Monday, April 30, 2007

Why I subscribe.....


To Esquire Magazine.

It's for the articles.

Honest.

Really, it' true. I never let myself get distracted by the smoking hot women on the cover and inside.

Never.

Well, maybe a little.

Ok, Halle Berry looks pretty good.

But I love her for her mind-which reads articles like this, by Thomas P.M. Barnett.

Its a good read. Some of his conclusions will suprise you.

And if they don't, you can still go back and look at some smoking hot women.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

The band plays on.............

Note to self. A) Build more connection time in when traveling through SFO. 2) Try not be sick as a dog when riding 11 hours in cattle class-with stingy booze service.

Made it back in one piece, but even after 12+ hours of sleep my head still feels like it is at the bottom of the pool. Up early this morining, (I forgot that the sun comes up at 0430 this time of year), when the cat decided that knocking my cell phone off of the dresser and then flinging himself against the closet door, is a good thing to do at 6 am. Said cat was quickly dispatched with a boot down the hall as I stumbled into the kitchen to make coffee.

In catching up on my reading, I stumbled upon a great deal of commentary about this article by Lt Col Paul Yingling. Its a pretty solid , "how did we get in this mess?" type of analysis, which takes fault with the uniformed leadership within the Army and their failure to more aggressively protest the micromanagement of the war plan by Rummy's boys in DOD. Its generated a lot of reaction in the milblogging community. The article has been picked up by several news outlets, including the Washington Post. His key thesis can be summed up by this quote:
"After going into Iraq with too few troops and no coherent plan for postwar stabilization, America's general officer corps did not accurately portray the intensity of the insurgency to the American public," he writes. "For reasons that are not yet clear, America's general officer corps underestimated the strength of the enemy, overestimated the capabilities of Iraq's government and security forces and failed to provide Congress with an accurate assessment of security conditions in Iraq."


Commentary from various milblogs can be found here, here, here and here. Some supportive analysis can be found here. Marine Corps Times has a profile of the author.

I did a quick check of other articles that LTCOL Yingling has done. He's been published at least 3 times in various military journals. His writing is pretty consistent in theme, namely that the Army is training for the wrong war again......he stresses the need for counterinsurgency over training for major combat operations-hardly a new idea among many military writers.

Most folks who are critical of the article are keying on two points: 1) That he simply points out the obvious with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight and 2) that he is too critical of a entire group of officers who have tried to make the best of the hand they were dealt. There is also considerable criticism of media outlets taking his article and publishing their own excerpts as somehow showing "proof" that the media is out to use military personnel to discredit the administration. The latter contention has some merit, but on the whole its an overwrought reaction IMHO. In any case that's not LTCOL Yingling's fault or responsibility. Its is a consequence of the interconnected world we live in-any author has the right to look for commentary that supports the point he is trying to prove. Including major newspapers.

While many people both for and against have focused on his criticism of the Army's generals-well earned by them-very few paid attention to one of his major points buried within the article. The "money quote" in my opinion is this one:

For more than three years, America's generals continued to insist that the U.S. was making progress in Iraq. However, for Iraqi civilians, each year from 2003 onward was more deadly than the one preceding it. For reasons that are not yet clear, America's general officer corps underestimated the strength of the enemy, overestimated the capabilities of Iraq's government and security forces and failed to provide Congress with an accurate assessment of security conditions in Iraq. Moreover, America's generals have not explained clearly the larger strategic risks of committing so large a portion of the nation's deployable land power to a single theater of operations. (Emphasis mine).


Surge or not, I think its pretty clear that barring a major intervention by Congress or a change of heart by the administration, American Forces are going to be in Iraq for many years to come. Its armed forces are not, and have not been, properly resourced for that effort. As I have written before that was the major failing of Rumsfeld's reign at DOD and why there should be a special circle of punishment reserved for him and the rest of his lackeys. "Winning", at least as defined by the war's supporters will come at a cost to the overall position of the US overseas and its armed forces. In particular the US is limited in its ability to exert power in other areas because of the size of its commitment in Iraq. That fact has not been really well portrayed by any of the spokesmen for the conflict. There is no such thing as free lunch. ( Free anything for that matter....). Even with projected increases in Army and Marine Corps end strength, the services will all be short of what they really need. The Navy and Air Force are being held down in order to pay for the war. Its a train wreck in the making, but the senior leadership in both services continue to insistent that all is well. They also continue to offer greater numbers of their personnel to do jobs that are more properly done by the Army.

The military is mortgaging its future to pay for the war today. Other areas that may in fact offer a better payoff in terms of benefit to United States interests, are being sublimated to our commitment to this particular group of Arabs-who cannot seem to get motivated to repay the favor and fix their own house-while not looking at other countries that are more critical to the region and to the global economy.

Yingling is not trying to fix a mess that is already in progress. His purpose is to remind folks of how we got into the mess to begin with-in the hope it is not repeated-and its a good analysis. One has to read the article in its entirety though and the risk of all this "extra" media coverage is that folks will only get the reader's digest version and miss the really important points contained within the article.

Clearly, some of his suggestions regarding mentorship of the senior military's leadership are off the mark-increasing involvement of Congress in the process for example. He's right though, in pointing out the current system is not producing the best possible leadership. And I agree with him that service's emphasis on technical education is ignoring the real need for officers with skill sets in languages and a solid knowledge of the forces at work in the world. He's not the only one to say that though, its an often repeated and ignored idea.

Point is somebody is saying it-and a military publication is printing it. Given the current self serving tripe that passes for reasoned discourse in military publications these days, that alone is progress.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Sick and tired

Well, I'm either getting better, or they will be removing my body from the airplane tomorrow. What appears to be a chest cold, has now seemed to have migrated to my head. I stayed in last night, except for a brief foray for dinner. My ailment does seem to retreat for a while in the presence of alcohol, so maybe a short stint of medicinal beer is order.

Meetings over, its time to go home. And none to soon. Being here watching the political debate has been disheartening to say the least. On Iraq, it appears that neither side has a grasp of the whole situation or the mood of the country. And all the effort to pass a spending bill that is not going to go anywhere, seems quite wasted if you ask me. As I blogged a couple of times before, the idea of being opposed to the current fracas in Iraq is a good one, but just like the execution of the war, the Democrats have horribly misplayed their hand.

Lets start with Harry Reid. David Broder had a column out today that said:



Here's a Washington political riddle where you fill in
the blanks: As Alberto Gonzales is to the Republicans, Blank Blank is to the Democrats -- a continuing embarrassment thanks to his amateurish performance.

If you answered " Harry Reid," give yourself an A. And join the long list of senators of both parties who are ready for these two springtime exhibitions of ineptitude to end.


Harry Reid became a lighting rod for criticism by his non-careful use of language. Furthermore, someone is going have to tell me why picking a frontal assault here was the wisest thing to do. Why not take on the process which is flawed and demand that the President stop trying to hide the real cost of the war through the use of suppl mental appropriations. The timelines have no meaning because the Congress cannot sustain a veto override-so pick the fights you can win. Taking the approach I advocate would not have left the Democrats open to the charges of being surrender monkeys.

On the other hand though, it is frustrating to watch the pro-war rhetoric. Joe Lieberman posted the party line today in the Washington Post. He trots out the same tired old line.


Last week a series of coordinated suicide bombings killed more than 170
people. The victims were not soldiers or government officials but civilians --
innocent men, women and children indiscriminately murdered on their way home
from work and school.

If such an atrocity had been perpetrated in the United States, Europe or Israel,
our response would surely have been anger at the fanatics responsible and resolve not to surrender to their barbarism. Unfortunately, because this slaughter took place in Baghdad, the carnage was seized upon as the latest talking point by advocates of withdrawal here in Washington. Rather than condemning the attacks and the terrorists who committed them, critics trumpeted them as proof that Gen. David Petraeus's security strategy has failed and that the war is lost.

