigration. Its about assimilation......or lack thereof. The people out there who are complaining about the flawed immigration policy are on the money. I surer wish George, "I only cared about making rich people richer" cared about it.
Monday, March 27, 2006
Had a chance to meet Spike. He's a nice guy. I just could not hang though. Which was good cause it made it easier to get up this morning.
Watching Lou Dobbs ride his immigration pony again. I agree with him and am having a hard time getting to understand what this immigration flap is about. Can any one tell me why the Mayor of LA is speaking to crowds in Spanish when the language can and should be English. And why are they carrying Mexican flags?
More later, gotta go back to sleep.......
Saturday, March 25, 2006
So much for the peak!
So I bought some books, including the next Flashman (Royal Flash). I also bought this week's Economist. As luck would have it, when I came back down the peak it started raining there too. Said screw it, went and had lunch at Dan Ryans in Pacific Place and came back to the room for a nap.
Speaking of the Economist, they have a pretty good Iraq article and retropsective here.
The final paragraph is interesting:
Neither success nor failure is certain, but any improvement will be slow. On a toilet-wall in an American airbase in western Iraq, an American soldier has scrawled his own summary analysis: “We came, we saw, we wasted a year of our lives. At least we got the fuckers to vote.”
The whole article is pretty balanced and well worth the time to read. Got run back out for now. Its stopped raining.
Friday, March 24, 2006
I probably should have gone back to Japan for the weekend, but I just did not want to. Once packed I might as well stay packed and I am off to
Beer will be on the menu:
And who knows where that might lead? I want to be a good boy this trip though.
I'm in one of my moods so expect some wierd writing the next couple of days.
Oh and one more thing............its still time to fire Donald Rumsfeld.
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
The Samurai vs the Steroid Kings...........
Today during the WBC, I figured the same thing would happen, after having the S.O. get me all excited for Japan, I figured those big, burly Cubans would be just smacking hit after hit out of the Stadium. However , Ichiro and the boys proved me wrong.
As Harry Caray would say:
NIPPON WINS! NIPPON WINS! NIPPON WINS!
You heard that right, Japan beat the brutes from Cuba 10-6.
Is this a great country or what?
SAN DIEGO Â Forget beisbol ベイースバル. This was yakyu 野球 at its best, and the inaugural World Baseball Classic belongs to Japan.Ichiro Suzuki and his less-famous countrymen beat Cuba 10-6 in the championship game onday night, ripping a page out of CubaÂs scorebook by winning a major international tournament.
Suzuki doubled, singled and drove in a run. He also scored three times, including in a four-run first inning that proved Cuba's pitchers are vulnerable after all.Cuba's fans perked up when their team, wearing its lucky red uniforms, pulled to 6-5 on a two-run homer by Frederich Cepeda with one out in the eighth.But Suzuki singled in the ninth, scoring Munenori Kawasaki, and made it 7-5. Japan, playing yakyu, which means field ball, ended up scoring four runs in the ninth, and Cuba got one in its
Japan's Ichiro Suzuki watches his double during the fifth inning of the World Baseball Classic championship game against Cuba, Monday, March 20, 2006, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)。
Ｉ'll bet there is some Yen or Dollars coming his way after this. Anyway, its a great thing, especially since it probably means the Cuban guys are on their way to a re-education camp. Tomorrow I'm off to Korea, so it will be interesting to see what the papers say there. Something tells me they won't like it over on the Penisula....................
What say you?
Monday, March 20, 2006
Adios Mr Will...........
Christopher Hitchens was on This Week telling me that if a civil war in Iraq got Al Quaeda to fight one another, then the whole war would be worth that alone.........( Yes its OK to scratch your head over that one, I know I still am. Nothng worse than a pro-war, British, Bush lackey.......). I also learned that the President had lost George Will. Which for him is probably worse than losing uber-conservative William Buckley. Now personally, I like George Will and have since I saw him in speak in person, as a guest of a friend in Norfolk many years ago. Tonight he made some real sense:
At this moment, one of the most dangerous since World War II, America's perils are exacerbated by the travails of a president indiscriminately despised by Democrats and increasingly disregarded by Republicans. What should he do?
First, concentrate the public's mind on the deepening dangers beyond Iraq. Second, regarding Iraq, accentuate the negative and eliminate the positive -- that is, emphasize the dangers of failure and deemphasize talk about Iraq's becoming a democracy that ignites emulative transformation in the Middle East.
In other words, abandon the neo-con fantasies and get the public back focused on doing what it has to do, to make the best of a situtation it never should have gotten into in the first place. Now, however, immersed in it, do what it takes to finish this little adventure expeditiously in a way that preserves stability and American security. Remind the public that the President is after all the President of AMERICA after all, and that democracy cannot be forcibly midwifed. A stable mid-east however is in the interest of the nations that really matter though.......( Which is not the same as doing what is right for Iraq.)
Listen some more:
But more than any presidency in living memory, George W. Bush's will be judged by a single problem -- Iraq,where on May 30 the war will be twice as long as was U.S. involvement in World War I. Today the impotence of Iraq's quasi-government is prompting ethnic recleansing: The government is too weak to prevent private groups from pursuing coercive reversals of Saddam Hussein's various ethnic cleansings. And in the absence of law and order, Iraqis seek safety in sectarian clustering..........