Sorry Joe, it's you that misses it. Because it happened in Baghdad is exactly the point. In the other locations these types of things are not supposed to happen. In Iraq it is a daily occurrence. What is the difference? Europe , Israel and the US are not governed by Arabs who can't or won't get their collective s**t together and refute a useless and apostate religion. That is the problem, neither you nor General Petraeus can show when this nonsense ends. It just goes on and on forever. The violence is a self sustaining reaction-no matter how much we "surge", because we failed to make the right choices at the right time. The problem is that we are already down the road, not at the Y choosing which direction to go.

Furthermore its amazing to see that yet again, the President gets a free pass on the overall mismanagement of the enterprise, or for that matter the choice to engage in an optional war at the particular time he chose to engage in it. Lieberman and crowd says that we have a moral duty to stay in Iraq forever, not matter how much the Iraqis screw things up.

George Will offers the answer to that line of thinking:

When McCain, an inveterate moralist, implies that America had a duty to "prevent" genocide in Rwanda, he ignores a principle of moral reasoning, one particularly pertinent to U.S. "nation-building" in Iraq. The principle is: There can be no duty to do what cannot be
done.

Speaking to the media after his VMI speech, McCain said, "I've always believed those words about 'all of us being created equal and endowed by our creator with certain unalienable rights' didn't say only people who live in certain parts of the world who come from certain cultures." So, neoconservatives have their candidate.

Other Americans, however, may recoil from someone who does not distinguish between a sound philosophic judgment and an alarming policy. The judgment is that all human beings have a natural right to live under a regime respectful of personal autonomy and political self-government. Such a
regime is a natural right because it would be best for the fulfillment of human nature. The alarming policy flows from the assumption that all peoples and polities are somehow spontaneously—meaning without long acculturation in the necessary habits and mores—prepared to flourish under such a regime. That generous but preposterous assumption is a recipe for many Iraqs.


If you want to turn the corner and negate the opposition to the war, you have to show some way out the tunnel. Otherwise, I submit that most Americans are like me, they don't understand how expending this amount of blood and treasure is benefiting Americans. Who should matter more to a US President than a group of Arabs. Problem is just the opposite seems to be true, these Arabs have been given an importance that is out of proportion with where they really fit in the food chain. And if they are so important, why is not the US pressuring or negotiating with other Arabs to get involved and fix what is essentially and Arab problem.

Answer that question and you would have an easy time getting rid of Harry Reid. Till then, a poor mouthpiece he maybe, but he voices an opinion shared by over 50% of Americans. They don't want war without end. The President promises nothing but.

No wonder its time to go back across the dateline.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

APB......

Does anyone know where Madame Chiang went? Have not seen a post from her in over 3 weeks...................

Tribes

I've been blogging for over 2 years now. For the most part it has been an enjoyable experience, however at the same time, it has exposed me to the less admirable things about the Netizens of Bloggerville.

People believe that blogs are an Internet expression of free debate and open minded argument back and forth. I must be reading the wrong blogs then because, from what I have seen nothing is further from the truth. The typical political blog comes down on one or the other side of the aisle and woe be unto the individual who dares to post a comment that is opposition to the feelings of that blogs particular herd.

It works for both left and the right. Go to a Democratic supporting blog and post a comment in defense of GWB or opposed to gay rights and you will be greeted with a stream of epithets, if your comment is not actually deleted. On right wing and / or milblogs if you try to voice an opinion that you are not expected to have, because you are or were once in the military- you get castigated beyond belief. Particularly by some narrow minded folks who think that their military experience somehow gives them the right to judge yours. Its sad because what it implies is that the reading public is not capable, in general, of rising to a higher plain.

Now its no secret here, that I am not a fan of the war in Iraq. I have not been since 2002 when the country set off down the road to war without end. Now were I just a reader of the Daily Kos or any other left wing item, well I would have lots of like minded company. However I don't. There are some thinking bloggers who are on my daily reading list who do not share my conviction and in fact want to try to convince me of the error of my ways. That's OK. Its interesting, helps me to think and allows me to voice my opinion. At least in general its done with respect.

Not everyone shows that respect though. For some its like they have a particular quest to convert me to some other point of view, one that, based on my particular life experience will never accept. When they cannot convert you, they simply fall back on simple name calling-especially when it comes to the fracas in Iraq, because it has gone on so long and has aroused such passion in so many individuals. Anyone who questions or tries to draw a conclusion that is different is branded with a host of epithets, which get more pointed as a particular comment stream goes on and on.

Which is why, at this particular point I also make it a point to read the expat blogs whose links are on the right side of my page. They provide a more personal point of view generally and also when they do comment on the politics of where they live, it provides an appreciation of why its good to be an American sometimes. Lately I have been finding myself going here, more often than I go here. Perhaps it has to do with learning slowly but surely that there are only so many fights I can pick at any one time.

I think its sad although it is not unexpected. People tend to hang with like minded people. And its easy to slot people with others expectations of what they should or should not do.

Still, it could be something different-something a lot better.

Just my .02-Your mileage may vary.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The best and the brightest

Nothing sucks more than being in a really cool place while being sick. I wanted to go out tonight, but I just did not have the energy. I have been fading in and out of consciousness on the bed while watching TV. The lights of Sin City are blinking through the window taunting me.

I noted with great sadness today, the death of David Halberstam in a car accident. I always enjoyed his books, particularly his one about the Fifties. Halberstam was what we see too little of these days, a real journalist who thought he had an obligation to get the facts out with sufficient detail that one could actually draw coherent conclusions and not just get little sound bites.

His book , The Best and Brightest, chronicled the "whiz kids" who thought they had all the answers in 1965. It is a telling foreshadowing of the Rummy world in the early years of the 21st century.

He was a scathing critic of the war in Vietnam and in his conclusion that it was a quagmire in 1965, primarily because of the way it was managed by Washington and the corruption in Saigon were right on mark. He came under very tough criticism at the time. In today's world had he written that way, he would have been branded a surrender monkey and just another biased member of the liberal media.

Problem with that approach was that the facts just kept getting in the way. Are you listening Michelle? If you could display facts the way Halberstam could you might actually become a journalist instead of a sales provider. His words about the attacks on the media are worth listening to:

"The crueler the war gets, the crueler the attacks get on anybody who doesn't salute or play the game," he said. "And then one day, the people who are doing the attacking look around and they've used up their credibility."

"The attacks on us were very, very unpleasant," Halberstam said. "There was an attack on our manhood, on our politics. We were portrayed as being communists and weak."

But reporters are often vindicated over time, he said.

"I think the truth will always out," Halberstam said. "The people who attacked us are mostly forgotten; most of them have apologized."



His words are applicable to both sides of the blogger sphere as well. Milbloggers do not believe they are guilty of such intolerance, but I think if Mr Halberstam were to do a chronicle of the type of discourse that goes on here in Bloggerville, none of us would like his conclusions.

He was particularly accurate in his later years with his analysis of the Iraq war and the lead up to it:

I think Vietnam and Iraq are different and yet there are a lot of parallels. There’s enough there to make you very
uncomfortable if the way you see these things is shaped by our experience in Vietnam, as it is for me and so many of the senior military people . . . .


I remember during Vietnam there was a generation of correspondents, some of the older ones, who were very tough on us younger correspondents because they had been in Korea or World War II and those wars had worked and there was a legitimacy to what we did then. And some of them were very quick to put down the younger reporters who were saying, “This doesn’t work.” I had vowed never to be one of those who says, “Guys, you just don’t know . . . I was in Vietnam and I know things you don’t know.” You know, pulling seniority and perhaps living in the past. So I was somewhat reluctant to talk too much about Iraq. But
gradually, as we got nearer to it, I began to speak out.


There were four or five points I was trying to make before the invasion. One was that we were going to punch our fist into the largest hornet’s nest in the world and end up doing the recruiting for Al Qaeda. I said that I thought that we would do the race to Baghdad very well—that the sheer military part would go well because our military is just very good, marvelous people, and our technology is awesome. But then the battle would change; we would be involved in urban guerrilla warfare, and things would turn against us.

I said that I thought the movie that they were all watching in the White House and the Pentagon was Patton, and the movie they should have been watching was The Battle of Algiers [the 1966 quasi-documentary film about the Algerian struggle for independence from France in the late 1950s].

There is a moment in a war—as there was in Vietnam and as there will be in this war—where your military superiority is undermined or neutralized by your political limitations. And I thought the biggest miscalculation of all was a great underestimation of the colonial factor, just as there had been in Vietnam. In Vietnam the U.S. absolutely had refused to factor in the effect of the French Indochina War. And I felt the specter of colonialism would be a problem again in a more complicated way with Islam.


The greatest miscalculation was not about the weapons of mass destruction, but the idea that we would be greeted as liberators. When the Bush people kept talking about that, alluding to what happened in France and Germany after World War II, well, anybody who had been in Vietnam would have been wary of it. There was just no way we were going to be greeted as liberators in this part of the world. The Iraqis might want to get rid of Saddam Hussein, but they would not want us to do it for them. I was saying these things before they
happened and not just ex post facto.


He often alternated his subject matter, after writing a weighty tome he would settle down for a more mundane subject such as his book the Summer of 49. He was in fact on his way to interview a sports coach when he was killed.

The United States and the world is diminished by his loss. Too much of what passes for reporting these days is just shrill noise designed to further someones particular agenda. Authors who could provide the facts on complex ideas in a readable fashion a few and far between. Halberstam was one of those folks who could do that.

Rest in peace sir, and send good reports back here from the other side.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Viva Las Vegas!

Elvis sends his regards. Got here yesterday only to discover that I think I am getting a cold. All the travel is catching up with me. Within sight of Mandalay Bay, I huddled in my bed watching old movies on TV. Believe it or not I had a a lot of work today up at Nellis AFB.

Lots going on in the world, but no energy to post. Watching a TV show about the Holy Grail. Wish I could be out on the streets looking for it here. God , must have a sense of humor.

Gotta work tomorrow which means I need to conserve my strength. Go read something fun and think of me!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Give them hell Harry........

Harry Reid that is......proving yet again that the Democrats are their own worst enemy. No opportunity is too great, such that it cannot be f*&ked away. In that regard, you and the Iraqis have a lot in common.

You used the "L" word. Just like the "wasted" word, its like throwing gasoline on a raging fire. The fire blows back in your face and you get burned up. I have yet to hear you apologize by the way.

Do you morons ever think about what you say?

It would appear not, because with one word-one lousy word-you have allowed idiot savants like Michelle Malkin and William "The bloody" Kristol and Conservative commentators everywhere to peg you yet again as a surrender monkey. Which is quite convenient for them because it allows them to obscure discussion of the very real and serious issues that pertain to war without end in Iraq.

Not to worry though pal, because you have given the pundits at least another 3 weeks of using you as a punching bag and not being called to account for anything they may say. Good job!

You know the old saying Harry, don't you? Namely, "that you can build a thousand bridges and is it Harry the bridge builder? But just suck one c*@k and that's all they remember you for."

How's it feel down there on your knees Harry?

Idiot. A real idiot. That is what you are.

Its bad enough that there are people working real hard to get the truth out about what the war in Iraq is costing the United States. Not even J. William Fulbright was so careless when he was dealing with qualms of conscience about the war he was called on to oppose. He did not use the "L" word. He did not have to- politicians of his generation knew how to speak:

The price of empire is America's soul, and that price is too high.

The citizen who criticizes his country is paying it an implied tribute

-J. William Fulbright


No L word anywhere.

When you get done washing the taste out of your mouth, you might want to go over and take a look at what he had to say. And then tape your mouth shut.

The Office

World Bank style..................


Thursday, April 19, 2007

The dilemena

Tomorrow it will be time to embark on the next leg of the trip from hell-most probably with the new, smaller bag I have purchased and with out my other items that I packed specifically for this next leg of the trip.

I had some nice talks with my sister today. It jarred me a minute when she pointed out that it will have been 10 years this year since the plane crash that took our other sister's life occurred in Panama. I don't know how I did not realize that it had been that long. Been through a lot of ups and downs since then.

Also had long talks with my sister about the frustration she experiences being the one who bears the burden of watching out for my parents. My mother looked particularly frail this trip and her memory seems to be considerably diminished. I was jarred when the first night in , after I arrived late from the fruitless search for my bag, she asked me how my ex wife was doing. She said it with all seriousness. I was shocked and frustrated, but on closer cross examination she really did not remember that I had gotten divorced over 7 years ago.

My sister has a hard life these days. She works in a job she hates, but it allows her to be close to my parents. My mother is increasingly cranky and its hard for her to deal with. I was here only 4 days and it was hard for me to deal with. I can't understand how she deals with this day in and day out.

Which of course led to the understandable guilt. I've enjoyed my life over the same time that she has been surviving hers. Travelled extensively, enjoyed wine, women and song, and seen a lot of the world. That has come at the cost of not spending a lot of time here with my parents. There is a part of me that feels like I should be here, doing my bit, sharing the burden-even though North Carolina has no attraction to me and is not any where on the top 25 places I would choose to live (Sorry Tar Heel fans). Now I'm walking out the door knowing it will be at least 3-4 months before it will even be possible to see them. And if I do come back it will be at cost to something else.

Feeling guilty that my life has been so good these last few years. And that I have found a place I enjoy living-with a lifestyle that suits me-even if it does not make me the model American pillar of chastely existence. Should I have bitten the bullet, last year and come here to live even if only for a few years? Helped my sister do what needs to be done, give my mother some happiness and in seeing me more than just once or twice a year? Have I not been just a trifle selfish?

All that is set against the opposite backdrop of having life cut short prematurely as it did to my other sister. Aren't you supposed to grab life's opportunities? But what about the debt of gratitude I owe my parents? They helped me out, financially and other wise when my life was falling apart and I was being used as an emotional punching bag by a hate filled woman-who thought she had the right to run my life. I am grateful more than words can describe to my parents and I think they know it, but would not a more concrete expression of that be helpful?

No answers to these questions and at least for the next year anyway, I've made my choices. But dealing with Mom is tough and it would be worse if something were to happen to my father. Which is something we both did some walk through drills about-morbid as it may seem. Better to have a pre-mishap plan than to try to make it up on the fly, we both agreed. Its up to us after all-my oldest sister will be useless in this. Both of us know that with 100% certitude.

It is also interesting how both my sister and I have changed in our attitudes toward the world. Mostly we have become more alike-especially in our attitudes and regrets towards the opposite gender and relationships. We both the decided that we are more alike than we realize-neither of us is the "marrying kind". We just waited too late to realize that-much to the chagrin of both of our current S.O.'s..................We both agree that the idea of one person as the be all end all of our existence is just not true. And we both lament the missed opportunities and lost freedoms of the previous years. I would never have thought about that as something we would be of like minds about.

I told my sister that if she needed to take a break I could arrange it to spell her, which is not entirely true because there are times this year when my schedule just will not allow it. I felt it was important to make the offer and to let her know I would be there.

I love my parents dearly as do we all in our family. They been asked to help all of us more than any normal human being should. It is heartbreaking to see their once vibrant minds reduced to daily pedantic mumblings and grasping at what remaining memories are left. And spending most days inside a house that is increasingly impracticable for them. It hurts and I ask my self, will it be that way for me some day. Except my bridges are so badly burned there will probably be no visits from my kids in the home. Just nurses who will push me around and cast me away............No wonder I need to work out more.