Conditions in Iraq have worsened in the 94 days that have passed since
Iraq's elections in December. And there still is no Iraqi government that can govern. By many measures conditions are worse than they were a year ago, when they were worse than they had been the year before.
Three years ago the administration had a theory: Democratic institutions do not just spring from a hospitable culture, they can also create such a culture. That theory has been a casualty of the war that began three years ago today.
Yet still, the Democrats can not muster a credible opposition to a conflict and a President that 60% of Americans as a cross section, no longer support. Its enough to make one go in the corner and cry. Not that the Republicans got us here, but that the opposition just let them do it. That even now when Republicans are starting to abandon their President, these idiots still cannot get a consistent message across. I was reading a blog today that, like me echoed disgust that 42% of Americans actually believe the President should be censured, and STILL the democrats just stand and wimper. ( I've tried all night to find it again, wish I had bookmarked it). Its disgusting to say the least.
Even Democrats who make sense, can't win. While all it takes in the Republican party is a Nice Rack and a horse......
Good grief.....and while we are on the subject of public displays, what's wrong with Blogger and photo uploads?
Update!- The blog I found that ripped the Democrats is called the Talent Show. Can't say as I disagree with the authors assesments that the Dems are "whipped".
Sunday, March 19, 2006
Sports news today.......
Speaking of getting laid low, went out to play golf today with the S.O. We played nine and it started raining on #8. So after # 9 we came home and realized Korea and Japan are going at it in the WBC. We have a choice of watching the game in Japanese or English. Its definitely better in Japanese. The announcers went nuts when Japan got a homer in the 7th. Since then Korea is getting its ass kicked, 5-0- bottom of the 8th- and its raining. Make that 6-0 as Japan just smacked another home run. The S.O. is going nuts. ( She will deny that she is racist, but seeing Korea lose at anything gives her great pleasure......but if I root for the USA against Japan......well you know how that goes.) Can't wait to see the papers tomorrow.
And while we are on the subject of ass kicking, USS Cape St. George and USS Gonzalez just smoke checked some pirates off of Somalia. See here, here, and here for detailed coverage.
Was going to post a photo of the burning boat but blogger seems to be acting up again. Suffice it to say its probably not a good idea to pull an RPG against a Cruiser and DDG that has you out gunned with small caliber weapons and helicopters in the air. Enjoy your 72 virgins, scumbag!
Its been a few months since I did a Rummy rant. That means its time....Fortunately he's given me lots to talk about.............
Friday, March 17, 2006
Kiss me I'm Irish...........
Spring, slowly but surely, is coming. I can see it with our accounting ladies as they are now wearing shorter skirts, but still wearing their high boots. We have some real sweethearts that work in the accounting offices where I work. Among the "group of satyrs" (those who gather at the smoking area to compare notes on them), we have dubbed them them "_____'s Angels". ( All but one works for the same person, and it ain't me!)
I was sitting with a co-worker ( American, female, and frumpy) when the cutest of the bunch walked by during a farewell luncheon today. Trying not be obvious about it I followed her across the room with my eyes. Guess I was not so obvious because she called me on it.
"Do you always stare at women like that? "
Well yes, if they are good looking, I do. Last time I checked I was a read blooded American male with warm blood flowing through my veins. What am I supposed to do, look at you?
"Women want to be treated as more than objects you know..."
I'm well aware of that. Its not like I said anything to her, much as I would like to. There is a difference between thinking and doing you know...............Besides she looks nice don't you think?
"That's not the point."
Its exactly the point and she knows it. If by getting my attention she reinforces her own ego and self worth, then I'm happy to do my bit for her happiness. Consider that my charitable gift for the day.
" You are hopeless"
Yes I am. So what's your point? The day men stop looking at women is the day they are dead....and the Gap goes out of business. Its not like I asked her to sleep with me for God's sake.....(although that does sound like an excellent idea not that you mention it.... ) :->
She kind of looked something like this:
I rest my case!
Moving along. Happy Saint Patty's day to each and every one! Be sure to wear green!
Speaking of treating women as objects, anyone heard of the lawsuit being billed as Roe v Wade for men? Interesting logic to be sure. Seems a lot of work just to not have to wear a condom if you ask me. Then again anything that keeps me from paying alimony or child support is a welcome development........
Sigh! Guess I'll have to go drink some of these:
And go talk the Irish out of these:
Thursday, March 16, 2006
This magazine cover says it all.
I,like many others find it odd that the man who invaded Iraq because of fear of WMD's, is threatenting Iran because of their excursions into nuclear technology, has North Korea to worry about, would decide to help a potential enemy-one that has a first class air force, a rapidly expanding Navy and a large ground army- help improve the quality of its nuclear weapons. It makes no sense. As the editors point out, " it is not the first time that [Bush] seemed readier to favor a friend than to stick to a principle." After all its how he does domestic politics, why not have it be in his foreign policy?
Read here and here about why Congress should scuttle the deal and vote No on changes to anti-proliferation laws. Bush makes a serious mistake when he views India as a "friend". Its not and never will be. Its an economic competitor that aims to continue to make inroads into American markets and steal American business and jobs. It also aims to be the dominant power in the Indian Ocean, something the US cannot countenance as long as it is going to maintain a large military in the Gulf region. And despite Bush's rosy rhetoric about :
And that's how you deal in a global economy. You don't retrench and pull back. You welcome competition and you understand globalization provides great opportunities. And the class opportunity for our American farmers and entrepreneurs and small businesses to understand, there's a 300-million-person market of middle-class citizens here in India, and that if we can make a product they want, then it becomes -- at a reasonable price -- and then all of a sudden, people will be able to have a market here. And so -- and people in America should, I hope, maintain their confidence about the future.
Confidence about the future of India, who will enrich those 300 million at the expense of 700 million more that it will keep as a permanent underclass so they are able to work cheaply and undercut US costs every time...........wishing that nation states had the same goal of economic justice for all does not make it so.
While you were in India Mr President, maybe you should have had a look at this:
Two more under construction!
And maybe a side look at this:
A few more of these coming too!
Maybe it was the fluoridated water in Texas:
Major T. J. "King" Kong: Well, boys, I reckon this is it - nuclear combat toe to toe with the Roosskies. Now look, boys, I ain't much of a hand at makin' speeches, but I got a pretty fair idea that something doggone important is goin' on back there. And I got a fair idea the kinda personal emotions that some of you fellas may be thinkin'. Heck, I reckon you wouldn't even be human bein's if you didn't have some pretty strong personal feelin's about nuclear combat. I want you to remember one thing, the folks back home is a-countin' on you and by golly, we ain't about to let 'em down. I tell you something else, if this thing turns out to be half as important as I figure it just just might be, I'd say that you're all in line for some important promotions and personal citations when this thing's over with. That goes for ever' last one of you regardless of your race, color or your creed. Now let's get this thing on the hump - we got some flyin' to do.
General Jack D. Ripper: Have you ever seen a
IndianCommie drink a glass of water?
Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake: Well, I can't say I have.
Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake: Do I look all rancid and clotted? You look at me, Jack. Eh? Look, eh? And I drink a lot of water, you know. I'm what you might call a water man, Jack - that's what I am. And I can swear to you, my boy, swear to you, that there's nothing wrong with my bodily fluids. Not a thing, Jackie.
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
A quick shout.......
In the mean time, I strongly recommend you check out the following article. I don't agree with it, but it makes for thought provoking reading:
London Sunday TelegraphMarch 12, 2006
The Fatal Divide At The Heart Of The Coalition
By Max Hastings
Here is a quote from a British security contractor in Iraq about his American counterparts: "I hate those bastards more than the scumbag insurgents." A British colonel recently returned from a tour in the country said that, in our next war, he would sooner fight alongside the Russians than the US.
This is another quote from a British security contractor: "The American way is not my way. I don't mind a scrap but I draw the line at mooning the enemy and inviting him to shoot at my backside, and that's virtually what the Yanks are doing. I'm also convinced that many Americans hate the Iraqis, not just the insurgents but all Iraqis… What a mess."
Those last lines are taken from a rather good new book about the experience of Iraq today, Highway To Hell, written by an ex-SAS man who signs himself John Geddes. My point in all the above, is to show that Ben Griffin, the former SAS soldier who vents his dismay about what is happening to Iraq in today's Sunday Telegraph, is not a lone voice.
There is a widespread belief in both British special forces and line regiments that American tactics are heavy-handed and counter-productive; that firepower continues to be used as a substitute for a "hearts and minds" policy; that local people will never be persuaded to support Coalition forces unless Americans, in uniform and out, treat ordinary Iraqis vastly better than they do today.
Historical parallels should be cited cautiously. But it is impossible to study any informed critique - including some written by Americans - of operations in Iraq without recalling the Vietnam debacle. There, too, most Americans treated ordinary Vietnamese with contempt, whatever their political allegiance. American convoys forced Vietnamese vehicles off the road, killed peasant livestock with impunity, brought down fire on suspected enemy positions heedless of civilians in the target zone, and treated even educated, professional Vietnamese with condescension.
All this is being repeated in Iraq, with predictable and identical consequences. Iraqis feel a bitter resentment towards foreign troops, whom few would call liberators without irony. US special forces are perceived as behaving, if anything, worse than line combat units because they have a wider and more aggressive mandate, an intensely macho ethos, and less accountability.
"I've had conversations with many [US security contractors] and regular US soldiers who are evangelical Christians," writes John Geddes, the ex-SAS soldier quoted above, "who see themselves in a crusade against the Muslim hordes. In my view, they're not much different to the Iraqi militiamen and foreign fighters who see themselves at the heart of a jihad against the Christian crusaders."
In fairness, we should acknowledge that when Britain was "top nation" in the last days of empire, the British Army was sometimes less good at "hearts and minds" than we delude ourselves. Things happened in Kenya during the Mau Mau insurgency, in Cyprus, Aden and elsewhere that would today result in an orgy of war crimes trials.
Counter-insurgency experts and many special forces officers of all nationalities would assert that it is impossible to fight a campaign of the kind being waged in Iraq with completely clean hands. The enemy strives to goad or deceive Coalition forces into actions that will harm innocents. In Northern Ireland, the British Army learned over 30 years how hard it is to fight insurgents without alienating the civil population.