Of course that assumes one gets to that far down the road and as this week has proven there are no guarantees of that. Life is so damned unfair!

So its a cold, cold world out there and tomorrow, both my sister and I will be going back out into it. I love you Mom and Dad. Thank you for the opportunity to go out there.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

CSI

Busy day yesterday and today. Filed reports with the police, talked to my insurance, cancelled credit cards, bought clothes. I think I understand now why people say they feel so violated after a robbery. The 24 hour window has passed of someone making an honest mistake, and calling to rectify it. Now it just comes into the window of someone either being criminally lazy, or just plain criminal. Hope you f%$ks enjoy my dirty laundry from last weekend! You can keep my razors by the way-please use them to cut your wrists!

My brother in law had contacted the corporate headquarters of the rental car company. Which led me to go see the manager this AM and demand to look at video from the time I rented the car. Once I finally got to see a manager with some authority, he was very helpful. Using the time I got off the bus till I rented the car, we were able to use the camera shots to determine within what I believe to be 5 minutes of when my bag was taken. Under prodding from the corporate offices they called 9 different rental car customers. Not all were available-voice mail for about half-so I'm not optimistic that anyone will come forward. Especially the two guys dressed like they were ready for a 50 Cent video who look like they were loading luggage into a van from the spot where my bag was. Does that make me a racist? I don't feel like one, but its hard to understand why, if they made an honest mistake, they had not called to correct it by now. The camera is a wide angle and attempts to sharpen the image to see faces and break out individual bags out of the blob that was there, were not successful. At least it gave me a great deal of detail to give the police. The manager also indicated that this kind of thing happens more than they care to admit. Which makes me wonder why they don't use a different system for herding people to check out cars and why thy don't upgrade their camera system. After all, you can see the pissed off look on my face pretty well when I came away from the counter.

I doubt I will see my bag again. And if I do, it will be lighter-although I doubt Mr 50 Cent and his pal will be able to wear my shoes or pants-and my 220 volt transformer will be gone I'm sure. Again, I thank my lucky stars that all the things I need for work and money were in my briefcase and backpack. The folks at my meetings will just have to get used to me being dressed casually. They will get over it.

It's also an eye opener to see just how quickly using camera angles, and correlating info you can narrow down to see likely candidates. That's also kind scary and reassuring in a way. All it proves though is that we can watch the crimes while they happen-not prevent them it seems.

I have a lady from the Tulsa headquarters assigned to my case. Good news about that is I can talk to real person with out going through hoops on the phone. The local manager also takes my ohone calls very quickly. However with out an exact idea and or an effort by the police, to determine exactly who or if, they took my bag all we will know is approximates. Which are probably not enough to charge anyone.

And set against the back drop of recent events, my little tragedy is a pretty small one. I've got all the big things I need, there is nothing that cannot be replaced in time, and I can walk and drive and eat with out having to use a feeding tube. In both Virginia and Iraq today, there are people who cannot make that claim. I remind myself over and over again that I need to be thankful for that.

The level of media coverage on this, the 3rd day after the shootings really surprises me. I don't think CNN has talked about any other news since Monday. Not to diminish the significance of the tragedy, but in Iraq today over 200 people died today and as Juan Cole points out:

The profound sorrow and alarm produced in the American public by the horrific shootings at Virginia Tech should give us a baseline for what the Iraqis are actually living through. They have two Virginia Tech-style attacks every single day. Virginia Tech will be gone from the headlines and the air waves by next week this time in the US, though the families of the victims will grieve for a lifetime. But next Tuesday I will come out here and report to you that 64 Iraqis have been killed in political violence. And those will mainly be the ones killed by bombs and mortars. They are only 13% of the total; most Iraqis killed violently, perhaps 500 a day throughout the country if you count criminal and tribal violence, are just shot down. Shot down, like the college students and professors at Blacksburg.


But wait this is America you ask, this type of thing is not supposed to happen here. Neither are people supposed to get robbed in the course of daily business either-yet both happen with increasing regularity. To me these are signs of what needs to be fixed in American society. I've travelled over 7 years in Asia and never had to worry the way I now have to worry when I am over here. It builds bad habit patterns and that burned me to be sure. You can be sure I've learned that lesson well.

I guess what I am getting at is that somewhere somehow, the people have lost that concept of basic respect for each other. Once that is gone, all things no matter how stupid, seem acceptable. Which leads to a South Korean student going off the deep end. People will analyze this till the cows come home- I don't have an answer. As an aside, I wonder how long it will be till the South Korean media blames all this on the presence of the 2nd ID in Korea.............

Just like I can't explain why Sanjaya did not get sent packing till this week. Nobody ever said the world had to make sense. It is what it is. I'm tired.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Can't see straight......

I'm up early this morning. I need to be because I have all kind of things to do today. Having my suitcase stolen is a major red ass, made doubly so because the rental car agency was less than helpful as they could have been. The police told me they do not have to call anyone to see if they got the wrong bag. Seems to me they could have at least taken a glance at who rented cars during that time frame.

So now its calling my insurance company, trying list in my mind exactly what was in there, call all my banks in case there might have been a receipt in there. Figure out what I can buy in clothes until I get back to Japan so I can complete the trip.

It makes me so mad. I am convinced that someone picked up my bag thinking they were getting all of theirs. However if that were the case one would think they would have the decency to call the car company.

Fortunately all my really valuable things were in my briefcase and back pack. It is what I get for not trying to be nuisance in the line by dragging a large suitcase behind me as I snaked through the line. I kept my head on the swivel up until the time I was actually at the counter. And then when I came away from it-it was gone.

So my day is shot and its not even 7am yet.

I'm pretty pessimistic at this point. What scares me the most is maybe someone did not mean to steal it, but will be lazy enough to wait till their trip ends before they notify anyone. And by then I will be long gone.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Unbelieveable

The shootings at Va Tech.

And I had my bag stolen today-while I was in line at the rental car agency. Yea, Yea, I should not have turned my back on it, but the line was long and I did. At least my clothes and toiletries can be replaced.

Who will replace the life and talent that was lost today? You can't. I don't know much of the details, the news was breaking as I passed from gate to another, but its pretty clear that the guy went on a rampage.

"Today the university was struck with a tragedy that we consider of monumental proportions," Virginia Tech President Charles Steger said. "The university is shocked and indeed horrified."

But he was also faced with difficult questions about the university's handling of the emergency and whether it did enough to warn students and protect them after the first burst of gunfire. Some students bitterly complained they got no warning from the university until an e-mail that arrived more than two hours after the first shots rang out.


Wielding two handguns and carrying multiple clips of ammunition, the killer opened fire about 7:15 a.m. on the fourth floor of West Ambler Johnston, a high-rise coed dormitory, then stormed Norris Hall, a classroom building a half-mile away on the other side of the 2,600-acre campus. Some of the doors at Norris Hall were found chained from the inside, apparently by the gunman.

Two people died in a dorm room, and 31 others were killed in Norris Hall, including the gunman, who put a bullet in his head. At least 15 people were hurt, some seriously. Students jumped from windows in panic.

Alec Calhoun, a 20-year-old junior, said he was in a 9:05 a.m. mechanics class when he and classmates heard a thunderous sound from the classroom next door - "what sounded like an enormous hammer."

Screams followed an instant later, and the banging continued. When students realized the sounds were gunshots, Calhoun said, he started flipping over desks for hiding places. Others dashed to the windows of the second-floor classroom, kicking out the screens and jumping from the ledge of Room 204, he said.