In Iraq, the problem is multiplied many times by the gulf of language and culture, and by the fact that the declared allied aims are probably unattainable. With wholly inadequate forces on the ground, the Americans and British are striving to hold the country together as a unitary state; to restore economic and social activity; and to enable local forces to provide security against criminality as well as terrorism. All this, in place where historically law and order has been enforced exclusively by terror, torture and summary execution.
There is a further dimension, even more fundamental. From the day the first American forces crossed the border into Iraq in 2003, neither they nor their government have resolved the issue of whether they are there to serve Iraqi interests, or those of the United States. Whatever Washington may say, most Americans think they are working for their own country.
From President Bush downwards, the doctrine has been propagated that every insurgent engaged and killed in Iraq is one less to assault the US homeland. "Force protection" - the welfare of those wearing US uniforms - is the governing factor in any tactical situation. Only a tiny handful of American servicemen have been disciplined, far less put on trial, for excesses in combat that have cost civilian lives.
All this makes many British servicemen feel as uncomfortable as Ben Griffin. Because there is only around one British soldier in Iraq for every 20 Americans, it is hardly surprising that our influence on policy and tactics is small. We have the worst of both worlds: responsibility in the eyes of international opinion, but precious little power to determine events.
It is often justly said that the US army respects the British, and in particular our special forces. But mass matters, and we do not have it. There is no way of getting around this. If Britain, with its tiny armed forces, chooses to engage alongside the US in Iraq or anywhere else, we should never again delude ourselves - as have so many British prime ministers - that the mere fact of throwing a few chips on the table will enable us to call the turn of the wheel.
Reading all that I have written above, I dislike it because British bleating about our position vis a vis the United States sounds so unattractive. There is a case for putting up and shutting up, acknowledging that we are in Iraq whether we like it or not, and should simply persevere.
Yet are the things true, said by people like Ben Griffin and John Geddes? The answer is almost certainly "Yes". They are what make it so hard to be optimistic about Iraq and what our forces are trying to do there, hanging on to American coat tails.
Monday, March 13, 2006
First lets stop at NHK. In Iwakuni it seems the people have spoken and it would seem that they have more sense than the United States government does:
IWAKUNI, Yamaguchi Pref. -- A majority of Iwakuni residents voted "no" in a closely watched plebiscite Sunday, rejecting the central government's plan to move 57 U.S. warplanes and 1,600 additional marines to the area, according to partial vote counts and exit polls.According to Iwakuni City Hall, 21,000 residents had voted "no" and 3,000 "yes" as of 10:30 p.m. Sunday, with 48.31 percent of the votes counted.
The Iwakuni plebiscite was the first held since Japan and the United States agreed to restructure U.S. bases last October. Although the result is nonbinding, the vote was closely watched by leaders in both countries.
Both Tokyo and Washington fear that a rejection by Iwakuni will prompt other municipalities where opposition is strong to take similar action.Sunday's cold and gloomy weather had those who pushed for the plebiscite concerned that turnout by Iwakuni's roughly 85,000 eligible voters would fall below the 50 percent needed for the mayor to declare it valid.The turnout was tallied at 58.68 percent.
Of course the poll is non binding and the governments of both the United States and Japan are moving forward as if this never happened. Moving CVW-5 to Iwakuni makes zero sense and most people at the worker bee level know it. So too it would seem do the citizens of the city. It seems its just the leaders that don't get it.
Here's a question, given the expense and the increased difficulty of getting the wing moved to the ship, does it really make sense to keep a forward deployed ship/airwing in Japan? Or would it be cheaper and make more sense from a business case just to maintain a constant carrier presence here in the Western Pacific using carriers from the United States? That in turn would suck about 5000 people out of the Kanto plain, and as a bonus, solve some of the issues with getting people to come to Japan to live.........I'm not advocating that, but if the wing moves to Iwakuni, it will be breaking something that was not broken. Where is the logic in that?
On over to the sports channel. Japan lost to the United States today 4-3 in baseball. Japan is screaming they were robbed bythe umpire. 彼は泥坊 です。嘘をはんしました。（He's a thief! And the call is a lie!). At least that is what Ichiro thinks:
Japanese manager Sadaharu Oh and star Ichiro Suzuki were upset by a controversial overruling that denied Japan a run in a 4-3 loss to the United States at the World Baseball Classic. Alex Rodriguez hit
a two-out, bases-loaded single in the ninth inning to plate the winning run in a second-round thriller that was spirit-crushing for the Japanese, who thought for a moment they had taken a 4-3 lead in the eighth. "It's unfortunate the play was overruled," Oh said. "It's just unimaginable this could have happened, this did happen, in the United States, where baseball is very famous and very popular."
Tsuyoshi Nishioka tagged up and raced home from third base on Akinori
Iwamura's fly out to left field and appeared to give Japan the lead. The US team appealled and second base umpire Brian Knight ruled the run counted. US manager Buck Martinez complained to home plate umpire Bob Davidson, who then overruled Knight, saying Nishioka in his haste to beat a throw to home plate had departed the base before US outfielder Randy Winn made the catch.
Flip on over to the movie channel. Bull Durham is on. Great flick. Except the AFN morals police cut out most of the sex scene between Sarandon and Costner (He's a 60 minute man!):
SIXTY MINUTE MAN
(William Ward)The Dominoes
Lead Vocal : Barry Carl
Well, listen here, girls,
I'm telling you now,
They call me loving Dan,
I'll rock 'em, roll 'em all night longI'm a sixty-minute man.
And if you don't believe I'm all I say,
Come up and take my hand.
As soon as I leave you go, you'll cry"Oh yeah, he's a sixty-minute man!"
There'll be fifteen minutes of kissing,
And then you'll holler, "Danny boy, please don't stop!"
There'll be fifteen minutes of teasing,
fifteen minutes of pleasing,
Fifteen minutes of blowing my top (mop! mop! mop!)
Well, if your man ain't treating you right,
Come up and see your Dan.
I'll rock 'em, roll 'em all night long
I'm a sixty-minute man.
And of course Costner chants the Skippy mantra in the movie:
Crash Davis: Well, I believe in the soul, the cock, the pussy, the small of a woman's back, the hanging curve ball, high fiber, good scotch, that the novels of Susan Sontag are self-indulgent, overrated crap. I believe Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. I believe there ought to be a constitutional amendment outlawing Astroturf and the designated hitter. I believe in the sweet spot, soft-core pornography, opening your presents Christmas morning rather than Christmas Eve, and I believe in long, slow, deep, soft, wet kisses that last three days.
Where's that damn remote control?
Back to the news. Russ Feingold is going to introduce an amendment to censure Bush. Feel good measure though it may be ( and well deserved by the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave), it is doomed to failure. And as a weekend bonus, give the Republicans something to rally around. Although the Senator did make a convincing case........... Leave Bush to his own devices, he can do enough damage to himself. Wait till he gives his speech about "How all is well" in Iraq.......
Speaking of Iraq, Thomas Friedman has a great article about how its not a "we problem" in Iraq its a "they problem", they being the Iraqis who cannot decide if they want to be Iraqi-- or Shite or Sunni...........Friedman prescribes a dose of cold water, as in threatening to throw them in the deep end of the pool without a life preserver. I've been advocating that for about a year. ( You have to pay to get his column, thus no link.)
Another great idea stolen from me! Wordsworth may have had it right:
What wonder, then, if in such ample field
Of old tradition, one particular flower
Doth seemingly in vain its fragrance yield,
And bloom unnoticed even to this late hour?
Now, gentle Muses, your assistance grant,
While I this flower transplant
Into a garden stored with Poesy;
Where flowers and herbs unite, and haply some weeds be,
That, wanting not wild grace, are from all mischief free!
Sunday, March 12, 2006
Sometimes you get the bear; and sometimes he gets you.....
However if you choose to stay, there are a few tidbits to chew on.
Played golf with the S.O. for the first time this year. Yes that is correct. Between my travel, she or me being sick, and the wretched weather we have had in Japan this winter, I've only played about 4 times between 1 January and now. Same for her. However the weather was nice today, albeit a little windy:
Wish we had remembered this!
As for our scores, don't ask.
Today though, was a good day for savoring the little things. For example I woke up at 6:30 am. Don't ask me why, just felt like getting up. Made coffee, worked on my resume, surfed
One of the blogs I went to this morning was Vodkapundit. Written by Stephen Green and is quite conservative and is often quite wrong. One post in particular sent me looking for the trusty Louisville Slugger:
Come here Mr Green, you need one of these to the forehead!
Quite unintentionally, the way we "ended" the Gulf War demonstrated to the world that the status quo in the Middle East, no matter how illiberal, was just dandy with us. Insane dictator? Not our problem. Oil-soaked sheiks lost their homes? We'll co-sign the mortgage with blood. All
this in a region full of lopsided applecarts, all waiting for a good push.
To be fair, seeking UN approval probably wasn't such a bad thing. But out choice of allies was akin to George Washington getting a lapdance from Mao Tse-Tung. I mean, really Ã– was it wise to demonstrate solidarity with Syria, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia? Was "we're standing shoulder-to-shoulder with your oppressors!" the right message to send to the people of the Middle East? Liberals and conservatives alike marveled at GHW Bush's Rolodex, and his ability to call in favors from despots near and far. Fifteen years later, we're still paying for his long distance bill.
Having left Saddam in power, we were also forced to leave troops behind in Saudi Arabia. For that reason, Osama bin Laden declared war on us for Despoiling the Holy Places, or Loitering on the Sacred Loam, or something. That one sure came back to bite us on the ass. In all
fairness though, Osama is a clever fellow and undoubtedly would have eventually found some reason to smite us. That new Gillette Fusion, for example, is allowing millions of dhimmi to keep their faces infidel-smooth, and in record time. Nevertheless, our decisions back then handed Osama a loaded gun. In retrospect, it's no surprise he fired it at us.
It's said that our military's history-making victory cured us of Vietnam Syndrome Ã– the idea that any American use-of-force was doomed to failure abroad and division at home. First off, that's just plain wrong. After President Bush presented his ultimatum to the Taliban in October, 2001, Senator Harry Reid asked what "our exit strategy" would be. I dunno, Harry Ã– retreat from Manhattan? Vietnam Syndrome isn't gone; it's infecting probably 20% of our population and at least a third of Congress. In addition, Gulf War I seems to have left us with a new disease, which I've creatively named "Gulf War Syndrome."