"I must've been the eighth or ninth person who jumped, and I think I was the last," said Calhoun, of Waynesboro, Va. He landed in a bush and ran.


What in the hell is this guy thinking?

This unbelievable.

Who is the victim here?

Sitting in the lounge waiting to board the first of 3 airplanes today. Hoping I don't get waylaid in Chicago. Looking at the weather news, I would say my chances are 50/50.

For a guy who only got 3 hours sleep last night, I feel pretty good this am. It was supposed to be a low key kind of night, but one thing led to another and............ Tell me again how beer is supposed to be good for you. Maybe the first two, but after 8 I think the healing powers dwindle.

Reading this morning in the paper about how Wolfowitz's squeeze thinks that she is a victim. Victim? That's rich. I would classify it a little differently:

The woman at the heart of the controversy that has embroiled World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz says she is a victim and was forced into a job transfer because of their relationship.

Shaha Riza said promoted into a high-paying job at the State Department in 2005, on
Wolfowitz's approval. She says that at no time did she report directly to Wolfowitz and that he had proposed to recuse himself from any decisions involving her to avoid a potential conflict of interest.

She said the ethics committee of the World Bank's board had required her "to go on external assignment contrary to my wishes."

Riza adds that "I have now been victimized for agreeing to an arrangement that I have objected to and that I did not believe from the outset was in my best interest," she said.

Her comments were made in a memo to an ad hoc committee of the World Bank looking
into the circumstances surrounding her transfer. The memo was part of a set of
documents released by the bank on Friday.


Sorry my dear, but when one is making 184,000 dollars a year, the concept of being a victim goes right out the window. Especially when the man you are sleeping with makes 3 times that. Ever hear about the word "discrete"? When you and loverboy Paul made this thing public-which was reported again and again in the press, you had no choice but to move somewhere else. Nobody is complaining about that.

It is your boyfriend directing you to get a 60,000 dollar pay raise and 8% raises per year after that, that makes folks mad. Interesting, when the good Dr. Wolfowitz was at DOD, he could not be bothered to recommend to his co-worker Dr. Chu the same level of pay raises-all the while leading the country down a dubious path to a war that has done nobody any good. THAT's why people are upset.

Richard Cohen sums it up well:

As Paul Wolfowitz is proving, it turns out all is not fair in love and war. Only war. Take a nation to war for spurious reasons and no one much complains. But arrange a raise for your girlfriend, and you get booed in the atrium of the World Bank and have to visibly sweat in public.

As Henry Kissinger might have told Wolfowitz, kill a million people, no problemo. Show favoritism in the office and it's auf Wiedersehen. The Wolfowitz Rule, as it shall now be called, was applied to its eponymous creator when he was transferred from the Pentagon, where he was deputy secretary of defense, to the World Bank, where he became its president. That office is always filled by an American since America provides the largest share of the bank's capital. I can tell you this with absolute certainty, but after that, I have to admit, I quickly run out of knowledge about the World Bank. It makes loans to the third world counties, or something like that. All I know is that I lived in Washington for 28 years and never once saw an ATM for the World Bank. Go figure.

Anyway, the bank is where you go after you fuck up at the Pentagon. Robert McNamara went to the World Bank after directing the Vietnam war which, he later admitted, he knew at the time the U.S. could not win. He was, as always, right.



Look on the bright side. She can finally have time to darn his socks.

Now if someone had called her "nappy headed", then she might be a victim.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Talk about bad timing

Looks like a guy on the Yamanote line picked the wrong day to cop a feel:

TOKYO \ A man was arrested last week for groping a woman who happened
to be a police officer, police revealed Thursday. The incident happened on JR's Yamanote Line on April 6, they said. The 20-year-old police officer felt her coat lifted and her buttocks touched between Kanda and Akihabara stations, they said.

The officer immediately grabbed the man and hauled him off at Akihabara. The suspect, a 39-year-old construction worker, has deniedthe allegation. The police officer was in plain clothes at the time.
--Japan Today


He probably loses at cards too.............

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Operating undercover

Agent Skippy here-on his pursuit of his own interests service. Spending the weekend in one of my favorite locations checking out the scenery. Posting will be light today and tomorrow.

I have noted with interest the fact that Imus's firing is big news, but only overseas does it seem Paul Wolfowitz gets a lot of coverage. The Financial Times has come right out and called for his resignation.

Seems the employees at the world bank aren't real happy with him either. According to news reports he got calls of "resign resign" in an impromptu address to World Bank employees.

Which the President does not want to happen. He supports old Paul 100%. Paul ought not to take too much comfort in that though, Bush said the same thing about Wolfowitz's former boss too.

Ought to make for some interesting watching though. If anyone can find time to talk about it.

Burning daylight cowboys! Time to go.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Your reward for a job well done........

Is more punishment. That's the message Secretary of Defense Gates sent to serving Soldiers in the Army on Wednesday.

WASHINGTON - Beginning immediately, all active-duty Army soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan will serve 15-month tours — three months longer than the usual standard, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Wednesday.

It was the latest move by the Pentagon to cope with the strains of fighting two wars simultaneously and maintaining a higher troop level in Iraq as part of President Bush’s revised strategy for stabilizing Baghdad.

Officials on Monday said some 13,000 National Guard troops were receiving orders alerting them to prepare for possible deployment to Iraq — meaning a second tour for several thousand of them.


When asked about it, the powers that be will point to the fact that retention is high. So hey, what's getting screwed over yet again? People are staying right?

Well maybe, but there are troubling indicators if one looks beneath the surface.

As has been pointed out in the news, West Point graduates are leaving when their active duty commitment is up-in much greater numbers. I can't blame them. These guys face a choice, stay and keep going back to Iraq and Afghanistan or leave and have a normal life without that threat hanging over their heads.

Navy times reported that Sailors are staying, but they are not re-enlisting-just extending their current enlistments. The powers that be attribute that to Sailors extended so they can ship over in a Tax Free zone.

Maybe.

Of course it could be that they don't want to cede control. With the Navy increasingly betraying its Sailors by sending them to do the Army's work, Sailors know that if they ship over they have lost any bargaining chip against that. Extending allows them to play the "I quit" card.

Again, I don't blame them. Why have this hanging over your head for the next 10 years?

Personally, I believe that if troop levels do not start coming down in Iraq in 2008, you will see retention figures fall dramatically. The folks in uniform have been strung along again and again. There is a limit to how many times the folks can be lied to.

I'm reminded of the old saying, "Enjoy your freedom? Thank a Soldier.". Today though the saying is, "Screwed over and extended yet again? Thank a Rumsfeld.".

This is just the beginning of the train wreck..............

Got to run.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Constitutional confusion

According to the news the President is thinking about appointing a "War Czar" to supervise the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan...........evidently 3 retired 4 stars were approached about taking this thankless job and all of them said no. I wonder why?...........

Call me silly, but isn't that the job of the President? Correct me if I am wrong, but the only person who supervises Cabinet officers is the President. That's in that whole constitution thing.................

Of course when did obeying the Constitution matter to this President?

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Through the looking glass...............

I should not do it. I should just keep quiet and let Al Sharpton have his way making Don Imus feel scared. I should stand up and like all the guests on the Today Show this day, I should feign outrage, because Don Imus provided exactly the product he is being paid to provide by MSNBC.

But I just can't resist................

As far as I am concerned, Don Imus should confine his defense to 3 simple words, "Kiss my ass!". Seriously, I've heard the offending remark over and over again and in the context of Imus's normal banter, it just does not seem like a very big deal.

WHAT?! I'm shocked and ashamed for you! Don't you know the man is a racist?

Yea well so is Al Sharpton. And his pals. Only they get to get away with their racism because they have powerful friends.