Excuse me while I sneeze Steve---"Horseshit!"
GWB's dad understood several things very clearly. First that as President, he was responsible to look out for American interests first and foremost, not somehow remake the whole Middle East in to some sort of utopia. Second, he understood a primo American axiom of war, "rock em, sock em, but don't loose your shirt." Know your objectives, accomplish them, leave. We liberated Kuwait, and George Bush looked at what a morass we would enter in Iraq and said to hell with that. In hindsight its clear he made the right decision. Any thing else is just right wing neo-con fantasy. We've seen how well his son put that to work in the last 3 years, have we not?
Let me repeat this again. An American president is charged to look out for Americans-first and foremost- not the hopes and dreams of Arabs. Of course you want to influence those, but Bush the Elder understood you had to do it by example from afar, not by forced midwifery.
Furthermore, George the Elder probably believed that the people of Iraq would revolt soon, just as surely as his son believed Saddam had WMD's. Both had the same idea.....do what made sense at the time.
Dear Mr Green, please check here to review the Powell Doctrine.......it seems to missing from your education. Your neo-con heros could use a review too.
Had to get this out. I've been stewing over it since I read your post Mr. Green. Now I can get back to the normal mayhem. Come back here in a few days, sir, I'll set you straight on Gulf War II.
More later, got to jump into Turbo Tax thank you very much.
Saturday, March 11, 2006
Some more on the (late) Port Deal.....
Of course now the recriminations are starting. Cringing and fear of the backlash. Debating over who really stated the facts of the case. Weeping and wailing that America is a "xenophobic" and "fear mongering" country. And finally, who gets to benefit both politically and financially now?
I've made no secret that I wanted the port deal to die and I am glad that in the process, George W. Bush got his nose tweaked. Its only taken 6 years for Congress to grow a pair and stand up to him and his policies. What made them take action now? Because for once they listened to the American people. As one pundit said, " On the one side you had the hearfelt feeling of the majority of the American people and on the other you had the Wall Street Journal. For once the Journal lost.......". That sums it up pretty well I think.
Lets take a quick glance at the issues the deal raised:
Port Security- Regardless of who owns these 6 terminals, its clear that the United States can and should be doing more to improve port security. Its estimated that no more of 5% of containers entering the US get inspected and that figure is thought to be high. I think that if nothing else this argument should serve to highlight how the Administration is robbing Peter to pay Paul in its budgets and is under resourcing vital homeland security issues to pay for its wars over seas. And there are other port terminals that are foreign owned. Singapore Ports Authority has controlling interests in several terminals especially on the West Coast. This issue cannot be left to die and as was shown on the news, state ownership of port terminals is a viable option.
BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The debate over whether a foreign government should be allowed to take over port operations in American ports was never of any concern to the Port of Charleston.
LUCY DUNCAN-SCHEMAN, PRESIDENT & CEO, SAFE PORTS:
It just can't happen here because of the way our port is authorized to operate. It is not a landlord port.
TUCKER: That's because the Port of Charleston is owned and operated by the state of South Carolina. It's what's known as an operating port. Charleston is the biggest such port in America. It operates the cranes, loads and unloads the ships, it's responsible for port security. It has an operating profit margin of 30 percent.
BERNARD GROSECLOSE, PRESIDENT & CEO, STATE PORT AUTHORITY: Last year alone, we increased our container volumes by over 14
percent. Our revenues went up 18 percent. And our operating expenses went up
less than one-third of 1 percent. So it is a very effective model.
TUCKER: Maersk, the world's largest shipping line, acknowledged that fact by recently naming Charleston it's second most productive port in the world. There are roughly 30 operating ports in America, according to the American Association of Port Authorities. Charleston is one. The port of Savannah, another, and the Port of Norfolk, Virginia, yet another. The difference between these ports and the Port Authority of New York-New Jersey, which is a landlord port, is that landlord ports lease out control of operations to outside companies. Operating ports don't. Control is central.
ROBERT BRAY, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, VIRGINIA PORT AUTHORITY: The operating port has been by far the better way to go, because we
were able to control the operation, which means you control the service to your
ship line customers. And then we were also able to rationalize a service that we
didn't have to build any more facilities that were absolutely necessary. And
that, of course, with the security concerns we have, we're able to control the
So it can work with US control.
Racism and Fear- Lets face it, the fact that the prospective owners of the P&O wear sheets and rags on their heads had a definite role to play in the public revulsion over this issue. I think no matter how you slice it, Americans are suspicious of Arabs. And with good reason. These are the same people who jack up our oil prices, breed terrorists, subscribe to an apostate religion that cannot stand a few cartoons, and in the case of the UAE, has acted both for and against American security depending on who is paying the bill. People forget that they have allowed contraband material through their ports after the US asked them not to do it. So perhaps its racist, but perhaps its just a reasonable frustration that year after year we expend blood, treasure, and precious resources- all for the benefit of a group of people who care less about us and are deep down ungrateful. Americans harbor , what I consider to be a healthy, suspicion of Arabs in general and oil shiekhs in particular. Its probably well earned. If that makes us racist so be it. The Arabs brought it on themselves.
Administration Priorities- I've said it before, Bush talks a good game, but his actions speak very differently. And when it comes to economic and corporate policy.........well Lou Dobbs sums it up pretty well:
Make no mistake, in Washington, the voice of business is heard loud and clear. The Medicare prescription drug plan was a boon for drug companies, just as the energy bill gave billions in subsidies to enormously profitable oil companies. And president's American Jobs Creation Act, a rewriting of the corporate tax code, which likely created more jobs overseas. And the corporate tax rate is near the lowest level in history.
PETER MORICI, UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND: It seems as though George Bush's behaving like a president of a multinational corporation and not like the president of the United States. He seems to be more concerned about the vitality of larger American multinationals with significant positions
in places like China and Europe, and not at all concerned about the security of the United States, American workers or so forth.
ROMANS: That's where the outrage over the trade deficit and this ports deal merge. (END VIDEOTAPE)
ROMANS: Because of our trade policies, the trade deficit with China, for example, last month alone was almost $18 billion. And the fact is, increased budget deficits mean the U.S. is in desperate need of foreign capital to keep the nation running --
Lou.DOBBS: And as a footnote, an important one, the trade deficit last month was $68.5 billion. And if you're keeping track, that is a record monthly trade deficit.
Says it pretty clear about the Presidents priorities and I agree- although I know there are those who don't. You can go read about the other side elsewhere.
I do have one final point though. I think timing had a lot to do with this defeat. Last year I think the deal would not have raised as much out cry. However in 2005 and 2006 several things came together to make Americans angry and suspicious of Arab merchants bearing gifts. And they all worked together to create a "perfect storm". It may not happen again. Then again:
The war in Iraq drags on and on and on on .......
The idiocy of the cartoons and the fact that Muslims as a whole can's seem to take a joke.
Outrage over US jobs going overseas.
Anger over the lack of an immigration policy and that fact that our borders are porous.
Seeing the their own President ignore their wishes and stick up for those of Arabs did not help the public relations battle either.
In the end, we'll probably lose a Boeing aircraft purchase and some other things. Much as it pains me to admit, Congressman Barney (homo) Frank summed it up well:
I mean, I agree with the president that it's probably done some damage to relations with some of the Arabs, but that's entirely his fault. If they had any sensitivity, they would have told Dubai last October, you know what, why don't you go out and buy a chain of movie theaters, why don't you go out and buy some commercial real estate, why don't you go out and buy a factory making DVDs. This is not the right time for you to run this.
Screw the Arabs. Losing this deal means they will just have less Filipinos working as their maids next week. In the meantime the good guys won one this time! Hooray for the Good Guys! (The American people).
Friday, March 10, 2006
I give up........
Older and wiser?
Today is my birthday........I'm 29 plus a few years.......
Yesterday had planned to post something interesting about the Dubai port deal then woke up this morning and saw that DP ports had looked at the board and resigned. Why I did not post though was because I laid down with a book just to rest, after having gotten back from treadmill. Next thing I knew it was 11pm and S.O. was waking me up telling me to go to bed. Guess I really am getting older.
The resolution of the port deal is amazing to say the least. Am I the only one who finds it bizarre that: a) The President's own party hands him a rebuke on the matter; b) said President was digging his heels in threatening to use his veto pen, the one that has never left the desk drawer-not for the benefit of some Americans- rather to take care of a bunch of ARABS. How warped is that? For a devout Christian, the president's fondness for Arabs is indeed mystifying. Does not make sense to me. More to follow on that score..........there's a money trail somewhere.
In the mean time Dick Cheney is rattling the saber. Guess someone told him to leave the shotgun at home.
Went to the doctor who said I was in reasonably good health, but I needed to exercise more. Tell me something I don't know. Then in the next few day Kirby Puckett and Dana Reeve died. They were both younger than I am and Dana Reeve had never smoked. How unfair is that? Scary.
Guess you just never know do you? Reminds me not to take things for granted. In the last 6 months 2 acquaintances and 1 co- worker have all died and only in their 40's. The blatant unfairness of each case makes me angry inside. I also received a copy of my college's alumni magazine yesterday noting that we had now crossed the milestone of 10 graduates killed in the war in Iraq. Sad. This on the same day that Rummy is on TV telling me how the overall level of attacks are down and there is no civil war over there. Thanks, thanks for nothing you moron. It may not be a civil war yet, but it sure as hell is not a functioning useful country that deserves respect. More to follow on that in the next few days too.
Got the following in e-mail about the new Navy uniforms and the CNO's taste in clothing:
I think that CNO's stated intent to provide a more "professional" uniform is interesting. Especially once he explains how a uniform that has identified sailors for SEVERAL HUNDRED YEARS needs to be replaced with a more "professional" one that mimics the latest Zimbabwean Air Force uniform dating back more than 5 years. This guy is a moron.
Let's ask all the stewards if they would like a new uniform ...Especially one that makes them look just like admirals ... and see what they say.
Oh, yeah ... let's make sure that Chiefs can carry swords ... that way they can duel with the JGs before inspections. This guy is a moron.
Does anyone really think that a back fukin pack creates a "professional" appearance and instills pride of belonging? Lots of "professionals" at all the elementary schools with their little bear back packs. Can umbrellas be stowed in the pack, or can they be worn in a special professional scabbard on the belt? This guy is a moron.