Imus, has no choice but to crawl on his knees and beg for forgiveness. Al's pals smell blood in the water and they are going to milk this incident for all its worth. Imus will probably not get fired, but he will lose enough advertising that his show will fold up and blow away. This all about a lot of money, and Imus knows he stands to lose it. He's no fool, he will be crawling through shards of broken glass to keep the gravy train coming in.

Now was it the smartest thing to say? Absolutely not. He could have stopped a hell of a lot sooner and gotten his point across with out the racist overtones. Although I find it interesting that there is a double standard at work here. NBC's recording side of the world has probably published more than a couple of rappers who used the same types of words.

Sorry Don, that's what you get for losing the birth lottery. Also, I've seen your hair and I'm not exactly sure you should be making fun of anyone else's.

This is not about one remark. It is about criminalizing private speech. Its about ensuring that people only say the politically correct thing. Imus is not the first broadcaster to run afoul of the PC police, he won't be the last.

I particularly enjoyed watching Imus get lambasted by O'Reilly and Michelle Malkin today on his show. If anyone knows anything about racism it is those two.

I do have one question for Mr Sharpton though. While you are busy taking Don Imus to task for his remarks and getting the basketball team to do so, think you could find time to ask them about their 2006 graduation rate? Which lags 30% behind all other female sports at Rutgers? Or perhaps look at their abysmal male football graduation rate? Now if Imus or anyone else had had an inkling that would have made an interesting tale to tell.

Except its racist to point out facts, as well as make jokes.

I'll be waiting right here for the thought police to come find me..............

Monday, April 09, 2007

Men of Yamato

Last night was Easter, but unless you have cable you would not know it from watching the TV over here. Only by watching American news did I know it was the holiest day of the Christian calendar.

The TV watching was OK though because they ran the TV debut of Otokotachi no Yamato (男たちの大和ーThe men of Yamato). This is a movie that was released in 2005 and did a pretty good box office here in Japan. It tells the story of the crew of the World War II Japanese battleship Yamato. It was directed by Junya Sato and is based on the book by Jun Henmi.



So I exercised my rights as purchaser of the TV and said I wanted to watch the movie. S.O. fussed for a while then stomped off to the other room to use her laptop. (I am slowly but surely getting her to use her machine, rather than the desktop after I showed her that yes, she could use the laptop I gave her 3 years ago with the wireless network I installed.). She came back from time to time to fuss that I had the TV up too loud. I have to turn it up or I cannot break out individual words in Japanese because the actors speak so fast. S.O. hates that, but its my only hope to figure out what they are saying. That's the difference between being proficient in a language vs being fluent. I'm the former with a big desire to become the latter. I have a long way to go.

To make the movie they built a 3/4 scale mock up of the real battleship. Go here to see what it looked like. The rest was done with computer graphics, especially the attack by American aircraft at the end of the movie. Its pretty graphic nonetheless and the battle scenes are not for the squeamish.

However, while it is a movie about the war, its not a war movie per se. Its a drama, about how individual Japanese dealt with the fact that deep down in their hearts, beginning in 1944 many realized that the war was going to end badly for Japan. Despite that, they served and manned up the great ship for her final mission in 1945. The movie starts some years later when the daughter of one of the Sailors, hunts up and old fisherman and persuades him to take her on the 15 hour voyage to the site of the wreck, so she can make peace with her father. As it turns out he is actually a survivor of the battle himself. The movie goes back and forth between conversation on the fishing boat and scenes of the young Sailors-both aboard the ship and home on shore leave in Japan. The transitions between the two are cleverly done.

The movie is very sad. It does not glorify the war at all-in fact it points out well the pointlessness of war. The characters all bear themselves as if they know what fate awaits them, but they do their duty regardless. They are portrayed as human beings with hopes and dreams, all of which were betrayed by a fate that tied them to a government that led them to destruction. Even the officers of the ship seem to know this and bear themselves as if they know it.

Look for yourself in the trailer.



A better quality video can be found here. ( I'm sorry, I cannot find one with English subtitles....).

I've been wanting to see the movie since it came out 15 months ago. It got huge advertising on TV and in the train stations with big posters and hanging signs in the trains. I wanted to see it in a movie theatre, but its better I saw it this way. I could use my electronic dictionary for a lot of words. And drink beer.........

One of the interesting things about living here in Japan has been to see the story of the Second World War told from the other side of the hill. While it is true that the Japanese really do try to diminish the war and its impact ( the S.O. hates talking about it and has no interest in going to see historical sights from the war-I had to beg her to go with me to the Arizona....), nonetheless in this case they told a good story. If you can watch this movie, I strongly recommend it.

Couple of trivia points. I learned that the hats of the Sailors had the old name of the Japanese Navy on it and were read from right to left. (大日本展国海軍)。The moniker literally translates to Larger Japan Empire Navy. Also, I never figured out the distinction of the uniforms. Some Sailors wore Navy uniforms, others were dressed in clothes that looked more like the Army. Despite the fact that they all had anchors on them. Don't have an explanation, I just found it interesting.

There are probably those who see in the recent spate of World War II movies an plot to condition the public to a new militarism by Japan. I don't buy that. What I can believe is that there is a desire on the part of some Japanese to better understand their history. Regardless of the motivation, I thought this movie was a story pretty well told. I give it a 6. (out of 10).

One way to improve ratings.........

Fox Noise Network ought to take a look at this.........

After all if there is a long skirt in the ladies dressing room, I've never seen it.
(Click on the picture, it solves the puzzle.....)


Is the guy gazing or not? We report, you decide!

H/T Japundit!

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Just a walk in the park.......

For Ishihara-san today-he won the Tokyo Governor's election!

And it was a nice stroll in the garden for the S.O.and I yesterday, getting our last chance to look at the Cherry Blossoms amid the beauty that is Sankeien (三系園).


Click on the images to see them much better!

Sankeien is a traditional Japanese style park created by Sankei Hara, a wealthy silk trader. Inside the park he had buildings reconstructed from Gifu and Kyoto as well as nearby Kamakura. The park was opened in 1906. At the time, from the pictures in the museum the park was near the ocean front. That is no more. Now it adjoins a rather large and ugly refinery, at its southern gate and high end residential district at its northern entrance. The park has also changed a bit internally since the second world war, owing to the fact that several of its buildings came out on the short end of American bombs. However its beauty remains. The park consists of four main features, The Outer Garden, the buildings of the Inner Garden, the Kakushokaku ( former residence of the Hara family) and the Old Yanohara house-which shows what life was like for the Shoguns of the Edo period. Over looking the entire park is a pagoda on a hill:



The Yanohara house is interesting in that , once you remove your shoes, you can walk through it. It is the only building whose interior is open to the public in the park. Thanks to a fire that is always burning in the kitchen area, there is a smoky, hunting lodge feel and smell as you walk through both stories of the house.



The park has different flower viewing seasons all year long and for Cherry Blossom season they have night viewing for folks who want to come out for Hanami in the evening. The blue mats come out and so does the yakitori and the beer. One can easily see why:



I'm looking forward to going back in the fall and seeing it when the leaves turn. I think its got to be beautiful then as well.

If you are in Japan or coming, simply go to Yokohama station by train. Take the Negishi line to Negishi, then to platform seven and catch Bus #97. Get off at the South entrance of the park. Its 500 yen to get in.

For me it was a peaceful and interesting day. It is Easter weekend after all, and being among natures beauty is a good way to spend it. (It does not feel like Easter here-it just feels like another weekend truth be told. That's sad I know, but its the way it is).

The trip in and out was interesting too, mainly because the Yokohama station was packed. All kinds of people in a hurry and that always makes for interesting viewing. Also makes for some good eating if you get to the right Chinese restaurant in the basement of the Lumine store.



We took a different bus ride back which took us through some of the more yuppified neighborhoods of Yokohama. When I learn to make some real money-I need to come back and look again!

Happy Easter!

Saturday, April 07, 2007

That's his story and he is sticking to it!

This is going to be a novel line of defense:



Top-secret data on Aegis destroyers obtained by a Maritime Self-Defense Force petty officer 2nd class were found to have been obtained after he copied obscene images to his hard disk from a colleague's computer, without knowing the information contained the secret data, police sources said Wednesday.

The Kanagawa prefectural police also found the secret information was leaked to another petty officer, meaning the case now involves three petty officers, including the 33-year-old 2nd class petty officer, who is a crew member of the destroyer Shirane of Escort Flotilla 1.

Hard disks and computers of each officer were found to have contained obscene images along with the secret information, the police said. The police believe that repetitive exchanges of such images triggered the spread of the secret information.



The US is "showing understanding on this matter"....considering the fact that the Chinese have been documented hard at work trying to steal this technology-there was another story about that just last week on Lou Dobbs-I should think they would be a little more than miffed.

Wonder if China was looking for some porn too?

Indulge met a bit

For waiting till tomorrow to talk about the great day I had today. The S.O. and I decided to take advantage of what was the last possible day to see cherry blossoms. So we went to Sankeien in Yokohama. Am I glad we did! Travelogue to follow. For now though, having just come back through the door, its off to sleep.

Pix included. Till then, the read ahead package can be found here. It was a beautiful place.

Girl watching in Yokohma station and Yokohama Sogo was not bad either.

Friday, April 06, 2007

More politics and stupid politicians......why men need beer and babes!

Its prefecture Governor election season in Japan. Or at least in Kanagawa and Tokyo. Thus each night NHK, because it has to, runs addresses from the various candidates.

As a result?

Meet Kouichi Toyama-he's the anarchist candidate for Tokyo's governor. His speech on NHK has gathered a bit of a you tube cult following in Japan. You Tube user Oniazuma hjas done a good job captioning his speech, so you can shake your head in disgust. Election day is Sunday...so mercifully it will be over soon.

Here now is Kouichi Toyama:





I don't which is worse watching him or watching Nancy Pelosi. Both have made an ass out of themselves this week.

Now go here for the parodies!

<-------------------------------------------------------------------------------->

Meanwhile, Shintaro Ishihara, the man who won in a walk the last two elections and was the author of "The Japan that can say no" is in a much tighter race than he expected:

Is one of the world's largest cities tiring of its nationalist leader?


Outspoken Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara -- co-author of "The Japan that Can Say No," a best-selling paean to ultra-patriotism -- has long been an emblem of the country's resurgent right.

But as Japan struggles to repair ties with Asian neighbors and deflect criticism of some politicians' unapologetic approach toward wartime atrocities, the once-popular Ishihara clings to a surprisingly thin lead in his race for a third term.

The Sunday election is widely seen as a test of Japan's tolerance for an accelerating drift to the right. And watching in the wings is conservative Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his ruling Liberal Democratic Party, for whom the vote is a key indicator of nationwide parliamentary polls in July.


Ishihara-san is also the man who said that all crime comes from foreigners. Thus he is at a loss to explain the murder of a British lady English teacher by a Nihonjin. That, by the way has been a big story in Britain this week-edged out by the Iranian crisis.

<--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------->
Meanwhile, in American politics, I now know why Jim Webb carries a gun. There are more than a few Congressmen who need it pointed at them. Meet the number one candidate for a 9mm breath mint:



Seeing her on TV made me just hang my head in disgust. Someone should remind her that before she gets up on her high horse, she might want to do a head count in the Senate.....its not very good for her party. So please stop telling me there is a new Congress. The new one is the same as the old one, and equally pompous. It takes smarts to play against Team Satan Bush and it would seem with every passing day the Speaker of the House does not have them. Big surprise, the Democrats have always been their own worst enemy.

<-------------------------------------------------------------------------------->

Who wants to go in with me for a house in Hua Hin?

No politics. Just plenty of these:



And more than a few of these-passing through:


No scarves here!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Dumb and dumber.......

A couple of nights ago, as I was quietly moving around the living room, I watched the President come on TV for his press conference in the Rose Garden. Thinking to myself, "this ought to be good", I scampered hurriedly to the fridge for a beer and settled down to watch the fireworks.

George Bush looked about as happy as a man about to have a root canal. He never looks good at press conferences, I think he must have to be talked into giving them. After all, he is the "decider" is he not? Perhaps-but he is also a guy who has gotten way too used to being a boss and has forgotten how the other half lives. He's not been a follower since the mid 80's when Laura took him away from the only substance that might bring some levity to his existence.

And then he spoke:

"It has now been 57 days since I requested that Congress pass emergency funds for our troops. Instead of passing clean bills that fund our troops on the front lines, the House and Senate have spent this time debating bills that undercut the troops, by substituting the judgment of politicians in Washington for the judgment of our commanders on the ground, setting an arbitrary deadline for withdrawal from Iraq, and spending billions of dollars on pork barrel projects completely unrelated to the war. (...)


Now there are two facts that President conveniently overlooked because it suited HIS political pandering. 1) Congress has never passed a supplemental quickly (his Republican lackeys averaged around 111 days to get on through the past two years) and b) if he was really honest about the cost of the war, much of the spending that was requested in this bill would have been included in the annual appropriations of the various departments last summer when the budget was passed. I've pointed this out before and I will continue to hammer the point. It is not exactly like it was a secret that the war would still be going on for all of this year when his budget was submitted in February of 2006. However painting it as an emergency, makes better theater for him.

Exactly who is using this bill for political purposes? Oh I forgot, both sides are guilty of the same infraction. I could go on except its already been written for me:

* Moreover, it's worth asking why the Congress is considering a supplemental appropriations bill at all. Answer: because this President is in the habit of not asking for enough money in his budget requests, which his administration drafts, to get through the entire year. The Democrats have put him on notice that he will need to work through the regular budget process this year; had he done so last year, we wouldn't be having this debate.

* The President seems to think that because the Congress has passed supplemental appropriations bills that he doesn't like and has threatened to veto, they don't really count as having voted to appropriate funds for the troops at all. But that's just wrong. The Congress has voted to do so, and they will probably agree on a conference version and vote it up in fairly short order. And guess what? That bill appropriates funds for the troops.


There were a lot of other inconsistencies in the Presidents remarks. What I found truly remarkable was that he had to read from a list of pre-selected reporters to call on. Guess they did not want to have Michael Ware ask a pertinent question that might have called into question the script. Of course had Mr Ware been there he would have been lambasted by the media for snickering when he did not snicker at all-even though the President probably would have deserved at least a couple of good guffaws.

Especially when he said this:

We have made it clear to high-ranking officials, whether they be Republicans
or Democrats, that going to Syria sends mixed signals -- signals in the region
and, of course, mixed signals to President Assad.


That sentiment did not stop the administration from arranging a Republican delegation to exactly the same thing however.

Of course, Nancy Pelosi is one to talk. She has proven herself to be a really stupid bitch big hypocrite. Anybody watch her press conference in Syria? Trying to sound all statesfeminst like as she then went and undermined Israels position vis a vis Syria-putting words in Ohmert's mouth? Yea that was rich.

I'll be clear-I do not believe it is the job of Congress people to meet with foreign leaders. That's an executive function. Don't like what the Presidents ambassadors are doing? Impeach them. THAT is a Congressional prerogative-like that executive privilege thing.

Also, interesting while she talks about a bill that protects the troops she is curiously quiet on the loads of pork in the bill-placed to buy Democratic votes. A tactic that she decried just one year ago. When they are asked, for some reason the word "Katrina" keeps coming out of fellow Congressman's mouths. Excuse me, WTF does that have to do with Iraq?