Sailors like the fact that they can identify an officer or chief at a great distance ... keeps them out of trouble. Trouble comes when you have to wait until the barstard is standing next to you before you recognize that this may not be the best time to roll the dice, or continue to comment on the latest fricken uniform regulation from a multi-color digital blue moron.
....This shocks me little.
Looks like I will need to cheer myself up with some of these:
And then make a layer birth day cake:
Start with one of these:
Then in the middle:
Then top the cake off with:
Blow out the candles, mix, serve...........
Wednesday, March 08, 2006
For the Phibian
And so it begins..........
H/T to Wilbur..........
Tuesday, March 07, 2006
Actually, it is a relay race. In this case 2.4 KM for 9 segments. After that the last segment was split in half for the big dogs so they only had to run 1k. Either way the just about all the Japanese teams were in their 10th segment before we started our 9th. Its done up though as a big deal with flags, banners and rooting sections along the route.
In Japan they have these races all during the year. There is a big one right after new years that is run between the leading universities from Tokyo to Hakone and the next day back to Tokyo again. The runner wears a sash and passes off after completing his segment. Here is a shot from a ladies competition with ladies who are in much better shape than I.
Monday, March 06, 2006
Women's history month........
However there are a few historical tidbits that never seem to make AFN during women's history month. Under the spirit of "fair and balanced reporting", I feel that it is my duty to pass a couple of these along so that the record can be made more complete and scholars will have a better bases to cover that year, 1991 when the United States Navy, after over 200 years of getting the job done, finally became an effective fighting force.
Tidbit- We never found out whether Paula Coughlin had to repay her bonus:
NORFOLK, Va.--The woman who blew the whistle on the Tailhook sex scandal is resigning, the Navy said Thursday. No reason for Lt. Paula Coughlin's resignation was given, but CBS and NBC reported she was quitting because of continued harassment over Tailhook. "I don't know the reasons," said Lt. Susan Haeg, a spokesperson for the Navy's Atlantic Fleet in Norfolk, where Ms. Coughlin is assigned to a helicopter combat support unit. NBC News and CBS News, which obtained copies of her letter of resignation, said Ms. Coughlin cited her Tailhook assault and continuing abuse since she made it public as the reasons for leaving.
There has never been any word as to whether the famous former resident of Portsmouth Virginia ever had to repay the retention bonus of $60,750. Obligated for 6 years she resigned after serving only 2. We will never know. Interestingly, it is like Paula Couglin has dropped off the face of the earth. Collecting her reported 5.6 million dollars in damage settlements. I tried to do a Google search on her now and came up empty. Its truly suprising.......then again maybe not. After all in the light of history her story never held up.
Enquiring minds want to know.........
Sunday, March 05, 2006
Note to self
Today was low key day with work in the AM shopping in the PM ( plus a nap......). Bought the S.O. a necklace set which I hope she will like, but I think she is going to hate. Tried to describe it over the phone, she could not get it. With her its not the thought that counts. Only results matter, everything else walks.
The Bahrain Grand Prix is the week and the crowds are starting to come in. Some Brit was pretty angry with both me and Hertz when, in the company of a VIP type escort, he flashes his Hertz #1 card and expected to be immediately taken care of. He seemed really pissed when I reminded him that I was here first and I had a flight to catch..........He looked richer than me so he can deal with it.
Major weird thing number two was checking out of the hotel. Saw this TALL, WELL ENDOWED, girl in a set of tight jeans. Sitting next to me at check out/in was some racer looking dude. The girl looked out of place in the hotel, but she was pretty hot. Guess the NASCAR effect works for Formula one racing too. She looked like the duty
Off to catch the plane. Kind of wish I was going to be here for the race this week.......but not that much.:
Where are the groupies at?
Saturday, March 04, 2006
Still here, but not for long
Work is a good antidote for malaise and while I am still troubled some, its been good to focus on work. I scheduled my self for a doctors appointment. I'm going to take a positive approach to tackling my crisis of confidence and it seems the way to start is with a comprehensive medical check up.
I hate going to see doctors. Doctors remind you that you are not invincible. Doctors are the ones who find all those things that may kill you. The remind you that despite their best efforts , in the end, you will die. Guess being older I think about that more. There is nothing I can do about it and probably there are a lot more sensible choices I should have made in my younger years.
I still hate being here in Bahrain. We went out for dinner last night at a pretty nice restaurant. Back to the hotel early and after a couple of one pint sleeping pills into bed. This may be my last trip out here depending on things. That would be OK with me.
Sky news channel has been running Gary Glitter in Vietnam story over and over again. 3 years in a Vietnamese prison is not my idea of a good time. Then it again, it would seem to me getting convicted once of being pervert would be enough.
Still got lots to think about and 20 + hours to think it. I do want to find a nice present for the S.O. Not sure why, but I want to make her happy I think.......It was like ...really nice to hear her voice on the phone again. Makes me think I've been an idiot in some ways about her.
Now that is probably saying more than I should. I'll get back to the regular drivel when I get back to Japan. No beer and babes from here...don't want to offend Islamic sensibilities. Is there such a thing? I don't think so..........