Pelosi and her Democratic horde are stupid. That's right, stupid. They could have played this thing a whole lot smarter-if they really would think about it-by stripping every line item out of the bill that was not directly connected to DOD. Tell the President to get the State department to submit its own supplemental. Or get him to size his budget right in the first place. No pork-just money for OMN to keep the train running. They probably could have left the deadlines in-the President might have vetoed it anyway, but at least they would be on high ground. And I guarantee you had they removed all non DOD line items from the bill-and forgotten timetables-the President would have screamed just as loud.

Problem is that presumes that SF, rich liberals can think about the long game. It's been proven that they can't. So even though Baghdad has been proven "just as safe as Detroit", they fritter away any chance to get that little bit of falsehood public and so give the President an advantage.

Which leads to the really scary conclusion. Both sides of government do not know what they are doing. Which leaves the Soldiers on the ground and the people back at home exactly what options?

None really, except to pray for November 2008 to hurry up and arrive.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Wrecked him?

It damn near killed him!



I just can't escape the idea that a Thai hooker, a broom stick, and not enough Baht were somehow involved.................

H/T Hemlock!

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

The hardest working man in Japanese TV......


This is Monta Mino, the man with probably the most weekly on screen time of any Japanese Reporter, Actor, or Actress. I mean the guy is on TV all the time. He was the host of the Japanese version of Millionaire (Due to Japanese prize-money regulations, the top prize is ¥10,000,000 -- less than $100,000.). He hosts a morning show about health and household things. And he does a show on Saturday nights. He is on television a staggering 34 hours and 45 minutes every week. His silver hair sparkles on the small screen morning, noon and night. He's on air so much, in fact, that in 2006 he was honored by Guinness World Records. Always tanned and immaculately groomed, " he is so beloved and respected by middle-aged Japanese that he could sell them anything. And that is the kind of image he has - a very confident and successful salesman. He is said to be able to command ¥5 million for an hour's work. "-(Mainichi).

At least till now:

Ratings king Monta Mino, the world record holding godfather of Japanese TV, is in real trouble for allegedly having put his paws on the wrong kind of idiot box, according to Flash (4/10).

Japan's weeklies are currently have a field day amid suggestions that the 62-year-old
talking head sexually harassed Airi Yamada, one of his pretty young co-presenters, who's now been banished from the screen.


Supposedly, the TV host pressured Yamada into accepting dinner dates and promised to make her into his show's main newscaster if she agreed to become his lover, but Yamada responded by complaining to her immediate boss. Which, the story has it led to her transfer off the show.

It is not the first time he has been subject to scandal. In 1991, he was caught having an affair with a co-presenter, Kayoko Takahashi. According to Mainichi Shimbun, " 'Just before news of that affair broke, the producer of one of Mino's shows went to the publisher and got them to tone down the story before it was printed,' the NTV insider says. 'That's why we can still get Mino to work for us pretty cheaply.'"

Which probably explains why he has to work so much.

Remember, this is Japan. Sexual Harassment will not be tolerated. It will, however, be graded. From this weeks Flash Magazine:




If the claims are proved to be true, it seems Mino is likely to do time on late-night shows as penance, the men's weekly claims, adding that it shouldn't bother the sexagenarian whose start in the celebrity world came through late-night radio and who has a private night life known to be active. His innuendo-packed banter is also likely to be more accepted when screened later.

Yamada, meanwhile, is in limbo. She married shortly after entering TBS in 2002 and much of her private life is spent with friends from her college days rather than workmates. She is also said to be very serious. "She doesn't know how to take a joke. Some people say she
always over-reacted," a TBS source tells Flash. "She really hates dirty talk. I remember her saying that the one thing that really got her riled was sleazy men and she never took part in company parties because those types were everywhere."

Mino knew of Yamada's aversion to lowbrow topics and apparently needled her by always bringing them up. It seems her failure to adapt to Mino's line has also contributed to her unfair downfall.

Flash (April 10)"Mino used to bring up lowbrow topics on air just to see how Yamada would react," the network insider tells Flash. "Mino doesn't like people who put on airs too much. He regards trips to cabaret clubs as a test of young women who work with him. He only starts to recognize their talents once they have been through a hostess bar session with him."



Job interviews here must be tough!

Monday, April 02, 2007

Normality restored..........

For at least a couple of weeks anyway.

Still, its good to be home. Nothing makes you appreciate Japan like a couple week spent under the Army's thumb working in Korea. I can read the papers, understand the TV and cook for myself again.

Of course, I do have to make particular adjustments to the daily routine. For example, I have to return to the custom of showering in the evening as well as in the morning....on the road I just pass out fall asleep watching TV on the bed and then shower in the morning. Back here at home, under the time honored male tradition of always being prepared to "get some"-a before bed shower is mandatory. Without that, there is no "some" to be had. Remind me to tell you about the whole thing with the towel sometime...........

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And of course, it now being April in Japan that means many things are going on. 1) The Cherry Blossoms are in full bloom-they have been for a week.


Glad I did not miss them!

Second, its the beginning of the new work year and school year in Japan. The TV news today had several stories and video of Shinnyushain(新入社員) . As the university year ends in mid March, most of the new hires out of college start working at their companies this week. Depending on the size and temperament of the company, the ceremony can be fancy or simple. There is almost always some type of ceremony though.



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Speaking of starting a new job, and owing to the fact that he has neither a retirement plan from the North Koreans or the American Army, deserter and internee, Charles Jenkins has found a job selling souvenirs. From Japan Probe:



Jenkins-san has been working at the souvenir shop at Sado Island’s History and Traditional Museum. According to the video report above, Jenkins has announced that 2% of all the money he makes from selling items at the store will be donated to the organization for Japanese families of North Korean abduction victims. From the looks of the video, Jenkins himself is turning out to be a pretty big tourist draw, and visitors love to have their picture taken with him. Jenkins came to Japan with his Japanese abductee wife, Hitomi Soga, a few years ago and found work as a groundskeeper at the museum last summer [it has also been announced that Soga found a new job at a nursing home]. Working in the souvenir shop was probably a good idea on behalf of the management, since it will draw all the visitors who want to meet Jenkins towards the rice crackers he is encouraging visitors to buy. It’s not as glamorous as teaching English to North Korean spies, but it does pay the bills, apparently.


Apparently he has not learned Japanese, which seems surprising to me. I would have thought for sure he would have by now, especially when you consider he learned Korean.Then again maybe not.
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And speaking of the Hermit Kingdom, Japan has deployed its first Patriot PAC-3 missiles in response to the threat posed by North Korean No Dongs and TaepoDong missiles:



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Did Abe-san apologize or did he not, for the remarks about Comfort Women? It would seem the jury is still out. Or as they used to say during Watergate, a non-apology, apology.


Enquiring minds want to know!

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Finally, the Mainichi Shimbun has advice for women who need to get back in shape. So does Expat at Large. (Adult theme matter alert!)

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It's good to be back!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Passing of a legend..........

I'm getting caught up now. And in the process of doing so I was shocked and saddened to read about the passing of Ruth Heim. Known to all of us who passed through NAS Fallon as "Ruthie". She managed the Silver State club bar and has seen more than 2 generations of Naval Aviators and Naval Flight Officers pass in front of her.

A very moving tribute was published over at the Tailhook Daily Briefing. I strongly recommend it to you for your reading.

For the aviators whom she considered to be one of “Ruthie’s Boys” she was more than a bartender. The terms “social director”, “events coordinator”, “confidant” and "disciplinarian” come to mind. Aviation personnel deploying to Fallon and gathering at the O’Club Bar known throughout
Naval Aviation as “Ruthie’s Ready Room” or just plain “Ruthie's”, commonly witnessed a display all of those traits in one single evening.


She was a great lady and truly a legend for those of us who knew her.

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